Historic kingdom in Spain / THU 8-4-16 / North Sea oil port / Saknussemm discoverer of center of earth journey / Predators of elephants in myth / His brother was given name Israel / Offering from urban streetcar

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Constructor: Jonathan M. Kaye

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: BOOT (59D: Result of a parking violation ... as illustrated four times in this puzzle?) — "O" in the names of car models turns into a "Q" in the Down cross, thus somewhat mimicking the shape of a BOOT on a car:

Theme answers:
  • SILVERADQ (21A: Incapacitated Chevy?)
  • EXPLQRER (25A: Incapacitated Ford?)
  • CHERQKEE (46A: Incapacitated Jeep?)
  • NAVIGATQR (52A: Incapacitated Lincoln?)
Word of the Day: ABERDEEN (10D: North Sea oil port) —
Aberdeen (Listeni/æbərˈdn/; Scots: Aiberdeen About this sound listen ; Scottish Gaelic: Obar Dheathain [ˈopər ˈʝɛhɪn]; Latin: Aberdonia) is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 37th most populous built-up area, with an official population estimate of 196,670 for the city of Aberdeen itself and 228,990 for the local authority area. // Nicknames include the Granite City, the Grey City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. During the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, Aberdeen's buildings incorporated locally quarried grey granite, which can sparkle like silver because of its high mica content.[3] Since the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s, other nicknames have been the Oil Capital of Europe or the Energy Capital of Europe. The area around Aberdeen has been settled since at least 8,000 years ago, when prehistoric villages lay around the mouths of the rivers Dee and Don. The city has a long, sandy coastline and a marine climate, the latter resulting in chilly summers and mild winters. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is one of those rare puzzles that I really don't enjoy while solving, but that grows on me in retrospect. The problem was that I had zero idea what was going on until the very, very last letter. I was literally filling in BOOT one cross at a time. My last letter was somewhere in BOOT. My first thought on completion was "that's it? four Q/O squares? that's ... nothing." But then as I thought about the visual, and the fact that all the booted answers were actual car models, with just the one "O" in their names, I started to warm to this thing a little. Just a little. Puzzle felt hard to me (though my time was in the Normal ballpark), first because the "Q"s just meant nothing to me and made nonsense of the Acrosses, second because I assumed "Lincoln" and "Ford" were presidents (61A: Roosevelt predecessor? didn't help!) ... then thought maybe "Chevy" was Chase. Only at "Jeep" did I begin to get an inkling of what was happening. Getting the "Q" early in most of the themers actually did much more harm than good. Couldn't see the answers to save my life.

Not a fan of DRONE BEE (60A: Queen's mate). Feels redundant, especially as clued. A drone *is* a bee. Also super-not a fan of the ASLANT clue (1A: Like the Miller beer logo). Who *%&#ing cares about that stupid logo, and in what universe does anyone think of it as a locus classicus of slanting? Don't mind corporate names in my grid, but that clue was gratuitous. BOSH instead of (Pish-) POSH? (16A: Malarkey) Whatever. ACES are "dogs"? Whatever. TOITY!? The most made-up ARNE in the history of ARNEs? Pass and pass. The long Downs were wicked hard and wicked good. 9D: Tails, of a sort (PRIVATE EYES) was just a brutal clue, and somehow PRACTICABLE (23D: Realistic) evaded me until very nearly the last cross. And the [Indian flatbread] wasn't NAAN? Rough. Fill seems average to slightly above-average, overall. Nothing terribly cringy. I feel like this puzzle lives in a slightly different cultural neighborhood than I do—one with absolutely no women, apparently. Oh, except SARA Teasdale and CELIE and QEII. About five times that many men in this puzzle, but 3 isn't 0, to be fair.

["Yeah ... We're doin' this one for all the ladies... for the 9-3, you know what I'm sayin'?"]

PS I like that Jai alai didn't make it into the grid but decided to hang out in the clues anyway (18A: Jai alai bet of 1-3-7, e.g.)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


kitshef 12:07 AM  

This was practially a sprint, despite some mishaps along the way (naan before ROTI, Bunk before BOSH, Taste before TWEAK, LyON before LEON).

Then spent a looong time trying to figure out how changing an O to a Q was equivalent to incapacitation, but failed. So I guess that’s an LMS DNF. Never saw the revealer as I got BOOT from crosses.

Quite the mix of good (ABERDEEN, XFILE, SAARINEN, DENALI, ARNE) with the not so good (ASLANT crossing ASWIRL, ARETE right next to EWER, CELIE and TOITY and ANI, DRONEBEE).

All in all, left me quite in a TITHER.

jae 12:09 AM  

Medium for me. I needed the reveal to see what was going on.

I'm never sure if it's ESTD or ESTB...apparently both may be correct.

@Rex naan before ROTI, @kitshef Taste before TWEAK

@Rex - Dogfight as in air combat...ace pilot.

Very clever visual theme, some nice long downs, liked it.

Things that give you hope: My 17 yr. old granddaughter has been doing Mon. puzzles for a few years now. When we get together I go over them with her because I'm really curious about what today's teenagers know and don't know. For the recent HEY JOE puzzle she knew who Jimi Hendrix was and was familiar with the BOXER REBELLION, but not JOE BOXER. The good news is that she had also never heard of JOE CAMEL.

Scott 12:09 AM  
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Anonymous 12:15 AM  

awful ... a two letter rebus that vaguely looks boot-like BUT only upon the reveal ... just horrible and pointlessly stupid.

GILL I. 12:24 AM  

Oh wow...I feel oh so Hoity TOITY because this was my fastest Thursday in ages. EXPLQRER clued me in, so I went merrily on my way looking for the Q's and by gum I found them all. I wonder what the people who don't drive (Hi @Nancy) may have thought of this. Well, I loved it.
Like @Rex, ROTI was my hangup. I wanted Robert (handsome) Crawley and his father to be HEIRS - all was easily erased because of course they were EARLS. We're re-watching all the "Downton Abbey" episodes. It's more fun now because you know how things will turn out. I'm more interested in the clothing and the shoes. I hope wardrobe won lots of awards...
I loved our Jeep CHERQKEE that we rented one fine summer. It had a tow feature so the clunky old fishing boat could be towed. I think it cost like $200.00 to fill the tank and we got something like 2 miles to the gallon.
DRONE BEE is perfectly fine. Remember, there are also the worker BEEs. The DRONEs only have one thing to do in their life [sigh] but somebody's gotta do it.

chefwen 12:39 AM  

Was so sure of QEII and SHAQ that I went ahead and changed my long answer O's into Q's. Got the BOOT answer but had no idea what that had to do with Q's. Never have seen one up close and personal so I Googled it. Kinda of a cheap AHA moment. Also didn't like the ASLANT/ASWIRL crossing, wouldn't like either even If they weren't crossing.

O.K. Puzzle, just not in my top picks for my favorite crossword puzzle day.

Patricia Granholm 12:48 AM  
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Patricia Granholm 12:51 AM  

A flying ace has an advantage in a dog fight. I appreciate any Thursday or later puzzle I can work my way through without help. This is all new to me-I love the puzzle app on my phone and really am happy to have found your blog, Rex. Thank you so much!

AskGina 1:22 AM  

Oh please, a boot is Q shaped? Everyone in California who's seen enough of them to realize that, raise your hand. Even where I got it in the crosses I had no idea what the point was. And aslant crossing aswirl, got that but getting it somehow made me feel bad about myself like, like I'd abetted an ill- conceived word crime. Sht. I'm starting to understand Rex. There goes the hope of aging into a nice old lady.

Anoa Bob 1:51 AM  

Homer's Das Boot.

Karlo Kitanovski 2:16 AM  

Cutesy gimmick, but easy-medium-ish for me with respect to my historical Thursday solve times. I had an aha moment with the BOOT revealer, chuckled, and then said "that was pretty darn easy" (but cute). I remember years ago, while I was in college, seeing a drunk kid in Chicago (actually Evanston) go up to his booted car, stare at the device, and attempt to drive it off. No fooling...drive the freakin' boot off!!! Needless to say, that drunk frat-boy screwed his Chevy CQRVETTE up big-time. I laughed my booty off! Cheers.

Jon Elofson 2:40 AM  

Pretty offended by the ELI/LEI/QEII corner. Seems like the constructor sacrificed that section for the sake of DRONEBEE.

George Barany 2:59 AM  

My experiences solving @Jonathan Kaye's second published New York Times puzzle (though his first acceptance) had both similarities and differences from those reported by @Rex and the first wave of commentators. Of course, having grown up in New York City where one can get by without owning an automobile, and then having lived in a state where security measures (a la BOOT) are unnecessary, meant that it took a while for the theme to register.

The LEI/ELI combination was elegant, but the vowel ambiguiety of K?B?B (in the xwordinfo.com database, KABOB outpolls KEBAB narrowly, 15-11 during the @Shortz era) slowed me down. The Q's, other than SHAQ, were by no means obvious; for example ERII (meaning Elizabeth Regina the Second) certainly seemed plausible. Nevertheless, I trusted the constructor and editor that it would eventually work out--given that it was a Thursday--and was rewarded with several aha moments at the end. Nicely done!

Martín Abresch 3:05 AM  

I got tripped up in the NE. I had most of it completed, but was scratching my head at the theme question (Incapacitated Chevy?). At that point, I had -IL-ERADQ, and for some reason I thought ... ILL_DORADO. You know, like a Chevy El Dorado, except sick. Well, that messed up some of my crosses, so I started taking out ROTI and FENS and SHAQ, but nothing made sense, so I just went along down the eastern side, until I hit another themer ----KEE (Incapacitated Jeep?). I scratched my head trying to turn that into a pun (CHAIRED_OKEE?) but couldn't come up with anything so I let it be and headed into the SE. Soon got BOOT and all was made clear.

Side note: I did make a silly mistake in the SE. I put QUiLLS for QUELLS (Puts down) and ignored the odd-looking KiBAB: it never gets spelled the same way twice anyway. So that square gave me a DNF.

I thought that the theme was amusing.

I agree with @kitshef about the fill. A strange mix of good and not-so-good. That SE corner reached so-bad-it's-good level for me with DRONE_BEE, N_DAK, ARNE, LOGE, LEI, ELI, and QE_II. PRACTICABLE seems a couple letters and one syllable too long. I liked X-FILE, PRIVATE_EYES, TRIFECTA, DENALI, DELANO, ABERDEEN, and QUELLS. Also, CAESAR Salads have become a real favorite of mine.

Loren Muse Smith 5:16 AM  

I got the theme really early because I inadvertently saw the reveal (usually try to postpone that) and already had NASDAQ. Love the visual. At my kids' high school, they boot any car in the visitor lot that has a student sticker. The sight of those boots used to make my heart sing, since the visitor lot is right in front of the school, and God forbid I had to park in the regular lot and walk some. Damn kids. Get off my lot.

Big toe-hold gimme was TRIFECTA. I play competitive full-contact jai alai in two leagues. Right.

I dunno, Rex, the word DRONE alone for me has been hijacked by those robot things that fly around and annoy everyone.

Like everyone else, wanted "naan" before ROTI, but I didn't write it in. I did put in "bogs" before FENS. I always do. Oh, and stupid me went right to "vie" before TRY for 6D
Cool that we get stalwart Eero's last name this time.

Pretty hard Thursday - nice representation of a BOOT on car. Thanks, JMK.

David Krost 5:47 AM  

"I feel like this puzzle lives in a slightly different cultural neighborhood than I do—one with absolutely no women, apparently. Oh, except SARA Teasdale and CELIE and QEII. About five times that many men in this puzzle, but 3 isn't 0, to be fair."

You are kidding, right? Pathetic.

Michelle Turner 6:25 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle. Saw the reveal early and with SHAQ crossing SILVERADQ was off and running.

Fun mix of clues - Reminded me of Snoopy and the Red Baron. Enjoyed the shout out to X Files and Downton Abby.

Loved that I was able to solve a Thursday puzzle with minimal difficulty and no cheating. Had no problem with the number of women.

Trombone Tom 6:26 AM  

Pretty much what @Rex said, except that I whizzed through in near record time. Of course, naan before ROTI and vie before TRY.

Had no idea what to do with the O-Q transition until I looked three times at BOOT and got the visual picture.

Liked SAARINEN and ABERDEEN, but not too KEEN on ASLANT. No problem with DRONE BEE because of worker bee similarity, but they are more commonly just DRONEs. Nice misdirection on DELANO.

My initial reaction on completing the puzzle was ho hum, but on getting the theme and re-examining things I give this a higher mark.

Unknown 6:36 AM  

Huh? This was one of those I solved quickly and had no idea what it meant. A Q is shaped like a boot????

Lurker Librarian 6:49 AM  

@Unknown 6:36 The Q represents a tire with a boot on it (the O in the car's name plus the tail of the Q = a car that won't be going anywhere soon).

Got the reveal first but didn't see the trick until Cherokee when I had a satisfying aha moment. Thought aslant/aswirl was weak but liked the puz overall.

Lewis 6:53 AM  

This was right up my alley, although a couple of tricky clues stalled me for a bit -- "Almost out" for DROWSY and "Refinement" for TWEAK -- and I love when that happens. DRONE_BEE doesn't Google well; I always think of those critters as simply drones. The double-E fest continues from yesterday, with six today, plus you'll find ACES high and RAPT up. I like that the DWI is followed by the BOOT.

I won't remember much about this puzzle except that cute boot on the tire. When I saw it, I broke into a smile. While in real life, a tire boot is a royal pain, that cute puzzle boot is going to make a nice little home in my wheelhouse.

Annette 7:19 AM  

I'm surprised at the medium-challenging rating, as I finished 20 minutes under my average and chalked up my best time, to BOOT. Funny how the mind works: I never thought Ford and Lincoln were anything but cars, not presidents, despite Delano and TR National Park elsewhere in the grid. Agree that drone bee is redundant.

I can never remember which Dakota is home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, though it is one of my favorites: unassuming, under visited, spectacular. Love that its official sticker is also unassuming: a simple "TRNP" set inside an oval (turnip!)


Anonymous 7:50 AM  

I really don't like the innovation of grading that apparently was inspired by Mr. Gaffney. To me, it seems prissy and reductive. It is at odds with the casual, more discursive style of the usual commentary and assumes an arrogant air of false superiority, implying that OFL is the one expert and every other professional puzzle creator who comes under his microscope is worthy only to be his student.

Charles Flaster 7:58 AM  

Liked this a whole bunch. Got the theme before finishing , unlike JMK's TOP OFF
extravaganza. Loved the BOOT visual with the Q.
Lots of CrosswordEASE--SARA, ARÊTE , and ELIA.
Liked the visual of ASWIRL crossing ASLANT.
Writeover--TRIFECTA for QuInEllA--knew puzzle was Q heavy.
Clue for PRIVATE EYES should have been
"Tails, maybe".
Thanks again JMK.

Glimmerglass 8:09 AM  

Medium for me. I got my first Q at SHAQ. Then the D from ESTD. I was thinking, "How does Dairy Queen incapacitate a car?" But NASDAQ, gave me the O-to-Q gimmick. I decided the bar in the Q was a nail in a tire. I got to BOOT only at the very end, silly maybe, but not pointless. This puzzle had lots of excellent clues. Most of the ones that @Rex grumbles about, I thought were clever or challenging or both.

kitshef 8:22 AM  

Thanks for the BOOT link, @Anoa Bob! Once I read the blog and understood the theme, that is right where my mind went.

QuasiMojo 8:24 AM  

Agree with Anonymous. Please dispense with the pedantic rating system. You are better than that, Rex. I wonder if this puzzle is a deeply embedded nod to "Oh Calcutta" and its original louche meaning? lol. I wouldn't have minded the switcheroo if the answers had not been blatant ads. Give us back a Times puzzle without product placement!

Mary Perry 8:33 AM  

This one was easy-medium for me and I found it delightful!

Alec Schwartz 8:37 AM  

Found this to be both a crunchy and smooth Thursday with a well executed theme that had me thinking flat tire until I got to the SE (where I finished) and found the revealer for a nice "aha". Found that I could somewhat confidently insert or guess at one answer and then upon revisiting work my way through the solve. I'd give it a B+ and thought that It was perfectly placed on Thursday.

Z 8:39 AM  

One correction - these are not cars, they are all gas-guzzling SUVS (with the bonus DENALI sucking down petrol). Unless you are an actual sportsman, the kind of person who's footwear is made by KEEN, you should not be allowed to own one. One. Man's. Opinion.

I was changing PRIVATE aYES to PRIVATE EYES and wondering how that fit with "tails." It didn't help that I was reading PRIVATE EYES and thinking "bedroom eyes." It wasn't until I was reading the blog that I realized we were talking Sam Spade types. At least I did grok that ACES was referencing Snoopy and the Red Baron, not, well, Snoopy.

@Anon7:50 - Wow."Prissy?" I can accept, even agree with, "reductive." But "prissy?" Then you toss in "arrogant air of false superiority>" Personally, I find grades and grading systems archaic and largely meaningless, a relic of a mentality that the point of education is sorting, not learning. But if there is one place where grades might be useful it is reviews. I am hardly surprised that the overwhelming response to the grades has been positive. Which begs the question, Why are you taking it so personally?

Personally, it is a cute theme, and well constructed, but it didn't really tickle my fancy.

NCA President 8:41 AM  

Medium for me. I'm not sure what the question is about the Q not looking like a boot. Look at the picture Rex included in his entry...looks pretty danged boot-like to me.

I got the them by getting BOOT first. I had SHAQ...and just knew it was SHAQ...but I was befuddled by the DQ ending of 21A. I also had CHER-KEE early on, but since it was a themer and if I'd put an O in there, I wasn't sure about the "incapacitated" part. Once I got BOOT, the entire grid fell into place. I like how only one of those Qs gets a U. I also like that Qatar was not used.

I didn't like PRACTICABLE. Practicable? I also didn't like DENALI being in this puzzle, even though it wasn't clue as a car, it's a car. And in a puzzle full of cars, it stands out as a car. So that was a confusing inclusion. Seems like Rex would have dinged the puzzle for having ASLANT cross ASWIRL.

Hand up for naan.

The clue to TRIFECTA seemed to be a pretty obscure choice. I know it from horse racing and know it's a betting term, but Jai Alai? Seriously?

Otherwise, as Thursdays go, this was better than last Thursday...probably one of the better ones in a while, though still not as interestingly gimmicky as I would like. (read: #wheresmyrebus?)

Malcolm Gibson 8:50 AM  

Liked this a lot. Got through this one pretty quickly (surprisingly given Rex's rating). That was helped by figuring out the Q factor almost immediately, thanks to Shaq answer. So I figured all had a Q somewhere. (However, I NEVER did figure out that the Q was the shape of the boot until reading Rex this morning.) And there are some clever clues, from my perspective, especially jai alai/trifecta (which I got immediately because, in my misspent younger days, used to frequent jai alia frontons -- hey, that's a word should show up sometime -- when in Miami). Oh, and loved "Roosevelt predecessor" clue. Very clever, and I don't remember seeing it before. All said, an enjoyable challenge. Cheers.

Nancy 8:53 AM  

Oh come on, give me a break. The BOOT of a car looks like a Q? I'm supposed to know that? I don't think I could even find the BOOT on a car. Add to that the fact that the entire theme rests on various car makes -- a subject on which my lack of knowledge is equalled only by my lack of caring. And to BOOT, I found the non-theme answers mostly dry as dust -- sort of like that professor's class everyone knows enough not to take. So this puzzle had the distinction of being very hard without being the least bit fun. I finished it, yes, but I found it a joyless slog.

Nancy 8:58 AM  

@GILL (12:24 a.m.)-- I chuckled at your question above. How well you know me, even though we've never met. And right above, you have your answer.

Don McBrien 9:10 AM  

Really liked this, but didn't need the revealer. I was loving the visual of a tire with a nail through it, so was let down when the revealer ruined that and watered it down with the stretch of the image of a boot. Come on...that's a tire with a nail in it!!

Mark 9:11 AM  

Rex does come from a different cultural neighborhood. As I understand it, he works at a University; and the need for political correctness in many universities is much stronger than in most other social environments.

Nancy 9:13 AM  

And now I'm thinking that, even though I've been told that a BOOT looks like a Q, I still don't know why an O would change into a Q. With each passing moment, this puzzle seems more and more awful.

Roo Monster 9:13 AM  

Hey All !
I thought the BOOT was well interpreted by the Q. That's what a BOOTed car tire looks like. Thankfully never has happened to me. Seen video of someone driving off with it attached. I guess if you don't care about trashing your wheel wells, then eventually they do break apart.

To me, ASLANT seems un-wordy. Do like Miller, though. MGD especially. The whole N center, middle center section held me up a bit. ROTI a big WOE, PRIVATE EYES clued sneakily, PRACTICABLE a word? I can barely pronounce it! ARETE/CELIE/TITHER tough trio also. But was able to complete with no errors! Yay me!

SAARINEN held me up, I was thinking there was an S in there. SAARIsEN. Did the old fill in K_B_B thing and wait on crosses.

Agree with Rex B grade, thought it a neat, easy for a ThursPuz puzzle. Good old TSETSE snuck in there. Liked XFILE.



Hartley70 9:15 AM  

In retrospect this is a cute visual theme, but I solved the SE by the crosses and therefore never saw the reveal. That is added to the problem that I've never seen a BOOT. Just like Bigfoot, they are mythic, but never appear in these parts. When I lived and drove in NYC, I would occasionally get a parking ticket, but I don't think the nasty BOOT was in use yet. As to shape, I would have imagined a big square metal thing, not a plastic tail. I filled in the "oQ" rebus in each theme car model and needed @Rex to explain the theme. That'll teach me to read every clue, although it probably wouldn't have helped if I had.

BTW, I thought the fill was way above average and quite enjoyed it. I'm giving the fill an excellent grade of A.

Brett Hendrickson 9:23 AM  

I really wanted to plunk down CLASSY in 1A when I started the puzzle.

Mike Rees 9:31 AM  

Some days you're the bug, some days you're the windshield. Today, I wast most definitely the windshield. Slammed through this one in a record time, far less than half my average. No overwrites, and I would have been faster if I had left SHAQ in. Didn't like the DQ ending so I figured I was wrong. Once I got the theme, it was game on.

This was a terrific Tuesday or Wednesday puzzle. I expect to be 17-20 minutes on a Thursday, not nine. But still a fun solve :)

NCA President 9:34 AM  

@Nancy: the O changes into a Q (the boot is put on the tire) to incapacitate the car. That is, you can't drive away when a boot is on the car. Rex pointed out that each themer had only one O, so it was [relatively] clear that the O was the "tire" that the boot was put on.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Holy smokes! Record time, by at least 30 seconds, and almost 8 minutes below average. Felt - and played - like a Tuesday.

Steve M 9:34 AM  

What Nancy said- really do not see the Q connection even though was able finish

Nancy 9:44 AM  

Thank you, @NCA Pres! I don't like the puzzle any better, but at least now I understand it.

mathgent 9:45 AM  

I agree with @Nancy (as usual) on the quality of the fill.

I saw that Os turned into Qs and had to figure out the gimmick at 59D. I had ???T. The Q sort of looked like the O tire with a nail in it, so I tried FLAT. The F would make PILAF the street food. Tried to make that work for a long time until I saw BALI and KEBAB. That gave me BOOT just from the crosses. But it didn't register with me. We call them Denver boots out here.

I like Rex grading the puzzles. I would get rid of his easy-medium-challenging classifications. They're meaningless to me.

John V 9:47 AM  

Fun. Got the conceit early. Thought CELIE/TITHER was hard.

RAD2626 9:54 AM  

Also did not get the connection until the very end then changed all of the O's to Q's except for SHAQ which had been there from the beginning. PRIVATE EYES, TRIFECTA and having AA meant it had to be SAARINEN even though I did not know he designed that ugly monstrosity, gave me a huge head start. Had loRdS and piTa (duh!) in the top for a longer time than I care to admit.

Entirely fair and clever Thursday puzzle. Good fun.

jberg 9:54 AM  

First of all, malarkey! The word went so out of fashion nobody ever said it -- then Joe Biden uses it to great effect on national television, and next thing you know it's here in a clue! I love this puzzle for that alone.

I got to the revealer at the very end (where it is, after all), so I was first thinking that every car model had a letter altered to make it something else -- then, when I started to see the Q-for-O thing, that each car was "incapacitated" in the sense that you no longer were able to pronounce it. The revealer made it all clear; after that, I loved the puzzle even more.

Unusual range of difficulty in fill-in-the-blank answers: from ________ salad (could have been anything, although I did guess it right) to hoity ______.

@Nancy, maybe you're thinking of the BOOT in the British sense -- what we call the "trunk" of the car. But "the BOOT" is a device the police put on your wheel (as in Rex's illustration) to lock it; they use it for people who run up parking fines but never pay them.

I think DENALI is in honor of the official name change of the mountain earlier this year; I didn't know it was a car as well.

Wm. C. 9:58 AM  

I finished it, but had no idea what the O-to-Q conceit was until I came here.

Far too obscure a theme to be enjoyable. Shame, Mr. Shortz!

johnny stocker 10:15 AM  

I liked it. I got to Cherokee (which was my previous automobile that I laid to rest in the junkyard a year ago), and had my 'aha' moment. I liked the theme. It was different and the puzzle offered the exact right amount of Thursday challenge for me-a bit over 15 minutes, just a shade under my Thursday average. I also liked the clue for ACES quite a bit as well. Thought that was clever.

Larry Ditkoff 10:17 AM  

it is rare that I cannot follow the reasoning for the"hook" in the puzzle. I figured out that it was "Q/O" but could not see the link to boot

Anonymous 10:24 AM  


They're cars in most states. DMV's are very particular about designations. No such thing as an SUV. Just marketing malarkey. Anyway who appointed you the arbiter of who should drive what?

Mohair Sam 10:36 AM  

Well it was fun. Very clever theme, those of us who enjoyed probably never got BOOTed. My only complaint was ASLANT crossing ASWIRL -surprised OFL didn't notice, guess he was too busy counting names-by-gender.

This played medium/challenging here because first gimme was 7D (naan), then 8D (lords), followed by 12D (ESTb). Did get SHAQ as the fourth gimme - but what a hole to work yourself out of! Had to go below to get a foothold and found that at the CHERQKEE/QUELLS crossing which opened up everything.

Had planned to tease @Nancy about thinking that a BOOT was a car part until Lady Mohair reviewed my work and asked me where the BOOT was on our car. If we were in England I'd have had an answer. Until this morning I thought TWEAK was TWEeK - but ANI ain't eNI, so I learned. Anybody else get tempted to throw in mice before ROCS for "Predators of elephants, in myth" - if the clue had a question mark I'd have written it in.

@Z - Love how only people you select should be allowed to drive vehicles you don't like, welcome to the left. Don't bother to yell - I've never owned an SUV (unless you count the Kia SOUL - I don't), or any vehicle averaging less than 20 mpg, and favor a $2.50 a gallon federal gas tax to replace the FICA payroll tax (the math works). That would get most SUV's off the road along with most other gas hogs, help clean the air with less unnecessary driving, put a floor of about $4.00 on gasoline thereby opening up tons of alternative cleaner fuel sources. But since most of the American public believes the constitution guarantees gasoline under $1.75 per gallon this can never happen.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  


Petito prinipii doesn't mean what you thing it does.

Carola 10:42 AM  

Very cute. I saw that the Q's were incapacitating the vehicles, but misinterpreted them as taking poetic license with the letter and extending the slash all the way through, like a "prohibited" symbol. Wish I would have thought of the nail in the tire as an alternative visual. Anyway, the BOOT on the O-wheel was a delightful reveal.

Naan? I wrote in "na" and then "waaaait a minute" and checked crosses for a possible ROTI. Loved the surprise of TWEAK (hi, @Lewis) - I had TWEA and thought, "No way.". Thanks to those who explained the airborne ACES. @Z, I wear KEENs (for their comfort) and drive a 1998 Volvo sedan :).

old timer 10:53 AM  

Sometimes I wish OFL would get off his PC high horse. It is the most annoying thing about him and if I were still in college I would avoid his classes like the plague. Now what I *used* to be annoyed about was how he always blames the constructor for putting in clues he doesn't know the answer to. Over the years I've grown to kind of like that feature of his personality. It's always amusing and sometimes, I think, quite tongue in cheek.

I found this a bit tough at first. The NW corner was easy and I thought maybe the whole puzzle would have an a- theme: ASLANT ASWIRL, aboil, asizzle? I knew something was wrong when I had NASDAQ and realized that 23D could not possibly be a long word beginning with "pua". AHA!! I said to myself. The O has for some reason been slashed in these answers.

Hands up for "naan" before ROTI. And for once owning a Cherokee. It was for years my wife's commute car and our camping car. I think it took the arrival of a third child to require us to get a minivan, but we kept the Cherokee for five or six years after.

For some reason the Denver BOOT is seldom used in California. It was used for a while to immobilizer those who had unpaid parking tickets. Probably the tow truck operators lobbied against it. In any case, a vision of a tire with a BOOT immobilizing it did not come to mind.

I would give this puzzle an A-, maybe a B+ because DRONEBEE was a real fault. No, an A- because Mr. Kaye gets a bonus point for the brilliant DELANO.

That said, I'd be happy to reserve letter grades for the days Mr. Gaffney fills in.

Michelle Turner 10:58 AM  

The boot makes the tire (which normally looks like an O) look like a Q.

Numinous 11:00 AM  

Nod to @jberg, when I saw BOOT my first thought rear luggage compartment. I haven't seen a wheel BOOT on a car in over 20 years, it just didn't cross my mind. Yeah, I get it now but it wasn't an, "Oh, I see, now I get it," reveal for me. The "Q"s went in with difficulty.

Speaking of Q E II, I had the pleasure of being a passenger on her predecessor, the Queen Elizabeth, sister of the Queen Mary. Lovely little five-day jaunt that turned into a six-day trip due to a hurricane that left lots of little piles of sawdust in the companion ways etc.. I'll let y'all figure that one out. The seas were heavy enough to break several of the inch and a half thick panes of glass on the promenade deck, a shard of which it grabbed as a souvineer.

Oh boy, naan, papadam, chapati. I don't think I've ever heard ROTI used in association with Indian food even thought the word comes from the Sanskrit ROTIka, meaning "bread". My, my, the things one learns from crosswords. Hands up for the cleverness of the clue for DELANO.

Enjoyed the taste of Kaiser salad, Oops, sorry, that would be CAESER salad in the grid. Somewhere along the road I picked up an attitude regarding the pronounciation of ancient Latin.

Where I failed here was at ANI, I'm just not at all a Star Warss fan. The series which is way too drawn out effectivly makes George Lucas a one trick pony. So I had no idea that eNI wasn't a valid nickname.

I agree with what @Z said regarding the grading of puzzles and think it's just fine. And today, I'm going to agree with @Rex's grade.

Ellen S 11:09 AM  

I guess I shouldn't tell y'all this, but I will anyway. I'm aware of the practice of putting what I still thought of as "Denver boots" (I guess now they're generic) on cars that are illegally parked, or with unpaid parking tickets, and what they look like (although there are different models, according to Google). The important part is the clamp that goes on either side of the wheel. Then an arm goes from the clamp to the large plate across the hubcap, covering the lug nuts so you can't take the wheel off. That plate is more visible but less important than the clamp. So you have a "Q" with something attached to the tail. And depending on the tire, sometimes the arm goes off to the left instead of to the right, so, even less like a Q.

All of this is to say, shamefacedly, I thought the Qs were those bombs that the anarchists used to throw, at least in the comics. Spherical things with a fuse. Blowing up a car is certainly one way to incapacitate it, but I thought the puzzle was in dreadfully poor taste until I got to the revealer. Thank heaven it was only the BOOT.

Da Bears 11:18 AM  

Harsh critique. Loved this puzzle and the concept, especially for a Thursday.

AliasZ 11:21 AM  

This was a BOOTiful theme, clever and unexpected just as expected on Thursday. I would have been really peeved though if I found a BOOT on my Lamborghini MURCIELAGQ or Rolls-Royce PHANTQM.

I guess Will thought English composer Thomas ARNE (1710–1778) of Rule Britannia fame was too easy for Thursday, he had to dig up instead an obscure fictional character. I can't say I entirely disagree, since jai alai got into the puzzle through the back door to right the balance.

Favorite clue: "Big dogs in dogfights". The dogfight reference threw me for a minute or two, until it hit me: "Aha! It's aerial dogfight and flying ACES!"

There were a few less-than-ideal fill words (NDAK, ASLANT/ASWIRL, ROTI [naan?], ELI and ELIA, etc.), but as @GB mentioned, the cross-referenced LEI above ELI was clever.

Speaking of America the Beautiful, give a listen to this lovely American work: the Suite The Plow That Broke the PLAINs, extracted from the score of the documentary by the same name (1936), composed by Virgil Thomson (1896–1989).

Da Bears 11:22 AM  

@Chefwen, living in Chicago, there are BOOTed cars all over because it is one way the City raises revenues. I feel bad for you in paradise where there are no boots. I also had SILVERADQ when I did the revealer and the rest made sense. The visual (ala Rex's pic) is too much.

Joseph Michael 11:26 AM  

Didn't get the theme until the last minute and thought it was clever and original when the "aha" moment finally occurred. Think the puzzle deserves more than a B-. It was challenging and fun to solve.

Not a big car person, so had to guess at most of the theme names, but did so correctly. Because of the word "down" in the clue for 48D and my inability to spell KEBAB, however I had QUILTS instead of QUELLS, so DNF.

Cassieopia 11:45 AM  

Agree with other posters that this is an A-level puzzle. I discovered the weirdness with the SHAQ down, but didn't catch the BOOT connection until the very end and the discovery was an extremely satisfying "aHA!" Nearly got a DNF by naticking (did I sling that slang correctly?) at the SAARINEN/DIAS cross but just kept plugging in candidate letters until the app was happy. I suppose that doesn't really count, but since this was a rare no-Google Thursday for me, I'll take what victories I can get!

Stanley Hudson 11:49 AM  

Living in a university town on the Left Coast, had never seen or even heard of a car boot. Nice to learn something.

Andrew Heinegg 11:58 AM  

It is tough solving puzzles as a theme denier. I just cannot be bothered with figuring out what is going on with clever little examples sprinkled throughout the puzzle, especially when the theme is an imagined visual one. I solved it easily enough with a little snag in the se because I don't think of kebab as a street cart food so I had filled in knish, which probably is no longer available from street carts but, I would not know since I haven't lived in NYC for some 44 years.

In any event, even if I had gotten the boot image,it just doesn't provide me with a visual image that looks like the letter q to me. Okay, so I am unimaginative and inflexible. Tell me something I don't know!

Chaos344 12:02 PM  

@Correct Sir. Thomas ARNE, the composer of Rule Britannia, is standard crosswordese, and thus known by many. Maybe Will did try to shake it up a bit?

I wonder what particular individual history will credit with leading the recent Brexit movement. Having thrown off the oppressive concept of an all powerful central government viv-a-vis the precepts of the European Union, Britannia Waived The Rules. ARNE would be proud!

Chaos344 12:05 PM  

OOPS! MY last comment should have read @AliasZ.

Malsdemare 12:15 PM  

Hand up here for naan, winced at the "big dogs in a dogfight" clue, fearing something horrible like Rots. I had a really slow start but when tne first Q fell, I knew there was a gimmick, and when I hit the reveal, I just smiled. Here in a huge university town, boots are ubiquitus. Yay!

As for OFL's grades and gender counting, I'm fine. It's his blog, I'm here voluntarily, he can do what he likes.

@Mohair Sam. We have to be careful about gas taxes. Some of the poorest of us cannot afford new-ish cars that get good mileage nor do we live in places with mass transit. Think Navajo reservation, or small town, hurting Illinois. If your car dies, the cheapest replacement you'll find is a big, old gas guzzler. If you haul hay for stock, or water for yourself, you need a big honking truck. A big gas tax simply takes you from poor to destitute. Can we find another way to discourage the gas guzzlers without making life even harder for the strugglers among us?

Leapfinger 1:05 PM  

BOOTilicious and everything a Thursday should be!

Scrambled past opt/TRY, naan/ROTI and "Big dog" FAVS (which meshed well awhile with the stimulant ACAI) to finally have SHAQ show me (with a few other crosses) that 21A was a play on SIVERADo. Which is also a fun flick and a hit by the Marshall Tucker Band. Must admit to covering self with ignominy by (i) immediately thinking Murmansk, which (though North) is nowhere near the North Sea and (ii) happily entering DIPLQMAT for EXPLQRER, kinda Dodgy since they've been out of production over 3 decades. Beyond the central PLO, I can't imagine why I remembered that modal atall. Anyhoo, was humbly relieved that at least TWEAK wasn't the dreaded TWERK.

So as it happened, I solved along happily changing the automotive Os to Qs with no raison d'etre till the forced and final BOOT, when the slow d'Aaah!n broke. Always nice to see @EllenS comment, but doubly so today, as one of the few specifying the BOOT clamps through the wheel, not the tyre. A small nit, but she nailed it.

Appreciated the beautifully high-life clue for TRIFECTA, and the slide from DENALI to DELANO. I'm sure I know what @Da Bears thought for "The Great One". (Me too.) Given the currency of DRONEs, thought it valid to specify DRONEBEE, and their fine optical product-line is a fair reason for BOSH, even without Lomb. To be candid, I was childishly pleased with CANID: only 95 more days to hear about CANID8s. Yeah!

[Taking this excuse to segue ever so slightly political: Have to say that in several areas, the best way to achieve progress is to encourage public-private partnerships (the Leapfinger PPP), though a conservative subset tenaciously and exclusively wants only to PRIVATEEYES.]

JayEmKaye, liked how your NEIN was nearly verBOOTen, and how my old CELIca nearly made it center-grid. Thanks for the whole kit and caBOOTle, though I'd rather my BOOTs were Frye'd or even Tony "One-L" Lama'ed.

Now to see if the 16-yo pooch needs to go TOITY.

Tom 1:07 PM  

Boy, reading lots of whiney crybabies this morning!

Just finished, being on the left coast and saving the puzzle 'til morning most of the time. Loved the reveal, as I almost completed the puzzle before I filled in BOOT. Had a good chuckle. Saw my first booted car in San Francisco a few years ago. Nasty devices.

Nice puzzle Mr Kaye. Don't listen to the hoity-TOITY nit pickers. Let them try to create a clever puzzle.

Warren Howie Hughes 1:21 PM  

I guess it's safe to say we got a BOOT out of this Thursday offering from the mind of Jonathan Kaye, is he ACES OAR what, because he got my VOTE! I would even go as far to say, he ROCS the Casbah! EWER truly, The Bard of Quincy...

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

I get the BOOT now but didn't when solving. Like @Hartley70, I've never seen one, barely heard of them. If I recall correctly, there was a sign across the street from the B&B I was staying at in Clifden, Ireland, that threatened to BOOT anyone parking overnight, but didn't know what it meant. I got the O to Q transformation at NAVIGATQR but the reason remained a mystery.

My SE looks like the oil pan on the Jeep CHERQKEE drained out to the bottom of my grid - was thinking 61A would be "Wilson" and thus put "isle" in for BALI,. Lots of clean up needed on aisles 61A, 64A and 67A.

Great visual joke today, if only I had understood!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 1:42 PM  

Solved but didn't get the theme at all. Thanks for the explanation. I've apparently led a sheltered life having never seen a boot in all 75 years of it.

Wm. C. 1:43 PM  

@Cassy11:45 --

To sling that slang properly, you have to capitalize the "N" in Natick. Yeah, I know ... Picky, picky. ;-)

(It's a town in Massachusetts, on the path of the Boston Marathon, from whence its adoption in this blog began.)

phil phil 1:51 PM  

From the first theme answer i thought DQ (disqualified) was the implanted key. So that madee me scratch my head on the other theme 'Qs'...for awhile anyway.
Happy to see grades. Would have thought Rex dispised it from the write up without the grade given.

Initially ocean for PLAIN, but OAR and TRIFECTA kept naan off the table. Prefer rotis over Naans anyway.

Masked and Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Fortuitously, M&A had done this kind of "letter art" tomfoolery before, in one of his own puz creations. So, nailed the theme off the first one entered (the SILVERADQ one). Almost screwed up the second themer, by misspellin its crosser as: NASDAC. [NASDAQ with a tire blowout]

The lack of respect for a certain oppressed and classically under-represented vowel is palpable, in this ThursPuz. Four Q's, and still only one U?!? M&A rests his case. Put a boot on the OED, folks.

This Kaye dude likes to specialize in ThursPuzs, so far [2 for 2]. He thinks different. Good way to think.

fave M&A puz "letter art" themer (Down entry): [Answers at bottom*. No wagering, please.]

Thanx, Mr. Kaye. Keep up that there weird ball thinkin. And, please remember: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Masked & Anonymo1Us

* Cat during brain surgery.

ANON B 2:08 PM  

If I never see another puzzle
like this one it will be too soon.

chefbea 2:12 PM  

hated the puzzle...DNF. figured the O's were Q's but had no idea what the revealer was

Jennifer Freeman 2:12 PM  

I agree. It's more fun when people can make up their own minds about what Rex thinks rather than being told so directly.

Warren Howie Hughes 2:20 PM  

CAESAR was definitely a Salad entry on the part of JMK, would 'ELI...No! cuz TRY as he may, PLAIN to see, like GW he CANID tell one! He Came, 'ESAU, he Conquered me! ANDS that's no lie...in BALI Hai!

Guerin Wilkinson 2:39 PM  

I totally enjoyed the fact that I had no idea what was going on until the revealer, which I saved for the very last. Loved the Q. Sweet puzzle!

Daniel 2:54 PM  

Funny... I saw the Q as an O with a thermometer in it's mouth...you know, ill or incapacitated. Worked for me until the revealer, and then it went over my head for a few minutes.

OK puzzle. Didn't like the ASLANT/ASWIRL meeting. Like Rex, this felt hard although my time was faster then normal.

Alex 3:27 PM  

I figured out the parking violation before coming up with any of the theme answers. I was really questioning Shaq - how can the answer end with a Q? NASDAQ was helpful, and my aHA! moment was with CHERQKEE. The mighty brain finally (finally!) kicked in. I had most of the puzzle done by that time, with the NE the last to be filled in.
However, NOT being an ACE solver, any Thursday I solve, receive the green "attagirl" and don't result to cheati - - - er, research to solve makes me happy!

Masked and Anonymous 3:36 PM  

A few things just occurred to M&A, as he is a might slow …

* Grade point average. The Diary of a Crossword Fiend site rates the NYTPuz using the numbers 5 (grrreat) down thru 1 (bites). Just like a GRADE POINT AVERAGE! So … we can compare grades, between RexWorld and FiendWorld:
MonPuz: @Blu'Bel writeup. Too tired to think about grades.
TuesPuz: RexWorld: D. FiendWorld: D+.
WedPuz: RexWorld: B. FiendWorld: B.
ThursPuz (today): RexWorld: B-. FiendWorld: B-.


* M&A wants to give the Haightful F Crossword [S and T rap] puz one more chance to pass …
That TuesPuz: Rexworld (yo, @MG): F. FiendWorld: D+.
So, … OK, Bruce -- U may advance now to the next puz.

* A-SWIRL/A-SLANT. har. [Thanx for remindin me, @Daniel 2:54pm] Dude was really lobbyin for the A-.



Aketi 3:39 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 4:02 PM  

Got the Q subbing for the O at NASDAQ.i figured the ASLANT line had something to do with car wheels, but needed the BOOT to seal the deal.

As for letter grades, ever since high school I have considered them to be highly subjective. My BFF used to always write two papers for every English class, one for herself and one for another friend. My BFF always got a B and the other friend got an A . We assumed it was because the other friend was more attractive. Percentages are no more trustworthy, but I prefer them anyway,

Leapfinger 4:39 PM  

Odd what crops up in the aftermath of a solve. A glance at the grid had me thinking of a ROTI series, with naan being pita-ful enough to be just well, bread, when I went on to notice a possible tie-in with KEBAB and [sk]EWER. KEBAB reminded me of a grad student in the Biol Dept way back when in New Haven days, a quietly brainy and agreeable fellow. It was just intriguing enough to realize his name (John KEBABian) brackets KEBAB with different countries' versions of the same name for me to google him, and I discovered, sadly, that he had passed away just over 4 years ago.

My excuse for thinking it worthy of comment in this space is that, about a decade after we parted ways, he revolutionized the understanding of the DOPA[mine] receptors that @Whirred Whacks mentioned early this week.

Sic transit, eh?

Z 5:34 PM  

@Mohair Sam and @Malsdemare - Given how hard it was for my state's legislature to pass a gas tax fix to deal with our inadequate road funding, I don't think there is much hope that any state will pass a sensible gas tax or that the Feds will reduce our sizable corporate welfare policies. As for "people (I) select," there are very good reasons for people to own these vehicles. But all you need to do is listen carefully to any SUV or pick-up ad to know the target audience for these vehicles. The funny thing (schadenfreude alert) is that trucks are huge profit makers for auto companies. Yep, auto companies are exploiting the testosterone enriched to pad their bottom lines.

@Anon10:24 - DMVs deal with "motor vehicles," not "cars." Mine makes distinctions based on usage and MSRP (used to be weight). All they care about is whether or not there is a motor. Insurance companies, on the other hand are very particular (ever wonder why a Mustang has a back seat?). Next time you renew the policy on your SILVERADQ see if you can get the Lincoln MKZ rate.

Surprised at the ASWIRL/ASLANT hate. They barely registered for me. The A- prefix seems unnecessary, but they are both definitely words I've seen in the wild.

Mohair Sam 6:00 PM  

1. Remember the working poor will be getting a 6.2% pay raise.
2. Gas taxes would be gradually raised over a period of three years to ease the adjustment.
3. Gasoline prices would rise less than the tax amounts because demand would drop as prices rise.
4. With a base on gasoline prices reliably well above three dollars many clean alternatives will come to the market forcing downward pressure on prices.
5. Initial cost of the old junkers will go lower as gas prices rise - this will ease overall transportation costs to the poor.

And in cases such as poor farmers and poor tribes like the Navajo (I've visited the Arizona reservation, btw - I understand your concern) - there are ample funds in the tax for fuel subsidies as we adjust to cleaner and more efficient transportation.

Aketi 6:10 PM  

@M&A, there is only one U, but there is also an embedded EWE.

Chronic dnfer 6:23 PM  

I solved. So happy Rex thought is was medium challenging. Made my day after bad round of golf.

James Graham 7:51 PM  

I have never in my (looong) life seen a "boot" on a car and had no idea they were Q-shaped.

Boots are used in the UK so ... was the constructor British?


Cassieopia 8:11 PM  

Thank you!

Anonymous 9:56 PM  

As a slow puzzler who is often in the dark about arcane trivia (e.g., had NO idea what the jai alai clue was), I was thrilled to figure out the key pretty quickly - the SE corner was the first to be done and once I had "boot" and "CHERQKEE," the light bulb went on. As another commenter put it, I had the unusual experience of feeling "hoity toity" on a Thursday ;-)

In general, I do like the figuring out that goes into most Thursday puzzles. Nice one -- not brilliant, but cute. A nice antidote to the front page news....


Hartley70 10:58 PM  

@Malsdemare, I'm on my lifetime Volvo #5 and while I don't wear Keens, my Merrills and Birkies are close enough for us to be sole sisters.

Virginia 11:35 PM  

My reaction was the opposite of Rex's -- I liked the puzzle pretty well but kind of hated the theme. Maybe because I know what the BOOT is, but I've never seen one in the wild -- I associate it with Boston, and while I've had many Bostonian friends, I've never been spent more than a few days there myself. Anyway, the idea of a Q representing a "result of a parking violation" remains nonsensical to me, even after having the visual pun explained.

I'm not wild about the letter grades either -- I feel their specificity somehow detracts from the general grumpiness of Rex's persona -- but it's nice to have him back anyway!

wrollinson 1:14 AM  

And here I thought that "BOOT" was referring to the O's being sick... that the Q was an O with a thermometer in its mouth and was also throwing up (i.e. booting). Whoops.

Rina 10:28 AM  

Late as ever, I did the puz this AM. Funny thing was, BOOT was my first answer after ACDC. SHAQ gave the whole thing away, puzzle done! Haven't seen a boot since I moved to the boonies though. QUALLS? I'll google it.

Rina 10:32 AM  

Oops, KEBAB.

Burma Shave 9:50 AM  


is just PLAIN ASLANT and/OAR unretractable.
What the cops WILLDO is TRY to RAKEIN their fee


Anonymous 10:06 AM  

@ Z - not that you'll see this since i am a syndicated solver - but, Silverado is a pickup truck, not an SUV. It sure says something about most of the crowd here that no one picked up on that. In other words, most of the people here are Prius lovers.

Z 10:19 AM  

@Anonymous 10:06am - I totaled my first Prius (second model year), traded in my '06, my '10 is in Colorado with my second son, and I currently drive a Ford C-Max Energi. Why? Because I want as little of my money as possible going to the Saud Royal family and their nut job Wahhabi imams. The best of the Prii was the '06 (the '10 had ergonomic improvements I hated), but the C-Max is the car to buy (60,000 miles at 49 mpg, basically runs on battery power when I'm not taking long trips). And you're right - the Silverado is a pick-up, not an SUV. My bad. And spell checker seems to believe Wasabi>Wahhabi. I have to agree.

rondo 10:24 AM  

Dumb. Visual effect or not. EWER kiddin’ yerself if you said you liked it. Certainly a novel concept, but what did WILLDO letting this one in? And I had a little inkfest in the naan/piTa/ROTI area.

Once again went K_B_B since there must be a half dozen variations on spelling it. In Azerbaijan it’s KABAB. Delicious.

SILVERADO is not a SUV as someone stated above, but the DENALI sure is.

Due to the lack of clued yeah babies, I will change ANI to Righteous Babe DeFranco.

OFL could put up a link to Hall & Oates PRIVATEYES. Or Drive-By Truckers Go Go BOOTs.

No ifs, ANDS or BOOTs about it, on this puz I was not KEEN.

spacecraft 11:29 AM  

I too was a bit perplexed at the ___LQR__ sequence 1n 25a. Abandoned that and drifted down to the SW, where NAVIGATQR convinced me that we were just dealing with real models with a Q where the O should be. So...incapacitated: okay, a nail through the tire. That WILLDO it. I was happy with that visual, and promptly went back up to fill in EXPLQRER. Like others, I stalled in the NE because a Chevy SUV that fit wouldn't come. What's a pickup doing amongst all these SUVs? Oh well--too bad there's no O in DENALI.

And I too filled in BOOT before even reading the clue--surprise! Now, at the last, it all made sense--but it did before, with the flat-tire idea. No harm, no foul. This was kinda fun, with some fun Q entries along the way. Some rough spots; the two a-words in the NW were a tad off-putting (ASLANT, ASWIRL--the latter getting a red line from spellcheck). A fairly high PPP count didn't help. Agree that DRONEBEE feels green-paintish. And TOITY? Man, there is only one way you can clue that clunker. Too central to fix, I guess.

All in all, though, I didn't think it was that tough, so I was surprised to see the m-c rating. I'd call it medium for a Thursday. For DOD, we'll take a young Whoopi as CELIE. One writeover: my bet was a perFECTA. Then I realized I had a dyslexic PirVATEEYES! Is it a par or a birdie? A "pardie?" Sounds like fun; I'm in.

5wksltr 11:47 AM  

Whimsical is always good. Those "tires" aren't rolling anywhere.

leftcoastTAM 1:48 PM  

Liked this much more than Rex did. Fun, clever, on easy side of medium Thursday.

Picked up the theme early with EXPLQRER and SILVERADQ, which made the remaining Qs (BOOTed wheels) easier to find. Impressed that QEII recently surpassed QV in tenure.

Long downs helped in solve, revealing TSETSE and CELIE. In the SE, the desired spelling of KEBAB became very clear via crosses.

NW, as seems increasingly the case, was the last to go. DROWSY, nicely clued, clarified the choice between ASWIRL and AwhIRL, and ASLANT made LEON apparent, too.

And round it all off, had an aha moment at DELANO.

Can't ask for much more on a Thursday. Have to give it an A.

Diana,LIW 2:58 PM  

Once again, living all around the country helped me "get" some answers. Like BOOT. Knew them from Chicago, where parking is a premium in the Loop.

I really enjoyed this for several reasons. 1) I solved it - on Thursday! 2) I got it. At first I thought the Qs were some kind of rebussy thing, like it stood for "quit?" 3) Got the long downs way before Rex (well, not time wise, but solve wise) 4) Thought I had a dnf, put it down, went back, finished. Satisfaction.

Today is Star Wars 50th, so enjoyed seeing a SW clue/answer.

I didn't fall for the naan wrongness - I've learned not to fill in until I'm pretty sure an answer is right.

Feeling all hoity TOITY about some correct choices. What else would follow hoity?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 3:03 PM  

Count me among those who liked it, and also among the few who immediately knew that BOOTs were being represented by the Qs. Those nasty things really do incapacitate a car, or SUV, or pickup truck. Nice visual.

Words like ASWIRL and ASLANT don't really bother me, and somehow it seemed elegant to have them cross. Well, maybe cheeky anyway.

Personally, I like @Spacey's golf score ratings better than letter grades, even if I don't always agree with him, and rarely with OFL. Actually, 'pardie' is fine by me.

Overall easy-medium with some clever touches to give it 'sparkle'.

wcutler 4:54 PM  

Rex said " The problem was that I had zero idea what was going on until the very, very last letter." I thought that was supposed to be a good thing, that the revealer didn't come until the end, so it you got to try to suss it out.

I have never seen that kind of boot on a car, thought it meant kicking the tires, didn't really make sense, so thanks for being here to explain it. And thanks too to the people who explained ACES as referring to aerial dog fights, but I still don't really get it. Why "big" dogs? Unless you have to go from the pilot aces, to Snoopy to the planes.

I liked it anyway. Except for ASLANT and ASWIRL. Those a- words seem too forced.

Mikkle 5:50 PM  

At first, I thought this was one of the poorest excuses for a theme I'd ever seen from a NY Times puzzle. But then, I reconsidered. It gives an actual meaning to the use f the word incapacitated. I actually came to like it. After awhile, after it was all aswirl in my head.

5and1/2wksltr 10:42 AM  

Four days after finishing, I'm still chuckling over this one. Those cars aren't going anywhere! There's never enough whimsy in this world. If this puzzle is ever republished and needs a title, I suggest "Ka-Ching!"

Brian B 1:22 PM  

Late to the party on this, but ... no one commented on crossing "Incapacitated Lincoln?" with "Theater box"? That seems a bit much. Just sayin'.

Blogger 4:51 AM  

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