Edible part of litchi / THU 4-6-17 / Sitcom catchphrase of 70s 80s / Many embedded animation / Last word of many improv skit

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: XS AND OS (38A: Playbook symbols ... or letters treated symbolically in this puzzle's Down answers) — Xs treated symbolically three times on left half of grid, Os thrice on right:

Theme answers:
  • "X MY GRITS" (5D: Sitcom catchphrase of the '70s and '80s)
  • "THREE X A LADY" (3D: 1978 #1 hit for the Commodores)
  • X SPEED (38D: Certain bicycle)
  • TURNED FULL O (26D: Went back to where it all began)
  • BEAR OS (18D: Big, tight embraces)
  • O SUM GAME (39D: Situation in which, on the whole, nothing can be gained or lost)
Word of the Day: TWEE pop (34A: ___ pop (music genre featuring simple, catchy melodies)) —
Twee pop is a subgenre of indie pop that originates from the 1986 NME compilation C86. Characterised by its simplicity and perceived innocence, some of its defining features are boy-girl harmonies, catchy melodies, and lyrics about love. For many years, most bands were distributed by the independent record labels Sarah Records (in the UK) and K Records (in the US). (wikipedia)
• • •

Enjoyed this one. Thought it was going to be a Kisses theme (got "[KISS] MY GRITS" first) or maybe a Kisses and Hugs theme, which I would also have enjoyed, probably, if the themers were good enough, but this more diversified version works well. I like how the Xs and Os were as letters in one direction and symbols in the other, i.e. I like that the rebus wasn't forced in both direction. First, it means you can get six rebus squares in this thing comfortably (bi-direction would likely limit you to four max, just because of the strain on the grid from limited options (i.e. if you're filling the grid, there are a lot more O---- options than there are [HUG]---- options). Second, there's a nice "wonder what's coming next?" feeling, instead of a "where's the KISS?" feeling (although, again, the latter wouldn't have been terrible). My brain weirdly balked at a couple of theme issues. First, the "O" as circle and as zero doesn't feel like it's functioning "symbolically" in the same way all the other theme squares are. X *represents* a kiss, the concept of multiplication, and (as Roman numeral) the number ten. And O *represents* a hug ... but it just *is* a circle, and it *is* a zero. Yeah, yeah, I can lawyer up a defense of "symbolically" here too, but that difference between represents and is still grates a bit. Also grating: TURNED FULL [CIRCLE]. It's definitely a real idiom, but the (much) more common idiom is CAME FULL CIRCLE (google it in quot. marks, you'll see). So I had the FULL [CIRCLE], wanted CAME, and needed lots of crosses to figure out TURNED, which I never hear.

So I had trouble in the TURNED area and, coincidentally, in the same area on the other side of the grid. 32D: World capital whose motto is "Fluctuat nec mergitur" (Latin for "It is tossed but does not sink")) (PARIS) and 33D: Vessel opener (STENT) both stumped me, even with the first two letters of each answer in place, as did 41: Raises (REARS) and 45A: Thoroughly (IN DEPTH) (had the "D" and "H" in place ... which looked impossible). And since I also couldn't figure out that X was "ten" in [TEN] SPEED, that SW corner was blocked. Eventually just rebooted from the far corner with VIP and worked my way back in. The fill gets a little wonky in places, but not unbearably so, especially in a puzzle with a theme this dense, and with theme answers this colorful. I was lucky to know AGEE (21A: 1969 World Series hero Tommie) (baseball!) and (sort of) PATTIE (25A: ___ Boyd, first wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton), or else that NE could've been a bear (and not the huggy kind).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS that [Alarm clock toggle] clue of AMPM is ridiculously dated, please kill it
PPS the concept / term / answer UNPC is ridiculously stupid, please kill it
PPPS Happy birthday to my sister, Amy, who is in San Diego for "work" this week (I've seen the view out her hotel window—that's not work).

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


evil doug 6:32 AM  

Interesting life for Pattie. She played a school girl in "A Hard Days Night", where George first got the hots for her. Then Clapton decided he had to have Pattie, and "Layla" apparently described his longing for her.

Like LATE TAG, especially since it crosses AGEE and B TEAM. I was more the latter than the former--my Pike brothers called me Taxi Squad. Now, of course, I'm 12ssorcA....

Speaking of which: REARS right on top of IN DEPTH? Kind of LURID....

Didn't realize it means 'freeboots', but love MARAUDS. Great VIVID word.

Anonymous 6:44 AM  

See? It's not that hard to be kind. It's contagious too.

BarbieBarbie 6:49 AM  

Pattie did live an interesting life, and the part where they bothered with marriage feels weird now: I'm free, I'm Bohemian, I'm...getting married?!? a real sign of the times, like the rioting UCB students who were wearing ties. In a Godda Davida blended with Tie a Yellow Ribbon.
I liked the mixed-message Xs and Os here but the sports answers felt discombobulated, maybe because the revealer was football-ish. Then we also got baseball and tennis. Oh, it's Spring! Except for the football. I was trying too hard to have the puzzle make a kind of unified sense. But a very enjoyable average solve: no cheating, but lots of do-overs, and thank goodness we used to stay in Xenia on long driving trips.

Aketi 7:06 AM  

Got the Xs out of the gate with THREEXALADY, but had to O back to X MYGRITS after discovering that Os were part of the trick with BEAROS. Sadly, I didn't immediately spot the O so obvious X MAN that I overthought as some sort of potentially rebused MAN.

dmw 7:16 AM  

Fun, and any Thursday I get without help is a good puzzle. Had to read Rex to understand BEAROS!

Lewis 7:19 AM  

Well, a little bit of everything. Cuteness (kisses and hugs), EE mini-theme (5), some very clever cluing (STENT, ESSES), grit galore, and a theme made for ahas. V stars!

Z 7:21 AM  

My wife and I were just discussing the 1974 tornado that ravaged XENIA, OH the night before last. Another oddly serendipitous entry making 29A a gimme. Other cities near Dayton include Piqua, Troy, Sidney, Versailles, Tipp City, Springboro, Lebanon, West Chester, ..., I know way too much western Ohio geography.

I agree with Rex. Having the symbols being different each time is more interesting and going just one direction seems to pay off with better fill. Disagree with his "O symbolically" nit. The O becomes the symbol for a circle. Works fine in my opinion.

Even though I have posted a link to this article on the ten odes to PATTIE Boyd, I still paused at that terminal E. I would have argued until proven wrong that it was PATTI. Live and learn. Oh, and don't forget Ron Wood.

kitshef 7:33 AM  

Good clean fun. Got the theme at BEAROS, which I find adorable.

Xs and Os appear only in the themers, which places an additional constraint on the entire grid. Well, the Xs probably not so much.

Wanted PraIa before PARIS, which seems to fit the motto better (taken literally), and have never heard of IGA. But overall, a fast solve.

Andrew Goodridge 7:44 AM  

"Playbook" may be much more connected to football, but you will still see Xs and Os as basketball coaches draw up plays -- so it's still pretty timely with the end of March Madness.

Unknown 7:44 AM  

How is the AMPM toggle on an alarm clock dated? You still have that toggle even if your smart phone is your alarm clock. . . unless you use 24 hour time like in the military.

razerx 7:58 AM  

For some reason I had AMFM thinking it must be a the toggle for a clock radio. I don't recall ever seeing a toggle for am/pm for a plain alarm clock.

Passing Shot 8:09 AM  

This was fun and, like Rex, I enjoyed the variety in the theme answers. Also, no rebus! OuT before LET because I never think of the chair umpire as an "umpire"; typically they're referred to as "chairs." Didn't know XENIA but the Commodores song helped. Even knowing thevtheme, I had much more difficulty with the East side and the SE corner in particular. Is it AAH or AhH? A little consistency would be nice.

Can someone explain 28-down?

evil doug 8:13 AM  

Common crossword gag: half the letters in "less" are ESSES.

r.alphbunker 8:14 AM  

48D. {Persians, e.g.} CATS-->RUGS

Details are here.

Ted 8:14 AM  

Having watched all the X-Men movies, as so many of us do, and given that they are blockbusters and there's even one in the theaters right now...

No. XMAN is not a thing. Fail. Un-gettable, jammed up on the top line with vague crosses (___-appropriate, Like the "Scream" films)

Otherwise good, fun, gettable grid is spoiled by the North.

Passing Shot 8:22 AM  

@evil doug -- thanks!

Charles Flaster 8:32 AM  

Very well conceived and medium pour moi.
Baseball theme continues with LATE TAG and AGEE.
Favorite cluing was for ESSES and ALDA.
Writeovers : RUGS for catS which naturally lead to LURID for LUcID.
This past Tuesday night at my weekly trivia contest I had the Caspian Sea / Iran question. Did not know it then but nailed it today!!
Thanks DG

Tim Pierce 8:43 AM  

@Ted: X-Man is a thing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Man. It's a terrible, obscure clue but it's a real thing. It made that corner extra hard, trying to figure out what kind of rebus would read "kiss" in one direction and "super" in the other.

This puzzle was very difficult for me. Didn't know AGEE. Didn't know PATTIE (okay, I'd heard her name before but it really took every single cross to get there). I couldn't figure out the "circle" in TURNED FULL [CIRCLE] until Rex explained it, so couldn't get TURNED. Never heard of "freeboots". Couldn't intuit LATE TAG. That whole E/NE corner was a one-square-at-a-time slog.

Naticked at LET/XENIA. Heard of "twee," but never TWEE-pop. Very, very rough.

I did enjoy it, for sure, but it played as much harder than a usual Thursday for me, and not just because of the rebus.

mathgent 8:44 AM  

A lot of fun. I had fourteen red plusses in the margins, well above my Thursday average.

The clue about tennis umpires calling a let led me to wonder when let cord judges were eliminated. These guys used to sit by the net post with a finger on the net to feel for lets. Bud Collins would call them all Fingers Fortesque.

In college tennis, there are no lets anymore. If a serve touches the net, it is in play. No more arguments arising from one player claiming to have heard a let.

I liked META for the Scream films. Horror films about horror films. Also happy to see a couple of old friends who don't turn up very often these days: LURID and MARAUD.

Sir Hillary 8:45 AM  

Enjoyed this one a lot. Agree with @Rex and others who found the "hunt" to be fun. Wonderful to "hear" Flo's rejoinder to Mel in my head after all these years. When I was in 7th grade, I thought THREE[X]ALADY was about the prettiest song I had ever heard -- amazing that it was from the same group who gave us the funked-up "Brick House". As one who still uses several old-school alarm clocks, I too initially had AMfM.

GILL I. 8:45 AM  

I guess I'm in the minority today because I didn't enjoy this at all. When your 1A is an Abbr. it puts me in a sour mood. For all I care ESTD stands for Easier Said Than Done. At least DG had a Breaking Bad reference - that sorta cheered me.
Perhaps if I had know what a Playbook is, I'd at least have one smile. One too many three letter words that made me really begin to UGG the crossword. If the Wahoos school had been clued as a Spanish grape, I think I would have smiled a second time.
BEAROS made it bearable but just barely. Light bulb went off....So it's XSANDOS... again.

Punctuated equilibrium 9:01 AM  

Liked this puzzle although it played as medium-challenging for me. Liked META and LURID, TERABYTES, and most of the other fill. Never heard of XENIA. Had sUckED for MUFFED. I'm not sure I ever fully grasped this shifting theme, even after I solved the puzzle. I kept looking for more symmetry.

Fibonacci 9:03 AM  

@Rex, Methinks X represents ten in Roman numerals just as 0 represents zero in Arabic numerals.

Trombone Tom 9:32 AM  

Liked this one for the variety of theme answers. Pretty much agreed with @Rex. Last to fall for me was TURNED FULL O. And hand up for catS-->RUGS. Also ouT-->LET. Have not heard of TWEE pop and think I will let that one lie there.

All in all a delightful Thursday.

Mohair Sam 9:39 AM  

Loved this for all the reasons OFL did. And there's a lesson here - normally Rex would have howled about how old this skewed (Commodores, PATTIE Boyd, Alan ALDA, Tommie AGEE, and friggin' Flo?). But you put together a theme that is this much fun and who cares about that stuff?

@Z - With you on the "E" in PATTIE, held off putting it in for a while - guess you learn something new in the Times puzzle every day. With you in knowing that corner of Ohio too, used to cover it traveling on business years back. Good folks. XENIA tornado a sadly forgotten tragedy.

@Rex - Toggle switches may be gone from most alarm clocks, but the verb form of toggle will be with us forever - and used for am/pm. Totally crossworthy imo.

sean 9:40 AM  

i liked it, but not knowing some old popular culture made this harder for me. i have never seen Alice, so i needed every single cross to get X My Grits. i really think this clue makes the whole puzzle pretty tough for the under-40 set. i was sure it was going to "cross my " something. also for some reason i was sure it was going to be "cross" something for the bike (as in some non motorized motorcross type thing). i got part of the idea early with Zero and then filled in XsANDOs, but missed that they would be different things for quite a while, then raced through the last 5 themers in just a few minutes once i figured out bearHugs.

besides the grits, other tough pop-culture items for the younguns: AGEE and PATTIE. THREEXALADY is familiar but i definitely didn't identify it with the commodores, which is also familiar sounding but not something i actually knew. XENIA was also a woe for me, as was Freeboots, which i guessed off the M and D, as i imagine many others did.

but most of the rest was pretty easy, which let me eventually finish in a normal-ish thursday time, despite the troubles.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

I thought Francois Hollande was an UN not an UNE.
Don't understand SCENE or META?
Never heard of TWEE pop.

Lindsay 9:43 AM  

Now I've got that Trisha Yearwood song (X's and O's) playing in my head. UGG.

Debra 9:44 AM  

Good one! Kinda makes up for yesterday.

DeeJay 9:44 AM  

George saw Pattie on the set and his first words to her were, "Will you marry me?" She inspired not only Layla but Something and Wonderful Tonight.

Tita 9:50 AM  

Oh how I love this type of trick. It took me a while while I studiously avoided the revealer clue. Got thrown cause I always think Flomsaid eatMYGRITS, but at BEAR_S got the AAH moment...it's all hugs and kisses...yay...

The actual theme is even more fun, just as Rex says.

Though I dnf'd. Not knowing the random school, I thought it was TURNEDFaLL[ow], rationalizing somehow that O could symbolize a boo-boo.
Yeah, I know. But letting your land turn fallow means letting it go back to what it was... No?

Brother-in-law lived in XENIA. He was a prof at Wright State.

I also liked the failed attempt at Xs and Os in the grid.
Thanks Mr. G. I really really enjoyed this multi-faceted Thursday.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Nobody mentioned Elle King!

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Read the PARIS clue as "tossed but does not stick" and wondered what is the capital where they throw shit against the wall?
Great puzzle.

Mark 10:00 AM  

"Franchise Hollande's one" doesn't mean that he is one (which might be un), it means how does he say the numeral one, which is une.

The Vic Tayback Experience 10:02 AM  

Although "Alice" (and its spin-off "Flo") were the best known TV sit-coms adapted from a Martin Scorsese film, there was also "Travis" which followed the adventures of a cab driver and single dad as he humourously raises two precocious children and balances work, family, and politics in New York City. It ran for one season on CBS in 1976, but suffered poor ratings due to its ever-changing time slot and also for the extraordinary amounts of fatal violence in each episode. It has never been released in syndication due to rights issues.

Nancy 10:02 AM  

Wonderful! What a treat! Not only are the Xs and Os used differently in the Acrosses and Downs, but they also have different meanings in each of the Acrosses. This would have been easier for me to solve if I'd remembered KISS MY GRITS from the 70s and 80s, but I didn't, not quite (I knew it had something to do with GRITS), so I'm thinking: CROSS MY GRITS? TEN MY GRITS? EX OUT MY GRITS? STRIKE MY GRITS? That square alone was an Aha Moment for me. I had to puzzle out TURNED FULL O, too.

This is one I'll remember for a long time. No, X that. Like the late Nora Ephron, I Remember Nothing. So let's just say that this is one I should remember for a long time:) Great job, DG!

DJG 10:02 AM  

If anybody is interest in extended constructor notes for today's puzzle: scrabbledamon.blogspot.com.

Regarding the legitimacy of X-MAN, even if you ignore the fact that there is a (somewhat obscure) comic book character named X-Man, I think it's still a legitimate entry.

It's the flip-side of the Legos thing (the brand name is Lego and so some argue the "correct" plural is Lego blocks not Legos). Yes, the brand is X-Men, but colloquially we do the singular math and say X-Man. For example, you can find forums discussing "your favorite X-Man." I doubt anybody has ever complained that it should be "your favorite X-Men character," just as nobody complains when you say that walking near Legos with bare feet is the bane of every parents' existence.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

The reason STENT was hard is that it is wrong. A stent does not open a vessel. Typically a balloon (inflated in place) opens the vessel and then a stent is placed to keep it open. Picky but true I am afraid.

TrudyJ 10:08 AM  

PARIS completely stumped me and I had to Google it. It's the title of a book of paintings by an artist called Jean Claude Roy of various places in Newfoundland, where I live, so I'm well familiar with the phrase but did not know the Paris connection at all (Kind of worse actually was that I couldn't think of a five-letter European capital that started with P ... I was reaching for "Praha" and completely missed the more obvious answer).

Did anyone else have PUFFED instead of MUFFED for the clue "Blew"? I assume that was an intentional misdirect, but also assume that most people would have figured out that ZERO SUP GAME is not a thing, and quickly corrected it. Me, not so much. I thought maybe there was a saying like "Zero's Up, Game!" or something. Or "Oh's-up game," since without the "SUM" I also didn't get that the O represented zero.

Great puzzle; mistakes entirely due to my own mental blocks.

TrudyJ 10:11 AM  

I can't edit my comment but I meant to say that "Fluctuat Nec Mergatur" is the title of the book of paintings. "Paris" would be a very weird title for a book of paintings of Newfoundland.

evil doug 10:16 AM  


1. Select and copy your original post.
2. Delete the original.
3. Paste the copy as a new post, but don't publish it.
4. Edit the new post.
5. Publish it. Viola!

Mohair Sam 10:17 AM  

@Trudy - Thanks for clearing that up. Definitely had me scratching my head. Now thanks for the chuckle!

RooMonster 10:27 AM  

Hey All !
First question to myself was, "Who the hell is KISS MAN?" Har. That and the BEAR HUG was where my AAH, I mean Aha moment was. Saw OGRES and figured the O was HUG, went to KISS MAN and saw it was an X for KISS. So felr better that Marvel didn't come out with a totally UNPC character! But then thought all the XS AND OS would be Hugs and Kisses, slowing down my solve. Got the X as TIMES in Commodores song, and finally saw each X and O would be something different. Helped with thinking TURNED FULL HUG. :-)

So a cool, different type puz, enjoyed the end product. Warrants the extra 4 blocks.

Agree with @kitshef 7:33 about no additional OS anywhere else. Nice. Gives the US more of a chance.

No prob with XMAN. X-Men as a whole, XMAN as an individual. Could've avoided whole shootin match by changing it to
Just sayin. 64Across clue could've been ___Mini Mart. Just a little TWEEking.


kitshef 10:27 AM  

Anon at 9:53. I didn't mention her, but she's been earworming me all morning.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Re Mark (10:00): You miss the sarcasm.

When I took French their nouns had gender. UN jour, UN homme, Une jeune fille. Francois Hollande in the clue implies UN (masc.) not UNE (fem.).

LaramiK 10:42 AM  

Until I read this, I thought it was Turned Full Zero, thought it was odometer related carspeak that I didn't know.

AliasZ 10:43 AM  

First I hUFFED then I pUFFED, I almost blew the house down before I realized I MUFFED it.

I enjoyed this one. Neat concept, well executed. Thanks, Damon Gulczynski.

The only thing that struck me was the overabundance of POCs: ESSES, DADAS, HOES, SEAS, GELS, YEAS (thank goodness for the singular NAE), etc. But I was wondering if that single UGG boot was a left or right one. My guess: left. There was MEGA and TERA BYTES, META and MEGA, UVA and UMA -- small nits, really.

PATTIE Boyd married three times in all: she is "Once, Twice, THREE X A LADY"... Can anyone recommend a cure for earworm infestation?

Cheers to all on this gloomy day in NYC.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Xs and Os (the song) is by Elle King.

Hungry Mother 10:55 AM  

Very nice, very doable, lots of fun.

QuasiMojo 10:56 AM  

Mon Dieu! I managed to finish this XOtic puzzle without any cheating or calling out to strangers for help and enjoyed it but I had no clue about the theme. X's and O's is not a thing I do. Yes, I kiss every now and then, and sometimes I even give people a hug. But I never write it down that way. In fact throughout this solving experience I thought it meant Ten and Zero. I kept trying to fit it in for that song title, "Ten Times a Lady." Haha. Never heard of Twee Pop. Sounds like a sickly sweet soda. I prefer Iggy Pop. As for the celebrity bride, I had PORTIA first (don't ask) and then PAMELA (perhaps from having just seen "Day for Night" last night -- yes, I watch too many movies.) But eventually I figured it all out. I agree with the above remarks regarding the French president. The number One in French is "un" not "une." I have heard the expression "Turned Full Round" but never "Turned Full Circle." And just for the record I've never heard of Kiss My Grits. I'm going to try that at the local diner here next time I order some.

Carola 11:06 AM  

A fun one to figure out. There was no big AAH-ha moment for me, as each X and O was its own rewarding little puzzle. Shaky on pop culture, I was stumped by ?MAN x ???, so I circled around counterclockwise from TERABYTES to TUNA SALAD, skirting the reveal until fairly late in the GAME. Once I had the XS AND OS, I saw that XENIA was indeed spelled with an X, and then wrote in the X for X-MAN, even though, like @Nancy, I didn't know what was happening to the GRITS: delete? Ohhhhh, KISS. Still had to look at those BEAROS for a minute, though. Very cute.

Liked learning what "freeboots" means and the VIVID - LURID combination.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Unce Tice Fee Times A Maybe was a gimme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wo1-sI7MOQ

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:12 AM  

Solved this in the ophthalmologist's office, with drops in one eye. Every time I thought of an answer to write in I had to place the pencil, squint, blink and then move the pencil over a couple of squares to where the answer really was. Took a while.

jae 11:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 11:18 AM  

Easy for me. Got the theme at 3d and just kept going. Although, hand up for AMfM before PM.

Not sure I'd use LURID to describe Tarantino's films.

Liked it, fun clever Thurs.!

Hartley70 11:27 AM  

I had a bit of a struggle with this. I had the wrong end of the football as soon as I saw "playbook" and "umpire" in the clues. I was sure I needed to figure out the hand signals that coaches and players used on the field. (Is three fingers pointing down one of them?) Fat chance that was going to happen when I don't even know the players names!

I was ready to head to the locker room jacuzzi and throw in the towel when I finally saw the Xs and Os revealer. Oh wait, don't they use X and O for team members on those little chalkboard maps they draw of plays before the game?

It took me nearly an hour to disentangle myself and I enjoyed every minute of the confusion. I'd rather have a kiss and a hug any day of the week.

kitshef 11:32 AM  

Anon at 10:49 - the Elle King song is called Ex's and Oh's. The Trisha Yearwood song is called American Girl (X's and O's).

Masked and Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Primo ThursPuz. Fun (and slightly easy-ish) solvequest. fave themer: (Sign)MYGRITS.

@RP: Remedy clue for UNPC = {What devices starting with an I are??}.

staff weeject pick: ENE. Better directions thru chemical conclusions. EPA is now runnin a new contest, to see how many -ene's they can fit into the water supply.

Excellent NE & SW weeject stacks. Some of em are even real words! Quart low on desperation, throughout the grid. Altho, UNE-IGA-AGEE would kinda make a great Wahoo cheer.

Thanx, Mr. Gulczynski.

Masked & Anonym007Us


oldactor 12:02 PM  

Had pirates first for freeboots but love marauds.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

huggybear, har.

O's are circles, but 0's are ovals. OFL has a wee point, but, as he allows, it doesn't spoil the fun.

(Sugar, your first 2 postscripts don't fly as well in flyover country. Thanks for the Yoakum track.)

Joseph Michael 12:09 PM  

O what an X cellent puzzle

Stanley Hudson 12:13 PM  

@Z, you left out Waynesville. :)

@Mohair Sam, I have family and friends in Xenia and surrounding environs (my wife is a Xenia native--her family lost their home in the tornado, and I grew up nearby), and certainly they remember the tragedy very well.

Stanley Hudson 12:16 PM  

#Xenia Lives.

@Z, you left out Waynesville. :)

puzzlehoarder 12:19 PM  

This was fun to figure out. I had the kiss at 5D and the hug for 18D as my first two solved themers. XSPEED was the third so the remaining three were easy. The difficulty came as much from using the tablet to solve as it was from the need to use crosses for the clues I couldn't first guess. I'm stuck in the firehouse for 48 hours so Friday will be tonight's tablet solve as well.
A nit I'd like to pick is this TWEE entry. Before my annual subscription ran out last night and I was rudely cut off I was checking out the clue history for TWEE on xwordinfo. My beef is that WS decided that as a bird sound, as it used to be clued, it needed to be retired. It disappears for six years. Then as a form of British slang it reappears and suddenly it's okay. Either way it's the same lame entry to me. Otherwise this was a perfectly good puzzle and about right for Wednesday.

old timer 12:31 PM  

Very tough for me. Got the revealer early enough but all the same, I thought those cross-shaped black squares might the part of the puzzle. Then I decided that X always meant 10, and O always meant 0. Then I figured out that in 3XALADY X meant "times". It was only when I *had* to put in BEARXS that I realized there must be an X for "kisses" and therefore XMYGRITS was obviously right.

Even at the end, I had TURNEDFULLO and took it on faith the O meant something -- zero? Came here to understand it meant "circle."

Joe Bleaux 12:54 PM  

Alias, the only cure I know of is a substitution. In keeping with today's puzzle, a couple of musical notes: First, if your Commodore collection is handy, go with the poignant, haunting "Night Shift." If your taste includes country, after you hear the Dwight Yoakam record Rex gave us, check out the original version of "Always Late ... " by the legendary Lefty Frizzell, who wrote and sung it.

Teedmn 1:11 PM  

Great Thursday puzzle, thanks Damon!

I toggled the wrong way at 64A with the common AMfM, thinking the cross of UNfC was some texting acronym I was unacquainted with, sigh.

And 38D took me a while to see. I had the X and was thinking that it would refer to some "cross trainer" bicycle STYLES but the D made SPEED VIVID.

I never saw "Alice" but I dredged X MY GRITS out of my brain. And like others, I had pirates as MARAUDerS.

Good stuff, worth a BEAR O.

oldflappyfrommississappy 1:28 PM  

Does anyone remember Faron Young?

Tom4 2:21 PM  

I thought the singular of X-Men was X-Men...but otherwise no complaints. Really quick time by my plodding standards.

Blue Stater 2:43 PM  

Surely the mascot of UVA (if by those initials is meant the University of Virginia) is/are the Cavaliers, not the Wahoos? Otherwise, since I harbor an intense distaste for what I regard as the corruption of the genre by trickery of this sort, I didn't care for this effort, as usual, though I did come close (three errors, in the end) to finishing it, notwithstanding the fact, equally usually, that I did not get the gimmick.

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

This puzzle was horrific. Rex just said he liked it because he likes to be contrite. He either actually hated it or he himself is a robot -- or he just has his students doing his blog for him... again. There is no universe in which someone who claims they teach a class on comic books could have accepted XMAN as an answer. Think about it all of you. Rex "Hater-of-all-bad-fill" Parker. For God sake's man that is an all-time awful answer. It invalidates anything else positive this puzzle might have done. And it was oh so avoidable.

PS: Shouldn't the X's be the hugs? Your arms cross when you hug, your lips don't make an X. Your lips make an O. Plus, it's "Hugs and Kisses" and it's X's and O's. That's how you say them. What maniac decided the X's were the kisses? It makes no sense.

Nate 3:13 PM  

I finished about 70% of this one and, even after reading Rex's post, was STILL confused about the theme. I'm thinking this one played old. I've never heard of "Kiss My Grits", nor Xenia, OH, still don't understand what the "X" in XSPEED is, was totally flabbergasted by TURNED FULLO. The hell is a full-o? Oh, It's TURNED FULL CIRCLE? What the hell does that mean?

Oy. Hoping for a more friendly Friday.

Unknown 3:56 PM  

My puz is syndicated so I doubt my comment will be read a month later from March 1st puzzle. Re STUDYABROAD, and PDA for unlawful behavior in strict muslems countries, Replies

Unknown3:51 PM
You're talking the most prehistoric religion on earth that treats its women like shit and heaves gays off of buildings. Talk about a War on Women!

Get with it libs!


Wm. C. 4:54 PM  

@Blue Stater --

True, the official mascot of the University of Virginia is the Cavalier. Apparently there is an unofficial alternate moniker The Wahoos, created by the custom of students and others to yell "Wah-Hoo-Wah!" as a rallying cry. Used mainly by local press.

Pretty obscure, though. I got it from crosses, and had to Google for the above explanation.

iamjess 4:58 PM  

Relevant to today: "Filibuster came to English from the Spanish word filibustero, meaning 'freebooter' or 'pirate.'" (Miriam-Webster)

beatrice 5:39 PM  

@AliasZ - had the same idea as @Joe Bleaux, but with three of my favorite ear-worms that I knew you would know - "Plaisir d'amour', Schubert's 'Standchen'('Serenade') and 'An die Musik'. All to do with love in one incarnation or another; but then most of it is.




Anoa Bob 7:13 PM  

Making a LATE TAG here. Thought at first that the theme might involve MEGA & TERABYTES.

Had EAT MY GRITS. Sounded right. Then I remembered the comedy connection and X instead of EAT got me going.

Nice themers but if that's not to your liking, there ain't much else. The fill paid dearly for the theme constraints.

ESSES should be in every constructor's tool box. Top drawer. It's a Super-POC. Not only is it a plural of convenience (POC) itself, it also enables THREE more POCs. Some might think that makes it too easy to fill, and that detracts from the puzzle's overall quality. But what do they know, they're just a bunch of DADAS & HOES.

BarbieBarbie 8:02 PM  

Anonymous @2:50, your arms O to make a hug and your wrinkly ol' lips X to make a pucker if you X your arms to hug someone you are going to have to elbow that person in the sternum to get the job done. The world has it right.

Anonymous 9:02 PM  

I'm using the NYT Crosswords app on my iPhone and can't enter a string of letters in one space, but it takes the first letter as the right answer for rebus puzzles. I seem to remember AcrossLite let you enter/see more letters, maybe even the entire string. If anyone has a suggestion, I'd appreciate the help. Is yhe ActossLite app even around any more? I didn't see it on App Store, at least for the iPhone.

kitshef 10:51 PM  

Anonymous at 9:02 - for the past few months I've been using r.alphbunkers (free) site, which allows you to do letter strings, and allows you to go back and review your solve.

He is a regular poster on this board - contact him if you are interested in trying it.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Thank you. I'll ask him.

SteveHikes 6:02 PM  

I have regularly read rex's blog for a couple of years. At first I learned a lot about how to analyze, construct, and solve puzzles. I found the comments entertaining and often very clever. During the past year i--like most contributors--have noted the growing political acrimony and the increasing frequency of Rex's over-the-top rants. Unlike a few more conservative commenters, I am to the left of Rex, opposed to Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. Bernie was too enmeshed in the system for me to expect anything from his campaign. Still, it is sad to watch Rex virtually self-destruct, as he did again today in his critique of Patrick Berry's typically fine clean puzzle. Rex reminds me of colleagues who became so cynical that they hated and constantly maligned their students. I one student behaved badly, it became the occasion for a generalized condemnation of "students today." Teachers with that attitude cannot help students figure out how to fight for a better world. Unless Rex rediscovers his better self and links his keen critical insights to an appreciation of what creative, thoughtful, angry people can do, his blog will descend into irrelevance. That would be a sad ending to what has been an important and educational voice in the world of crosswords.

spacecraft 11:34 AM  

Amazingly, no one has yet mentioned the one very remarkable feature of this puzzle: there are no stray O's! Sure, all the X's are in-theme; it's easy to eliminate any e"x"tras. But to do the same thing with a vowel? Stupendous! Color me IMPRESSED.

I was a while trying to decipher the trick here; thought at first it was rebusiness with BEAR(hug)S but couldn't place the multi-letter square(s). (Yeah, I started in the NE with LIVE/VIA.) Had to hop around the puzzle filling in sections until, moving clockwise, I at last came upon the Lionel Richie hit, and then it got a lot easier to finish. Strange...there wasn't really a huge aha! moment; it was more like: I know what he's doing but not exactly how.

I'm with the camp that cries foul on the UVA Cavaliers being called Wahoos. That's something only a local would spot. My SW is a mess because of acrID-->lIVID-->VIVID.

Question: How many times can UMA Thurman be DOD?
Answer: As many as she wants!

I agree that "came" should replace TURNED in 26-down, but that won't fit, and it's a pretty small nit to pick. Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:36 AM  


PARIS Hilton makes the SCENE as LURID and shady.
as the MEGA STAR who’s TURNEDFULL_O at the jerk.


Torb 12:49 PM  

It's "For God's sake". Xs are kisses. X-man is valid.

Have you ever finished a Xword puz before?

Diana,LIW 1:14 PM  

Good eye, @Spacey - I had to go back and check those O's. O my.

The kind of non-rebus rebus that I can enjoy. Loved sussing out the various xo meanings. Even with some unknown pop stuff - looking at you TWEE - it played fair. I'm with those who had to change fM to PM.

Happy Thursday, and Happy Mother's Day this Sunday.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 1:44 PM  

I had a kind of double discovery moment with THREEXALADY and XMYGRITS being almost simultaneous finds. Also liked that the Xs were on one side and the Os on the other, just as it’s spelled out in the middle.

That ALDA clue sounds just like Will when he’s doing his MPR thing. Bet Damon didn’t have it that way originally.

UVA, Wahoos? UGG.

Thought it might be another yeah babyless day until the late arrival of UMA.

Pretty nice puz. I’ll be XENIA.

leftcoastTAM 2:22 PM  

This is clever and took a while to uncover the theme, which was so clearly revealed by the revealer.

Had the same problem (I think) as Rex did on the "O"=hugs thing, but it ties in so neatly with the adjoining revealer itself, evoking the Xs and Os you might add to the bottom of a warm letter or message.

Didn't EATUP this one but really enjoyed it.

ecanarensis 2:44 PM  

Z 7:21 AM, Mohair Sam 9:39 AM; I lived in SW Ohio til '78; spent most the summer of '74 hiding in my Mom's closet (it was built into the side of a hill) because of the tornadoes. Xenia is permanently stuck in my mind as "the town that used to exist in SW Ohio before it got wiped off the map by one of the terrifying tornadoes." Was surprised to see it as a clue!
Glad to see it really is alive & a going concern.

rain forest 2:50 PM  

Clever little puzzle, one which yielded discovery after discovery. Once I realized that there was not a "normal" rebus afoot, it was fun to try to figure out how those Xs and Os were being used, starting with BEAROS. So, hugs and kisses was it! Not so fast, kiddo.

As my solve progressed, I came to realize that all the Xs were on one side, and all the Os on the other, and that there were no stray Xs and Os. I don't know what constraints that places on construction, but I'd say this puzzle is a feat.

One w/o: ouT before LET, first one this week, I think. Liked this a lot.

@evil doug (you won't see this) - Viola! Brilliant.

leftcoastTAM 4:59 PM  

Oh, my problem (and Rex's?) wasn't the O in hugs, but the letter O in HOES, which "symbolically" represents nothing but...the letter O, not a ten or a zero or a circle.

leftcoastTAM 5:25 PM  

,,,or a "times".

wcutler 9:53 PM  

I didn't hate it, but it certainly left me in the dust. For starters, I don't know what Playbook is. I didn't even answer the XSANDOS, but I did understand that there were at least O's, two of which I got. Oh, just realized that I was close on BEAROS, thought of bear hugs early on, but I never went back to rethink it. I didn't get any X's. I don't know how X MY GRITS is said. Oh, just got Ten Speed. Don't know the song. Total blank on the total SW corner. I thought of TWEE pop, just never heard the term - maybe it's what I thought was called Teeny Pop.

So I liked it, theoretically.

Nightowl 6:44 AM  

Ten-speed bike.
I liked the puzzle after I figured out the Xs and Os!!

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

What do the highlighted word and red letter signify in Rex's solve?

Nightowl 4:11 AM  

The letter "S", or 2 "SS" or ES, ESSES.

Nightowl 4:26 AM  

As far as I know, that's where Rex Parker finishes the puzzle. It changes each time.

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