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:
- "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)
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)
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[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).
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