Plus Ten

New York Times crossword Dec. 30 / Constructed by Steve Savoy

Greetings from Philadelphia! We’re back home again after a long weekend in New England, and just in time — can’t say I’m upset we missed yesterday’s big snowstorm. (We got just a dusting here, which quickly melted after the flakes turned to rain.)

At first, I thought today’s theme answers would all contain an extra “X,” which is the Roman numeral for “10.” But the “Plus Ten” in the title is even more literal than that: The theme entries are common phrases with an extra IO (the alphabetic representation of 10). I realized that after remembering the name of the rapper with a big hit song in the mid-’90s, making it easy to figure out “‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ buyer?” is a COOLIO CUSTOMER (46 Down).

Others: “Sign-off for Spanish spies?”is CLASSIFIED ADIOS (22 Across). “Two bottled liquids kept in a cabinet?” are WINE AND IODINE (34 Across). “Champion model maker at the county fair?” is the DIORAMA QUEEN (47 Across). “Wacky exercise regimen?” is WILD CARDIO (65 Across) and “20 cigarettes per unit and 10 units per carton, e.g.?” are PACK RATIOS (68 Across).

More: “Green room breakfast item?” is a STUDIO MUFFIN (82 Across). “Musical composition about a lumberjack’s seat?” is a STUMP ORATORIO (93 Across). “Like Ben-Hur and company when not racing?” is OFF THE CHARIOTS (15 Down). And “Try-before-you-buy opportunities at knickknack stores?” is the awkward CURIO RENT EVENTS (113 Across).

Entries You Don’t See Every Day Dept.: TOMATO SOUP (“Grilled cheese sandwich go-with,” 73 Down), PLATE ARMOR (“Heavy-duty protection,” 10 Down), CATAPULT (“Siege weapon,” 106 Across) and MULLALLY (“Megan of ‘Will & Grace,'” 19 Across.)

Say What? Dept.: Never heard of ROOTLE (“Grub around,” 28 Across), and AMAIN (“At full speed,” 60 Across) comes up as “archaic” in this dictionary. Also, I put EE’S for “Certain until. workers” (115 Down), assuming they mean electrical engineers. If correct, that’s kind of weak.

Cheers! Dept.: “Hoppy pub quaff” is an IPA (79 Across), short for India pale ale. Someone in this household got a beer-making kit for Christmas, and it came in a very cute and self-contained box. But after watching the somewhat intimidating video, I’m less optimistic he’ll have a future as a successful microbrewer.

Out of Their Misery Dept.: In honor of today being the last day of the regular NFL season, I’ll note 26 Across: “Peyton Manning’s former teammates” are COLTS. Manning’s new team, the Broncos, have won 10 in a row. Meanwhile, this year can’t end soon enough for the Eagles, who are 4-11 going into their last game vs. the Giants. It may be longtime coach Andy Reid’s last game for Philadelphia as well. Or not.

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