Before the puzzle, an announcement: Starting this week, I'm switching from a weekly schedule to an "occasional" schedule. The main reason is that there are so many good new crosswords out there now, including the Puzzle Society daily and the New Yorker puzzles on Mondays, plus Dave Murchie's Monday Fills. Don't want to overwhelm the solvers! Of course, if you want a weekly dose of bewilderment, you can still subscribe to the Thursday puzzles (see the right sidebar).
Also before the puzzle, the answer to last week's meta, which asked you to identify the outcome of the game depicted in the grid. As some people guessed just from the title, "Hugs and Kisses," the game was tic-tac-toe, depicted using the X's and O's in the grid.
As you can see, the game (like all tic-tac-toe games by players who know their stuff) is a tie. A bunch of solvers even submitted the answer "cat's game," thus teaching me the term for a tied game in tic-tac-toe!
And finally, on to this week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution).