I thought today's theme was excellent. The five theme answers were common words that all start with "ex" but they were given new meanings wherein the "ex" refers to a former lover. I was amused by most of the answers, but my favorite might be "Former lovers' stances in photos?" EXPOSES. Ha!
At first, I didn't understand the final theme answer in the southeast corner. I hadn't read the clue carefully and just assumed it followed the same pattern as the others. However, it refers instead to one's "Current lover, who seems suspiciously occupied"? with the answer (EXPENDING). Exemplary! Extra points for its exceptional placement in the grid.
The exultance of X's in the across answers had a mixed result on the Down clues. NIXED and XENON are strong, but RXS less so. I guess the exigencies of this kind of theme mean we have to take a little medicine along with the fun.
I have a couple of other axis to grind. Did I enter REUNE when I read the clue "What alumni do on important anniversaries"? Yes, dear readers, I did. Did I want to, no, no I didn't. And, can ETCH be used to describe writing with a chisel on stone? I GESSO, if the NYTX says so, but it seemed off to me.
Excuse me, I did not intend to get exercised by these minor vexations. I very much enjoyed this puzzle. C/A P's I particularly liked included "Busy, as a restroom" (INUSE), "Soup legumes" (LENTILS), and "Aptitude" (SKILL). Aptitude! BASSDRUM and SARCASTIC are good fill. Also funny to have both "Dragging behind" (INTOW) and "Halved" (INTWO) in the puzzle.