So Mitch sent me a DIY debricking kit: a replacement SPI FLASH chip with working firmware and some ChipQuick to remove the old chip with. My dad and I heated up a soldering iron and eventually managed to make the transplant. That was fun! But I wouldn't want to do it that way every time :-)
Thankfully my new XO-1.5 boots from something much cooler than an SPI FLASH chip: an Artec FlexyICE ROM emulator attached to the LPC bus. The ROM emulator is seriously cool - it's an FPGA with two interfaces: LPC towards the XO, impersonating a ROM chip, and USB-serial towards my Macbook, receiving new firmware images that I'm creating. It's also open-source hardware and ships with its ~2500 line VHDL sources.
I've wanted to have FPGAs in my life for quite a while now. This feels like a step in the right direction. :-)