This was one of the most enjoyable Sunday puzzles I can remember. Maybe it was just a good day all around...but it was such a pleasant solving experience.
The title of the puzzle (Reverse English) made me shudder at first glance...I thought we were going to have answers appearing in reverse. That kind of stuff just messes with my eyes too much.
So it was a relief to see opposite words appearing in each theme answer, each cleverly clued to appear as a possessive of the first word.
22A: Part of a blouse that touches the waist? (top's bottom).
23A: The real scoop about lipids? (fat's skinny).
33A: Under-age child of a military officer? (major's minor).
38A: Nonsense of a market pessimist? (bear's bull).
53A: Toil of a Broadway show? (play's work).
55A: Match for a bad guy? (heavy's light).
78A: What can produce a "boing!"? (spring's fall).
82A: Ardor of a new employee? (hire's fire).
93A: Comeback of a Japanese game? (Go's return).
95A: Singer Johnny's gallop? (Cash's charge).
113A: Privilege of liberals? (left's right).
115A: Road in Yellowstone? (park's drive).
The theme didn't become apparent to me right away, although I was able to fill in one of the words in most of the answers. Once I got it, it was pretty easy to fill in the rest.
I don't always notice patterns in the grid (like yesterday's repeat of MAN and MEN), but today I saw an abundance of A-words...44A: Affirm (avow), 45A: Oven maker (Amana), 46A: Caught in __ (a lie), 61A: Make __ of (a mess)...not an ass, which was my first guess, 64A: Yes (assent), 68A: Watchdog org.? (ASPCA), 86A: Stop early (abort), 101A: Over (again), 120A: Give it __ (a try), 121A: Say yes (agree), 7D: New Testament book (Acts), 18D: __ nitrate (amyl), 21D: Words sung before and after "is just" (a kiss), 34D: Province of central Spain (Avila), 49D: Refuse holder (ash can), 68D: Comparable in size (as big), 101D: Italian wheels (Alfa), 103D: Miles away (afar), 11D: Alamo battler? (Avis)...clever one...and 116D: Wow (awe). Twenty words...unless I missed one or more.
I've been doing the New York Times (again) for about a year and a half, and this is the first time I've seen my name appear...48A: Oscar winner Hunt (Linda). As nice as it was to see that, I wrote Helen...one of my favorites. Linda Hunt won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Billy Kwan, a male photographer, in "The Year of Living Dangerously."
There were some sweet long answers to spice things up:
1A: Inferior (third rate). I can't hear that expression without thinking of the country song. "You don't look like my type, but I guess you'll do. Third rate romance, low rent rendezvous."
19A: Like some addresses (oratorical).
20A: Communist's belief (Utopianism).
118A: Become level (flatten out).
119A: Darlin' (sweetie pie).
13D: Child-raiser's cry? (Upsy Daisy).
26D: Literally, "fish tooth" (piranha). Didn't know that.
80D: Ukulele activity (strumming).
This puzzle had its share of people and places. Favorites include:
51A: Pianist Dame Myra (Hess).
60A: Italian port on the Adriatic (Bari).
62A: Sam's Club competitor (Costco). Today I watched King of California, with Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood. Douglas's character, Charlie, has just come home after spending years in a mental institution. He's convinced that a long-lost Spanish treasure is buried beneath their local Costco. It was a good movie, but sad...I work with people like Charlie every day.
89A: "__ la Douce," 1963 film (Irma). I wasn't old enough to see it when it came out, but I think I saw it some years later.
10D: Patriot Putnam of the American Revolution (Rufus).
33D: "Happy Days" character (Malph). I'll bet I'm not the only one who had Ralph for a time.
35D: Villain in "Martin Chuzzlewit" (Jonas).
69D: Veep after Hubert (Spiro).
94D: Artist Max (Ernst).
107D: Elisabeth of "Leaving Las Vegas" (Shue). Talk about a depressing movie.
114D: Actor Stephen (Rea).
I don't remember the last Hawaii answer we've had, but we have another one today. 30D: Hawaii's __ Coast (Kona). No pictures from there, though.
I smiled when I saw 63D: It's kept within the lines, usually (crayon). In my college commencement address, I compared us to a box of crayons. Some are pretty, others aren't, some are sharp, others dull...different colors, weird names. But they all have to learn to live in the same box.
That's it for tonight. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.