o·cel·lus/oʊˈsɛləs/ Show S[oh-sel-uhs]
noun, plural o·cel·li /oʊˈsɛlaɪ/ Show Spelled [oh-sel-ahy] .
a type of simple eye common to invertebrates, consisting of retinal cells, pigments, and nerve fibers.
an eyelike spot, as on a peacock feather.
"Ocelli" is a word you will need to know in order for one of today's theme answers to make any sense whatsoever, and since I had to google the word to see what it means I thought I'd save you the trouble of having to do the same - or maybe I'm the only one who didn't know it, in which case I apologize for wasting your time. But I bet you never realized that it's an anagram of "Collie", and that's why Frank Longo used the word in today's puzzle which is titled "Mixed Breeds".
In addition to the Collie Frank discovered seven other dog breeds that can be anagrammed into other words, then he combined the dogs with the new words and put them in the grid, all clued with a ? of course to alert us to the wacky results. Some of the combinations work better than others but all in all I think the results are pretty entertaining (and educational, since I learned a new word in the process of solving the puzzle). The canines in the pack are these:
23a - POINTERPROTEIN (Essential part of a dog's diet?) I'm glad he started with an easy one.
34a - COLLIEOCELLI (Eyelike spot's on a dog's coat?) Collies have spots - who knew? Maybe there's a little known variant called a Peacock Collie - now that would be cool!
50a - SAMOYEDSOMEDAY (Dog eventually?) Just because you can rearrange the letters to make a new word doesn't mean you should; I think the cluing on this is a little off, too but I certainly can't do any better so let's just move on.
65a - LOOPEDPOODLE (Dog curled up in the shape of a circle?) Ditto.
73a - RETESTSETTER (Have new lab work done on a dog?) This one works fine for me, but my Labrador Retrievers object to having "lab" in the puzzle and not have it refer to them - I think they're just miffed at not having a theme answer of their own, especially in light of the next one:
87a - SPANIELNEPALIS (Dogs living in Katmandu?) I don't know if a dog living in Katmandu would necessarily be a Nepali, but my Cocker Spaniel Buddy is rubbing this one in the Labs' face because he made the puzzle and they didn't.
104a- BASESTBASSET (Most sordid dog?) I bet Buddy can be more base than any Basset Hound - you should see what he does to the cat sometime, now that's sordid!
119a- TERRIERRETIRER (One taking a dog out of service?) Speaking of service dogs, if you are looking for one Labs are really good because they're so laid back and loving. Mine may be available if they don't stop getting into the trash and spreading it all over the house.
To find eight dog breeds that can be anagrammed into another word and then cluing the combinations in a way that makes sense is a pretty awesome accomplishment, but to then work them into a 21 x 21 crossword puzzle grid and be able to populate the rest of the grid with with interesting, unforced fill is pure genius, and Frank pulled it off! OK, ETOILE (102d, Star ballerina) is a word I don't use every day, and I still don't know what Epsom and EWELL, England (18d) refers to, but it was obtainable from the crosses and it is a crossword puzzle after all. (Now I know, courtesy of Wikipedia:
"Epsom and Ewell is a local government district with borough status in Surrey, England, covering the towns of Epsom and Ewell." OK, then.) And I learned that OHENRY (that's O. Henry the writer, not Oh! Henry the candy bar) is known for irony (60d), and another word for "Slander" (128a) is ASPERSE. When all is said and done I liked the puzzle a lot and found very little to GROAN (Mournful cry, 37a) about - except the dog puns, of course.
And now I have to go and, you know, let the dogs out. See you next week!