The theme today is TOPHAT wearers. We've got four of them in the grid, and a grid-art TOPHAT made from black squares under SUNTANOIL. And me, I see the black squares below the TOPHAT as little arms that are either holding it up, or about to grab it and bring it back down onto a head that lies below the grid. Or maybe the arms are pulling the hat lower onto a SADFACE... can't you just picture it? So can I, but I was not able to find a photo online. Kind of amazing, really... so I'll use this instead:
I was a little surprised by ABELINCOLN, instead of Abraham, but I guess WILLYWONKA uses a nickname, too. I'm not sure about SCROOGEMCDUCK and FROSTY... those could be their full first names.
BRAVURA (Great technical skill) and ADULATE (Put on a pedestal) were nice, and getting the full RANAMOK, instead of one half cluing the other, felt like kind of a bonus. I've never heard the term BLEEDER (Grounder that squeezes between two infielders, in baseball slang), however, and I can't say I like it. In fact, that whole North section is rather unpleasant, with AIRTUBE and SWEARAT standing out so prominently.
I don't know... maybe it's the horizontal symmetry that I don't like today. I'm visually drawn to the entries FRANCA, NATANT, SMELT, and WASON (Had a base, as a runner in baseball) (odd), none of which is especially exciting. We also get a lot of initials and abbreviations (RLS, EAP, SOPH, IVS, AAA, ONEA, DTS, RNA, AOL, CDS, OMN, AGT, OTS, DAS), and, well... I didn't much love it.