The Sunday puzzle Mixed Feelings is by A-List constructor Paula Gamache (answers.) I'm reminded of this puzzle of hers from last year. Three stacks of three 15-letter words, and not a clunker in the lot. See what I mean? A pro.
Today's is less flashy but it follows a recent trend of giving us a puzzle within the puzzle or rather after the puzzle. Each set of circled letters is an anagram, a mix, that given sufficient Freudian analysis can be untangled to reveal the deep underlying emotion. Poor Irina Slutskaya (first female to land a triple lutz-triple loop combination) who no doubt gets teased enough probably doesn't appreciate having the first four letters of her last name highlighted like that only to then have them be transmogrified into LUST, but the rest are innocent enough. "Bedroom eyes" is associated with BOREDOM and "Casey Stengel" with ECSTACY. Shouldn't those be the other way around? And what the heck are DIDOS and can I speak of them in polite company? Antics indeed.
The evolution of circles in NYT puzzles is interesting. You can see the list here although you have to realize that in two or three recent cases I added the circles myself to emphasize a point in my JNotes. (Those are clearly marked.)
In the early days circle use was fairly random. Over time they came to be used as a third dimension in the clues. In the most satisfying cases, you'd get stuck, I mean one would get stuck in the normal Across and Down clues but the circled letters would provide another attack vector on the answers and would finally provide enough extra data for the Acrosses and Downs to fall into place.