Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative Difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: DEVIL
The devil (from Greek: διάβολος or diábolos = slanderer or accuser) is believed in many religions and cultures to be the personification of evil and the archenemy of humankind.
While mainstream Judaism contains no overt concept of a devil, Christianity and Islam have regarded the devil as a fallen angel or jinn, respectively, who tempts humans to sin and commits evil deeds himself. In these religions – particularly during periods of division or external threat – the devil has assumed more of a dualistic status commonly associated with heretics, infidels, and other unbelievers.
In mainstream Islam and Christianity, the angelic heirarchy and the devil's host are usually portrayed as fighting over the souls of humans. The devil is often described as commanding a force of evil spirits, commonly referred to as demons. The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) describes the Adversary (ha-satan) as an angel who instigates tests upon humankind. Many other religions have a trickster or tempter figure that is similar to the devil. Modern conceptions of the devil include the concept that he symbolizes humans' own lower nature or sinfulness. (Wikipedia)
Oh, look at that. We've got both ANGEL [4A: Being in heaven] AND DEVIL [7A: Being in hell] in this puzzle. There. We've discussed that and now we can move on.
Really, this is pretty sophomoric. The gimmick above was barely noticeable even in hindsight, and I can't imagine any self-respecting constructor excitedly writing home about how expertly they managed to work such gems as AND into a puzzle grid [4D: &], a conjunction so lowly and forgettable you didn't even notice it was used in this writeup three times before it was actually mentioned as an answer (and then twice more just now). It's decidedly un-NEATO, honestly [6A: "Super cool!," quaintly]. Really makes the whole puzzle kinda SAG a bit [1A: Droop].
But there's lots more to SNEER at besides that stuff [1D: Mean expression with a lip curl]. There is for example GET IN, which is all kinds of yuck [3D: Be accepted, as to a college]. It's not exactly Green Paint, I suppose, but it's close. Just a verb plus a preposition, basically. LOL is our mandatory surrender to leetspeak for the day [5D: Texter's response to a joke]. Honestly, does anybody actually type that anymore? Everyone that I know these days may actually say it from time to time (even that isn't so interesting anymore), but I never see it typed. If you think about it, modern smiley technology has advanced to a point where we've basically obviated the need for all those cumbersome abbreviations.
I'm not looking forward to REN continuing in its role as overused fill for the next several decades thanks to Episode VII [8A: Kylo ___, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" villain]. I guess at the very least we'll see the phrase "Stimpy's pal" a little less from now on; that's worth some small consolation. Nowhere near enough though. I'm definitely going to need some AGAVE-derived beverage to wash the taste of this puzzle out of my mouth [2D: Tequila plant].
Signed, Jonathan Gibson, all kinds of yuck of CrossWorld