I'm glad to have this puzzle behind me. I toyed with it on and off since this afternoon, and every time I came back I saw things that I'd missed earlier.
Charles Deber's theme wasn't a new one--adding an A to familiar phrases that are then clued...well, you'll see.
20A: Where smart shoppers shop? (mensAwear departments)
34A: Plight of an overcrowded orchestra? (three men in a tubA)
52A: Introduction to opera? (first aidA kit)
68A: Location of Hoosier beaches? (IndianA Ocean)
83A: Bit of winter exercise (a walk in the parkA)
101A: Geraldo rehearses his show? (a RiverA runs through it)
1D: Dish for an Italian racing champ? (checkered pastA)
48D: Sandwich that can never be finished? (bottomless pitA)
Some that I liked:
44D: Basket material (raffia). Don't they sometimes use some other fiber that I never remember? This one I know.
100A: Dog with a tightly curled tail (pug). I liked it because it was just in the puzzle on Friday, clued as Toy with a wrinkled face. Those pugs -- you just can't say enough about 'em.
109A: Mugs (kissers). A word we used growing up--don't ask me why.
68D: Canine neighbor (incisor). Took me a while to get thinking about teeth instead of dogs.
35D: Show slight relief, maybe (exhale). Huh? I do it on a regular basis, thousands of times a day. D'oh! Like exhale after you've been holding your breath in anticipation (or dread) of something.
21D: Steers clear of (eschews). I've just always liked the sound of that word.
62D: Denver's __ Gardens amusement park (Elitch). Our girls used to beg to go to Elitch's (as it's commonly called). I don't do amusement parks. Couldn't stand the rides when I was young, certainly have no intention of getting on any of them now. The only exception was Space Mountain at Disney World. It was dark and I couldn't see what was happening. But that was a few years ago, and I won't do it again. Anyway, they both got to go with friends, so that was good for them and for me.
Four entertainment clues that were gimmes, some older than others.
58A: Gaynor of "South Pacific" (Mitzi). She's gonna wash some man right outa her hair.
110A: Hopper of Hollywood (Hedda). That one goes way back.
58D: Jazz's Herbie (Mann). If I weren't so tired, I'd play some right now.
65A: Actress Shire and others (Talias).
And some classics:
63A: "__ Inferno" (Dante's)
93A: "Drink to me only with thine eyes" poet (Jonson)
7D: Stephen King's first novel (Carrie). Not really a classic...
Woe is me! (33A). It's getting late and we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow. Don is doing a 50-mile bike race. I have to sit this one out because my biceps tendonitis is still giving me fits after almost six months. I'll get up early with him, though, to lend moral support and make coffee.
Tomorrow I'll be guest-blogging at Diary of a Crossword Fiend while Orange takes a well-deserved vacation. She's got quite a following, and them're pretty big shoes to fill. And talk about formidable company! Other guest bloggers include a couple of well-known constructors--regular commenters on her site, as well as Rex Parker's--and the famous Al Sanders, star of Wordplay and second place winner at ACPT.
I'll come by here tomorrow just to say hello and remind you where I'll be.