What a treat to get a night off. Thank you again, Rick (a/k/a Cornbread) for making it happen. Although I did solve the puzzle last night, I was able to do it at my leisure. By the way, I loved it...tough, but what incredible fill.
I've already added Patrick Berry to my list of favorite constructors, and now I can add this puzzle to my favorites. The title WORLD PAY made me think the theme answers would have to do with foreign currency, and I knew I'd be sunk. I should have known better. I mean, we're talking Patrick Berry.
What we have is a bit of WORD PLAY, where the L gets moved from one word of a common phrase to another. The theme answers...drum roll, please.
23A: Run away from chewing-tobacco users? (FLEE SPITTERS).
25A: Alexander the Great's ambition? (TO SLAY THE EAST). I had this but wasn't seeing the original phrase. It came to me in the hot tub earlier tonight. It was almost too obvious...to say the least.
37A: Problem for a sweaty-handed Tarzan? (VINY SLIDING).
56A: One who's crazy for a sharp-dressed man? (FOP LOVER).
66A: Shakespearean prince who's handsome and muscular? (STUDLY HAL).
78A: Fish-worshiping groups? (COD CULTS). This is where I finally cracked the theme...not that it made future theme answers any easier to get.
92A: What a magician might do with a big saw? (HALVE THE GAL). Probably the weakest entry...have the gall just doesn't seem like an in-the-language phrase...but I'm willing to let just about anything slide because of the overall quality.
107A: How to avoid getting tipsy on hard liquor? (PACE YOUR BELTS). If I had to choose, this would be my second favorite.
113A: Designed jeans? (PLOTTED PANTS).
15D: Oil spill? (SEEPING SLICKNESS). My absolute favorite...the way it rolls off your tongue, plus the visual...almost too much.
36D: Macho beer-drinker's outerwear? (COAT OF MANLY COORS). This one is pretty good, too.
Ava would be distraught if I didn't point out 100D: Bandleader Shaw (Artie), one of the lucky men who had the privilege of being married to her.
One of my favorite answers...and a gimme...is 82A: Novelist Jamaica __ (Kincaid). Here's a short bio that really doesn't say enough about her life or her writing. Her turbulent relationship with her mother is apparent in all of her stories. The best paper I wrote in college English was about mother-daughter relationships, tying in Jamaica Kincaid's own relationship with her mother as she revealed it in her short stories. I got an A+...from a professor who didn't give them out. I managed to get two more that semester...I think my writing style was enough like his that he had no choice.
22A: Nebraska town, named after an Indian tribe, featured in "Lonesome Dove" (Ogallala). I got this with only the final A in place...a very good guess, as opposed to a gimme.
42A: Much of Anaïs Nin's work (erotica). I don't have time to search out an excerpt...plus I'd get all kinds of hits on this site that I'd rather not have. Here's a very good non-erotic quote. "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."
58A: Moved two chessmen in one turn (castled). I'm not familiar with this term, but it was easy enough to get from crosses.
76A: At great length (on and on). Like that because of my affinity for multiword answers.
83A: You might hear it going up and down (Muzak). I immediately knew they were doing the elevator thing, although I had music at first.
105A: Mr. Bean (Orson). I wanted Rowan...the real Mr. Bean.
60D: Perceptive person's detection (nuance). Just a beautiful word.
67D: Little green man (Yoda). In case you didn't know...the U.S. Postal Service invited the public to vote online for its favorite of the 15 images on the Star Wars stamp sheet. More than half a million votes were cast, and Yoda was the winner. They were released last month, although I haven't yet seen them at the post office.
70D: Popular sleep aid (Unisom). Not something I've ever needed in my life, but I've seen enough magazine ads that it was easy enough.
74D: Words mouthed to a camera (hi mom). That's one you could have guessed without seeing how many letters it had.
Things I didn't know and had to get from crosses:
8A: "__ at Large," 2003 Fox sitcom (Wanda). Never heard of it.
13A: El __ (Peruvian volcano) (Misti). I know all the ones in Hawaii, but it's time to broaden my volcano knowledge base.
122A: Producer of the Keystone Cops films (Sennett).
24D: "Man is by nature a __ animal": Aristotle (political). I think I should have known that.
50D: Greek god of ridicule (Momus). Didn't know there was such a thing.
94D: With 52-Down, "Symphonie Fantastique" composer (Hector / Berlioz).
A few more multiword answers that I liked. 27A: Leading the field (on top), 89A: Beguiles (leads on), 119A: Flat remover (tire iron), 4D: Dresses down (yells at), 14D: Following behind (in tow), and 90D: Gets one's food on a tray, say (dines in).
118A: "Ready __" (or not). Instead of, "On your mark, get set, go" we simply said, "Ready, set, go." Which explains why I had set go as my answer.
I like to do things in threes, but I can't think of a third picture. We'll have to call the grid a picture tonight. Here it is...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.