This was tougher than usual for a Sunday, but Bob Klahn gives us an eminently enjoyable and (ultimately) doable puzzle.
The theme answers would have been much easier to get if I'd understood the theme...Common Ends. What we have are six answers...each ending in the same three letters that began it.
23A: Best Picture of 1954 (On The Waterfront). I hate when I can't remember things that happened when I was two. Had to Google that one.
33A: In addition to (over and above). I like the expression. This was one of the easier ones for me.
59A: High-end version of a product (deluxe model). I got deluxe right away, but had a wrong letter because of the cross at 35D: Voltaire's religious view (deism)...had deist instead. When will I learn? This is one of those times that understanding the theme early on would have helped.
80A: Singer with the 1996 #1 hit "You're Makin' Me High" (Toni Braxton). I haven't a clue who that is and don't think I've ever heard of the song.
106A: Role for Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregory (Obi-Wan Kenobi). This was a gimme, but I still didn't see the theme. I thought the last letters of each theme answer would be the same...that's what I get for thinking.
116A: Broadcast with Baba Booey, with "The" (Howard Stern Show). Never heard of Baba Booey and never cared enough for Howard Stern to watch his show...maybe never even knew that he had one.
I loved the extremely long vertical answers...16D: Where to find the Windward and Leeward Islands (Lesser Antilles) and 50D: Fancy salad ingredient (artichoke heart). [Update: Thanks, Donald, for pointing out that these were, indeed, theme answers. I knew I loved them!]
In addition to being geographically impaired (and somewhat sports impaired), I am also French impaired. I knew 96A: French mime (Pierrot), but didn't have a clue how to spell his name. Initially had Peirrot...I don't think French has that same i before e rule...so that messed with the downs in the southwest. Likewise I knew (or guessed correctly) 122A: French "White House" (elysee) but spelled it elysse.
Also loved the two Hawaii references...the ubiquitous lei at 95D, clued as Kona keepsake (IMOO, coffee is a Kona keepsake) and 68A: "Sweet __ (1937 Oscar song) (Leilani). I never heard of the song, but I was able to get it from the crosses. And while it may not have any connection to Hawaii, there's a great restaurant on Maui by the same name.
Two alcohol-related references that were unknown to me. 20A: Anise-flavored apéritif popular in Turkey and the Balkans (raki)...had ouzi...and 49D: Brandy + orange liqueur + lemon juice (sidecar)...sounds sweet and delicious. According to this article, it's a featured drink in several movies, including Auntie Mame and The Princess Diaries.
Other unknowns include:
66A: Ring Lardner title character (Alibi Ike).
121A: Champagne department (Marne).
12D: With Altair and Vega, it forms the Summer Triangle (Deneb). Learn more about it here.
17D: "A Sentimental Journey" author (Sterne).
59D: Oscar winner as Mr. Chips (Donat). I thought that would be someone who was fairly famous...never heard of him.
81D: Moviedom's Massey (Ilona). Raymond is the only one I can remember. She was quite the beauty, though.
Things that were on the tip of my tongue and I struggled to get them to my right hand:
26A: Four-time Indy winner (Unser).
73A: "Anne of Green Gables" setting (Avonlea).
44D: Bride in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (Toula). I couldn't remember her name to save my soul...I remember that Nia Vardalos wrote and starred in it.
Things that just wouldn't come to me at all until I had a lot of crosses:
38A: One whose business is taking off? (stripper). As cornbread would say, hahahahaha.
101A: Showy climber (clematis). One of these years I'll plant one in the front yard...maybe this year. Fall is a good time to plant, and they're on sale now. Maybe this color rather than the old standby purple...which is still beautiful.
1D: Cousin of "uh-oh" (whoops).
2D: British hood (bonnet). I was thinking hoodlum. A second Brit clue at 88D: Brit, to an Aussie (pom). I incorrectly thought that 103D: Oxford pad would be a British clue/answer, but it was the quite clever insole.
14D: Santa's landing site (housetop). I can't tell you how long it took me to get that. I had top, but couldn't think of anything except roof. I refused to start singing Christmas carols to figure it out.
Liked the clues for 1A: Ring regulator (WBA), although it took me forever to get the boxing connection, 4A: State secrets (blab), 53A: Six-pointer, perhaps (stag)...I had star, 55A: It's spotted on a ranch (pinto), 83A: Row between houses? (feud), 89A: It should be even (keel), 99A: Master of the double take? (Noah), 109A: Receiver of a brush-off? (lint), 125A: Starting pay? (antes), 24D: Eve's follower (holiday), 60D: Copy righter? (editor), and 75D: Ample, to Li'l Abner (enuf).
A couple of good wrong answers held me up. 40A: It's done (deed)...I had deal...and 15D: To have and to hold (own)...I had wed.
I think I'm ready to call it a night...grab my extra hour and hit the sack. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.