I don't remember the last time I had this much fun solving a crossword puzzle! Matt Ginsberg has definitely moved up to my top three favorite constructors with this one.
The title...Just Follow Directions...made me think we'd have the four compass points hidden in the theme answers. It was much more brilliant than that.
A note before I tackle the puzzle. Two weeks ago, the AcrossLite version and the paper version differed in their numbering. That's the case again today, and I will again list both numbers, indicating the paper version numbers in red.
My first hint to the theme came with the third clue I read...11A: Pineapple desserts. The only one I could think of was pineapple upside down cake. With only seven squares, it wasn't going to fit. I discovered the theme on a later answer and immediately went back to this. Upside took the first six squares, with cake going down...giving us upside [DOWN] cakes. In the paper version, the C appears in an unnumbered square. Apparently all squares must be numbered for AcrossLite. It did look rather odd to see unnumbered squares in the grid. It was also strange to have a numbered square with no corresponding clue.
The other theme answers are:
29A (28A): Accelerated (picked [UP] speed).
83A (79A): Popular song from Broadway's "The Wiz" (Ease on [DOWN] the Road).
109A (104A): Establishing a business (setting [UP] shop). Thanks, legerepaul, for letting me know I had neglected to mention this one. I kept looking for one in that corner before I blogged...maybe because settings is a word, it didn't catch my eye...as dleif did, for example.
113A (108A): Seinfeld, for one (stand [UP] comic). Before I figured out the theme, I had sitcom in there.
34D (33D): Bad dancer's handicap (two [LEFT] feet). This is the one that finally gave me the theme...and tickled me pink!
35D (34D): "Enough!" (all [RIGHT] already).
41D (40D): Reactionary (extreme [RIGHT] wing).
54D (53D): Quite wrong (out in [LEFT] field).
I would love to know how Matt came up with this idea...and how he was able to execute it without tearing his hair out.
One would think that the fill would have been compromised in order to make this work, but it didn't. Not in the least.
The multiword answers include 5A: Totally accurate (dead on), 21A: 1974 Mocedades hit (Eres Tu)...hear it here, 23A (22A): Careful consideration (hard look), 28A (27A): "Biography" network (A and E), 40A (39A): They're better than one (two heads), 67A (64A): Become part of (join in), 81A (77A): Repeated John Gielgud role (King Lear), 103A (98A): 1997 Jim Carrey film (Liar, Liar), 104A (99A): What a man and a woman become in marriage (one flesh), 112A (107A) Mary Tyler Moore co-star (Ed Asner) and 13D: Na2 CO3 (soda ash).
Other out-of-the-ordinary answers:
20A (19A): Autobiographical short story by Edgar Allan Poe (Eleonora). I know I haven't read it...and it doesn't sound even vaguely familiar.
64A (61A): Dancer Alvin (Ailey).
68A (65A): Imp (gremlin).
88A (83A): Runs (spates).
102A (97A): Sitcom title role for Brandy Norwood (Moesha). Learned that from a previous puzzle.
110A (105A): Hero of Bellini's "I Puritani" (Arturo).
8D: Execrate (despise). I know the meaning isn't very nice, but for some reason I like both of those words.
9D: Bone formation (ostosis).
10D: Mathematical sequence of unknown length (ntuple). That's new to me.
30D (29D): Educator Maria (Montessori). I didn't know her first name, but once I had a couple of letters in place, it became obvious.
37D (36D): Mistress (courtesan).
42D (41D) Flower also called a naked lady (amaryllis). I've never heard it called that.
46D (45D): Unblemished (sterling).
49D (48D) Failings (weaknesses).
64D (61D): Disco term meaning "galore" (a-go-go). Wasn't aware that it meant that.
83D (79D): Subject of the book "Last Flight" (Earhart).
84D (80D): Setting for "Driving Miss Daisy" (Atlanta).
89D (84D): Turkish pooh-bahs (pashas).
91D (86D): Lake __, third-largest lake in Africa (Malawi).
98D (93D): Month before Iyar (Nisan). According to Wikipedia, Iyar is the eighth month of the civil year and the second month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar.
99D (94D): "Socrate" composer (Satie).
Today was a busy day at Madness...almost 3,000 hits...and I haven't a clue why. For the first few hours this morning, there were between 100 and 120 of you on the site every time I pulled up stats. I know the syndicated puzzle was a bear...that may have had something to do with it. We'll see what Google Analytics has to say in the morning.
Here's the AcrossLite grid...
...and the print version...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.