Theme: You'll Never Guess — You're right! Valentine's Day! Theme answers are all anagrams of today's holiday.
- 24A: Run-down old Roman truck? (SEEDY LATIN VAN).
- 32A: Tax expiration headline? (LEVY IS AT AN END).
- 59A: Out-of-work Baltic natives? (NEEDY LATVIANS).
- 80A: Attack the Falkland Islands' capital? (INVADE STANLEY).
- 106A: Cowgirl in a crib? (TINY DALE EVANS).
- 118A: Some gondola passengers? (LADY VENETIANS).
- 16D: Shrink everyone wants to be like? (ENVIED ANALYST).
- 58D: This puzzle's theme — each of seven answers is a 77-Down of it (VALENTINE'S DAY).
- 77D: Roped, to Pedro (ANAGRAM).
A couple tricky/misleading clues in today's puzzle.
- 40A: Chelsea zoo opening? (ZED). Chelsea is an area of London, so the people there would say the word zoo starts with the letter zed.
- 115A: John, to Paul (LOO). This one's pretty cute. Your first thought was the Beatles, right? Well, that puts you in the right part of the world. Again, loo is a British word for bathroom (or john).
- 86D: Price of many operas (LEONTYNE). See how the word price is right at the beginning of the clue? That's to trick you into thinking it's not a proper name, but that it's capitalized only because it's the first word.
- 93D: SUV part (UTILITY). Not part of an SUV like steering wheel or axle or brakes, but part of the abbreviation SUV: Sports Utility Vehicle.
- 112D: Sandwich guy? (EARL). Did you know that an earl's wife is called a countess? There's no feminine form of earl.
- 114D: Owed money (DEBT). Owed, in this case, is an adjective, not a verb.
Crosswordese 101: A surprisingly small amount of crosswordese in today's puzzle. Usually, the Sundays are just full of the stuff. But the only crosswords I found in the puzzle that we've already covered is OLAV I (50A: 10th century Norwegian king), AAR (102A: Berne's river), and APERY (47D: Mimic's talent). So let's just talk for a minute about Anaïs NIN. She's frequently clued just like today, 105D: Diarist Anaïs. Other than that, it's good to know a few of her titles: "Henry & June," "Seduction of the Minotaur," "Collages," and "Delta of Venus" are the most common.
Everything Else — 1A: Register (SIGN IN); 7A: '70s-'80s FBI sting aimed at corrupt politicians (ABSCAM); 13A: Be there (ATTEND); 19A: Frito-Lay corn snacks (CHEETOS); 21A: Secret (ARCANE); 22A: Biden predecessor (CHENEY); 23A: Crisis phone service (HOTLINE); 26A: Ajar, in poems (OPE); 27A: Drudge (SERF); 29A: Salem-to-Portland dir. (NNE); 30A: CNN launcher (TBS); 31A: Desperate (DIRE); 36A: Start of a French oath (SACRE); 38A: Sailing or whaling (ASEA); 39A: CFO's degree, maybe (MBA); 42A: Mug with a hinged lid (SEIDEL); 45A: "G.T.O." singers __ & the Daytonas (RONNY); 47A: Million-millennia period (AEON); 48A: Schooners' contents (ALES); 51A: Numerical entry aid (KEYPAD); 53A: A big fan of (INTO); 55A: Quick cut (SNIP); 56A: Service abbr. (NAV.); 64A: Jolson and Jarreau (ALS); 65A: List ender: Abbr. (ET AL.); 67A: "__ you sure?" (ARE); 68A: Stephanie's dad (EFREM); 69A: Easy to use (WIELDY); 71A: Ginger ale type (PALE DRY); 73A: Not seen as much (RARER); 74A: Near the beginning (EARLY ON); 75A: Bullfight cheer (OLÉ OLÉ); 76A: English cattle breed (DEVON); 77A: Flying stat. (ALT.); 78A: Electronics time meas. (MSEC); 79A: Salon acquisition (TAN); 84A: __-80: old computer model (TRS); 85A: Like SFO and LAX (INTL.); 87A: Senior housing? (DORM); 88A: Scottish property owners (LAIRDS); 90A: All-time Blue Jays' winningest pitcher Dave (STIEB); 92A: In __ of (LIEU); 94A: Cranberry sources (BOGS); 95A: Golfer's problem (SLICE); 99A: Medieval estates (MANORS); 101A: D.C. player (NAT); 103A: Auth. of many quotes? (ANON); 104A: Scandal-plagued giant (ENRON); 111A: Egg holder (NEST); 113A: Clear (RID); 116A: "__-Dick" (MOBY); 117A: Morgantown sch. (WVU); 122A: Graceful antlered critter (ROE DEER); 124A: Head cases? (CRANIA); 125A: Renoir subject (BATHER); 126A: "Let's Make a Deal" option (DOOR ONE); 127A: Most insidious (SLYEST); 128A: Risky dates (TRYSTS); 129A: Barely made a ripple in, as during a dive (KNIFED); 1D: Bookman (SCHOLAR); 2D: "God willing!" ("I HOPE SO!"); 3D: Settle a score (GET EVEN); 4D: Donizetti aria "Regnava __ silenzio" (NEL); 5D: Response at the door (IT IS I); 6D: Canonical hour (NONES); 7D: Battery types (AAS); 8D: Three-time Oscar-winning character actor Walter (BRENNAN); 9D: Hollywood shooting (SCENE); 10D: Concerto's extended solo passage (CADENZA); 11D: To some degree (ANY); 12D: Soften (MELT); 13D: Takes the role of (ACTS AS); 14D: How-hot-it-feels meas. (THI); 15D: They can climb the walls (TENDRILS); 17D: Close (NEAR); 18D: Force unit (DYNE); 20D: Fluids in shots (SERA); 25D: Six-pack makeup (ABS); 28D: NSA headquarters site (FT. MEADE); 33D: Pull hard (YANK); 34D: "Gin __ meet ...": Burns (A BODY); 35D: Drop off (DELIVER); 37D: Co. leader (CEO); 41D: Leisure fabric (DENIM); 43D: Villain (EVIL-DOER); 44D: Fakes it, in a way (LIP SYNCS); 46D: Longing (YEN); 47D: Mimic's talent (APERY); 49D: Concourse locale: Abbr. (STA.); 52D: Time for an audit (YEAR END); 54D: Miraculous way to walk? (ON WATER); 56D: It's a family affair (NEPOTISM); 57D: Mythological woman raised by hunters (ATALANTA); 60D: Time off (LEAVE); 61D: Fuzzy dos (AFROS); 62D: 16th century council site (TRENT); 63D: Round Table title (SIR); 66D: Heavenly lion (LEO); 70D: Shade provider (ELM); 72D: Caesar's 551 (DLI); 73D: Lamb, e.g. (RED MEAT); 74D: Onetime immigration center __ Island (ELLIS); 76D: "Mack the Knife" singer (DARIN); 81D: OED unit (VOL.); 82D: Plenty (A LOAD); 83D: NFL rushing nos. (YDS.); 89D: Czech, for one (SLAV); 91D: "It's sooo cold!" ("BRR!"); 94D: Weapon attached to a rifle (BAYONET); 96D: Amazed by (IN AWE OF); 97D: Meet (CONVENE); 98D: Made certain (ENSURED); 100D: Not happy with (SORE AT); 107D: __ Ark (NOAH'S); 108D: Titled nobleman (LORD); 109D: Online read (EBOOK); 110D: "I've got my __ you!" (EYE ON); 111D: World Series qualifying matchup, briefly (NLCS); 119D: Haze reduces it: Abbr. (VIS.); 120D: Sailor (TAR); 121D: Many Soc. Sec. recipients (SRS.); 123D: Soft & __: deodorant (DRI).