As I look at my completed puzzle grid just now, 36-Down is highlighted - (MA)LICE (Evil intent), which seems perfectly appropriate for Ms. Burnikel's assault on solvers' minds today.
Everything started simply enough, with a straightforward "MAD" rebus at 1A, making "made faces" and "Madonna," but then in the very next Across, things got messy. "Web master" seemed perfect for "Site administrator," but the "MAS" rebus was slightly different from the first one, and it didn't work well with 12-Down, "Food cooked in a cornhusk," which just had to be "tamale." And below that, the crossing answers "maladies" and "remain" each needed something... but again, they didn't work together...
I think it was the intersecting theme answers that made this so difficult for me, because it focussed my efforts on finding a single rebus that would work for both at the same time, or at least something that would unify the different rebi. Slowly, I started to notice that although my rebuses were slightly different - mad, mas, mal, man, mai - they all contained the same first two letters. And then, suddenly, NOMAS made sense. The trick is to remove all the MAs! The theme answers intersect, but that is not relevant to the final solution. Whew!
And the beautiful thing is that without the MAs, the puzzle is still filled with valid words (or names). Very nice.
And on top of that APLUS theme, we get a couple lovely Non-QMCs at 28D: Dancer's horn (ANTLER) (Think Christmas.) and 15A: Preceder of many N.H.L. games (OCANADA). And I found it kind of amusing that PANGRAM was in the grid, even though the puzzle itself is seven letters short.
I enjoyed the mind-bending challenge today.