Hello! Welcome to another week of clever puns and wordplay... no, wait. That's Frannie. How about folksy humor and musings about the nature of blogging? Um, that's more Horace's line.
I guess, instead, you get me and my urbane wit and deadly suavity.
But enough pumping up my own ego. Let's talk about the puzzle! I will confess that I completed the puzzle (and very quickly too) without understanding the theme, even once I'd entered the revealer at 108A: Mixes animal species ... as eight answers in this puzzle do? (CROSSBREEDS). The clue is a better clue than the answer is. At first I looked for answers crossing the theme answers which would be breeds of the animals listed in the clues. No love there, obvs!
Instead, the trick is that the answer is an anagram of the three animals in the parentheses in the clues. Thus, 22A: Get a party started? [bee, hare, tick] (BREAKTHEICE) is an anagram of those three animals.
I don't want to be a WETBLANKET (bat, elk, newt), but I find this sort of thing uninteresting. There's no connection between the animals and the answers (it would be astonishing if Mr. Brian could have pulled that off), and even if I had gotten the trick, it would not have helped me with the solve. All we're left with, in the end, is a certain degree of respect at coming up with the anagrams. But no real aha feeling for this solver.
But if you treat the puzzle as an oversized themeless, it was pretty nicely constructed. Sure, you get your standard ACER HODA RHEA OSSA stuff that a large grid often demands, especially when a theme requires certain letters to be in certain places. But we also get DEALMEIN, IVENOIDEA, THATSALIE, and ESCAPADE.
And some fun clues! 15D: Fashionable spots (POLKADOTS) is good fun. 101A: Devilish look? (GOATEE), and 112A: Wave to one's math professor? (SINE) brought a smile to my lips.
In the end, call me Myrtle the MOANER, but the theme left me cold.