It's a rebus by Jacob Stulberg! The keystone answer, MT EREBUS ("southernmost active volcano in the world" --- it's in Antarctica), clues us in that some boxes will be filled with MTE (Mt. E, as Erebus is known to its buddies??*). Those answers include, inter alia, TIM TEBOW, WILLIAM TELL, WISDOM TEETH, and FORT SUMTER.
- *Update: Some fellow named Colum Amory put it best: Oh, wait. I get it! "MTE REBUS. It's literal! I actually like it a ton more now."
I like the simple trickery of "doesn't lose" for HAS.
For "response to a sophomoric joke" I had *GROANS, but it's "GROW UP." This hindered me in the NE corner for a while.
I did not know that the FDA was known as the Bureau of Chemistry from 1901 to 1927, but I think we can come together as a nation and say that is a much cooler name. Sounds like a board of supervillains.
ASSAM TEA is a mellow black tea originating in Assam, India.
"'TIS my first night beneath the Sun." No it isn't, you liar Emily Dickinson! I don't think this poem is very, how should I put this... good.
I have never heard of "Bandstand Boogie" bandleader Larry ELGART. "Bandstand Boogie" is the theme song to American Bandstand. For a long while I had *ELZART, which messed me up some, as noted below.
"Home of Panasonic" is OSAKA, because it's home to Panasonic Center. Their men's volleyball team is called the Panasonic Panthers.
It's TAOS, the "southwestern ski resort," again!
And NAS, yet again. "Cherry Wine" this time.
And ERNESTINE! Last time it was part of the clue; now it's the answer (to "Tomlin's 'one ringy-dingy' character on old TV")!
A clue that gives credence to astrology ("courageous and energetic sort, they say:" ARIES) was a sour note for me, but I guess fiction is throughout the puzzle. Do people say that about Aries? Is that a predominate, well-known trait? Ugh.
"Its capital is an Atlantic port" got me, the ugly American non-geography-knower. I put *NAMBIA, which is a recent moronic Trumpism. Once I shook away the cobwebs and realized that is moronic, I switched it to *ZAMBIA, which ain't on the coast. Finally I realized *ELZART looked wrong, and put the correct GAMBIA.
Funny clue: "Apple emplyer, once?" is WILLIAM TELL! Haw!
And now, some much needed REST. This has been TUTU much.