I feared that this might happen, that we'd fall behind by a day while we were away, and now it has. And we don't even have a note from the doctor! All we have is a note from the bartender, and that note says, "The beer in Flanders is probably twice as strong as the beer we're used to back home." Delicious, but deleterious.
In the end, though, I guess it couldn't have happened on a better day. The question mark in the black squares of this 15x16 grid fairly called out for a further mystery, didn't it? I mean, TWENTYQUESTIONS (17A: Classic 1940s-'50s quiz show) is ok, but it's kind of a light Thursday theme.
That minor complaint leveled, however, this had some very nice long answers running through it. CONTORTIONIST (4D: Twister) (excellent clue), THINASARAIL (28D: Superskinny), GRANDPARENTS (23D: What were Russell and Anna Huxtable on "The Cosby Show"?), SPITANDPOLISH (10D: Fastidiousness) (hmmm...), ELEPHANTS (3D: What do mahouts ride?), and EROTICART (11D: Kama Sutra illustrations, e.g.) are all excellent. The fifteens running across were also good, as were ENTICINGLY (35A: A la a siren), RESOUNDED (38A: Thundered), KITTIES (57A: Pots), and more. In short, we thought the puzzle was packed with great long fill.
The flip side of great long fill is often some strained small fill, but it wasn't too, too bad today. We didn't know LEONIA (44D: Neighbor of Teaneck, N.J.), or POTSY (39A: What is hopscotch called in New York City?), but the latter was at least interesting to learn. (What, no "What was the name of Richie C. and Ralph Malph's friend?")
Lastly, this was the first puzzle that we have done together in quite a while, and it took both of us to finish it! The top center was the last to go. We both kind of figured HIQ (6D: What is the oldest academic quiz competition in the U.S. (since 1948)?) had to be right, but even doing the puzzle in France couldn't help us to get EAU (7D: Contents of Suisse banks?) (very nice), until Frannie finally put in TIARA (15A: Rock band?).
Very good Thursday.