As always, when I see Mr. Collins's byline, I know I'm going to get a tough and enjoyable puzzle with an interesting up to date vocabulary. And today does not disappoint!
Thanks be to my Neurology training, because my first foothold came in the middle of the East section. APHASIA and AUEL, along with my Sopranos knowledge for DREA helped get me going. But it wasn't enough to move me up into the NE corner. Instead, LIFT and IRENE allowed me to complete the SE corner instead.
BEESKNEES is always a fun answer. I think we saw it in this exact same location not so long ago. ONTHEALERT and NOENTRANCE are fine. But DAPHNE is a lovely name, even if the character wasn't all that interesting on Scooby-Doo, to my memory. I always wanted to see Shaggy and Scooby do their thing instead,
At this point I got STREETPROPHETS, which finally helped me with the NE corner. Part of my problem was 10D: It's played with a few strings (BLUEGRASS). I had ____ASS, and assumed the word would end with "bass." As always, when something just doesn't seem like it's working, take out the questionable letters. 11D: Art of cutting cards? (BARBEDWIT) is an impressive bit of cluing legerdemain. And how about 29D: Mares, e.g. (SEAS). Didn't expect the Latin there.
Next I restarted in the SW corner with SESTET. In the ROI section, who knew that GALVESTON was the capital of the Republic of Texas? Now it's a suburb of Houston. I'm not sure I entirely get the clue for DEATHTRAP. Why is it an "attraction?"
Finally, RIGHTONRIGHTON gave me access to the NW corner, the toughest part for me. I should have known AMBIEN off the bat, but couldn't draw the name out of my memory. 8D: "Saint," elsewhere (SAO) was fairly straightforward, in retrospect. Also making this rough was ENNA in Sicily, not EtNA.
1A: Directive for the board (DONTERASE) is a really tough get! Not just the misdirection of a corporate board, but also the negative at the start. 13A: Popular pubs for college grads (ALUMNIMAGS) is also hard. I managed to move away from drinking establishments eventually.
Fun stuff. HAVEAGOODONE! Horace takes back over tomorrow. 13:20 for me.