Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative Difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: NOMAD
Nomads is a 1986 horror and thriller film which was written and directed by John McTiernan and stars Pierce Brosnan and Lesley-Anne Down. The story involves a French anthropologist who is an expert on nomads. He stumbles across a group of urban nomads who turn out to be more than he expected. (Wikipedia)
I hadn't thought about the film NOMADs in a while, so this puzzle deserves credit for that [7A: Wandering sort]. Though I can't be certain that's a good thing. I was pretty surprised to learn that the director behind it turns out to action maven John McTiernen (of Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October fame). Turns out Nomads was his first movie, and from what little of it I remember It's kind of an intimate, almost artsy film with some experimental elements. So it's pretty interesting that his second film was Predator.
Got stuck early on when I mis-read which clue went where and spent several tense seconds (TENSE, I say!) trying to somehow fit TED where NOMAD was supposed to go [8A: ___ Radio Hour (popular N.P.R. podcast)]. As I am a subscriber to said podcast it was a gimme for me so this was very disconcerting. As I find it hard to forget that TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design (as the intro to the podcast helpfully reminds you), I found it frustrating trying to imagine how and where to tack on the extra couple letters ("Ok, if it was FOUR letters it could be TEDx.... Could there be an article for some reason?...").
Had further trouble later on in the form of SUV for VAN [4D: Car for a large family] and, less defensibly, TOP for LID [5D: Blow the ___ off (expose)]. The blowing off of tops is, of course, its own idiom, but not one that fits the parenthetical, so that was MY BAD [3D: Whoops, that one's on me"] (Great answer). Ultimately I was bailed out by VINYL, a show of which I've never heard but is pretty obvious with a few crosses given the subject matter [4A: HBO show about the record industry], and by to a lesser extent by ALIBI [6A: Excuse in court]. I might have to check out that show, as Martin Scorsese apparently has something to do with it, and it is my understanding that he makes the best fucking movies.
Ultimately, a fairly inoffensive puzzle experience that goes down as though greased by PAM [1A: Cooking spray brand], but by the same token requires little effort to digest.
Signed, Jonathan Gibson, wax cylinder of CrossWorld