Today's theme answers all relate to a Bingo of some kind - from Scrabble game to NURSERYRHYME. As a bonus, there's a [FREE] square right in the middle of the grid, and rebus was its name-o.
For the most part, my solving went right along and I hardly had to ALTAR any initial answers. I was happy to remember PIBB Xtra (soda) from a previous puzzle. And MANNA has come up a lot recently in "Spelling Bee." I didn't know ELSTON Howard, but the crosses helped me there. I did get stuck for a short time in the north east. I had PAUL_ for the "Pulitzer-wining playwright Vogel"(12D) but the clue at 26A: had me literally puzzled. My best guess was PAULA, but why NAY for "Assembly line?"? Eventually, it dawned on me, oh, *that* kind of Assembly. Clever! There were a couple of other clever clues I enjoyed including "Leaves before paying the check?" (TEA), and my favorite, "Cellular plan?" (DNA). Ha!
This has not been my fastest week of puzzle solving ever, that's for sure, and I've hit some snags, but if you said I still enjoy doing crossword puzzles, you'd be ABSOLUTELYRIGHT.