Okay...it wasn't much of a sabbatical, but maybe some people (Type A?) can't be away from a passion for very long.
I missed writing. I missed hearing from you. And I loved the Sunday puzzle.
Robert W. Harris isn't a familiar name, but I didn't bother to Google him...it's a common name, so I might not find the right guy. His puzzle, COMMON INTERESTS has eight theme answers...all clever, all funny, all excellent.
24A: Electrical engineers and news anchors? (current events).
26A: World travelers and wine connoisseurs? (exotic ports).
44A: Geologists and music video producers? (rock bands).
52A: College students and mattress testers? (spring breaks).
82A: Old West outlaws and aspiring thespians? (stage coaches).
89A: Beat-era musicians and orthopedists? (hip joints).
110A: Fort Knox officials and pop singers? (gold records).
113A: Comedians and parade directors? (straight lines).
I don't remember when the theme dawned on me...certainly not immediately, though. After an initial run through the clues, I had maybe a dozen answers. Once the theme connected, it was much easier to guess those nice, long answers, which opened things up nicely.
Not a one of the theme answers seemed forced...and not a groaner in the bunch.
Several of the clues were Sunday deceptive, as they should be. My favorites, most of which tripped me up initially:
1A: Track figure (tipster)...not hurdler.
12A: Nautical line (tow rope). I was trying for something more exotic...maybe a technical term used by the Navy.
30A: Some Millers (Lites). The capital M should have tipped me off, but I didn't get it until I had a couple of letters in place.
47A: Congestion site (sinus). I don't know why I didn't think about a traffic-related answer...maybe because my allergies already know it's spring.
61A: Under (sedated).
119A: Lettered top (dreidel)...not sweater.
122A: Activity in which spelling counts? (sorcery).
Other favorites include:
23A: Home of the newspaper Haaretz (Tel Aviv)...thank you, crosses.
42A: Classic Hans Christian Andersen story, with "The" (Red Shoes).
59A: Robert who introduced the term "cell" to biology (Hooke). Most of the crosses were gettable. I guessed the second O...was clueless about 54D: Gangster's gun (Roscoe).
60A: Where the antihelix is (ear)...had no idea, but I'd better remember it.
67A: Despicable sort (cur). Had cad for the longest time...finally gave it up.
85A: Bit of gridiron equipment (knee pad).
96A: Home of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (Maine). I didn't have a clue, but the I and the E allowed for a good guess. It's a gorgeous place...I had a hard time choosing a picture.
100A: Champ just before 36-Down (Ashe)...tied to [1976-80 Wimbledon champ] (Borg)...two of my favorites. Here's Arthur Ashe in 1975. He was an incredible man, and his death was such a tragic loss.
2D: Kept from home (in exile).
7D: Answer (RSVP)...tough clue for an easy answer.
5D: Walter __, author of "The Hustler" (Tevis). Wouldn't have gotten it but for the crosses.
12D: For all to play, in music (tutti). I guess that's how they came up with tutti frutti...all fruits.
32D: Stepped aside, in court (recused). That was always one of my favorite words in the courtroom.
52D: Much smaller now (shrunk). Reminds me of the silly movie.
74D: Religious pilgrimage (Hadj). I can never remember how to spell it and usually have to rely on the crosses.
84D: "Essential" things (oils)...wouldn't have guessed that without a couple of letters in place.
96D: You can say that again (mantra).
97D: Lacking scruples (amoral).
There were several answers that I only know because they were in previous puzzles...and I managed to remember them.
36A: Oriole or Blue Jay, for short (ALer)...not that we've had that exact clue, but I knew what they wanted.
46A: Meal crumb (ort).
11D: Boulogne-__-Mer, France (Sur).
18D: Car with an innovative "rolling dome" speedometer (Edsel). A five-letter model often indicates Edsel...but not always.
25D: Honcho (nabob).
75D: Rebounds and steals (stats).
80D: Fruit-flavored soda (Nehi). Of course, I knew Nehi before, but I'd never seen it in written form so many times. Mostly I heard Radar talk about it.
90D: Certain chamber group (octet). Octets and nonets appear rather often, either in singular or plural form.
There were some unfamiliar words that I was able to get because of crosses. In addition to those mentioned above:
72A: The Gamecocks of the Southeastern Conf. (USC).
78A: Wallop (baste). I know baste from cooking and sewing because I've done both. I've never walloped anyone.
104A: U.N. chief __ Ki-moon (Ban).
109A: Shak. is its most-quoted writer (OED). I would never have come up with that.
120A: Set out (sallied). Not in my vocabulary.
1D: Like a guardian (tutelar). I might think that was wrong, but the Applet accepted my puzzle.
10D: Craggy peaks (tors). Have we had that before and I just don't remember?
15D: Cambodian money (Riel).
That's it for tonight. I'm going to sally forth to the kitchen to get dinner going. Three more weeks (give or take a few days) and tax season will be over. It's been a long one, and Don is just worn out. But things are good on the home front, and that's a huge relief.
Happy Easter to you and yours. And while it's not about the chocolate, enjoy that part of it anyway.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow. It feels so good to write that again!