Set ‘em up, knock ‘em down

The giant bowling alley on the other side of the (cross)world

Published February 25, 2024

Happy Sunday, everyone! Hope you’ve been taking it easy and having a great February. We’ve got an extra day this month, and that means extra puzzles – but first, let’s look back at some puzzles from the last, normal-length week.

Clues you can use

Monday, Feb. 19 (USA Today, constructed by Rebecca Goldstein)

Nobelist Ressa = MARIA

Born in Manila, journalist Maria Ressa founded the Filipino news website Rappler in 2012. In 2018, Ressa was wrongly arrested and charged with tax evasion, essentially as a form of silence by dictator Rodrigo Duterte. In 2021, she and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” In January 2023, after Duterte left office, the tax evasion charges were dropped, and Ressa has continued her campaign to publish good journalism and hold authoritarians culpable. This PBS interview from last October is especially enlightening.

Monday, Feb. 19 (bewilderingly, constructed by Will Nediger)

2024 Best New Artist Victoria, or 1858 best new artist Claude = MONET

Such a funny clue that I had to include it. Once a supporting singer with Ariana Grande and Fifth Harmony, and having written much of Grande’s 2019 album Thank U, Next, the 34-year-old Victoria Monét had an electric 2023 with her debut album Jaguar II, including the hit single “On My Mama.” This year Monet was nominated for seven Grammys, winning for Best R&B Album and, yes, Best New Artist.

As for ur-Impressionist Claude Monet, is he really an award winner? Yes! Fifteen years after his debut, at the 1873 International Maritime Exhibition in his hometown Le Havre, he won a silver medal for “Sunrise.” Congrats, Claude!

Sunrise – Claude Monet (1872)

Monday, Feb. 19 (New York Times, constructed by Adam Wagner)

Any of 116 in Japan’s Inazawa Grand Bowl, the world’s largest bowling alley = LANE

First opening in 1972, the Inazawa City’s Grand Bowl has hosted major tournaments such as the 2013 WBT International Bowling Championship. I don’t really have a lot to say here, but I’m just flabbergasted by the sheer magnitude of this place. Every photo looks incredible. I can’t imagine what bowling in a room that wide must even feel like. If I didn’t know it’s real, I’d guess these photos were AI-generated or something.

Black-and-white drawing

The week’s biggest development in crossword social media was this xkcd comic that dropped last Monday.

While constructors like me hope that Taylor and Nicki heed our advice, for now I’ve got some wordplay involving those brand-new entries. Below are seven clues for real words that have appeared in a puzzle, you just need to name the word. Each word is one of xkcd’s made-up album titles, plus one extra letter–and they’re all here except ORETA, which can’t be turned into a word that way.

One billion years (4) = AEON

Put one’s two cents in (5) = OPINE

Ridge on a mountain (5) = ARETE

Stopped lying? (5) = AROSE

Treat with gas (6) = AERATE

“Vidi, vici” preceder (4) = VENI

Yiddish busybody (5) = YENTA

Extra hint: The first letter of each clue is the letter you have to add

Books and beats

Union Square & Co. is publishing the crossword book A-to-Gen Z Crosswords, by Canadian phenom Ada Nicolle. Her puzzles are always very fun and interesting, so this one’s easy to recommend.

Meanwhile, the New Yorker published a powerful excerpt from Anna Shectman’s upcoming nonfiction work, The Riddles of the Sphinx: Inheriting the Feminist History of the Crossword Puzzle. Judging from this preview, the book should start some important discussions.

Finally, Brendan Emmett Quigley has been featured on this blog more than once, and his novelty music ensemble, the Boston Typewriter Orchestra, has just gotten its 1,000th YouTube subscriber – but there’s still room on the bandwagon. Give them a follow and “you can mute us immediately afterward,” he says.

Thanks everyone for a great week, have a great Leap Day, and we’ll see you next month!

Chris King is a longtime crossword commentator, and the author of five published puzzle books. His column appears on Questionist every Sunday. 

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