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Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter

There are a couple of things going on today up in this bowling alley. By the way, did you know that they bowled in ancient Egypt?

First of all, you’ve got some puns — six of them in the vertical clues, at 3, 5, 12, 14, 73 and 78-down. Each one employs some sports lingo, but nothing so specialized that only a dedicated kegler would be able to solve. The punny clues, however, were a little slippery.

I knew to look for terms like “strike” and “spare,” but still needed crosses galore. In retrospect, the first example, STRIKE ZONES, and the second, SPLIT DECISIONS, were straight shots, but this puzzle was definitely one that seemed easier in my rearview mirror, with my trophy in the passenger seat.

I did think they were all really funny and rewarded a second glance. In 5D, for example — “Comment when you need a serious comeback at the end of a bowling game?” — the time element was important, but of course I don’t think of bowling as a sport where people rush. You run out of opportunities, though, and therefore have NO TIME TO SPARE, or lose points by missing strikes. 14D didn’t mention driving, which is where the entry phrase is more often seen.

The place where a time element did appear was at 73D, a clue that I found tough: “Pace at which bowlers complete their game?” I figured it had to be “time frame” at first, but got jammed up with CLAIRE at 87A, which had to be right. FRAME RATE requires a little film and video knowledge.

By this time, you’ve presumably made some progress elsewhere in this grid. Maybe you see a pattern in some other down entries, maybe not (I certainly did not). Fortunately, there’s a revealer in the very southeast corner, at 109D, which refers to an additional relevant feature. “Bowlers’ targets” are PINS: Were you, at any previous point, struck by the repeated and meticulously arranged appearance of a little three-letter string? Look for PINT, VAPING, ROPING; PINY, SPIN, PINK; PINOT and PINTA. Mr. Kingsley is UPPING the trick quotient in this game today — hopefully it’s up your alley.

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