Friday, June 15, 2007

My favorite was "BIFF!"

Well, I can't complain, as I did with June 6th "Puzzle Tov" that this puzzle was out of the realm of my experience. This one was tailor-made for a boy who spent his childhood reading comic books and watching the "Batman" TV show. I love this puzzle, and even my one complaint -- which I'll warn you right now is a nerdy one -- is okay; it actually leveled the playing field a bit since this one part was probably easier for someone not familiar with the TV show.

Actually now that I think about it, I have another complaint but it has nothing to do with the puzzle but the fact that it's still not showing up as Across Lite file on the NY Sun website and probably won't. You'll have to go here to get the PDF, but believe me, it is worth the extra effort. This one is just too clever for Across Lite to handle, but it would be nice if the Sun website gave people a way to find the puzzle. (Thanks to Eric Berlin for this link.)

And you have been warned -- Spoilers ahead. (Which reminds me, be careful when you download the puzzle because it's going to print out the answers too, so be careful not to accidentally peek.)

"Holy Crossword, Batman!" is by Craig Kasper, and you can tell just by looking at the grid that this one is different. Four entries have inner sections that stand out much the way that sound effects in comic book or on the Batman TV show stood out.

The four sound effects are:

ZAP! nestled inside 17A: Place to pick up a pie (PIZZA PARLOR)

BAM! in the middle of 11D: Crenshaw's cousin (CASABA MELON)

BONK! splitting 28D: Bad gas problem, perhaps (CARBON KNOCK)

and (most impressively in my book) KAPOW! in the center of
63A: Cleared out (TOOK A POWDER)

But that's not all. Each of these visual explosions actually intersects with a Batman villain whose jaw might have made one these sounds whenever Batman's (or Robin's) fist socked it.

All of the following are clued as "Batman" Villain:

(crossing KAPOW)

34A: CATWOMAN (BAM) And -- this is probably puerile -- but I wonder if it's entirely accidental that the full-bosomed feline happens to cross CASABA MELON, which in my experience refers more often to things found in a push-up bra more often than those in the produce section. Julie Newmar made a huge impression on me as a kid. You really don't want to know how exciting I thought -- and still think -- she was in that skintight catsuit and those freaky eyebrows. Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt also played the part but my heart belongs to Julie. She was purr-fect.


and 4D: PUZZLER crossing PIZZA PARLOR, and this leads me to my one quasi-quibble. The big four on the TV show were the Joker, Catwoman, the Penguin and the Riddler. The Puzzler (played by Maurice Evans) was just a poor-man's Riddler, who was only in one two-part story. And there was a Puzzler in the comic books, but he was a very minor Superman villain. (I told you it was nerdy.) This was the only portion of the puzzle that caused me any problems, and it was because I knew it had to be RIDDLER and I couldn't figure out what three-letter sound effect started with D. You can see why someone who has a only a vague knowledge of the Gotham City Guardian would do better here. PIZZA PARLOR is pretty easy to get, ZAP is something everybody's heard, you're already doing a crossword puzzle, what was the name of that bad guy with question marks all over his costume -- oh yeah, the Puzzler. Wrong! Well, right, but -- never mind.

Speaking of Superman, his TV girlfriend shows up 38A: Dean's TV flame (TERI) BTW, that's Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher from the late, great "Lois and Clark" TV show, which is where Clark and Lois originally tied the knot after a 60-year courtship. Remind to tell you sometime how this event was celebrated at my house.

One other comic book reference shows up at 6A: 1997 fantasy thriller (SPAWN) from the Todd McFarlane comic book.

Other entries of interest:

22A: Lick makeup (SALT) No, it hasn't nothing to do with people who enjoy munching on mascara, it's a salt lick, a big thing of salt that is set out for horses or cows to lick. Why they'd want to lick it I have no idea.

23A: It calls itself "The magazine about shopping" (LUCKY) I actually have a subscription. I didn't order it, but it seems like when you subscribe to several magazines you'll occasionally get something in the mail telling you that you are going to receive a free subscription to something. That's the same reason I have a subscription to Blender.

56A: Digs (GROKS) This one might be tough for those of you who did not come of age during the era of flower power -- and even an old hippie like me originally pencilled in ABODE. It refers to a cult-favorite book from Robert A Heinlein called Stranger in a Strange Land, about a boy raised on Mars who comes to earth and becomes a free-love messiah of sorts, eventually meeting the fate that most messiahs meet. It made a big impression on me at that time. When I reread it a few years ago, although parts of it were thought-provoking a lot of it just seemed silly. In the book "Grok" meant to understand something completely, the meaning shifted slightly as it was (sort of) adopted into spoken English.

12D: Like a private getaway, maybe (AWOL) made me laugh. Thanks, Craig.

34A: O No. (CIRC) refers to Oprah's O Magazine and its circulation. I do not have a free subscription to this magazine.

61D: He finished third behind Ty and Shoeless Joe in the A.L. batting races of 1912 and 1913 (TRIS) Love those old-time baseball clues. Yesterday we learned than Sam Crawford has the most career triples. Tris Speaker, the man with the most career doubles, makes an appearance today.

What a great way to kick off Heroes Con weekend. See ya Monday, same Bat-time, same bat-channel!


Howard B said...

Really cool puzzle - got hung up badly in the bottom-left though.

Once I finally worked it out, I do have a question, and I know this is one of those gaping chasms in my mind. What's CARBON KNOCK? I gather from the clue it's gasoline-related, but that's it. The term's completely new to me, and blocked that whole corner for a while.
I know it's probably common, but I guess we've all got plenty of room to learn.

Norrin2 said...

I know very little about cars, but I have heard the term "carbon knock". I think I've even experienced it a time or two. There's a knocking sound from the engine and a momentary loss of power. No idea what causes it, but I imagine carbon has something to do with it.

Orange said...

I thought it was called "engine knock."

Norrin2 said...

Come on now, Orange, have you ever socked a super villain and had it make the sound "GINEK!" ?