Social gathering with coffee / MON 4-11-11 / Lion King villain / Siberian plain / Dissect grammatically / Command post on ship / Ancient Peruvian
Monday, April 11, 2011
In physical geography, a steppe (from Russian степь, "steppe," further derivation unknown) is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. The prairie (especially the shortgrass and mixed prairie) is an example of a steppe, though it is not usually called such. It may be semi-desert, or covered with grass or shrubs or both, depending on the season and latitude. The term is also used to denote the climate encountered in regions too dry to support a forest, but not dry enough to be a desert. Soil type is typically chernozem. // Steppes are usually characterized by a semi-arid and continental climate. Extremes can be recorded in the summer of up to 40 °C (104 °F) and in winter, –40 °C (–40 °F). Besides this huge difference between summer and winter, the differences between day and night are also very great. In the highlands of Mongolia, 30 °C (86 °F) can be reached during the day with sub-zero °C (sub 32 °F) readings at night. (wikipedia)
So ... villains. I like villains. These are famous villains, symmetrically arranged. Not much else to say, really. A very smooth, very easy Monday puzzle. The oddest thing in the grid is OMSK (54D: Siberian city), and that's really not all that odd (esp. for regular solvers). Weirdest thing about the grid (which I discovered only now, as I was figuring out the word count) is that it's only 14 squares across. No wonder my time was so good—13 fewer squares to fill in (give or take). KHAN and SCAR are weird throw-ins, in that neither really stands out as a theme answers, i.e. you could (and do) find those names / words in any puzzle. But theme density's always a good thing if it doesn't make for terrible non-theme fill, and those answers certainly didn't. Most interesting answer, for me, was THEME SONGS, though I really wish they'd gone with a somewhat less insipid example for the clue (3D: "I'll Be There for You" for "Friends," and others).
- 8A: "Star Trek" villain (KHAN) — technically, shouldn't this be ["Star Trek II" villain]?
- 15A: "Batman" villain (THE JOKER)
- 19A: "Superman" villain (LEX LUTHOR)
- 36A: "The Silence of the Lambs" villain (HANNIBAL LECTER)
- 51A: Harry Potter villain (VOLDEMORT)
- 58A: Sherlock Holmes villain (MORIARTY)
- 63A: "The Lion King" villain (SCAR)
- 33A: Action to a newborn baby's bottom (SLAP) — is this really common, or just something they do in movies for dramatic effect?
- 8D: Social gathering with coffee (KLATCH) — this word has nothing, inherently, to do with coffee. Clue should have been [Coffee ___].
- 16D: Janis with the 1971 #1 hit "Me and Bobby McGee" (JOPLIN) — there's this one contestant on "Idol" that judges keep comparing to Janis, which you'd have to be tone deaf to believe. Woman's voice is fine, even remarkable at times, but there's just None of the soul, personality, life that Janis's voice had.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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