Mir Bist Du Schon 1938 hit / MON 11-4-13 / Eponym of city now known as Istanbul / Camp classic by Weather Girls / Alpo alternative /
Monday, November 4, 2013
Constructor: John Lieb
Relative difficulty: Medium
- 3D: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" protagonist (KING ARTHUR)
- 26D: So-called "Father of Europe" (CHARLEMAGNE)
- 8D: Eponym of the city now known as Istanbul (CONSTANTINE)
- 31D: Shakespeare play that begins "Now is the winter of our discontent" ("RICHARD III")
bei (+ dative)
- (with something that has a location) by (some place or someone); near; with; on
- Ich habe es nicht bei mir. — “I do not have it on me.”
- (with something that has a definite time) by (some time); by the beginning of (some event); at; on; upon
- bei Abfahrt des Zuges — “upon departure of the train”
- (with something that has a duration) during; while; over
- bei der Arbeit — “during work”
- bei einem Glase Wein — “over a glass of wine”
- (with a person, business name, or job title) at the home, business, or station usually occupied by (someone)
- (with an organization) in; for
- bei der Firma arbeiten — “to work for the firm”
- (with something that may or may not occur) if there is (something)
- bei Schnee — “if there is snow”
- (in a postal address) care of (wiktionary)
• • •
Groaner pun is the only thing between this puzzle and a theme so basic and banal ("These Four Things Belong To Same Category") the NYT and most major outlets would never ever publish it. That said, if you are a fan of groaner puns, then why not? I'm not, but you knew that. The puzzle has the added … let's say, "virtue" … of having all the theme answers running (or "falling") down (like "rain" — Get It!?). So two things. Two things between this theme and remedial nonsense. But that might be enough. Pun + downness combo makes the puzzle both silly and visually interesting, which is Better Than Boring (and on Monday, Better Than Boring is pretty much the Bar).
Two things I learned / noticed because of this theme—first, Paul Shaffer co-wrote this song!? That is news to me. I know him almost exclusively as Letterman's musical director. Could not name any song he wrote—til now. Cool. Second, "homophonic" is one letter away from "homophobic," which is something close to ironic in the context of today's puzzle, as the song at the center of it all is clued as a "camp classic," by which I think the puzzle means "Big Gay Anthem" (which is what the song is now, despite the "each and every woman could find the perfect guy" line). If "homophonic" meant "sounding gay," that would work here. It doesn't mean that, of course. I'm basically just turning words around in my head at this point, so feel free to disregard the majority of this paragraph.
This puzzle has far too much crosswordese and junk. BEI is practically criminal, esp. on a Monday. Know how often it's been in the NYT since I started blogging seven years ago? No times. Precisely no times. The last time was in April 2006, and that puzzle was a Thursday. BEI, man, that is a bad and likely Entirely Unnecessary choice up there. I mean, AROO is terrrrrible, but it's terrible in that way you can just blow past. BEI sticks with you. Ugh. Choice to go with NUANCE is probably not a good one. Leaves you with a terminal-U situation—really limits your options as a constructor. So you get the horrid AEIOU and horrider BEI. TRANCE, STANCE, even FRANCE would probably have been easier to pull off. Even if you had to pull fill out all the way down to PARMESAN, what would you be losing, really?
Lastly, "Now is the winter of our discontent" is not a complete thought and should really have an ellipsis after it in the clue. It makes about as much sense on its own as "Now is the dog of my neighbor" without the subsequent "peeing on my lawn."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld