Where Picture A might be found / MON 10-12-15 / 1994 sci-fi film turned into series on Showtime / Wrinkle-reducing injection / Navy's gridiron rival

Monday, October 12, 2015

Constructor: Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: Easy (under 2:30, and w/o the pictures!)

THEME: a spoonerism letter-switch thing, with pictures — so I guess there is some NURSERY RHYME that contains the phrase "A POCKET FULL OF RYE" (which is depicted in Picture A) and then if you switch the "P" and "R" you get (sound-wise) ROCKET FULL OF PIE (which is depicted in Picture B):

Word of the Day: "STARGATE" (5D: 1994 sci-fi film turned into a series on Showtime) —
Stargate (French: Stargate, la porte des ├ętoiles) is a 1994 French-American[3] adventure science fiction film released through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Carolco Pictures. Created by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the film is the first release in the Stargate franchise. Directed by Roland Emmerich, the film stars Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Alexis Cruz, Mili Avital, and Viveca Lindfors. The plot centers on the premise of a "Stargate", an ancient ring-shaped device that creates a wormhole enabling travel to a similar device elsewhere in the universe. The film's central plot explores the theory of extraterrestrial beings having an influence upon human civilization. // The film had a mixed initial critical reception, earning both praise and criticism for its atmosphere, story, characters, and graphic content. Nevertheless, Stargate became a commercial success worldwide. Devlin and Emmerich gave the rights to the franchise to MGM when they were working on their 1996 film Independence Day, and MGM retains the domestic television rights. The rights to the Stargate film are owned by StudioCanal, with Lions Gate Entertainment handling most distribution in international theatrical and worldwide home video releases, although Rialto Pictures handles domestic distribution under license from StudioCanal. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well I blithely downloaded and solved this and had no idea what "Picture A" meant. I figured it would be explained in some later clue. I went on to solve the puzzle in 2:28. That is only a few seconds away from my record—and this grid is 16 wide!? I never even saw the other theme clues. I just wrecked this thing. I am always happy to be superfast because it makes me feel like Hercules, but I probably shouldn't be able to lay waste to an extra-wide puzzle without even looking at the theme clues, let alone grasping the theme. A more visible note on the homepage would've been nice. I finally noticed there was a little yellow "note" symbol in my AcrossLite program, so I clicked on it and saw that I was supposed to go to a different URL to download a .PDF or something. I just went back to the NYT puzzle page and got the official grid from the applet there. My feeling is that this is some wordplay and Patrick is a good cartoonist, but it's just a very tiny bit of wordplay and you can't really tell how good a cartoonist Patrick is from the equally tiny pictures (here: go buy his wonderful cartoon / puzzle book, "Zep, in the Curse of the Evil Dr. Sumac Who Lives Next Door"). Further, the rest of the puzzle was barely there. It's clean and smooth (LOL on the entirely accurate LOSER clue, 64A: Put-down from Donald Trump), but it felt slight, and my lightning time suggests that the "New Idea" here (this is the NYT's "New Ideas Week," I'm told...) was not really integral. More superficial / decorative. I can see how adding pictures to the grid could be cool, though. I'm all for it, if a. they seem to matter, and b. I get a better heads-up that the downloaded puzzle isn't going to be able to handle the pictures.

One question: why is the grid 16 wide? It's not like POCKET FULL OF RYE (the "A"-less version) would've been excessively opaque. Maybe there just needed to be more white space, since the pictures took up so much real estate. Just wondering out loud ... anyway, gotta go work on a new crossword project that I'll be unveiling later today. A group project. It's gonna be fun.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Solve the debut BuzzFeed crossword by Neville Fogarty
P.P.S. Read about BuzzFeed crossword, and indie crosswords, every day at the new blog, "New Grids on the Block." (Core Contributors: Lena Webb, Ben Johnston, Peter Broda, Erin Milligan-Milburn, and me)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Music man 12:48 AM  

Yeah never heard of pocket full of rye. So, this played as stupid to me. I will note that solving ony iphone app gave me PLENTY of heads up about the pics, even giving me a mulligan, literally, they included the word mulligan when they re-reminded me and suggested I take a screen shot before continuing, even with other directions on how to access the photos, but still, dumb. I do like the idea of incorporating some kind of rebus puzzle into the crossword puzzle though, just this one, mehhed pretty hoard, at least for me.

chefwen 12:59 AM  

I, as usual, never saw the note. Got the whole thing done wondering what the hell picture A and B were. Went back to Across Lite, saw the note and pulled it up in the other format to see the little pictures. O.K. Cute, but nor that cute. Now I just want to know what kind of pie filled that rocket.

This week should be interesting with new little twists and turns.

Kevin Mcgue 1:07 AM  

I did this on the NYT Crossword Windows App on Windows 10. The "pictures" were just two big masses of black. Had no idea what "picture A" and "picture B" were supposed to be.

Steve J 1:07 AM  

Interesting idea, but it didn't pack much of a punch. Even with the illustration, a ROCKET FULL OF PIE just isn't anything. And, yes, it felt lightweight. I was just a few seconds off my fastest Monday time, too. And that was with me not trying to solve quickly. There was just no resistance anywhere, even accounting for light-effort Monday standards.

Unknown 1:26 AM  


jae 1:38 AM  

Easy, refreshing, funny, liked it.

aging soprano 2:04 AM  

Unbearably easy puzzle. I barely finished the Sunday xword (and reading Rex of course), went to sleep, and woke up to polish this off before finishing my coffee. Meh, to quote other honorable commentators on this blog.

Ellen S 4:45 AM  

The drawings rendered just fine in Puzzazz, and I liked this puzzle way better than the Sunday one. There were mostly short answers except for the themers, but mostly they didn't seem to me to be as junky as yesterday's. And the theme was fun and really the whole puzzle was fun. And believe me, it's not because I'm in a better mood.

Charles in Austin 6:12 AM  

The puzzle's trick is a spoonerism. It's not a pun, as far as I can tell.

The Song of Sixpence was referenced in W. B. Yeats' last letter:

"The abstract is not life, and everywhere draws out its contradictions. You can refute Hegel but not the Saint and the 'Song of Sixpence.'"

smalltowndoc 6:12 AM  

Two clues I don't understand: 17A: The OZONE layer isn't part of the global warming conversation. Its depletion leads to increased levels of harmful UV radiation (and skin cancer risk), and led to talks about banning of CFCs and other man-made chemicals that degrade it. 53A: Why is a ROCKET FULL OF PiE found on the SPACE STATION? Does the ISS have a dessert delivery service?

Lewis 6:19 AM  

Cute idea, but too easy for Monday. No bite anywhere, not even a nibble. The pictures are fun, and I do like the pun, even though it's PYE instead of PiE. Cute, fun, clean, extremely (too) fast -- I can see a scaled down puzzle like this in a kid's magazine, perhaps. Better than that: A more sophisticated version in the NYT.

There were some nice answers: YESYOU, EUREKA, and OARSMAN. I guess SLYNESS is a word, but how many times have you heard/used it? I like that there is a Boggle-style TENT near PUP, and I love reading down 1A, including the letter in the picture to get PLAN A. It would have been cool to have something like B-TEAM going from the rocket picture down (but I can't think of an answer of five letters starting with BN except BNAIS ("Jewish organizations, familiarly") which is too ugly to think about.

Still, I'm looking forward to what the rest of the week brings.

elitza 6:59 AM  

3:35 on my iPad, using the NYT app. By far my fastest time ever.

joho 7:35 AM  

Hmmmm, I , like @Rex, finished quickly (not THAT quickly!) then wondered how I was supposed to create Picture A and Picture B. I also wondered about those large odd shaped blocks of 10 squares each on either side of the puzzle but had no idea that's where the pics were meant to be. So, all the pictorial fun was lost on me. Such a shame because Patrick's drawings are great and add to his creativity. In fact I was thrilled to see his name at the top of the puzzle.

In the end I got that NURSERYRHYME and SPACESTATION were part of the theme but without the pictures I missed the boat (ship?). This is one time I wish I'd seen the note!

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

C'MON! Yes, it was easy. And a bit corny. But it was FUN.

NCA President 8:01 AM  

I had the same thought as @smalltowndoc: why would there be a "rocket full of pie" on a space station? I get that the clues need to be pithy and all, but sheesh...that's just way too much of a stretch.

I missed my record time by 3 seconds because I can never remember if butter comes in a PAd or a PAT...evidently, it's a PAT. I didn't see my error until I finished without the cute little jingle. Then I wasted about 10 seconds finding the error. So yeah, this was really easy. I think the drawings also slowed me down just because there were drawings and I suspected some Thursday-like trickeration. But, nope. Didn't see what the pictures were about until I finished and reviewed.

Should be an interesting week though...

L 8:15 AM  

One word. Lame.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

It's from Mother Goose you geese!
Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of the. Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, etc.

Ludyjynn 8:32 AM  

To this day, I have a strong visceral response whenever Don McLean's classic, "American Pie", is played. What a great puzzle this could have been if it was comprised of references from the song beyond RYE! A great opportunity missed, IMO.

Thanks, Rex, for including the song in your commentary; clearly, the best part of this uber easy solve. I'll be humming it all day. BYE, BYE...

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

For those that don't know your Mother Goose nursery rhymes:

Sing a song of sixpence
A pocket full of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie
When the pie wa silenced
The birds began to sin
Wasn't that a dainty dish to put before the king

Doing this puzzle on old fashioned paper from my morning NYT made it very easy to understand. I thought it was clever

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

It's from Mother Goose, you geese!
Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye, four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, When the pie was opened the birds began to sing, Wasn't that a dainty dish to put before the King?

Teedmn 8:39 AM  

Sing a song of (EUROs?) sixpence

My favorite NURSERY RHYME, though I'm not sure why - it doesn't end happily for the maid. And I hope the the rocket isn't delivering blackbird PYE, yuck.

This was a fast Monday for me but no record time. Very clean fill and I learned what Ben-Hur's first name was.

Nice puzzle, thanks Patrick Merrell.

Out Walking the Dog 8:40 AM  

Nothing to this puzzle. Leaves me still hungry for my morning crossword. Oh well.

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a crazy thing to set before the king?

Z 8:58 AM  

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?
The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.
(thanks, Wikipedia)

Light, airy, a touch of whimsy. What's not to enjoy?

George Barany 8:59 AM  

Interesting concept, @Patrick Merrell. I'm surprised that anyone would be unfamiliar with "Sing a Song of Sixpence, " but what I didn't know until a just-concluded Google search is the fact that the song was originally composed as a pirate recruiting tool (and BTW, "pie" is also in the lyrics).

As for the "American Pie" clip with original lyrics posted by @Rex, this annotated version may provide an instructive complement. I was still in high school when the song came out, and, hard as it is to believe, Don McLean has now reached the age of 70 and finally broken his silence about the song (his original 16-page manuscript recently fetched $1.2 million at auction).

mac 9:01 AM  

Very nice Monday, although it went by to fast.

I enjoyed listening to Don McLean. I once pushed my son in a stroller while boarding a plane to Amsterdam, and he reached out and grabbed at a guitar case held by the person in front of us. It was Don McLean, on his way to a 48 hour concert in the Netherlands, a weekend of American music.

A Pocket Full of Rye is also one of my favorite Agatha Christie stories.

chefbea 9:17 AM  

Loved it

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye
Four and twenty black bird baked in a pie
etc, etc

Easy fun Monday. Look forward to tomorrow

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Here is the whole version

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?
The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.[1]
The final line of the fourth verse is sometimes slightly varied, with nose pecked or nipped off. One of the following additional verses is often added to moderate the ending:

They sent for the king's doctor,
who sewed it on again;
He sewed it on so neatly,
the seam was never seen.[1]

There was such a commotion,
that little Jenny wren
Flew down into the garden,
and put it back again.[1]

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:22 AM  

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.
And when the pie was opened
the birds began to sing,
Isn't that a tasty dish
to set before a king!
I can't believe you guys who know all the old TV shows and mediocre movies and bygone hits don't know that.

Lobster11 9:23 AM  

I print the puzzle and solve on paper every day, so didn't have the no-pictures problem that others did. It didn't really matter, though, because I got the themers so quickly from crosses that I never gave the pictures a second thought. I was hopeful that the never-done-before twist, whatever it was, would be sufficiently unusual to at least give me pause, but the thing was just too darned easy: In the end, it turned out for all practical purposes to be one of those themes (which I hate) that I didn't see until I was done. Here's hoping for a little more bite tomorrow.

ArtO 9:23 AM  

Got a chuckle out of the theme/reveal. Why the big deal about record times? Isn't the idea just to enjoy the solve and get on with life?

Roo Monster 9:27 AM  

Hey All !
Fun puz! I think y'all need to just get the puz from the NYT site, I've never not (is that right?) seen the note, or any other little tidbit imbedded in puzs. Just sayin.

Agree that this was super easy. I would say my fastest ever MonPuz, but I don't time myself, and also like to read all the clues. I don't like when Downs automatically fill in without reading the clue. That's just me, and (one of the reasons why) I'm not a tournament solver! :-)

@smalltowmdoc, the theme clues have just to do with the pictures, as in you would conceivably see a ROCKET at a Space Station. The main theme just goes with the pictures when you switch the letters. A POCKET FULL OF RYE, A ROCKET FULL OF PiE.

I liked it. Fun, easy, zippy, and just a Q from a pangram. Nice puz, PM.



Sheik Yerbouti 9:27 AM  

I like that NYT is thinking outside the box this week. But this is really only very slightly outside the box. I was hoping for some more radical experimentation with the format. Oh well.

ann 9:41 AM  

It's from Mother Goose, you geese!
"Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?!"

jberg 9:47 AM  

The pictures and note came out fine in the paper. And I guess with the pictures taking up 18 squares you need the super-wide to get room for enough entries.

The poem goes

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing
What a pretty [forgotten words] to set before a King!

I think it had some political significance.

Nancy 9:57 AM  

When it's too early in the week for challenge, what can a puzzle give you instead? Playfulness. Whimsy. And the rare treat of having almost no proper names at all, with the few that are there both known and worth knowing. I liked this puzzle a lot. And the editor's note at the top leads me to believe that we may be in for a week of real pleasure.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?

The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:11 AM  

Yes, that was something different.

Hip, contemporary entry: 34 A/35 D: E-TAIL crossing I-FAT.

Andrew Heinegg 10:15 AM  

Sorry, but I think Rex was too easy on this puzzle. Look, it is Monday so you do not expect a brain-twisting solve. But, this was like a puzzle to show to 12 year olds to get them started on learning how to do crosswords. And, as Rex others have noted, you did not even need to look at the pictures to solve. There should be some fun and some thought provoking in solving and I do not think this effort had either.

quilter1 10:20 AM  

Spoonerisms are fun and so was this puzzle, at least for me. So it was super easy. Big deal. It was different with the pictures. As an old lady it makes me a little sad that the nursery rhyme was the thing that "puzzled" people today.

Larry 10:20 AM  

Hey NYTimes - Take a quick look at the xword page on your website. See any opportunity there to have a note saying that today it was imperative to print the pdf, or to have a link to the pdf itself? You know how well your paywall works so that I can't see things I haven't paid for? Well, how about applying that same expertise to give me information necessary to enjoy the things I have paid for. Not that I think you're lazy or incompetent or anything.

Joseph Michael 10:25 AM  

Cute, but this seems like a crossword for children.

GILL I. 10:34 AM  

Well....at least this took me back to Sing a Song of Sixpence. A POCKET FULL OF RYE and then you have the Four and Twenty Black Birds baked in a Pie. I believe this might have been a tribute to Blackbeard and his jolly pirates?
I enjoyed this fast little fun different puzzle. I didn't know you had to draw a picture or I would have. Am not sure I understand the PYE part but I am SURE this had to do with a coded message or some such....
I'll have to ponder this.

Jamie C 10:40 AM  

@Charles in Austin: Not that this is worth a lot of energy, but a spoonerism is a type of pun. That's the pun fart!

I once went to a football match to see the Tigers play in the south of England. I kept shouting at the players to say hi to me, but they would not respond. I have just one question: Wave you any Hull?

Hey people, chill. It's a Monday NYT crossword puzzle. It's easy. It's like sex as a teenager: It's over before you know it and it leaves you a little unsatisfied, but it's better than nothing.

Indypuzzler 10:52 AM  

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie
When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing
Wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king!

Had to put it out there. Probably already done.
I had a book of nursery rhymes as a kid that was very very old.

I thought the puzzle was cute, quirky and great for some Monday pizzazz.

AliasZ 11:14 AM  

Sing a song of sixpence,
Four and twenty blackbirds,

When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?

...and so on...

This puzzle oozes cuteness with a bit of spoonerism, a touch of geography and a dash of sci-fi thrown in.

So far so good. Now I am curious to see what the rest of the week will look like.

Let's hear on of the PSALMS of David by Heinrich Sch├╝tz (1585-1672)

Have a happy Monday.

Masked and Anonymous 11:27 AM  

I worked the newspaper version, so the pics were right there in plain sight. This is great stuff. I bet a young kid might get a glimpse of this and wanna pick it up and solve it, to see what the pics are all about. Nothing says "fun ride" to a kid like booze and rocket ships. Could bring a whole new generation of lil solvers floodin into the fray.

Was wonderin if Across Lite had finally come out with a software release that supported weird stuff, in honor of NYTPuz Weird Stuff Week. But, looks like that's a big 29-Downer NOPE. Can U imagine how this would open things up, if U could put cartoons seamlessly in all yer puzs? Day-um. Pics of pewits, dude.
M&A once had a runtpuz that used a whole snootload of pics -- it was sort of a memory test deal. Solver would stare at the bunch of drawings in the pic, then go off and work the runtpuz, with no peeking back at the pic. That was so popular, M&A never tried it again.

Back to today's grid. Gorgeous 4-stacks of weejects in the NE and SW. Agree with @009: becuz of the space ate up by the cartoons, over-sized grid needed, to kick the average word length back up to 4.71.

fave answer: iFat. (New Apple device that is implanted in yer buttocks. Allows users to butt dial everything. But I disgust.)

Really really really liked the cartoons. More of this, please!
Thanx, Mr. Merrell.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


maripro 11:27 AM  

Hey Rex - I just read your NYT interview and, in case you ever need to use "alm" again, Johanna Spyri's "Heidi" was sent to live with her grandfather who was known as the "Alm Uncle." Most of your female readers would be familiar with this as a clue.

Numinous 11:30 AM  

Sing a song of space ships,
Four and twenty pirates,
Comin' thru the RYE.

I read on another blog that the original of this song was a coded message for recruiting pirates so I had to look it up. I love the image of two dozen "Blackbeards" bursting out of a "PYE" to capture a prize but, as a little boy, I always felt sorry for the maid.

I thought this was quite the cute little puzzle which actually lends itself to overthinking. First, I learned about how I was attempting to recruit pirates whenever I sang this as a four-year-old. Second, I find the ROCKET FULL OF PYE oddly appropriate as space pirates have become popular heros in TV shows like Firefly and Dark Matter.

This was very easy (I finished in well under my average time) and probably an enormous windfall for begining solvers. I saw the pictures before I started in the iPad app but really didn't need them for the solve. I recognized the Spoonerism as I was typing in that answer. Big deal, right? Still, as it is often brought up here, newbies will find this easy as well as being a gentle introduction to the notion that filling in crosswords is not simply finding synonyms.

All in all an amusing little "quickie". Now I'm curious to see what other things constructiors come up with that have never been seen in crosswords before.

GILL I. 11:30 AM  

I think I'm hating anything with the word Sixpence and Rye...:-(

Rabi Abonour 11:37 AM  

I found this one to be pretty joyful. Novice solvers will appreciate the nonexistent level of difficulty, and while the the fill is arguably slight, it was free of clunkers and did have a few fun things ("Loser," the capitals mini-theme).

Even if the puzzles this week aren't mind-blowing, I'm very happy to see them at least trying something interesting after phoning this thing in for so long.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Really amazed that this traditional Mother Goose rhyme is unknown to so many! If you didn't know it, and have little ones yourselves, you might want to get a book of Nursery Rhymes to share with them. They are clever and a cultural treasure...an annotated collection will give the adults some interesting stories to chew on-such as the pirate saga discussed above.

Da Bears 12:10 PM  

Cute, clever and funny. What more can you ask for in a Monday puzzle?

Charles kluepfel 12:41 PM  

duplication of one circled letter over the other would be better than swapping: ROCKET FULL OF RYE, as bakeries do sell rye bread and army is spelled with a Y.

old timer 12:55 PM  

Loved it! Mondays are often boring because they are so easy. I did this in an average Monday time (9 minutes) but it would have been 8 or even 7 if I had not kept looking at the pictures and trying to see how the gimmick would work.

Interesting theory about Blackbeard and the idea that the nursery rhyme was a recruiting tool. One problem with that theory is that whiskey is just called whiskey in Great Britain. Never "rye". That's an American thing, pretty much. I don't think potential pirates were interested in having a flask of "rye" in their pockets. Rum, maybe. Which, if mixed with the fruit of a LIMETREE could ward off scurvy.

In any case, Blackbeard didn't need any secret code to recruit. The authorities in America and the West indies were sometimes unable and sometimes unwilling to go after Blackbeard's little fleet. Finally, after Teach (Blackbeard) had accepted a pardon, then turned to piracy again, the Governor of Virginia took it upon himself to hunt Blackbeard down. He died on deck when his ship was boarded. The surviving crew members were tried for piracy.

Merle 12:56 PM  

Dull. Pointless. Who cares.... I expected something scintillating, and got a tedious joke.

Davis 1:00 PM  

Seconding smalltowndoc's confusion at the clue for OZONE. No one noticed that in the editing process?

Da Bears 1:11 PM  

Rex’s Blog today is well written (as usual) but seems misplaced. First, his complaint about not seeing the drawings is probably not germane to 90% of the solvers who don’t try to speed solve. If Rex would take the time to smell the coffee before he does the puzzle, he might have stumbled upon the note in the AL version before instead of after solving the puzzle. Why does anyone try to speed solve a Monday? Does every puzzle have to be an ACPT contest? I don’t get it but that is what Rex does. Second, it’s not that Rex should know every nursery rhyme but why, I ask, wouldn’t he at least Google the line before writing his Blog? If he had maybe he would have understood the importance of the “A.” And I recall times when Rex has complained upon leaving off an A or a THE in a common phrase, so I really don’t understand his crankiness on this point.

This puzzle was such a delight to solve and reading Rex’s woes only detracted from the delight.

pwoodfin 1:26 PM  

The week has only just begun. Simple concept for a Monday. Wait for it...

Caryl Baron 2:05 PM  

Easy as pie! Oh! that was a POCKET? Never figured that picture out.

Alicia Stetson 2:22 PM  

@Jamie@10:40: You made coffee come out of my nose! Hilarious. And I agree with the sentiment: People who are expecting fireworks on a Monday need to calm down.
I also agree with those who are surprised at people's (at least those who are English speaking) ignorance of this common nursery rhyme.

Z 2:42 PM  

Things most kids won't know:
JUDAH Ben-hur
Goodyear craft (Still extant, but just one of several these days)
STARGATE as a Showtime series (went from Showtime to SciFi in 2002)
SELF portrait ("selfie" would be another matter)

Things many Americans won't know:
Where to find Benghazi
Dead presidents' first names
A non-Ayatollah ruler of Iran

The ALPS are in France, too
South American capitals
MUIR Woods

I think commenters are mistaking easy for crossword solvers for easy. This wasn't much of challenge for those of us who solve >7 puzzles a week, but we aren't everybody. This is a well-crafted Monday puzzle.

@oldtimer - Check out @Numinous's link. I knew our National Anthem started out as a drunken bar song, I didn't realize some of Mother Goose's oeuvre has the same general source.

@M&A - I'm pretty sure you can find iFat in the App Store.

Warren Howie Hughes 2:43 PM  

This Xword Punny Puz by Patrick Merrell should've been posted on a Wryday and not on a Punday!

Leapfinger 4:05 PM  

I've got sixpence
Jolly. jolly sixpence
I've got sixpence to last me all my life
I've got twopence to spend
And twopence to lend
And twopence to send home to my wife, poor wife.
[etc, etc, etc]

RYE whiskey, RYE whiskey, RYE whiskey I cry
If I don't get RYE whiskey I surely will die

Jack of diamonds, jack of diamonds, I know you of old
You've robbed my poor POCKET of silver and gold

After a dozen or so iterations of varying lengths about sixpence, I thought the general readership be ready to coin some new phrases.

So, Hello, KITTY!! Nice to see you PUP up! Are you ready to TITHE knot?

Saw no not, got no picture till I climbed on the Rexville Express, so I was late to catch the PROW-S in this SASSY, AIRY little MonXWP. Had wondered about those whacking great cheater squares, but it all ended Merrelly. I've been spooner-fed since early chidhood, so enjoyed it

Must admit to being moderately bemused by that centerpiece of I FAT PLUS LBS AS BIG as a BLIMP. HEY, that gentle PAT doesn't quite soothe the OLDE EGO of the Biggest LOSER... Can we settle for Zaftig?

@Numinous, I saw that bit about the pirates' hiring practices, but another site suggested that entire detailed story was made up out of whole cloth. It can be hard to assess the truth of what one reads, and once a made-up story takes hold and spreads, it's hard to light a fire. I'd rather you take my bike than, well, you know...

Did anyone else understand what AUG meant?

Liked the STYLE and the SLYNESS, and look forward to a week of EUREKA.

My bath runneth over

Anonymous 4:09 PM  

Ultra easy, yes, but you're PROUD to say you never heard of "Sing a Song of Sixpence"?????

Leapfinger 4:15 PM  


The stories of Archimedes shouting "Eureka!" when his bath-water overflowed and of Newton's "Aha!" when the apple hit him are well-accepted, so it's hard to know whether they're apocryphal. Isaac Asimov, however, did say that the most interesting words in the language (when looking at some experimental results) are: Hmm, that's funny. I s'pose that Asimov's 'That's funny' is the first step toward Archimedes' Eureka.

Ludyjynn 4:54 PM  

I had an opportunity to ride on a Goodyear BLIMP out of Pompano Beach, Fl.a few years back. Tickets are hard to come by and are expensive, but well worth it. The gondola only carries a small number of passengers. That sunny day, it was just the three from my party. We 'sailed' soundlessly in the skies heading South past Miami and back, along the coastline. So beautiful and serene. Our pilot regaled us with historical and technical info. about the fleet. Some blimps also are used to enhance national security, flying above boats on US waterways, including NYC, looking for hidden weaponry below. Although most people today just associate the airships with advertising or major athletic events, they may serve a greater purpose.

Anonymous 4:58 PM  

a little esoterica from the Wikipedia page:

Yeats mentions the rhyme in a letter to Elizabeth Pelham: "...the. abstract is not life and everywhere draws out its contradictions. You can refute Hegel but not the Saint or the song of sixpence."

Anonymous 5:59 PM  

One note. Although the grid is 16x15, because of the space eaten up by the drawings, there are a few less letters in the grid than the average Monday.
-- PM

Numinous 6:21 PM  

@ oldtimer, I have no idea if Sing a Song of Sixpence was a recruiting tool or not. Upon reflection, that seems a tad bit improbable (I read it on Snopes so it must be true). I can't really picture a 20 year-old boy in a tavern hearing that song sung by three or four rum-soaked old salts wandering over to their table and saying, "I"d like to sign on." What it does sound like, probably. is a song about Edward Teach that was sung in pubs around the Caribbean ports where pirates could have been found. The Snopes version is not so different, I think, from the interpretations that abound regarding Ring Around the Roaie, Mary Mary Quite Contrary, and Little Jack Horner to name but a few.

Whiskey had nothing to do with it. As you pointed out, rum was the dirnk of choice in that region thanks to the sugar cane grown in abundance there. Whisky (generally thought of as Scotch) and whiskey (regarded as being Irish) were reserved for the landlubbers on the mainland. Since both are known to have been made in the fifteenth century, Originally they were called uisge beatha and uisce beatha meaning "water of life" in the respective Gaelics were shortened ultimate to uisce or whisky. Spellings were not standardized for hundreds of years into the eighteenth century. RYE can be whiskey or whisky depending on weather it is produced in the United States or in Canada.

Just an interesting historical footnote.

da kine 7:51 PM  

I've had a weekly calendar alert on my email program to check when the WSJ daily started (several weeks ago) and the same for BuzzFeed (today, apparently). Yay! I can finally turn that mofo off after many months.

The WSJ is right up there with the LA Times as the best crossword I play on a daily basis.

Nancy 10:36 PM  

I can't believe all the people who went to the trouble of typing out the entire song. It seems that around 80% of the people here did that. I have to believe that, somehow, all of them scanned it onto the blog from another Internet link. I haven't a clue how one does that. Whenever I cite something -- here or on email -- I have to type it in, manually, myself. Which is probably why I almost never cite anything. I know how to send a link, but that's about it.

@mac -- I also love the Christie novel and it was the first thing I thought of, while doing the puzzle.

@Numinous -- Hearing this song, even if I were an impressionable boy, would hardly make me want to become a pirate. Why on earth would it?

Music man 10:48 PM  

Oh in case no one knows, the nursery rhyme is
Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.
And when the pie was opened
the birds began to sing,
Isn't that a tasty dish
to set before a king!

Just in case people have not been made aware yet ;)

spacecraft 10:50 AM  

Well, it doesn't REALLY work, does it? I mean, the rocket is full of fuel; if it just has an ad for pie painted on the shell that's not "full of." But I digest. (Har, @M&A!)

Yes, this was easy; it's Monday, folks. But it also showed polish. (See 4-down, bada bing!) At first I was ranking my brain for a NURSERYRHYME that could possibly contain booze--meant, as they were on one level, for children. The "RYE" of the poem always conjured up the grain itself, not the end distillate. But then of course, the other, deeper, level of these ditties comes into play, and there a flask is right at home. The have-nots will always bitterly satirize the haves, as true then as now. When you get down to the counting-house, you see more clearly the underbelly of Mother Goose.

I liked it. The central area is slightly shaky with ETAIL, IFAT and LBS, but if that's the worst of it we're way ahead of the usual. A PLUS.

Burma Shave 11:27 AM  


YESYOU are a LOSER, your highness,
IFAT times you do not drink with STYLE,
PLUS, then your PLAN should SEEK SLYNESS,


rondo 11:55 AM  

A rocket full of (key LIME?)pie. Har. Must be going to the STARGATE SPACESTATION.

I’ve been to the MUIR Woods just north of San Fran. You should go if you’re in the area. TREEs ASBIG as you can imagine. Also bought a used book for $1 by John MUIR at a charity sale, inside was a first day cover of a stamp honoring him. Might be worth more than that dollar I spent?

Nary a SASSY yeah baby do I ESPY. ISEE not even one PLUS size gal ASBIG as a BLIMP nor one APT to use BOTOX. NOPE.

But now, EUREKA! I’m hungry for some of that pie. Maybe after the Jumble, 7 Little Words, Sudoku, Word Scrimmage, comic strips, and the other xword in the want ads. That’s my rainy day today. I feel mySELF like a LOSER.

Billy Gates 12:48 PM  

@Nancy - it's called copy and paste

SharonAK 2:23 PM  

Didn't see the usual posts from readers in syndication.
Thought the puzzle great fun, and about average difficult for a Monday.

Was surprised at REx and others not being familiar with the line "A pocket full.." and the source.
But even more surprised at the dozens who entered the whole thing.

Found the explanation of the supposed code in the "song" so interesting and convincing that I was sorry to read the comment on "rye" not being an English word for whiskey.
HOWEVER. Since they were in fact pirating in American and Caribbean waters, perhaps they were drinking rye.

leftcoastTAM 5:33 PM  

In sum, cute and easy.

strayling 7:42 PM  

Sixpence to buy a pocketful of rye for use as bait to catch the blackbirds to make the pie. That was what we were taught in English primary school, at any rate.

I expect it's really about some gruesome political event.

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