My guest bloggers rock. It's good to be back but it's nice to know I'm not indispensable. Thanks PhillySolver for being the latest to fill in for me.
Before we get to the Monday puzzle I do want to add my own praise to Spy Glass, the Sunday masterpiece by Elizabeth C. Gorski. All those these answers, symmetrically placed, in chronological order, along with some appropriate glassware. Will Shortz called it "a breathtaking feat of construction." That would be a great quote to add to anyone's résumé, not that Ms. Gorski needs it. What a nice way to ring in the Ian Fleming centennial.
Here's my Favorite Fun Fleming Fact: besides creating Bond, James Bond, he wrote the children's story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Huh? Does this make any sense at all? Think about it. The spy on her majesty's secret service always had a cool car with lots of gadgets and special capabilities. Ditto Chitty. Bond had Pussy Galore and the rest of his suggestively-named Bond Girls. The sex kitten in Chitty Chitty went by the delicious moniker Truly Scrumptious. Yep, all from the same brain.
The Monday, May 26 puzzle by Mark Sherwood (answers) left me squirming in my seat with its oral healthcare theme. Speaking of squirming, SEX gets clued as "reason for an R rating." Sex has undergone a remarkable transformation in just the past few years. Not long ago when you filled out forms you were often asked about your sex. The accepted answers were generally either male or female. Nowadays, people don't have sex, they have gender, a word which formerly had only a technical grammatical meaning mostly useful for studying foreign languages. The result of this queasiness has, as usual, had the opposite of the intended effect. We can't casually say sex because that would deeply offend our prim sensibilities, so now that formerly safe and useful word only has naughty connotations. Ok, I'll dismount my soapbox now.
Two thumbs up for seeing SISKEL and EBERT together again. Theirs is such a wonderful story — the two formerly bitter rivals who become best friends clashing over their shared love of film.
I wonder how many NYC restaurateurs I'm going to have to learn to keep doing these puzzles...
Update: I forgot to mention that the grid pattern on this puzzle, by which I mean the distribution of black squares, is a very popular one. It appears 10 times in my database, making it the fourth most common pattern. I'll have more to say about this in a future post. My Grid Art page shows two lovely Saturday-level grids that each appear 9 times.