Happy Monday! It's a beautiful day here in Boston. The sun is shining, the crocus are out in force, and we've got a James Bond tribute puzzle to review. So let's get right to it.
The "Note" that explained that, in the print version, the clue number 7 read "007" pretty much gave away the theme instantly. If it hadn't taken me so long to remember DANIELCRAIG's name, I would have been under four minutes on this. I'm expecting to see a number in the low threes from our colleague Mr. Amory.
But issues of time aside, I'm disturbed by the idea of unCORED processed apples (allowed by "some" in the clue for 15A). When would that be the case? And why? Do I also have to worry about bits of COB getting into my popcorn? Or FIN getting into my sharkfin soup? ... oh wait, nevermind that last one.
1A: Pay hike (RAISE) - C+. Yes, please.
Favorite: 53A: It's kept in a pen (INK) - This surprised me.
Least favorite: 59D: Alliance that keeps a wary eye on Russia (NATO). I didn't like the tone.
There are a few uncommon answers, like ARAMAIC (44D: Jesus' language) (was it his? or was it just those of those who wrote the bible?), CLENCH (49D: Tighten, as a fist), and, well... DEUCE, I guess, but overall, I thought the whole thing was a little thin. Sure, they've picked out the five men who have portrayed him most often in major movies, but it's an incomplete list. And I wished, also, for the full name "James BOND," or maybe even "BOND, James BOND." I suppose that would have been much more difficult to pull off, and we would have ended up with even more TAR like ICAN, RIA, EIN, ITO, DDS and CCS. And more unknown, un-Monday-ish names like STIMSON (26D: Henry L. ____, secretary of war during W.W. II).
But what do I want for nothing? The sun is shining, and they say it will shine again tomorrow. As long as that happens, and another empty NYTX grid appears like magic before me as I have my coffee in the morning, well then, I've got no complaints.
p.s. This is a debut puzzle, and now I feel a little bad for giving it a lukewarm review. And because of information I learned over on xwordinfo.com, I feel even worse about dwelling on the beauty of the out-of-doors. If you're interested in finding out why, I suggest you pop on over there to read the commentary. I will add that this is the first time that I remember seeing a note from Will Shortz himself on that site. Enjoy. And congratulations, Mr. Burton! I look forward to seeing more from you.