IT'S ONLY "A" GAME
A fast and charmant graph that has talk parts. The preceding sentence is the result of my efforts to summarize this puzzle using words that contain only the vowel "A". It's not as easy as it looks (ha!) I was forced to resort to French, even though I know Huygens dislikes it so. I hope 52A. One of die Planeten (ERDE) makes up for it.
We had no trouble with the grid. It seems to me that the challenge, in this case, was more on the side of the puzzle constructor than on the puzzle solver. I filled out the top half completely and then handed it over to Horace who promptly completed the bottom half. I haven't even looked at the bottom half, even as I write. I'm assuming I didn't make any mistakes. Well, I must not have, because if I had, I would have heard about it by now. :)
Recently, I've been running across the answer EXILE with some regularity associated with Napoleon in the clue (18A). It always surprises me because other associations come to mind more readily, like his stature, his reforms of the legal system in France, the way he seized control of most of continental Europe, and the ABBA song Waterloo. But, maybe that's just me. Not that emphasizing his exile is inaccurate in any way, I'm just saying it's not the first thing that leaps to my mind.
There was a bushel of Apple products in the grid. The first one I came
across, 34A. lead to another clue, 69-Across, e.g., The answer to 69A. Apple product was
IPAD, and the answer to 34A. TABLET. So, imagine my surprise and
entertainment when I got to 23D. Apple product, perhaps, and the answer
was STRUDEL. Fun.
Other fun answers were BLACKANDTAN, a drink I enjoy on occasion and one of the theme answers - 7D. Bar glass that's half Bass, half dark malt; CHOCULA (54A Count __) and his CLOAK (49D. Item of attire for 54-Across); and 57A. King Arthur of tennis (ASHE). I also thought the clue for 33A.Captain Hook's right hand (SMEE) was quite clever.
On the less fab side, we have BOT for 46A. Bit of Google programming and 7D. A bridge might have one (LANE), but overall, solidly entertaining if not mind-bending. I give it an A for effort.