We haven't seen Mr. Ashwood-Smith in quite some time, it seems to me, and it's nice to have him back! Today's puzzle features one of his signature quadstacks. (I should say that when I spoke to him about quadstack puzzles at the ACPT earlier this year, he informed me that the majority of puzzles with his byline were not quads.) In any event, this quad, with two bonus fifteens on the top and bottom, is one of the smoothest ones I can remember. Aside from outliers like LEPUS (4D: Hare constellation) and APIS (35D: Egyptian bull god), the rest of the grid is pretty normal. Well, except for this RAFE character. Isn't that just the way the Brits pronounce "Ralph?" Do we need to dumb it down? (No offense, Rafe.)
So what do we get for those concessions? A computer-heavy set of 15s: COMPUTERMONITOR (16A: One showing resolution), OPERATINGSYSTEM (53A: Hardware manager), and APPLIEDRESEARCH (30A: Focus of industrial science). That last one at least makes me think of computers, even though it isn't technically a part of a computer. And a threesome of "historic trivia:" CELESTIALEMPIRE (36A: Old nickname for China) (sounds so lovely), ICANSEEFORMILES (37A: The Who's only U.S. top 10 hit) (almost impossible to believe), and DAYTONTENNESSEE (38A: Scopes trial city) (Who knew there were two Daytons?!)
I like RATSNESTS (57A: Hoarders' disorders) and it's rhyming clue, and 6A: Putting out a lot (PROLIFIC) is also great on both sides of the coin. LONGSTEMMED (9D: Like some roses and wine glasses) is a nice clue/answer, partly because it is, and partly because it was "Monday easy" and allowed a pretty big entry into the Northeast/central areas. Nice, odd clue for ALIEN (14A: Superman, for one), and I also enjoyed 33D: Quitting time? for LENT.
1A: Big drop of water (FALLS). Very nice. A-
Favorite clue/answer - 46D: Rap response (ENTER). Lovely.