I've been waiting for another Nothnagel puzzle! And here it is...
Themeless puzzles tend to be more difficult for me--no answer gives way to another. And late-in-the-week themeless puzzles have been left incomplete on occasion. This one moved pretty smoothly, though, leaving me to wonder if I'm more on Mike Nothnagel's wavelength than, say, Quarfoot. If you're a regular reader, you know that two of his have been left with multiple blanks since I started this blog.
I deemed Mike's last puzzle--the Timothy Leary quote--as his best ever. Now I'll amend that to his best themed puzzle ever, and this one as his best themeless. Two 15-letter entries, one of which is a four-word phrase, and just packed with lively fill.
5D: Birthplace of the first giant panda in North America to survive to adulthood (San Diego Zoo). That was the first thing I entered. We'd been to the San Diego Zoo several years ago, and I thought I remembered reading that. To doublecheck, though, I moved to 38A: Cold evidence (sneeze), and knew that I was on the right track with zoo, then on to 21A: Martini go-with? (Rossi). Excellent clue. Definitely my favorite.
That ties in nicely with 54A: Disneyland attraction since 1955 (Mr. Toad's Wild Ride). We went to the San Diego Zoo after spending several days at Disneyland -- and that was a favorite ride for the girls. The trip was a gift from a dear family friend to celebrate the adoption. On that day the two became four. It seems like just yesterday.
16A: One concerned with school activities? (marine biologist). It was late when I solved, and I somehow missed the question mark. It didn't help that I had _AR_N_ which meant that parent went in for a time.
23D: Cause for some fluff filling (slow news day). I love these multiple word entries. Fluff temporarily waylaid me, since I was thinking marshmallow fluff, a filling of sorts. The birthday cake that was waiting at the office yesterday had chocolate frosting, topped with something white (I think it was marshmallow fluff) and chopped nuts between the layers, and chocolate frosting all over. It was to die for. I'm going to have another piece for breakfast, just as soon as I finish this. Anyone care to join me?
Other noteworthy multiple word answers:
34D: Have as a boss (answer to). This made me laugh, in a very irreverent way. Prior to this job, I worked for someone who was clueless about what I did, and I absolutely refused to answer to her. It didn't make her happy, although my resignation probably did. Tee-hee.
35D: The orange variety is black (pekoe tea). An excellent clue that I had to read multiple times. I already had _EKO_T__, and I didn't think anything would work in there.
12D: Link between DNA strands (base pair). I absolutely did not know this and wouldn't have gotten it without the crosses. I am not a scientist--rocket or otherwise.
15A: Plans named for a Delaware senator (Roth IRAs). I'm very familiar with them, but it took me longer than it should. Just wasn't thinking of them as plans, I guess.
18A: Comment after "So" (I lied). Initially I had I said, but that caused all kinds of trouble with the downs. If I didn't know it ended in D, I might have entered sue me.
Really liked 15D: Collector of bizarre facts (Ripley) and 17D: Books with many cross references? (Bibles). There are actually many bizarre facts in the Bible as well.
Had some trouble with 8D: Bearer of scales and plates (Atlas) because I had 19A: Itself, as a legal phrase as ipso, rather than ipsa. I don't think I've ever seen it spelled that way. For this puzzle, though, I'll let it slide.
Also stumbled at 57A: Sweethearts (steadies). The DIES ending was a bit confusing. Don and I are still sweethearts after almost 30 years, but I don't think of us as steadies.
Liked the cross at 37A: Worn rocks (jewelry) and 37D: Maker of a wake on a lake (jet ski). Don't recall that J is in the puzzle very often, and the jewelry clue was most clever. Don't forget to wear your rocks today.
Euler--that great mathematician--makes an appearance at 27A, clued as Mathematician seen on a Swiss 10-franc note. Didn't know that he appears on a note, but I had the E, so it was pretty much a no-brainer.
I could go on and on, but I have much to do today. See you all in a day (43D: Tomorrow).