“Strip T’s” by Patrick Blindauer – 13:00 minutes or so
so you’ll get a scan of my 130A: [Like some divorces] – MESSY solving. Use at your own risk. Wrong letters are possible. Like 68, which should be a “C”.
I’ve been in California, starting with an appearance at the Bay Area Crossword Tournament in Alameda, and eventually ending up in San Diego.
I saw celebrities (Conan O’Brien, Minnie Mouse, Andrea Carla Michaels), evil beings (the Joker, Tyler Hinman), bear-like creatures (polar, koala, panda, puzzle 4), rich golfers, surf and sand, and more cars than I care to remember. Narrowly avoided two accidents, including one where the car in the lane left of mine decided to turn right, forcing me on the sidewalk to avoid him.
I finished 6th out of 60+ at Alameda. The first three puzzles were Monday-Wednesday of Brown week that you’ve seen in last week’s New York Times. I was in 3rd place after these three, even enjoying the experience of being alone outside with eventual winner Eric Maddy after racing through puzzle three. Puzzle 4, a Sunday-sized monster by judge and all around horrible human being Tyler Hinman was my downfall, as I ground to a complete halt several times. Somehow I did finish it perfectly, but dropped out of the money.
Overall, a nice low-key event, with the only controversy being the Great NameTag Malfunction involving Andrea and me. We shall not speak of it again. I’ll just say you should always keep out of Andrea’s arm’s length.
Patrick Blindauer is genetically incapable of producing a puzzle that isn’t entertaining, and no exception here. The title gave away the theme:
Theme – Remove a T, resulting in a wacky phrase.
23A: [Quick shower?] – EXPRESS TRAIN
25A: [Energy conservation project?] – POWER PLANT
47A: [Yank who’s easily yanked around?] – NATIVE AMERICAN
52A: [Hip-hop songs played really fast?] – SPEED TRAPS. I was doing 70 mph on I-5 to San Diego in a 65 zone and was in the slow lane.
70A: [Jeers heard at a rodeo?] – COWBOY BOOTS
72A: [Opposite of a jumbo jet?] – DWARF PLANET. Alternate clue – United Express flight from Victoria to San Francisco. Good luck if you are 6’3”.
88A: [ Essential survival skill in a slasher film?] – TAX EVASION. Love this.
92A: [Valuable victuals?] – PRECIOUS METALS – Had dinner with Goofy, Pluto, Chip & Dale, Minnie, Princess Aurora and Belle. That’s a precious meal.
118A: [Kosher kitchen cuisine?] – RABBIT FOOD. Also ate at a Jewish style deli in San Diego with everyone speaking Spanish. Not sure how to translate knish.
120A: [Sofa where the sausages get stuffed?] – CASTING COUCH. We sat on the couch from the Central Perk set of Friends.
Other stuff, abridged edition:
34A: [“____ Bleed” (Rolling Stones album and song)]
44A: [California’s Big _____] – SUR. One area we didn’t have time for.
30D: [Wonder of music] – STEVIE
72D: [“Runaway” singer Shannon] – DEL
103D: [“Splish Splash” singer] – DARIN. I prefer “Mack the Knife“.