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LET'S CHANGE THE SUBJECT

New York Times, Sunday, August 19, 2018

Author:
Jacob Stulberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3012/25/20131/2/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3449640
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.597100
Jacob Stulberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 71 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 27 for Mr. Stulberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jacob Stulberg notes:
Of all the puzzles I've constructed, this one may have yielded the longest list of rejected theme answers. Among my favorites: SOMEONEHASCASTTHEDIE, ISANYONESERVINGYOU, and PLEASESEDATEME. ... read more

Of all the puzzles I've constructed, this one may have yielded the longest list of rejected theme answers. Among my favorites: SOMEONEHASCASTTHEDIE, ISANYONESERVINGYOU, and PLEASESEDATEME. My first choices for a revealer were VOICEACTIVATION or VOICEACTIVATED, but fitting them into the grid was a challenge, so PASSIVERESISTANCE finally won the day. (As will happen.)

A personal note: this puzzle appears shortly after my wife and I welcomed our first child, Cecily Judith. With that happy occasion in mind, I'll close with another theme-answer candidate: SHEGIVESBIRTHTOASTAR.

Jeff Chen notes:
Jacob employs PASSIVE RESISTANCE today, changing famous lines from passive to active voice. Writers get told to avoid the passive voice all the time (see what I did there?), because it ... read more

Jacob employs PASSIVE RESISTANCE today, changing famous lines from passive to active voice. Writers get told to avoid the passive voice all the time (see what I did there?), because it draws the reader in so much more effectively.

But there's something interesting and catchy about the passive voice at times. MISTAKES WERE MADE is so telling in its implications. Who made the mistakes? Unclear! Probably not me though! NO BATTERIES INCLUDED? Don't blame us!

I was a bit mystified by THAT DOES NOT AMUSE US. Apparently I'm still a hack writer, because I couldn't tell which of the two (base phrase or resulting phrase) was passive voice. Maybe neither?

(Apparently Queen Victoria was hard to amuse? Or people didn't amuse her? Is that last sentence the active voice, or the passive voice? Dang it, now I'm all confused.)

It's a creative theme concept. My attention wasn't held by so many stilted-sounding themers, though.

Wait.

So many stilted-sounding themers didn't hold my attention?

Bah!

The entire point is to ridicule how funny the active voice sounds in these cases, by coming up with horribly awkward themers. Not a lot of fun to uncover those themers, but there was something amusing about looking back at them a second time — they sound so terrible!

Aside from the tricky ESA / MT OSSA (not MTOSSA or MT ESSA! Esa that it?) / ADOBO region, a well-constructed grid. I'm glad Jacob worked his mid-length slots hard, CAJOLES FAT LADY GENOESE PROFANE kind of things acting as pick-me-ups throughout my solve.

Jim Horne notes:

I liked this crossword way more than Jeff did. Clever idea, and fun puzzle.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0819 ( 25,121 )
Across
1
Autumn bloom : ASTER
6
Ticked off : IRATE
11
Cast : SLUNG
16
"Madam Secretary" airer : CBS
19
Really stood out : SHONE
20
Bluesman Willie : LOMAX
21
Where the owl and the pussycat went, in poetry : TOSEA
22
___ provençale : ALA
23
Classic film narrated by Spencer Tracy : HOWTHEYWONTHEWEST
26
Position : JOB
27
"Thanks in old age - thanks ___ I go": Whitman : ERE
28
Lead-in to bad news : ALAS
29
Searched without sight : GROPED
30
Show what's inside : EMOTE
32
Underscore : STRESS
34
Early morning setting? : ALARM
35
The Bears of the Big 12 Conference : BAYLOR
36
Remark commonly attributed to Queen Victoria : THATDOESNOTAMUSEUS
41
Digs : PAD
43
Shaggy grazer : YAK
44
Actor O'Shea : MILO
45
Third-person form of "être" : EST
46
"Birds in an Aquarium" artist : ARP
47
Like some details : GORY
49
Handful : FEW
52
Fresh : NOVEL
54
Statement at the end of some trailers : NOONEHASRATEDTHISFILM
61
C neighbors : DFLATS
62
Tool that it takes two to operate : PITSAW
63
Old nuclear agcy. : AEC
64
Brewery sight : VAT
65
Obeys a sentry, say : HALTS
66
Skating embarrassment : FALL
67
CDs, LPs, etc. : RECS
69
Mexican marinade : ADOBO
71
Musician/singer whose name might be shouted in mock horror? : ONO
72
Prefix with -pod : ISO
74
Frederick III, for one : KAISER
76
Newspaper section : SPORTS
77
Toy manufacturer's disclaimer : WEINCLUDEDNOBATTERIES
81
Kurosawa who directed "Ran" : AKIRA
82
Hankering : YEN
83
Mouse lookalike : VOLE
84
Tikkanen who won five Stanley Cups : ESA
85
Measure of econ. health : GNP
87
Top hat go-with : CANE
89
Fail to hold : SAG
90
Clock setting east of Eastern: Abbr. : AST
91
Non-apology associated with several U.S. presidents : PEOPLEMADEMISTAKES
98
Impoverished : INNEED
99
The Temptations' "Since ___ My Baby" : ILOST
100
Drake or Future : RAPPER
104
City known for its cheese : GOUDA
105
Up-to-the-minute : LATEST
107
It's often brown or blue : IRIS
109
Great ___ : APE
110
Zip : PEP
111
Protest tactic ... as suggested by 23-, 36-, 54-, 77- and 91-Across? : PASSIVERESISTANCE
115
Continuing education subj., often : ESL
116
Operatic baritone Pasquale ___ : AMATO
117
Give up : YIELD
118
Panegyrize : EXTOL
119
Obituary word : NEE
120
Wyoming's ___ Range : TETON
121
Corporate department : SALES
122
Takes a breather : RESTS
Down
1
Remains in the ground, often : ASHES
2
Not having quite enough cash : SHORT
3
Jenga construction : TOWER
4
Tolkien creature : ENT
5
Debate again [sigh] : REHASH
6
Soviet author Ehrenburg : ILYA
7
Kerfuffles : ROWS
8
"Te ___" (Rihanna gold single) : AMO
9
Snarl : TANGLE
10
Crowd on a set : EXTRAS
11
Carol Brady, to three of her kids : STEPMOM
12
Founder of a major appliance chain : LOWE
13
Kind of bookstore : USED
14
Bygone game console, in brief : NES
15
Bistro dessert : GATEAU
16
Wheedles : CAJOLES
17
Cover from view : BLOTOUT
18
Old-fashioned weaponry : SABERS
24
"Let It Go" singer, in film : ELSA
25
"Game over" signal : HORN
31
What might follow me? : MYSELF
33
Ticket info, briefly : ETD
34
Peachy : AOK
35
Cinephile's guilty pleasure, perhaps : BMOVIE
37
Model Banks : TYRA
38
Place to treat yourself : DAYSPA
39
Colorist's concern : TINT
40
Hilo his : ALOHAS
41
Like "@#$!" : PROFANE
42
Ill-fated NASA mission of 1967 : APOLLOI
46
"You said it!" : ANDHOW
47
Catch something : GETSICK
48
Surprised exclamations : OHS
49
One singing at the end? : FATLADY
50
Vulcans or Jawas, in brief : ETS
51
Becomes grating to : WEARSON
53
The one that got away? : ESCAPEE
55
Turner who led a slave rebellion : NAT
56
"Sonnets to Orpheus" poet : RILKE
57
Uncool sort : DWEEB
58
Some keys, informally : IVORIES
59
Doctor's order : LABTEST
60
Peak NW of Athens : MTOSSA
66
When middle watch ends : FOURAM
68
Fancy neckwear : CRAVAT
70
Cannes's Palme ___ : DOR
73
Like some bologna and golf shots : SLICED
75
Like Vivaldi's "Spring" : INE
76
Where the Blues play: Abbr. : STL
78
Was out for a bit : NAPPED
79
Fox News commentator Perino : DANA
80
"I, Claudius" attire : TOGA
85
Like Columbus : GENOESE
86
Word hitting two Triple Word Scores in Scrabble : NONUPLE
88
First Folio, e.g. : EDITION
89
Cross-Atlantic flier, once, in brief : SST
90
Egyptian symbol of royalty : ASP
91
"Peanuts" character : PIGPEN
92
Pursue eagerly : LEAPAT
93
Climber's concern: Abbr. : ELEV
94
Goes at a leisurely pace : MOSEYS
95
Peninsula shared by Croatia and Slovenia : ISTRIA
96
Humphries of the N.B.A. : KRIS
97
Egg time : EASTER
101
Article of apparel never worn by Winnie-the-Pooh : PANTS
102
Attraction that dropped the word "Center" from its name in 1994 : EPCOT
103
Scottish dances : REELS
105
Trial for a future atty. : LSAT
106
Regarding : ASTO
107
Scotland's Fair ___ : ISLE
108
Empties (of) : RIDS
112
Black church inits. : AME
113
Jellied British delicacy : EEL
114
Hack : AXE

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?