Friday, October 7, 2011

Bitmap images / FRI 10-7-11 / Wheeler Peak locale / Mitchum's genre / Hindu god often depicted meditating / From knowledge sea power org

Constructor: Kevin G. Der

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: STEVE JOBS (57A: This puzzle's subject) — products and companies and concepts associated with the recently deceased APPLE co-founder

Word of the Day: NeXT (64A: Company founded by 57-Across) —
Next, Inc. (later Next Computer, Inc. and Next Software, Inc. and stylized as NeXT) was an American computer company headquartered in Redwood City, California, that developed and manufactured a series of computer workstations intended for the higher education and business markets. NeXT was founded in 1985 by Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs after he was fired from Apple. NeXT introduced the first NeXT Computer in 1988, and the smaller NeXTstation in 1990. Sales of the NeXT computers were relatively limited, with estimates of about 50,000 units shipped in total. Nevertheless, its innovative object-oriented Nextstep operating system and development environment were highly influential. (wikipedia)
• • •
Good thing I went to sleep before doing the puzzle last night—looks like there was a big snafu. This puzzle was a last-second replacement for the regularly scheduled puzzle, but the replacement order didn't go through for the NYT applet (NYT's online solving venue), so everyone there merrily chomped their way through something else. At least one other blogger did her whole write-up before learning of the mix-up. Not the first time online stuff has gone horribly awry at the NYT. But this is likely not truly annoying to anyone but said blogger. So you did the "wrong" puzzle — now you can do two puzzles, if you want, or wait for the canceled puzzle to appear at a later date. Seems reasonable to rush a tribute puzzle to press, and as tribute puzzles go, this is a fine one. As usual, it's simply crammed with answers related to the deceased—no bells or whistles. But with a gajillion theme answers and (with a very small number of exceptions) generally interesting fill, for all its sttraightforwardness the puzzle is still pretty impressive.

Theme answers:
  • 1A: Brainchild of 57-Across (IPOD)
  • 16A: Film studio spearheaded by 57-Across (PIXAR)
  • 17A: Brainchild of 57-Across (MACINTOSH)
  • 26A: Slogan associated with 57-Across ("THINK DIFFERENT")
  • 42A: Frequent description of 57-Across (CREATIVE GENIUS)
  • 57A: This puzzle's subject (STEVE JOBS)
  • 60A: Company co-founded by 57-Across (APPLE)
  • 24D: One of many from 57-Across (BIG IDEA)    
This puzzle comes with a special IPOD "Crossword" playlist. I love that the top line goes IPOD, then "ADIA," then "USE ME"—if ever there was a time to trot out the classic crossword songs, this was it. Other things to put on your IPOD: some NINA Simone ("I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free" is one of my favorite songs ever ever ever—seriously, if you're ever feeling down, just play it. Trust me); something called "Have a Little Faith IN ME" (1D: "Have a Little Faith ___ (1930 hit)); a pianist I've never heard of (59D: Pianist Nakamatsu => JON). I admit that my first thought for 13D: "Symphony in Black" artist (ERTE) was ARNE, as my brain registered only "symphony." Also, I thought the Mitchum in 38D: Mitchum's genre (NOIR) was writer James MICHENER (!?). But no, it's the amazing actor Robert Mitchum of "Night of the Hunter" and "Out of the Past" fame.

There was virtually nothing tough about this puzzle. I guess tributes are really designed to be completed successfully by as many people as possible. I have NEXT to no memory of NEXT, so that was a puzzler, but I got SHIVA (36D: Hindu god often depicted meditating) and I pieced together "GO WEST" (44D: Film in which the Marx Brothers join the gold rush) ... loopiest thing in the grid is UDE (25A: Ulan-___ (Siberian capital)), which I needed every cross to get, but which is probably some old-school crosswordese that I should've just known.

The response to JOBS's death surprised me. I'd never really thought about his place in American culture much. He was just the APPLE guy with the turtlenecks. But he clearly had a massive impact on the way many of us live our lives (he said, as he typed on his MacBook Pro). It was kind of entertaining to read a lot of my friends' Apple/Mac memories on Facebook yesterday. Here's what I wrote:
My dad was an early adopter before the term was in use: Betamax, anyone? Laser Disc players ... in 1982? Yeah, that was us. We owned the first model Apple Macintosh (ca. 1984). One of my fondest early Mac memories is of me and my sister using MacPaint (mind-blowing, to us) to draw mocking pictures of John and Yoko, based on / inspired by the ubiquitous ads for "John and Yoko: A Love Story" (TV, 1985). Also, I wrote my college application essays on that thing. Good times.
My sister, in response.
Yeah, Dad has always been on the forefront of gadgetry. I am cracking up about John & you remember what John said in his caption bubble? "Yoko, you're numero ono." I also remember thinking MacPaint was the best thing ever, because it had all of those crazy patterns. I think we gave John plaid pants w/ a checked shirt. That Mac went w/ me to college BTW, and caused me no end of grief. MacWord sucked pretty bad by the time 1990 rolled around.
And my best friend. 
I've never forgotten how in August 1998, after the announcement and just prior to the release of the original iMac, when I was at math grad student camp at UC Berkeley, the head of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, a research mathematician, turned to his equally nerdy colleague and declared, "The iMac is going to be the death of Apple." The degree to which that asshole was incorrect is a large cardinal number that would require googolplexes and quattuordecillions to quantify.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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