The name’s William Ernest Butler, but please call me Bill. I grew up in Ireland, but now live out here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m retired now, from technology businesses that took our family all over the world. I answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at email@example.com
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This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today …
COMPLETION TIME: N/A (watching the movie “Law Abiding Citizen” … a clever plot, but too gruesome for my taste)
THEME: TRIPLES … the theme answers are all triple homonyms e.g. KNICKS NIX NICKS.
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
10 CALI: Actually, in terms of population, Cali is the third (not the second) largest city in Colombia. Santiago de Cali (the full name for the city) lies in western Columbia. Apparently, it is a destination for “medical tourists“. Surgeons in Cali have a reputation as being expert in cosmetic surgery, and so folks looking for a “cheap” nose job are apparently heading there.
14 AVILA: Avila is famous for the walled defenses around the old city, that date back to 1090. They were constructed out of brown granite, and are still in excellent repair. There are nine gateways, and eighty-towers in all. Even the cathedral built between the 12th and 14th centuries is part of the city’s defenses, so it looks like a imposing fortress.
15 TABU: Tabu was a whole line of cosmetics and perfumes produced by the House of Dana. The company’s brand names were purchased by a Florida company called Dana Classic Fragrances in 1999.
20 KNICKS-NIX-NICKS: Singer Stevie Nicks came to fame as the lead singer of Fleetwood Mac. She has a very distinctive voice, heard at its best in the famous 1977 album “Rumours”.
25 OTE: Taxonomy is the classification of living things into an ordered system, showing the relationship between various species. One suffix used in the systematic naming convention is -ote (the plural is -ota).
26 LOSE-LOU’S-LOOS: One tragic and infamous event in Lou Costello’s life was the death of his baby son, son, Lou Costello Jr. Lou was at NBC studios one night for his regular broadcast. He received word that the 11-month-old baby had somehow drowned in the family swimming pool. With the words, “Wherever he is tonight, I want him to hear me”, he made the broadcast in front of a live, unsuspecting audience.
31 SAKI: Hector Hugh Munro was a British writer, actually born in Burma. He was most famous for his short stories, which he published using the pen name “Saki”. “The Square Egg and Other Sketches” was a collection of short stories published in 1924, nine years after his death.
35 HRE: Maximilian I of Habsburg ruled the Holy Roman Empire from 1508 to 1519. He wasn’t a happy individual, and historians seem to agree that he suffered from severe depression. From 1514 onwards, when he traveled anywhere, he brought his coffin with him!
40 ESKIMOS: The Yu’pik Eskimos are most populous in Central Alaska, but they can be found living all across Alaska and as far as the Russian Far East.
53 TIM: Tim Geithner is in the hot seat right now, as Secretary of the Treasury in the Obama administration.
60 WIEN: Wien is the German for Vienna. Just like Berlin, Vienna was occupied by the four allied powers after WWII. In 1948, West Berlin was famously blockaded by the Soviet Union, leading to the remarkable Berlin Airlift that kept the city open. If the same thing had happened in Vienna, things would have been more complicated, as there was no airport in the western zone.
64 TATI: Jacques Tati was a very famous filmmaker in France. “Mon Oncle” was an Oscar-winning film that he released in 1958.
65 ACELA: The Acela Express is the fastest train routinely running in the US, getting up to 150 mph at times. The brand name “Acela” was created to evoke “acceleration” and “excellence”.
67 SPEE: Maximilian Graf von Spee was actually born in Denmark, but of a noble German family. By the time WWI started, he had risen to the rank of Rear Admiral in the German Navy. Spee was killed in the Battle of the Falkland Islands (the original 1914 version!). Of course he gave his name to the powerful pocket battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee, that was damaged in the Battle of the River Plate during WWII. The Graf Spee took refuge in the neutral port of Montevideo, and when the boat was expelled by the government of Uruguay, the captain scuttled her, rather than face the allied flotilla waiting for her off Montevideo.
2 IVANA: Ivana Winklmayr was born in Czechoslovakia. She was an excellent skier, and was named as an alternate for the 1982 Czech Olympic Team. She was promoting the Montreal Olympics in New York in 1976, and met Fred Trump’s son, Donald. Their marriage was very public and well-covered by the media, but not nearly so much as their very litigious divorce in 1990.
4 ELEC: The Tennessee Valley Authority puts out an awful lot of electricity …
21 SAS: SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System) is a founding member of the Star Alliance, the first airline alliance, created in 1997. The American founding representative is United Airlines.
27 ONE: Pee Wee Reese met Jackie Robinson after he was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. As Reese tells the story, when he greeted Robinson, it was the first time he had shaken hands with a black man. In those early days, life was difficult for Robinson, and Reese made himself very visible supporting the breaking down of racial barriers, despite very vocal opposition.
32 ARNE: Arne Carlson was the 37th Governor of Minnesota, in power from 1991 to 1999. He has the distinction of being the predecessor to Governor Jesse Ventura.
41 INT: In football, a turnover can be caused by an INT-erception.
48 MAGPIE: Heckle and Jeckle are those two cartoon magpies. They were created by Paul Terry, in his own Terrytoons studio, under contract to 20th Century Fox.
49 ETH: Emperor Haile Selassie I ruled Ethiopia until he was removed from power in a revolution in 1974. He died in 1975, under suspicious circumstances, and it is widely believed that he was assassinated.
53 TINES: The tines of a fork, would be sticking points …
54 ITALO: As well as being an author, Italo Calvino was a famous Italian journalist. He was a supporter of communism, and wasn’t very popular in the US or Britain.