This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 5m 27s
THEME: BILLY WHO? ... All the them answers start with names of famous BILLYS i.e. BILLY OCEAN (bottom), BILLY GRAHAM (cracker), BILLY CRYSTAL (palace), BILLY IDOL (worship)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
11. Medallioned vehicle : CAB
The medallion in a taxicab is the emblem of registration with the city, allowing it to carry passengers.
17. Davy Jones's locker : OCEAN BOTTOM
(Billy) OCEAN BOTTOM
Billy Ocean was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and moved with his family to England when he was 8-years old. He was born Leslie Sebastian Charles, but took the name Billy Ocean from a local football team in Trinidad, “Ocean’s Eleven”, who in turn took their name from the famous Frank Sinatra movie. He achieved chart success as early as 1976, with Love Really Hurts Without You. However, his global career took off with his 1984 smash Caribbean Queen. Perhaps he had global success in mind, because quite cannily he recorded the song under three different names around the world. Up till now, I had only ever heard Caribbean Queen, but perhaps in Ireland you’ve heard this version: European Queen. There’s an African Queen version out there somewhere as well, but I couldn't find it …
No one is really sure why "Davy Jones's Locker" is used to refer to the bottom of the sea, but the first known reference to the idiom was made in "The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle" published in 1751, written by Scottish author Tobias Smollett. It is clear, however, that Davy Jones is a euphemism for the devil or god of the seas.
19. Hoops org. : NBA
The National Basketball Association has been around since 1946, founded in New York City as the Basketball Association of America.
27. S'more ingredient : GRAHAM CRACKER
(Billy) GRAHAM CRACKER
Billy Graham, now that he has met with President Obama, has been the spiritual advisor to twelve US presidents, starting with President Truman.
S'mores are a treat peculiar to North America, usually eaten around a campfire, consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers. The earliest written reference to the recipe is in a 1927 publication called "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts". Girl Scouts always did corner the market on cookies and the like!
33. "Gone With the Wind" plantation : TARA
Rhett Butler hung out with Scarlett O'Hara at the Tara plantation in Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind".
34. Loonlike bird : GREBE
Grebes are freshwater diving birds, although they may be found in salt water when migrating and during the winter. Grebes have unusual plumage. It is waterproof, and the underside feathers stick out at right-angles to the skin. curling at the ends, trapping a layer of air next to the skin. The feathers can be pulled closer to the body if required, which reduces the bird's buoyancy allowing it to float lower in the water.
37. VW or BMW : AUTO
VW stands for Volkswagen, which translates from German into "people's car". The original "Volkswagen" was built under a directive from Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap car built that ordinary people could afford to purchase, and he awarded the contract to engineer Ferdinand Porsche, whose name (paradoxically) would forever be associated with high performance, expensive cars.
BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, which translates into Bavarian Motor Works. BMW was making aircraft engines during WWI, but had to cease that activity according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The company started making motorcycles, and then moved into automobile production starting in 1928. BMW moved back into aircraft engine manufacturing during the build up of the Luftwaffe prior to WWII.
42. ___ mater : ALMA
The literal translation for the Latin phrase "alma mater" is "nourishing mother". Alma mater was used in Ancient Rome to refer to mother goddesses, and in Medieval Christianity the term was used to refer to the Virgin Mary. Nowadays, one's alma mater is the school one attended, either high school or college, usually one's last place of education.
43. "All ___ is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry": G. K. Chesterton : SLANG
Gilbert Keith "G. K." Chesterton was an English writer. He was a big man, tall and very heavy. Chesterton once remarked to his good (and very slight) friend, Irish author George Bernard Shaw, "To look at you, anyone would think there was a famine in England", to which Shaw replied, "To look at you, anyone would think that you caused it!"
47. Pop music's ___ Lobos : LOS
Los Lobos are an American Chicano rock band, who released their first LP in 1978, and they are still going strong. The band's name "Los Lobos" translates from Spanish as "The Wolves".
48. Site of London's Great Exhibition of 1851 : CRYSTAL PALACE
(Billy) CRYSTAL PALACE
Billy Crystal is a such a talented man, mostly known for work in the field of comedy. He first came to national attention playing Jodie Dallas on the sitcom "Soap" in the seventies, and them started to make it big in Hollywood after playing opposite Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally". He has hosted the Oscars eight times, more than any other host bar the great Bob Hope.
The Crystal Palace was a magnificent building erected in London's Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. It had a striking appearance, like a very ornate glasshouse, being built almost entirely from cast-iron and glass. After the exhibition, the building was taken down and reassembled in an affluent part of London then known as Sydenham Hill, where it stood until 1936, when it was destroyed by fire. The area where the building stood before the fire, is to this day known as "Crystal Palace".
54. Cap-and-crown org.? : ADA
The American Dental Association.
56. Rich soil deposit : LOESS
Loess is a wind-blown accumulation of silt. The word is German in origin and was first used to describe the silt along the Rhine Valley.
64. Veneration of a cult image : IDOL WORSHIP
(Billy) IDOL WORSHIP
Billy Idol is an English rock musician, whose real name is William Broad. He started out with the punk band Generation X, and then made it big as a solo artist, helped along by some well received MTV music videos, in the early days of the genre.
67. ___ Street, Perry Mason's secretary : DELLA
Della Street was Perry Mason's very capable secretary in the Erle Stanley Gardner novels. Della was played in the TV show by the lovely Barbara Hale.
68. Name associated with the starts of 17-, 27-, 48- and 64-Across : BILLY
69. Sterile hosp. areas : ORS
70. "As You Like It" forest : ARDEN
"As You Like It" is one of Shakespeare's comedies, the tale of Rosalind fleeing from her Uncle's court, along with her cousin, Celia and the court jester, Touchstone. The play is perhaps most memorable for its oft-quoted speech that starts with "All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players ..."
The Forest of Arden is the setting for Shakespeare's "As You Like It". Even though there is a Forest of Arden surrounding Shakespeare's home town of Stratford-on-Avon, seeing as the play is set in France, one has to assume that the "As You Like It" Arden is an Anglicization of the "Ardennes" region that stretches from Belgium into France.
2. Knight's club : MACE
A mace is a relatively simple weapon in essence, a heavy weight on the end of a handle that is used to deliver powerful blows on one's opponent's body.
3. Keatsian works : ODES
John Keats wrote a whole series of odes in 1819, including the very famous "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and Ode to a Nightingale". The first in this series of poems was "Ode to Psyche". In this case the Ode is to Psyche, the mortal girl who was loved by Cupid.
4. Coffee ___ (social gathering) : KLATCH
A "klatch" is a casual gathering, particularly for conversation. "Klatch" comes from the German "klatschen" meaning "to gossip".
5. Cash in Kyoto : YEN
The three currencies, the Korean Won, the Chinese Yuan, and the Japanese Yen, all take their names from the name of the Chinese written character that represents "round shape".
7. Least bit : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use it to portray something very small, as it is the smallest letter in the alphabet.
8. Monterrey miss, e.g. : LATINA
Monterrey is a Mexican city, the capital of the state of Neovo Leon in the northeast of the country. Monterrey is the second largest city in Mexico after Mexico City, in terms of area (but third in terms of population, losing out to Guadalajara).
10. Mil. award : DSM
The Distinguished Service Medal is the highest (non-valorous) decoration awarded for services to the US military.
11. Rags-to-riches heroine : CINDERELLA
Variants of the story of "Cinderella" have been around perhaps since the times of the Ancient Greeks.
18. Dynamic Duo member : BATMAN
Batman is unique among his superhero compatriots in that he has no special powers, just a whole load of cool gadgets.
22. Setting for a Marx Brothers farce : OPERA
The five Mark Brothers were born to "Minnie" and "Frenchy" Marx in New York City. The more famous, three older boys were Chico, Harpo and Groucho. The youngest brother, Zeppo, appeared in the early Marx Brothers movies, but the fifth son Gummo, he went off to pursue his own career off the stage.
"A Night at the Opera" is a 1935 Mark Brothers film, and was the first movie that Chico, Harpo and Groucho made without their brother Zeppo. Great stuff!
28. Brother of Fidel : RAUL
Raul Castro is the younger brother of Fidel Castro, and has been President of Cuba since 2008 when Fidel stepped aside.
29. Responders to "Sic 'em!" : ATTACK DOGS
Sic 'em is an attack order given to a dog, instructing the animal to growl, bark or even bite. The term dates back to the 1830s, with "sic" being a variation of "seek".
30. ___-Magnon : CRO
Remains of early man, dating back to 35,000 years ago, were found in Abri de Cro-Magnon in southwest France, giving the name to these early humans. Cro-Magnon remains are the oldest that have been discovered in Europe.
31. Mrs. Gorbachev : RAISA
Raisa Gorbachova was the wife of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. There's no doubt that Raisa's charm and personality helped her husband as he toiled to change the image of the Soviet Union.
35. Coll. football star, e.g. : BMOC
Big Man On Campus!
36. Life of Riley : EASE
The phrase "life of Reilly" dates back to at least 1919. it may originate from a song from the 1880s about a man called O'Reilly, and how he became rich and lived an easy life.
41. City across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez : EL PASO
The Mexican city sitting across the border from El Paso is more correctly called Ciudad Juarez. Juarez used to be called El Paso del Norte (the North Pass). It was to be the younger settlement on the northern side of the Rio Grande which would retain the "El Paso" name.
44. Cheat, in 43-Across : GYP
"Gyp" is American SLANG (43 across) meaining "cheat". It dates back to the late 1800's and may derive from the word "gypsy".
51. Old TV canine : LASSIE
We owe the character Lassie to one Eric Knight who wrote a short story that he expanded into a novel called "Lassie Come Home", published in 1940. "Lassie Come Home" was turned into a movie three years later, the first of a very successful franchise. The original Lassie was played by a dog called Pal, a male dog. In fact, all of the dogs that played Lassie over the years were males, because they looked better on camera, retaining a think coat even during the summer months.
52. Author Calvino : 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 nor Britain.
57. Magazine title that's a pronoun : ELLE
"Elle" magazine was founded in 1945, and today has the biggest circulation of any fashion magazine in the world. "Elle" is the French word for "she".
60. "Pride and Prejudice" actress Jennifer : EHLE
My favorite screen version of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is the 1995 miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.
62. 1974 Gould/Sutherland spoof : S*P*Y*S
"S*P*Y*S" is a 1974 comedy starring Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland as two mean mistaken as spies and targeted by the KGB. With all those asterisks in the title, one has to assume there was a plan to capitalize on the success of the 1970 Gould/Sutherland vehicle, M*A*S*H.
64. Mrs. McKinley : IDA
Ida Saxton met Bill McKinley at a picnic in 1867, just before she headed off to Europe on a "grand tour". So, the two had to wait until 1869 before they started courting. The two marries in 1871 in Canton, Ohio, Ida's hometown. Ida McKinley developed epilepsy before her husband was elected to President of the US, and became very dependent on him to provide physical and moral support. She always sat by his side at public functions, breaking with the tradition of the President hosting some of the guests, and the First Lady others. After her husband was assassinated, Mrs. McKinley could not bring herself to attend her husband's funeral, and she withdrew from public view to her home in Canton. She passed away six years after her husband, in 1907.
65. N.F.L. ball carriers : RBS