Q: While vacationing at the shore with the family many years ago, I came across some old newspa pers. One of the stories was about a ship that was involved in an accident. The incident was referred to as an "allision." I chuckled at the typo and read on. I keep thinking about this, and I wonder if it really was a typo. -- Y.L., Buffalo, Okla.

A: No, it was not a typo. A collision is when two objects strike each other, as when one ship strikes another. An allision is similar, but refers to a collision where one of the two objects is stationary. For instance, a ship could allide with the pier.

Q: This has bugged me for a long time. Why is a person who makes or re pairs a stringed instru ment called a luthier? I don't get it. -- N.N.K., Lakeside, Fla.

A: "Luthier" comes from the French word "luth," which means "lute." According to my Merriam-Webster dictionary, a lute is a "stringed instrument having a large pear-shaped body, a vaulted back, a fretted fingerboard and a head with tuning pegs, which is often angled backward from the neck."

In the United States, luthier is used to describe anyone who works on a specialty type of stringed instrument, such as a violin or guitar maker.

Q: I watched a docu mentary several years ago about a group of desert inhabitants who wore tra ditional veils. Their name incorporated the word "veil," as I recall. I would like to read more about these people, but I can't remember what they're called. -- C.V., Rochester, N.Y.


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A: You watched a documentary about the Tuareg, "the people of the veil." Traditionally, the Tuareg wear a blue veil -- the source of their nicknames the "blue people" or "blue men." These nicknames are not related to the color of the veils, but came about because the indigo pigments in the cloth stained the wearer's skin dark blue.

Today, the Tuareg wear clothing and turbans in a variety of colors. Only men wear veils, and it is a rite of passage upon entering manhood to don one. Veils are worn to protect them from evil spirits that enter through the nose and mouth. The Tuareg are found mostly in North and West Africa, with many having settled into agriculture, shunning the nomadic life.

Q: John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln while the presi dent was watching a play at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. As I recall, there was another couple in the box with the Lincolns, and one other person was shot. Who was the other victim? When was Booth cap tured? -- M.L., Hickory, N.C.

A: On April 14, 1865, the president and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, attended the evening performance of "Our American Cousin." Joining the first family were Maj. Henry Reed Rathbone and his fiancee, Clara Harris. Halfway through the third act, Booth entered the president's box and shot Lincoln at point blank, using a single-shot derringer pistol. As Booth was about to flee, Rathbone interceded, but he was severely wounded when Booth stabbed him. Booth fled the theater and made his way to a farm in rural Virginia. He was tracked down and killed by Union soldiers on April 26.

Rathbone recovered from his injuries and married Harris on July 11, 1867. Mrs. Lincoln had invited several people to attend the play that fateful night, including Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, but all were unable to attend.

Q: I know what the Triple Crown of Thorough bred Racing is, but what I don't know is how many horses won this crown. How many of these win ners are still alive? -- D.F.P., Winslow, Ariz.

A: The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing is a title that consists of three races for 3-year-old thoroughbred horses. In the U.S., the three races are the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. The races occur within a five-week span.

Only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown. The most recent was Affirmed, in 1978. Seattle Slew, the 1977 Triple Crown winner and the last one that was still alive, passed away in May 2002.

The other winners are Secretariat in 1973, Citation in 1948, Assault in 1946, Count Fleet in 1943, Whirlaway in 1941, War Admiral in 1937, Omaha in 1935, Gallant Fox in 1930 and Sir Barton in 1919.

Q: My church bulletin made reference to St. Au gustine of Hippo. Where is Hippo? -- T.Y., Fort Smith, Ark.

A: Hippo, located near the modern town of Annaba in Algeria, was probably first settled by Carthaginians in the fourth century. Hippo was a major city in Roman North Africa, and it was the home of the philosopher and theologian Augustine. Scholars say his writings are considered influential in the development of western Christianity. He was born in 354 and died in 430.

Q: I recently watched "Star Wars" on TV. What happened to Mark Hamill, the actor who played Luke Skywalker? I haven't heard of him since the "Star Wars" movies. -- D.C., Milford, Del.

A: Mark Hamill was born Sept. 25, 1951. He's remained active in the entertainment field since the "Star Wars" trilogy. He's appeared in movies and TV shows, but he has mostly done voice work in cartoon features. He is noted for the voice of the Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series."

According to Hamill, Disney has approached him to appear in the new "Star Wars" films.

Q: What was the name of the character played by Joan Van Ark on the series "Knots Landing"? -- T.L., Chattanooga, Tenn.

A: In 1978, Joan Van Ark played Valene Ewing, the wife of Gary Ewing (who was played by Ted Shackelford), on "Dallas." Writers carried Valene over to a new series, "Knots Landing," in 1979. In episode 139, Valene Ewing became Valene Gibson. In episode 263, she became Valene Waleska. Finally, in episode 300, she changed her name back to Ewing.

Van Ark remained with "Knots Landing" for 13 of its 14 seasons. The show aired from 1979 to 1993, while "Dallas" ran from 1978 to 1991. During her 13 seasons with "Knots Landing," Van Ark earned two Soap Opera Digest Awards for best actress. She also directed two episodes.

Watch for Van Ark next month on TNT's "Dallas," where she will reprise her role in a guest appearance.

Q: I was watching a rerun of "Cold Case," and in this episode, Joe Penny made a cameo appearance. I enjoyed him in "Jake and the Fatman," but have seen him only in small roles since then. What can you tell me about him? What has he been doing? -- B.F. Lomita, Calif.

A: Joe Penny was born June 24, 1956, in London. He was raised in Georgia, and he attended high school in Huntington Beach, Calif. He is known for his role as detective Nick Ryder on "Riptide," which aired from 1984 to 1986. From 1987 to 1992, Penny played Jake Styles on "Jake and the Fatman." Most recently, Penny has co-starred with Lea Thompson on the mystery movie series "Jane Doe" on the Hallmark Channel. He has also appeared on "Days of Our Lives."

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.