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ASK MR. KNOW IT ALL: Reader smokes out the answers

on January 19, 2014 1:55 AM

Question: A long time ago, I came across a word that described someone who hates tobacco smoke. By any chance do you know of such a word? — P.D., Waycross, Ga.

Answer: There are those who do not like tobacco smoke and there are those who really, really hate tobacco smoke. Those folks are called “misocapnists.” The word comes from the Greek “misos” (“hatred”) plus “kapnos” (“smoke”).

Question: What were the most runs scored in a single World Series game? — J.T., Norfolk, Va.

Answer: In Game 2 of the 1936 World Series, the New York Yankees scored 18 runs on 17 hits against their cross-town rivals, the New York Giants. The game was played on Oct. 2 in the Polo Grounds. The “Bronx Bombers” — the Yankees — would go on to win the series in six games. By the way, this was the first series game the Yankees played without Babe Ruth.

Question: A Hollywood couple named their son Hopper Jack, after Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. Who are Hopper Jack’s parents? — A.J., Foxboro, Mass.

Answer: Sean Penn and Robin Wright are the parents of Hopper Jack, who was born Aug. 6, 1993. The couple has a daughter, Dylan Frances Penn, born April 13, 1991.

Question: I’m not into astronomy, but I’m curious about a star I heard about recently. It’s pronounced “Beetle Juice.” Is this for real? — D.B., Santa Rosa, Calif.

Answer: It’s for real, and your pronunciation is correct. The star is spelled Betelgeuse and is also known as Alpha Orionis. Betelgeuse, a red supergiant, is one of the brightest stars in the sky and is part of the constellation Orion. The word “Betelgeuse” is the corruption of an Arabic word meaning “hand of the central one.”

Question: I just rented “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.” Believe it or not, the movie was hilarious (if you like dark humor). One of the actors in the movie was Swoosie Kurtz. How did she get such an unusual name? — J.K.M., Peru, Ind.

Answer: As the story goes, her father, Air Force Col. Frank Kurtz, a highly decorated pilot in World War II, named his daughter after his plane, The Swoose. The name comes from a Kay Kyser song “Alexander the Swoose,” an ungainly bird that is half-swan, half-goose.

Swoosie Kurtz was born Sept. 6, 1944, in Omaha, Neb.

“The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom” also starred Holly Hunter and Beau Bridges.

Question: What is the correct name for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis? How tall and wide is it? When was the Arch completed? — A.L., Klamath Falls, Ore.

Answer: The official name of the Gateway Arch is the Jefferson National Expansion Monument. The Gateway Arch looks taller than it is wide, but it is exactly 630 feet by 630 feet. The Arch weighs 17,246 tons. According to the National Park Service, construction of the Arch began in 1963 and was completed on Oct. 28, 1965.

Question: In medical parlance, what is the big toe called? — A.L.B., Huntland, Tenn.

Answer: It’s known as the “hallux.”

Question: In the book “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson, did Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have first names? — L.M., Roseburg, Ore.

Answer: They did; their full names are Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde.

Question: What does the “K” in Kmart stand for? — O.Z., Glide, Ore.

Answer: It stands for the company’s founder, Sebastian S. Kresge. Kresge opened the first S.S. Kresge five-and-dime store in 1899 in Detroit. The first Kmart opened in 1962 in Garden City, Mich. The world’s largest Kmart is located in Guam.

Question: I’m one of the few people willing to admit that I loved the TV show “Gilligan’s Island.” I don’t recall what Mrs. Howell’s first name was. Do you? — S.M., Binghamton, N.Y.

Answer: Mrs. Thurston Howell III’s first name was Eunice; her maiden name was Wentworth. Her husband called her Lovey. She was played by Natalie Schafer.

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

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