Question: If someone claims to be "going commando," he is not wearing underwear. Why the term? - S.B., Ames, Iowa
Answer: No one knows, but there are several attempts to explain this fashion of undress. One thought is that commandos in jungle warfare would often go sans underwear to help keep the body cool - they were said to be "going commando." I like it!
Q: Overheard in the adjoining booth in a diner, one person was exuberant about a story and used the word "kweenkydenk" -- or something like that. I think the word was meant to mean "coincidence." Are you familiar with it? - M.L.M., Boston
A: There are several spellings of "coinkydink," including "kwinkydink." You're right, the word means "coincidence," and it's an alteration of the original word. A friend used the term regularly and claimed it came from a children's TV show a few decades back. I was unable to find an association between the word and a TV show.
LET'S LEARN ENGLISH: In the U.K., an "advice column" is called an "agony column." In the U.K., they say "zebra crossing"; in America, we say "crosswalk."
DID YOU KNOW? There is a town in Pennsylvania called Jersey Shore that's nowhere near the New Jersey shore.
Q: There is a celebrity news/gossip program on TV called "TMZ." I have no interest in celebrity news, so I don't watch it, but I am curious what the name of the show means. - A.L.B., Scottsdale, Ariz.
A: "TMZ" stands for "thirty-mile zone." Movie shoots outside the TMZ are considered location shoots, requiring production companies to provide travel pay and other living expenses to its actors and technicians. The thirty-mile zone encompasses the center of Los Angeles and Hollywood, making it a hub for celebrities. The TV show "TMZ" debuted in November 2005.
My good friend insists "TMZ" stands for "Thugs, Morons and Zombies."
Q: I think one of the best logos around is the Macy's red star. Whenever I see any five-pointed red star, I think Macy's. Who came up with the design? - G.Z.S., Cape May, N.J.
A: Credit goes to Mr. Macy himself. Rowland Hussey Macy was born Aug. 30, 1822, on Nantucket Island, Mass. At age 15, he joined the crew of the whaling ship the Emily Morgan, where he got a tattoo of a red star. I'm sure there is a story behind that event, but I have not come across it. After four years, he gave up the seafaring life and worked in his father's store.
Macy opened his own dry-goods store in Boston in 1843. After that store closed, he worked with his brother-in-law. He even went to California during the gold rush of 1849. In 1858, Macy opened yet another store, this one in New York City. It was a smashing success. He adopted the star -- like his tattoo -- as the logo of the company. Macy died in Paris of heart failure on March 29, 1877.
DID YOU KNOW? Kirk Douglas turned down two Oscar-winning roles: Lee Marvin's in "Cat Ballou" (1965) and William Holden's in "Stalag 17" (1953).
Q: I watched the Kentucky Derby this year, and I noticed it was sponsored by Longines watches. I've always wanted a Longines timepiece. I'm curious: Was there a Longines who created the company? - M.W., Madison, Wis.
A: No. The company, known at the time as Compagnie des Montres Longines Francillon S.A., was started in 1932 by Auguste Agassiz, who set out to replace the era's mostly handmade timepieces with a precise, manufactured product.
In 1867, Agassiz's nephew, Ernest Francillon, who was in charge of the company at that point, began construction of a new factory, located beside a river in an area called "Les Longines," which means "the long meadows" in the local dialect. The company took on the name, and in 2001, it manufactured its 30 millionth watch.
Q: While I waiting in an office, I watched part of a cooking show on mute. For seasoning a soup, the cook tied together a large portion of fresh herbs and immersed them in the soup. When finished, the bundle was easily removed. What a great idea! Is there a name for this bundle of herbs? - D.N., Mankato, Minn.
A: There is -- it's called a "bouquet garni." It works well for soups, stews and stocks. You can also make a bouquet garni using dried herbs: Place them in a cheesecloth sachet, tie it and immerse in liquid; remove when finished cooking.
DID YOU KNOW? Montgomery Clift turned down Dean Martin's role in "Rio Bravo" (1959).
Q: My sister wrote to me and told me that the suburban community where she lives is being overrun with feral cats. I know what feral means, but why that word? - C.K., Robinson, Texas
A: A feral animal is one that escaped from domestication and became wild. The world "feral" comes from a similar Latin word, "fera," meaning "a wild beast." Feral was first used around 1600.
Q: In British TV shows and movies, you often hear the terms "quid" and "bob" when referring to money. What are they? - Y.S.S., Folsom, Pa.
A: A "quid" is British slang for a pound -- money, not weight. It's like calling a dollar a buck in the United States. A "bob" is an older form of currency; it is the equivalent of a shilling. In today's money, a shilling is worth 5 pence. There are 100 pence to the pound.
DID YOU KNOW? Judi Dench was the first woman to play the character M in the "James Bond" series; she started playing the head of MI6 in "Golden Eye" (1995).
Q: Many years ago, I was on a business trip in Louisville, Ky.; our group was taken to a fantastic private club one night. We were told the club was modeled on English gentleman's clubs - it was magnificent. We were also told we had to try the club's exclusive sauce for our steaks. I'm not one for steak sauce, but I didn't want to offend anyone, so I tried it and loved it. The trip was glorious - the people, the city, the club and that sauce. All was great except for one thing - we didn't get the contract. Do you have any idea of the name of the club and information on that sauce? - A.N., St. Cloud, Minn.
A: It must have been the Pendennis Club, which was established in 1881. The club's current facility was built in 1928. It boasts of being the birthplace of the Old Fashioned cocktail in the 1880s.
One of the first employees of the club was Henry Bain, who eventually became the headwaiter of the club. Bain created the famous sauce that is used on steaks and wild game; it has been a club favorite for more than 100 years.
There have been many imitations of the sauce, but it wasn't until 2009 that the general public was able to get a taste, when the Pendennis Club made the sauce available for purchase. If you are lucky enough to live in this glorious city, the sauce is available at a number of retail outlets; for the rest of us, we can order The Original Henry Bain's Famous Sauce by calling the Pendennis Club at 502-584-4311, or online at henrybains.com.
The sauce supposedly tastes of vinegar, tomatoes and fruit. If you try it, please let me know if that's true - I'm curious.
By the way, the Pendennis Club took its name from William Makepeace Thackeray's novel "Pendennis."
- Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.