Question: Hey, Mr. Know-It-All, I have a riddle for you: I'm tall when I'm young, and I'm short when I'm old. What am I?
Answer: You're a candle.
Q: I dislike chocolate - chocolate bars, chocolate fudge, chocolate icing, chocolate ice cream and chocolate cake, with one exception. I like German chocolate cake. The cake does not have a strong chocolate flavor, and I like the coconut-pecan frosting. Did the cake originate in Germany? - K.G., Rolla, Missouri
A: No, the cake was created by a man named Sam German in 1852 and was known as German's chocolate cake. He developed it for a competition thrown by the American Baker's Chocolate Co.
LET'S LEARN ENGLISH: In the U.K., they eat "aubergine"; in America, we munch on "eggplant." While in America our pants are held up by "suspenders," in the U.K. they use "braces."
Q: What does it mean to "peach on" someone? - I.J.L., Stillwater, Oklahoma
A: It means to inform on someone or turn informer. It comes from Middle English "pechen," meaning "to accuse." Its first known use was around 1425.
DID YOU KNOW? Linda Blair was considered for the starring role in the movie "Taxi Driver" (1976), but the role went to Jodie Foster instead. Foster was nominated for an Oscar for her turn as Iris.
Q: Have you ever heard of the Peel automobile? - E.L., Clinton, New Jersey
A: There were two models of Peels - the Trident and the much smaller P50. Only the most diehard automotive buff has any knowledge of them, but it's no wonder - there were fewer than 100 of the two-seater, three-wheeled Trident ever made on the Isle of Man, England, in 1966. The Trident was 72 inches long and 42 inches wide.
The smaller P50 was 54 inches long and 41 inches wide; it weighed 130 pounds. The one-seater was designed for a man and his briefcase.
They are being manufactured again in England. Each is custom made and comes with a factory-installed windshield wiper and washer; a cup holder is extra.
Q: Where did the term "bean counter" originate? - M.E.H., Peoria, Illinois
A: Beans are about as cheap a commodity as you can get. In the interest of keeping on top of costs, counting each one in inventory would be nitpicking, to say the least. It is a pejorative term for accountants, bankers and anyone who holds a financial interest in an endeavor. I think that in recent years the negative association has all but disappeared, and it just means a money counter.
The term appears first as a term meaning "a counter where beans are sold" in a Lewiston, Maine, paper in 1907. The first reference to accountants occurred in a Fort Wayne, Indiana, paper in 1919.
DID YOU KNOW? According to Jackie Gleason, it was Orson Welles who gave him the moniker "The Great One."
Q: I remember a one-panel comic from the 1930s called Toonerville Folks; one of the characters was named Aunt Eppie Hogg. No one I've asked remembers it. Am I the goofy one? - M.T.D. Naples, Florida
A: Only your friends know for sure, but there was, in fact, an Aunt Eppie Hogg associated with Toonerville Folks, a comic by Fontaine Fox.
The cartoon, which ran from 1908 through 1955, was a daily look at the Toonerville Trolley, the broken-down vehicle that met all the trains in Toonerville. It was driven by Skipper. Other characters in the town included Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang, the Physically Powerful Katrinka, Little Woo-Woo Wortle, Aunt Eppie Hogg (The Fattest Lady in 3 Counties) and Mickey McGuire, the town bully.
Q: Do you know the title of a movie from the 1950s about a young boy who was adopted by monks in a monastery; he went into the attic and found an old cross that had been stored up there. I remember watching it as a child, but my older sisters don't. Any help would be appreciated. - G.S. Naples, Florida
A: The name of the Spanish film is "Miracle of Marcelino" (1955), which was based on a novel of the same name. The story is about Marcelino, an orphan left on the steps of the monastery as a baby. He turned into a rowdy and defiant boy. The monks warned him not to enter the attic at the monastery, which of course made it irresistible; he was warned that a bogeyman lived in the attic. Marcelino entered the upstairs room and saw the bogeyman. Scared, he left, although he did return later - not to find a bogeyman, but a crucifix.
He thought the figure of Jesus looked hungry, so he stole some bread and wine, which he offered to the statue. The stone Jesus came to life and partook in a mini-feast. The movie is available at online wholesalers.
DID YOU KNOW? Sally Field auditioned for the role of Elaine Robinson in "The Graduate" (1967); the role went to Katharine Ross instead.
Q: Recently, I was watching an episode of "The Untouchables." In a side plot, a guy named Joe Zan-something wanted to assassinate President Herbert Hoover; he then found out that Hoover was voted out of office and Franklin D. Roosevelt was going to be the new president. Joe then wanted to assassinate Roosevelt. Was there such an individual in real life? I tried to look him up, but I had no luck. - M.H., Stowe, Vermont
A: I've never been a big fan of television, but I did watch "The Untouchables." I have looked up characters to read more about them several times, and they were almost always real people. Maybe the facts aren't exact, but the series is not intended to be a documentary.
The person you're talking about is Giuseppe Zangara (1900-1933); he was born in Calabria, Italy, and came to America in 1923. He had severe abdominal pain, which is believed to contribute to his mental delusions. On Feb. 15, 1933, president-elect Roosevelt was making a speech in Miami, where Zangara was living. Armed with a .32-caliber pistol, he attempted to shoot the future president but missed and shot and killed the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, instead. A little over a month later, Zangara had an appointment with the electric chair.
Q: Why do cable TV shows such as "Mad Men" and "Royal Pains" have only 13 episode seasons? - R.B.
A: Blame it on escalating production costs and a steady decline in ratings. The former 22-episode season meant an expensive eight to nine months of filming. Thirteen-episode seasons cut filming costs in half.
Early in TV broadcasting, network executives thought that more episodes of a hit show meant more money from advertising. That's why, in TV's early days, networks wanted primetime shows on the air for 39 weeks, taking a break only in the low-viewership summer. As costs rose, networks started cutting back, until a few years ago the standard for networks hit 22 episodes. Since cable networks have less money and fewer viewers, they cut back even further to 13 episodes.
- Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.