Question: Is there a special word for someone who enjoys rain?
Answer: There is; that person is a "pluviophile." A pluviophile probably loves "petrichor" - the scent of rain.
Q: On "The Andy Griffith Show," Andy is a single parent. What happened to his wife, Opie's mother? Opie is an unusual name - is there a story behind it? - S.G., Millville, Pennsylvania
A: In the pilot episode, Andy says to Opie, "I lost your mom when you was just the least little speck of a baby." Viewers never learned her name, or anything else about her. As for the name Opie, I came across two possibilities: One is that Andy Griffith named him after bandleader Opie Cates. The other is that he was named for Opie Shelton, Griffith's childhood friend.
DID YOU KNOW? Susan Sarandon won the role of Hattie in the movie "Pretty Baby" (1978), over several better-known actresses of the time, including Glenn Close, Farrah Fawcett, Goldie Hawn and Liza Minnelli.
Q: When people refer to the film industry, it is common to call it Hollywood; when they refer to the U.S. government, they call it Washington. There is a word for this - when a place name represents something else. Can you tell me what it is? My coffee group will buy you a cup if you know it. - C.L., Belton, Texas
A: Am I being baited here? I think so, but I'm smiling. Yes, there is a word for this. "Metonymy" is "a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated."
Q: You recently answer a question about salmagundi, a plate of meats, fruits and vegetables arranged to make a colorful and beautiful presentation. As a child, my mother used to sing a nursery rhyme with a name similar to that. I forget the name. - E.L.M., Monroe, Michigan
A: The nursery rhyme originated in the late 19th century, and the lyrics were first published in 1842:
"Born on a Monday,
"Christened on Tuesday,
"Married on Wednesday,
"Took ill on Thursday,
"Grew worse on Friday,
"Died on Saturday,
"Buried on Sunday.
"That was the end
"Of Solomon Grundy."
The song was used as an educational tool for teaching children the days of the weeks.
The name of the nursery rhyme does in fact come from the food dish salmagundi.
Q: Quite some time ago, I read about a blundering official. The name seemed to be fitting and quite humorous. Do you know any such names for this type of person? - G.C.L., Chattanooga, Tennessee
A: One of my favorite words is "dogberry," which describes a pompous, incompetent, self-important official. The word was used by William Shakespeare as the name of a foolish constable in "Much Ado about Nothing." Personally, I think it would be an appropriate name for the comic strip "Dilbert."
Q: In a commercial, a dog says, "Now don't get cata... on us." What is he saying? - H.C., Peoria, Ill.
A: "Catawampus." There is more than one definition, but I suspect this one might be "an imaginary, fierce or destructive wild animal."
Q: I was in a coffee shop and noticed a young lady wearing a sweatshirt with the name "Belmont University" on it. I asked if the university was located in New York. She said it's in Tennessee. She obviously did not want to talk a stranger, and I respected her decision. I looked up Belmont, Tennessee, in my road atlas, but there was no such place. I thought maybe the university was named after Belmont, New York. Can you tell me? - N.K., Hartford, Connecticut
A: There is a Belmont, New York, but it has nothing to do with Belmont University. Belmont, New York, is located in the western part of the state, just north of the Pennsylvania state line. Fewer than 1,000 people call the town home.
Belmont University is located in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1849, a newly married couple began construction of the elaborate 36-room, 19,000-square-foot mansion; they named it Belle Mont. In 1889, the mansion became the home of Belmont Seminary for Women. In time, it became Belmont University. There are approximately 6,900 students who attend the school.
LET'S LEARN ENGLISH: In the U.K., they say "ice lollies"; in America, we eat "Popsicles." U.K. drivers share the road with "articulated lorries," while in America, we say "tractor-trailer."
DID YOU KNOW? Anita Ekberg was considered for the role of Honey Ryder in the first James Bond film, "Dr. No" (1962), which went to Ursula Andress.
Q: The comic strip "Blondie" has been with us for many years. When I was a child, as today, they had a dog named Daisy. Daisy had five pups back in the 1940s; one, the only boy, was named Elmer. The strip continues running today with no mention of Elmer or the other pups. What happened to them? - T.H.M., Shillington, Pennsylvania
A: Chic Young started the strip "Blondie" in 1930. After he died in 1973, his son, Dean Young, took over the strip. In 2005, during an online chat marking the strip's 75th birthday, Young was asked what happened to the pups; he had this to say: "I imagine they are somewhere in the neighborhood, but, in my tenure, I found that drawing five little puppies in each panel was more than I can bear."
DID YOU KNOW? Anthony Perkins was a huge fan of Elvis Presley, so much so that he named his second son Elvis Perkins.
Q: In the Western novel I'm reading, four businessmen go to a fine restaurant for dinner. When finished, they are asked about dessert. One fellow says he'll have anything except Indian pudding or vinegar cake. What are these two dessert items? - J.B.C., Arcadia, California
A: Indian pudding is a New England Thanksgiving classic, but I have found it quite often on restaurant menus. I lived in New England for several years, and it became my favorite dessert before I finished my first spoonful. Indian pudding is baked custard with milk, butter, molasses, eggs, spices and cornmeal. Served hot, I think it should include a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Food historians say that when settlers arrived, they brought with them their passions for particular dishes, hasty pudding being one of them. Hasty pudding is a British dish of wheat flour cooked in boiling milk or water until it reaches the consistency of oatmeal. From that evolved Indian pudding.
Vinegar cake does not seem much different than other cake recipes, but it has the addition of vinegar. I'm told that vinegar is a surprisingly common ingredient in baked goods. The acid in the vinegar reacts with baking soda and starts the chemical reaction needed to produce carbon dioxide, giving the batter a lift as the cake bakes. No, you do not taste the vinegar.
- Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.