Ask Mr. Know It All

Q. My family will be traveling to London this summer and would like to go to the Globe Theatre. Is this the original theater? Are shows performed?

K.W.E., Elmira, N.Y.

A. On Dec. 28, 1599, during the reign of Elizabeth I, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the theater company to which Shakespeare belonged, opened the original Globe Theatre. It was an immediate success and quickly became London’s most popular theater. During a performance of “Henry VIII” in 1613, a spark from an on-stage cannon ignited the thatched roof of the theater, and it burned to the ground. The theater was immediately rebuilt with a tiled roof. When Puritans took over the rule of England, they closed the theater in 1642. Two years later, it was destroyed and its foundation buried.

And so it remained for more then 300 years, until Sam Wanamaker came to London in 1949 and decided to recreate the theater. In 1970, he established the Globe Playhouse Trust to raise money to rebuild the structure. On June 12, 1997, Queen Elizabeth II inaugurated the newly constructed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a replica of the first theater, 200 yards from its original foundation. The theater is open during the summer for performances. To avoid disappointment, you should make reservations far in advance.

Q. I crave food on the weekends. Is there a term for this?

L.H., Ashland, Ore.

A. “Sitomania” means “an obsession with food.”

Q. Is Woody Harrelson’s first name really Woody?

B.W., Bangor, Pa.

A. Harrelson was born Woodrow Tracy Harrelson on July 23, 1961, in Midland, Texas.

Q. I heard reference to a “widow’s lamp” in a discussion of the Iditarod race in Alaska. What is it?

M.L.A., Beaverton, Ore.

A. In the early days of Alaska, dog teams were used to transport freight and mail from village to village. For safety reasons, a kerosene lantern was hung at roadhouses along the route, indicating the musher was on the correct trail. The lantern stayed lit until everyone on the trail was accounted for. The widow’s lamp tradition continues in the Iditarod races of today. At the start of the race, a lamp is lit and hung at the burled arch in Nome — the finish line. The lamp remains lit as long as there are mushers on the trail.

Q. I have long used the word jiffy, as in, “I’ll be there in a jiffy.” How long is a jiffy?

E.D.M., Fort Myers, Fla.

A. The length of a jiffy changes depending on the context and the speaker. However, according to one source, a jiffy is 1/100th of a second.

Q. Is it true that Conan O’Brien graduated from Harvard?

G.G., Perry, Ga.

A. It’s true. Conan Christopher O’Brien graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1985.

Q. Ray Milland starred in a movie that had no dialogue. What is the name of the movie? Is it available on DVD?

R.M.C., Bowling Green, Ky.

A. You’re thinking of “The Thief.” The black-and-white film was released in 1952 and is available on DVD. You are right — there isn’t one word of dialogue in the 84-minute film. Along with Ray Milland, the film also stars Rita Vale, Martin Gabel and Harry Bronson. The movie is about an American involved in treason who becomes overcome with guilt because of it.

Q. Why do we call a person out of touch with the modern world an “old fogy”?

B.L.S., Crockett, Texas

A. A “fogy” is a person with old-fashioned ideas. The word has Scottish origins. It can be spelled fogey, fogy or fogie and was popularized by William Thackeray.

Q. On the TV show “Batman,” what was the license plate number on the Batmobile?

R.L., Rutland, Vt.

A. It was 2F-3567 ... and I’m curious as to why you want to know that.

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

2013 Gary Clothier

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