Mt. Vernon Register-News

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March 24, 2013

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Q: When I was a kid, I got my first ant farm. Not too long ago I bought one for my son. What is the name for the study of ants? -- J.R., Hopkinsville, Ky.

A: The study of ants is called “myrmecology.”

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Q: Is William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” based on a true story? -- B.L., New York City

A: It is. In 1040, Macbeth killed Duncan I, the Scottish king, and became ruler of Scotland. He ruled peacefully for 14 years. In 1054, he was challenged by Siward, Earl of Northumbria, who wanted his nephew -- Duncan’s son -- to rule the country. Malcolm Canmore killed Macbeth in 1057 to become king. Six hundred years later, Shakespeare made the incident famous.

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Q: To me, Basil Rathbone was Sherlock Holmes -- just as Fess Parker was the “real” Davy Crockett. In how many Sherlock Holmes films did Rathbone appear? -- C.K., Rolla, Mo.

A: I agree with you on both comments. Basil Rathbone appeared in 14 Sherlock Holmes movies made between 1939 and 1946, and also in hundreds of radio broadcasts.

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Q: I’ve often wondered where the first drive-in service station was located in the United States. -- B.R.T., Bedford, Ind.

A: Gulf Refining Co. opened the first drive-in filling station along Baum Boulevard in Pittsburgh on Dec. 1, 1913. In addition to gas, the Gulf station offered free air and water, and it sold the first commercial road maps in the United States.

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Q: When my grandmother used to say she cleaned every nook and cranny in the house, she meant she did a thorough job of cleaning. What exactly is a “nook and cranny”? -- R.L., Kentwood, Mich.

A: A nook is a corner, while a cranny is a crack. So when your grandmother said she was cleaning every nook and cranny, it meant she was cleaning down to the corners and cracks of the house.

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