Ask Mr. Know-It-All
Dr. Stork is off the market
By Gary Clothier
Q: Recently on “The Doctors,” I noticed that Dr. Stork was wearing a wedding band. When did he get married and to whom? — H.S., Torrance, Calif.
A: Dr. Travis Stork married his longtime girlfriend, pediatrician Charlotte Brown, on June 30.
Stork has been a panelist on the syndicated daytime talk show “The Doctors” since 2008. He was the bachelor on “The Bachelor” in 2006.
Q: New Zealand has a national margarine or food spread that went through a shortage, with not enough for the country or even for their Olympic athletes this summer. What is the name of this spread? Will you supply some history of this product and describe its flavor? — T.W., Flintstone, Md.
A: The product is a spread called Marmite. In the late 1800s, a German scientist found that if brewer’s yeast was concentrated, it could be eaten. With that, Marmite Food Extract Co. was founded in Great Britain, with Marmite as its principal product. It is named after the French “marmite,” meaning “large cooking pot.”
Because the product became so popular in the U.K., the Sanitarium Health Food Co. started distributing it in New Zealand and Australia in 1908. Later, sugar and caramel were added to the product and other ingredient amounts changed.
Marmite is popular in Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. The main ingredient is the yeast that is a by-product of beer making. People describe the taste as salty, malty and somewhat like beef bouillon. The New Zealand version is sweeter than the British version. It is available in the U.S. through mail order or specialty shops.
DID YOU KNOW? The name of the supervillain the Riddler in the “Batman” comic strip is E. Nigma. The E is for Edward.
Q: Why are bagpipes played at the funerals of policemen and firemen? When did the tradition start? — J.P., Elmwood, Ill.
A: The tradition of playing bagpipes at police and firefighter funerals in the U.S. originated in the mid-1800s, when great numbers of Irish immigrated during the Great Potato Famine. Bagpipes were traditionally played at Irish and Scottish weddings and funerals. When the Irish came to the U.S., so did the tradition.
Irish immigrants were treated poorly, and only the most dangerous jobs were available to them. Many became firemen and policemen. When there was a funeral, they carried out their tradition of playing bagpipes. The practice has been handed down to this day. Scottish bagpipes are louder than Irish ones, so they are the ones heard today.
Q: I used to listen to a very funny man named Mark Russell on PBS. He wrote political satires with music and sang them while playing the piano. The program stopped about three years ago without explanation. Can you tell me what happened? — M.J., Naples, Fla.
A: Mark Russell announced he was retiring in 2010. He continues to write and make appearances. He is 80 years old. Visit MarkRussell.net for jokes and videos of his performances.
Q: I recently saw a picture of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Was he a child star? His eyes and voice look and sound familiar. Will you tell me more about him? — D.R., Wyoming, Ill.
A: Joseph Gordon-Levitt was indeed a child actor. He was on numerous TV shows as a child, including “Dark Shadows,” “The Powers That Be” and “3rd Rock From the Sun.” More recently, he has been seen in the films “Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Looper” and “Lincoln.”
Gordon-Levitt was born in 1981 in Los Angeles. His maternal grandfather, Michael Gordon, was a well-known movie director.
(Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)