Rod McKuen and his poetry live on

Sunday, January 20, 2013

By Gary Clothier

Q: Is the poet Rod McKuen still living?

S.E.B., Fort Scott, Kan.

A: Rod McKuen is very much alive. He lives in Southern California with his brother and four cats.

Rodney Marvin McKuen was born in Oakland, Calif., in 1933. After leaving home at a young age, he held a series of jobs, including logger, ranch hand and rodeo cowboy. He lacked a formal education, but he kept a journal, which helped develop his writing and poetry skills.

During the Korean War, he worked as a newspaper columnist. He settled in San Francisco and read his poetry in clubs and performed as a folk singer. He achieved regional recognition with his poetry readings in the 1950s and national fame in the late 1960s. Although critics panned him, he wrote more than two dozen books of poetry and recorded nearly five dozen albums and seven dozen other recordings, including soundtracks and performances with other groups.

McKuen was nominated for two Academy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for his musical compositions.

Q: Who is Douglas Water? When I was in Scotland, I saw the name more than once in print and heard someone mention him.

T.L., Millville, N.J.

A: I'm sure there are several people with the name Douglas Water in Scotland, but I have a feeling you were hearing about a place, not a person. Douglas Water is the name of a town in south Lanarkshire, Scotland. At one time, it was a prosperous village, but when the town's coal mines closed residents left and prosperity dwindled. The town was named after the river of the same name. In Gaelic, Douglas Water means "black water."

Q: What is the name of the gap between two teeth? This gap is prominent on several well-known individuals, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and David Letterman.

L.H., Douglas, Ariz.

A: "Diastema" is the gap or space between two teeth. A few more celebrities with diastema are Elton John, Madonna, Lauren Hutton and Ernest Borgnine.

Q: I have always wondered why John and Abigail Adams named their son John Quincy. Where did the name Quincy originate?

B.S., Paxton, Ill.

A: Quincy, the middle name of the sixth U.S. president, comes from Abigail Adams' maternal grandfather, Col. John Quincy, the namesake of Quincy, Mass.

Q: When was the National Rifle Association organized, and where is its headquarters?

J.N., Manchester, Vt.

A: The NRA was founded in 1871 in New York. The organization's first president was Ambrose Burnside, a Civil War Union general and U.S. senator. The NRA claims to be the oldest continuously operating civil liberties organization in the United States. It also claims to have more than 4 million members. Its headquarters are in Fairfax, Va.

Q: For my birthday I received a necklace with one of the most beautiful stones I have ever seen -- it's called pietersite. What can you tell me about this stone? Who is Pieter? -- B.D., Waco, Texas

A: Sidney "Sid" Pieters (1920-2003) discovered pietersite in 1962 while prospecting on a farm in Namibia, Africa. Pieters described it as one of the most beautiful gemstones he had ever seen. It is considered a tiger's eye: The stone is composed of veins and swirls of one rich color intermingled with splashes of another color, or sometimes several colors. Because of its beauty, pietersite is one of the foremost stones used in jewelry making worldwide.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.A: The NRA was founded in 1871 in New York. The organization's first president was Ambrose Burnside, a Civil War Union general and U.S. senator. The NRA claims to be the oldest continuously operating civil liberties organization in the United States. It also claims to have more than 4 million members. Its headquarters are in Fairfax, Va.

Q: For my birthday I received a necklace with one of the most beautiful stones I have ever seen -- it's called pietersite. What can you tell me about this stone? Who is Pieter?

B.D., Waco, Texas

A: Sidney "Sid" Pieters (1920-2003) discovered pietersite in 1962 while prospecting on a farm in Namibia, Africa. Pieters described it as one of the most beautiful gemstones he had ever seen. It is considered a tiger's eye: The stone is composed of veins and swirls of one rich color intermingled with splashes of another color, or sometimes several colors. Because of its beauty, pietersite is one of the foremost stones used in jewelry making worldwide.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.A: The NRA was founded in 1871 in New York. The organization's first president was Ambrose Burnside, a Civil War Union general and U.S. senator. The NRA claims to be the oldest continuously operating civil liberties organization in the United States. It also claims to have more than 4 million members. Its headquarters are in Fairfax, Va.

Q: For my birthday I received a necklace with one of the most beautiful stones I have ever seen -- it's called pietersite. What can you tell me about this stone? Who is Pieter?

B.D., Waco, Texas

A: Sidney "Sid" Pieters (1920-2003) discovered pietersite in 1962 while prospecting on a farm in Namibia, Africa. Pieters described it as one of the most beautiful gemstones he had ever seen. It is considered a tiger's eye. The stone is composed of veins and swirls of one rich color intermingled with splashes of another color, or sometimes several colors. Because of its beauty, pietersite is one of the foremost stones used in jewelry making worldwide.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.A: The NRA was founded in 1871 in New York. The organization's first president was Ambrose Burnside, a Civil War Union general and U.S. senator. The NRA claims to be the oldest continuously operating civil liberties organization in the United States. It also claims to have more than 4 million members. Its headquarters are in Fairfax, Va.

Q: For my birthday I received a necklace with one of the most beautiful stones I have ever seen -- it's called pietersite. What can you tell me about this stone? Who is Pieter?

B.D., Waco, Texas

A: Sidney "Sid" Pieters (1920-2003) discovered pietersite in 1962 while prospecting on a farm in Namibia, Africa. Pieters described it as one of the most beautiful gemstones he had ever seen. It is considered a tiger's eye. The stone is composed of veins and swirls of one rich color intermingled with splashes of another color, or sometimes several colors. Because of its beauty, pietersite is one of the foremost stones used in jewelry making worldwide.

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

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