Mattel's Hot Wheels cars debuted in 1968 with 16 models, including sporty versions of real-life cars from the Plymouth Barracuda to a souped-up VW Beetle and replicas of one-of-a-kind custom cars like the Hot Heap Model T and (my personal favorite) the bubble-top Beatnik Bandit. This year, to mark the 50th anniversary, Chevrolet produced a limited edition Hot Wheels custom Camaro, painted orange (just like Hot Wheels track) for adult Hot Wheels fans.
The island of Macao takes its name from the Taoist sea goddess A-Ma (also known as Mazu), protector of sailors. It's said that, in the 16th century, when a Portuguese ship landed on Macao after a severe storm, the sailors asked locals the name of the place. Language barriers being what they are, the locals mentioned A-Ma, the island's most revered deity. To the visitors, it sounded like Macao — and that's what the Europeans called the island.
A typical museum visitor spends fewer than 30 seconds looking at a single work of art. For most people, it's 10 to 15 seconds, which hardly qualifies as "art appreciation." That's what inspired Slow Art Day, an annual event that encourages museum-goers to spend five to 10 minutes taking in a single piece of art then discussing it. Nearly 200 museums worldwide participate in Slow Art Day in April, but you can make any museum visit your own personal Slow Art Day if you linger, look and think about what you see.
The Tornio "Green Zone" Golf Club gives players the unique opportunity to golf in two countries in a single round. Eleven of the holes are in Sweden and seven in Finland where the Tornio, or Torne, River separates the two countries. On the par-3 sixth hole, golfers tee off in Sweden to reach the green in Finland, crossing a time zone in the process and finishing the hole more than an hour after they started.
Of the 30 teams in the National Basketball Association, 29 play on maple hardwood floors. The Boston Celtics are the exception. Their signature hardwood parquet is red oak. The original parquet was pieced together in 1946 using scrap lumber left over from World War II. When the Celtics relocated from the old Boston Arena to the Boston Garden, the floor went with them. Since then, the team's home venue has changed and the floor has been replaced, but it's still red oak parquet and probably always will be.
In the late 1990s, biologist Gustavo Hormiga of George Washington University discovered a new genus of spiders with conspicuously large round bodies. He named the genus for Hollywood legend Orson Welles, who, in his later life, was known for his conspicuously large body. The 13 species in the genus, Hormiga named for Welles' film roles. They include Orsonwelles polites (from the Greek for citizen) for "Citizen Kane" and Orsonwelles calx (from the Latin for lime) for Harry Lime, Welles' character in "The Third Man."
1. Which of these individuals would be considered a Beat poet?
A) Dante Alighieri
B) Lawrence Ferlinghetti
C) Dante Gabriel Rossetti
D) Stevie Smith
2. Which of these terms refers to a misheard word, phrase or song lyric?
3. Which legendary guitarist is nicknamed "Slowhand"?
A) Jeff Beck
B) Eric Clapton
C) Jimi Hendrix
D) Jimmy Page
4. In 1949, Sam Snead became the first winner of the PGA Masters tournament presented with what piece of attire?
A) Gold gloves
B) Green jacket
C) Red scarf
D) White shoes
5. On April 16, 2018, Desiree Linden became the first American woman since 1985 to do what?
A) Swim across the English Channel
B) Win the Boston Marathon
C) Win a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning
D) Walk in space
6. An animal is a kleptoparasite if it does what?
A) Burrows into the skin of another animal
B) Eats its own young
C) Lives underground
D) Steals and eats prey killed by other animals
1) Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and others were part of the Beat poetry movement of the 1940s and 50s.
2) A mondegreen is a misheard word, phrase or lyric, such as mishearing the Creedence Clearwater Revival lyric "there's a bad moon on the rise" as "there's a bathroom on the right."
3) Eric Clapton's nickname is "Slowhand."
4) Sam Snead was the first winner of the PGA Masters tournament to be presented with a green jacket from Augusta National Golf Club.
5) On April 16, 2018, Desiree Linden became the first American woman since 1985 to win the Boston Marathon.
6) An animal is a kleptoparasite if it steals and eats prey killed by other animals.
WEEK OF MAY 14
Created to mark Lithuania's 100th anniversary as an independent nation, Signato is a new computer font derived from Lithuania's Act of Independence. All told, the font includes more than 450 Latin, Lithuanian and German characters elegantly adapted from the 1918 handwritten document to reflect the inconsistencies of human penmanship. Font fans can find it online as a free download, sponsored by the office of the prime minister of the Republic of Lithuania.
The U.S. Capitol building was designed by William Thornton, a medical doctor and amateur architect born in the British West Indies. George Washington himself chose Thornton's design from those submitted in 1793 for the prestigious commission and the $500 prize that went with it. Thornton also designed Woodlawn, the Federal-style residence adjacent to Washington's Mount Vernon in Virginia. In 1952, Woodlawn became the first property to be acquired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
A walrus consumes between 3 and 6 percent of its body weight in food each day, which is a lot of food when you consider that a typical adult walrus weighs upwards of 3,000 pounds. While they'll dine on all sorts of sea creatures, clams are their favorite. How many clams? Between 3,000 and 6,000 in a single feeding session.
Aristides was an ancient Greek statesman known for his honesty and fairness, which earned him the honorific Aristides the Just. More than a thousand years after he was attempting to keep Athenian politics on the straight and narrow, another Aristides made history in North America. On May 17, 1875, Aristides, the colt from Lexington, won the first Kentucky Derby.
Some film historians contend that India's prolific Bollywood film industry began with "Shree Pundalik," a 22-minute silent film directed by Ram Chandra Gopal "Dadasaheb" Torne and released on May 18, 1912. Yet, that film, based on a play about a Hindu saint, was shot by an English cameraman and processed in London, which has led other film historians to argue that the first full-length Indian feature film was the 40-plus-minute silent "Raja Harishchandra," directed by Dhundiraj Govind "Dadasaheb" Phalke and released in May 1913.
When Catherine of Aragon married Arthur, Prince of Wales, in 1501, she was 16 and he was 15. They'd been betrothed since she was 3 and he was 2! (Catherine's parents were King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, the monarchs who sponsored Columbus's voyage to the New World.) Though Catherine and Arthur's engagement was long, their marriage was not. He died about six months after the wedding. A few years later, Catherine married his younger brother, who would soon be crowned King Henry VIII of England.
1. A 1985 European treaty called the Schengen Agreement relates most closely to what?
A) Alternative energy
B) Copyright violations
C) Passports and border controls
D) Vaccination and disease prevention
2. How many U.S. presidents are buried in Arlington National Cemetery?
3. Spoiler alert! Which bivalves did the title characters gobble up in Lewis Carroll's famous poem, "The Walrus and the Carpenter"?
4. A traditional product of Greece, retsina is a type of what?
5. Which country has won the most Oscars in the category of "Best Foreign Language Film"?
6. What type of creature is the title character in the 2017 Disney film, "Ferdinand"?
D) Space alien
1) The Schengen Agreement governs passport and border control between European nations.
2) Two U.S. presidents are buried in Arlington National Cemetery: John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft.
3) The Walrus and the Carpenter ate oysters in Lewis Carroll's poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter."
4) Retsina is a type of wine traditionally produced in Greece.
5) Films from Italy have won the most Oscars for best foreign language film, most recently Paolo Sorrentino's "La Grande Bellezza" in 2013.
6) In the 2017 Disney film, "Ferdinand," the title character is a bull.
WEEK OF MAY 21
As of 2017, there were 300 authorized translations of "Le Petit Prince" ("The Little Prince"), the 1943 novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. They include Ancient Egyptian, Nepalese, Pennsylvania German and both the Tosk and Gheg dialects of Albanian.
Frustrated by second-place finishes, Ugo Sivocci, a driver for the Alfa Romeo racing team in the 1920s, painted a four-leaf clover inside a white square on his race car for luck. It worked: He won his next race. But he was killed soon after while test-driving a new model car (one without a lucky clover on its side). Today, as a tribute, Alfa Romeo Giulia sedans bear a four-leaf clover badge, triangle-shaped — a square minus one corner to symbolize the loss of Ugo Sivocci.
Until recently, there were just two U.N. member nations with national flags that do not contain red, white or any shade of blue. One was Mauritania's green flag with a gold crescent and star. Then, in 2017, red bars were added to that design. Now Jamaica's flag stands alone, with green triangles to represent the land, black triangles to represent the people, a gold cross to represent the sun — and no red, white or blue.
The killdeer is a bird that gets its name from the sound of its call, not because it kills deer. (It chatters so much, its scientific name is Charadrius vociferus.) One of nature's great actors, the adult killdeer draws predators away from its nest by calling out in distress and pretending to have a broken wing. When the predator pursues it, the "wounded" bird flies back to its nest to protect its young.
Green, black, red or white Kampot pepper comes from the Kampot region of Cambodia, and from no place else. It's the first Cambodian agricultural product to earn a Geographical Indication, meaning that only peppers grown in Kampot may be labeled for sale as Kampot peppers. (Like sparkling wine, which may only be labeled as Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France.) Cambodia produces about 88 tons of ground Kampot pepper per year.
A few years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Toni Stone broke another barrier as the first woman to play in the Negro League. A pitcher and infielder, Stone was 32 when she signed with the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953, although her "official" team bio said 22. When Stone went to the Kansas City Monarchs in 1954, Indianapolis brought on two more women: pitcher Mamie Johnson and infielder Connie Morgan. Toni Stone retired after the 1954 season with a career .243 batting average.
1. What was the primary occupation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of "The Little Prince"?
A) Chemistry professor
B) Dog breeder
C) Military pilot
D) Submarine commander
2. Which airline features a shamrock on its aircraft tail fins?
A) Aer Lingus
3. Which beer has been brewed in Jamaica since 1928?
C) Red Stripe
4. The mandible is a bone in what part of the body?
5. DJ Spinderella was a member of what Grammy-winning trio with a string of 1990s hits?
A) Destiny's Child
B) En Vogue
6. Carved around 196 B.C., the Rosetta Stone bears inscriptions in which two languages?
A) Akkadian and Sumerian
B) Aramaic and Latin
C) Egyptian and Greek
D) Greek and Latin
1) Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of "The Little Prince," was a military pilot.
2) Aer Lingus aircraft have a shamrock insignia on the tail fin.
3) Red Stripe beer has been brewed in Jamaica since 1928.
4) The mandible is the lower bone of the jaw.
5) DJ Spinderella was a member of Salt-n-Pepa.
6) Carved around 196 B.C., the Rosetta Stone bear inscriptions in Ancient Egyptian and Greek.
WEEK OF MAY 28
Happy birthday to Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo," which premiered on May 28, 1958. Though it's indelibly linked to San Francisco, where Hitchcock set it, the film is based on the French novel, "D'entre les morts" ("Among the Dead") by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, which was set in Paris.
Jeanne Baret circumnavigated the globe in the late 1700s as an assistant botanist on a French expedition to explore the southern hemisphere. To skirt French naval regulations, which prohibited female crew members, she spent most of the voyage disguised as a young man. Sadly, Baret didn't keep a personal diary, but she did extensively collect and categorize plants during her travels. It's likely she was the first European scientist to document the flowering vine bougainvillea, named for Admiral Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, leader of the expedition.
The legend of El Dorado, city of gold, comes from the Muisca people of Colombia. When they installed a new chieftain, they covered him in gold dust and sailed him to the center of Lake Guatavita on a raft filled with golden objects and precious gems to be tossed into the lake as gifts to the water goddess. Imagining just how many treasures the lake held, Spanish conquerors tried unsuccessfully to drain it. They collected plenty of precious objects, but more undoubtedly remain in the lake's muddy bottom.
The first cat to play the role of Morris in commercials for 9 Lives cat food was an orange shelter rescue named Lucky. A tough guy tomcat, Lucky lived to a ripe old age. When he died in 1978, another orange shelter cat stepped into the role of Morris, the finicky feline. Today's Morris, also a shelter cat, is the third, and just as finicky (on camera at least) as his predecessors.
The first patent for a corkscrew was given to the Reverend Samuel Henshall, rector of London's Bow Church, in 1795. His design had a button-shaped cap that prevented the helix, or "worm," from being twisted too deep into the cork. In 1883, German engineer Carl Wienke patented a folding lever corkscrew. Sturdy and reliable, it's nicknamed the "waiter's friend." If you order wine in a restaurant your server probably will use Wienke's invention to uncork the bottle.
Beluga whales migrate to the same Arctic and sub-Arctic locations every summer. Where they go depends on their family connections. Generation after generation — grandparents, parents, offspring and their offspring — spend summers in the same place, where they give birth to new generations. Many birds do this as well, returning to the place of their birth to hatch their young. The phenomenon is called philopatry, from the Greek for "beloved fatherland."
1. The Tower Commission was assembled to review circumstances surrounding what 20th-century political scandal?
B) Iran-Contra affair
C) Savings and loan crisis
2. Botany Bay is in what major Southern Hemisphere city?
A) Cape Town, South Africa
B) Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
C) Sao Paolo, Brazil
D) Sydney, Australia
3. The Mississippi musician born McKinley Morganfield was better known by what name?
A) B.B. King
B) Jelly Roll Morton
C) Muddy Waters
D) Howlin' Wolf
4. What's the title of Grizabella's show-stopping song in the musical "Cats"?
A) "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"
B) "Defying Gravity"
C) "If My Friends Could See Me Now"
5. Most of the world's cork comes from what country?
A) Comoro Islands
6. What's the national flower of Austria?
1) The Tower Commission was assembled to review circumstances surrounding the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration.
2) Botany Bay is in Sydney, Australia.
3) The Mississippi musician born McKinley Morganfield was better known as Muddy Waters.
4) "Memory" is Grizabella's show-stopping song in the musical "Cats."
5) Most of the world's cork comes from Portugal.
6) The national flower of Austria is the edelweiss.