Q: In the late 1990s, I was a college student and a big fan of professional wrestling. Yes, I know — it’s fixed, but hey, so are movies. Anyway, I am now happily married with two children, and I just came across an old T-shirt from my wrestling days. The shirt is black with “Austin 3:16” written on it. I know that was Steve Austin’s catchphrase, meaning, “I kicked your butt.” How did the whole thing start? — H.W.E., Syracuse, N.Y.
A: During that same era, I, too, enjoyed professional wrestling. In the early ‘90s, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin started on his journey as one of the hottest properties in wrestling. When Austin met Jake “The Snake” Roberts in 1996, Roberts was playing the role of a Bible-reading, born-again Christian. After Austin defeated Roberts, he said, in part, “Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16 ... Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your a—!” It didn’t take long for this to become wrestling’s most popular catchphrase.
World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon says Austin is the most profitable wrestler in the company’s history.
Q: Who played the role of Anna Schmidt in the 1949 movie “The Third Man”? Anna was the love interest of Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles. Has she appeared in other films? — J.T., Paris, Ill.
A: The actress who played the part of Anna Schmidt in the film was Alida Valli. She was born in Pola, Italy, which is now part of Croatia, on May 31, 1921.
Valli appeared in more than 20 movies on her home soil before producer David O. Selznick signed her to a contract. In the U.S., she continued her movie career and was billed simply as Valli. In 1951, she returned to Italy and performed in many French and Italian movies. Valli was considered one of Italy’s cinema greats. In her career she appeared in more than 100 films. She died in Rome in 2006 at age 84.
Q: In a class in college, we studied poems and analyzed them. There was one poem in particular I enjoyed. It was possibly Old English, and the narrator tells of his love for a woman who is acting aloof toward his advances. He tells her that youth and beauty are fleeting and that she should live every day to its fullest. Finally, he tells her of when she will be an old lady and no longer desirable. Is this enough information for you to tell me the name of the poem? — N.K., Meriden, Conn.
A: It sounds as if you are describing “To His Coy Mistress,” by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678). The poem is too long to print here, but it is available on the Internet. It’s a wonderful poem. If you have a difficult time reading this style of English, read it slowly and possibly several times — it will make sense. There are sites that include an analysis of the poem as well.
Q: Farm equipment has many uses for the cotter pin. A cotter pin is used to secure something or hold parts together. How did the tool get its name? Is there a Mr. Cotter? — L.W., Ankeny, Iowa
A: What a great answer that could be: Steven Cotter, a blacksmith on the outskirts of London, came up with the idea to hold carriage parts together. Alas, it’s untrue. The truth is, no one knows how the cotter pin got its name. Some sources say the word is derived from the Middle English “coterell,” the name for an iron bracket often used in a kitchen fireplace.
(Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)