Living Columns & Blogs

Answer Man

This is why superhero movies have gotten so popular

Q: What’s behind the spate of superhero movies? Comic books have been around for decades but it seems like in the last 20 years, you’d think they’re a new creation! Now, even “super” heroes I never thought were very super (Thor, Ant-Man, etc.) are getting their own blockbuster films. Why?

Answer Man

This is how much Illinois spends per inmate each year

Q: A recent survey asked people what they thought would be the best response to the nation’s crime problem. Choices included education, retraining and mental health services. Another was stricter sentences, which ignores both the cost and the fact that prisons are already overpacked. How much does Illinois spend on its prison system? And, second, how much does it cost to house someone in prison?

Answer Man

Blinded by the light? The word you’re looking for is ‘deuce’

Q: I’d like to follow up on your recent column about cover songs that outshone the originals. I’ve been told that the chorus from Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light” is one of the most misunderstood lyrics of all time. No one I speak with seems to have heard it the same way! “Blinded by the light, wrapped up like a ...... ” ??

Answer Man

Beware of ‘sign and drive’ offers from car dealers

Q: Some car dealerships (Volkswagen, etc.) now frequently tout their “Sign and Drive” sales. I would like to know what is behind this idea. It has to benefit the dealership. In the old days you picked a car, took it for a test drive with or without a salesman and bought it.

Answer Man

Remembering party lines and the days before seven-digit phone numbers

Q: In a 1929 issue of St. Henry Seminary’s student newspaper, the school’s phone number was given as 2991. The same four-digit number was given on stationery used in 1947. At some point in the 1950s, I believe, an ADams exchange was added: ADams 3-2991. Sometime in the 1960s, the exchange was replaced by an all-digit prefix: 233-2991. This same phone number is currently used by the St. Henry’s Oblate residence on the old seminary grounds. When was the ADams exchange assigned? When did phone numbers in Belleville go all-digital?

Answer Man

The best cover songs of all time

Q: While listening to a 1960s music station, I heard the song “Both Sides Now,” but it sounded a bit “off.” When I looked at the singer, it was Judy Collins from 1967, but I only remember the Joni Mitchell version from 1969. So here is my question: Which songs “covered” by a different artist than the original went on to become the more popular version?

Answer Man

It was 1971 when an airplane crashed into a home near Scott Air Force Base

Q: After reading with interest your recent article about the B-25 crash in Lebanon, it sparked my own memory. My Great-Aunt Luella Klotz and her husband, Bill, lived on farmland just off of Wherry Road by Scott Air Force Base. I believe it was the early ’70s when an aircraft crashed into their home. I was young at the time and never learned exactly what happened. All I do know is they were not home at the time when it was destroyed. Any help with this bit of family history would be greatly appreciated.

Answer Man

What in the world does ‘situations wanted’ mean?

Q: This has been bugging me for some time so I finally had to ask your opinion. Your paper’s classified ads has a section 21, “Situations Wanted.” To me “Situations Wanted” means you are LOOKING for a situation which needs filling. However, most of your ads are placed by people who need help, not those looking for a place to show their skills. I would welcome a correction if I am on the wrong track.

Answer Man

Here’s why Barack Obama stopped going by ‘Barry’

Q: Name changes occur when there is an adoption, marriage or when someone is placed in a witness protection program. I am still curious about the name change from Barry Soetoro to Barack Obama. When he moved from Jakarta to Hawaii to attend high school, he was still Barry as well as when he began college. When and why the name change?

Answer Man

The day a B25 bomber crashed in Lebanon

Q: I read with great interest your article on June 14 about the crash of the AT-18 near Hecker in 1944. It sparked a memory from my childhood of seeing the aftermath of a crash in Lebanon. I think it was a military aircraft, and the location was near the intersection of routes 50 and 4. I think I was very young so it likely was in the very late ’40s or early ’50s. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work.


Without proper protection, eclipse may cause permanent blindspots, eye doctor says

Dr. Joshua Wilson, of Advance Vision Care in Belleville, discuss solar eclipse eye safety during a Facebook Live broadcast with Belleville News-Democrat reporter Kelsey Landis on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017.
Without proper protection, eclipse may cause permanent blindspots, eye doctor says 3:47

Without proper protection, eclipse may cause permanent blindspots, eye doctor says

Here's what's left of Joe's Crab Shack in Fairview Heights 1:00

Here's what's left of Joe's Crab Shack in Fairview Heights

Golf cart bandits never leave a man behind 1:50

Golf cart bandits never leave a man behind

State Sen. Bill Haine will not seek another term 1:57

State Sen. Bill Haine will not seek another term