The 28th Annual Xmas Quiz

Jon Carroll

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Despite its reputation as a day of nonstop fun and hilarity, Christmas definitely has its energy ebbs and flows. There's the excitement of unwrapping the presents and eating the meals and seeing the relatives and perhaps playing with the young ones, if young ones can be found and coaxed into playing - but then it may be nap time for some, big and little, or a welcome opportunity to get away from the relatives, or just a chance to form small affinity groups where less general and more interesting conversations can be held.

For those times, the Xmas Quiz, found annually in this spot or one very like it, is the perfect antidote. Please remember to hang on to this newspaper or bookmark this page, so Friday's answers will make sense. Here we go!

1. Who is Vinko Bogataj, and why did Muhammad Ali want to shake his hand?

2. Double k's are rare in English spelling. Even rarer, one double k is found in a word that has three sets of double letters in a row. What is it? Another double-k word is a word with four k's. What is it? And finally, can you name an English word with a double i? (Hint: It has only one k.)

3. What is the only French territory in North America in 2008?

4. Who are Hatchibombotar, Tapitor, Pilophage, Capoulosse, Barbacol, Olur, Fandago, Justinien and Coco? Hmm, you're saying, those sound strangely familiar, and yet ...

5. What was the real name of Herman in the musical group Herman and the Hermits?

6. Lady Mountbatten, wife of Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, was alleged to have had an affair with Nehru, the first prime minister of India. Probably did have one, actually. What was Lady Mountbatten's full name? What was Nehru's first name, and, yes, spelling counts?

7. You probably know about the Doppler effect, even if you can't explain it. For instance: As an ambulance speeds by you, the pitch of its siren rises as it comes toward you, then falls as it races away. Ah, but what is the McGurk effect? What is the Coolidge effect? What is the Droste effect?

8. Milo of Croton was (a) a kind of flavored breakfast drink favored in British public schools, (b) the most famous Greek wrestler of his time, (c) a stretch of the Hudson River known for its treacherous whirlpools, (d) a legendary Danish aviator about whom a famous many-versed bawdy song was written, (e) a brand of refrigerator.

9. President Bush is scheduled to complete two full terms in office on Jan. 20. President Clinton before him also completed two full terms. When was the last time two consecutive U.S. presidents each completed two full terms? Vice President Al Gore likewise served eight full years, and Vice President Dick Cheney will have done so on Jan. 20. When was the last time two consecutive U.S. vice presidents each completed two full terms?

10. Lt. Pinkerton, the male lead in Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly," has a first and middle name taken from a famous American. Who? Pinkerton's ship is named for another famous American. Which one? Last, where in Japan does the opera take place?

11. What do the following California cities have in common? Antioch, Angels Camp, Boonville, Calistoga, Chowchilla, Pomona, Turlock.

12. How many South American countries are landlocked? What are they?

13. There are six Hawaiian islands commonly visited by tourists, but really there are eight in all. What are they?

14. There was a reasonably well-known rock group called Delaney & Bonnie. Which of the following is not true of them: (a) They played briefly in the Plastic Ono band with John Lennon, (b) they toured with Eric Clapton, (c) Bonnie once punched Elvis Costello in a Columbus, Ohio, bar, (d) Delaney wrote the theme song for "The Mary Tyler Moore show," (e) Bonnie changed her last name from Bramlett to Sheridan and had a recurring acting role on the TV program "Roseanne," (f) Delaney started a rehab facility called Rock and Roll Ranch and got sober there himself, in the process becoming a born-again Christian, (g) they reunited to sing at rallies for John McCain.

15. A portion of the United Kingdom held its first democratic election in history in 2008. What is the name of that island?

16. Which of these is not an American proverb, as cited in the Oxford Book of American Proverbs: (a) "Money makes a man laugh," (b) "Get three to the curb and the other six will follow," (c) "No woman is ugly if she is well dressed," (d) "He is a fool that kisses the maid when he may kiss the mistress," (e) "The tankard is heavy when the purse is light," (f) "If you fool with a tumble-turd bug, you are likely to get spattered."

That's it. Answers Friday. Have a lovely whatever.

It's the 28th Annual Xmas Quiz, this time paying tribute to Tapitor, Vinko, Lady Mountbatten, Chowchilla and "Madame Butterfly."

That's the way it all should happen when you're in, when you're in the state you're in; have you got your pen and notebook ready? I think it's about time, time for us to begin. And we're over in a 52nd Street apartment socializing with

This article appeared on page E - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle