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29th Annual Xmas Quiz

Jon Carroll

Friday, December 25, 2009

St. Nick has presumably come and gone, and probably you have ripped open a few presents (unless you did that last night and are suffering just a tiny consumerist hangover), and there is still plenty of time for holiday amusements, which is why you have turned to the Xmas Quiz. Remember: This is not a contest. There are no prizes. There will, of course, be the inevitable bickering, but we won't even get to that until after Monday, when the answers will be revealed. Ready? Oh boy.

1. What is Drumthwacket?

2. On the television program "NYPD Blue," what was the name of the character played by Dennis Franz? What was the name of the character played by Jimmy Smits? Detective Diane Russell was played by what actress? Detective Greg Medavoy was played by what actor? Gail O'Grady played what character?

3. What do a spooey, a stack, a double trumpet and a volleyball have in common?

4. What do a vacuole, a centriole, a lysosome, an endoplasmic reticulum and a Golgi apparatus have in common?

5. We know that San Francisco was named after St. Francis, who was very kind to animals. But how about these other local towns? Who or what was the town of Santa Cruz named after? Who or what was the town of San Rafael named after? Who or what was the town of Santa Clara named after?

6. That was so much fun, how about one more: Who or what was the town of Hayward named after?

7. Who are Fluff, Bones and Stevie?

8. Grunt, Slump, Buckle and Sonker are (a) parts of a show horse's bridle, (b) types of cobbler, (c) the names of the "Merry Chipmunks" from the short-lived '30s Warner Bros. cartoon of the same name, (d) names given by Robert Moog to various parts of his prototype Moog synthesizer (they were later changed); (e) humorously named outposts surrounding McMurdo Station in Antarctica, or (f) names used by members of the band U2 when they checked into hotels.

9. Before, during or after their terms, which presidents won Nobel Prizes? Which vice presidents?

10. That was so much fun, we'll do it again. Before, during or after their terms, which presidents or vice presidents won Academy Awards?

11. Where is the Jewish Autonomous Region? Is it possible to explore caves in the Lesser Khingan mountain range there? Does the rare Komarov lotus grow in Swan Lake? Does a gigantic menorah sit in the middle of the fountain on Sholom-Aleichem Street? Are free haircuts offered to all travelers?

12. Blueberries, cranberries, chocolate, corn, sunflowers and peanuts - what do they all have in common?

13. Here are some familiar American commercial names: Circuit City, Saturn, Pontiac, Kodachrome, Max Factor, Gourmet. What do they all have in common?

14. Elbow and Eyeball is (a) the name of a London pub frequented by such 20th century British artists as Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, Brian Wall, Lucian Freud and Muriel Belcher, (b) a slang term in professional wrestling indicating the signal that initiates the end of the bout, (c) a post office slang term meaning to open a mailbag to see if it is entirely empty, (d) Cockney rhyming slang for a cute but probably unavailable girl ("eyeball" rhymes with "doll"), the name of a cabin built on Robert Redford's Sundance property for the exclusive use of his first wife, Lola Van Wagenen.

15. You may have heard of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, who recorded (among other things) "Heat Wave" and "Dancing in the Street." But how did the Vandellas get their name?

16. The movie directors John Ford, Raoul Walsh, Nicholas Ray, Fritz Lang and Andre de Toth all shared one unusual physical characteristic. What was it?

17. The following are the names or nicknames of real French and English kings, sprinkled with a few ringers. Can you tell the real kings from the impostors? Pippin the Short, Louis the Indolent, Louis the Quarrelsome, Charles the Mad, James the Butterball, Philip the Amorous, Henry the Midget and John the Posthumous.

This space thanks with immense gratitude Nancy Friedman, Jef Poskanzer, Jim Rosenau, Randy Alfred, Risa Nye and whoever sent me that wonderful material about the Jewish Autonomous Region. Please address all quibbles, complaints, whining and informed corrections to the e-mail address at the end of the amusing lyric just below.

Keepin' perfect rhythm, make ya wanna swing along, got it goin' on like Donkey Kong and whoo-wee. Shut my mouth, slap your grandma; there outta be a law, Get the Sheriff on the phone. Lord have mercy, how's she even get them britches on that honky tonk

This article appeared on page F - 10 of the San Francisco Chronicle