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Jon Carroll
Friday, December 26, 2003
©2003 San Francisco Chronicle | Feedback | FAQ

Herewith the answers to the very fabulous Christmas quiz. All mistakes mine, but please, keep a civil tongue in your head.

1. As you surmised, they are all advertising mascots. Nipper is the name of the RCA Victor dog ("his master's voice") and Chipper is his son; Uncle Mose was Aunt Jemima's short-lived companion; Bibendum is the Michelin Man; Poppin' Fresh is the Pillsbury Doughboy; Katy the Kangaroo, Newt the Gnu and Elmo the Elephant were all created to help Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, but Tony the Tiger proved so popular that the others were terminated with extreme prejudice.

2. They're all from popular songs. A. Hong Kong ("Travelin' Man" as sung by Ricky Nelson); B. Tonopah ("Willin'," recorded by a whole bunch of people); C. Amarillo ("Route 66"); D. Salinas ("Me and Bobby McGee"); E. San Francisco ("I left my heart in ...")

3. Jericho on the West Bank of the Jordan is at 850 feet below sea level.

4. The answer is 23 1/2. A cartwheel is silver dollar, a sawbuck is $10, a niblick (in golf) is a 9-iron, a spoon is a 3-wood, and four bits is one- half a dollar. (Originally, four bits was half of a piece of eight).

5. Vibrissae are cats' whiskers.

6. Iran, Iraq, Oman, Cuba, Fiji, Peru, Laos, Chad, Togo, Mali. There may be more; your suggestions welcome.

7. The wise men were Zoroastrians.

8. Around 1188, Henry II of England (he married Eleanor of Aquitaine and, perhaps, ordered the assassination of Thomas a Becket. Busy guy) imposed a tithe of 10 percent on all citizens in order to finance the Crusades. (Crusaders, of course, were exempt.)

9. A. parts of an antler, B. parts of a turtle, C. parts of a tooth, D. kinds of flags, E. famous mothers (Ma Barker, Mother Jones, Moms Mabley, "Whistler's Mother").

10. A. John Quincy Adams, B. James Garfield, C. James Buchanan, D. Calvin Coolidge, E. Lyndon Johnson.

11. Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancaster; the Isle of Wight; tangerine trees and marmalade skies; he ate the soap impression and donated it to the National Trust. (These are all Beatles lyrics, but you knew that.)

12. Hugo Henrik Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), Finnish architect and designer, is the first person listed under the letter "A." Vladimir Kosma Zworykin (1889- 1982), Russian-born American physicist, is the last person listed under the letter "Z."

13. "Red River," directed by Howard Hawks, starring John Wayne.

14. Judas was a disciple, but he didn't make the apostle lineup (probably that whole betrayal thing); he was replaced by Matthias. (There is some controversy about this, so any reasonable answer you gave is accepted.)

15. Ben Franklin was trying to kill a turkey when he almost electrocuted himself.

16. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "mother of pearl" emerged from a Dutch phrase meaning of "mother of vinegar," describing the mucilaginous substance produced in vinegar by fermentation, hence any sort of dregs or scum. The idea was that mother of pearl, the pearly surface on the inside of some mollusk shells, was the original crude substance from which the mollusk shell was created. And no, "mother of pearl" is not the mother of pearls.

You may ask: How are people supposed to know most of this stuff? Answer: They're not. This is not Parade magazine; we do not pander to readers. The theory is that the answers will be at least as interesting as the questions, and we'll all have arid intellectual fun.

And now, the moment you've been waiting 1,400 minutes for. You may want to quarrel with some of the data below, and I may wish to turn surly. Let's just see.

You can write Jon Carroll at jcarroll@sfchronicle.com, or you can suddenly realize that everyone knew Rocky Raccoon as "Nancy."

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