Jon Carroll

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Breathless you have no doubt been waiting for the answers to the 26th Annual Xmas Quiz. Most of you have been wanting to satisfy your curiosity; some of you have been waiting so you can triumphantly uncover error and sin. Here we go; all corrections, emendations or amplifications always welcome.

1. The airport named for Mother Teresa is in Tirana, Albania; the airport named Simón Bolivar is in Caracas, Venezuela, the land of his birth; the airport named for Frederic Chopin is in Warsaw, Poland; the airport named for Merle "Mudhole" Smith is in Cordoba, Alaska; the airport named for Wiley Post and Will Rogers is in Barrow, Alaska (Post and Rogers died in a plane crash off Point Barrow); the airport named for Marco Polo is in Venice, Italy, his hometown; the airport named for Bud Day, a much-decorated Air Force pilot, is in Sioux City, Iowa. Sioux City was in the news recently because it finally dropped its appeal to the Federal Aviation Administration protesting its airport code: SUX.

2. Wyatt Earp died in bed, in Los Angeles.

3. The valley, mountain, petal, rabbit ear, squash, reverse, crimp, sink, inside reverse, outside reverse and pleat are all names of origami folds.

4. Zeus is the Roman god Jupiter, Aphrodite is Venus, Artemis is Diana, Ares is Mars, Hermes is Mercury, Nike is Victoria. Apollo and Uranus are, respectively, Apollo and Uranus - some things just can't be improved upon.

5. Those things are all part of a transporter, used in the "Star Trek" television series.

6. Trinidad is the southernmost Caribbean island. Barbados is the easternmost. The island due south of Manzanillo, Cuba, is Jamaica. Cuba is very much bigger than Puerto Rico. Martinique is south of Antigua. And, of course, there is no strait between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, because they occupy the same island.

7. All those stars appeared in "Dancing Lady," Fred Astaire's movie debut.

8. The California dog-faced butterfly is the state insect; the desert tortoise is the state reptile; the garibaldi is the state marine fish; serpentine is the state rock. Alas, there is no state mollusk - in 1988, the Legislature passed a bill designating the banana slug as the state mollusk, but Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed it, saying: "It is not representative of the international reputation California enjoys."

9. Statement (d) is false. The patent is real enough, but it was awarded to comedian Herb Shriner, not to Red Buttons.

10. The point on Earth closest to outer space is Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador. The Earth is an oblate spheroid that sticks out in the middle, like a beach ball that's been sat on. Thus, a mountain near the equator is closer to outer space.

11. George Clinton served under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1805-1812. He was the first vice president (of seven) to die in office and the only one to die in his second term. John C. Calhoun served under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, 1825-1832. He resigned two months from the end of his term to take a seat in the Senate.

12. Adlai Stevenson's running mate in 1956 was Estes Kefauver. Barry Goldwater's running mate in 1964 was William E. Miller. Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976 was Bob Dole. George H.W. Bush's running mate in 1992 was Dan Quayle. How soon we forget.

13. All those things are part of a lightsaber, as seen in the "Star Wars" movies.

14. Oh, don't go with the default Shakespeare. It was Sir Walter Scott in his immortal "Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field."

15. The members of Fleetwood Mac were Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The name comes from last names of the first two members. Bonus answer: The Wu-Tang Clan got its name from Wu Dang Mountain in China, long associated with martial arts, particularly the monastery of Shaolin.

16. Becher's Brook, Canal Turn, Melling Road and the Chair are all parts of the Aintree Racecourse, site of the Grand National, the world's biggest steeplechase horse race. Numbersixvalverde won the Grand National in 2006.

17. The shortest international border in the world is the one between Spain and Gibralter, at 1.2 kilometers. Next shortest, at 2 kilometers, is the border between Botswana and Zambia, along the Zambezi River, about 60 miles west of Victoria Falls.

18. The quote is from "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The title character dies, as title characters frequently do.

19. The late John Cage wrote "4'33" " in 1952; Batt wrote "One minute of silence" in 2001 and ascribed it to "Batt/Cage"; Cage's estate sued, and Batt coughed up an undisclosed but six-figure sum. So, in legal terms, Cage's is clearly better.

20. Sydney is sort of where Atlanta is; Perth is sort of where Los Angeles is; Broome is sort of where Seattle is; Adelaide is sort of where New Orleans is. All these are approximate; if you were in the ballpark, as they say in Darwin (Minneapolis), you get full marks.

After a sleepless night, you can finally be privy to the answers to the 26th Annual Xmas Quiz. Take a moment to let the wonder of this day swirl around you.

A man walks down the street; he says, why am I short of attention, got a short little span of attention, and my nights are so long. Where's my wife and family? What if I die here? Who'll be my role model now that my role model is gone, gone; he ducked back down the alley with some roly-poly little

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