The Xmas Quiz Answers

Jon Carroll

Friday, December 26, 2008

All finished with the presents and the nog and the meat or meat substitutes? Or did you perhaps boycott the holiday altogether and go see that movie with Tom Cruise in an eye patch? Whatever you did, you probably also did the 28th Annual Xmas Quiz, and are dying to know the answers so you can begin to slap your forehead or write me coldly polite letters of disagreement.

1. Vinko Bogataj was the ski jumper whose disastrous fall was replayed over and over during the opening of the "Wide World of Sports," accompanied by Jim McKay intoning "... and the agony of defeat." When "Wide World of Sports" held a 30th anniversary party, he was invited, and was stunned when many sports stars, including Muhammad Ali, wanted to meet him.

2. "Bookkeeper" and "bookkeeping" have double k's amid three consecutive double-letter sets. "Knickknack" has four k's, including a double k. "Skiing" has only one k but a double i.

3. The Territorial Collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, as it is formally known, is a group of small islands just off the coast of Newfoundland. It is a territory of France. It is known for the Mucky Miquelon Marathon, a 15 1/2-mile footrace held every June 21.

4. All those people (or perhaps "people") are workers in the tiny and exceedingly odd kingdom run by Babar the elephant in a series of "Babar" books by Jean de Brunhoff. Hatchibombotar is, for instance, the street cleaner; Barbacol is the tailor; and Coco, you will not be surprised to learn, is the clown.

5. Herman's real name was Peter Noone.

6. Lady Mountbatten's full name was Edwina Cynthia Annette Mountbatten; Nehru's first name was Jawaharlal.

7. The McGurk Effect is the unconscious integration of visual stimuli into our hearing - in other words, what we see affects what we hear. For a very cool demonstration of this, see The Coolidge effect (named, improbably enough, for President Calvin Coolidge) is that a male will attempt to mate with a new receptive female even if he has already mated with and then rejected other receptive females. This is true in all species studied. The Droste effect, named for a kind of Dutch chocolate, is a particular kind of recursive visual illusion, most often seen when two mirrors are placed opposite each other and an object is placed in between. The reflections of the object get smaller and smaller, into infinity. For more data on all this, use your local search engine.

8. Milo of Croton was the most famous Greek wrestler of his day, which was around 520 B.C.

9. The last time two consecutive U.S. presidents each completed two full terms was in 1809 to 1825, when the fourth and fifth presidents, James Madison and James Monroe, accomplished this. (The only other duo who've done it were the third and fourth presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1801 to 1817. In other words, there were actually three consecutive two-full-term presidents, 1801 to 1825.) No two other consecutive U.S. vice presidents have each completed two full terms, ever.

10. The full name of Madame Butterfly's Lt. B.F. Pinkerton is Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton. His ship is the Abraham Lincoln. The story unfolds in early 20th century Nagasaki, which later became famous for, well, you know.

11. Each of those cities is the site of its county's fairgrounds: Contra Costa, Calaveras, Mendocino, Napa, Madera, Los Angeles, Stanislaus.

12. Two: Paraguay and Bolivia are both landlocked, poor babies.

13. The six better-known Hawaiian islands are Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii. The two others are Kahoolawe (off Maui), formerly used by the U.S. Navy as a bombing range; and Niihau (off Kauai), reserved for native people leading a traditional way of life.

14. Delaney did not write the theme song for "The Mary Tyler Moore" show, and the couple did not reunite to sing at rallies for John McCain. All the rest is true. Really.

15. The Channel Island of Sark.

16. "Get three to the curb and the other six will follow" and "The tankard is heavy when the purse is light" are not American proverbs. The first makes no sense at all.

You may now commence to send in your questions, corrections, suggestions and imprecations. We try, always we try, but inevitably January will bring a few amplifications and apologies. Please be kind; my 401(k) looks just as bad as yours does.

My thanks as always to my helpers: Andrea Behr, Kathy Kerrihard, David Mostardi, Daniel Vogel, Dennis Briskin, Nancy Friedman, Robert Rossney, Basad K. Basu and the very great Randy Alfred.

These are indeed the answers to the 28th annual Xmas Quiz, including explanatory material and random data. Do go look at the McGurk effect movie. Swell stuff.

Down on Cyprus Avenue with a childlike vision leaping into view, clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe, Ford & Fitzroy, Madame George marching with the soldier boy behind; he's much older with hat on drinking wine, and that smell of sweet perfume comes drifting through the cool night air like

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