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- Jon Carroll
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Xmas Quiz was temporarily felled by the vile California flu. It apologizes for being tardy, but it assures its many fans that it has recovered its full powers of pointless bafflement. You may save today's quiz (and Thursday's answers) for any moment of family-related boredom, or you may use it right now without penalty. As follows:

1) Here's a meal -- four bacon squares, three sugar cookies, peaches, pineapple-grapefruit drink, coffee. What is the significance of that toothsome repast?

2) King Harald Bluetooth was a) The winner of the 2005 Westminster Dog Show, b) the man who brought Christianity to Denmark, c) the rabbitlike creature who promoted Bluetooth wireless technology in a famous series of trade ads, d) the feared conqueror of the Norwegian King Erik Blood Axe, f) the jokey name given to an anomalous set of human remains found in the Olduvai Gorge.

3) Here are two amusing words: "floccillation" and "carphology." What do they have in common?

4) The wiffletree, flurry filter, wear compensator, interposer and golf ball are all parts of what?

5) U.S. Highway 395 and U.S. 50 both originate in California. What other more remarkable characteristic do they share?

6) Here are some countries: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Khalikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan. Which extends farthest west? Which extends farthest east? Which one contains the legendary city of Samarkand? Which one borders the mysterious Tian Shan mountains? Which one is north of Tibet?

7) Blue Bird, Thomas, Carpenter, Crown, Ward, Superior, Genesis, Wayne, Corbiel, Girardin and Collins -- what do they have in common?

8) Which of the following is not a quotation from Shakespeare? a) "It is a foolish thing to make a long prologue, and to be short in the story itself." b) "The wren goes to 't, and the small gilded fly does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive." c) "Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure, like doth quit like, and measure still for measure." d) "Diana's foresters, gentlemen of the shade, minions of the moon." e) "Kiss me, Kate, we will be married o' Sunday."

9) If Prince Charles ascended to the throne, and chose to keep the name Charles, what number Charles would he be? There are rumors that Charles is thinking of becoming King George instead; why ever would he do that?

10) "Dendrochronology" is the science of studying what? "Mogigraphia" is the disorder more commonly known as what?

11) Each of these people is better known by his nickname. Name the nicknames. Wilmer David Mizell; Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown; Clement John Dreisewerd; Walter Perry Johnson; Harold Henry Reese.

12) In the musical group Salt-N-Pepa, who was Salt and who was Pepa? What was Biggie Smalls' real name? What is Little Richard's real name? What was Little Eva's real name? What is Jerry Lee Lewis' real name?

13) Cast your mind back a mere 15 years, to 1990. What movie won the Academy Award for best picture? Who won the best actor Oscar? Best actress? Best supporting actor? Best supporting actress? Hint: None of these performers was in the movie that won best picture, indeed no movie appears more than once in this list.

14) You remember those Peloponnesian Wars. Who was fighting? Who won? And what the heck are the Peloponnesians?

15) Match the composers and the operas: Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini; "The Barber of Seville," "Tosca," "Norma," "Lucia di Lammermoor," "Rigoletto."

16) When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, what is it?

17) The merry-go-round was invented a) as a public yet private place in which to carry on courtship, b) as part of an overall French amusement called a "cavalcade" -- directly after the merry-go-round, participants were required to run a maze, c) as a device for mimicking seasickness, d) as a less dangerous alternative to jousting, e) as a diversion for the children of workers trapped in coal mines.

18) Where is Far Tortuga? Where is the Sea of Cortez? Where is the Sargasso Sea? Where is the Spanish Main? How many men were sitting on a dead man's chest, and how many bottles of rum did they have?

Please retain this newspaper until Thursday, which is when the answers will appear. The only reward for getting all the answers right is knowing how much smarter you are than everybody else, including me, because I had to look them up. My apologies for the delay, and thank you for your letters of concern. I'm fine now, except for the outstanding felony warrants.

Here it is, the exciting 24th annual Xmas Quiz, only slightly delayed by storms over the sinus regions. I hope you will find in it amusement and enlightenment and a way of humiliating your friends -- I live to serve.

You disturb my natural emotions, you make me feel like dirt. And I'm hurt. And if I start a commotion, I'll only end up losing you. And that's worse. Ever fallen in love with someone? Ever fallen in love? In love with jcarroll@sfchronicle.com.

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