The cries were everywhere: “I want my 2015 Xmas Quiz,” people said, ignoring the fact that (a) I have not done the Xmas quiz for a few years now, and (b) this is not my column. But still, the calls came — in email, on Facebook, on Twitter. It was a veritable firestorm. I’m not saying it went viral, but it definitely went bacterial.
This space listens; this space responds. Obviously, I don’t have time to do the whole thing, but I can give you the answers. You and your family can huddle around the Advil bottle on New Year’s Day and solve the quiz together.
Warning: Google may not help you here. Ha!
1. Maurice Candycane, an Austrian inventor. He was trying to make a biodegradable fish hook; alas, the entire thing softened into an oddly striped gelatinous mixture, then hardened again. As a result, generations of Americans remember his name.
2. Mesopotamian workmen, primarily. The much-repeated legend that the tomb was erected by the emperor’s hand-picked Palace Guards is untrue; that rumor was circulated by agents in the employ of Queen Asmopasolia, who was intriguing against her brother.
3. Reno is west of Honolulu; Hong Kong is north of Moscow; Canada is south of Paraguay, and Juneau is east of Kansas City. Remember that the globe is round and everything is east of everything, and so forth.
5. “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” was originally called “A Rumpty Tumpty Rumpty Tumpty Jolly Pinafore,” a bawdy drinking song about a widow, a stableman and a wheel of cheese.
6. In order: Marlon Brando, Stephen Sondheim, Lucien Truscott IV, Mary Roach, Shari Lewis, Ray Charles, J. D. Salinger and, unexpectedly, Juan Peron.
7. In 1915, the first department store window display in San Francisco was at the long-defunct Davenport’s Softgoods. All the clothes and accessories, even the drapes, were designed by Dorothy Smith. The name stuck.
8. Sort of like this:
If your answer was (c), shoes, you’re right!
9. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” has been performed by Cyndi Lauper over 40 million times. The Rolling Stones, by contrast, have done “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” only 34 million times, if Keith’s figures are correct. The third place finisher, surprisingly, was “It’s My Life” by Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics.
10. Bears do in fact suffer from mange.
11. “The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” — Fyodor Dostoevsky
12. The answer is (b), a kind of industrial cleaning agent, often used with feathers. The other choices were all Santa’s reindeer.
13. It was common in 19th century British manor houses to put sugar on cut flowers. The sugar would drift down on to the table and, eventually, on to the food. When the sweet stuff hit the kippers, you get the phenomenon mentioned in the question. Ladies were not immune!
14. The entire film was shot in Morocco on as budget of less than $1 million. The interior of the spaceship was an old aircraft hanger, the grand ballroom was the lobby of the hotel where Hawks and the cast were staying, and the rehearsal room for the Vienna Philharmonic was the Grande Kinema in Rorfir Square, closed due to revolutionary activity.
15. Contrary to popular belief, ketchup was not the first condiment.
16. It was all once a giant inland sea. The place we know as “Salt Lake City” was originally called “Surble” and was occupied mostly by ocean-going corvids.
17. That’s not a question I choose to answer at this time.
18. King of Prussia, Pa., was the home of both Prussian Chocolates and Prussian Armaments. A group of dissident Germans picked up the name, and a whole country was born.
19. We’re still working to perfect the blog. Details, so many details! We thank you for your input; keep it coming. And the answer is (a) ceaseless devotion to a quixotic cause.