"Deck the halls with books of trivia, fa la la la la ..."
That's what the Answer Man has been singing lately as I prepared my yearly Christmas quiz for all my good little followers.
The result is my eighth annual sackful of 50 brand-new questions arranged among 12 festive topics, one for each day of the season. Most aren't your usual "Who wrote 'A Christmas Carol'?", but I hope they will prove more fascinating than frustrating once you learn the answers.
So, while I reward myself with an extra piece of pumpkin pie for my fiendish work, pour yourself an extra tall glass of egg nog and have at it. Have a Merry Christmas.
Their names are obscure, but these people made significant and lasting contributions to our annual Christmas celebration. What were they?
1. Louis Prang
2. Katherine Lee Bates
3. Carl Otis
4. Haddon Sundblom
5. Phillip Brooks
REASON FOR THE SEASON
1. Which gift from "The 12 Days of Christmas" was the same sacrifice that Joseph and Mary made to God at the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was 40 days old?
2. Which Old Testament prophet seems to have predicted that Bethlehem would be Jesus' birthplace?
3. Which book(s) of the Bible tell of the wise men AND the shepherds coming to adore Jesus?
4. When the angel told the shepherd to go see the newborn Jesus, what two things did the angel say would distinguish him from other babies?
5. What Old Testament prophet predicted that a virgin would bear a son who would be called Immanuel?
IT'S A MIRACLE!
1. What was the only No. 1 hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles? (Ironically, it hit No. 1 just before Christmas 1970.)
2. Talk about irony: When the Miracle Mets won the 1969 World Series, what Baltimore Oriole made the final out? Hint: In 1986, he would manage the Mets to their second World Series title.
3. As one of his miracles, Jesus healed the mother-in-law of one of his disciples. Which one?
4. Who led the U.S. Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., with five goals and six assists? Bonus: What former St. Louis Blues player served as the assistant coach under Herb Brooks?
5. Why did Maureen O'Hara's role cause the Legion of Decency to give "Miracle on 34th Street" only a B rating (morally objectionable in parts)?
See how many of these Christmas Day movie debuts you remember:
1. Usually Christmas cards are filled with cardinals in the snow. But what movie filled with Finches did movie audiences start to fall in love with on Christmas 1962?
2. Which 2001 film might actor Jaime Foxx call the greatest movie to open on Christmas?
3. In what 1993 Western that opened on Christmas Day would you have seen actor Wyatt Earp -- the fifth cousin to the famous lawman -- playing outlaw Billy Claiborne in a shootout against the Earps?
4. Written by Paddy Chayefsky, the title of this science-fiction classic that opened on Christmas Day 1980 perhaps described how many in the audience felt after an office party the night before. Name it.
5. Making its debut on Christmas Day 2001, what film brought Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman together through a time warp as adults after being born 100 years apart?
1. In the 1980s, Hasbro began selling an exercise toy that allowed girls to work out while Mom was sweating to Jane Fonda's fitness tape. Name it.
2. What 1980s action figure had boys running around the house screaming, "By the power of Grayskull, I have the power!"? Bonus: What was his alter ego?
3. Which Milton Bradley game did Vincent Price once invite you to buy -- if you had "a little time to kill"? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)?
4. Why is Silly Putty sold in a plastic egg?
5. What is the origin of the Tonka toy name?
SOUNDS OF THE SEASON
1. Why should Andy Williams have sent an annual Christmas gift to George Wyle, the man who co-wrote the theme song to "Gilligan's Island"?
2. What probably is the oldest Christmas carol that's still commonly heard?
3. What satirist, lamenting the season's commercialism, once sang, "Angels we have heard on high, tell us to go out and buy!"
4. What popular carol did Isaac Watts base on Psalm 98 -- but never intended it to be sung solely at Christmas?
5. "Four calling birds ... " Just what are calling birds, anyway?
JUST FOR PUN
1. What do frogs kiss under?
2. What does Rudolph take for an upset stomach?
3. What do you call people who are unsure of the appropriateness of attending a Christmas Eve office party?
4. What do the children of Santa's elves do after school?
5. How did Scrooge's team win the football game?
1. In his "The Blessing of Christmas," Pope Benedict XVI wrote about his visit to see the world's oldest surviving Christmas tree. Where is it?
2. If you heard somebody mention a Christmas tree over your old CB radio, what would they be talking about?
3. In 1930, the first company to make artificial trees from animal bristles dyed green was better known for selling what product?
4. What is the only memorable work of German composer Ernst Anschutz?
5. In the early 1600s, what was the first tinsel made from?
ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS
1. What is the Christmas census (and it has nothing to do with Caesar Augustus)?
2. What mainstream Protestant sect arose from the Christmas Conference in 1784 in Baltimore?
3. What once-popular "club" did a shoe factory owner in Carlisle, Pa., start in 1905 for his employees?
4. The severe wounding of his son in the Civil War led what famous American author to write the poem that resulted in the song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"?
5. In Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," what do Buddy and his cousin want to give President Franklin D. Roosevelt?
RING THEM BELLS
1. What is probably the only poem in which you'd find the word "tintinnabulation"?
2. "Belles on their Toes" is the sequel to what movie?
3. What word is used to refer to the pre-Civil War South?
4. What happened to the Liberty Bell when the British invaded Philadelphia in 1777?
5. Who wrote, "Ask not for whom bell tolls. It tolls for thee."
NEW YEAR'S BABIES
1. Born Jan. 1, 1975, this former St. Louis Cardinal remains the only player in history to slug two grand slams in one inning (April 23, 1999). Name him.
2. Regarded by some as the most important figure in the history of visual arts in America, he put photography on the map with his 60 years of genius behind the lens. Born Jan. 1, 1864, he would eventually have an affair with and then marry famed painter Georgia O'Keeffe. Name him.
3. What actor, born Jan. 1,1938, reached the pinnacle of his career when he earned a Tony Award and an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of President Richard Nixon in the 2006 Broadway production and 2008 film of "Frost/Nixon"?
4. What English writer, born Jan. 1, 1879, became a staple of Merchant Ivory Productions and actress Helena Bonham Carter with such works as "A Room with a View," "Passage to India," "Howards End" and "Where Angels Fear to Tread"?
5. Born Jan. 1, 1943, who is probably best remembered for his work as Father Guido Sarducci on "Satnrday Night Live" and other shows?
THE GOOD 'LIFE'
And, finally, a few questions from "It's a Wonderful Life" with help from the devious mind of friend and triviameister Jack Sauer, of Belleville:
1. When an anxious George Bailey arrived home on Christmas after finding the bank's money missing, what Christmas carol was daughter Janey playing on the piano?
2. And, what two Christmas-related words did his eldest son, Pete, ask his father to spell?
3. Name Bedford Falls' flirtatious blonde, who, at times, sought George's attention.
4. Name the one area in which George Bailey and Seinfeld's George Costanza were alike.
5. How many Oscar nominations did "It's a Wonderful Life" receive?