Friday, March 28, 2014

Unreally Smart Answers

The Common Household lists of the five smartest fictional characters ever are below.  You can find Ken Jennings’ list for Parade Magazine here.

And Ken Jennings’ explanation of why he did not pick any females is here.  I just want to point out that I have three females on my list, even though I have not read most of the books or seen the movies he referenced.  He pooh-poohs my choice of Hermione Granger – because she is not an adult she couldn’t compete with Sherlock.  Ha! She has magical intelligence and is not a drug addict.  But perhaps I lose points by listing a spider.

The original question, along with readers' answers in the comments, is here

Younger Daughter’s list
The Doctor (of Doctor Who)
Artemis Fowl
Ciel Phantomhive
Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis)

My list
Sherlock Holmes
Hermione Granger
Encyclopedia Brown
Matilda Wormwood
Charlotte (of Charlotte’s Web)

What if the definition of “smartest” included emotional intelligence or culinary intelligence? 

Reading: one of Hermione Granger's favorite activities

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Unreally Smart

A few weeks ago that esteemed publication, Parade Magazine, asked us to list the five smartest fictional characters ever.  Younger Daughter and I took the assignment seriously and made our lists as we had our lunch. 

We took ‘fiction’ to mean books, movies, and TV.  Our two lists had no overlap. 

Who is the smartest fictional character you can think of?  Now is your chance to add to the list.  There are no right or wrong answers!

I will reveal our answers in another post.  And that post can be found here.

Einstein on a park bench.
Smart but non-fictional.
Not eligible for this contest.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Oy! Parties of all kinds!

The Common Household Husband was invited to a bris, which took place this morning at 8 a.m.  When he brought home this news just a short 8 days ago, we wondered about the important things – What does a guest wear to a bris? What sort of gift does a guest bring to a bris? How does a guest avoid making tasteless jokes about scissors and knives?

My husband did some research, which meant he e-mailed the president of the synagogue women’s group.  He ended up deciding on a Passover bib, not a thing which I knew existed. Just to be clear – the Passover bib does not answer the question “What does a guest wear?” Clearly, all the male guests wear iron underwear, and on top of that, nice slacks, shirt, and professorish sweater vest.

This morning when he left, I said, “Let me know how the bris goes,” and he responded, “I’ll be sure to cut to the chase when I call you.”

Last weekend we attended a Jewish party of another sort – Purim!  If you’ve read the book of Esther in the Bible, you already know all about Purim.  The customs are to read the Megillah (the book of Esther) out loud in the synagogue, using groggers (noisemakers) to drown out the name of Haman, the wicked dude in the story.  Some people say that you are supposed to drink enough alcohol so that it becomes impossible to distinguish between the name of the evil guy Haman and the good guy Mordechai.  Kids and adults dress up in costume.  A good time is had by all, as long as everybody ignores the gruesome parts of the Biblical story, just like Christians at Christmas ignore Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.

This year our synagogue sponsored a Purim Party for adults only:  costumes encouraged, but not required.  I wasn’t that into it, being rather tired by my trip to Maryland earlier in the week.  About an hour before the party, we decided maybe we would try to go in costume, and began a search.  My husband simply borrowed my son’s Phantom of the Opera costume.  Getting dressed is always easier for the men, isn't it?

After a couple false starts on my costume, I remembered that in the back of my closet I had the dress my mother wore to my brother’s wedding 20+ years ago – floor-length, sparkly, and most importantly, spandex.  Younger Daughter found me a Disney princess tiara, I found some fancy bridesmaid gloves from a long-ago wedding, Older Daughter applied some makeup, and I was all set as Queen Esther herself.

Practicing a little Phantom of the Opera at home
I stuck Einstein in my purse, but then forgot about him, so he languished in there for the whole shebang.  When we got to the party, I was surprised to discover that not too many people came in costume. There was a couple that came as Jake and Elwood (The Blues Brothers!); someone came as a newspaper (wearing black, white, and red, with a giant newspaper bow in her hair); a flapper, and a few others.

Einstein was ready to party, but never got the chance.
There were many triangular foods, including hamentaschen, the traditional Purim cookies which in Hebrew are called “Haman’s Ears.”  After obeying the commandment to drink inebriating drinks, we headed to the sanctuary, where we read an extremely abbreviated Megillah in English, with almost no killing in it.  Then we had the traditional debate:  Which is better – latkes or hamentaschen?  On Purim, hamentaschen always win, even the poppyseed-filled kind.

Phantom at the party with his date Queen Esther

How are you celebrating the arrival of spring?  Did you go to any Mardi Gras parties?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Signs of the Times

I've been travelling to visit family, and, once I got back home, enjoying the company of my college-student kids, who were home for spring break.

Here are some signs I saw this past week.


Star Wars ski bumper sticker humor

Older Daughter's Self-Reminder sign in the car.
 Good advice for us all.


Blue skies over Baltimore

These clumps of dirt we found in our yard
 (once the snow finally melted)
is a sign that there are moles or other reprehensible
creatures living under our yard.

Signs of SPRING!  Crocuses peeking through the soil.


This sign is another salvo in the ongoing 
Common Household Leftovers Skirmishes
Warning sign on Older Daughter's restaurant pasta leftovers:
"Food of Daleks.  Eat and you will be EXTERMINATED.
She knew we would understand this threat.

Oops!  They didn't make their deadline!
 Have you seen any meaningful signs lately?

Friday, March 14, 2014

How to Celebrate the Day

How to Celebrate Pi Day in Three Easy Steps

1.  Make pie (see photos)

2.  Eat pie (not shown, because it hasn't happened yet.)

3.  Make pi jokes (not told here, to save your sanity)

We splurged and decided to make a blueberry pie.

Homemade crust.

This is only our second blueberry pie.
We are trying a different way to thicken the juices:
cornstarch and blueberry juice.

Ready for the pie innards.

Joy of Cooking has to write the recipe like a
college text book:  "At this point we should like to raise
the question of thickening for berries."

Innards in!

There is a faint outline of Pi


π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π