Given the following hypothetical -- two identical twin brothers, Joe and Moe, marry two identical twin sisters, Jean and Jane, at double wedding ceremony. They both consummate their respective marriages on the same day. Both Jean and Jane become with child, with the same date due -- will there be two identical twin cousins born to the two couples?
-- Patty Duke Fan, via e-mail
Well, if the babies were conceived at the Double Tree Hotel in double beds in a narcotic haze of Oreo Double Stuff, and Joe and Moe part their hair on the same side and drive matching golf carts, and Jean and Jane are both left-handed and dress alike every day -- given that hypothetical, then there's, like, zero chance the Joes and the Moes will have identical twin babies, let alone identical quads, if that's what you were hoping for. As the double helix spins, their babies will be about as similar as any siblings. And no particular inclination toward twins either. You need some Patty detox.
What is corn beef?
-- Anonymous, via e-mail
Corn beef is nothing. But "corned" beef. Now, that's something. "Corn" is stuff, it's also something you can do. If you dissolve salt in water, add some spices, then throw in a hunk of beef to marinate, you are making corned beef. Long ago, a type of raw, coarse, lumpy salt was likened to corn kernels, and anything marinated in or rubbed with such salt was "corned."
It was a dark and stormy morning
I just had an odd experience this morning. I heard the front screen door rattle, but the doorbell did not ring. I looked out the front window and saw two people walking back down the outside staircase to the street (an older woman and a younger woman). I opened the door and went out on the porch. They did not look back at me. Two pairs of young women appeared at the foot of our outside staircase; they may have seen me, but they did not look up at me. The whole group, plus one young man, proceeded to walk northward, looking at every front door, but not going up to most. Some of them would go up to a door, then turn around and go back to the sidewalk.
I had heard a story years back that Jehovah's Witnesses will put a secret mark on the gate or the door of a house to tell other JW's not to bother -- the residents are irredeemable heathens. I have had a few cultists of various sorts come by in the past, but I have always told them that I'm a Buddhist and not interested.
After a while, I went out and looked for marks, but I could not find anything recognizable as other than natural scratches on concrete or on wood, either at street level or at door level or in between. Do you have any idea what secret mark the JW's use for this purpose?
-- Irredeemable Heathen in Lemon Grove
Dang, Heathen, I was just getting into this story. You had a real chiller going until you veered off into that JW graffiti stuff. This could be bigger than Harry Potter. Was it a dark and stormy morning? Who were those mysterious ladies? What were they looking for? They weren't looking for JW graffiti.
MatthewWorld is like a cross between Noah's Ark and a circus sideshow. Never can tell who will pop up. Lucky for us, our resident Jehovah's Witness was available. As you can imagine, she's usually hard to locate. Anyway, she politely pooh-poohs your JW secret-mark theory but had little more to say about the situation. So, we'll ask you...where did you hear the story about Witnesses marking up people's doors? I'd call it an urban legend, but it doesn't even qualify for that since you and the guy who told it to you are the only people who've heard it. What it sounds like is a combination of true stories about early-century hobos and somebody's loopy notion of how the Witnesses operate.
Hobos and rail-riders in the first half of the 20th Century did have a method of symbolic communication among themselves as they traveled around the country. Marks would be put on rail cars, street signs, gates, doors; the intent was to help the brethren avoid houses with biting dogs or shotguns and find houses where a sad story would get you a hot meal. A connection with the Jehovah's Witnesses? Not likely. Besides, if your door had the mark of an irredeemable heathen, you'd be just the guy they'd want to talk to. Preaching to the choir is not their goal. Anyway, we still think you have the makings of a good book.