Unfamiliar with some of the unusual terms we used or references we made in the book? So were we. To save you the trouble of looking them up (like we had to), here's a brief list:

Carnegie Hall
(p.4), in New York City, is the most famous concert hall in America. More importantly, it's less than three blocks from the Carnegie Deli, home of giant pastrami sandwiches.

"Nasty, brutish, and short"
(p.9). This is British philosopher Thomas Hobbes's description of life without a strong central government, but it also perfectly fits Claire's cousin Pete.

(p. 26). A term often used in astrology, which we don't believe in (because Claire is an Aquarius and Monte is a Pisces, and Aquarians and Pisceans don't believe in astrology).

(p. 29). Also known as a "snuggie" or, in Michigan, "snow snuggie." This cruel practice, which involves pulling someone's underwear up until he wishes he'd never been born, should be made illegal.

"New and Certified Pre-Owned Sledge Dealership"
(p. 33). These dealerships probably didn't exist in ancient Sumeria. In fact, very few shady operators like Big Al are in business today. Used-car dealers are for the most part honest, upstanding members of society -- with the notable exception of the crook who sold Monte his Datsun.

"There are no rhinoceroses around here"
(p. 36). The oldest joke in the book. We never would have included it if we didn't think rhino bars on SUVs look so silly.

"Ouija Board"
(p. 86). This device -- a board game that supposedly helps people communicate with the dead -- wasn't around back then, either, but they're even sillier than rhino bars, so we couldn't resist.

"Edifice complex"
(p. 94). A truly dreadful pun on the psychological term "Oedipus complex," which means "to be rather too fond of your mother." You can see the story of Oedipus, performed entirely by vegetables, at

"Corinthian leather"
(p. 96). Explaining this term would also require explaining Ricardo Montalban, a concept far too complex to address here. Ask your parents.

(p. 103). The word "Velveeta" didn't exist in Mesopotamian times, although the substance itself is said to have been discovered some years before, as a by-product of bronze smelting.

"I am in charge here"
(p. 119) was famously said by Secretary of State Alexander Haig, after the 1981 assassination attempt of President Reagan. He wasn't.

(p. 119). Lemmings -- small, mouselike mammals who live in the far North -- are believed to go into a frenzy and throw themselves into the ocean. They don't.

"Flat dweller"
(p. 142). A "flat" is what they call an apartment in Britain, for reasons that only the British understand.

"Gregory Hines"
(p. 156). Hines (1946-2003), was one of the best tap dancers of his generation, as well as a terrific actor and a heck of a nice guy, which he proved once by saying "yes" instead of "get lost" when Monte asked him, in a hotel lobby, "are you Gregory Hines?"

"By reducing the circumference . . . conic section,"
p. 166. This isn't just a bunch of gibberish, it's scientifically accurate. So there.

"Euphrates cracker"
p. 183. Apparently these delicious and savory crackers are as rare as honest politicians nowadays, but we sure ate a lot of them when we were kids. If you know where we can buy some (crackers, not politicians), please contact us.

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