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
- "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
- (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
- (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"
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
- "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
- "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,"
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
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