Page 226. " he arrived in his VW bug "
Page 226. " its bumper sticker still supporting the last failed Democratic candidate for President "
Page 226. " bright green-and-yellow dashiki and a pair of lizard sandals "
Page 226. " his look of a commune leader "
Page 226. " bags of clothes, a Hula Hoop "

A hula hoop is a toy hoop that is twirled around the body, primarily the waist. The origins of hula hoops are unknown but people have played with hoops throughout history. The hoop became a consumer product in the late 1950s when a plastic version was marketed by the Wham-O toy company of California and 100 million were sold in two years. The hooping endurance record stands at 90 hours and was set in 1987 by American Bric Sorenson, while Paul Blair holds the record for the most hoops twirled simultaneously (132).

Page 227. " our sandlot baseball games "
Page 227. " Pulling Cecilia's Nepalese scarf "
Page 229. " series of totem-pole shots "
Page 229. " tables polished with linseed oil "
Page 230. " trunk of his Eldorado "
Page 231. " fin-de-siecle Vienna witnessed a similar outbreak of suicides on the part of the young "
Page 231. " misfortune of living in a dying empire "
Page 231. " the thievery at City Hall "
Page 231. " 801 fires set around the city on Devil's night "
Page 232. " made from a tree from the Upper Peninsula "
Page 233. " one of Mrs. Bates's snapdragons "
Page 234. " Mary sang the Nazi song from Cabaret "

Cabaret is a musical that debuted on Broadway in 1966 and was followed by a 1972 film production. It is based on John Van Druten's play I Am A Camera, which was adapted from Christopher Isherwood's novel Goodbye to Berlin. The musical is set in Berlin in 1931 at the time that the Nazis were rising to power. Cabaret follows English cabaret performer Sally Bowles (an American Liza Minnelli in the film version) and her relationship with a writer, Cliff Bradshaw. The song "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" appears in both the musical and the film and has been mistaken for a genuine Nazi anthem. Various white supremacist groups have recorded the song, despite the fact that it was composed by Jewish writers Fred Ebb and John Kander.



Page 234. " A spill at the River Rouge Plant increased phosphates in the lake, producing a scum of algae "
Page 234. " theme of their daughter Alice's debutante party 'Asphyxiation' "
Page 235. " rolled out in an artificial lung "
Page 235. " from Henry Ford Hospital "
Page 236. " outside beneath Venetian lanterns "
Page 237. " reminded some people of Jackie Kennedy's widow's weeds "
Page 239. " On the Chrysler Freeway "
Page 240. " With a fungo bat, Chase Buell hit a Wiffle ball "
Page 241. " planting of Asiatic ground cover "
Page 242. " The bathtub where our naiads once floated "
Page 242. " room for a fiberglass Jacuzzi "

Jacuzzi is a company that produces whirlpool bathtubs and spas, but 'jacuzzi' now often refers to all products of this type. The company was founded by seven brothers who immigrated from Italy to the United States at the turn of the 20th century and settled in California. They set up an aircraft manufacturing company called Jacuzzi Brothers, but after their brother Giocondo died in a plane crash in 1925, they turned their attention to creating deep well agricultural pumps. In 1948 Candido Jacuzzi developed a submersible bathtub pump for his son, who had arthritis, and the pump was sold a a therapeutic aid. The portable pumps became associated with luxury following promotion from Hollywood stars and in 1968 the first self-contained whirlpool jet-installed bath was launched.

Page 242. " compared the tree to the last speaker of Manx "

Manx is a Gaelic language spoken by the Manx people, who originate from the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. Manx was thought to have died out after its last native speaker, Ned Maddrell, died in 1974. Manx had acquired a low status in comparison with English, so the language was not passed down to children. In recent decades there have been efforts to revive Manx, a task made easier by the fact that the language was well recorded (for instance, there was a Manx Bible). These efforts have included bilingual road signs, radio broadcasts and the teaching of Manx in schools. Since 2003, a Primary school on the Isle of Man has taught its curriculum entirely in Manx, and it is now thought that there are some children who speak Manx as their first language and there are around 600 speakers altogether. However, the UN still declared Manx an 'extinct' language in 2009.

Learn Manx online





Page 243. " The Kriegers' Tudor, the Buells' French colonial, the Bucks' imitation Frank Lloyd Wright - all just baking roofs. "
Page 243. " the laurel trees, untrimmed "
Page 245. " Save the snail darter. "

A snail darter is a small fish native to East Tennessee that was discovered in 1973. The construction of the Tellico Dam was stalled because of concerns that it would destroy the species, which was originally only present in the Little Tennessee River. The snail darter was declared an endangered species in 1975, but two years later an exemption gave permission for the Tellico Dam to be constructed. The snail darter was introduced successfully into the Hiwassee River, which flows through Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee and in 1984 its status was lowered to threatened.

Read more about the fish 'only as big as a paper clip' that stopped the construction of a Dam.


Page 245. " our waterlocked spit of land French explorers had named the 'Fat Tip' "
Page 247. " verge of finding the 'bad genes' that caused cancer, depression, and other diseases, offered his hope that they would soon 'be able to find a gene for suicide, too.' "

Cancer occurs as a result of mutations in genes that control cell growth and death. These mutations can be inherited or acquired, although inheriting a cancer susceptibility gene does not mean that someone will develop cancer. Only a small fraction of cancer cases have an inherited link. The notion that there is a particular gene that could make people more prone to suicide is controversial but there have been scientific studies that have genetically linked depression within families. However, there has been difficulty in proving that this is entirely separate from the environmental factors of dealing with bereavement from a relative lost to suicide. There have been notable cases of suicide appearing to run in families. In 2009, the son of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Nicholas, committed suicide over 45 years after his mother took her own life. Ernest Hemingway killed himself, as did his father, two of his siblings and his granddaughter. Incidentally, a 'suicide gene' in genetics causes a cell to kill itself (through a process known as apoptosis) and is a potential means of treating cancer.

Page 247. " is like Russian roulette "

Russian roulette is a game of chance, supposedly originating from Russia, in which a participant places a bullet in a revolver, spins the cylinder, raises the revolver and pulls the trigger, with a 1/6th chance of being shot. A Kentucky, USA survey reported that 80% of Russian roulette victims were white, all were male, the average age was 25 and alcohol played a larger role than other cases of suicide by shooting. Famous participants of Russian roulette include Graham Greene and Malcolm X.