134-35; uneven ice formed by pressure, currents and wind in the dynamic Arctic environment; 151;
Chums sworn to avoid, 114;
Bagdad Railway Concession
228; In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Ottoman Empire planned to construct a Baghdad Railway under German control. It became a source of international tension and played some role in the origins of the First World War; 238; Wikipedia entry
1022; "shadowy Russian agent" in 1914;
168; Located on the Caspian Sea, Baku or Baky (Baki), capital and largest city of Azerbaijan. Since 1873 an oil belt of Baku began to be formed which was known as a Black City. Within a short period of time departments and representations of Swiss, English, French, Belgian, German and American firms were established in Baku, among them were the firms of the Nobels and Rothschilds. By the beginning of the 20th century almost half of the oil reserves in the world had been extracted in Baku; 441; 631; "with skeeters" 639; 751; Wikipedia entry Discussion
Bakunin, Mikhail (1814-1876)
373; well-known Russian revolutionary, and often considered one of the fathers of modern anarchism; 890; Wikipedia entry
432; From the Bible, Numbers Chapter 22, wherein Balaam, a seer and Gentile, is sent by Balak, King of Moab, to confront the Israelites who, after 40 years in the desert, were camped on the plains of Moab. An angel, invisible to Balaam but visible to the ass, blocks the road and the ass won't proceed. Balaam repeatedly whips the ass until, by divine intervention, the ass is given the power of speech and speaks to Balaam, asking him why he treats him so badly. Balaam is taken aback and then sees the angel with sword drawn and falls to the ground, contrite. But the angel, instead of stopping him from his journey, tells Balaam to proceed on his mission. When Balaam reaches the top of a hill and sees the Israelites camped out below, a blessing unexpectedly issues from his lips. Two things here: 1) it's possible for a non-Hebrew to be a prophet and 2) this is one of only two instances in the Bible where animals speak, the other being the serpent in the Garden of Eden. More from the Trivia Library
939; "darkly wishes for its own destruction"
557; Komitadji, Comitadji or Komitaji (Turkish: Komitacı, "a rebel, member of a secret revolutionary society") is a member of a guerrilla band in Macedonia or the Balkan countries.
Ball in Hand
405; saloon where Dr. Zoot met Meatman; on West Symmes Street, 410;
729; "old Barkie" is sailor's slang for a wooden ship. However, "offer the light" is a cricket term where the umpire asks the batsmen if they wish to continue playing in poor light conditions.
Basnight, Lewis ("Lew")
36-51; a "spotter" from White City Investigations; "couldn't remember what he 'd done, or hadn't done, or even when", Upstate-Downstate Beast, 37; "a kind of waking swoon" 38; "a condition he had no memory of having sought, which he later came to think of as grace", "a luminosity new to him", "things were exactly what they were", 42; extraordinary ability of noticing things, 42; "a keen sympathy for the invisible" 43; "the side of the day" 44; transfer to Denver, 51; 171; Cyclomite trip, 182; emergence out of explosion, 221; 496; at Chunxton Crescent "Gus Swallowfield, Senior Underwriter" 611; in Los Angeles, 1035 DISCUSSION
38; Lew's wife, who leaves him; 1058-59
Battle of Desconocido
1020; "little known battle of" in California; "desconocido" means "unknown" in Spanish, and sounds like one of those little California towns. A fictional town, however.
Battle of Puebla
315; The Battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862 near the city of Puebla, Mexico, during the French intervention in Mexico. It was a major Mexican victory, and is commemorated every year as Cinco de Mayo; Wikipedia entry
15; a scale to measure wind speed; Wikipedia entry
67; "painfully aware of the beauty that had swept upon the young woman, as it did now and then, always unexpected, like a galvanic shadow"; "that terrible ecstasy known to result from unmediated observation of the beautiful" 635; "the breath-taken trembling before the beauty of an intractable problem" 665;
"Beavers of the Brain" 183; Beaver Saloon, 193; "fancy black beavers with snakeskin bands" (Elmore Disco's hats), 243; "enormous brand-new beaver sombreros had just entered the Cosmopolitan" 292; "glossy swamp-beaver hides flashing darkly from beneath canvas tie-downs, to be traded for velvet, gold and silver brocades, giant feathers from very yellow, red, and green parrots" 926;
"Beavers of the Brain"
183; song by the beings inhabiting Lew Basright's steak
1076; Jesse Traverse's school teacher, and possibly his future father-in-law; see the Traverse Family Tree
527; "Eugénie, Fatou, Denis, and Policarpe, styling themselves 'Young Congo'"
70; 144; 243; 259; 302;
144; A steady bright blue light; formerly used as a signal but now a firework.
576; Dally's alter-ego; Beppo is the subject of the poem "Beppo" by Lord Byron; Read the poem
Berlin Conference of 1878
226; The Congress of Berlin was a meeting of the European Great Powers' and the Ottoman Empire's leading statesmen in Berlin in 1878. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78, the meeting's aim was to reorganize conditions in the Balkans. Otto von Bismarck, who led the Congress, undertook to balance the distinct interests of Great Britain, Russia and Austria-Hungary. As a consequence, however, differences between Russia and Austria-Hungary intensified, as did the nationality question in the Balkans; Wikipedia entry
Bernadette o' Lourdes
958; Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879) was a shepherd girl from the town of Lourdes in southern France. From February to July 1858, she reported eighteen apparitions of "a Lady." Wikipedia entry
781; "the know-it-all of the crew" on Padzy's ship
86; Second Corinthians, 32; 223; St. Mark, 250; "Let there be light" 354; Judas Iscariot, 377; 413; Balaam's ass, 432; Sodom and Gomorrah, 441; 441; 452; Jonah and Agadir, 521; Judas Priest, 525; Lot's wife, 550; Lucifer, 575; Infancy Gospel of Thomas, 579; Pentacost story from Acts of the Apostles (Jesus and the dyes), 579-80; Wormwood, 784; Matthew 7:15, 784;
"Salsa Explosiva La Original," 129; "stars blown by the shockwaves of the Creation," 404;
263; Henry McCarty, better known as Billy the Kid, but also known by the aliases Henry Antrim and William Harrison Bonney, was a 19th century American frontier outlaw and gunmen who was a participant in the Lincoln County War. Wikipedia entry
143; the ability (said of certain Roman Catholic saints) to exist simultaneously in two locations; "there are two distinct versions of 'Asia' out there" 249; Estrella, double of Stray Briggs, 393; Chums of Chance and the Marching Academy Harmonica Band, 418-24; "enough to divide a fellow into two" 464; two Agadirs, 521-22; Stupendica, 514; Dally, 524; doubling, 564; multiple identities, 570; sawed-in-half folks, 571-72; Principessa Spongiatosta, 583; Werfner/Renfrew, 683, 685; Orphic and Pythagorean religionns, 686; Lew Basright, 688, 690; Auberon Halfcourt, 759; the fork in the road, 766; Frank Traverse, 924-925; 990; 1049-50; Wikipedia entry
18; aeronautical club from Oregon ("A.C." for alternating current?); a bindelstiff is a hobo, especially one who carries a bedroll.
345; "tong warrior's girlfriend"
Biometric Institute of Neuropathy
517; the stokers; 519;
Black Hand, The
829; "widely-feared Serbian organization"; Batco and Senta, 834;
Black, Miss Penelope ("Penny")
18; distaff member of the Bindlestiffs of the Blue A.C.; the "Penny Black" is considered the first postage stamp issued, by the U.K. and Ireland in 1840; now "admiral of a fleet of skyships" 1083; Wikipedia entry
287; "local name" for Bob Meldrum's wife;
915; the original name of the Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi (1882-1956) whose most famous role was that of Dracula; "our famous actor from Lugos" 913; Wikipedia entry
219; Helena Petrovna Hahn (also Hélène), better known as Helena Blavatsky (Russian: Елена Блаватская) or Madame Blavatsky, born Helena von Hahn, was a founder of the Theosophical Society; "working for the Tsarist secret service" aka Third Section, aka Okhrana, 631; Wikipedia entry
53; Blitz is a manufacturer of musical instruments and accessories
446; working undercover with Gaspereaux
bloodline of my enemy
Blope, Dr. Templeton
131; of the University of the Outer Hebrides
4; Handyman Apprentice aboard the Inconvenience; 107; nonsense speaking, 110-13; the Book, 251; 417; "temporarily lapsing into English" 427; recognizes the Trespassers, Mr. Ace, 417; "extra-temporal excursions" 443; and Pugnax, 550; "prefiguration of the Holy City" 551; "As above [...] so below" 796;
Bly, Nellie (1864-1922)
37; Born May 5, 1864, to Judge Michael Cochran and Mary Jane Kennedy Cochran, part of the large Cochran family of Apollo, Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Jane Cochrane revolutionized journalism for women. She is better known by her pen name, "Nellie Bly," which she adapted from the Stephen Foster song, "Nelly Bly." Daring and innovative, she gained world fame when she beat Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg's record for traveling around the world in 80 days by more than a week, departing on November 14, 1889 and returning to New York on January 25, 1890; Wikipedia entry
83; "evil viceroy" of Russian Tsar
Bodine, O. I. C. (Officer in Charge)
517; American stoker aboard the Stupendica; "O.I.C." is a U.S. Navy abbreviation (and Marines too!) for "Officer in Charge." Check this with Glossary of U.S. Naval Abbreviations website... If you leave the "in" in the initialism, it becomes O.in.C. pronounced "oink!" 519. A-and if you say the initials out loud, they become homonymous with the exclamation "Oh, I see." Pynchon probably realized that old fans would look for Bodine in the new novel, and the initials anticipate their reaction upon encountering this old favorite: "Oh, I see Bodine!" (Though some contributors are still trying to wrap their minds around the notion of a Bodine who makes officer grade—surely this of all families never spawned an officer!)
956; Bogomilism is the Gnostic dualistic sect, the synthesis of Armenian Paulicianism and the local Slavonic Church reform movement in Bulgaria between 950 and 1396 and in the Byzantine Empire between 1018 and 1186. Wikipedia entry
Bohr, Niels (Henrik David) (1885-1962)
412; Danish physicist who made fundamental contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics. Bohr is widely considered one of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century. Wikipedia entry
477; sheriff of Wall o' Death;
479; Eugene's wife;
Boilster, Roy Mickey
480; Tace's brother;
485; Eugene's & Tace's daughter
Boll Weevil Lounge
Russian: the Great Game; Padzhy's ship, counterpart to the Inconvenience, at the North Pole, 123; in Venice, 245; at Taklamakan, having left Tian Shan, 754; at Irkutsk, 779;
395; Spanish: Mapimi Basin - An enclosed depression in northern Mexico, that comprises parts of the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango. Situated in the arid northern plateau region and averaging 3,000 ft (900 m) in elevation, it is structurally similar to the Basin and Range region of Arizona and New Mexico, in the United States. One very interesting thing about the Mapimi Basin is the "Zone of Silence"...; 922; 983; Wikipedia
Boltzmann, Ludwig (1844–1906)
596; Austrian physicist who made pivotal contributions to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, inventing several of the key notions of the latter field. Read his bio...
Bonnet, Charles (1720-1793)
307; Swiss naturalist and philosophical writer who first described what became known as the Charles Bonnet syndrome (or CBS for short), a term used to describe the situation when people with sight problems start to see things which they know aren't real. Sometimes called visual hallucinations, the things people see can take all kinds of forms from simple patterns of straight lines to detailed -pictures of people or buildings. These can be enjoyable or sometimes upsetting; Wikipedia entry
Book of the Masked, The
853; book Vlado entrusts to Yashmeen; "an intelligence so grand and fatal" 863; Yashmeen gives it to Cyprian, 875; Quite self-referential!
364; Reef's colt;
Borowicz, Professor Bogoslaw
343; at McVeety's Theater "Floor Shows"
Bosanquet, Bernard James Tindal (1877-1936)
237; "this Middlesex spinner"; an English cricketer, perhaps most renowned as the inventor of the googly (sometimes called the Bosie or, in Australia, the Wrong'un ), born in Bull's Cross, Enfield, Middlesex; Wikipedia entry
554; the artist
Boulanger, General Georges Ernest Jean-Marie (April 29, 1837 – September 30, 1891)
543; anniversary of his suicide and the Chums of Chance; Boulanger was a French general and reactionary politician. Very popular with the military, He rose through the ranks to general, and began his own political movement, an ecclectic one that capitalized on the frustrations of French conservatism, advocating the three principles of Revanche (Revenge on Germany), Révision (Revision of the Constitution), Restauration (the return to monarchy). The common reference to it has become Boulangisme, a term used by its partisans and adversaries alike. A failed coup began his downfall. He was charged with conspiracy and treason and a warrant for his death was issued. He committed suicide by a bullet to the head on the grave of his mistress. 548; Wikipedia entry
60; photographer; Hypop Apparatus, 425; Scarsdale Vibe trial in Cleveland, 455; Hercules, 455; in Los Angeles, with Merle Rideout, 1035; "paranoia querelans" 1036;
33; A boutonniere, also buttonhole, is a flower or floral decoration pushed or pinned through the button hole of a lapel of a suit.
1019; Chums of Chances' "decisive action" in; The Boxer Uprising was a Chinese rebellion from November 1899 to September 7, 1901 against foreign influence in areas such as trade, politics, religion and technology that occurred in China during the final years of the Qing Dynasty. Wikipedia entry
788; "former hard-labor convicts" sentenced to "internal exile" in Siberia
603; gutta-percha ball (a golf ball), a brambled spheroid; 934
Bresci, Gaetano (1869-1901)
739; "Anarchist gunhand"; An Italian-American anarchist who assassinated Umberto I, King of Italy. Found dead in prison, "suicided" by the guards; 1011; Wikipedia entry
369; "and his Merry Coons" - houseband at Maman Tant Gras Hall in New Orleans;
457; the tourbillion
1015; trooper who stops Jesse Traverse during his attempted escape of the tent city
Briggs, Estrella ("Stray")
200; and Reef Traverse, 358-367; in Nochecita; Aunt Adelina; at a "small ranch outside Fickle Creek" 462; with Rodrigo, 920-921;
361; Stray's sister; husband Holt, 367;
British craving for the dark and shiny
678; Perhaps an Orwellian reference?
587; The random motion of small particles, such as dust specks or pollen grains, suspended in a fluid. Because the atoms in the fluid are constantly jostling with thermal energy — heat being nothing but the kinetic energy of atoms in random movement — the larger objects floating in the fluid are bombarded this way and that, like a beach ball being attacked on all sides by peashooters. First observed by the British botanist Robert Brown (1773–1858) in 1827, this jittery behavior provided the first direct evidence that atoms existed. The young Albert Einstein (1879–1955) worked out the theory behind Brownian motion, producing in 1905 an equation which gave the size of atoms in terms of quantities one could observe about Brownian motion. In 1908, the French physicist Jean-Baptiste Perrin (1870–1942) succeeded in measuring these variables, discovering that atoms are roughly one ten-billionth of a meter in diameter.
277; Kodak camera introduced in 1900 for one dollar
578; the poet
529; Brugere's powder uses picric acid which, when ignited, burns quietly with a smoky flame and is very difficult to detonate by percussion; its salts, however, are more readily detonated. Part of the picric family, Brugere's powder is a mixture of 54 parts of ammonium picrate and 45 parts of saltpetre; Designolle's powder, composed of potassium picrate, saltpetre and charcoal is also a member of this family of explosives. More on picric acid
101; Scarsdale Vibe's bodyguard
303; "buck-and-wing" is a solo tap dance emphasizing sharp taps
742; re burning coal
See Cody, Buffalo Bill
Bugatti, Carlo (1856-1940)
867; the only Italian of his generation who broke with the prevailing historicism of the nineteenth century and sought to create objects that did not directly imitate styles of the European past; he drew instead from more exotic sources - notably Islamic and Japanese art. Moreover, unlike many other European furniture designers working around 1900, he did not utilize the dramatic whiplash line that distinguishes the decorative arts of the period and generally goes under the rubric of art nouveau. Bugatti developed an extensive repertoire of furniture forms, and, since Italian furniture makers utilized handcraft production techniques fight through the nineteenth century, he was able to experiment with a variety of forms and techniques. 
228; medium at Stead séance; her "prophetic account of the Serbian outrage" 719;
a sheriff Reef argues with; Laureen, his wife;
Burgher King, The
914; "an operetta, all the rage in Vienna at the moment"; Ha! Pynchon tosses a bone to the exegetes. Most definitely fictional.
142; "grandfather of Odin and the first gods"
313; Jimmy Drop's hangout in Telluride
490; where Yashmeen bathed nude;