Reader's Guide

Spoiler Alert!
The titles of acts are songs, and bits and pieces of their lyrics are embedded into the story to enhance the musical theme. Names of the songs and artists are on the Soundtracks page of this Web site.
Earth, the Musical and Googol, the Musical contain other references that could be considered part of the game of reading the book. If you do not want to know the clues beforehand, please stop here and revisit this page when you've finished the book(s) – or at least after each act.

Earth, the Musical

Act 1
Cash Cracken is the twin brother of Pash Cracken. Pash Cracken is a character in the Star Wars comic book series, which never mentioned his twin brother. Perhaps Pash's biggest claim to fame was assisting in the removal of Black Sun extremists from Kessel. Cash's star, of course, is destined to outshine his brother's.

The hitchhiker that Cash had once picked up was Arthur Dent from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
The Corellian Engineering Corp. YT-1300 Transport Millennium Falcon that Cash filched was actually a light freighter, though it was armed with a laser cannon.
At the time this book was written, there were two Las Casuelas restaurants downtown Palm Springs: the original, which opened in 1958, and the larger/more popular/tourist-attracting Terraza.

The Palm Springs Public Library does (or at least at the time the book was written did) have a koi pond.
Act 2
At the time the book was written, there was a Flying J gas station/truck stop near Palm Springs in Thousand Palms, just off Interstate 10. It's worth a stop should you find yourself traveling through the desert; take the Ramon Road exit.

GTO (Galactic Transport Orbiter) shares its acronym with Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit and Pontiac's Gran Turismo Omologato muscle car. An X-GTO is an ion-propelled craft, the "X" referring to xenon gas, which is ionized to produce thrust. T680 is merely the catalog number for engineering drawings of the craft.
Coincidentally, a Star Trek episode referred to Klingons as possessing an earthy, peaty smell with a touch of lilac.
Alien names are backward-spelled derivations of the names of well-known Earthlings: Thus, Sivle Yelserp and Trebla Nietsnie would, on Earth, be Elvis Presley and Albert Einstein. Smada Salguod would be Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and its sequels.
Rollie was born in the same year and month as President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created NASA. The year was also when Project Orion (an attempt to build a nuclear bomb-propelled spaceship) took hold. On July 5, 1958, Project Orion physicist Freeman Dyson penned a "A Space-Traveler's Manifesto," which included this statement: "A truly isolated, small, and creative society will never again be possible on this planet." July 5 is also the date Elvis Presley recorded "That's All Right Mama," his first record to be played on the radio, and is the birthdate of surrealist Jean Cocteau, who once said, "True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing."
Rollie's place of birth (La Jolla, California) was where General Atomic worked on Project Orion.

Act 3
Orion's Belt and Eridanus do exist, but yuridionite is a fictional commodity. Eridanus is a long, winding river that starts at the left foot of Orion in the north and ends far to the south. Fornax ("the Furnace") lies within a bend in Eridanus.
Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for Sunday in the Park with George, based upon a painting by Georges Seurat; Bernadette Peters was, of course, brilliant in the musical.
Craigslist's Deep Space Communications Network began selling the opportunity to beam personal messages through its satellite broadcasting equipment in March 2005. The transmissions included job listings and personal ads.
Earth's scientists, en masse, agree that Europa is a big ball of ice. However, it is highly probable that in a parallel universe it could be mistaken for the Riviera. After all, Alan Guth of MIT suggested on BBC's Parallel Universes that in a 2002 alternative universe Al Gore was president of the United States.

Act 4
The Viper roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park in Los Angeles includes seven inversions.
In La Jolla, Calif., from 1957 to 1965, scientists attempted to build a spaceship propelled by nuclear bombs. The effort was dubbed Project Orion. The titles of research papers mentioned in Act 4 are real.
Robert Parker is a renowned wine expert whose point-based ratings influence the perceived value of a particular label and vintage.

Act 5
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena does, in fact, host a two-day, free open house each May.
The scientist Halley is (you probably already figured this out) named in honor of Halley's Comet.
There is a Raphael's salon in Palm Springs (or at least there was one at the time the book was written), with Moroccan-themed decor.
Many of the concepts underlying Earth, the Musical are based on string theory, which postulates that the universe is made up of tiny strings of matter that vibrate in a space-time of multiple dimensions. And if there are vibrating strings, surely there must be music.

Act 6
Again, another backward-spelled name: Trebor Toof is a reference to Robert Foot, a particle physicist and author of Shadowlands: The Quest for Mirror Matter in the Universe.

In 1908, a fireball exploded over Russia, releasing 15 megatons of energy and flattening  more than 2,000 square kilometers but leaving no visible crater. Robert Foot speculated that the event could have been the result of a mirror asteroid. In 2007, scientists discovered the "missing" crater under Lake Cheko.
The descriptions of Fornaxians is hypothetical, but could be just as true as not true.
Alfie Omega is a thinly veiled reference to alpha and omega, the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.

Act 7
Moissanite is named after Henri Moissan, derived from rock samples taken from a meteor crater in Canyon Diablo, Ariz., in 1893. It has a higher reflective quality than diamonds.
Tupperware was created by Earl Silas Tupper, who worked for Dupont before striking out on his own. Unfortunately, in 1958 (a coincidence, given Rollie's birthdate?), he fired the woman responsible for the home-party selling tactic that made Tupperware successful.
Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple, Frank Zappa named his son Dweezil. It's only a matter of time before some celebrity names their child Pyrex.
"Ne soyez pas une ané" is French for "Don't be an ass."

Act 8
Silvie chose to use the last name Versace as the result of her newly found appreciation for designer fashions.
Act 9

Marcus Chown is a cosmology consultant and author. Two of his books were used as reference material for Earth, the Musical: The Universe Next Door and The Never-Ending Days of Being Dead. Both are highly recommended reading.
There is (or was), in fact, a Starbucks 21 doors down from the Waldorf-Astoria. The numbered addresses are real.
Macy's is not open on Thanksgiving Day.

Act 10
Cram Namyar is the backward spelling of Marc Rayman, project system engineer for JPL's Dawn Project who also worked on Deep Space 1, which tested ion propulsion. The Dawn spacecraft, which operates on ion propulsion, launched on 9/27/07 on its way to protoplanets Vesta (expected arrival Aug. 2011) and Ceres (expected arrival Feb. 2015). Rayman writes an online journal of the mission that can be read at Rayman, who has a wonderful sense of humor, appeared in Discovery Channel's How William Shatner Changed the World. He knows about the reference to him and, in fact, has a copy of Earth, the Musical.
New York Pizza is, in fact, Novosibirsk's most popular eatery. At the time Earth, the Musical was written, there were 15 locations in the city, eight of which were operated by the original American owner.
"Zdravstvuite" is Russian for "hello." Privet means "hi."

Act 11
At the time Earth, the Musical was written, the Nuart Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles continued to run The Rocky Horror Picture Show (released in 1975) at midnight on Saturdays. Perhaps one day, the Nuart will be screening Earth, the Musical for cult fans.
Cartesian tea is a reference to the philosophy espoused by (and named for) René Descartes, who, questioning all his beliefs, concluded that matter and mind are distinct unto themselves.
Ajax Comet is a reference to popular household cleaners. Xenar is a lens that has been used to view comets, including Halley's.
More backward spellings: Nagas Lrac would translate to Carl Sagan and Gnikwah Nehpets to Stephen Hawking.
The quote from the woman who received a plasma television from Dr. Phil comes directly from an interview by a newspaper reporter.
Pluto was demoted from planet to dwarf planet in 2006. What a difference a word makes. 

Act 12
The plane references are to Plato, Don Quixote, Dom Perignon, Star Trek's Lt. Uhura, and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
Again, translating backward spellings related to aliens, the Fornaxian holiday of Gnivigsknaht would be Thanksgiving and the menu the same: yekrut (turkey), stelbig (giblets), and gniffuts (stuffing).
There is a Yucca Valley, but not a Mom's Home Cookin' Cafe & Karaoke Bar, though it's the kind of town that there could/should be such a place. And if it did exist, there would no doubt be someone there like Wendy (though her name may be different).
In 1998, a famous Elvis impersonator, Jimmy Ellis, was killed by a robber in a pawn shop in Orrville, Alabama. Wearing a mask, Ellis performed under the name Orion. Ellis is not a part of Earth, the Musical, but the link between Orion and performing as Elvis is one of those odd coincidences.

Act 13
SWAT teams' primary hardcore weapons are submachine guns and assault rifles, but bazooka is more fun to pronounce and more likely to be what Rollie would picture SWAT teams carrying in his current state of mind.
Act 14
There is no bar in Palm Springs called The Doghouse (at least there wasn't at the time Earth, the Musical was written). Nor was there a Big Daddy's. There are, however, homeless people in Palm Springs, though you will not see them huddled together.
Theophilus is also the name of a crater region on the moon. Fladeboe has no particular reference; it just fits well with Theophilus.

Act 15
Magnetite is an iron oxide and natural magnet. According to Remcure, the company that makes Magneurol6-S, University of New Hampshire researcher Richard Blakemore discovered that some bacteria create within their single-cell bodies long strings of magnetite. Remcure claims its pills deliver paranormal experiences.

Act 16
According to entropy, the universe will ultimately run down. Ludwig Boltmann, who proposed the second law of thermodynamics hung himself in 1906. It is believed he committed suicide because his concept was ridiculed.
The title of the painting is a reference to a line in Kenny Loggins' "Leap of Faith": "Once in a life, you can find a time to see."

The world Rollie entered is that of the dadaists, who hung out at Cafe Voltaire in Zurich, including Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Max Ernst, and Man Ray.
As noted in the book's acknowledgments, the poem in Act 16 was written by Judith Lepuschitz, an artist from Idyllwild, California, now working as a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade.

Act 17
Asea and Vanakans are fictional and have no relationship to anything identified in the nonfictional realm.
Another backward spelling: Drahcir Nosnarb refers to Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Airlines and Virgin Galactic. And, yes, he knows about this. In fact, he received a copy of Earth, the Musical.

Act 18
The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, whose mission was to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune launched in 1977 with a "Golden Record" for the benefit of "spacefarers" who might encounter them. A committee headed by Carl Sagan selected the contents of the copper disks.
Shamley Green, the name Drahcir Nosnarb took on Earth is the name of the village in England where Branson grew up.
The fact that Galileo (named for physicist, astronomer, and philosopher Galileo Galilei) was a beagle is noteworthy for several reasons: (1) Beagle was the name of the ship in which Charles Darwin voyaged around the world and thus (2) was the name adopted by a British space probe that disappeared as it entered the Martian atmosphere on Christmas Day 2003 and (3) is the breed of Snoopy, who was honored when NASA named the Apollo 10 lunar lander after him. And, though the Star Trek movie came out after Earth, the Musical was written, it's interesting that the admiral's dog that Scotty loses is a — you guessed it — beagle.
As of the 2000 Census, there were 986 households in Landers, Calif., (about nine people per square mile), and the median house value was $44,700. Landers was the epicenter of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake on June 28, 1992.
As much as it sounds made up, the Integratron does, in fact, exist, as do (or did at the time Earth, the Musical was written) the Billy Holcomb Chapter of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clapus Vitas. In 2005, the group dedicated a historical plaque at the Integratron, at which Bob, the Noble Grand Humbug, sported a ponytail, baseball cap, and patch-covered vest. The Integratron is open for public tours and "sound baths." If you want to know more about it, visit
Pappy & Harriet's is (or at least at the time Earth, the Musical was written was) a popular bar in Pioneertown, not far from the Integratron.

Act 19
Not only does Pioneertown exist, but also did Dazzlin' Dallas and the couple who raised a menagerie of animals.
The Star Wars comic book attributes The Cracken Twist to Pash Cracken as his tactic of subtracting the number two from the second digit of transmitted exit vector coordinates. After exhaustive research, the author concluded that Pash "stole" the idea from his twin brother and that it did not, as reported in the comic book, involve the Xyquine system, but rather the Xyznine system.
The song Cash sings at the Integraton is "Deep Purple." The song Silvie sings is "How High the Moon."

Act 20
"Daisies of the Galaxy" is the name of a song and album by the Eels, written and sung by Mark "E" Everett, whose father, Hugh Everett III, proposed the Many Worlds Theory in the late 1950s. Everett traveled with a BBC crew to visit his father's peers in an effort to understand his late father's work; the documentary was titled Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives.

Act 22
Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson (1178-1241) was wealthy, politically active, and assassinated by henchmen of his son-in-law.
Palm Springs' Movie Colony is so named for the celebrities who once resided there, including Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, and Jack Benny.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations, a project of the University of California at Berkeley, "piggybacks" onto a radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

In 2003, ground was broken for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile, designed to accommodate 66 antennas. The first antenna arrived in 2007, and construction was still underway when Earth, the Musical was written.
Act 24
The Los Angeles Times newspaper presents a two-day book festival on the UCLA campus each April.

Occipedalytes are so referred to as a combination of occidere (Latin for "to set," as in the sun), PED for the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University, and troglodytes (though the Occcipedalytes never resided in caves, there being no caves on Orion's Belt).
Although Halls of Judisica sounds similar to Halls of Justice, the two actually have little in common because the Halls of Judisica have no relationship whatsoever to police, there being no police on Orion's Belt, though they did have justices, which is even more astonishing since there are/were no lawyers on Orion's Belt. To clear matters up, the Halls of Judisica were the chambers where those who had obtained leadership status (known as stargazers) in decision-making (based primarily on their ability to convince others they were leaders and the occasional case of nepotism) met.

Act 25
There is (or at least was at the time Earth, the Musical was written) a Mexican restaurant on the upscale El Paseo boulevard in Palm Desert called Restaurante Guillermo. It's not the sort of place Alfie would hang out, but he did have a meeting with a local author, who picked up the tab.
Since 1949, Sandia National Laboratories has developed science-based technologies that support U.S. national security.

General Atomic was the division within General Dynamics Corp. created to develop peaceful uses for atomic energy. It was at General Atomic that Project Orion (the design of a nuclear-driven spaceship) was undertaken.
Arthur Stanley Eddington was an English astrophysicist who wrote extensively on the theory of relativity. Eddington referred to "a jolly crockery turn of a music hall" in The Internal Constitution of the Stars.
Red Storm is a $90 million supercomputer at Sandia National Laboratories that was made with off-the-shelf components.
Named after Russian civil engineer Ivan Osipovich Yarkovsky, the Yarkovsky Effect is the force acting on a rotating body in space caused by thermal photons.
The Near Earth Object that struck Siberia in 1908 is the Tunguska fireball referred to in Act 6.
Designed by Frank Gehry, the stainless-steel Walt Disney Concert Hall is widely considered as close to acoustical perfection as you can get. Since 2003, it has been the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
More backward spellings: Ynos for Sony and Rebmobanu for Unabomber (a.k.a. Ted Kaczynski).

Act 26
Another backward spelling: Silve Yelserp's brother is Allicsirp, or Priscilla (Presley).

Act 28

Originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2007, the Hydopolis Hotel in Dubai was still under construction at the time Earth, the Musical was written and was scheduled to be completed in 2009. The land upon which the hotel was/is being built belongs to Dubai's crown prince.

The Burj Dubai — the tallest manmade structure in the world — also was under construction at the time Earth, the Musical was written. Although the final height was kept secret, in January 2009, construction topped out at 2,684 feet. The Armani Hotel at the Burj Dubai was planned to occupy the lower 37 floors (with residences above that), but a hotel clerk would most likely claim the hotel to be the tallest structure in the world.
The Palazzo Dubai, with interiors designed by Versace, was under construction at the time Earth, the Musical was written and scheduled for a 2010 opening.
As with the hotels, the Sunny Mountain Ski Dome was under construction at the time Earth, the Musical was written and was scheduled to open in 2009.

Act 29
The Mall of the Emirates, which stays open until midnight Thursday-Saturday, encompasses 400+ stores, 70 eating venues, a 14-screen multiplex, Ski Dubai, 500-seat community theater, and the Magic Planet amusement park.

Act 30
Cristal is a very upper-end Champagne produced by Louis Roederer (originally for Alexander II of Russia). At the time Earth, the Musical was written, a bottle sold for hundreds of dollars (thousands for vintages before 1970. Coincidentally (?), the Middle East and North Africa awards for advertising (originally for Arabic countries only) are named the Cristal Awards.
The World islands off the coast of Dubai were constructed from 2003 to 2008 by dredging sand from the sea. The 300 islands, situated to create a map of the world, cover an area 5.4 miles by 3.6 miles.

Taylor Power is the combination of two names related to Project Orion: Ted Taylor was the project founder. Gen. Thomas Power was the commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command during Project Orion. Power once said, "Whoever controls Orion will control the world." He was not, of course, talking about the World islands off the coast of Dubai.
Act 32

CERN stands for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or European Council for Nuclear Research, located on the border of France and Switzerland, near Geneva. Although CERN accepts visitors, it probably would object to anyone attempting to circumvent its operations, thus Silvie's need for deception.
Tobias Triton shares his last name with Neptune's largest moon.
Gordy Callisto shares his last name with a moon of Jupiter and an X-Men comics character.

Miranda Oberon shares her last name with a moon of Uranus, the name of a spaceship in Planet of the Apes and the king of fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
What the Bleep Do We Know? is the title of a 2004 film about quantum physics/string theory.

Act 33
Dr. DeGrasse shares his name with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History, director of the Hayden Planetarium and author of several fascinating books, including Death by Black Hole. He also has appeared on Nova specials about space.
Act 34
At the time Earth, the Musical was written, there was no Italian-French restaurant in the Palm Springs area, though there should have been (though there should not have been a pasta in puffed pastry dish).


Googol, the Musical

Act 1

Nero Viva is the backward spelling of Oren Aviv, production chief of Walt Disney Studios from 2006 to January 2010, when he was ousted in a corporate housecleaning. He also was the writer and executive producer of 1997’s RocketMan. In an interview at Comic-Con in 2009, Aviv claimed it was his idea to hire Tim Burton to make Alice in Wonderland and to remake it in 3-D. Walt Disney attended St. Paul Congregational Church in Chicago. His father, a carpenter, built the church and served as deacon.

Act 2

3.14159265 ... is, of course, pi.

Backward spellings: drens for nerds and Nocilis Yellav for Silicon Valley.

Mickey is the ratio of computer mouse movements to onscreen cursor movement. Jansky is the measurement unit for the strength of radio signals from space. Their last names, Wittgen and Stein, are inspired by famed philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who established theories about how words are defined by context. It was that theory that allowed Google to refine its search algorithm by analyzing words that were close to each other in documents.

The Heckler (formerly a resident of the former twin star to Jeckle in the Andromeda Galaxy) is a reference to the carton magpies Heckle and Jeckle.

The people in the crowd (“former lottery winners; con men; military torturers; spinal surgeons; stepfather killers; unwed mothers; Korean mobsters; one-hit-wonder rock musicians; and at least one monk turned boat racer and paralyzed, one-kidneyed box company worker who felt lost”) describe the plane crash survivors in the popular TV series Lost.

Act 3

An “in joke” among electrical engineers, the Turbo-encabulator is a fictional machine made by General Electric. The description here is largely taken from what was supposedly described in The Institute of Electrical Engineers Students Quarterly Journal in 1955.

ROFLHOLCCF is the acronym for Rolling On the Floor Laughing Hysterically Out Loud Collecting Cat Fur.

Oohay is the backward spelling of Yahoo.

Dr. Grordbort’s Semmelweis Aether Distortion Receptor, as described in author/illustrator Greg Broadmore’s Doctor Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory (Dark Horse Comics Inc., 2008) is headgear designed to pick up wave anomalies with the aether field to allow perception of hidden ninjas and interplanetary invaders. (It has not, insofar as I know, been trademarked, but I gave it a TM mark in deference to Mr. Broadmore, who graciously granted permission to refer to his weaponry ).

In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia was Andromeda’s mother.

Lyrica Zyrtec, Crestor Restasis, and Axiron Nexium all refer to prescription drugs advertised on television for pain, hay fever, high cholesterol, dry eyes, low testosterone, and heartburn, respectively.

The reference to “No Evil” relates to Google’s mission statement to “do no evil.” The Verdana font is used by Google.

Kansas is used not only as the antithesis of China, but also because of the previous references to Dorothy of Wizard of Oz, who was from Kansas.

Topeka is used for a few reasons: (1) It is the antithesis of China; (2) on April Fool’s Day 2010, Google posted a tongue-in-cheek item that the mayor of Topeka had announced his city was changing its name to Google and that, therefore, Google was changing its name to Topeka; and (3) Topeka is in Kansas, which is where Dorothy Gale  lived on a farm.

Hecatoncheires means “hundred handed.” These children of Gaea and Uranus in Greek mythology had 50 heads and 100 arms.

Act 4

The Tandyland Quandrant refers to Radio Shack, the original resource for nerds, founded by Charles Tandy.

Cregz Liszt (phoenitically the same as Craig’s List) shares his last name with Franz Liszt, though he played piano, not a Theramin.

Olmian is a reference to the eyeless olm (proteus anguinus): the only troglobitic vertebrate on the European mainland. As one of the symbols of Slovenia, the Olm was featured on some of the country’s coins before they switched to the Euro.

Trending’s last name, Bluffdale, is a reference to Bluffdale, Utah, the site of the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center, led by the NSA.

Lunesta is a prescription sleeping aid. The Deep Think Department references the Deep Think Condition in the virtual world of Second Life: When two objects intersect, the engine doesn’t know how to separate them and goes into a deep, recursive loop.

The name of Cregz’s cat, Shrodinger, is a reference to Schrodinger’s cat, a paradox in which a cat in a sealed box is simultaneously dead and alive. The thought experiment illustrates the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.

The LOLCATS references are all real YouTube videos.

Act 5

Holland Werzlebahkr is inspired by Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, who gained fame as “Joe the Plumber,” during the presidential campaign of 2008 after his name was mentioned 26 times during a debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. Joe was used to represent “the average Joe.”

Candy Lande is inspired by the well-known Milton Bradley game Candy Land.

The 5G is a reference to governmental “G” groups on Earth (i.e., the G7 industrialized nations), as well as Apple’s “generation” designation for PowerPC microprocessors (4G being the state-of-the-art generation of microprocessors at the time Googol, the Musical was written).

Gil Bates is inspired by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Toronto Watson is inspired by the IBM computer that beat the top champions of TV’s popular game show Jeopardy, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, in a special competition broadcast in February 2011 to showcase IBM Deep-Questioning Technology. Although Watson won the challenge, he made a couple of errors that illustrate the power of the human brain over computers. One was that he offered, “What is Toronto?” to an answer referring to U.S. cities. Candy’s nickname for him, Toto, refers to Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) Gale’s dog, Toto.

Tao Jonze references the Chinese philosophy, and his name is the phonetic representation for one of the key U.S. economic indicators: the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Much of what Tao says is part of the Tao Te Ching.

Bill Gates was quoted as once saying, “Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana.”

According to media, Larry Page (from whom Mickey Wittgen is inspired) is an aficionado of Legos plastic building blocks.

Act 6

IMB's Watson was programmed to say, “I’ll take a guess” when he competed on Jeopardy.

Heathrohare Astroport is a marriage of two of Earth’s busiest airports: Heathrow in London and O’Hare in Chicago.

Apparently missing the point that tragedy makes a great story, Taylor Swift said this when comparing her song “Love Story” to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: "[Romeo and Juliet] could have been the best love story ever told. And it is one of the best love stories ever told, but it’s a tragedy. I thought, ‘Why can’t you make it a happy ending and turn it into a marriage proposal?”

Act 7

Here are some of the connections between James Bond and reggae: Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond novels on his estate in Jamaica, the home of reggae music. Sean Connery, the original Bond actor, had a home in the Bahamas. Many Bond film scenes were shot in the Caribbean; the iconic scene in Dr. No in which Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) emerges from the ocean was shot in Ochos Rios. James Kornecook, under the name James Bond, has hosted On the Reggae Jam, a weekly radio show in Montreal.

In a January 2011 Wired magazine article titled “Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die,” Patton Oswalt coined the term Etewaf to mean Everything That Ever Was — Available Forever.

Schrodinger is a Norwegian forest cat in honor of the Musashis, a feline singing group (four of the five members are Norwegian forest cats) that gained fame from a YouTube video of them singing “Jingle Bells” in 2007.

Act 8

Vice President Al Gore reportedly once said, “The well-informed citizenry is in danger of becoming the well-amused audience.”

UOGUODAGAUO is the backward spelling of the name given to the conference room at Google headquarters.

According to a 2003 profile on, kettle corn and M&Ms are the favorite junk foods of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Toronto Watson’s mention of “jeopardy” is a reference to the TV show in which Watson the computer competed (see Act 5 notes).

Act 9

The 4050 (The Forty Fifty) is a generation beyond the Interstate 405 (called “The Four-O-Five”) n Southern California, which was the site of what was called “Carmageddon” in anticipation of a traffic backup when lanes were closed for construction in July 2011.

Qubit’s Crunch cereal is a reference to a unit of quantum information (a qubit). One would have to “crunch” qubit numbers in analytical equations.

Dud’s Milk is a twist on the popular Milk Duds cinema candy.

Act 10

Suomynona is the backward spelling of Anonymous, the underground internet group known for its “hacktivism.”

Bohr, Fermat, Fuch, Kachurovskii, Mollerup, Pythagoras, Stein, Steiner, and Steinhaus are all names of individuals associated with mathematical theorems.

Notlim Attoris is the backward spelling of Milton Sirotta, who was 9 years old (as Notlim is in this scene) when he coined the word "googol"l for the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes and "googolplex" for “one followed by writing zeroes until you get tired.” Google derived its name from googol, and Googleplex is the company’s headquarters.

Forty-eight people, eight boats, three dogs, and a monkey, as is subsequently explained in Act 11, are the elements of Georges Seurat’s famous painting La Grande Jatte.

Act 11

The number 42 was the ultimate answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The baker and the code that states no one shall speak to the man at the helm are from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. The Rules of the Internet is a list of protocols written by Anonymous (see references for Act 10). And Toronto’s reference to the theory coming to him like it was part of his anatomy refers to the symbol IBM engineers used — 42 colored threads criss-crossing the globe — to represent Watson’s state of thought, as an in-joke reference to the novel by Adams, who may have been referencing The Hunting of the Snark.

In a December 2010 Wired magazine article, Matt Schwartz wrote that when he visited Groupon’s headquarters in Chicago, he saw managers leading new employees through an alternate-reality game that involved cutting open teddy bears with knives.

Tohubohu, derived from biblical Hebrew, means “formless chaos.”

Act 12

In August 2011, researchers at Cornell University rigged a chatbot to create its own conversation with male and female avatars. The AI software learned phrases from conversations it had with humans. The conversation between Toronto and Holland includes verbatim some of the exchange between the avatars.

Bert Lahr played the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz, in which he challenges the Tin Man and Scarecrow with “Put ’em up.” When he goes after Toto, Dorothy hits him on the nose and he begins sobbing and asks if his nose is bleeding.

Act 13

Uncanny Valley is the concept used by Masahiro Mori, a robotics researcher who coined the term to describe a time when robots would become hardly distinguishable from humans.

Ittoccuz Krap is the backward spelling of Zuccotti Park in New York City, which became famous as the primary site of the Occupy Wall Street protest.

As described by George Dyson (son of Freeman Dyson and author of Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe), MANIAC was the nickname given to one of the first computers, built at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in the 1950s (MANIAC is an apparent twist on the ENIAC computer built at the University of Pennsylvania in 1943). Its dimensions were 32 x 32 x 40 bits (five kilobytes). MANIAC was part of a project by a group of scientists funded by the U.S. government to conduct hydrogen-bomb calculations. The group included Johnny and Klari von Neumann, Julian Bigelow, and Nil Barricelli. As a side project, they did manage to predict weather for the Northern Hemisphere.

According to the Infinite Monkey Theorem, a monkey hitting keys at random on a keyboard for an infinite amount of time will replicate the complete works of Shakespeare. In 2011, a senior software developer in Nevada used Amazon’s cloud computer to create virtual monkeys that were able to replicate strings of characters (ignoring space and punctuation) in Shakespeare’s poem A Lover’s Complaint in about 45 days.

Act 14

A September 2009 article about Craigslist stated that Craig Newmark had a shower with strong water pressure.

Act 15

Guy is inspired by Guy Fawkes, whose visage became the signature mask for members of the hacking group Anonymous (see reference in Act 10).

“Nothing is sacred” is Rule 42 of the Internet.

Act 16

UVB-76 was a shortwave radio station that broadcast a monotonous buzz tone (occasionally interrupted by a Russian voice) that gathered a following from people who stumbled upon it and became intrigued by what it could mean.

The first three spies mentioned are real; the rest are fictional characters from television and film

Act 17

MARFLOW is the backward spelling of Wolfram, a reference to Mathematica creator Stephen Wolfram.

Act 19

Judge Thetford Payne is inspired by political activist Thomas Paine, who was born in Thetford, England. In recognition of his role in the American Revolution, the state of New York gave him a residence in New Rochelle, thus the name of Thetford Payne’s wife: Rochelle.

Bryan Berke is inspired by Williams Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow’s opponent in the famous Scopes evolution trial and British writer Edmund Burke, who, incidentally, was tried in absentia, for seditious libel after an attack by Thomas Paine. Paine wrote

Spencer Darro inspired by Clarence Darrow and Spencer Tracy, who portrayed a character based on Clarence Darrow in Inherit the Wind.

Io/Ioans is similar to Ohio, a political bellwether state for U.S. politics.

Synecdoche is a Greek term meaning “simultaneous understanding.” The Wikipedia entry for Holland refers to synecdoche as applicable to Holland being considered a part of The Netherlands.

Samsing Kowiskiewazenburgerowski is inspired by Shaileshkumar “Sam” Jain, a fugitive wanted for making millions of dollars selling fake malware. Samsing is, of course, the present tense of Samsung, the maker of electronics and a major player in the smartphone industry.

Act 21

Orson Swelle is inspired by Orson Welles, perhaps best remembered for producing, directing and narrating/starring in the radio drama The War of the Worlds, based on H.G. Wells’ novel of the same name.

Act 22

Quotes in Spencer Darro’s closing argument were made, coincidentally, by Clarence Darrow in his own defense when he was tried for bribery.

Website Builder