Poetry in Motion: Phrases From “Gravity’s Rainbow” Reapplied to LeBron James


Since its publication in 1973, Thomas Pynchon’s acclaimed novel Gravity’s Rainbow has been a marvel of verbiage which has delighted and perplexed all who dare crack its pages.  Most startling of all are new revelations that some of the book’s most artful and curious phrases bare striking parallels to the inner life of Lebron James, a twenty-eight year old professional basketball sensation who has been named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player four times, yet has hosted the ESPY Awards only once.  The glossary that follows seeks to clarify these long-rumored correlations, and to further unify the worlds of sport and experimental postmodern fiction. 

For more on the inventive terms utilized in the works of Pynchon, visit the amazing pynchonwiki.com, which can be credited with all page numbers cited and exegesis of select phrases below.  For more on Lebron James, visit anyone in a bar.

Abreaction (pg. 48, 139)

PYNCHON: A neurotic sensation caused by reliving a traumatic event or recalling repressed memories (in Rainbow‘s case, that of bomb detonations).

LEBRON: Scientific name for the act of “flopping” (in which a basketball player exaggerates an opponent’s physical contact to draw a foul) when one’s stomach is grazed.

“Aromatic Rings” (249-250, 412, 413, 576)

PYNCHON: The cryptic composition of Imipolex G, a sweet-smelling chemical compound used to construct mysterious devices within a top secret rocket.

LEBRON: The state of James’s championship-commemorating finger jewelry, after dipping his fingers daily in ceremonial “Pixy Stix” flavored sugar.

Badass, U.S.S. John E. (388-389, 594, 623)

PYNCHON: Destroyer on which the character of Pig Bodine (an “avatar” of Pynchon who has appeared in nearly all of his books) is stationed.

LEBRON: James’s preferred moniker when introduced at charity events and children’s birthdays.


Custodian of the Night (434)

PYNCHON: The concept of an uncaring universe in which one is small and insignificant.  Alternately depicted as “smooth-faced”, “neutral”, “coiled” and “pale”.

LEBRON: An oversized cashier’s check for $15,000, presented by James after each Heat home game to the janitor displaying “the most hustle”.

“Deuce-and-a-half” (313)

PYNCHON: Nickname for the ten-wheel Army vehicle M35A2.

LEBRON: A “Triple Double” tragically interrupted by a halftime bathroom break gone awry.

Disgusting English Candy Drill (116)

PYNCHON: See “Meggazone [Pynchon listing]”.

LEBRON: Informal term for a Miami Heat practice squad drill in which players dribble down the court while a giggling James paints their bodies with warm toffee.  For more on James’ candy-on-skin fetish, see: “Aromatic Rings [Lebron listing]”.

Domina Nocturna (232)

PYNCHON: Dominatrix whose abuses toward a willing Brigadier Pudding garner funding for illicit wartime operations.

LEBRON: Latin moniker for the sidelined night light kept aglow throughout all night games on James’ behalf.

Glacists (73)

PYNCHON: “Lords of the winter”, technicians able to interpret secret codes engrained in ice.

LEBRON: Portmanteau of “glacial” and “racists” used to describe prejudiced-yet-vision impaired senior citizens who would abhor James were they able to deduce his ethnicity.


James Jello (698)

PYNCHON: A fun-loving, buffoonish peripheral character, dubbed the “King of Bohemian clowns”.

LEBRON: What James calls Jello.

King’s Evil (119)

PYNCHON: Colloquialism for scrofula, a cheese-like tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands, allegedly cured by the royal touch in days of yore.

LEBRON: His sinister twin brother, Exxon James, notorious for mischievously posing as his brother during pivotal game time sequences.

Meggezone (118)

PYNCHON: A popular-if-intense British cough drop (containing menthol, peppermint, chloroform, Benzoin, and liquorice pastille basis) consumed by protagonist Slothrop during one of his many sexual conquests.

LEBRON: Any and all sections of the court behind the three-point line.  “Don’t let me get in my Meggezone”, warned James during a recent interview with n+1.

Lloyd Nipple (374)

PYNCHON: A shadowy figure recalled from Slothrop’s childhood.

LEBRON: Chronic skin ailment in which one’s chest chafes under an overly tight jersey.  Named after Earl Lloyd, the NBA’s first African-American player.


Operation: Backfire (277, 526, 709)

PYNCHON: Codename for a British military faction enlisted to retrieve missing rockets.

LEBRON: Boasting about one’s prowess during a game one goes on to lose.  See: Verbindungsman. Additionally attributed to select “behind-the-back” passes, alley oops, and whimsical over-the-shoulder foul shots.

Poisson Distribution (55, 85-86, 171, 173)

PYNCHON: The confluence of locations in which a) a bomb hit London, b) Slothrop engages in sexual activity, and/or c) a child is born during the Blitz.

LEBRON: Popular Miami sushi restaurant.  James’ preferred postgame dining excursion.

Puke-a-Hook-a-Look-i Island (635, 692)

PYNCHON: Hawaiian setting of a popular WWII-era sitcom.

LEBRON: Informal name given to a stadium section housing masochistic Heat season ticket holders who strive to distract James during crucial plays.  Recently demolished to accommodate an in-arena Jamba Juice.

Quimporto (615)

PYNCHON: The favorite cocktail of minor character Sir Marcus Scammony.  A mixture of quinine, beef-tea and port, served with a dash of Coca Cola and a peeled onion.

LEBRON: The favorite cocktail of minor character and power forward Chris “Birdman” Andersen.  A mixture of quinine, beef-tea and port, served with a dash of Coca Cola and a peeled onion.


“Screen door salesman” (447, 665)

PYNCHON: The buffoonish, laissez-faire husband of a woman depicted in Slothrop’s recurring dream.

LEBRON: One who sets a running pick for a teammate, preferably while wearing an old-fashioned suit and tie.  “Heavens, Juwon, you looked like a screen door salesman in those Gabardine slacks,” said Udonis with a wry smirk.

Snipe and Shaft (19, 21)

PYNCHON: The name of one of Slothrop’s favorite taverns.

LEBRON: Nicknames of endearment bestowed upon Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh during a postseason voyage to Six Flags Great Adventure.

Verbindungsman (344)

PYNCHON: German phrase to describe one who acts as a go-between or liaison.

LEBRON: Trash talk learned from players who venture overseas to once Germanic nation states, literally translating to “verbal dung”.

Zwitter (313)

PYNCHON: Last name of a trusted Intelligence squad guidance expert.

LEBRON: A portmanteau of “zooted” and “Twitter”.  Social media as used while possibly under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a candy bath.  See below.



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