Clothing is coated with formaldehyde to make them "wrinkle free". Formaldehyde is also used to preserve corpses. Most people are familiar with the miasma from frog dissection in high school biology.
The Thug, here rendered in fuchsia and optical green
That is, looking a lot like the Hulk.
a mural-size screen grab from the opening of The Letter (1940) in which Bette Davis is pretending to pump six rounds into...
Image and film info at allmovie. Bette comes out with gun blazing at 1:18 into this clip.
Supporting actor turned makeup artist. IMDB makes it appear he spent much of his career being uncredited for his work.
It's what, legal in Utah for three people to get married?
Despite being illegal, in Utah today, those living in polygamist families number about 40,000 people(about 1.4 percent of the population). Polygamists are difficult to prosecute because many only seek marriage licenses for their first marriage, while the other marriages are secretly conducted in private ceremonies. Thereafter, secondary wives attempt to be seen in public as single women with children.
A bad pun on The Mafia... "Muff" is slang for pussy etc.
Donna non vidi mai
Tenor aria from Act 1 of Puccini's Manon Lescaut. A love-at-first-sight soliloquy. Pynchon referenced the Act 3 tenor solo in Chapter 3 of V.
the high-muzzle-velocity law firm of Hanover, Fisk
Hand over fist.
New Zealand kauri
WIKI tells us kauri forests are some of the oldest in the world, that individual trees often live longer than 600 years, and that they are very large trees with volumes, but not heights, often rivaling sequoias.
A real law firm in Washington, DC.
Mannlicher-Carcano . . . Jackie and I were dear friends
A Mannlicher-Carcano is the type of rifle Lee Harvey Oswald used to assassinate John F. Kennedy in 1963. Jackie was, as most are aware, JFK's wife and the first lady.
"Jay-Z?" "Well, actually I'm more of a Nas person. As you may know they're in this feud at the moment, that old Queens-versus-Brooklyn thing again, hate to take sides, but---"The World Is Yours," how can anything even compare?
Probably splitting hairs here, but the feud between Jay-Z and Nas didn't become widely known until Jay-Z's "Takeover" was released on his "Blueprint" album, which came out on September 11. Jay-Z did dis some rappers at the Hot 97 Summer Jam 2001 held in late June, but the hardest hit was Nas' friend and Queens resident Prodigy of Mobb Deep, while Nas was only briefly mentioned. You'd probably had to have been close to the inner circles of these rappers to be conversationally aware of the feud which became heated in the months to come. As for "The World is Yours," reference, I agree with the sentiment, and wonder if it was used since Jay-Z sampled it on "Dead Presidents II" from his 1996 debut album. Anyone else have thoughts on this? H2oetry (talk)h2oetry
Also, it was pretty much universally accepted that Nas won the beef with "Ether," on Stillmatic which would be released in December 2001. Nas's Illmatic, from 1994, is by many, considered the greatest rap record of all time, and extremely rare these days, only contains one guest appearance for a single verse (AZ on "Life's a Bitch"). The above question in regard to the use of "The World is Yours," is indeed possible, though most likely it's used here because the phrase references Scarface, which kind of ties into the theme of this part of the book, I'd say.
like Screamin Jay in Hong Kong
Screamin Jay Hawkins recorded "Hong Kong" (1958), a paranoid & non-sensical lament about being in Hong Kong which ties in with the overriding theme of this rap tune:
jumping to wrong conclusions/old-movie confusions
The "old-movie confusions" are, I think, about caucasian actors playing asian characters, such as in the two films referenced in this tune "The Letter" (1940) where Gale Sondegaard, an American actress born to Danish-American parents, plays the role of Mrs. Hammond, the asian wife of Davis's manservant whom she murders; and "The Bitter Tea of General Yen" (1933) where all the asian characters are played by europeans. (Yes, Pynchon has "General Yan" but this covers both an anime character and the 1933 film.) Also, there's also the mention of Charlie Chan, where Warner Oland plays the role of Chan.
yo, who be dat Scandinavian brand of Azian
Why, it's Gale Sondegaard, of course!
ya dig wid some Sigrid be the daughter of Kublai Khan...
Sigrid is a queen appearing in Norse sagas as wife, first of Eric the Victorious of Sweden, then Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark. . Kublai Khan was the fifth Khagan (Great Khan) of the Mongol Empire, reigning from 1260 to 1294, and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty, a division of the Mongol Empire.
Warner Oland, Charlie Chan
Warner Oland (October 3, 1879 – August 6, 1938) was a Swedish American actor most remembered for his screen role as the detective Charlie Chan. So yet another caucasian playing an asian, this time a private eye.
General Yan bitter tea
As mentioned above, likely a double reference: 1) General Yan, the former Commander-in-Chief of the GHQ in the Guilty Crown anime franchise, and 2) "The Bitter Tea of General Yen” , a 1933 film directed by Frank Capra where most of the asian actors are played by caucasians. A fan-made trailer:
for her stupidity pullin rank Bette Davis shanked by Gale Sondergaard
Reference to "The Letter" , an American noir film directed by William Wyler, where Bette Davis in the role of Leslie Crosbie is the social superior to Gale Sondegaard's Mrs. Hammond who is the wife of Davis's manservant and lover whom Davis murders. "Pullin rank" could also be a double entendre, as Davis was the lead actress and Sondegaard the supporting actress. In "The Letter" Davis's character is stabbed (shanked - prison-yard slang) by Sondegaard's character. Here's the trailer for "The Letter":
Like they was on the yard or down in some forgotten cell
A prison yard, of course.
far, far from the corner of Mott and Pell
The heart of New York City's chinatown.  Indeed they are very far away as "The Letter" takes place in Malaya.
chomping into it and scattering crumbs... Grabbing another, two or three actually
Chandler Platt has become the Cookie Monster.
as Larry Talbot into the Wolf Man
Larry Talbot was the main character of the 1941 film The Wolf Man.
Trivia alert. Lon Chaney, Jr. played Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man. Though Chaney, Jr. was in a fair number of monster movies, contrary to what Warren Zevon unintentionally may have caused us to believe, he was never in a film titled "The Werewolves of London." The 1935 film Werewolf of London starred Henry Hull.
Term for a certain type of character found in literature, especially the works of 19th century France. WIKI tells us "Drawing on Fournel, and on his analysis of the poetry of Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin described the flâneur as the essential figure of the modern urban spectator, an amateur detective and investigator of the city. More than this, his flâneur was a sign of the alienation of the city and of capitalism. For Benjamin, the flâneur met his demise with the triumph of consumer capitalism."