ALL HOPE ABANDON
In Dante's Divine Comedy, the sign above the entrance to hell reads, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."
some modest vig
Vigorish, or simply the vig, also known as juice, the cut or the take, is the amount charged by a bookmaker, or bookie, for his services. From WIKI.
Hungarian Pastry Shop
See page 4 of The Crying of Lot 49 to hear about the time when a thin-skinned Mucho Mass was offended at a party by a Hungarian pastry chef, a man who may or may not have used the word "creampuff" maliciously.
before either of them knows it, it's turning into morning talk-show TV
A similar experience to how some readers find much of the novel?
"Something about [...] "...vertical hoop, high percentage of fouls, some of them flagrant, usually fatal?"
Maxine's description is actually pretty accurate:
"One of the ways that the Mayan peoples competed against each other was by playing what has been called the Ball Game. They used a rubber ball, about 20 inches in diameter, to play the Game, which was played on a stone "court" whose measurements varied. The court had walls that sloped inward, and hanging high on the walls were stone rings. The goal of the game was to pass the ball around, without having it touch your hands, and then get the ball to pass through one of the rings. Since the rings were so high and players were not allowed to use their hands, it was extremely difficult to get the ball through a ring. In fact, when a player did manage to get a ball through a ring, that usually ended the game. The game ended otherwise when the ball touched the ground. The Mayan Ball Game was a solemn experience, filled with ritual importance. Religious leaders attended, as did most chieftains and other government leaders. Sacred songs were sung and played. Other religious activities took place as well. The winners of the game were treated as heroes and given a great feast. The penalty for losing a game was sometimes unusually harsh: death. The leader of the team who lost the game was sometimes killed. This fit in with the Mayan belief that human sacrifice was necessary for the continued success of the peoples' agriculture, trade, and overall health." The "Mayan Ball Game" was a feature of the underworld death court Xibalba:
"Xibalba was home of a famous ballcourt in which the heroes of the Popol Vuh succumbed to the trickery of the Xibalbans in the form of a deadly, bladed ball, as well as the site in which the Maya Hero Twins outwitted the Xibalbans and brought about their downfall."
In the highlands of Guatemala, was a Pre-Columbian Mayan city.
Wikipedia: "roughly translated as "place of fear", Xibalba is the name of the underworld in K'iche' Maya mythology, ruled by the Maya death gods and their helpers. In 16th-century Verapaz, the entrance to Xibalba was traditionally held to be a cave in the vicinity of Cobán, Guatemala. According to some of the K'iche' Maya presently living in the vicinity, the area is still associated with death. Cave systems in nearby Belize have also been referred to as the entrance to Xibalba."
"Leave if you can"
de Guatemala a Guatepeor
figuratively speaking, "out of the frying pan into the fire"