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FAQ #26

Question: In a small town like Centerboro there are probably many interrelated families. I notice a similarity between you and Mr. Bean. Are the Beans and Andersons by any chance related?
Answer: No, certainly not. Even though I faintly resemble William in a most superficial way owing to our beards, the Andersons and the Beans are not related except in the most general sense of being human. You will note, immediately I hope, that I have a nobler and more intelligent brow. Even though William's is obscured by his hat, you can see the distinct tapering of his noggin. I believe I also possess a fuller, much more pleasant visage.


Me

A tiny me
William

A tiny William Bean

 

Question: Most of us can guess what your least objectionable Freddy book is, but do you have a favorite illustration?
Answer: Yes, I do. This illustration evokes the pleasures of canoeing on Oteseraga Lake quite well, an activity which Mrs. U. and I still pursue. Once again I must apologize for the poor image. If any of you would like to assist in my obtaining a decent scanner, I urge you to petition the Friends of Freddy to establish a fund for that purpose. Perhaps they could take up a special collection at one of their conventions.

My favorite Freddy illustration

Question: That number 783 seems to keep coming up at your site and in your communications to us "Freddyites." What is its significance? Is there any significance?
Answer: I'm not completely sure. I've wondered about this matter myself from time to time. Here are some facts and connections to consider:

  1. For one, in millions of kilometers, the mean distance between Mars and Earth is 78.3.
  2. Also, before I became health-conscious, I weighed a robust 208.8 pounds (at my very largest), and under Martian gravity, I would have weighed only 78.3 pounds!
  3. I use the excellent product "783 Marine Cable Coat," a biodegradable, noncontaminating, environmentally acceptable cablespray, to keep from rusting the guywires that steady my roof-mounted antenna with which I scan for Martian emanations.
  4. I note that in the 1990 Idaho Census, "other race" accounted for 29,783 (or 3%) of residents of that state. I believe that these 783 residents are members of a Martian enclave hiding out in a sparsely populated state where their activities would go largely unnoticed. (Similarly, the 1990 Census reveals that the population of Chicago was 2,783,726. The living conditions in Chicago, especially in the winter months, would be particularly suited to the Martian physiology, which has evolved to be cold-resistent and to actually enjoy harsh winds. However, I do not believe that there could be over 783,000 Martians in Chicago. They are much more likely to live in a small colony in a remote and secluded section of Idaho.)  Also, if you wade through the data on the following officer of a national Mensa group, you will discover the insidious 783 once again: "Austria, (P), CEO: Rudolf Challupner, Mensa Oesterreich, Stofling 13 A-4850, Timlekam, Austria, (43) 732 56442 250; FAX: (43) 732 56441 783."  I have frequently thought of the Mensans as other-worldly, especially with respect to their overly high regard for their own brains, and I believe that because of the occurrence of "783" in their FAX number, the Austrian national chapter surely must be the one with the largest number of Martian members, perhaps even 783.
  5. Finally, as you probably already know, United States Code Title 50, War and Nation Defense Chapter 23, Internal Security Subchapter I, Control of Subversive Activities Sec. 783 deals with (among other things) offenses relating to the communication of classified information by government officers or employees. I have a feeling that somehow this section is what keeps the government from admitting that I am right about The Truth™ or even acknowledging that I exist!
  6. Then, too, there was this from Book Rescue's website, and I quote: "Brooks, Walter R.; The Story Of Freginald. Knopf, 1936, First Printing, Near Fine brown cloth picture cover hardback, Illustrated by Kurt Wiese. ... $783." This was the old price for at least a couple of years up until 6/2/00 or thereabouts (the last time I looked) . On 6/7/00 it was pointed out at the Freddy mailing list that this price had just increased to $862. I make no comment. I merely present a "783" fact.
  7. It is another fact that Axon Spardoze's novel Mostly Water contains 783 pages of text, excluding the preface, glossary, and appendices. Mr. Spardoze is, of course, the editor-in-chief of Eha Industries Incorporated Publications.
  8. One of my numerologist readers (G.L.) points out that if you factor 783 into its primes you get (3 x 3 x 3 x 29). Then if you add the factors you get 38. And then if you add the digits of 38 you get 11, which is a pleasing and elegant prime number as well as a good number to roll when playing dice. He also points out that if you add 783 + 1265 (the selling price of the lot of 19 Freddy volumes on eBay on June 7) + 42 (see below), you get 2090. Adding the digits together, once again you produce 11. However, this strikes me as simple-minded mathematical folderol and largely irrelevant. Irrelevant, too, is a fact pointed out by a librarian reader: 783 in the Dewey Decimal classification system points to music for a single voice.
  9. Another reader (K.P.) asks if there is a connection between 783 and the well-known "42" (see above). I do know that the number of dots on a pair of dice adds up to 42, and you can weakly connect 783 with dicing, but other than that, I simply don't know.  I am looking into it, and so can you at the Deep Thought site. Just click the image below.

42, 42, 42...

I think that about covers it for now. I leave it to the mentally nimble among you to sort out these data and reach whatever conclusion(s) you can.

Question: What do you do with all that money you make on your Internet Yard Sales--like the $89,000 you got for the original Frankenstein poster?
Answer: I discharged several business-related debts, paid back a number of personal loans, and took Mrs. U. out to dinner (my treat). Also, I have launched an expensive, altruistic, and so far unsuccessful campaign in Albany to make the Martian the official New York State extraterrestrial. I figure if--or I should say when--we cease to amuse the Martians, and they decide to do some "rafter cleaning," perhaps they will spare the Empire State if it has honored them with such an official designation. That's Plan A. If my campaign fails, Plan B will be to persuade Oteseraga County to insulate itself against a Martian attack by declaring May 28 a countywide Martian holiday complete with speeches, parades, a fair, a new Miss Flying Saucer contest, etc. (In case you've forgotten, May 28 was the date in 1955 of the big Mars vs Tushville baseball game.) I wanted to purchase a nice scanner, too, but there isn't enough money left.

Question: Axon Spardoze mentions on your site that he may attend the FoF convention sometime. I have read through Mostly Water several times, and I would like to personally question him about several passages that are quite puzzling to me--especially the one in which the neo-anabaptists suddenly decide to move from Newnewingland to the ruins of Calgary in 2349 A.D.
Answer: I don't know what his schedule is. Though Axon Spardoze is the editor-in-chief of EHA Industries, I have never personally met the man. He and I struck up a conversation somewhere or other on the Internet--I think it may have been in a chat devoted to the author Russell Hoban--and one thing led to another. We maintain an e-mail correspondence, but do not plan to meet any time soon. If you want to find out about his attendance at the convention, you'll have to ask him. A word of advice: he doesn't cotton to being personally questioned about his literary output.

Question: I am forwarding an image of the back cover of The Clockwork Twin which I downloaded from eBay. The top illustration shows Byram and Adoniram. That "mysterious" Wiese illustration you have in "More and More and More Pictures" seems to be related to the series, but the boys look taller and lankier (i.e., more adolescent) in Clockwork than in the mystery illustration. As there is no episode in Clockwork that even remotely corresponds to the mystery illustration, could it be an illustration for an episode cut from the book, do you think? (F.B.)
Answer: Dear F. B., Yes, it could be. Those towheaded rustics in both illustrations can be none other than Byram and Adoniram. In Clockwork they are adolescent gawks. In the mystery illustration, they have yet to evolve out of the scamp or rascal stage of development.

 
Old Clockwork cover
The mystery illustration, again

Short Answers to Infrequently Asked Questions

  • No, Sniffy Wilson was not always a "good guy." In Clockwork, for instance, he is a suspected killer and eater of one of Cackletta's little sisters. Why would he be a suspect if there were not some reason for it?
  • I seem to recollect that Bill Wonks had been a clown before becoming a driver. He wasn't a very good clown as he lacked enthusiasm and the knack for exaggeration. Mr. Wonks was much better suited to sitting way up there on a wagon where he didn't have to interact with people much.
  • Yes, in Freddy Plays Football, Uncle Solomon does say that the only rhyme for "cousins" is "dozens."  Well, Uncle Solomon does not specify one or two syllable rhymes, so he is not correct. Off the top of my head, here are five rhymes for "cousins": raisins, blazons, boatswains, Texans, and resins. However, if you restrict the rhyming to two syllable double rhymes, why then Uncle Solomon is correct. And I don't know what he would have come up with for "orange." I can't think of any authentic English word that would rhyme with it, can you?
  • From what I understand, William Bean's parents were odd ducks indeed, and it is a fact that Mr. Brooks refers to a real circumstance in William's life when in Freddy and the Spaceship he describes the chubby, scared-looking young William's being attired in a plaid dress. (For a Bean family album picture of little William in his dress, click here: The Ultimate Picture Page.) I know that there were some hard feelings between William and Brooks for a time after the publication of Spaceship, but that didn't last for long. Brooks resumed his visits to the Bean farm and even finished writing Simon the Dictator there. There's a line in that book that says "...a Mr. Brooks, the official historian of the Bean farm, ...occasionally came out and spent a week or so at the farmhouse." With respect to that other question you asked, no, I don't believe there was any "hanky-panky" between William and Minerva Camphor. Minerva was, shall we say, a confirmed bachelorette.
  • No, S.C., the glass eye did not sell at my Clinton Street yard sale. It's one of the few things that didn't. And I won't be selling it to you or anyone else now as I have decided to keep it handy in case I ever need to present a third eye to impress a Martian.

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