Question: Those pictures
of Axon Spardoze on this site--it's really hard to make out his features. Do you
have a nicer photo of him to post here? Is Mostly Water his only book?
What personal information do you have about him?
Answer: I will turn this question over to Mr. Spardoze himself, who wrote
this response and sent this picture:
This is Axon Spardoze, editor-in-chief of Mr. Eha's Place. I include this
recent 'photo' of 'myself.' (I know of at least one Freddyite who will appreciate
this.) My picture on the dust jacket of my magnum opus (and only published
work) Mostly Water goes back to the early 1970s when I was 20 pounds lighter,
had a lot more hair, and was in a bad mood most of the time, despite being lighter
and hairier, because I was too unenlightened to appreciate how almost everything
is too vastly comical for words. After I discovered this simple truth, I gave
up my career as a serious writer and now spend most of my time enjoying the simple
things. Some of my friends tell me that I lack a serious purpose in life, but
how can I take that criticism seriously? I am a lot happier than all of
them put together! Have you ever had to be around someone with 'serious purpose'
for more than 15 minutes. I mean, don't you start looking for the emergency exit?
Yes, I suppose I am serious now and then--one has to be, doesn't one--but I do
my best to keep it to a minimum.
As far as personal information, I am a temporary assemblage of the elements which
made its debut a little more than 55 years ago. I grew up in a town a great deal
like old Centerboro from what I've been told. I have sold shoes, vacuum cleaners,
and fish bait, worked in a die-casting factory, kept the grounds for rich people,
filled propane tanks, and done other less noble, but completely legal things for
money. My hobbies include wilderness camping, canoeing, snow shoeing, reading
for free in chain bookstores, astronomy, birding, and doing computer odds and
ends for less technically capable folks like our mutual acquaintance Edward, a.k.a.
'Mr. Eha.' Once in a while I will fly a kite, too. I have been a practicing
Bokononist since 1975. By the way, unlike Edward, I have actually enjoyed the
Freddy books I've read and may even show up at one of those Friends of
Freddy conventions some year if they promise me safe passage. I believe this is
everything anyone would want or need to know about me. Sincerely, Axon Spardoze"
Has Centerboro changed very much over the years? In the series it seems
like it never changes.
remember that the series is fiction, and the Centerboro of the Freddy books
is not the real Centerboro, New York, any more than the "Mr. Eha" of the
Freddy books is like me. I have gathered together a series of
images of downtown Centerboro from about the same vantage point looking east to
illustrate the changes that the town has undergone over the years. After the late
1950s and early 1960s, the soul of Centerboro became less and less important to
the Philistines who have run the town, and it became progressively more and more...well,
wretched and hideous. The last two images are of present day Centerboro taken
February 16, 2001. Quite a diminished vista, isn't it?
Centerboro a long, long
time ago. That is a horse-drawn trolley you see.
Centerboro a long time ago...a
dingy upstate New York town waiting for its glory days
Centerboro, early last century...
A bit later...I believe this
picture represents the middle of Centerboro's golden age.
As of 2/16/01: the result of
the uglification of Centerboro by the urban renewal half-wits and imbeciles of
Another view from the other
side of Main Street...the vulgar, ill-conceived mall is in clear view.
Short Answers to Infrequently
- Dear J. F.: I think your
contention that Mr. Brooks promulgated anti-Christian ideas because he named his
dragon "Beelzebub" is one of the most completely asinine ideas, if you can even
dignify it as an idea, that I've ever heard. Although I would be glad to see every
copy of Dragon shredded into small pieces and thrown into a good stiff
wind because of its stale and worthless plot and characters, I would be even gladder
to personally sell it from street corners just to spite the likes of a half-witted,
dim-bulb rube like you.
- My new Sea Monkey®
colony is doing well, thank you.
- No, I don't think that
George Orwell based his Animal Farm character Moses on Mr. Brooks's Ferdinand.
- As far as I know, the
Beans never set foot in Florida before they retired there after the big fire.
- I do not know the exact
length of Mr. Boomschmidt's Willy. In Perilous a claim of 30 feet is made,
but Leo says it's 15 feet in Piper and in Men from Mars it is also
15 feet. Offhand, I don't know if any other references to Willy's length exist.
You should contact the scholars at the Freddy mailing list and pose the
question there. There seems to be a lack of conversation there lately, but then
there almost always is.
- Dear T. E.: It's just
another small, irritating inconsistency. In Baseball, it's Miss McMinnickle
who lives down the road from the Beans. In Dictator, it's Miss McMinickle,
a difference of one n. In Spaceship it's Mrs. McMinnickle.
The variant spellings could be just typos in the editions we possess. (Typos
are not all that uncommon. For example, Mr. Weezer is called "Weeser" in the sixth
printing of News. On page four of the first edition of Rides Again,
"sleeping" is "sleepng.") However, the Miss-Mrs. business probably arises
from Brooksian lapses of attention.
- Why is Simon's wife never
mentioned though his children and grandchildren are? I haven't a clue.
- Dear J. R.: I think Mr.
Brooks had a soft spot for fireflies, too. I recollect in Politician that
the little fellows are employed to light up the Wiggins campaign parade (although
they are eaten up by birds at Grover's command, which makes them and Zero the
horsefly the only beings killed outright in the series). In Weedly they
light the way for Jinx, Robert, and Georgie as they search for Weedly in the woods.
In Camping, they are enlisted along with crickets, grasshoppers, and centipedes
to torment "Mr. Eha." They pop up elsewhere in the series as well. Now, to your
other question--even though I do not possess a college degree, my common sense
tells me that a proposal for a Masters thesis on the role of insects in the Freddy
series probably will be roundly rejected by your committee...exactly as
it should be.
- Dear L. W.: I did a little
research and found that the movie Bird of Paradise (in which a native girl
falls for a foreign visitor to her island shortly before she is to be sacrificed
to the volcano god)) was actually released in 1932. There was a remake of this
C- movie in 1951. In Popinjay (1945), Brooks gives us the detail that this
movie is newly released. He must be referring to the 1932 film, of course. So,
to your question: does this fix Popinjay's setting in 1932? No, it does
not. See the Chronology Chart in FAQ #23 for