FAQ #31

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:

"Greetings. 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.
"Axon Spardoze"
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"

Question: Has Centerboro changed  very much over the years? In the series it seems like it never changes.
Please 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, long, long ago

Centerboro long ago

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 1900s

Centerboro in its golden age

Centerboro, early last century... 

A bit later...I believe this picture represents the middle of Centerboro's golden age.


Today's hideous Centerboro

Another view of Centerboro's present-day ugliness

As of 2/16/01: the result of the uglification of Centerboro by the urban renewal half-wits and imbeciles of the 1970s

Another view from the other side of Main Street...the vulgar, ill-conceived mall is in clear view.


Short Answers to Infrequently Asked Questions

  • 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 my reasoning.

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