Page Three

Dear Chris,
      Did I read somewhere that Ubsk has a reindeer rendering plant?  Now why would anyone want to render reindeer? I mean, did I miss something somewhere?
Puzzled in Runnamuck

Dear Puzzled,
      You have posed some really scientific questions and I wish I had some really scientific answers, but I don't.

Dear Chris,
      That Pavel Bublev is a fraud!  He sat next to me at State Nursery School No. 20127 and he used to steal Tasha Sobotnikova's playdough. Also he messed up one of my finger paintings one time and put a lizard in my cabbage soup. Please look into this for me.
Waiting for Justice

Dear Waiting,
      You certainly have brought up some really scientific points that deserve close scrutiny. Unfortunately, I have never been good at scrutiny, so I will have to pass on this question.

Dear Chris,
      What if a primate went back in time and pushed his great-grandfather off the top of a very tall tree so that he accidentally plummeted into a peat swamp and drowned before he had produced any offspring?  Wouldn't that be like some kind of a wierd paradox or something?
Really curious

Dear Really,
      Boy, the Scientific Standards Department has been doing a great job screening these Really Scientific Letters, and yours is one of the best I've seen so far.  The question you pose is one that involves dialectical physics, and I'm afraid that it's a bit too scientific for me.  Sorry.

NOOZ:  “Hello?”
Caller: (Coughing noises).
NOOZ:  “Hellooo?”
Caller: (More coughing noises).  “Uh, greetings.”
NOOZ:  “Yeah, greetings to you too, you big lug.  Now who the hell are you and what do you want?”
Caller:  “My name is Fyodor Maximovitch Butynski and I've never told anyone my middle name before. Even when I was in the Peter and Paul Prison and they forced me to eat all that cabbage soup.”
NOOZ:  “Why's that?”
Caller:  “My father was Maxim Butynski, the Butcher of Ubsk.  That's why I work out there, you know.  To erase the dreadful guilt.”
NOOZ:  “Your father killed people?”
Caller:  “No, he was a butcher.  He sold bad meat. People in Ubsk were always getting sick.”
NOOZ:  “Really.”
Caller:  “Oh yes.”
NOOZ:  “So where do we go from here?  What do you want to talk about?”
Caller:  “My association with Hellmouth goes back a long ways.”
NOOZ:  “Does it now?”
Caller:  “Yes.  I was a student there at the Sigsbee Junior Night College.”
NOOZ:  “Is that right?”
Caller:  “Yes.  And I worked summers as a docent at the Hellmouth Municipal Zoo and Exotic Animal Crematorium.”
NOOZ:  “Did you now?”
Caller:  “Yes.  And I did some research on bluenosed sakis with Dr. Dick Doody at the Human Diseases and Primate Testing Facility.”
NOOZ:  “No.”
Caller:  “Yes.  But people rarely paid any attention to me in those days.”
NOOZ:  “Uh-huh.”
Caller:  “Things are certainly a lot different now.”
NOOZ:  “Listen, this is all very well, but what did you call about?”
Caller:  “Don't get snippety with me, young man.  I don't care for your tone of voice.  Why, in my day if you took that tone, you were likely to just disappear.  So you better watch it.”
NOOZ:  “Sorry.”
Caller:  “OK, that's all I wanted to say.”
NOOZ:  “Thanks for the call.”

    By Eric Scotmeister Fleiglehaus
Greetings from Ubsk!  You probably don't even know where Ubsk is, but that doesn't matter since I do, and I'm here.  So sit back in your favorite chair, kick off your shoes, grab a Guinness and enjoy, because this is my.....“Report from the Field.”
I arrived here last Tuesday at the Ubsk Primate Recovery Centre near Pomsk and not so very far from Bobinsk.  This is where the bluetails from the uranium mine come to be rehabilitated after being down in the eternal cold and dark of five hundred feet underground.  This is also where Dr. Fyodor Butynski has for the past twelve years been directing the Ubsk-Karchinksy Bluetail Artificial Burrow Project to determine whether African bluetails can be trained to mine for dangerous minerals.  The punishing 12-hour train ride in hard class from Pomsk to Ubsk, during which every one of my suitcases burst open, was of such a violent nature that it caused me for the first time to wonder just what the hell I thought I was doing with these “Reports.”  I mean, who am I kidding?  Does anybody really read them?  I lost consciousness somewhere between the fifth and sixth hour, being thus mercifully released from the necessity of remembering the latter half of the journey.  And when I finally got to Ubsk, all there was there was the uranium mine, a reindeer rendering plant, a store that usually only sells cabbage and used batteries, the railroad station, a nightclub called the Fox and Lemming, and a prison.
      I had to walk down a long, muddy and heavily-rutted road to reach Dr. Butynski's office, while a couple of aging politicals slaved obsequiously over my luggage, cursing under their breath in some obscure Uzbek dialect. I was assigned a room and given a bowl of watery potatoes.  The lights went off at four-thirty, and as a Siberian wind howled outside, I was left to wonder about the reputation of Dr. Butynski.  Just who was this famous primatologist, and why had he come here of all places?  I was desperate to know, and the mystery of it ate at my innards like clorox.  I felt sure I would have some answers before eating another bowl of boiled potatoes.
      The next morning, Dr. Butynski was not in, and his one-eyed assistant told me curtly that I would have to wait.  I waited all day Wednesday and Thursday with nothing to read except a couple of well-thumbed copies of the Journal of the Mad Monk Society, going back only at night to my tiny and almost unheated cubicle in the visitor's barracks.  On Friday, Dr. Butynski was called away, and I wandered around Ubsk soaking up the local color, gray.  Saturday and Sunday the Project was shut down and everyone went to Pomsk, and Monday was Seal Day, a Siberian holiday. Tuesday's was the last train of the month out of Ubsk, and I felt that I had to be on it in order to post my "Report" and meet my next assignment, whoever that might be.
      That's about it for this issue.  Dr. Butynski will have to remain just a bit mysterious until someone else can venture out there to interview him.  And to that person, we here at the Nooz can only say, “Good luck!”  Next time, next issue, we might be fighting off strangler figs on Sumatra, trying to stay on our feet in shaky Gorgonzola, or detoxifying gobo roots in the ancient, ant-strewn Amazon.  Well, we might.  So until then, I'll just say “So long.”
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