Thursday, August 21, 2008

Moths in My Head

a butterfly or moth or something, May 2008

There are visual gags and bits of cultural detritus that go back many decades, that my generation and the ones after me know primarily from old cartoons, comic strips and maybe, for fans of that sort of thing, early comedy films. When I was a kid, I was always bemused by pictures of some comic strip character (Nancy or Sluggo, possibly) getting off an annoyed quip as he or she set off to run away from home. We knew the kid was running away because he carried his or her possessions in a handkerchief tied to the end of a pole. Huh? Who does that? Who ever did that, and you know, why? I researched this a little, and only came up with handkerchiefs on poles as a signal that someone is shipwrecked or dinner is ready.

More glimpses of time long gone, or that possibly never was: traffic lights that display flags reading Stop and Go. Police dispatchers ending with "That is all." Being so poor that you try to eat shoe leather.

And the definite gags: sleepwalking with arms straight out in front of you is one of them. Another is reaching in your pockets or wallet - and moths fly out. (Here's a page about one politically incorrect example from Tex Avery.) I never quite understood why there were bugs in there, but the message was clear: the person is broke. Well, maybe. Another page I came across tonight, this one about the symbolism of butterflies and moths, says it can also mean the person is so stingy he hasn't opened the wallet in a long time. The same page explains the significance of the bugs: "Apparently, this has come to be a cartoonist's way of saying 'It's been so long since there's been any money in here, moths have had time to invade.'"

I was thinking about the buggy pockets tonight as I tried to come up with an entry for this blog. With Doctor Who over until Christmas, the Doctor Who Forum is suddenly so dead you can hear the virtual crickets, another cartoon convention. The dogs haven't done anything noteworthy today, except for Cayenne making a grab for my turkey wrap. I haven't done any job hunting yet, because I found out yesterday that my job runs through September 9th. I had miscalculated. So my brain is running on empty, not enough sleep, not enough of the right stimulus. I open my head, and moths fly out.

But there is something underneath the moths, and usually I can get to it. I didn't work on it tonight, but I'm on page 465 of my Heirs of Mâvarin edit, less than a chapter and a half from the end of the book. I'm really pleased with the way that's going.

I'm not so pleased at the time at the corner of my computer screen right now. Whoops! Gotta go! Good night!

1 comment:

Becky said...

That's funny and interesting. The cartoon convention that resonated oddly with me was the one where all men in prison wore black and white striped PJs (and perhaps a big iron ball and chain on their ankle). It was jarring when I first saw a prison documentary and the inmates at the supermax prison wore ORANGE jumpsuits. The color was a shock to me. Then the minimum security prisoners were just wearing jeans and white tee-shirts. Wha??? Took a while to wrap my head around that one. I think I was in 5th grade at that point. It was one of those "scared straight" type things.