Losing Marbles / All About Maxine / A Quick-change Video..

Hi Folks,

Losing your marbles ... meaning Lose your Wits ..... To 'lose one's marbles' is to lose one's mind. In the 1954 film The Caine Mutiny Humphrey Bogart linked insanity with marbles when he showed his character, the demented Lt. Cmdr. Queeg, restlessly jiggling a set of metal balls when under stress in court. Bogart's performance was so affecting that many have supposed the film to be the source of the phrase. It is American, but originated in the late 19th century, not the 1950s. The expression has now been shortened to simply 'losing it'. The point is that the person in question has, as in another earlier variant, 'a bit missing'. Perhaps 'marbles' meant 'mind' or 'wits' before 'lose one's marbles' was coined. That's worth investigation at least, so let's have a go.
Marbles are, of course, the little glass or metal balls that children use to play the eponymous game. From the mid 19th century 'marbles' was also used to mean 'personal effects', 'goods', or more generally 'stuff'. This latter meaning derives from the French word 'meubles', which means 'furniture'. From the 1920s onward two US expressions became established - 'to pick up the marbles' and 'to pick up one's marbles'. These mean 'to carry off the honours or prizes' and 'to withdraw from activity or game and cause it to cease' (like the UK variant 'take one's ball home'). 'Marbles' also meant testicles and has been used that way since at least the mid 19th century.
It has been suggested that the 'losing one's mind' meaning derives from theElgin Marbles. These are the collection of sculptures, some from the Parthenon Frieze, which were taken from Athens by Lord Elgin in 1806. The supposition is that the expression derives from the loss of the artworks by the Greeks, or their subsequent loss at sea when the ship that was transporting them sank. An interesting theory, but no more than that; there's no evidence to support the idea.
It's more likely that 'marbles' was coined as a slang term meaning 'wits/common sense', as a reference to the marbles that youngsters play with. The notion of 'losing something that is important to you' appears to have migrated from the image of a forlorn child having lost his prized playthings. An early citation of this figurative usage is found in an August 1886 copy of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat: He has roamed the block all morning like a boy who had lost his marbles. During the late 19th century, 'losing one's marbles' began to be used to mean 'getting frustrated or angry'. This reference from New Zealand was printed in The Tuapeka Times, in August 1889: For I tell you that no boy ever lost his marbles more irrevocably than you and I will lose our self-respect if we remain to take part in a wordy discussion that ends in a broil. [a quarrel]
This transition to the 'losing one's mind' meaning began in the US around the same time and the Ohio newspaper The Portsmouth Times, reported a story in April 1898 that referred to marbles as a synonym for mental capacity: Prof. J. M. Davis, of Rio Grande college, was selected to present J. W Jones as Gallia's candidate, but got his marbles mixed and did as much for the institution of which he is the noted head as he did for his candidate. The expression took a little time to mature and was used in both 'anger' and 'sanity' senses for a few decades. What is common in all the early citations is the sense of loss and the consequent reaction to it. By 1927, the loss of sanity meaning had won out and an edition of American Speech defined the term unambiguously: "Marbles, doesn't have all his (verb phrase), mentally deficient. 'There goes a man who doesn't have all his marbles.'" So there ya go folks !

The next item on today's blog concerns a cartoon character called Maxine ...

The Creator of Maxine ...... John Wagner, a Hallmark artist since 1970, says Maxine was inspired by his mother, his maiden aunts and his grandmother, the woman who bought him art lessons when 'fill in the pumpkins' was about the extent of his art classes at St. John's Catholic School in Leonia, N.J.
John remembers doodling as a pre schooler and says both his grandmother and his mother encouraged his artistic interests. He eventually attended the Vesper George School of Art in Boston and landed at Hallmark as part of a new artists group. But it was the birth of the humorous Shoebox Greetings (a tiny little division of Hallmark) in 1986 that added a new dimension to John's professional life. The Shoebox way of seeing the world unleashed his talents and he created Maxine. ' Cartoonists are sensitive to the insanities of the world; we just try to humanize them,' John says. 'If Maxine can get a laugh out of someone who feels lonely or someone who is getting older and hates the thought of another birthday, or if she can make someone chuckle about stressful interpersonal relationships, then I'm happy. Putting a smile on someone's face is what it's all about.'
Those smiles have led to Maxine's becoming a bit of a celebrity. She (and John) have been the subject of media stories, including People, USA Today, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, and Las Vegas Journal-Review, and they have been included in a major Associated Press story. Collector and trade publications have reported fans nationwide are collecting Maxine items. Letters from consumers and fans to John and Maxine reveal a very personal connection to Maxine.
Many people say they are just like her. Why the name 'Maxine'? 'People at Shoebox started referring to the character as 'John Wagner's old lady,' and I knew that would get me into trouble with my wife,' John says. The Shoebox team had a contest among themselves to name the character and three of the approximately 30 entries suggested 'Maxine'. John says the name is perfect. John, who says he's humbled by such acceptance of Maxine, admits he's proud of her. So, now you know the story of how Maxine came to be.

Cheers from the land of the Tartan and the Heather, Love Kate xxx.