Friday, February 15, 2013

What's What: Fusebox Dwarf

For Christmas Uncle Jonathan created something called the Fuse Box Dwarf, a little man who popped out at you from behind the paint cans in the cellarway and screamed, “Dreeb! Dreeb! I am the Fuse Box Dwarf!” [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 121].

We can only guess at Bellairs’ inspiration for this strange magical creature. Maybe as a child John was told such a creature was responsible for unexplained noises in the basement. Or maybe he imagined up such a thing on his own. Whatever the case, the dwarf has itself inspired some interesting tributes.

First there is a computer virus named “Fuse Box Dwarf” that infects a computer’s EXE files. Discovered in July 1993, within the viral code appears the message “Dreeb! Dreeb! I am the fuse box dwarf.”

Similar in nature is the “Home Page Virus”, a line of text that appears on various web pages:

“Dreeb! Dreeb! I am a Home Page Virus! Copy me into your home page today!”

While not a true virus in nature – the home page owner had to manually and intentionally add the text – the phrase did pop up on a number of websites in the 1990s. Nick Kaijaks, whose website contained the phrase as far back as 1997, identifies it as one of the early Internet fads – “like the 'hot link of the day,' odometer hit counters, and ‘under construction’ gifs. Sadly, whilst 'under construction' gifs broadly survive, the Home Page Virus never seemed as virulent."

We did find, in our archives from the Compleat Bellairs, the dwarf’s mantra translated into German: Drieben! Drieben! Ich bin der sicherung kastenzwerg! (One can only wonder what prompted this conversation back then....)

(Additional insights from Iain Davidson, Matthew Tilstra, and Michael Tilstra.)

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