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Ponyo and Autism


Andy Carver’s recent post for NPR’s news blog caught my eye.

I haven’t seen a Hayao Miyazaki movie since Spirited Away but I do remember it was pretty sweet… and after reading Andy Carver’s unique perspective on Ponyo as a representative of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder… I may just have to check it out.

The character Ponyo is brave, even empowered. She knows she is different from all of her siblings but knows she can make a difference in a little boy’s life simply by loving him and helping those around him. And she, in turn, instills love and hope in the boy, despite her various quirks.

Wilco (the album)


I got my first CD player for Christmas 1993 and within a few days bypassed the suckers at the mall record store and went straight for Columbia House…(15 CDs for the price of one… oh yeah.)

Within that first batch of CDs, there was only one keeper (guess which epic 1993 album that might be???) along with 14 other albums that ended up in the “pre-owned” rack at The Turntable.

One album I acquired (and immediately sold) during those days before internet music was A.M. by Wilco.  I ordered it strictly based on the album cover art.

It was Jeff Tweedy’s first offering since Uncle Tupelo and a bit too twangy for a geek-grunge kid like me.

I never forgot Wilco though, and when I caught wind of their 2002 alt-country future-classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, I snagged it ASAP and was hooked.

Their latest, Wilco (the album) didn’t catch me at first, but after several listens it is growing on me (pretty typical for a Wilco record)… and a guest spot from Feist certainly ups the value of pretty much anything in my book. She and Jeff delicately harmonizing on “You and I” is one of those sounds that you really don’t mind stuck in your head all day long.

The songwriting is fabulous as always… timeless themes of longing, love, lonelines, passion, country, war, self-reliance….

And seemingly more faith then I’ve seen from previous offerings—songs like “Everlasting Everything” speaks of eternal love; “I’ll Fight” of nation-faith martyrdom; “Solitaire” of the crippling agony of self-reliance:

Once I thought the world was crazy
Everyone was sad and chasing
Happiness and love and
I was the only one above it

Once I thought without a doubt
I had it all figured out
Universe with hands unseen
I was cold as gasoline

Took too long to think
I was wrong to believe in me only

Once my life was a game so unfair
It beat me down and kept me there
Unaware of my naysayer
Solitaire was all I was playing

Took too long to see
I was wrong to believe in me only

Why Root for Don Draper?


Excited to watch Mad Men season 3 opener last night… too many thoughts to share… much more than anyone would care to read.

Overall I’m disappointed that they are revealing too much mystery… and selling out a bit too.

But I’ve been thinking about Don Draper.

You could call him a dirtbag.  He only cares for himself. He disrespects his wife. His whole life is one big fat lie.

So why do we all root for him?

I think it is because… on one level or another… we can relate to him.

His past hurts have driven him to a life as the lone ranger… self-medicating… doing everything he can (power, work, sex) to feel like he is in control of his world…

He’s broken. Just like you and me.

And we want to root for him because we want to believe that it is possible… that we really can overcome past hurts on our own… that self-medicating works… that lies never really have to come to the surface… that we are in control…

Of course none of this is true.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over addictive behavior – that our lives had become unmanageable.

It is probably the most difficult step for any addict to ever pass through. Many will move on to the following 11, only to find they had never fully realized their powerlessness in the beginning.

Don Draper isn’t real, but I think that he represents the reality of ourselves that most of us are never really willing to face. Because doing so means we have to admit, “I have no control.”

Which means someone else has to take over.

Draper 5×7″ print available for $10

Neko in Gnome


I bumped into Tee Shirt Gnome on my recent visit to Brooklyn.

Had I known then that Neko Case had been sporting his shirts, I might have had a better icebreaker than “how do you make these magnets, man?”

After all, Neko’s latest album Middle Cyclone is my favorite of 2009, and resulted in her being our newest dog’s namesake… (that’s a compliment).

The Gnome has some sweet stuff to offer… don’t know if he’s seen my work before or not (see lame icebreaker above).

We snagged one of the Brooklyn “tree” tees for Noël.

It will be worn with pride for decades.

Boast in Weakness


I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.

Five times I was flogged with the Jews’ 39 lashes.

Three times I was beaten with Roman rods

Once I was stoned,

Three times I was shipwrecked (I spent a night and a day in the open sea!)

I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

But God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

For to be sure, Christ was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.

Cecilie Ellefsen Illustration



Cecilie’s work basically dashes my dreams of ever working as an illustrator.

Her illustrations have Norwegian style for miles… love it.

She also has this exhibit right now called “In the Forest Deep” featuring some marvelous paper-and-plastic cut dioramas.

Her Etsy store is looking a little bare these days, but I’ve gotta say the few items she has are pretty fly.

The truth is that even though I feel a little inadequate as a designer when I come across work like this, it gives me hope—hope that there are people and business out there that are willing to take risks with their image and advertising—hope that weird stuff can and does sell—and hope that as an “artist” I can be myself, knowing that somewhere out there (maybe Norway) someone might be able to understand my work and connect with it somehow.

Thanks to Grain Edit for the introduction!