a grand day

Not only is Sesame Street turning 40 this month, Wallace and Gromit turn 20! Many happy returns of the day!



In an email some months ago, Jagosaurus pointed me toward Stuffee… and I still haven’t forgotten it. Nope.

What’s Stuffee, you ask? Oh, joy:

Stuffee is a one-of-a-kind ambassador for health. He is a super-sized doll with a zipper down the middle of his chest and abdomen. When the zipper is opened you will find all of a human body’s internal organs.

Wuh? But! But! Why?

Well, for a good reason, actually:

Stuffee is used to teach about the human body and how it functions. In addition to learning about organ and tissue donation and the human body, children in pre-kindergarten through grade 4 can also listen to Stuffee’s heartbeat, take his pulse, and hold soft sculpture reproductions of the heart, lungs, intestine, stomach and other organs.

Look. Um.

I’m in favor of organ donation. I’m an organ donor. I support organ donation awareness. To sum up, “Yay, organ donation!”

But for days after first laying eyes on Stuffee, I had nightmares about a small child unzipping his outsized torso, from just below his blank embroidered smile all the way down to his featureless crotch, and watching glistening meaty innards tumble out onto a nameless museum’s playroom floor.

But that’s not quite as bad as the other nightmares, the ones in which a pigtailed girl crawled into Stuffee’s hollow gut and somehow zipped herself up inside. In the dark. The dark inside Stuffee.


New card: Bloom

Bloom by Elli SchweizerSlowly (ever so slowly) but surely, I’ll be selling my illustrations on cards and sometimes as wall art over at RedBubble. If you’ve been visiting this blog for a few years then the image may seem somewhat familiar since it’s from an old Illustration Friday challenge. The new version has been updated with more flowers and color, and ah, a fresh breeze. Love spring.


I rarely hang art in my home.

The walls are decorated, yes, but several years ago I looked around and realized that all of the pieces hanging in my living room, bedroom, kitchen — everywhere — were recontextualized items — sheet music illustrations, vintage cards mounted and framed, wooden or enameled tin signs, framed vintage anthropological paperbacks with lurid covers featuring scantily clad native maidens, early advertising images, reproductions and miniatures of movie posters — that I’d chosen to treat as art.

Right now, we have all those and more (including two vintage baseball-inspired board games from my father’s childhood, wrapped in plastic and propped up over the bar), and one honest-to-goodness painting hanging in the bedroom nook.

About that painting: it’s a smudgy little oil painting slapped onto a thin, mass-produced canvas board, a smudgy little Punch & Judy scene slapped onto a thin, mass-produced canvas board sixty years ago by my grandparents’s artist friend, Nunzio. I always liked it, and remarked as much to my father one day. The next time I visited, he showed it to me, ready to be boxed up, a Post-it tag with my name stuck to its back.

Friends sometimes remark on the oddness of an art history student whose home houses little or no art. But art is a slippery little notion, and I don’t pretend to know where its borders are. I don’t think anyone knows, and I’m wary of those who make pretense of it.

So I’m suspicious and resentful of the premise of ABC tv’s quiz Art or Not Art?, which sees clear boundaries where none exist. A little less arbitrary is An Artist or An Ape?, though even there a boundary is unnecessarily drawn. Who’s to say it’s “artist or ape,” not “artist and ape”?

I am participating in NaBloPoMo.

Cutting a fine figure

In childhood, I would have hungered for the Kammit action figure. In my twenties, I would have been quite mad for the Jane Austen action figure, and even now I admit a pang; I could hide her in my bonnet, where she would whisper the most deliciously prim gossip.

I can think of one friend who knows a hawk from a handsaw, and very likely can tell a doll from an action figure. Another friend would ponder, weak and weary, over this, or possibly bury it under the floorboards.

The only action figure I have ever owned was given me by a fellow geek in the early stages of courting, and an astonishingly successful gesture it was. That Elsa had twelve points of articulation, her own electrode, and a fully replaceable head, just like me! (A few years later, the same geek swiped my Bride while I was packing my things. Ah, love.)

But even my lost Elsa pales when I gaze upon the wonder, the horror, that is Hieronymus Bosch action figures. My hands actually clench and grasp at the empty air, so potent is my desire to possess them.