Monday, April 7, 2014

Volvelles in Portlandia!

Family and friends know of my hobby, making and collecting volvelles, AKA, "adjustable round charts, data wheels, paper calculators." Click here to see my handiwork.

While chortling over episode three of Season Three of Portlandia ("Missionaries") I was pleased and astonished to witness the following exchange.

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein visit Seattle recruiting people to move to Portland. As they sit in the living room of prospective converts the house members argue about whose job it is to clean the bathroom.

Fred: "We might have a solution for you."
Carrie: “We’re here on behalf of Portland, Oregon. 
Have you guys heard of the Chore Wheel?”

Fred: “So You put your name in here… "

Fred: "You just turn it every day and then your name goes to whatever."

Fred: “You do the living room and the next day the 
bathroom….There's never any argument.”

Alexandra: “That seems like exactly what we need. It’s gonna solve all of our problems!”

Guy: “As far as I understand, Kurt Cobain never had a 
Chore Wheel so I don’t see why we need one.”

As they stand up to leave Fred says, "Anyway, it comes from 
the city of Portland…..Use the chore wheel. You’ll be surprised.”

The episode ends with the Mayor of Portland preparing to welcome all the new converts from Seattle. Alexandra show up! But I was saddened to realize the props placed on the welcome table were never used. If my eyes aren’t deceiving me, I’d say that’s a pile of Chore Wheels to give to the new recruits. Now that would have been a fine welcome indeed!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Paul McCartney Strikes Again

Since my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease over five years ago I've not been able to listen to Paul sing, Yesterday at all. When he muses, "Why she had to go I don't know, she didn't say." I lose it. I've successfully avoided this 1965 song since 2006. 

After last night's Grammy's (2/12/12) I've found another brilliant McCartney song to avoid, My Valentine. Again he muses, "She said that someday soon The sun was gonna shine." This is not true in our case and when I reflect on that thought I lose it all over again. The melody is mournful, melancholic, and could easily drive me mad. Music is the language of the emotions and Sir Paul grabs me by the emotions and pins me to the ground. Here's a 30 second clip. Listen if you dare.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Adventures in Logo Land

While recently upgrading my websites I was struck by how many business identities I've had over the years. Hansel and Gretel left crumbs on the trail marking their journey; I've scattered logos along mine.

Peacock Sign Co. Logo 1 (1974)

While walking around Woodland Park Zoo one day in 1974, wondering what to name my newly launched sign painting business, I heard peacocks calling in the distance. Voila! A new business name was born, Peacock Sign Company. Painting paper banners for grocery stores helped pay for school and supported my book buying habit.

Peacock Sign Co. Logo 2 (1977)

In 1977 I married Vicki and supplemented our youth pastor's income by painting . Here's logo #2 for Peacock Sign Co.

Magazine Cartoons and Illustration (1979)

In 1979 I sold my first cartoon to a national magazine (Sat. Eve. Post). Vicki and I danced around the living room like we'd won the lottery. 

Vicki turned her immense art skills into a commercial venture, too (1980)

One of the funnest activities Vicki and I have done over the years was taking art classes. We took a calligraphy class together in 1980. She combined her excellent penmanship with her crow quill pen skill and soon she was up to her elbows in India ink. This was before our five kids came along.  

Family Challenge Ministries (1998)
From 1976 to 1998 I worked with teenagers in a number of churches. In 1998 we "retired" from parish ministry, took the plunge, and started a counseling practice called Family Challenge Ministries. I got the idea for this logo while on a family trip to the Science Museum in BC.

Cartoon Faces Caricatures (2000)

When not counseling couples and families I indulged my interest in drawing by teaching drawing at WWU and WCC and doing live caricatures at fairs, fests, and business events starting in 2000. This self portrait appeared on my Cartoon Faces business cards during that eight year frolic.

Youth Pastor Coach (2002)

A short lived business venture included a stint as Youth Pastor Coach, mentoring young adults working with teens. This logo was drawn by artist Fred Harper.

Positive Turn Life Tools (2004)

The entrepreneurial bug bit me again in 2004 and I launched a business called Positive Turn Life Tools, creating and manufacturing volvelles (aka adjustable round charts or data wheels) on which appeared tons of info on a circular chart. Luke Markowski designed this.

Erik Johnson, LLC (2008) 

Our counseling practice grew and we changed the name to Erik Johnson, LLC. Luke Markowski designed this logo, too. 

Mediation Services (2009)

In 2009 our practice expanded to include peace making in areas beyond couples and families.Erin Sullivan designed the Conflict Mediation Coach logo.

St. Whimsy Publications (2012)

For many years I've been free lance writing under the business name St. Whimsy Publications (I was one of the religious humor writers for Christianity Today). I finally got around to giving that business an icon.  

Here's my take on this trail of logos.

1.  I'm probably ADD.
2.  Running businesses feeds my love of adrenaline. 
3.  I've got 89 businesses to go before reaching the Fortune 100.
4.  I used to ride my bike in Bill Gate's Medina neighborhood. While he was programming computers I was doodling. If our roles had been reversed he'd be posting his legacy of logos on computer software that made me the mega-billionaire. But I wouldn't trade him places.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who Says Ideas Don't Have Consequences?

One of my hitch-hiking buddies
in UT. enjoying the scenery, 1971
It’s no secret my early ‘70s impulse to travel was inspired by popular culture. Travels with Bronson (TV) and Easy Rider (film) fostered wanderlust. A friend’s journey to and from New Orleans by thumb gave me itchy feet. But without a doubt the sweet harmonies and cleaver guitar licks of AM radio had the greatest impact.

I was told to: Get out of this place (Eric Burdon), Head out on the highway (Steppenwolf), Get a move on (Dave Clark V), Hit the road (Ray Charles), Ride captain, ride! (Blues Image), Join a traveling band (Neil Diamond), Ramble on (Led Zeppelin), and get On the road again (Canned Heat).

I was told I was: Born to be wild (Steppenwolf), Born to wander (Rare Earth), and Born free (Roger Williams).

I was told to go to: San Francisco (Scott McKenzie), San Jose (Dionne Warwick), Massachusetts (Bee Gees), Nashville (Lovin’ Spoonful), USSR (Beatles), California (Mamas and the Papas, Scott McKenzie), Arizona (Paul Revere and the Raiders), New Orleans (Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie), Phoenix, Galveston and Wichita (Glenn Campbell), Lodi (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Marrakesh (Crosby Stills and Nash), Woodstock (Joni Mitchell), Indiana and Carolina (James Taylor), Clarksville (Monkees), Alberta (Gordon Lightfoot), ‘Frisco Bay (Otis Redding), and No particular place (Chuck Berry).

I was told how to get there: Walkin' down that long, lonesome road  (Peter, Paul, and Mary), Kickin’ down the cobble stones (Simon and Garfunkel), Like a rollin’ stone (Bob Dylan), Hitchin’ a ride (Vanity Fair). And I was to take a Country road (James Taylor), To the country (Canned Heat), on a Long and winding road (Beatles).

I was told which mode of transportation: Magic carpet (Steppenwolf), Greyhound (Simon and Garfunkel), Diesel ( Janis Joplin), River (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Airplane (Boxtops), Boxcar (Roger Miller), Magic bus (Who), Beautiful balloon (5th Dimension), Motorcycle (Arlo Guthrie), Truckin’ (Grateful Dead), Wooden Ships (Crosby, Stills, and Nash), and a Yellow taxi (Joni Mitchell), a Yellow submarine (Beatles), on a Yellow River (Tony Christie).  No transportation? No problem! We can fly! (Cowsills).

And I was told I'd be gone awhile: Maybe I’ll be back someday (Sonny and Cher), I’m a long way from home (Peter, Paul, and Mary), because I've gone to look for America (Simon and Garfunkel).

After spending years marinating my brain in these songs how could I not throw cooked brown rice and dry granola into a back pack and hit the road when Simon and Garfunkel told me to hitchhike 100 miles?

Good thing pop songs of the day didn't encourage eating Mt. Ranier or building bridges out of toothpicks.

(Musings on my past for a memoir-in-progress)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When Will I Learn Misery Doesn't Sell?

In 1971 I tried to sell the following dismal gag cartoons to Boy’s Life. Somehow the editor’s felt poisoned campers and cliff hanging kids weren’t in a nine-year-old subscriber’s best interest.
"You see? I told you earth worm stew would taste good."
"Yes, they're moose tracks, Jimmy. Pretty fresh, too."
"Tell me again how much fun we're having. I keep forgetting."
In 1977 I wrote and illustrated a children’s’ book entitled The Miserable Life of a Sockeye Salmon. What was I thinking? Here are the illustrations; I’ve spared you the maudlin text.

In 1982 I began drawing a 64 page graphic novel wherein the parish of a country priest gets kidnapped and held for ransom. Click here for the world’s first gander at Parish Snatchers. Our now 27 year old son was born at that time and I never took Pastor Amos beyond the first 7 pages. The world’s probably a better place because of it.

I mention these stories because it appears I just don’t learn. I’m currently working on a marriage-building board game for couples set in the Middle Ages: famine, plague, Inquisition, rebellions, leeching, torture, wars, no universal health care. I’m putting the feud in feudalism. A real crowd pleaser, huh?

Somehow I never inherited the “I like paintings of kids with big eyes” gene. Too bad. A velvet Elvis sells. For better or (probably) worse, I’m of the Bambi Meets Godzilla school of entertainment. Irony over tidy, adversity (sometimes) over victory, ambiguity, chaos, and puzzlement over cute.

This being the case, I now put on hold all plans for: 1) an expository essay reflecting on Jean Paul Sartre’s essay On The Viscous, wherein I deal once and for all with my aversion to things sticky, 2) a comic book version of Kierkegaard’s Sickness Unto Death, and 3) a novella wherein Orthodox Priests launch a church in rural Ferndale and marauding iconoclasts wearing Carhartt disrupt the liturgy.

I better stick to cute; it sells, misery does not. Now if only I can make the middle ages cute. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

300+ Free Handouts on Counseling Topics

Follow this link to a library of free handouts used in my counseling/mediation practice which is informed by the values of historic Christianity. I've been selling these on line for a while and am now making them available for no charge. There’s still a charge for the data wheels and books but the handouts are gratis. After 30+ years of helping people work through difficult challenges our inventory of topics has grown. Here are the major headings. Use the site's search engine to track down specific topics of interest. Check ‘em out and load up that shopping cart with freebies!

Yours for better managed conflict, Erik

Affair Recovery
Anger Management
Character Building
Conflict Resolution
Counseling Topics
Difficult People
Family of Origin Topics
Fear and Anxiety
Marriage Topics
Miscellaneous Parenting Topics
Pastoral Topics
Personal Growth
Premarital Topics
Teenager Topics
Theological Topics