To many college students, art history courses -- often disparagingly referred to as "art in the dark" because many of them seem like nothing more than slide shows accompanied by droning commentary -- are looked upon as "gut" courses that hold little attraction other than the prospect of an easy pass or even A. But this was far from the case with the art history classes I took at Beloit College with the then department chair, Debra N. Mancoff.
A professor with real passion for her chosen field of study and, also, a real ability to impart ideas to her students, she often infused her lessons with unorthodox methods -- including one which required us to imagine what objects and people in paintings and that had been sculptured were supposed to feel like: e.g., soft, hard, cold, warm, smooth, rough, etc.
To this day, when looking at works of art, I find myself trying out some of the "tricks" Debra taught us to appreciate what one usually can only see but not touch. And in the case of master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (known as just Ponyo when shown in the US with an English dub), the word cuddly immediately springs to mind as readily as cute and kawaii when I behold the title character (particularly in her original fish form).
And so much so that I came away from my viewing of the movie pining to have a cuddly Ponyo of my very own. So one evening, when I came across cute, cuddly Ponyo plushies being hawked on a street, I of course couldn't help but get myself one. And while having one soft Ponyo plush is great, having two is really verrrrry nice indeed -- especially since my second Ponyo plush (the larger one in the photo of the two plushies at the top of this Photo Hunt entry) came all the way from Japan where a friend had gone to visit. :b