Monday, January 31, 2011

Little men indeed.

Shut Up Little Man is a Sundance documentary that is well enough made, but left me cold. In the late 1980s, two guys (Eddie and Mitch) moved into a dive of a San Francisco apartment.  Their next door neighbors Raymond (a homophobe) and Peter (a gay man) loved to fight.  And since walls were thin, Eddie and Mitch could hear much of the arguments.  Soon, the two were pushing a microphone out their window so they could record Raymond and Peter's arguments including Raymond's catch phrase, "Shut up little man."

The cassette tapes of Raymond and Peter's arguments became an underground sensation.  Eddie and Mitch begin making a living off the tragic lives of their neighbors.  And that exploitation continues with this movie.  Maybe that's why I didn't like Shut Up Little Man.  Sure, Eddie and Mitch want me to believe that what they are doing is art.  But as they package up CDs and send them to those who have paid money to get access to the troubles of others, I couldn't help but feel sad, not for Raymond and Peter, but for Eddie and Mitch. 

The ending scenes of the movie, as the film makers force their way into the dingy apartment of Raymond and Peter's friend just to get the footage they need to make the film extra sensational, are awful.  A little kindness would have gone a long in this film.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

We all live in a strange, quirky submarine.

The British seem to be particularly adept at creating quirky teen characters with exceptional language skills.  Submarine by writer/director Richard Ayoade proves this point.  Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is the central character in this coming-of-age story, a teen who's trying to navigate the tricky waters of young love.

Oliver, as with many British teen characters, is lovable for his serious approach to love and life.  And for his brilliant daydreams.  The opening sequence where Oliver imagines his death and how it will affect his classmates is brilliant. 

The object of Oliver's 15-year-old desire is Jordana (Yasmin Paige), who may be the real star of this movie.  I loved her and her bright red coat which offered a surprising antidote to the movie's lovely, muted color scheme.

I'm not sure if this movie was about Oliver or his parents, whose marriage suffers from shyness, boredom, and a lack of bedroom flair.  But either way, this is a movie that might not be worth a trip to your local art-house cinema, but is definitely worth adding to your Netflix list.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I think we've always known this: Lesbians are aliens.

The lesbians were out in full force for the Salt Lake City screening of Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same.  And why not?  This crazy film was a complete send up of lesbian culture.  That doesn't mean it wasn't delightful for the rest of us.

The movie starts with a lesbian chatting with her therapist.  The lesbian shyly admits that she's witnessed a UFO which dropped her a note.  The note said, "What are you doing later."  That's just genius.

This was total Sundance brilliance. Yes, the production values were rusty.  And the acting was sometimes less than believable.  Then there was the sound, which was totally sketchy. But even with all those negatives, this movie was delightful.  It was certainly the funniest movie I'm seen this year at Sundance.  And I think the audience agreed.  There was so much laughter that I regularly couldn't hear the dialogue.

I've always loved the lesbians.  And this movie makes me love them even more.  Particularly when they dance.  If you get the chance, see this movie.

How to fail miserably in a science fictional Sundance universe.

I recently read a book called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.  It was a charming, quirky book that put a new spin on science fiction.  I liked it.  So I thought I might like a film billed as a different kind of science fiction movie at Sundance.  Boy was I wrong.

Another Earth is a strange movie that presents a world where there is a second earth.  There's also story line about a women who killed a man's family in a car accident, although I'm not sure you'd figure that out if you hadn't read the synopsis.  This movie is a bit like opera: If you haven't read the story before you go, you're probably going to be lost once you get there.

This is a science fiction world where people drive the cars you drive now, only maybe a little bit older.  And, in what has now become the most obvious movie cliche ever, people compute on a Mac.  And not even a newer Mac, like a Mac Book Air.  They compute on your run of the mill, old school Macs.  Apple really needs to do a better job of policing who's using their machines in movies.  Because this movie just makes Macs look outdated.

Do I have anything good to say about the movie?  Sure, the acting was pretty good considering the material the actors had to work with.  And the graphics featuring "second earth" floating effortlessly in the sky were lovely.  But that certainly wasn't enough to save this drab film.

Movies like this make me question the whole Sundance process.  A couple thousand people submit movies to Sundance.  They narrow it down to a hundred plus films.  And this is one of them?  Really, there wasn't a better movie than this?  I suppose it's hard to watch thousands of hours of movies in a few months' time.  So I'm giving Sundance a pass on this one. But I'm guessing a better movie got rejected for this science fictional snoozer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Late night at Sundance with Elmo.

I'm just going to get this out of the way right at the beginning: Elmo showed up for the Q and A.  And I don't care how much you hate that high-pitched, whiney voice, when Elmo shows up for a Sundance Q and A that's being held a little after midnight, it's magical.  Particularly when a few super-cool parents let their toddlers stay up way too late to see a Sundance documentary about a character they obviously love.

While the Q and A was fantastic fun, the movie that brought Elmo to Salt Lake City was just as rewarding.  Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey by director Constance Marks and codirector Philip Shane tracks the life of Kevin Clash (what a great name for the guy who brings Elmo to life). Clash started his career at the age of nine when he began using his mother's sewing machine to create his own puppets.  By the time he was seventeen, he was working on Captain Kangaroo and was hanging out with Jim Henson's head puppet maker.  It wasn't long before he was working on Henson's films and then recruited by Sesame Street.

This documentary has great early footage of Clash working as a teen puppeteer as well as with the whole Henson team.  I also liked the footage of Elmo before he was taken over by Clash.  The first puppeteer imagined Elmo with a much deeper voice, which just seems a little creepy now.  In frustration, the original operator threw the puppet at Clash and suggested that he try and get something out of the character.

Clash says he immediately knew that Elmo should be all about love.  And that sentiment comes through over and over again in this happy documentary.  Clash has been performing as Elmo for 28 years.  And no other person has ever voiced Elmo. 

At the beginning of the Q and A, Clash acknowledged that it was awfully late for some of the youger audience members.  So he immediately invited them down to the front of the theater as Elmo emerged from a black duffle bag.  Suddenly Kevin Clash was nowhere to be seen.  Elmo took over the theater and charmed not just the toddlers, but the entire audience.  Somehow, that squeaky Elmo voice just won't be as annoying anymore.

Sundance report: The Guard (that's Irish for police officer).

If you were my parents, you might have walked out of The Guard for the language alone.  The f*!#-to-other-words ratio was sky high. But even with all the profanity, this movie is delightful; OK maybe delightful is the wrong word.  Nonetheles, it's easy like with the hardened characters and cranky attitudes in this crazy cop adventure.

Brendan Gleeson is brilliant as the small-town Sergeant Gerry Boyle.  He has a wicked sense of humor that masks his good intentions.  It seems as though he doesn't care about anyone or anything.  When an FBI agent (Don Cheadle) shows up to help investigate an international drug-smuggline ring, Boyle remains determined to stick to his cranky routine.

But as is the case with all great cop buddy movies, Cheadle and Gleeson somehow develop what could be mistaken for a friendship.  [SPOILER ALERT] And by the end of the movie, the audience is left wondering wheter Seargeant Boyle has courageously died while taking down the bad guys, or if it was all his plan for a brilliant exit strategy.

During the Q&A, the director of the film, John Michael McDonagh, annouced that the movie had been picked up for distribution that very day.  So you might get the chance to see The Guard in theaters.  It's worth a visit to your local cinema.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sundance report: Man cannot live on AZT alone.

In 2002, Director David Weissman was at Sundance with his heady, 70s story of the Cockettes about a group a mostly gay, hippy infused performers who delighted San Francisco with their drug inspired performances (but left those snobby New Yorkers cold). It's interesting that he returns to Sundance with a San Francisco story that takes the gay excitement of the 70s and tempers it with the harsh reality of AIDS in the 80s. 

We Were Here interviews several San Franciscans who live through the AIDS crisis in the city by the bay. And  it makes for an emotional, surprisingly beautiful film.  This is a movie that could be depressing, because much of it discusses how many gay men died during the initial years of the AIDS epidemic.  But the movie doesn't focus on that. Instead, it focuses on how San Francisco responded.  It's easy to make fun of San Franciscans and their liberal, hippy ways.  Instead. this movie celebrates that attitude and, in the process, inspires a new sense of concern for others.

Maybe there's a reason why San Francisco embraced the gays and lesbians long before the rest of the country.  Maybe it's because there are people like Ed, one of the men interviewed in the move, who is so kind, so caring that even when drugs like AZT start to temper the AIDS situation, he still insists that, "man cannot live by AZT alone."  That's why he continues to care for AIDS patients with love and compassion.

This is a movie that made me want to be a better person.  To care more about the people that are hard to care about.  And to celebrate our shared humanity.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sundance report: The Bengali Detective.

From the World Cinema Documentary Competition comes The Bengali Detective, the story of Rajesh Ji, one of a growing number of private detectives in India.  These detectives are hired because police corruption means it's hard for crimes to get the attention they deserve.  In fact, only 70 percent of homicides are ever solved in India.

Director Philip Cox gets big kudos for creating a film that's engaging and fun to watch. And Rajesh and his strange cast of assistants are fascinating to watch.  But I expect a lot from Sundance documentaries and this fell short.  I don't think it's due to anything Philip Cox did, but rather that the story didn't pan out as well as it could have.  Rajesh and his team were unable to solve the core crime they were working which was anti-climactic.  

And even some of the attempts at humor weren't that great.  Rajesh fancies himself as a bit of a Bollywood dancer and even enters himself and his employees in an Indian TV dance competition.   This would have made the movie if the group had either been surprising good or ridiculously bad. Instead, they were just bad; and not even funny bad.  The TV dance show, even after sending a choreographer to help the group out, chose not to include them on the show; which is too bad because that story line could have helped the movie.

The Bengali Detective is good, but this is Sundance.  And I hope I see some documentaries that are better than this.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sundance report: Are you watching wrestling again?

Norwegian night at Sundance continues with a delightful movie called Happy, Happy directed by Anne Sewitsky and written by Ragnhild Tronvoll.  If a wife walks into the bedroom where her husband is watching hot guys wrestling on TV, and she casually comments, "Are you watching wrestling again?" you know there's a closeted gay man in the movie. 

But that statement does a disservice to this wonderful film.  It's movies like this that keep me coming back to Sundance.  It was a complex story told simply.  It presented a cold, bleak environment shown with warmth and beauty.  And the acting was superb.  I love story telling this good.

Here's a story of two couples brought together by unexpected circumstances.  Kaja is the optimistic wife married to closeted Erik. They haven't had sex in a long time.  Elisabeth and Sigve have moved to this faraway place because Elisabeth cheated on her husband.  That creates sexual tension that can only result in a great story.

This is a movie that should have one of those depressing Sundance endings.  But somehow it doesn't.  This movie made me fight back tears more than once.  That's largely due to the great script and directing.  But it's also due to some brilliant acting by Agnes Kittelsen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Maibritt Saerens, and Joachim Rafaelsen.

Finally, I have to comment on the music.  The choral scenes with Kaja were beautiful and emotional.  And how about that hot quartet of male singers that provided interludes throughout the movie.  Their old-timey gospel songs, their slim cut suits, and their strangely relevant lyrics made this move sparkle. Where can I get the soundtrack? 

If you get the chance, see this movie.

Sundance report: TROLL!!!!

I started my 2011 Sundance experience with a Norwegian film called The Troll Hunter.  And writing a pithy headline for this show was easy.  I had a bunch of choices like, "Zombies are so Sundance 2010," "Troll is the new vampire," "Blair Witch Project meets the Brothers Grimm," or "Another good use for the blood of a Christian man."  I chose "TROLL!!!' because one of the best early moments of the movie is when the troll hunter runs out of the forest screaming, "TROLL!!!."

There are several problems with this movie.  It could have lost at least 10 minutes, maybe even 30 and I wouldn't have noticed.  This movie also is reminiscent of Blair Witch Project and that style of movie gets old fast for me.

But there's also plenty to like.  There are some seriously funny moments.  Writer/director of the movie, Andre Ovredal was there for a Q&A.  He noted that this was the first time an audience had seen the movie and that it was fun to listen to the audience laugh in all the right places.  He did say there were a few "Norwegian" jokes that we didn't get.  The humor worked thanks to the deadpan delivery of the actors.

And for a movie made on a budget of just a couple of million dollars, the special effects were fantastic. The trolls are really awful, in a great way.

A movie like this could start a whole new trend.  I'm thinking the next book in the Twilight series might see the vampires and werewolves teaming up to fight trolls.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My name in lights or why 15 minutes is now only 15 seconds.

Andy Warhol famously proclaimed that everyone will have his or her 15 minutes of fame. Now that the world runs on internet time, it looks like 15 minutes is only 15 seconds. 

I'll explain but first, a little Art Lobster history.  Last year, I wrote about John Baldessari's online conceptual art work titled In Still Life 2001-2010 which allowed me to create one of the most important works of early 21st Century art, Still Life with Levitating Lobster (2010, digital image). Now Baldessari is back with a new work at Sydney's Australian Museum titled Your Name In Lights.  The project is part of the Sydney Festival.  Why am I writing about a work on the other side of the planet when I've never even been to Australia?  Because once again, Baldessari is comandeering the internet to make his art bigger than its physical presence. Which means, I can participate.

Here's how it works.  You go to the Your Name in Lights Web site and enter your name and e-mail address. A few weeks later, you receive an e-mail that gives you the exact time when your name will appear on a big, lighted marquis hanging on the Williams Facade of the Australian Museum:

Then, either show up at the museum at your appointed time, or view your name appearing on the live, constantly streaming web cam powered by Microsoft Silverlight. (Full disclosure, Microsoft is a client of mine so I figured a plug for Silverlight is in order.)  Your name will be on the sign for 15 glittering seconds.  That's just enough time to capture a somewhat blurry screen shot:

My name was on the sign at about midnight Sydney time, January 21 which translates to about 6:00 a.m. here. That meant waking up extra early. I do what I can for art. I kind of wish it had been during the day because the video feed is a little better:

Now, back to the discussion about 15 minutes vs. 15 seconds.  The Web site states, "Your Name in Lights reflects the changing cult of celebrity in modern society and recalls Andy Warhol's prediction that in the future everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame."  But obviously, if you're trying to put as many names in lights as you possibly can in a defined period of time, you've got to reduce our collective moment of fame.  Nonetheless, even 15 seconds of fame seems to be rewarding.  Here are a few comments from people whose names have appeared in Baldessari's work:

OzBarb writes, "Thank you Sydney Festival and John Baldessari for this moment of "Fame". My partner and I celebrated the screening last night with Champaign and felt somehow very special :-)" 

Jenn proclaims, "Hi! Just got home after travelling to Sydney from the Central Coast to see me (and my family) in lights. Wow- so much bigger, brighter and bolder in real life (and perfectly on time). Thank you Mr Baldessari and the Sydney Festival - we loved it!!!!"

And Kim gushes, "Thank you Sydney festival. You have made our day. My sister Penny and I are laughing till the cows come home. This is the best."

So, to John Baldessari, we offer our fame-starved gratitude for making us all feel just a bit better about ourselves.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lady Gaga isn't the first celebrity Polaroid enthusiast.

Long before Lady Gaga became the Creative Director for Polaroid, there was Andy Warhol, much of whose art relied on Polaroids.  He acquired his first Polaroid camera (a Polaroid Big Shot) in 1970. Warhol took hundreds of the old peel-away Polaroids, many of which were turned into black and white acetates that became the foundation for his silk-screened canvases. But a lot of them were just taken as snapshots.

A few years ago, the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts gave away a bunch of Warhol works to museums around the country. The Utah Museum of Fine Art (UMFA) received a collection of Polaroids taken by Warhol.  For the first time, they are on view at the UMFA as part of a show called Faces: Selections from the Permanent Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art.

These are pretty much straightforward old-school Polaroids.  But as a true Polaroid aficionado, I love old-school Polaroids with their muted colors and their candid instantness.  And certainly Warhol handles the unknowns of Polaroid photography better than most with perfect framing and intriguing faces.  Of course these pictures are extra interesting due to the featured subjects, many of whom are celebrities, socialites, or art-world luminaries.

There's Carolina Herrera (1978, Color Polaroid, Polaroid Type 108):

And Vogue cover girl Evelyn Kuhn (1977, Color Polaroid, Polaroid Type 108):

Keith Haring is seen with his boyfriend and Eighties DJ Juan Dubose.  (1983 Polaroid, Polacolor ER):

Of course not everyone is famous like Unidentified Woman #1 (Asian) (1974, Color Polaroid, Polaroid Type 108).

Or Madonna and Child (1981, Polaroid, Polacolor 2).

Of course there are other works in this exhibit.  There are a bunch of Alex Katz works with their superflat style.  I know Murakami is responsible for the idea of "superflat."  But I think Alex Katz was perfecting perfectly flat imagery a long time before Murakami got there.  Here is Anne Lauterbach (1977, Aquatint).

You can see Faces through February 13. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Year of Japan: UMFA edition.

This fall, I'm planning a trip to Japan.  I've already booked my plane tickets for September.  To prepare, I plan to familiarize myself with Japanese culture.  I've got several Japanese themed novels waiting to be read.  And I've bought my Japanese immersion software.  So imagine how excited I was to discover a small exhibit currently on view at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) with work by a Japanese artist. 

The show is called Decades and features the art of Yayoi Kusama.  I'd never heard of Kusama.  And considering her background, I feel that someone who spends as much time in museums as I do should be familiar with her work.  But maybe I'm just another white male who refuses to acknowledge the contributions of women to contemporary art; I hope not.

Here's what I learned. Yayoi is one of Japan's most important contemporary artists who's been working since the 1950s.  During the '50s she lived in New York City where she was friends with the likes of Donald Judd and Joseph Cornell.  In my defense, when she returned to Japan in the 1970s, Kusama was largely forgotten in the U.S., but since the 1990s she's received significant renewed attention.

All that background information is boring if you don't see her artwork.  Her art is a trippy, dazzling expression fueled by painstaking execution, with patterns that can make your eyes hurt, but in a good way.  I can't tell if this is Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, or some strange version of Op Art.  But however you categorize it, it's fun to see. 

The first painting I liked is Dots (2000, Acrylic on canvas), whose card notes that Kusama has struggled with mental illness since childhood.  And get this: She currently lives voluntarily in an institution for the mentally ill.  She still produces plenty of work at her studio where she employs several assistants.  Here is Dots:

Here's a detail from Kusama's mind-bending, large work entitled The Night (1985, Acrylic on canvas; triptych).  This just might cause hallucinations in those of us who aren't troubled by mental illness.

In the '60s, Kusama took pattern to a new medium.  She began to produce sculpture which consisted of household objects covered with bunches of small, stuffed fabric phallic forms.  The card for this work suggests that while these sculptures are playful, they also carry undertones of anger.  Maybe she's pissed that white, male art fans like me don't know enough about women, foreign artists.  I don't blame her.  Here is a detail from Compulsion Furniture (1962-63/1993, Sewn stuffed fabric, household objects, wood, paint):

And finally, here's an installation view from the exhibit featuring The Night and Compulsion Furniture.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Really? A gay man graduated from BYU. Really!

I hadn't been to the Utah Museum of Fine Art (UMFA) for a long time.  But now is a good time to visit because there's a lot of new, good stuff to see.  It's been a while since I've seen this much intriguing art at UMFA.  So my next few posts will be about exhibits currently on view.

I'll start with the Trevor Southey retrospective titled Reconciliation. This is a big show with a significant amount of work crammed into the back galleries of the first floor.  But that crowdedness works well for this show. Southey paints with a brilliant technical ability.  But that's not what makes his art great.  There's something more.  His work exudes quiet emotion set against an intellectual intensity.

Southey was born and raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and studied in England.  He came to the US in 1965 and received two art degrees from Brigham Young University where he later was a faculty member.  He married and raised a family in Alpine. In 1982, he came out and as a gay man redefined his life.  

Yes, my headline for this post may be a bit sensational considering the content.  But I think knowing this background helps inform Southey's art, much of which is religious and features beautifully painted male figures that sometimes have a homoerotic sensibility.  

Here are just a few of the works I found interesting.

I loved Irrigation Turn at Dusk (1977, oil on canvas) for it's American Gothic attitude.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this is an homage to Grant Wood, another artist who lived much of his life as a closeted gay man. 

Some of the most beautiful works in the show are the bronzes which seem to make bodies magically float in air.  These works reminded me of Rodin bronzes with a modern twist.  This is Fatherhood (1994, bronze).

And this is Softening (1980, bronze).

What Trevor Southey does best is represent the male nude.  His canvases frequently feature multiple men painted with surprising attention to anatomy.  But they never feel like academic illustrations.  Frequently the individuals appear suspended in air set amid interesting planes and shapes.  The paintings reminded me of the works of Michelangelo. One of the more dramatic paintings in the show is this large canvas titled, Vyacheslav (1999, oild on canvas).

Reconciliation is on view through February 13.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book one: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I start the 2011 reading year with a book that isn't really my usual fare.  So perhaps a bit of explanation is in order.  Last year I read Michael Cunningham's lovely, art-world novel By Nightfall.  I liked the novel enough to consider other books by Cunningham.  I decided to read his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Hours, a story that reflects on Virginia Woolf's novel, Mrs. Dalloway.  I thought it might be smart to read Woolf's book before I moved onto The Hours, which will be book two in 2011.

I've never read anything by Virginia Woolf until now, largely shying away from her writings due to all the literary rumors I'd heard about her stream-of-consciousness style and highly-experimental constructs.  So I was pleasantly surprised at how readable Woolf is.  Don't get me wrong, this was a tough book but not to the level I expected.  

The story follows Mrs. Dalloway (Clarissa) as she plans and hosts a party.  At the beginning of the book Clarissa is a vision of happy kindness, an interesting character that's easy to love.  And in classic Woolf style, she even has a sexually ambiguous relationship in her youth, falling for a female friend.  She's very different from Septimus Warren Smith, a working-class veteran newly returned from World War I; he's depressed, annoying, and not an character I'd want to know.  But as the novel unfolds, Clarrisa becomes less and less likable as her shallowness is revealed.  All this as sympathy builds for Septimus, climaxing just as he throws himself out a window and ends it all.

Woolf writes engaging characters, that is when you can tell who she's talking about.  The frequent meandering passages involving a cavalcade of characters can be confusing, particularly since you can read for pages without ever encountering a name, only an endless collection of pronouns.

Mrs. Dalloway is a challenging read.  But it's also a reminder that it might not hurt to read the classics every now and then.  Here's to more classics in 2011.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sundance Film Festival 2011: Art Lobster will be there.

At last year's Sundance Film Festival, I saw a total of sixteen movies, all of which were reviewed right here at the Art Lobster. With movie reviews and other related comments, the Film Festival was responsible for 20 posts. This year's festival is less than two weeks away. My locals-only quick pass is ordered. And I'm more committed than ever to recording my festival experience.

In preparation for the 2011 Festival, I'm re-skinning Art Lobster to match the Sundance branding. You may have seen the current branding which features a fantastic snowflake created from icons that represent independent film and Sundance. That image is paired with the theme line, "be there."

In fact, if you follow the Sundance Film Festival blog, they offer regular posts calling out individual icons from the snowflake and telling the stories those icons represent. For example, the shovel icon is a nod to Joel and Ethan Cohen's 1985 Sundance film, Blood Simple:

I've ripped off the identity for my own personal amusement. But don't think that I just stole the graphic as is. No, look closely and you'll notice I've created my own graphic featuring, what else, lobsters.

Now, I just have to wait for the theater lights to dim. See you at Sundance.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

No butterflies were harmed in the making of these sneakers.

Remember earlier this year when I got a new pair of fancy Art sneakers designed by Jenny Holzer.  Well 2010 may just be the official year of the Art sneaker.  Because for Christmas, I got a pair of shoes that totally up-level the idea of artsy footwear.  Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the Converse(red) high tops designed by non other than the Art world's enfant terrible, Damien Hirst. 

These shoes take their lead from Hirst's paintings that feature real butterflies stuck to canvases with paint.  So there probably were a few butterflies that gave their all to help create the print featured on the shoes. (Even the lining of the shoes has butterflies.)

Big thanks to Felix for making the extra effort to track down a pair of these.  I love them.

Introducing The Jeffies

All new for 2011 is the Art Lobster rating system.  Big thanks to co-worker Steve for not only the idea, but also the name; Jeffies.  Apologies to Steve (who's a designer) for my lack of illustration skills.  But I'm certainly willing to have a capable graphic artist finesse the Jeffies.

So what does this mean for fans of Art Lobster.  From now on, movies, books, and performances will be rated on a five Jeffy scale.  It was tough to decide whether to make it a four or a five unit scale.  I don't like the idea of an odd number scale because then you can wimp out with a three, and that doesn't really indicate whether it was above or below average.  But I also like the idea of an extremely rare, five point rating.  So I opted for an ultimate of five Jeffies.  Here's how you can interpret each of the five ratings:

Five Jeffies: This means, "Holy cow, that was some unbelievable stuff."  This is reserved for only the very best of the very best.  You won't see many of these flying around.

Four Jeffies:  If you missed reading, seeing, or experiencing anything that gets four Jeffies, you missed something funny, inspirational, or just plain mind blowing.  And if you still have a chance to experience a four-Jeffy anything, you should make the effort.

Three Jeffies: Although this is the mid point in the Jeffies rating system, it should still be considered above average.  Anything that gets three Jeffis is worth your time.  It might not be unforgettable but it will be entertaining and meaningful.

Two Jeffies: This is when things start to get sketchy. Maybe skip reading, seeing, or experiencing things that get a two-Jeffy rating.

One Jeffy: Oh no. Now things have really taken a turn for the worse. Things that only get one Jeffy were a waste of my time and would likely be a waste of yours.

One final point: There will be no half-a-Jeffy ratings.  For two reasons: First, cutting my head in half disturbs me.  And second, half ratings are for wimps.  And if you happen to receive a Jeffy rating, feel free to display it proudly on your web site, storefront, or advertising.  I'm sure it will fuel significant interest in whatever it is you offer.