Art We Love – Jon Smith’s High-Speed Rainbow Explosions

As creative creatures, we can find inspiration around every corner. Sometimes, our muse is words (the New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs is always a good start). Other times, it’s film or TV (Arrested Development, anyone?). And this Monday morning, it’s a collection of eye-catching photos from artist Jon Smith.

The photographer starts by filling incandescent light bulbs with objects like sand, sprinkles or pom-poms. Then comes the fun part: making the bulbs explode, and capturing the image with his camera. The result is a set of dynamic, vibrant, high-speed photos that convey the movement of the explosion almost as well as film would.

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Check out more of Jon Smith’s vibrant, high-speed art in his photostream

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The Story Behind The Candelabra

the story behind behind the candelabraOnce upon a time, Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh wanted to make a movie. A movie about Vegas showman Liberace and the love of his life.* Unfortunately, Liberace’s lover happened to be a man. And when it comes to obtaining financing, a movie about two men in love is still a tough sell.** Even when the two men happen to be Oscar-winning stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

After ten years of trying to get traditional financing and distribution (i.e. a theatrical release), Soderbergh found an alternative: releasing Behind the Candelabra on HBO. The result? A financed movie, an  invitation to compete at the Cannes Film Festival (unprecedented for a TV project), and I project a host of Emmy nominations. Not bad for a made for TV movie.

The movie is true to Liberace in all his rhinestone glory. Damon and Douglas are a believable couple. The film is entertaining and complex. The supporting characters are insanely amazing (especially Rob Lowe as Liberace’s wonky plastic surgeon). The movie unsurprisingly debuted to record audiences. Once again, stellar content on cable TV is changing the entertainment game.

There may be traditional rules for how things are supposed to happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow them. When Soderbergh couldn’t secure a traditional theatrical release, he found another way to get his passion project made. You should do the same. The result could be just as groundbreaking.

*The movie is based on a book by Liberace’s partner, Scott Thorson.
**The film is getting a theatrical release internationally. It will be interesting to see how it does.

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Blokket | The Latest Advance in Cell Phone Etiquette

cell phone reception blocker pouch

More and more, when two people are in a room, at a dinner, or even in bed, they are actually engaging in a ménage à trois (or quatre). That’s because one or both people also happen to be on their cell phones.

I’m not judging. I’m guilty of this. More so than ever, I’m ashamed to admit.

Luckily, great problems breed great innovations.

Introducing the Blokket: a stylish pouch that blocks all cell reception and hides your phone from view. Blokket’s founder, Chelsea Briganti, explains that this little silver pouch works wonders, “help[ing] people engage in the present moment by providing interludes of relief from technology.” How much will the Blokket set you back? $About $30 dollars, but its founders claim that it will improve your health and relationships (priceless).

Of course, you could simply turn off your phone, or put it on airplane mode, or exercise self-control and simply not use it when you’ve got company, but that would be too easy. Part of me wants to mock this product, but the other part of me is sadly aware that this is the world we live in these days.

As writers, this could come in handy if you’re having trouble prying yourself away from your cell phone to write.

So whether or not you decide to buy the Blokket (and please let me know if you do), remember that powering down isn’t just about freeing yourself from your email,  Instagram, and the web at large, it’s also a show of respect for the person across from you. Your iPhone may be sexy, but end that ménage à trois. the It’s time to get monogamous again with the humans in your life.

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Ottavio Missoni – A Colorful Icon Who Left His Signature Print On Fashion

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Ottavio Missoni’s life was a lot like the signature knits in his Missoni line: colorful, instantly memorable and zigzagging beautifully along an eclectic, kaleidoscopic path. The fashion icon, who founded the design powerhouse Missoni with his wife Rosita, died this week at 92. Here are a few quick facts about the fashion visionary’s colorful, patterned life:

1. Ottavio was an Olympic athlete.

He competed in the 1948 London Olympic Games as a hurdler for team Italy, coming in sixth. Decades later, at age 90, he won a gold medal in a track and field event for nonagenarian athletes.

2. He was a prisoner of war in Egypt during WWII, which interrupted his blossoming athletic career.

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3. Ottavio’s wife, Rosita, was one of his greatest fashion inspirations.

The couple met when Ottavio was operating a knitwear factory in Trieste. Rosita was a schoolgirl from a knitwear family; Ottavio a garment factory owner establishing his penchant for fashion. Five years later, the couple married and launched their own knitwear business together — the roots of the modern day Missoni line. Ottavio and Rosita designed together, building the Missoni brand and pioneering the easy-to-wear knitwear style and vibrant patterns that are the design house’s signatures to this day.

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4. Ottavio created the first Missoni zigzag pattern.

Although he and Rosita collaborated on design and fit, Ottavio was the creative vision behind the iconic Missoni print. He used graph paper to create the precise zigzag patterns.

5. Ottavio could navigate a cocktail party conversation with three words.

“You can handle any conversation with just three words,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “ ‘Really,’ ‘sometimes,’ and ‘maybe.’ ”

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6. Ottavio loved color.

In his famous quote, Ottavio described color with these eloquent words:

“I like comparing color to music: only seven notes and yet innumerable melodies have been composed with those seven notes. … How many tones or shades does each color have? An infinite number, just as always endless are the hues and nuances composing a work of art.”

Words worth remembering from a designer worth celebrating.

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The Case of the Missing ‘S’ – Fashion Industry and Grammar-Defying Jargon

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“Is it that the soft, curvaceous form of the letter S offends these rail-thin style mavens? Will they start using other letters in its place? Perhaps K or Z with their bold and angular lines will become a more fashionable choice.” – Rachel Braier, The Guardian

Phew! So it’s not just Write In Color who has been noticing the disturbing fashion speak trend that is making it OK to leave the “S” off everything.

As Rachel so eloquently states, it seems as though the world of fashion has been personally offended by the letter “S.” Why else would it purposefully knock it off the end of every plural word from “trouser” and “shoe” to “pantie” and “lip?”

A few recent examples of this grammar-defying phenomenon:

“Effortlessly create a dreamy smoky eye.” – Rachel Zoe’s The Zoe Report

The platform tred on Prada’s retro peep-toe was just enough to toughen up the designer’s sweet, teen-spirited gingham and granny furs.” – The New York Times

“Our superbly sleek (and best-selling) suiting trouser, refined and perfected with a slightly more tailored straight leg that’s unfailingly flattering.” – J Crew product description

All this talk of “pairing it with a wedge” and “accessorizing your trouser with a pink shoe and nude lip” has got us wondering, simply, why? Is it, as Rachel said, that the “S” signifies excess in an industry obsessed with thin? Is this an attempt at giving fashion speak an air of authority or stronger identity? Or, is this simply another example of jargon trumping grammar? No matter the reason, this singular trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Those pants will be “a pant” for many seasons to come.

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2013 Met Gala – ‘Punk Couture’ and The Power of Creative Collaborations

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Sometimes, when two entities come together, it’s a match made in creativity heaven. Think: Andy Warhol and Basquiat, Mondrian and Yves Saint Laurent, Tex-Mex cuisine, and good ‘ole Rock ‘N’ Roll (originally a fusion of blues, gospel and country). But as last night’s Met Gala showed us, sometimes genres, styles and art forms just aren’t meant to mix — or at least not without a lot of careful thought and ingenuity.

The 2013 Met Gala was themed “Punk: From Chaos To Couture,” in honor of the new Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit chronicling punk’s influence on high fashion. The exhibit itself will juxtapose 1970s punk fashion with modern-day haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces that borrow its penchant for safety pins, bulge beads, hardware materials, and ripped-to-shreds fabrics.

Another emphasis, according to the museum’s website: a comparison of punk’s “do-it-yourself” techniques with designer fashion’s “made-to-measure” approach to creating style. This is definitely a topic worthy of some thought, if not a little speculation.

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Like all true cultural movements, punk style is impossible to boil down into a concise set of adjectives, nouns and fashion materials. Punk was a reaction to the perceived decadence and materialism of 1970s fashion and culture, with punk devotees using their fashion to make a strong cultural statement. Bucking materialism, punks incorporated everyday items like duct tape and safety pins into their fashion, and also drew from glam rock, greaser and mod movements to develop their “do-it-yourself” style. By the 1980s, punk had moved out of the alternative scene and into the mainstream, with fashion designers borrowing its visual symbols and attitude to create a new take on runway style.

When two distinct styles collide, the collaboration can often wind up playing into the stereotypes of each entity rather than bridging the gap and forming something new and exciting. Last night’s Met Gala” was a good example of that, with celebrities either not even attempting to go “punk couture,” or relying on fishnets, leather, spikes and heavy black eye makeup and lipstick to signify their punk edge.

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Aside from Rooney Mara, who has signified goth-meets-glamour ever since The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the notable exception was Sarah Jessica Parker. The actress wore an opulent gold headpiece with a fanned mohawk, playing homage to punk while still acknowledging that, yes, she is a celebrity living the life of luxury. Embodying that spirit, she takes punk to a new place that pays homage to the punk attitude rather than the pins, tape and hardware that hold

We’re sure the top-notch curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art have applied a lot of analysis and care to their “Punk: From Chaos To Couture” exhibit. We’re excited to see how they’ve bridged the gap between punk and couture to shed light on what can be the next best creativity fusion — because when creative collaborations are as good as Tex-Mex, Rock ‘N’ Roll or that Disney-Salvador Dali video, we say the more the merrier.

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World’s Largest Jigsaw Puzzle Breaks – Bad Luck + Bad Nursery Rhyme References

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It’s not everyday I hear a story that inspires an extended nursery rhyme reference. Or one that makes the morning commute on the 405N seem a little more bearable. But miraculously enough, this story I heard on NPR one morning this week did both.

Here’s the 30-second version: A British puzzlemaker, Dave Evans, created the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, a 40,000-piece monster measuring some 19.5 feet wide and 8 feet tall, which took him about 200 hours to put together. (For the record, I would’ve assumed a puzzle that big would take much longer — it appears Evans is an extraordinary puzzlemaker and an equally extraordinary puzzle-putter-togetherer.)

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The puzzle, which depicted Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, was set to be displayed at Queen Elizabeth II’s estate in Norfolk. Talk about eternal puzzle fame. But then, a few days before its big trip to Norfolk, the giant puzzle crashed to the floor in Evans apartment, “a great fall” that broke the masterpiece into 40,000 little indiscernible pieces. A puzzlemaker’s worst nightmare. As I heard the story, I could feel my heart breaking right along with the puzzle.

After all this talk of sitting on a great wall and having a great fall, the story ends on the obvious play on words, which I can imagine NPR staffers getting more than a few laughs out of. Says the narrator in an unwavering voice, “Evans is asking for help, hoping that some of the queen’s men and women can help him put it back together again.”

I can almost hear the drum roll and the clash of the cymbal.

Somewhere, Humpty Dumpty was rolling over in his grave, and Dave Evans was likely scowling at that horrible pun that made light of his horrible luck. But I’d also like to think that the hundreds of LA commuters inching along the 405N that morning were a little less disillusioned with the world after having heard that story. Sure, they might be stuck in horrible traffic that’s moving about as quickly as cold molasses. But at least they didn’t just create the world’s largest puzzle only to see it crumble days before its big debut at the Queen’s estate. And they also didn’t just make a bad Humpty Dumpty reference, on national radio, in good conscience!

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Songs That Use Poor Grammar – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

when is poor grammar acceptible? los angeles writing services

It’s a reoccurring dream of mine: The Ed Sullivan Show stage, 1966. A young Mick Jagger saunters up to the mic, his bony knees bumping together with each step. He’s wearing some kind of tight pants and a smug grin accessorized by those British teeth. He grabs the mic, leans in, pans the crowd of screaming teenage girls, and parts his lips as the familiar bass line kicks in. I’m dying of anticipation by the time he delivers the first line, each syllable landing on a different note in the familiar melody: “I-can’t-get no-o sa-tis-fac-tion!”

The dream abruptly ends.

Really, Mick? I can’t get no?

Oh, no, no, no.

All this dreaming about the Stones has got me wondering: when is it OK and when is it not OK to use sloppy grammar? In the case of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” the Stones’ fumbled modifiers are strangely powerful. It’s almost as if Mick is telling the world, “The Rolling Stones are rock stars, and we use language however we want!” There’s nothing more rock ‘n’ roll than that. And let’s imagine for a moment that Mick would’ve used the correct phrasing, “I can’t get any satisfaction.” Stretching that “any” across those two syllables in the melody line just doesn’t have the same effect as the “no,” does it? And anyway, no one seems to be complaining about the poor grammar. Almost 50 years later, this grammatically imperfect song is considered a perfect rock number by most standards. I kind of agree.

I love grammar as much as the next writer, but I also secretly love art that uses a little incorrect English every now and then. I like to think of it as a much-needed dose of reality: we don’t all walk around using perfect grammar in our day-to-day lives, so neither should all of the characters we create. That goes for song lyrics just as much as it does for poetry, screenplays and novels.

We shouldn’t riddle our writing with double negatives and jumbled modifiers, but we also shouldn’t be afraid to use incorrect grammar to illustrate a point. After all, the beauty of language is what it tells us about the person using it. In the case of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, I like to think of that little “no” as an act of grammatical rebellion, a good use for bad English. When you look at it that way, “(I Can’t Get Any) Satisfaction” isn’t really that satisfying, is it?

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Mood Indigo Trailer | Write In Color Loves Audrey Tautou + Michel Gondry

Every now and then comes a film that will change your life. Interestingly, Audrey Tautou happens to be in most of them. The star of Amelie is the lead in Mood Indigo, Michel Gondry’s first French language film. Simply put, it is visually stunning. So much so, that for the first time, I didn’t bother to even try to read the subtitles in the trailer, even though it is a foreign film. I was too enraptured by the images flashing across the screen, and the way those images made me feel. His visual storytelling is so impactful it doesn’t require language. Watch the trailer and you’ll see what I mean.

Mood Indigo derives its title from a Duke Ellington song. Its plot surrounds a woman with an unusual illness: a flower growing in her lung. It’s a story of love and wonder and fantasy. I hope you’ll enjoy the trailer as much as I did. I’ll keep you posted on the US release date, which is still TBD.

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William Shakespeare’s 445 Birthday | Write In Color Celebrates The Bard

william shakespeare signaturesNot many people have their birthdays celebrated posthumously, but not many people are William Shakespeare. Interestingly enough, his birth date is a mere approximation, since we aren’t sure exactly when he was born. Here are some other interesting facts you may not have known about The Bard:

His wife was the original Anne Hathaway. No really, that was her name. She was eight years his senior when they wed, and they had three children, including a set of twins.

Shakespeare was incredibly prolific, having written 37 plays and 154 sonnets. That’s an average of 1.5 plays per year.

Looking for a quote? Look no further. Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language (after the Bible). One of our favorite quotes? “Brevity is the soul of wit.” An important rule for every writer to learn.

We’re probably spelling his name wrong. On documents from his day he signed his name Shakp, Shaksper, Shakspe, Shakspere, Shakspere, Shakspeare and Shakespear (see graphic above). Not that it matters. A rose by any other name…

He was a romantic. The word love appears in Romeo and Juliet 150 times.

The reason we remember Shakespeare is for his brilliance, but also for his work ethic.  If you are to be a writer, write. And then write some more. If you’re as persistent as Shakespeare was, maybe we’ll still be celebrating your birthday 445 years from now.

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