Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Greatest Job Application. Ever.

Copywriter Robert Pirosh arrived in Hollywood in 1934. He sent the following letter to everyone he could think of in the movie business. He was hired as a junior writer for MGM, and eventually won an Academy award for best screenplay.

(Source: Letters Of Note)
Dear Sir:

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave "V" words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land's-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.

I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.

I have just returned and I still like words.

May I have a few with you?

Robert Pirosh
385 Madison Avenue
Room 610
New York
Eldorado 5-6024

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Daniel Ariely interviews Malcolm Gladwell about ways to reorganize thinking

A snippet from a Daniel Ariely interview of Malcolm Gladwell on

Ariely: In the process of trying to write things that influence peoples’ minds, what have you learned about people? What have you learned about the psychology of people?

Gladwell: I’ve learned that if you tell your story properly, people are very, very open-minded — far more open-minded than I would’ve thought. Or to put it in a more sophisticated way: People are information-rich and theory-poor. If you can give them a way of organizing their experience, then their minds are wide open. Which I would not have not have necessarily thought. And if you can frame questions appropriately you can overcome all kinds of ideological — what you would have thought of — as ideological constraints. So I’ve been continuously surprised. I always thought my book, because I am a political liberal, that my books would have heavily liberal audiences. But in fact they don’t….

Ariely: But they are also not very liberal books. Do you read them as being liberal?

Gladwell: I read them as liberal. But this is another case of: How I read my books is irrelevant to how they are read.

Ariely: But it’s interesting that you think it’s the theory, not the data. That I think is fascinating. That it’s about the organizing principles.

Gladwell: It’s about the principles. The books always give people these kind of broader theories, because that’s what they go to first. Then they’ll fill in the gap with the data. But they want some way of reorganizing their view of things. That’s what potent.

How Malcolm Gladwell finds ideas

People ask writers how they find ideas all the time. I always thought it was a reasonable question, so I was pleased to learn that these pros apparently think so too.


Malcolm Gladwell being interviewed by Daniel Ariely on

So the first thing I want to ask you is: How do you pick your topics?

Gladwell: I don’t really know — I mean, desperation? … I see things and I collect them, and I think they might be interesting. But there’s no theory or system. I go to the library sometimes, and I just sort of roam around; or I go on the databases and I just type in things at random, or I get articles and read through the bibliography…. But there’s no rhyme or reason. Someone will say something to me interesting, and I’ll follow up on it or something. To be a writer I think you’re kind of constitutionally disposed toward optimism.