Blog Posts by Claudine Zap

  • Searching for the Perfect Gift

    With the gift-giving season here, shoppers are still heading to the Web for help finding that perfect present.

    If there are kids who have made it onto your "nice" list, here's what they might want under the tree this year: Check out gift ideas that are popular top searches on the Web.

    Wuggles -- billed as pets you "bring to life yourself" -- are the popular "as seen on TV" pick. Pillow Pets (chenille toys that double as a headrest) are also a hit this season.

    Consider the Angry Birds board game (no batteries required) along with other video game-inspired finds like Annoying Orange toys, Transformer toys, Star Wars toys, and Batman toys.

    If you choose the low-tech route, you're not alone in searching out "john deere toys" and "tonka toys." For the adventure set, trampolines and scooters may be a good bet. So are LEGOs.

    According to search trends, older kids might like the game Skyrim or the Nintendo add-on Skylanders. Gamers who appreciate old-school gifts might get

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  • OMG! Theater to Allow Cell Phones During Live Performances

    Photos courtesy of Tateuchi CenterWelcome to the performance space of the future: A 2,000-seat concert hall, a state-of-the-art building, and a policy that allows the audience to use cell phones during the show.

    The bold decision of the Tateuchi Center to be built in Bellevue, Washington, first reported by the New York Times, is a play for a younger, texting generation to take an interest in attending live performances.

    John Haynes, the CEO of Tateuchi Center, who is overseeing its design and construction, was given the option of putting a cell phone signal block in the performance space. He thought, "That is exactly the wrong direction to go in." For a tech-savvy audience to feel at home at an arts center, Haynes decided to not just let Wi-Fi into the space but also to allow tweeting and texting during live performances.

    Speaking on the phone to Yahoo!, the 64-year-old said, "I am convinced we can control the experience, but we can't forbid the experience." He added, "We are creating a new etiquette for a

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  • Say Yes to Bella Swan's Dress

    Courtesy of Alfred AngeloIn the "Twilight" series, first came vampire love. Then came the proposal. (Sigh.) And next, the wedding. The bride, played by a glowing Kristen Stewart, in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I," would be walking down the aisle to marry her immortal beloved, and all eyes would be on…her dress.

    When Carolina Herrera, the fashion designer who consulted with "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer, created the gown for the wedding scene, she was sworn to secrecy. At the "Twilight" premiere, she told MTV that she wanted to convey romance and innocence.

    Now the secret is out, and not only can fans get an eyeful, they can actually purchase a licensed replica of the dress, available through bridal designer Alfred Angelo.

    Fans expected something mah-jor, but not modern. The description of the gown is decidedly old-fashioned, with long sleeves and buttons running down the back, an homage to the bride's 110-year-old groom.

    In a press release, Alfred Angelo describes the design as a

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  • One-Year-Old Tries to Work Magazine Like an iPad

    -- By Claudine Zap

    The Apple iPad. So easy to use, a child can do it. A magazine? Well, that proves to be more of a challenge -- at least for one very gadget-savvy baby girl.

    A video surfaced by CNET shows an adorable one-year-old working an iPad faster than most of us can think. But when the same techno-whiz kid is handed a magazine, the child of the iPhone age is lost.

    The video was posted by French father Jean-Louis Costanza, who has seen the future for his daughter: She thinks a magazine is a broken iPad. In the clip, the adorable child is traded an iPad for a magazine.

    The techno-baby patiently taps the printed page and pinches it as if it were a touch screen. But the magazine is nothing more than a useless piece of broken tech. Glossy photos of fashion models? Pages of text? What good are they if they aren't an app?

    Somewhere, Steve Jobs is laughing. Or, as dad Costanza put it, "Steve Jobs has coded a part of her OS."

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  • Dino-Light: Photographer's Amazing Light Paintings of Dinosaurs

    (Photos courtesy of
    Darren Pearson of © All rights reserved 2011)

    By Claudine Zap

    By day, Darren Pearson is a graphic designer who creates T-shirts for the company True Religion. By night, the artist can be found on the rooftops of L.A., in Balboa Park in San Diego, or in the forest at Lake Arrowhead, creating images of dinosaurs out of light.

    Pearson makes "light art" in the dark, using a digital camera placed on a tripod. Instead of snapping a quick shot, the shutter remains open for 5 to 10 minutes while Pearson points a flashlight beam at the lens and waves the light into a shape. He then checks the display on the back of the camera to see whether what he envisioned came out in the photo.

    With four years of experience making such images, Pearson now succeeds in only two or three takes. (If you want to see the man in action, check out the artist's tutorial on YouTube).

    After learning about long-exposure photography from a photo in Life

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  • Photographer Creates Landscapes Good Enough to Eat

    (Photos courtesy of Carl Warner)

    By Claudine Zap

    For Carl Warner, it all started with a portabella mushroom. The London-based advertising photographer had gone to the produce market looking for objects to shoot in a still life. But the fungus caught his eye for another reason. "I thought it looked like a tree on an African savanna," he recalled recently, from his home in England. So the ad man took home the 'shroom and shot it the way he saw it.

    That first creation, "Mushroom Savanna," made 12 years ago, was the beginning of a food odyssey that has evolved into a complex, imaginary world where ordinary foods like broccoli, parmesan cheese, and kale are transformed into eye-popping scenes of the city of London, a Tuscan village, or a craggy American landscape. But look closely: Everything in the photos is made from food.

    The efforts have become a book, "Carl Warner's Food Landscapes", and a series of photographs of the food landscapes can be see see in the photo

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  • After Labor Day: OK to Wear White?

    Michelle Obama wore winter white at the inaugural balls. (Getty)Michelle Obama wore winter white at the inaugural balls. (Getty)By Claudine Zap

    As sure as temperatures cool and leaves start to change color, the question arises: Should the white wardrobe be stored along with bathing suits and sun hats?

    Traditionally, in the Northeast, a dress code was clear: The summer whites came out after Memorial Day and went away after Labor Day. Fashion historian Bronwyn Cosgrave remembers how, growing up, "You had this short season to wear white."

    But in the age of Lady Gaga, anything seems to go. (We're looking at you, meat dress.) And yet the outdated rule still causes a closet crisis come the end of summer. "Don't wear white after Labor Day" rose 2000% in Yahoo! searches. Fashionistas also looked up "why can't you wear white after labor day" and "no white after labor day" in the last week.

    The question spilled onto the Web. Fashion forums were contradictory. One blogger for the retail site Zappos cautioned that white should not be worn "below the waist" after Labor Day.

    Another advised against white

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  • Socialite Says "I Do" to Over-the Top Wedding

    By Claudine Zap

    Move aside, Kate Middleton. Eat your heart out, Kim Kardashian. British socialite Petra Ecclestone has you both beat when it comes to over-the-top weddings. The Formula One heiress reportedly dropped an estimated $5 million to $7 million on her big day to wed businessman James Stunt in a three-day extravaganza in Rome.

    Buzz on the Web was certainly big: Lookups on the extravagant bride increased 389% in just one day.

    Still, the blonde heiress seems to be aware that she is blessed with good fortune, as it were. She told ABC, "I'm not spoiled, I'm privileged, and I think there's a huge difference in that."

    The 22-year-old certainly knows how to live the good life: She is the daughter of billionaire Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone, who's thought to be footing the bill, and former Armani model Slavica Radic. The celebutante is also a fashion designer who, according to People, will release her line of Starks handbags in the fall.

    The daughter of

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  • Diana and Charles: A look back to other royal wedding that captivated the world

    Prince Charles and his bride, Diana, Princess of Wales, on the way out of St. Paul's Cathedral at the end of their wedding ceremony on July 29, 1981 in London. (AP Photo) Prince Charles and his bride, Diana, Princess of Wales, on the way out of St. Paul's Cathedral at the end of their wedding ceremony on July 29, 1981 in London. (AP Photo) By Claudine Zap

    A fairy-tale romance between a prince and his princess-to-be. A sparkling sapphire and diamond engagement ring. A wedding watched around the world. Sounds like the royal wedding of Kate and Will. But actually, this royal wedding took place 30 years ago: On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. In many ways, it was the wedding that changed the world. Here, a look at the legacy.

    Diana arrived in a glass, horse-drawn coach. The couple married at St. Paul's Cathedral in front of 3,500 guests. Outside, a crowd of 600,000 well-wishers filled the streets. And a global audience of 750 million tuned in to watch the wedding on TV -- the largest ever for such an event.

    The 20-year-old bride wore an elaborate Emmanuel design with a 25-foot-long train (that was copied for years after she appeared in it), and memorably flubbed her 32-year-old groom's name when saying her vows, calling him Philip Charles instead of Charles Philip.

    After the ceremony,

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