This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Caffeine Content: The Cliff Notes

In looking over my statistics over a period of many months, it appears that more than a few people find my site by searching for the caffeine content of various foods and beverages. For all of those people, there is an excellent chart located here

I know a little bit about coffee... I spent my time working at coffee shops not because of the pay or the snazzy uniforms [right...], but because I could always count on having personal access to a high-end espresso machine (and OK, occasional conversations with regulars such as Annette Bening, a vastly elegant woman with a beautiful spirit...and good taste in coffee.)

I could also pull a double shot of espresso anytime I wanted--shots with perfect crema in the 18-22 second range. I could make myself an iced americano on a hot day or a soy capp, dry--with little sprinkles of cinnamon on top and delicate swirls of chocolate syrup to make me feel better after a particularly rude customer. I had the power to blend an industrial-sized blender--Ridiculously made-up drinks, some good, some bad, but all caffeine overloaded.

I titled this blog, "Cocoa & Caffeine" because not only am I usually straight-up caffeinated, but I'm also a self-proclaimed chocoholic.

Dark chocolate has always been my preference ~ sweet, yet a little bit bitter at times (sort of like life--especially in the business I'm in.) Perhaps that's why so many filmmakers I've met have their own personal "espresso shot" records and can rattle off coffee-ology terms like an adopted language.

If I ever become rich enough...I'll buy myself an immaculate, professional espresso machine and have it shipped from Europe. Then, I'd sign up for a bunch of those "month" clubs: Coffee-of-the-month, Wine-of-the-month, monthly fruit boxes from Harry & David...I'd even buy bulk Vosges Cocoa and Chocolate bars without balking at the price. And when my sprees were all over...I'd feel guilty, remorseful, sick to my stomach [most probably], and very, very environmentally disappointed in myself. I'd spend the rest of my money ferociously donating money to save the rainforest and reduce my carbon footprint.

Caffeine Content:

Brewed coffee (8oz)......85 mg caffeine (avg.) / 65-120 range
Espresso (1 oz)..........40 mg caffeine (avg.) / 30-50 range
Cocoa Beverage (8oz)..........6 mg caffeine (avg.) / 3-32 range
Milke chocolate (1 oz)........6 mg caffeine (avg.) / 1-15 range
Dark chocolate (1 oz).........20 mg caffeine (avg.) / 5-35 range

*Source at link above*

Hopefully, this post helps some caffeine seekers find their answer. To the person in Marietta, Georgia that googled: face break out+cool whip... and found me:

"Sorry I can't help you with that. However, I do want to ask--how much Cool Whip are you actually eating? You know that stuff is like ingesting plastic, right? Partially hydrogenated plastic.

Photo credit: Parsec Traveler/flickr
Copyright © 2008 KLiedle

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Envelope, Please. Wait, where is it?

My next Netflix shipment was supposed to arrive today. Unfortunately, the company shipping plant was down for whatever reason on Monday --as an apology e-mail from the company confirmed.

I've come to rely on getting cinema treasures in the mail every few days. Sadly, those little red envelopes won't be in my mailbox today. I'm already behind. Although, I've upgraded to the two-at-a-time plan, I think my film queue could very well outlast my life expectancy.

In all of this, what's a cinema lover to do? For one, I'll reflect on some cinema standouts
(As any true film geek, I keep a running list of the movies I see...)

In this politically charged year of Hilary vs. Obama, with McCain safely on the sidelines, it's a good time to check out Frank Capra's, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Hmm... Can an idealistic senator make it in Washinton? (Mr. Capra also made a little movie called It Happened One Night, one of my all-time favorites.)

Other Recommends:

*Marty (1955) --The little movie that could...and did. It swept the Academy Awards for its year. It's isn't showy. It doesn't ask to be more than it is. It's just a simple, sweet story about Marty-- a regular guy that has zero luck when it comes to women. (Marty's director, Delbert Mann passed away last year.)

*Overnight -- A documentary (and great character sketch) about Miramax screw-up kid, Troy Duffy, a bartender who hit it big selling a shoot em' up script to Harvey Weinstein only to royally mess up it up in ways you wouldn't believe. A great chronicle of what not-to-do when you finally sell that script.

*Viridiana (1961) -- Any movie that's ever been banned breeds natural curiosity (at least for me,) especially if it's director has a last name of Bunuel. There's some intoxicatingly creepy imagery as a young nun's uncle sets out to corrupt her. Through the eyes of Bunuel, religion doesn't escape attack either, as highly evidenced in this film.

*Jesus Camp (2006) -- Speaking of religion, if you're one that thinks that atheists are scary or wrong for what they believe: This documentary about fundamentalist Christian youth will make you have second thoughts. Now, they're scary...!

*My Dinner With Andre (1981) -- I admit, I've been avoiding this Louis Malle movie for years. Two guys in a restaurant talking to each other for the entire duration of the film? [Yawn] Boy, was I wrong! The conversation they have and the questions they pose to each other about the nature of life and humanity is absolutely fascinating. Don't avoid it like I did for so long!

*Throne Of Blood (1957) -- Kurosawa's take on Macbeth is perhaps not as well known as that other movie that he did that involved a handful of samurai warriors-- a movie I won't bother mentioning because you know it already-- but in some ways I like this even better.

*The Illusionist (2006) -- The preview to this film seemed to be everywhere for a time. However, the film itself vanished into thin air. It's a shame because this is an excellent film about a famous magician that falls in love with an aristocratic woman. I cannot reveal the film's magic, but the amazing way it all comes together in the end, is perhaps its greatest trick of all.

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Finding My Karma In Hidden L.A.

I felt like driving and going someplace I'd never been. With gas being nearly $4.00/gallon, I decided that instead of escaping L.A. perhaps I should find some hidden peace within this City Of Angels. Surely, there's more than just urban sprawl and strip malls if I take the time and energy to look.

Nourished by a steady soundtrack of Feist and The Shins, I drove myself out to Calabasas. It's not too far, but it's farther than I would elect to drive on any ordinary day. This, however, was not any ordinary day-- it was a day I set aside to enjoy nature and peaceful solitude. It was also a day for some spiritual enrichment.

If you blink, you'll miss it. Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains off Las Virgenes Canyon Road, you'll find the Malibu Hindu Temple. Yes, the architectural wonder above is really in Los Angeles--just miles from the 101 freeway--yet in an instant, I was transported.

The Malibu Hindu Temple was built in 1981 for the Hindu god Venkateswara. It's open from 9a.m.-12 p.m. and 5:00-8 p.m. (M-F) On weekends, the hours are a little more flexible: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. There are meditation rooms, places to picnic, and good karma all around.

Photos by KLiedle

Malibu Hindu Temple
1600 Las Virgenes Canyon Road
Calabasas CA 91302
(818) 880-5552

Monday, March 17, 2008

Last Looks...

Sunday morning I got up, threw on some shoes (no socks) and started walking to the corner qwik-mart to buy a paper. I didn't put on makeup. I didn't really comb my hair (but I generally have good hair so it's OK.) I was wearing a track-suit, which is an L.A. euphemism for "sweats." And I didn't think of any of this before I walked outside the door.

I felt pure freedom, not self-consciousness. Sure, this is L.A.

Looks, appearance, image are everything here and haven't they told you-- no one walks in L.A.

I'm not famous. No paparrazzo's knocking down my door (Thank God) and if I want to go to the corner market in my pj's, why should anyone care? And more importantly, why should I even care if they care.

Of course, if I were outside my neighborhood running errands along Ventura Blvd--as I often do, I'd go to a little more effort. Because don't get me wrong, I like to look nice, but there's a certain pleasure in emerging 'as is.' Secondly, I don't want to become one of those people profiled in a tabloid weekly with a black stripe across my face with the scathing words. In my walk to the corner market, I pass a strip mall, a strip club, a pawn shop, a laundromat, and two liquor stores, and oh yeah-- a place to buy real Indian hair. In fact, on my way home, I passed a Latino guy wearing pajama pants. I looked at him and smiled.

Photo credit: Irona Baby/flickr

Friday, March 14, 2008

Oh! The Places You'll Go ( and the people you'll meet)

He was from England, but not your typical English guy. His long, blond hair was spun into coarse dreadlocks that stretched beyond his waist. There were guitars and posters of Black Sabbath on the walls and a collection of fiercely maintained Porsches in the garage. Here I was, sitting in a white cargo van as he drove me to a crotchety, old building in East L.A. that I was interested in seeing. Odd premise? Perhaps. Yet, for me it was just another day as a location scout.

My Hollywood minutes are frequently strange. Sometimes it's like living in a Dr. Seuss mini-series: "Oh, the places you'll go...," the people you'll meet, and the things you'll (find yourself doing.)

Location scouting has brought many an experience to my already colorful life. I've descended into the basements of coffin showrooms and met a real-life Norman Bates and his 90-year-old mother. I've stopped alongside the road to watch the migration of sandhill cranes. I've knocked on the doors of trailer parks and met real river people whose sole pursuit is "living off the grid." I've met the ancient owner of a California mansion where "some Mariah singer" shot a music video. He invited me in and showed me around the gorgeous, oceanfront home that he had built with this own two hands. Now, in his old age, he was sadly contemplating whether or not to sell. I felt bad for him. I've scouted Mexican restaurants where the owners have been so excited that they've come running to my car with homemade tortillas in their hands as offerings.

I've visited the Korean Friendship Bell in Long Beach that I otherwise would've never known existed. I've actually been to Pioneer Village (in Nebraska.) I've been inside abandoned hospitals, condemned homes, and functional psychiatric facilities. I've spent days standing around in parking garages while something's being shot. I've taken long walks along winery backroads. I've scouted strip clubs in Compton and too many Qwik-ee Marts to mention.

I once met Paul Bunyan's evil twin, a lumberjack of a guy with a permanent scowl and cobwebs hanging from his beard. His expression never changed as he yelled and cursed at me and expressed that NO, we would "never, ever be allowed to shoot at his orchard" and that right now, right at this moment, "you movie people are trespassing." I trudged back to the scouting van holding my composure as long as possible so the above-the-lines wouldn't see me, the girl--the one in charge of this whole scout--cry, out of frustration and out of defeat.

For over a month during the shooting of a feature, I spent every waking moment with a slightly scary, questionably sane, former stuntman just so production could shoot at his secluded cabin. It was like living The Dangerous Book For Girls. I picked cattails, learned self-defense moves, hung out in his treehouse as he showed me how to load a gun, suffered through his vacation photos from Fiji, and endured his routine tirades. I came out of it feeling enpowered because everyone else seemed to be afraid of him...and I was not. After all, I knew he didn't keep the guns loaded. I just knew to keep my distance.

I've double-parked, made illegal U-turns, trespassed many a time, seen places I never would've seen otherwise, and embraced even the difficult times this job has had to offer because I've grown-up all the while and made myself stronger while learning not to be too hard on myself. Above all, I've learned that it's okay if they see you cry, if they see you sweat, or if you come up empty-handed. It's a tough job and at the end of the day, it really is just a movie...(or a tv show or a commercial...)

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle
Photo Credit: KLiedle

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Left On The Side Of The Road...

I'm a writer. I notice things.
I'm a traveler. I discover things.
I'm a nomad. I wander.

I'm also a location scout so I spend a lot of time on-the-road and I'm a nature lover so I spend a lot of time on my own two feet exploring. They say that you can tell a lot about a people, a culture, a country by what is thrown away, what's discarded and what's left abandoned there on the side of the road. In my travels, I've been amazed (and sometimes disgusted) by what I've found: Cardboard Mcnugget containers, minus the nuggets--yet still bearing the telltale oil stains. Used condoms. Gum wrappers. A ratty newspaper. The most astonishingly gigantic and magnificent pine-cone I've ever seen (and I'm a sucker for pine-cones.) A perfectly good weight bench. A sofa better than my own--enough so that in the dark of night, I admit it, I swapped--just before trash day. Someone's death certificate. A perfectly-shaped leaf. A bank statement. A decomposing squirrel. Someone's homework left unfinished. A homeless person still very much alive, but nevertheless abandoned by us, by society, there on the side of the road.

I could construct a story from this charm bracelet of discarded items. Today I found someone's plastic U.S. Open ID badge...from 2005. His photo appears on the front. His name is Vijay Amritraj. He is Indian. He is Hindi. He has dark hair and a very pleasant smile. I look him up online to find that he was one of India's all-time great tennis players. Along with his brother, he was once a semi-finalist at Wimbleton.

When he retired from tennis, he served as a "United Nations Messenger of Peace" and later founded "The Vijay Amritraj Foundation" whose mission is to bring hope, help and healing to the defenseless and innocent victims of disease, tragedy and circumstance in India. Driven by a firm belief that "in giving we receive," the foundation pledges to make a real difference for those who are most in need of the helping hand of humanity.

Perhaps there are lessons here--"in giving we receive," to never lose our child-like sense of wonder, to pay attention-- even in the craze of modern life, and to take notice of those who are most in need of the helping hand of humanity... and to be willing to search for the treasures that are out there, just beyond our gaze...

P.S. Mr. Amritraj? I have your ID.

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle
Photo credit: Justpedalhard/flickr