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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rumbles from the underground

Tuesday July 29, 2008

Approximately 11:42 a.m.

I stand over the stovetop and stir my soup. Bubbles are just beginning to surface as it simmers. It's just moments away from being ready.

I look at the microwave clock-- 11:43 a.m. I turn off the burner and grab a soup bowl out of the cupboard. For some reason, I pause to glance outside to the patio.

"The cascading lemon tree is especially lovely today," I think to myself.

I feel a vibration. For a millisecond, I convince myself that it's another plane flying overhead.
The vibration intensifies. My mind finally recognizes what's going on. I freeze in my tracks. Things start to shake. This is an earthquake.

I bring my cats inside. Then, I run to a door frame to wait it out. I don't have any idea how long it's going to last. I have no idea if it's going to get STRONGER or if this is the extent of it. Twenty or thirty seconds go by, but it feels much longer.

The rumbling finally goes back underground and suddenly things are eerily silent. I'm still frozen, my hands shaking from nervousness. Five minutes pass though and I'm alright again. I say a silent thank you that it wasn't any worse. I console my terrified cats. I eat my soup.

Hours later, it's as though nothing had happened. The freeways are running. Drivers are still honking their horns. The mail carrier is still delivering. The earth is silent once more.
I drive to Hollywood to see "The Dark Knight" at Arclight's Cinerama Dome, moving forward with my initial plans for the evening.

Along Sunset Blvd. I encounter an Australian news crew. They request to interview me about my experience with the quake. I agree to recount those earlier moments, unsure that any Australians really care about me blathering about how the earthquake interrupted my lunch.

I smile as I walk into the movie theater. Everything is alright with the world again. [ For now anyway.]

** The earthquake hit Chino Hills, CA-- east of downtown Los Angeles-- at 11:43 a.m. with a magnitude of 5.4. According to The Los Angeles Times, the quake rumbled from a shallow depth, making it feel much more intense than it's magnitude would suggest.

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle
Photo credit: t_r_o_n / flickr "Chino Hills"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Scowl And A Smoke Doesn't Get You Far

A couple of weeks ago, I worked on a car commercial. The director looked like Kurt Cobain. He smoked like a chimney. He paced back and forth, always with a pissy scowl on his face. I never once saw him smile.

Yes, they were running late and toward the end, they were losing the light. The footage, however, looked amazing! Even as I watched take after take, there sat the director stewing in his own juices and glaring at the monitor.

Okay, commercials might not be the epitome of this directing dream of his, but he is a working director. Most people would gnaw all their fingernails off and shave their head just to be working as a director in the field.

Commercial directors do seem to have more people to answer to than feature or television directors. There’s the crew, the production company, a seemingly never-ending parade of agency people, and then there’s the client [in this case, the car company.]

Everyone thinks they know how to sell the product. Everyone thinks they know how to shoot a commercial. Watching the “everyones” mingle in the middle is a unique and educational experience in human behavior.

I know both sides. I studied/majored/got a degree in advertising. Most of my working experience, however, has been in production. I came to a realization that sometimes there are things that I just enjoy studying, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to do them. Luckily, I can continue my studies since there never seems to be any shortage of advertising.

Maybe our commercial director here was pissed off because never in his wildest dreams did he think he’d be “selling cars for a living.” It all depends on a person’s mindset.

To him, I’d say “There are far worse things.”
To him I’d say, “Here are a few…”

~ Workplaces that don’t allow constant smoking.
~ Jobs that would require you to wear a butt-ugly uniform.
~ Jobs where you have to bring your own lunch (or lunch money.)
~ Being out in the sun all day, digging holes in the freeway.
~ Doing other peoples’ laundry.
~ Coming home every day with the scent of Chinese food permeating through every one of you pores.

So, “selling cars for a living” by directing car commercials? Not really so bad there, buddy.

Maybe if he’d smiled or was more communicative, he’d have a shot of progressing beyond “commercial fare” or [ at the very least ] they’d let him drive the car. Then again, maybe that’s what he wanted all along—just a shot at driving the fancy-schmancy car.

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle

Thursday, July 10, 2008

WALL-E: The Next Generation E.T.

With triple digits temperatures here in the San Fernando Valley, the best thing to do [besides staying indoors and eating ice cream] is to go to the movies.

Temperatures in movie theatres are always similar to doctor's offices. (It's always chillier than you expect--which in the heat of summer is a good thing.) Given the two options, I'd always pick the movie theatre though...unless maybe I was dying. Although... if I was dying, I might as well die watching a good movie so perhaps I'd choose a movie theatre even then.

In the chilly theatre, I recently saw both WALL-E and Hancock. Hancock has all that a summer blockbuster needs. It's entertaining, comedic, lots of stuff blows up-- and the main attraction is a swashbuckling-boozing anti-hero in the form of Will Smith. I witnessed some Hancock filming in downtown L.A. In person, the effects were powerful and nearly unimaginable. Granted, it was a good film, but I'm not really here to talk about Hancock.

Instead, I'm here to talk about Wall-E. If you haven't seen it--GO! If it wasn't on your "must-see" list, write it down--in pen. I'm an intelligent adult and I don't have kids. Yet, I chose to see Wall-E. I was prompted by the critics who continued to rave about the film. Plus, Pixar has never released a letdown. Think about it.

Wall-E is funny, sophisticated, and frightening. There were times when I nearly cried. There were times when Wall-E rolled across the screen and I saw E.T. But Wall-E is a terrestrial and it's the humans in space. Instead of a geranium, it's a green plant in need of care.

Wall-E is lucky. Unlike many humans, he has been programmed to know his "directive"--his purpose in life. Many humans are still looking (myself included.) Unluckily, Wall-E is alone and, as a robot, seemingly incapable of emotion. That isn't true though. Wall-E in his way has the ability to feel--especially in his connection with a newly-upgraded robot named Eve. The first 30 minutes of the film contain little, if any, dialogue. Wall-E is alone in an appalling, nearly apocalyptic Earth without a speck of green. We are watching what Earth could become after humans are gone.

Wall-E treads a fine line. On one hand, it's entertainment and on the other, it's a powerful statement on where we are headed, both as a species and as a planet. The beach-ball humans that exist in Wall-E seemed to be governed by advertising and big business. They ooh and ah over the newest, shiniest products before them. They are all together, but are startled by even the slightest human contact. They aren't all that smart. With their roly-poly physiques and empty brains, they are also absolutely defenseless. And, no coincidence here, they are mostly Americans-- or at least it certainly looks that way.

The messages in Wall-E aren't that difficult to grasp: Dirt [ i.e. Nature] isn't dirty. Virtual anything will never replace the power of human touch, sight, taste, and feelings. We need to take care of the planet. We need to take care of each other. We need to wake up and not let the powers that be tell us what to do. We're in charge of determining our own directives.

Wall-E could easily offend the wrong person, but if it does offend them, it is probably offending the right people--because those are the ones that most need to listen. We all need to listen. That's why Wall-E is an infinitely important film to see--no matter what planet you're on.

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle