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.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Do something you're afraid of...

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see Alan Ball's new film, Towelhead (aka Nothing Is Private) at Arclight Hollywood. I knew it was a coming-of-age film involving cultural differences, statutory/child rape, puberty and budding sexuality. I knew that it was a potent mixture of electrically charged topics--quite a bit for one film.

I knew that it might be difficult to watch. I knew it might be disturbing. Some people I know haven't seen the film for those very reasons. Some people who did see the film said it made them cry, it made them angry. A handful wanted to leave the theatre, but they couldn't-- they'd become transfixed in Alan Ball's all-too-real story about a Lebanese girl, Jasira Maroun (Summer Bishil) trying to find her place in the world.

The MPAA gave the film an R rating for "strong, disturbing sexual content and abuse involving a young teen, and for language."

Despite all of this, I wasn't afraid. Many times, I think the best movies are the ones that elicit the most extreme reactions from audiences. What makes you squirm? Why does it bother you so much? Have you spied on a neighbor or gossiped about them because you didn't approve of their lifestyle? Have you had feelings about something or someone that you've tried to suppress because your mind tells you it's wrong? Have you had private questions about taboo subjects, but had no one to ask?

Alan Ball poses these questions while pushing all your buttons. He likes to show the dark side of suburbia. He likes to tell stories that unfold in a way that exposes both the beauty and the ugliness of humanity. People can be ugly and racist and hypocritical. We like to put everyone in a box and slap a label on it. We try to make things simple, when in reality, everything is filled with complexity.

See the film even if it isn't a popcorn flick. See it even if it makes you squirm in your seat. Although, it packs a little too much into one movie ( a bit of a detriment to the film), it's an important film because the things that are disturbing about it are disturbing because they're real. We don't want to acknowledge it, but disturbing things happen everyday.

Alicia Erian (novel)
Alan Ball (screenplay)

Towelhead Movie

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Supermarket Checkout

As I read the news of all that's happening within the U.S. these days, I worry about the future and wonder if there is any hope. Are we doomed to fall? Is the average American really as stupid as it seems like they are?

When I think it through, my most honest answer is yes-- on both accounts.

Yes, it is possible that the United States of America could fall, much like great civilizations of the past. I've always believed that the rise and fall of nations is a natural occurrence. America is still powerful, but let's face it; we're losing our grip. It's much like aging, we can't reverse the process completely but we can slow it down if we recognize that it's happening. (The same can be said for not only the state of our bodies and our respective nations, but for the planet itself.)
Standing in the supermarket line, with coupons in hand, I hear two American women in their forties talking. They're flipping through a junk-foodesque, tabloid magazine. Though brief, what they have to say is frightening:

One woman says to the other, "So and so told me I should vote for McCain because he's a Democrat." Then, she hesitates..."No, not a Democrat, he's a...a...what's the other one? I forget."

The other woman (only half listening) shrugs, "Hmm...I don't know. I heard his 17-year-old daughter is pregnant!"

Every fiber in my being wants to shout to them: Republican. It's Republican, you nitwits!!!! Elizabeth Cady Stanton turns over in her grave as my thoughts carry on: "And it's Sarah Palin's daughter that's pregnant not McCain's! Do you know anything? Anything at all?

These are grown American woman with a right to vote in this country. The most dimwitted of the population are always the ones that reproduce the most so I know they're not the only ones: There many more dumb Americans out there and it's starting to feel like they outnumber the rest of us. It's because of people like this that many of us have a rather dim vision of the nation's immediate future.

Perhaps, it's time to fly the American flag at half-staff in mourning for itself.

Photo by BehindtheLenz/flickr
Copyright © 2008 KLiedle

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Page Setup

"I've been set-up!!!," I scream to my laptop [again.]

As I see the unsettling spinning wheel icon pop up on-screen, I leap into the air and land on my left heel...hard-- hard enough that it takes out some of my frustration, but hard enough that it hurts enough to regret.

In the last several days, I'd spent a lot of time working on what amounted to very little... My only real accomplishment seemed to be the success of the Spinach Rice Gratin dish I made for dinner the other day-- a yummy recipe from a fave recipe blogger at 101cookbooks
and a recipe I'd been meaning to make for awhile.

"And there it spins," I mutter to myself as I crack my knuckles, "the spinning wheel of Macintosh hell..."

I've been working on the page layout and set-up of my first book, Once More, With Feeling.

Unbelievably, Incredibly frustrating!

Writing it, illustrating it, etc. were nothing compared to the abysmal, harrowing experience of getting the layout "print-ready," mostly due to pagination and resolution issues.

Finally, miraculously... when I didn't care anymore and I was about to give up and forget about it entirely: It worked!

(Note: images need to be 300 dpi, manual page breaks are necessary where it really counts especially when graphics are involved...)

Like most worthy things, the end product will be worth the pain eventually. To be honest, I'm more relieved than excited. At this point, I can't forget the all-to-recent pain of the whole experience. (For one thing, my left heel still hurts.)

I'll report back when Once More, With Feeling becomes officially available and then, I'll be excited!

Illustrations credit: Scott Vogel, from my upcoming book, Once More, With Feeling.
Copyright © 2008 KLiedle

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


A friend of mine just found a worm in her apple -- a sure sign that autumn and apple season is well on its way! I love September -- the cooler weather ( in my hemisphere anyway), autumnal festivals galore, and the beginnings of the grape harvest up North.

It certainly isn't Oktoberfest, but September certainly has quite a bit to offer. I've gotten a list together of some happenings around L.A. and lots of September things I'd like to do. I won't get to them all-- guaranteed-- but I can share them here. Perhaps some of you reading this can experience the things I won't have time for.

September 2008 Happenings In And Around L.A.

-- Julian Grape Stomp Festa
I've always wanted to experience true grape-stomping " I Love Lucy" style. I've never been to Julian, located roughly an hour east of San Diego, but if you're in the area in the next few days, you might want to check this out.
Sept. 6, Menghini Winery, Julian CA.

--Lemon Fest
Ahh... lemons...bitter yet sweet and a very good excuse to drive out to Ventura.
Sept. 6-7, Pacific View Mall, Ventura,

--Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
The Chinese people certainly know how to put together a festival: Witness the amazing spectacle of the opening and closing ceremonies of the recent Olympic Games. Luckily, I don't have to teleport myself to China to experience the upcoming Moon Festival.
Sept. 13 Central Plaza, Chinatown (Los Angeles),

--Santa Barbara Sand Castle Festival
Sandcastles are always magical to me. They represent the epitome of art that needs to be cherished in the moment since, well, sand castles don't last forever.
Sept. 13, East Beach, Santa Barbara, CA

--Pasadena Greek Festival
Yes, I know the L.A. Greek Festival is going on this weekend. I went to it last year and had a great time, as I do at every Greek Festival. However, this year, I want to be different so I want to see how Pasadenaean Greeks showcase their stuff.
Sept. 19-21, St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Church, Pasadena CA

--Valley Film Festival
It's not in Hollywood or Westwood or Beverly Hills-- Finally, a film festival in my neck of the woods.
Sept. 24-28. El Portal Theatre, North Hollywood CA

--Grand Avenue Festival
Sept. 28, Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA

--An Academy Salute To Akira Kurosawa
Not only can you see a Kurosawa film in its full glory on the big screen, but the Academy is also hosting a rare exhibit of Kurosawa's pre-production film drawings and paintings, which I'm particularly interested in seeing.
Akira Kurosawa: Film Artist (Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences)
Kurosawa Tribute screenings throughout September including the features: Rashomon, Kagemusha, Seven Samurai, Ran, Yojimbo, and Dersu Uzala.
*Film screenings take place at either the Samuel Goldwyn Theater or the Linwood Dunn Theater. See for more information.*

So, it looks like I shall be a busy girl in September ( or vastly disappointed with myself if I don't follow through on attending some of these gems.)

Photo credit: Bald Monk/flickr
Copyright © 2008 KLiedle