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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Always Smoggy In L.A. -- "Sugar"

*Click above to view the episode*

"Sugar" / Episode #104 starring Alisha Nichols, Padriac Culham and Brandon Alter
Created by Scott Vogel and produced by Kendra Liedle and Scott Vogel, IT'S ALWAYS SMOGGY IN L.A. episodes can by kooky, they can be dark, and they can be twisted, but they are all unquestionably L.A.

It's Always Smoggy In L.A. episodes are currently running exclusively on Cocoa And Caffeine Hollywood Travels and

For future episodes and more information about the show, please see the official website:

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tunnel Vision: Diving Bell And The Butterfly

When my imagination does horror, dreams turn to nightmares and suddenly I'm drowning. Beauty extinguished. Life washed away.

Or I look at the sun for a moment too long. A razor blade slices the vision out of my eyes, a la Un Chien Andalou. I'm blinded and <<whoosh>> I'm in a Bunuel film, chased by a Minotaur and unable to find my way out.

I think of death and I accept the inevitability of it... I just wish I could predict how and when. It would just make things a little more convenient-- planning-wise. What I don't think about often... nor do any of us... is what if death didn't come, but instead my life ( or your life ) was forever altered in some tragic way. What, then?

For me, the nightmare would be blindness after a lifetime of gazing at the beauty a
nd pleasures of this world... the movies I love, the places I've been, the artwork I've created, the people I've known. I'd never again be able to experience them fully.

Or the nightmare would be experiencing the feeling of drowning: water slushing up my nose, free-falling deeper and deeper, struggling briefly and giving up silently... and then waking up-- deep breaths, coughing, and magnificently terrified.

For Jean-Dominique Bauby, then editor-in-chief of French Elle Magazine, it was a
massive stroke that put him into a coma. When he awoke 20 days later, he was paralyzed from the neck down. Although he was conscious and mentally aware of his surroundings, he was unable to communicate with anyone. He'd lived the high lifestyle of fast cars, women, fashion, travel... And in a flash <> it was gone. He'd become a lump of clay, a 'living vegetable'...

“What kind of vegetable?” Jean-Dominique wondered. “A carrot? A pickle?”

He was experiencing 'locked-in syndrome,' a claustrophobic life in which a person retains mental alertness, vision, and hearing, but is unable to communicate with the outside world. It is like being buried alive, but Bauby wasn't ready to be buried. He was going to live, albeit in this strange, altered world.

Bauby triumphed against his circumstances by doing the seemingly impossible: He wrote a book. With help from a transcriber using a common letter alphabet, he blinked his left eye to write the experiences of his internal world-- how a life forever altered was affecting him and those around him. His book, published in 1997, became The Diving Bell And The Butterfly.

Jean-Dominique's unique story became a movie directed by Julian Schnabel, a painter turned film director. The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, originally released in 2007, is an masterful achievement in both directing and cinematography.

In an instant, we're transported to that moment... the moment we weren't ready for, the moment that came up too fast...

Suddenly I'm drowning. Beauty extinguished. Life washed away.

From the first frame of Schnabel's film, I'm Jean-Dominique. The camera won't let me see anything beyond this tunnel vision. I see doctors and nurses and people from my past. They look at me and shrug. They look at me and cry or apologize. They look at me as though I'm not there. I speak. No one listens. I shout. No one even flinches. It's like I'm in a coffin, but I'm not dead. I'm caught up in my own head. It's a nightmare. It's painful, it's claustrophobic, and at times, it's downright terrifying: The thought of never being able to escape this fate.

But I keep watching, transfixed by the vision being presented to me. The film opens up and I'm momentarily released from Jean-Dominique's prison to discover his past and the people around him. I'm introduced to the person he was before life altered itself. I'm reminded that any of this could happen to me or someone I know or anyone for that matter. The unthinkable. I experience heightened sensations, beauty rising through the ugliness, the magnificent in the ordinary. I hear Jean-Dominique's poetic view on his circumstances, spiked with sarcastic tone and dark humor and hope (of all things, hope!) I learn that art can come from tragedy, passion can be exhibited in a multitude of ways, and film can be life-altering as much as anything I can experience directly. It is a beautiful film, a life-altering film, that I highly recommend. It will change how you experience every moment thereafter...

"And so, curiously enough, a movie about deprivation becomes a celebration of the richness of experience, and a remarkably rich experience in its own right." (New York Times Movie Review)

Diving Bell And The Butterfly: Let your imagination set you free

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle
Photo credit: (eyeball){amanda} (woman drowning)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's Always Smoggy In L.A. -- "Rhino Boy"

Cocoa and Caffeine Hollywood Travels is proud to announce that "Rhino Boy," the 2nd episode of the new web series, IT'S ALWAYS SMOGGY IN L.A. is now available for viewing at and

Created by Scott Vogel and produced by Kendra Liedle and Scott Vogel, each short episode of IT'S ALWAYS SMOGGY IN L.A. explores the unique effects the entertainment industry has on the people who live here. Our episodes can by kooky, they can be dark, and they can be twisted, but they are unquestionably L.A.

For future episodes and more information about the show, please see the official website:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cultural Shopping: My Grocery List is long...

In L.A., I could just go to one grocery store, "double-coupon Ralph's," and get it done. However, I'd be missing out on a great deal. I'm not talking about coupons, I'm talking about culture and my grocery list is long, yet interesting.

Los Angeles has a vast array of smaller ethnic and specialty markets. I try to go to farmers markets. I regularly shop at Trader Joe's. Who doesn't? Most importantly though, I venture into unknown markets-- places where I may very well be the only native English speaker. I may not always have the money to travel, but I can walk into a Russian gift shop and instantly be on foreign territory.

I'm always on the lookout for unique spices (especially Greek seasoning, one of my favorites!) I've found excellent apricots, dates, figs, Turkish/Armenian coffee, and falafel at Mediterranean and Middle-eastern markets in the area. I can also find good, inexpensive fresh fish plus unique Asian gifts at 99 Ranch Market (a Chinese supermarket chain.) Some of the best and least expensive produce can be had at supermercados like Vallarta and El Super. They are usually considerably busy, but I enjoy the experience (mostly) and it gives me opportunities to practice my Spanish.

For a vast majority of Angelenos, English is not their native tongue. I find it interesting to turn the tables on myself: Experience a different worldview. Speak a different language. Doing so adds a whole new dimension to the usually mundane task of grocery shopping.

Los Angeles is one of those places where countless languages are spoken and culture can be found on every corner. Embrace culture and have the curiosity and courage to seek it out. You'll feel like you've traveled even if you haven't really left home. No passport necessary!

Select ethnic markets, etc. in the Los Angeles area.
(There are many, many more!!!)

El Super (Latino)
Vallarta (Latino)
99 Ranch Market (Chinese grocery chain)
Papa Cristos C&K Importing (Greek and Arabic food/deli)
Golden Fork Cafe (excellent Armenian/Russian/Middle-Eastern food)*

*P.S. Thanks to our neighbors, Paul and Amy, for inviting us over last month and introducing us to the amazing cuisine at Golden Fork Cafe!

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle.
Photo credit: RalphBijker/flickr