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, February 18, 2009


Cocoa and Caffeine Hollywood Travels is proud to present "The Little Tramp," the premiere episode of the new web series, IT'S ALWAYS SMOGGY IN L.A.

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, February 16, 2009

Just One Bite! (Foods that should not exist)

Early in the morning, I approach a craft service truck and I'm instantly confronted by it: The inescapable, God-knows-why-it-exists, breakfast burrito.

I've never understood the phenomenon of the breakfast burrito. "Oh, okay, let's just roll up some bacon and eggs and some leftover herbs with some ham and onion and anything else we can scrounge up and Voila-- a tortilla smorgasbord of goodness! Uh, no thanks."

Given the choice, I'll always opt for cold, sludgy oatmeal with raisins, dried cranberries (if I'm lucky) and granola. To me, breakfast burritos belong in the same category as pot pies, another food item that should not exist. Pot pies exchange the tortilla for puff pastry and usually include a creamier chicken ensemble. Of course, you can throw ham or bacon or eggs in there, too.

This made me start thinking about other food items that should really not exist. Beets and bean sprouts top my list. I believe the bright red color of beets is a warning from nature alerting us that they are not meant for human consumption. Egg yolks are another one. I remember meticulously removing what I referred to as the "icky yellow part" of the egg. I was probably five at the time... and I still refer to egg yolks as the "icky yellow part." All the protein is in the white anyway. They have seedless watermelon. I wish there was a way to make a yolkless egg, but somehow I don't see that happening. I end up wasting yolks or paying a premium for egg beaters cartons. I also don't understand why they bother canning peas. Once they're canned, they automatically assume a pukey green color and a mushy, already-digested mouthfeel. I feel sorry for the pea that finds itself canned.

As much as I hate (and question some foods), I've discovered that I like some foods that I never, ever would touch as a kid. I now like yams. Yams, for god's sake! I also like cashews...a lot...and I always used to tease my dad for liking them. I thought they were beyond disgusting. I even drink almond milk and soy milk and sometimes I even eat cabbage-- on purpose. I'm a coffee fiend, something I swore to my mother would never, ever happen in this lifetime.

So, even as an adult-- force yourself to try "just one bite." You may find that, even among the sometimes odd selection at craft service or your nearest buffet, you'll rediscover something you never thought you'd like. I don't see myself changing my opinion on breakfast burritos or pot pie anytime soon though.

Copyright 2009 KLiedle
Photo credit: thinguy/flickr and sashertootie/flickr

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Aging Out In Hollywood

Entertainment has traditionally been able to weather the storm. During economic downturns, people still sought escapism. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, people who could barely afford a loaf of bread would save up a nickel for a movie. It meant that much to them.

These days, while people still seek escapism (witness the phenomenon of Paul Blart Mall Cop), it doesn't seem to matter so much anymore. Amid ticket sales and recent innovations like 3-D, there is evidence that this time, it's different. This time, the motion picture industry is increasingly turning inward. With strikes of the past and threats of strikes in the future (SAG has yet to reach an agreement,) the industry has become like a rattlesnake out to eat its own tail-- unless the economy gets to it first.

In January, Warner Bros. announced that it was cutting 800 jobs---450 of which would be jobs lost in their Burbank, CA facilities alone. Many other entertainment giants are seeking cutbacks as well, citing the changing entertainment landscape, consumer preferences, and escalating costs.

Even more surprisingly (for me), the Motion Picture & Television Fund announced that it would be closing down its on-campus hospital and nursing home, based in Woodland Hills, CA. due to "...sobering economic realities...," according to David Tillman, fund chief executive (as reported by The Los Angeles Times.)

This is a major blow to entertainment professionals and their families. Upwards of 100 long-term care patients at the facility will be relocated to various nursing homes-- not to mention the impact and added stress to their families, loved ones, and the nursing staff who will lose their jobs.

I was well aware of the fund's Woodland Hills long-term facility and I always felt that if time and circumstances arose that required long-term care, that would be the preferable place to be. I always loved its uniqueness-- each person living there has some connection to the entertainment industry. Perhaps that person was an actress or a cinematographer, a script supervisor or a stuntman... (Marilyn Monroe may have been a star, but let's not forget that her mother, Gladys, was a negative cutter at RKO.) Many people at the MPTF facility are just that: below-the-line professionals whose livelihoods were just as important as any other contributors to the arts.

Think of the unspoken bonds they share with each other. The stories they can tell. Perhaps, they lunched together at the MGM commisery one day without even knowing it. Maybe they remember the antics of such-and-such a director and can still laugh or smile about it, even today.

These wonderful people contributed to some of our favorite classic movies and are now faced with the harsh reality of establishing a new home amid advanced age and health difficulties. Many may not survive the transition and that's what I find saddest of all. Current patients will have to make the adjustment when they are at their most vulnerable stage of life.

Even my grandmother, who recently has had some health setbacks was vehemently opposed to moving from assisted living to another facility. "I am not moving. I am going HOME." Those were her words: HOME. A number of years ago, we took great lengths to find a facility that would suit her (and my late grandfather's needs and wishes.) We visited a number of facilities always getting my grandparents' feedback. We were guiding them, but THEY were chosing their home. Although, she does not reside in any MPTF facilities, her concerns are similar to those facing displacement.

To these patients and to the those affected MPTF employees, this facility was (and still is) their home, the place they chose to spend the 'final reel' of their artistic lives. You can't look at numbers on a keyboard and state that only "so many..." patients will be affected. Nursing home patients are the ones most directly affected. However, those currently in MPTF independent and assisted living, who always had the security of knowing that first-rate nursing home care through MPTF would be available and accessible to them, will be equally uprooted (when and if) the time comes for nursing care.

People are fragile beings, especially late in life: A cold can become pneumonia, a fall can cause a hip fracture, and the added stress and anxiety of moving, as well as being separated from your fellow patients and the caregivers you know and trust can be truly devastating.

It's unfortunate that any care facility has to make cutbacks. The Motion Picture Television Fund may be trying to cut the costs, but by doing so, they are betraying their pledge to "Take care of our own..." These people deserve more than an onscreen credit in a forgotten project.
They are not forgotten. Their contributions to the industry will stand the test of time. At the very least, the industry should be there for them in the time they have left.

*MPTF's says they are not closing down all facilities, only long-term care facilities in favor of more community-based care. Assisted living facilities are not expected to be shuddered.

For both sides of the issue, please see:
Saving The Lives Of Our Own
Motion Picture Television Fund Website

Special thanks to those who've contacted me as a result of this post!

Copyright 2009 KLiedle
Photo credit: Shanty Cheryl/flickr: Hollywood on Fire
Pancakes Barbara/flickr: Marlene Dietrich and Rita Hayworth at the Hollywood Canteen
(circa 1942)