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, December 27, 2014

Blank Space At Midnight

I have no shame in letting loose and rocking out to Taylor Swift.  Why not dance my little heart out??!! Truth is, I do it all the time.  No matter what responsibilities you may have or whatever stresses you might be facing, my hope is that you can forget about all of that for a moment or two and lose yourself in something.  

For me, dance is the one thing that allows me to be completely and utterly myself with no filter, no self consciousness and no worries. Find what works for you and embrace that thing, whether it's an activity or a person or your favorite movie.  Get to it now.  Life is waiting.  Happy New Year!!
#TaylorSwift #BlankSpace #HappyNewYear #Embracelife #Dancethenightaway

And here's me dancing the night away.  Celebrating the moment and anticipating a new year filled with good luck, surprises, and hopefully a fulfilled dream (or two!)


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays From Cocoa and Caffeine Hollywood Travels

Happy Holidays to one and all!  Be kind, forgiving and thankful. Jingle a bell. Dance if you feel like it. Laugh alot.  Spin a bottle or a dreidel or yourself.  Eat pizza or Chinese food or a plateful of brownies. Get dressed up.  Get naked.  Get drunk.  Do whatever the hell you feel like doing.  It's your holiday after all.  Make it memorable.
Copyright ©2014 by Kendra Liedle/@cococaffeine

Seasons Greetings From The Stars

Sunday, December 21, 2014

In Light Of The Recent Sony Hacking Scandal

In light of the recent Sony hacking scandal, I have to say that I'm not entirely surprised. Corporate cyber attacks have been increasing at an alarming rate in the past few years. Traditionally, hackers have been after databases and personal information that can be used primarily for financial gain. The attack on Sony went far beyond goals of pure financial gain. Its aim appears to be a politically motivated attack to cripple a major corporation into compliance by exposing not only company records but personal email correspondence between Sony executives-- correspondence that has proven to be embarrassing and in several cases, potentially career-ending. Additionally, the hack has exposed countless Sony employees and their families to identity theft. Many of these employees, we'll never know by name. I cannot imagine the frustration, anger, tension and fear they must have been feeling throughout this ordeal. That isn't to say it's over. No, the story doesn't end here. The vastness of this cyberattack is unprecedented in the film industry, make that any industry. (At least that I'm aware of.)

As someone who works in the film business, I'm well aware that certain factors that make our industry unique also give way to a corporate culture that isn't necessarily professional at all times. The entertainment industry is a billion dollar industry that attracts people of all different personalities, egos, levels of expertise and talent (or lack of it.) Add to the mix, the long hours (often spent away from home, on-location), the high stress levels and the possibility of wealth and recognition in a well-known, highly competitive and prestigious industry. At the worst of it, you witness those who are jockeying for position for the greatest personal gain despite where that leaves the rest of the pack. If there's anything to be learned from the Sony hack, it's this: Be careful with what you say in any electronic format, even if it is your personal email. (And really, what's personal anymore anyway?) Anything you say can be taken the wrong way if seen by the eyes of the unintended. This has always been the case, but the Sony story exposing the inner workings of some of Hollywood's top-level executives proves that none of us are immune to the consequences of cyberhacking.

The other lesson learned from this whole fiasco is that film is more than mere entertainment. Both film and television are powerful mediums. They can be used to disseminate propaganda, to make social commentaries, to change (or inform) public opinion about potentially controversial subject matter. Whether we like it or not, films are cultural phenomenon. What we put out there reflects back on us and informs how we're seen on the international stage. This is an incredibly important concept to understand. I personally won't miss "The Interview." I don't think any of us will. But the greater intrigue will be witnessing the far-reaching consequences of the film in the months (and years) to come. And whether or not a precedent has been made that will make it more difficult for films to be openly expressive without fearing retaliation and/or retribution.

Copyright © 2014 by KLiedle/@Cococaffeine

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Observing Thanksgiving In The Company Of One

There was no turkey, no family hovering around the dinner table, no last minute prep.  On Thanksgiving, there was just me.  Not everyone has family.  Some people have family far away.  Others have circumstances that prevent them from getting out-of-town: the time, the expense, the hassle.  And then there are other people who choose to spend Thanksgiving by themselves.

I've done Thanksgiving by myself before.  There should be no shame in this;  it's not the end of the world.  In fact, spending the holiday alone allowed me to put my mind at rest, to appreciate (and be thankful for) the little things without the hustle and bustle of holiday stresses.  It allowed me to listen to my thoughts.  To spend some time getting to know myself better because it's rare that we take the time to know ourselves.  We have so little time...

I reached out to my family far away, to friends, the people I care about and those I'm thankful for having in my life.  Those are the important things.  That's what the day is for: to remember family, the significant people who have touched you, the ones you can't imagine not knowing... the people of your life.  Because this is your life and the majority of people in this world you will never have an opportunity to meet, much less know.

On Thanksgiving, it's not the meal that matters.  Or the turkey or whether or not the pumpkin pie was homemade or store-bought.  It's the people of your life, even if they're not seated around the dinner table with you.  Even if miles separate you from looking into their eyes on Thanksgiving Day or if they no longer exist in this world.  Even if those people are friends you've lost touch with or those who are no longer a part of your life even though maybe you'd like them to be.

It's the people who have made you smile and laugh, the ones who drive you insane (but you love them anyway), the people who have touched you in some way, those who have forever changed you, the ones you love, those you've loved and those who have allowed you to believe in love again, if you've ever lost faith.  And nearly all of us have at some point.  Be thankful for those people and for yourself for being here, for making it through another day, for contributing to the world.  For being significant in other peoples' lives in ways you may never know.

Spending Thanksgiving by yourself doesn't make you an orphan or a leftover.  In many ways, it allows you to reflect on the holiday in ways that might escape you if you were stressed by fixing the turkey or trying to get the table set just right.  Or if you were traversing state lines in a mad rush to make it home in time.

There was no turkey, no family hovering around the dinner table, no last minute prep.  On Thanksgiving, there was just me, a big bowl of buttered popcorn and my chosen movie friend of the evening: Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  Because movies can be our friends, too.  And I'm thankful for movies as well as many other things in my life.

[Note: Today I'm also thankful for other peoples' Thanksgiving leftovers (that I'm getting to enjoy for the first time today.)  One person's turkey leftovers are another person's turkey "first-overs."
Happy Thanksgiving Saturday!]

Copyright © 2014 by Kendra Liedle/@cococaffeine

Sunday, November 23, 2014

There Are Times I Could Walk Forever

Nature and I have an understanding.  No matter what I'm going through in my life, the outdoors always brings me peace.  There are times I could walk forever until I forgot myself and everything that brought me to that moment.  I would climb trees high above my parent's house, watch the sky as the clouds roll by and listen to the rustling of cornstalks on a windy day.  Things like that always brings me closer to knowing myself.   For that reason and many others, I'm really looking forward to seeing WILD


Post / Copyright ©2014 by Kendra Liedle/@cococaffeine

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Strange Sighting Spotted On The Road

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ugliness And Questions Of Morality Arise in 'Nightcrawler'

When I was in journalism school, we talked about journalistic integrity and we read books by Katherine Graham  and Walter Cronkite .  I was required to take classes like Communications Law and study Supreme Court cases related to journalism.  Things like copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.

This was when the internet was still in its infancy.  E-mail was a new concept and "going online" was more a novelty than a necessity.  Although he didn't live to see the rise and proliferation of social media, Walter Cronkite, anchorman of CBS News and the grandfather titan of broadcast journalism, foresaw where the internet might lead.  In response, he expressed concern that people would be less likely to tune into hard news to keep up with current events.  More likely, he predicted, news and entertainment would morph into one entity-- something he coined "infotainment."

It's happened.  And it's getting worse.  The intense hunger for celebrity gossip and entertainment content have given rise to reality shows and made paparazzi even more cut-throat in their pursuit of snagging a high-roller photo or capturing a spectacle on tape.  Everyone's a filmmaker.  Everyone's got a camera.  And we've all got cameras with us all the time.  Conveniently located in the palm of our hands.

This is the background that sets the stage for Nightcrawler, a film written and directed by Dan Gilroy.  Jack Gyllenhaal is excellently creepy as Lou Bloom, a sociopathic loner who's schooled himself about everything purely from what he's gleaned from the internet.  His bug-eyed appearance, stringy hair, and the speediness at which he rattles off sound bites give the immediate impression of a stereotypical "sleazy car salesman."  But he's not.  As Lou drives the dark streets of Los Angeles one night, he discovers something that changes his life (and the lives of many others) :

All you need to make some quick cash is a camera, a police scanner, and a lack of conscience.  

This is the world of crime journalism.  Lou quickly bullies his way in and starts work as a freelance, amateur videographer.   Before long, he's capturing the goriest of urban crime,  twisted car crashes, fires, and other spectacular scenes on tape.  He immediately attempts to hawk his footage to news organizations, most of whom turn him down.  BUT he finds a buyer with the News Director of KWLA, a low-rated news station desperate to turn their ratings around at seemingly any cost.  From the get-go, Lou's gritty and intrusive footage puts news organizations like KWLA into a quandary.

This is questionable territory.  Where do we draw the line?  If a news station is just "reporting the news," at what point does it crossover into "profiting from other people's tragedies"?  How does a news organization justify broadcasting graphic and horrific images just for the sake of getting viewers?

These are the kind of questions and the underlying social commentary that Nightcrawler presents to us.  Where are we going?  Where have we been?  When we see things on-screen we deem so graphic and horrific and intrusive that they're  the absolute opposite of everything we believe in, why can't we look away?  Why are we drawn to the darkness?

Nightcrawler forces us to ask some hard questions about human nature while examining answers that don't come easy. And these are only a few of the moral questions the film presents.

At the heart of it all is Lou, who, in his reminiscence of Norman Bates, also happens to have all the characteristics of a sociopath.  He's superficially charming, intelligent, pathologically egocentric and antisocial.  On top of it all, he lacks remorse and is incapable of love.  And Lou is desperate for glory and recognition.  It's all a dangerous combination.  The extremes to which Lou takes his work, make my skin crawl.  Much like the people he captures on film, I felt violated.  It's a horribly uncomfortable feeling. But a very good film.


The Gory Truth Of 'Nightcrawler'
The Society Of Professional Journalists = Code Of Ethics
The Paparazzi Reform Initiative
Media Ethics And Society

Copyright © 2014 by KLiedle/@cococaffeine

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Howdy From The Hippie

Occasionally while I'm location scouting, something will catch my eye and make me smile.  This peace-loving hippie sculpture was one of those things.

He's probably been saying "Howdy" to passing drivers for quite awhile...

Roadside Attraction
"Peace-loving Hippie"
Topanga CA


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kid-Like Dreams With Grown-Up Realities

I got a new job on a TV show and because of that, it leaves little time for much else.  I'm happy for the job, but I have a longing for something... something called free time.  Does that exist for people?  It used to exist for me, but now I just have my weekends like the rest of the working world. And one of those 'weekend' days seems to always be eaten up by errands and laundry and before I know it, Monday rolls around again.

That being said, I'm thankful for job security and having the opportunity to work consistently.  And as much as I miss having my own time to do things, especially write, the little kid in me is excited that some of the things she dreamed of long ago have come true.  Namely, that I (the grown-up big kid) work in the film and TV industry.  

Some things in life are meant to be, but very few things happen by accident.  I worked hard to make things happen for myself, but I very much believe in dreams-- especially little kid dreams.

As a kid, I used to hold a tape recorder to the TV screen and record the music of the logo intros to movies.  Then, I'd play the music back, close my eyes, and pretend that I was working in the movies.  I could be acting, directing, writing, producing or behind-the-scenes.  It didn't matter.  I just wanted to be a part of it.  That's what mattered most.  The dream that I could be a part of it, too.

And now I am.  So if any aspect of your kid-like dreams has become a reality, congratulations.  You're doing what you're meant to be doing.  And if those dreams have faded, brush 'em off and get crackin.' There's still time... to live out your dreams no matter who you are.

Here are a few of the logo intros that I remember fondly from childhood.  Even today, I can still identify many studios and production companies solely by their intro music.

Copyright ©2014 by KLiedle/@Cococaffeine

Original Dramas At AMC

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Globalization Of Streaming Entertainment Platforms: FRANCE

In France, cinema is highly regarded as an art form and the French take it very seriously.  

They are also extremely proud of their cultural heritage and, with the globalization of pretty much everything, France is fighting to keep their distinct cultural identity intact.

Which is why, as Netflix seeks to conquer Europe with its expansion overseas, the company has been met with skepticism and fear. "Let The Carnage Begin," was the headline in Le Monde.

France has a very specific system in place to ensure that its multi-billion dollar film industry is both nurtured and protected within its own borders.  As reported in the Los Angeles Times today, French law requires that at least "40% of programming on TV and radio be made in France... And there is a strict timetable for releasing films to DVD (four months) and to broadcast TV (up to three years.)" *

Copyright © 2014 by K.Liedle/@cococaffeine

* Los Angeles Times article: Netflix Struggles To Win Over Skeptics
Written by  Chris O'Brien

France Reports On Netflix Expansion

#Frenchcinema #NetflixFrance #LeMonde #NetflixExpansion

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September Issue Stand-Outs: Print Advertising

When fashion magazines publish their annual September Issues, I don't cringe when I see the number of pages devoted to ads and the minuscule amount reserved for editorial content.  The September issues of top-level fashion magazines are their largest of the year.

I've always enjoyed print advertising and fashion editorial when it's creatively well-done, tasteful, innovative, imaginative, and effective.  In fact, I thought I'd end up creating some of the very ads I so admire.  (I got a degree in advertising and journalism, but instead began working in film and tv.)

Here are some of my favorite ads
(Torn from the pages of my ELLE Magazine Sept. 2014 issue) 
(646) 649-5562

This is a simple showcase of selections from their fall/winter collection.  The photograph implies movement with playfulness.   And both the model's pose and expression are timeless.  A classy ad.

Saint Laurent Paris 

Beautiful composition and use of lighting techniques emphasize the shadows and contours of both the model and the fashions.  Just outstanding photography.

Alice and Olivia by Stacey Bendel

Eye-catching, colorful and whimsical, this ad has a storybook quality that reminds me of Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland as well as some of Grace Coddington's highly elaborate fashion editorial spreads for Vogue Magazine.  (**Grace Coddington is the Creative Director of American Vogue Magazine**)

Prada Candy Florale

This is a very simple ad that indulges the senses while capturing a moment of natural beauty-- all cast in the soft tones of pale pink.  It also doesn't hurt that I happen to like the scene.  The best part of perfume ads is that they're scratch n' sniff!

Written material Copyright © 2014 by K.Liedle/@cococaffeine

Friday, September 26, 2014

How To Read A Fashion Magazine Like A Grown-Up Child

(Ad for Saint Laurent Paris)

How To Read A Fashion Magazine Like A Grown-Up Child

1) Flip through the pages quickly and see what images draw your attention. Dog-ear the pages in which these images appear.

2) Sniff all the perfume samples. Flag the ones you like but can't afford. Make note to self to add these to Amazon wish list.

3) Turn to the back pages to read your horoscope.  (Then, read the horoscope of a guy you like. See how the two match up.)

4) Glance at the Masthead.  Read the bios of Contributors.  Show respect.

5) Read the editorial content.  Dog-ear pages of articles to save.

6) Tear out pages of stuff you like (as though you're an 8-year-old who's had too much sugar.)

7) Recycle magazine (or mark it "FREE" and leave  it at the library like it's an abandoned puppy.)

8) Consume sugar in any form available.

Anyhow, this is how I read a fashion magazine, but then again, I am a grown-up child.  Eventually, I'll go through all the magazine images in my files.  At that point, I'll cut images apart, rearrange
them, combine them with snippets of words, and embellish with some of my own artwork and writing.

When it's all over, I will have created a one-of-a-kind handmade card.  I've been doing this for
years and many of closest friends still treasure some of the personalized cards I've created for them.

Some of these cards can be found in the Handmade Card gallery in the pages of this blog.

(c) Copyright 2014 by Kendra Liedle/@cococaffeine
Follow me on Twitter @cococaffeine

The author (as an 8-year-old child)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Television Increasingly Attracting Film Screenwriters

In the world of entertainment, it isn't news to hear that the most promise for Hollywood screenwriters no longer exists in the world of film, but in television. Once the bastard stepchild to cinema, TV is in the midst of trailblazing its own tracks and creating a new frontier for entertainment.

After reality TV took over the airwaves, it was hard to imagine that television would ever make a comeback.  I certainly wasn't a believer.  It only seemed to me that things would get worse.  But like Robert Downey Jr. And Ben Affleck TV has made a momentous comeback in just a few short years. 

Yes, the reality shows keep coming, but they are becoming easier to avoid with increasing number of quality programming that's available.  Television is now where you can find solid writing and multiple shows worthy of binge-watching.  Television is where multi-layered plots and diverse characters can co-exist with great storytelling and roles that traditional "movie stars" want to play.

Now the role's are reversed and it's film I worry about.  Film, most of all.  That's where it all began...

But if there's one thing Hollywood loves more than anything, it's a good comeback.  I hope Hollywood films can stage their own, but that would mean taking risks on financing movies about real people and not comic book characters with super-human powers and franchise appeal.  The writers are still writing and the stories exist, but it's television and cable networks that are snatching up the good stuff and giving writers the opportunities and acclaim that once only came with a "Written by" credit on the big screen.

(c) Copyright 2014 by K.Liedle/@cococaffeine

For more on this topic from the perspective of screenwriters, check out this link from today's Los Angeles Times:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Costume Design

In the early days of filmmaking, costume sketches and fabric swatches generated by the wardrobe departments of Hollywood Studios were deemed unnecessary after the costume itself was created.  Much of these sketches were lost, damaged, or otherwise thrown away before it occurred to anyone that they just might be valuable in their own way... little pieces of artwork and links to Hollywood's past.

Some are mere pencil sketches, like some of Edith Head's designs for Audrey Hepburn in the film, "Sabrina." However, Fashion sketches and illustrations can also be much more colorful and elaborate.  Many contain original fabric and embellishments and are hand-painted, inked, or washed in watercolor.

Few fashion design sketches from those early days remain (especially for well-known films) but luckily we can still appreciate the artistry for what remains of those early days in Hollywood.

(c) Copyright 2014 by K.Liedle/cococaffeine
For more about early fashion illustration :

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Classic Experimental Film From The Silent Era Showcases Modern Editing Techniques

"The Man With A Movie Camera" is a Ukranian film from 1929 that depicts the hum-drum of daily urban life in a revolutionary way.  Known for its innovative, experimental and surprisingly modern use of editing styles, the film is considered to be one of the most influential film pieces of the silent era.  
[ In 2012, Sight & Sound magazine named it one of 8th best movies ever made. ]

Experimental.  Open.  Closed.  Awakening.  Sleeping.  Machinery.  Mechanisms.  Voyeurism.  Movement.  Freeze Frame.  Upbeat music with haunting, creep chimes.  Contrast.  Trains.  Divorce documents.  Woman undressing.  Man's eye reflected in a camera lens.  Funeral.  A woman in bed, delirious.  Rebirth.  Timing.  Town square splitting in half.  Tempo changes.  Extreme close-up of man's eyes.  Movement.  Fast cuts.  Dizzying.  Crowds -- Man capturing it all on camera.

For anyone interested in experimental film, editing techniques or film history in general, "The Man With A Movie Camera" is a classic to behold.

Directed by Dziga Vertov (1929)
Currently available on Netflix and Youtube

Blog content
Copyright © 2014 by K.Liedle/@cococaffeine
#manwithmoviecamera #ukranianfilm #silentfilms #filmhistory

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Henri, Le Chat Noir

I recently started learning French via Duolingo.  It's a terrific FREE app that allows you to learn several different languages in an easy and fun manner.  Every time you practice, you earn points.  You can compete against yourself (like I do) or compete with other people.

Whenever I'm on-set working on a movie or tv show and I see crew members scanning through endless FB newsfeeds on their phones, I always think to myself: "Dude, do something productive.  Maybe learn a language."  Film production is hard work, but it also entails quite a bit of downtime, too.  I'm always  trying to be productive, always trying to learn something new.

On that note, here's a little French short film about a cat named Henri.  I discovered it today when I read an interview with actor Christopher Walken via @the_talks in which he mentioned enjoying Henri's ennui.  May you enjoy it as well:

Henri, Le Chat Noir - Video Tube for YouTube - iPhone/iPad

(c) 2014 by KLiedle @cococaffeine

Monday, September 1, 2014

Evolution Of Hollywood Press And Celebrity

Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Dietrich, and Dimaggio,
Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean, on the cover of a magazine...
(from Vogue, lyrics by Madonna)

Most of these names would mean nothing without the advent of motion pictures-- for the motion picture brought with it the modern conceptualization of the movie star. Traditionally, movie historians have credited the public with initially creating the movie star system. Marilyn Monroe herself believed that the public chose its "stars", but it was the studios that "tried to make a system out of it."
However, if the public did indeed create the movie star, the major studios in their heyday perpetuated the system by selecting unknowns from the ranks of the ordinary and carefully grooming them into stars in an assembly-line fashion.

The fields of modern public relations and the cinema industry are both relatively young. Modern public relations first began in the mid-1800s while cinema was invented and developed in the late 1800s. The historic early years of both industries were times of tremendous expansion and growth.
Modern public relations, as discussed in Fraser Seitel's, The Practice Of Public Relations, began with press agentry and was first practiced by the infamous P.T. Barnum.  Barnum staged publicity merely for the sake of publicity for his traveling circus. Likewise, one of the first methods that the film and entertainment industry utilized to publicize its cinematic products (and its stars ), was this press agentry technique borrowed from public relations.
The Historical Background of Motion Pictures
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the motion picture, later affectionately referred to as a "movie," became a primary source of entertainment. As highlighted in the book, American Cinema/American Culture, during the era of 1929 through 1949, an unbelievable 83 million Americans per week went to the movies. A broad array of fascinated fans brought forth the construction of immaculate movie palaces during the 1910s through 1920s. These palaces, according to John Belton, author of American Cinema/American Culture, were widely advertised as "an acre of seats in a garden of dreams", ranged from a modest 500 seats to the extravagant 6,200 seat Roxy Theatre.
By the mid 1920s, four major movie studios had emerged: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Brothers. In 1934, MGM was, by far, the most sophisticated with its 117 acres consisting of some twenty-three sound stages, large exterior sets, a lake, a park, a mini jungle, and, of course, as the studio boasted, "more stars than there are in heaven", as noted by Ronald L. Davis, in his book, The Glamour Factory.
While hard to imagine now in the voyeuristic world of celebutantes we now live in, stars were not identified by name in the first movies. As people began to write fan mail to principal actors, however, studios were forced to reveal the star's identity to satisfy the public. It was only with this demand that someone known to audiences solely as the girl with the golden curls suddenly became widely identified as Mary Pickford [circa 1910] With this change, the movie star was born.
#earlyhollywood #hollywoodpress #hollywoodhistory
Copyright © 2014 by Kendra Liedle from Evolution of the Movie Star: Promotion And Publicity in Hollywood's Golden Era

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Welcome To This Century

Thursday, August 14, 2014

We Are Worth More Than The Sum Of Our Parts

The first time I heard "Joining You," by Alanis Morissette, I couldn't get through the whole song.  It cut me to the bone. I immediately thought of a friend of mine who committed suicide and it was too much for me to bear those raw emotions again.

I'd spent so much time burrowing those emotions deep into my soul and yet, there I was again, tears steaming down my face, completely unable to focus on the lyrics.  A testament to the power of music and emotion.

It took some time, but eventually I came back to "Joining You."  It remains to be an amazingly powerful song for me and it also serves as a reminder that we are all worth more than just the sum of our parts...

There's nothing selfish about suicide.  Most of us will never understand how (or why) anyone could kill themselves, but I believe that we can all agree that suicide is a desperate act, not a rational one.  Don't judge people who take their lives.  You have no way of knowing what it's like to be inside the prison of someone else's mind...

© 2014 by K. Liedle

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Laughs, The Joy, The Lessons: A brief tribute to Robin Williams

One of the first dolls I remember receiving as a kid was my "Mork" doll with the talking space backpack.

I may have gotten rid of Barbies over the years, but not Mork.  I've still got him.  As a kid, he kept me company and made me laugh.  He showed me that quirky can be cool, that it's okay to be different.

As I got older, I realized that it wasn't Mork who taught me those things... It was Robin Williams. 

He will be missed, but never forgotten.

#morkandmindy #robinwilliamstribute #comedylegend

Don't let suicide get the best of you or a loved one.  Suicide is a big topic to me.  I had a friend who took her own life.  I can't quite explain the extent of a loss like that. The shock you feel.  It's unlike any other type of death in that you blame yourself.  What could I have done differently?  Should I have called more, visited more?  

When you feel at your loneliest, at the depths of darkness... don't fall into the shadows by yourself.  Talk to someone. Seek help.  And if you see someone who is struggling, "Be a rainbow in someone
else's cloud," as Maya Angelou once said.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

-K. Liedle
Copyright © 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Still can't believe it's been 10 Years!  I still have 55 wine corks from the set and lots of memories...

Support Santa Barbara Wine Country !

#sidewaysmovie10years #castcrewsideways #santabarbarawinecountry #wine

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday Rare Picks: My Grandma With John F. Kennedy

My grandmother with JFK, Date unknown

This is the only photo I have of my paternal grandmother. I never got to meet her... 

Here she is, standing in the foreground next to JFK. Why is she with JFK? I'm not really sure.  She almost looks like she could be his mother, as though she's just waiting for him to sign that one last autograph so they can both go home.

Old photos can tell us stories... When I look at this picture, I always wonder what the story of that day was.  And I also wonder what my grandmother would've been like.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

L.A. Road Rules: Navigating The Roads Of An Urban Jungle

This week, someone actually set up a poker table in the slow lane of an L.A. Freeway.  Since traffic had come to an hours-long standstill, might as well play some Texas Hold 'Em, right?
#Only in L.A.

This week, a dear friend of mine is coming out to visit.  She's never been to L.A. and is understandably nervous about "the driving situation. "

It reminds me of when I first moved here. Before GPS or even Google Maps, I spent my first few months driving around L.A. with a "Streetwise L.A." laminated map of the freeway system attached to my steering wheel and a trusty Thomas Guide in the backseat.  The car (a bright blue Chevy Cavalier) is long gone, but the original laminated map (and Thomas Guide) I still have.

Driving in L.A. is not an American Graffiti joy ride for anyone. The web of freeways is hard to configure, everything is horrendously spread out, and public transportation is generally not a convenient or realistic option.

I've learned a lot since during those first few years in L.A.  Based on experience, I've come up with a list of L.A. Road Rules that may prove helpful-- especially if you just moved here OR you're just visiting, like my friend.

L.A. Road Rules

1. Pedestrians have the right-of-way.
Those little blinking orange lights on the street (or subtle beeping noises you hear) along major streets mean something. I came close to hitting a pedestrian along Sunset Blvd. because I didn't know this (and I barely saw him in time.)

2. Out-of-state plates make you a sucker.
Once, while waiting to turn right, an impatient driver swerved around me and yelled: "Go Back to Nebraska!" I was waiting for a pedestrian to cross the street--guess that makes me the dumb ass, out-of-stater.

3. When changing lanes, flipping on your turn signal is no guarantee. Waiting patiently and being polite will get you nowhere. In L.A., alert other drivers, see that you're safe to move, and start to force yourself into the other lane inch by inch-by-inch until the car behind you has no other choice but to let you in.

4. Buckle up. It's the law. And if you see an LAPD cruiser at a stoplight on the one day you're not wearing your seatbelt, no quick move will save you-- that will be the day the officer will pull you over and give you the "shame on you/you should know better" speech and a sizable ticket.

5. Beware of Red Light Districts. I'm not talking about prostitution, I'm talking about cameras hovering above major intersections to capture red light runners. You don't want to be that person getting a sketchy photo in the mail of your vehicle "beating the red" and a bill.
 The red light cameras have become less of an issue now that people have fought against their legitimacy and accuracy, but I'd still approach with caution.  People still run red lights ALL THE TIME.  ( See #6 below)

6. When there's a Green Alert... Pause. It's not a green light, it's a green alert. Give yourself 10-15 seconds before proceeding and be watchful. There are always two (sometimes three) oncoming cars that will run the red light when they most certainly should've stopped. I once had someone race through a solid red and slam into me. It wasn't pretty.  My car was totaled one week after I'd made my last payment on it.  More importantly, I could've died.  If you don't want an accident to change the course of your day (or life), heed this warning--especially in L.A.

7. Don't rely on GPS. Sure, it's convenient--but don't get lazy. You should have a reasonable idea of where you're going before you step behind the wheel. Just because the computerized voice tells you to turn left at the next intersection doesn't mean you have to (or necessarily should.) If all else fails, shut off the GPS, pull over and throw open your old Thomas Bros. Guide. I know it's the digital age and all, but a hard copy of an old Thomas Bros. Guide will never fail you.

8. There is no good time for the 405 Freeway. Period. It sucks. Luckily I don't drive on it often--nor should you--unless you must. In that case, I pity you with every fiber of my being.

9. No one knows how to drive in the rain. It's a well known fact. Give us some snow like the rest of the nation and the whole city would shut down. For days.

10. Be careful out there. It's California. You will eventually have an accident, even if you've always had a perfect driving record prior to being here (as I did.) That accident will come on a day when you least expect it and it will come on the most inconvenient day imaginable. There are drivers who are: high, wasted, uninsured or unlicensed, texting while driving, on their phones, doing crossword puzzles or reading. Look around you and honest to God, you'll see it. People are crazy. You are sharing the road with them. Be prepared for that.

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©2014 by Kendra Liedle
Image credit: Smaddy/
Follow me @cococaffeine

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lucky Me! -- Lucky You: About Vintage Clothes

My Grandma

The last time I went home to visit my family, my mother and I went through boxes and boxes of my grandmother’s things.  My grandmother had passed away last year and she’d left mountains of things to go through.  Some things, actually most things, we’d never even seen before. 

My Grandpa
The juiciest were the love letters… stacks and stacks of love letters, mostly from my grandfather.  It was war-time after all and they didn’t have Facetime or Skype then.  And if they’d had, I wouldn’t have had such a fun afternoon reading what they’d left behind:

“My darling wench…” started one letter, written in October 1943.

I had to give up after awhile because there are so many of those letters that I couldn’t possibly get through them all in one afternoon.  Insane, I know.  Someday, maybe I’ll get back to them, but it was overwhelming… just realizing that the love between these two people no longer exists in any tangible form other than these letters they left behind.

I have to confess that I had the most fun going through my grandmother’s clothing.  I’m a fan of vintage attire and my grandmother had closets full.  Of course, to her it wasn’t vintage—not at the time anyway.  (And some clothes were so outdated that I couldn’t imagine them ever coming back in style.) 

My grandma was also so petite that many of her clothes I couldn’t wear at all, but surprisingly alot of it did fit.  And anything I could fit, I tried on: Furs, gloves, dresses, blouses.  I scored several beautiful finds that I’ve worn since, including this red slip (shown at right) and a black-and-white lace number that my grandmother called “her favorite dress.”  The photo below is a picture Grandma took of me wearing it.  (I last wore it on a date.  Grandma would be proud.)  
Wearing Grandma's favorite dress

I came back to L.A. with tons of clothes that reminded me of my grandma, things I fell in love with—including about 15 pairs of gloves, which I’m sure I’ll use often in California.  I also brought back a few lovely dresses that just couldn’t work for me for whatever reason, but I was determined to find a home for them. 

There are plenty of vintage shops in Los Angeles.  Everyone knows about Iguana, It’s A Wrap, Wasteland, and recycled clothing stores such as The Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading Company.  

People into vintage know about The Way We Wore, Playclothes, and Ragg Mopp Vintage.  However, after doing a quick search online, I discovered that there was a little gem of a vintage store right down the street from me called Lucky You Resale Boutique.  

People online seemed to rave about it.  Me?  I’d never heard even heard of it before.  As it turns out, I’d driven by it countless times without ever noticing it.  In fact, it’s literally right across the street from the post office I use often.  Who knew?

Lucky me, indeed!  Lucky You is a relatively small store, but don’t let that fool you.  There’s a treasure trove housed in there.  I had no idea.  I came in with a few items on hangers to sell, hopeful the owner might be interested.  I was immediately greeted by a surprisingly friendly Idrea Lippman.  Idrea looked at a couple of my things I'd brought in with interest, then placed them back on the counter.  

She looked at me, and with regret, said she wasn’t buying at the moment because she had too much stock already.  But, she said, “Feel free to look around.”

 And look I did.  My vintage stop was the first of several errands I’d intended to get to that day, but I spent close to an hour at Lucky You Resale, chatting with Idrea, looking through the racks, and trying on clothes.  She also has jewelry there and vintage movie poster postcard reproductions.  A little bit for everyone. 

My Sabrina dress
I came up to the counter with a dress I’d completely loved.  It reminded me of one of the dresses Audrey Hepburn wears in Sabrina.  It was beautifully made with several layers of quality fabric.  It also had a halter-style—something that seems to work well with my body type.  

The dress had unexpected details too, like black netting at the bottom of main skirt.  As soon as I tried the dress on and saw myself in the mirror, I was sold.  

As I milled around the store, I also ended up finding some great dangly earrings and a couple of postcards—one of which was a classic movie poster image from Roman Holiday.  I figured that was appropriate, considering.

As I came to the counter to pay, Idrea mentioned offhandedly, “Well, I could do a trade.” 

Really? I thought.

I swapped two of the dresses I’d been hoping to sell and in exchange got my Sabrina dress and the earrings.  She was going to give me the postcards for free, but I insisted on paying.  I told her how happy I was to know her store was there and I promised her that I’d write about Lucky You in some format—as a thank you.  She said that if it weren’t for bloggers and social media and other internet outlets, she wouldn’t be able to exist.  And now that I’ve discovered Lucky You, I want to see her store continue to succeed. 

12441 Magnolia Blvd
Valley Village CA 91607
(818) 985-1115
Lucky You On Facebook
 Copyright © 2014 by Kendra Liedle

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ice-T and The Art Of Rap

 This morning, on an already hot summer day, I  flipped on Netflix and eventually landed on a documentary that sounded like it might be vaguely interesting.

I'll give it five minutes, I thought to myself, appreciating the modern convenience of video streaming.

The documentary was Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap, directed by Ice-T.  It's not exactly the type of thing you'd expect someone like me to watch.  I'm a white chick.  So white that the Wonder Bread doughiness of my legs may, in fact, be considered a marvel in certain circles.

I wouldn't generally describe myself as a "fan" of rap and hip-hop.  To be honest, when I was younger, I would tell people that I liked all kinds of music except rap, heavy metal and country.  Now, I listen to all three.  It just goes to show that tastes change over time.  It also proves the point  that if you're open-minded in life, you may discover new things and even surprise yourself.

Yes, I thought as the opening credits began, I listen to hip-hop and rap from time to time.  Ok, Ice. I'll give your doc a chance.  Maybe I'll learn something.

Over an hour later, I was still watching.  The artists Ice-T interviews shed light about their writing process and talk about the evolution of both hip-hop and rap.  I discovered the virtuosity it takes to become successful at wordplay and verbal acrobatics.  I learned things I wasn't expecting to learn.  Things I hadn't really given much thought to like:  What constitutes whackness?  And why doesn't
hip-hop get the respect of jazz and blues?

As DJ Premier says in the film, "it's like a language, you have to know how to listen to it.  Growing
up as a middle-class white chick in a suburban Midwestern town, I don't understand the streets.  Not in the way these artists do.  They speak of reality in a way that many of us want to turn a blind eye to because we don't get it (and most of us would rather not know.)

The best artists don't just freestyle.  They agonize over every line of their rhymes.  They consider themselves to be lyricists.  They want you to listen, to pay attention, to identify with them.  In my viewing of Something From Nothing, I've gained a newfound respect and appreciation for both hip-hop and rap as the art forms they are.  When I see someone like Doug E. Fresh do what he calls, "doing the beat," I'm blown away by the percussive sounds he can make just using his mouth and body.

So, give it five minutes.  And before you know it, you will have watched the entire doc.  Not only
that, but if you're open-minded you'll discover that in the process, Ice-T has succeeded in elevating
the music form in your mind.

Something From Nothing:The Art Of Rap was an official selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.  It's currently available for streaming on Netflix as well as other video-on-demand platforms.

ALSO OF NOTE:  The 14th Annual BET Awards, celebrating the achievements of African-Americans in sports and entertainment, will be broadcast LIVE tomorrow night (6/29/14) The award show takes place in downtown Los Angeles at LA Live and will be hosted by Chis Rock.  For more
information, visit  #BETAwards #LALive

Copyright 2014 by Kendra Liedle / cococaffeine

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Classic Coppola

"The producer of me went to the director of me, and he said, 'Talk to the writer.'"

--Francis Ford Coppola on delegating responsibility on The Godfather Part II, as quoted in The Hollywood Reporter

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Human Race: A Low Budget Horror/Sci-Fi Thriller

I enjoy horror films and sci-fi occasionally, but they're not really my forte.  In that realm, I'm more of a psychological thriller/suspense/action girl.  Regardless of genre, if there's a compelling story that holds my attention and characters that I care about, I'm willing to join the ride.

This past weekend, I saw The Human Race during its run in Los Angeles.  Described as a sci-fi/horror film, The Human Race transports us, along with eighty strangers into a deadly game of life-and-death.  There's no talk of where we are, how we got there, or why.  There's no time for that.  Humans are thrust into a marathon race to the death with no further instructions beyond these rules:

“The school, the house, and the prison are safe. Follow the arrows, or you will die. Stay on the path, or you will die. If you are lapped twice, you will die. Do not touch the grass, or you will die. Race… or die.” 

In other words, there's a 99% chance that you will die.  There isn't much time to delve into who any of these characters are or what they may find at the end of the path, but this isn't that type of film.  Writer-Director Paul Hough wisely concentrates on a handful of individuals to distinguish them from the masses.  It's a necessary choice to give the audience more than a mere sketch of some of these people plucked from obscurity.  Equally as important as the narrative progresses, Hough displays a countdown as unseen victims lose their lives.

The Human Race is far from a perfect film.  We're asked to suspend our disbelief in a number of ways that are difficult to swallow.  It's a blood bath of unbelievable proportions, but the film also has a certain air of campiness and dark humor which is necessary, considering its unfathomable ridiculousness.  Why is everyone there apparently plucked from the same city block?  And why do the rules sound like something some demented kid would make up?  Like The Hunger Games and "The Most Dangerous Game,"a short story by Richard Connell, we just go with it.

This said, the film is not nearly as bad as general reviews of it would have you believe.  It's not without redeeming qualities.  In fact, it's unique in many ways.  For one,  major characters who lead the race are not whom you might expect.  For example:  a one-legged man and two other individuals who are deaf.  Hough as the writing god of this world also keeps it as a level playing field: Death doesn't discriminate.  It can strike anyone at any time.  And will strike everyone eventually.  That means that the pregnant woman, the elderly man, children, religious men-- none are spared from this ultimate test at the mercy of some unseen torturer.  The film has no fear of being offensive, that's for sure.  But this torturer also believes in justice so those who try to manipulate the system will also be annihilated.

In his directing, Paul Hough gets good performances from his lead, Eddie McGee as well as a handful of others who have especially memorable turns in the film especially Trista Robinson, T. Arthur Cottam and Richard Gale.  For a low-budget film of such ambition, Hough also mixes it up visually, using interesting camera movements and shots that many big-budget directors wouldn't think to try.  And the two deaf actors?  Turns out, they aren't deaf at all.

Additionally, as I came to find out, Hough threw in a couple of deaf characters purely for utilitarian purposes: They didn't have the money to pay a sound guy for those days:
Deaf characters = No spoken dialogue = Budget saver.

The Human Race is not meant to be perfect.  It's not meant to make sense completely.  It's important to remember that the film is made by (and for) horror fans.  See this movie review by one horror film site. Essentially, it's a niche film.  This is an important distinction because it shouldn't be compared with big-budget films made for mainstream audiences.  It's neither of those things... and was never meant to be.

The Human Race Film Trailer

Copyright © 2014 by KLiedle / Cococaffeine

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Baseball Events and Exhibits: A Legacy Of Magic

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again..."  (From Field Of Dreams)

I recently went to a game at Dodger Stadium and while sitting up in the stands awaiting the next pitch, I was again reminded of one simple fact: There are few things that bring me closer to memories of childhood than a trip to the ballpark.  While my hometown didn't have a major league team, we still had baseball.  

I frequently went to minor league games with my dad when I was a kid.  Every time I go to a game, no matter what stadium it is or who is playing, I'm whisked back to a time when life was simple, when I dreamed big dreams and wondered who I'd become and what I'd be doing years and years from now.  Baseball is part of that magic for me, the joy of an afternoon at the ballpark, the belief that anything is possible.  

Field of Dreams, one of my all-time favorite baseball movies just hit it's 25th anniversary.  To mark the occasion, Kevin Costner along with his family and a few other luminaries from the film went back to Dyersville, Iowa, where the real Field Of Dreams still stands, The Hollywood Reporter announced today.  

After the film's release, the original Iowa Field Of Dreams, about a 5-hour drive from where I grew up in Nebraska, became a tourist attraction for legions of baseball fans everywhere.  Even today, people still come... just as the film predicted.  A weekend full of special events to mark the 25th anniversary milestone was appropriately scheduled for this Father's Day weekend.  By all accounts, it was a success: 

"I'm glad to be here with friends and old acquaintances and making some new ones, and for my children to be a part of this," Costner said. "It's certainly a high mark for me, this little movie, and it remains so."
(As reported by The Hollywood Reporter)

The history of baseball is fascinating, even mythical in its beginnings.  Here in Los Angeles, home of the Dodgers, the Japanese American National Museum is currently hosting a special exhibit detailing the accomplishments of many in baseball's longstanding history.  I recently attended the exhibit and was struck by how much the history of baseball has paralleled (and even shaped) U.S. history, especially as reflected in the civil rights era.  

Although, Dodgers: Brotherhood Of The Game focuses on the Dodgers contributions to the legacy of baseball, the exhibit focuses specifically on the culture of baseball as a whole as seen through the accomplishments of culturally diverse players, Jackie Robinson, Fernando Valenzuela, Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo as well as manager Tommy Lasorda, all of whom were instrumental in making the baseball the multicultural sport it is today.  Apart from the artifacts of the era, I found the historic timeline of baseball milestones to be not only extensive, but an especially impressive overview.

Dodgers: Brotherhood of the Game is a collaboration between the Los Angeles Dodgers, Peter O’Malley and Family, and the Japanese American National Museum. The exhibit is showing through September 14, 2014 at The Japanese American National Museum (100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012, (213) 625-0414)

Although time goes by and people grow older and pass away, baseball is a constant that I hope will be there for generations to come.   These days, it may not be the most popular spectator sport, but that certainly doesn't take anything away from the beauty of the game and its longstanding traditions.  Long live baseball!

For previous entries about baseball history and moviesfrom this blog, please see: Baseball Nostalgia and Jackie Robinson's Legacy

Copyright © 2014 by Kendra Liedle