Hollywood Magic for Muggles

Warner Bros. StudioJosé was clueless. At the beginning of our group tour, he casually stated, “Oh. By the way, the ‘Friends‘ soundstage is closed for renovations.” The wail that came from the tram sounded like a Jurassic velociraptor attack. My daughter was one of several heartbroken fans. She mewled, “That means I can’t have my picture taken on the couch?”, referring to the legendary Central Perk sofa. Sensing revolution in the air, José went on the defensive. “But, hey. We’ve got a great museum with all kinds of stuff from the Harry Potter movies.” Disaster averted. Continue reading

Is The West Coast The Best Coast?

The Pacific Coast Highway

Remember Kathleen Turner in “Body Heat“? Seductive and dangerous. The Pacific Coast Highway is like that. The sweeping ocean views are tremendous and without meaning to, you swerve into the wrong lane while driving because your mind is busy processing the “wow” factor.

But is it better than my beloved Atlantic coast?
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How To Visit Vietnam, Thailand, And California In Just One Night


Get ready to drool! Sriracha is a documentary about the origins of the hot sauce. If you believe in the power of sriracha + mac & cheese, you must see this film. (Photo: “Sriracha”)

Inspired by a recent post by Jessie on a Journey, I decided to travel without leaving home. Without leaving my kitchen, actually. Like the rest of the world, I’m a huge fan of Sriracha, the wickedly good hot sauce. I assumed it was an Asian import. It is, kind of. I learned all about it by watching “Sriracha“, a charming documentary about the sauce, directed by NYC-based filmmaker Griffin Hammond. It’s available for streaming on Vimeo for $2.99.

The sauce creator, David Tran, left Vietnam as a refugee in the ‘70′s. He, along with thousands of others, settled in California. These immigrants brought with them their love of phở, big bowls of broth and noodles, but it was missing the hot sauce served at home. David concocted a simple mash of chiles, garlic, and pepper and began filling bottles by hand. Today, Huy Fong Foods, produces 3,000 bottles an hour, bottles that are in practically every restaurant kitchen and college apartment in America.

The sauce may have first appeared in Thailand in the coastal town of Si Racha. The filmmaker travels there to taste our Sriracha’s slightly sweeter cousin. All of this food porn made me very hungry indeed. I was particularly taken with the Thai version of on omelet, cooked up in oil, served over jasmine rice, and slathered with sauce. This is what I wanted. This is what I needed. I probably could have improvised a recipe, but I wanted it to be just right and I found this version of kai jeow on The Kitchn.


Love at first bite. If this is typical of Thai street food, I need to get on a plane now. (Photo: Anjali Prasertong)

I would not have thought of including fish sauce in the beaten eggs. But it was the perfect complement to the Sriracha. And the best part about my mid-week kitchen journey? I only had a couple of dishes to wash instead of a suitcase of dirty laundry.

Too Old To Rock And Roll? A Music Fest Survival Guide For The Woodstock Generation


Give Bill Murray credit. Not only did he arrive on the set of Jimmy Kimmel Live riding a horse, wearing a dress, purse, and cowboy boots but he confessed to alternating liquor with water and seeking a gentle mosh pit at South by Southwest.

So was I, Bill. So was I. Continue reading

“Don’t Drink and Book”: 5 Tips To Avoid Costly Reservation Mistakes

©The Open Suitcase LLC

Press the button. Don’t press the button. Press the button. Don’t press the button.

Do you panic as your finger hovers over the “Submit Payment” button? It never happens when I’m impulse buying a case of Mt. Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir, but, when it’s travel-related, I immediately assume that a terrible mistake is about to happen that will cost me thousands of dollars in non-refundable fees. This carries over to my evening slumber and after booking, I’ll continue to wake up startled wondering if I’m supposed to be somewhere and, if so, where that somewhere is supposed to be. Continue reading