Requiem for the Dead – A new HBO Documentary showcasing lives affected by guns


Requiem for the Dead HBO

Did you know that an average of 32,000 people die each year in America from gun violence. That translates to roughly 88 people per day.

I tend to not watch the news. I find that the news is nothing but bad. I prefer to watch news that is heartfelt and inspiring. That usually means about the last 5-10 minutes of the CBS evening news when they usually show a “feel good” news story.

Even though I don’t watch the news that much, I find it staggering and frightening to think that an average of 88 people die each and every day here in the United States from guns – whether it’s by accident, murder and/or suicide.

I wonder why we don’t hear about most of these stories on the news?

Last spring (March – June 2014) an estimated 8,000 people were killed by guns in just that short amount of time.

A new HBO documentary airing on June 22, 2015 showcases some of these cases to help shine light on the little known stories of tragic loss, bringing the victims to life in their own words and images.

The documentary is called Requiem for the Dead: American Spring 2014.

Requiem for the Dead: American Spring 2014 was directed by Shari Cookson and Nick Doob (HBO’s Emmy®-winning The Memory Loss Tapes and Emmy®-nominated Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life & Times of Katrina Gilbert). This documentary is exclusive to HBO.

HBO Requiem for the Dead

I’ve personally never seen a documentary done in such a way as Requiem for the Dead. Instead of a lot of talking and interviews the documentary features screen shots of newspaper headlines, 911 calls, photos from the victim’s Facebook pages and social media posts and photos from others. The documentary also features a lot of music that adds to the emotions and the drama showcased in the film.

Whether by homicide, accident or suicide, a wide cross-section of Americans – men and women, young and old, from every racial background – are victims and perpetrators of gun violence. With images from social media postings, frantic 911 calls, police reports and videos, each story is hauntingly laid out through the unmediated expressions that remain. Requiem for the Dead places the viewer in victims’ and their families’ lives, capturing the shock and grief felt by their loved ones as the survivors are left to make sense of the horrific events.

Among the eight stories from 2014 are:

  • “Military Wife” – By all appearances, Kyla and Alex Ryng lived a happy life with three young children in Bristol, Conn. But the pair began having marital issues, and Kyla filed for divorce. Alex, a member of the Army National Guard, bought a gun, and shot his wife and himself a few days later while the kids were in their bedrooms.
  • “My Rock Is Gone” – Tiffany Davenport married Melvin Ray in Topeka, Kan. on May 24. But the couple’s joy turned to tragedy in the early hours of the next morning, when she was killed in the crossfire of a gang shootout, leaving her new husband and daughter, Destiny, devastated.
  • “In the Other Room” – Drafted by the Green Bay Packers, Jerel Worthy was always excited when his grandma, Mae Worthy, came to his games. When a gun handled by his grandfather discharged in the bedroom of his grandparents’ Huber Heights, Ohio home, the bullet passed through the wall and into the living room where Mae was sitting, striking her in the head and killing her.
  • “Best Friends” – Lucas and Brady were 11-year-old best friends in Frazeysburg, Ohio, who liked to bike and play video games together. When Brady went into his dad’s bedroom one day to show Lucas a loaded pistol under the bed, it accidentally went off, shooting Lucas in the heart. Brady made a frantic 911 call, but it was too late.
  • “My Most Beautiful Memory” – Eight days before Father’s Day, Renotta Jernigan of Chesterfield, Va. asked her husband, Chris, who had trouble holding a job and was suffering from depression, for a divorce. On Father’s Day, Chris shot and killed her and their two children (ages nine and two) before killing himself.

Bridging these main stories are dozens of headlines, brief, stark and shocking, coupled with vibrant photos of the people whose deaths are recounted. The film contains imagery for more than a hundred victims of gun violence in spring 2014, which is a small fraction of the 8,000-plus estimated to have died in that three-month period.

In addition to found footage, Requiem for the Dead uses 38 pieces of preexisting music from the internet, each with its own life and intrinsic emotion, which frame the moments collected.

As the stories accumulate, it becomes evident how many of these incidents could have been prevented by proper mental-health treatment, or if guns were absent or stored more securely.


I had the opportunity to screen the documentary ahead of time. I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster I went on watching this film. I experienced a variety of emotions ranging from fear, anger and profound sadness.

When it comes to gun control I think more needs to be done to ensure that guns do not get into the hands of the mentally unstable. I also think that guns need to be hidden and secured when at home so that children don’t come across the guns and kill themselves and/or others.

It scares me to think that anytime, anywhere, innocent people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time have lost their lives to guns. This documentary shows the faces and stories of just a very small sampling of those whose lives were tragically cut short by guns.

It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, black or white, a gang member or devoted church goes, a mother or a single man… anyone can easily and unexpectedly fall victim to a random shooting or murder by gun.

Some of the footage in this film is very raw including video taken from a Policeman’s camera that shows four children whose father shot their stepfather in the head while they watched. I can’t even begin to imagine what those children must have been going through emotionally. How do you recover from something like that? Can you recover from something like that?

I would like to encourage people to take the time to watch this documentary in hopes it will help rally people for stricter gun control and other regulations that might help save an innocent life some day.

HBO playdates are as follows:

June 22 (4:35 a.m.), 25 (5:00 p.m.) and 28 (3:45 p.m.), and

July 3 (9:00 a.m.), 4 (12:30 p.m.), 9 (12:15 p.m.) and 14 (3:35 a.m.)

HBO2 playdates:

June 24 (noon, 8:00 p.m.) and July 7 (12:10 a.m.), 12 (8:30 a.m.) and 31 (8:15 a.m.)

Will you be watching?



*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Scholastic Storybook Treasures: The Classic Collection – 20 Back to School Tales


Scholastic Storybook Treasures: The Classic Collection - 20 Back to School Tales

This time of the year most kids are either already done with school for the summer, or close to it. My kids are done with school until September. In fact my oldest gradates from high school this coming week. Sigh… time flies way too quickly.

The last thing on people’s minds is back to school time. Trust me, it’s the last thing on my mind too. I still have one in school and now one heading off to college soon.

Back to school time will be here before you know it. In just a few short weeks you’ll no doubt start seeing school supplies popping up on store shelves. In fact I’ve already seen summer items on clearance at some stores. Clearance? Really? Summer hasn’t even officially begun and already things are on clearance. Way to rush things.

If you have a child or grandchild who is heading off to school for the first time, or even returning to school to start Kindergarten or first grade, you might be interested in a new DVD collection from Scholastic Storybook Treasures: The Classic Collection called 20 Back to School Tales.

Get ready to learn your 123’s and ABC’s with this new colorful DVD collection featuring animated shorts of popular children’s books.

  • How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?
  • Splat the Cat
  • Wheels on the Bus
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
  • Sky Color
  • Crazy Hair Day
  • The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash
  • Monty, Emily’s First 100 Days of School
  • The Gym Teacher from the Black Lagoon
  • The Librarian from the Black Lagoon
  • Miss Nelson Has a Field Day
  • Miss Nelson Is Back
  • Will I Have a Friend
  • Open Wide: Tooth School Inside
  • Otto Runs for President
  • Owen
  • The Scrambled States of America Talent Show
  • Shrinking Violet
  • The Teacher from the Black Lagoon

There are 20 short animated episodes based on popular, classic books. Many of the books featured on this DVD are award winners including ALA Notable Award, Cine Golden Eagle, NAPPA Gold, and Parents’ Choice.

Splat the Cat

Splat the Cat

The DVD has a run time of approximately 3 hours and a suggested retail price of only $5.97 which is super inexpensive for such a fun and educational DVD your child or grandchild will love.

I was sent the DVD to review. It was fun for me to see some of my kid’s favorite books come to life. For example, the Black Lagoon books. My daughter loved them so much that we owned every book in that series. I even kept all the books so that she can some day read them to her children. It was great to see these stories I read to my kids over and over again come alive on the television screen.

I love Splat the Cat. He wasn’t around when my kids were little. None the less I have seen several Splat the Cat books and I love them. He was another character I was happy to see come alive on my television.

This is a great DVD that can be enjoyed year round and not just for back to school time. It’s fun and entertaining with educational materials too.

Look for Scholastic Storybook Treasures: The Classic Collection – 20 Back to School Tales  where ever DVDs are sold.

Scholastic logo


*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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The Secret Life of Pets – a hysterical new movie coming to theaters Summer 2016


The Secret Life of Pets

Don’t you hate it when you see a trailer for a new movie and you are super excited to see it but it won’t be in theaters for many months – or even a couple of years? That happens to me often. Like the first time I heard about the new Star Wars movie. Thankfully that is now only months away.

I recently learned about a new movie from the people who bought us Despicable Me (my family loves that movie) called The Secret Life of Pets. Since I’m an animal lover, and I love Despicable Me, I had to check out the trailer.

Oh my! I laughed so far watching the trailer that I’ve watched it again and again. The Dachshund and the Poodle at the end crack me up.

Here is the trailer. Don’t be surprised if you watch it more than once. It’s cute and funny.


I love it!

For their fifth fully-animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day.

Comedy superstars Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart make their animated feature-film debuts in The Secret Life of Pets, which co-stars Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress and Albert Brooks.  Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and his longtime collaborator Janet Healy produce the film directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2), co-directed by Yarrow Cheney and written by Brian Lynch and Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio.

The film comes to theaters July 8, 2016. Oh! Why do we have to wait that long. I want to see this movie now.

If you would like to learn more about this adorable film visit the official website, TheSecretLifeofPets.com. You can also follow the film on social media (SecretLifeofPets on both Facebook and Instagram and @PetsMovie on Twitter).

What do you think about this film? Are you looking forward to seeing it?



*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Marvel’s Ant-Man in theaters July 17, 2015



It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an… ant?

I know. Marvel fans will be quick to remind me that Superman is NOT a Marvel comic book hero (he’s from D.C. comics). I just used that line to make a fun introduction to the newest Marvel movie release, Ant-Man, which crawls into theaters on July 17, 2015.

I am not familiar to this action hero. I have never heard of Ant-Man before.

The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man. Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Marvel’s “Ant-Man” stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Corey Stoll as Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket, Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, Michael Peña as Luis, Tip “T.I.” Harris as Dave, Wood Harris as Gale, Judy Greer as Maggie, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, and Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym.

Peyton Reed directs Marvel’s Ant-Man with Kevin Feige producing and Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Edgar Wright and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. The story is by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and the screenplay is by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd. Marvel’s “Ant-Man” delivers a high-stakes, tension-filled adventure on July 17, 2015.

Check out the film’s trailer.


I’m used to seeing Paul Rudd in comic roles. I never saw him as a superhero, but I think he makes a great Ant-Man.

I’m excited to check the film out when it comes to theaters.

If you would like to learn more about the film visit it’s official website, Marvel.com/Antman.  You can also connect with the film on social media – Facebook and Twitter.



*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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COOTIES – Coming to select theaters and VOD September 18, 2015



Coming to select theaters and Video on Demand (VOD) September 18, 2015 is the horror/comedy film COOTIES.

From the twisted minds of Leigh Whannell (co-creator of Saw and Insidious) and Ian Brennan (co-creator of “Glee”), COOTIES is a horror comedy with unexpected laughs and unapologetic thrills. When a cafeteria food virus turns elementary school children into killer zombies, a group of misfit teachers must band together to escape the playground carnage. The film stars Elijah Wood (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings ), Rainn Wilson (“The Office”), and Alison Pill (“The Newsroom”) as teachers who fight to survive the mayhem while hilariously bickering in an uncomfortable love triangle on the worst Monday of their lives. COOTIES will be one of the debut releases of the newly-launched Lionsgate Premiere label, which will release the film on  September 18th in select theaters and on demand.

SpectreVision and Glacier Films present COOTIES, starring Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan and Jorgé Garcia. The film is directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion from a screenplay by Leigh Whannell and Ian Brennan. Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller and Elijah Wood produce along with Tove Christensen, Georgy Malkov and Steven Schneider. Ian Brennan, Leigh Whannell, Gevond Andreasyan, Sarik Andreasyan, Hayden Christensen, Seth William Meier and Vladmir Poliakov serve as Executive Producers.

I love horror movies. I love comedies. This film is a great mix of both genres.

Check out the film’s trailer.


It looks funny. I hope it’s playing at a theater near me so my husband and I can go and see it.

If you would like to learn more check out the film’s social media channels.


Official Facebook | Official Twitter

What do you think about COOTIES? Did you think you’ll check it out in the theater or on Video on Demand when it’s released?



*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Tips for making road trips more fun (giveaway ends 6/30/15)


Road Trip

Did you take a lot of road trips when you were a child? I did. My family traveled a lot by car. I also used to spend my summers in Pennsylvania and my mom and aunt would meet half way every two weeks to take me and my cousin (two weeks in PA, two weeks in NY, another two weeks in PA and another two weeks in NY).

Driving in the car was not always fun. Often it was boring. It also seemed to take FOREVER. As an adult the same trips I made when I was a child don’t seem so bad. Why is that? That is weird.

As a mom I know how hard it can be to go on long car trips with kids. It’s not always fun – unless you make it fun.

Here are a few ideas worth considering.

Magnets! Magnets! Magnets!

Purchase an inexpensive METAL cookie sheet/pan and use it as a portable “work space” for kids.

You an purchase pre-made magnets from your local dollar store, craft supply store and even an educational supply store. Magnetic letters and numbers are always a great choice for little ones. You can also purchase dress up dolls, cars, animals and an abundance of other characters and shapes.

Make your own magnets out of your own photos. Simply print our you photos on cardstock and adhere a magnet to the back. If you could laminate them that would make them sturdier and last longer.

The cookie sheet and magnets can also be used to hold down coloring and activity pages.

Audio Books

It’s not always easy to read in a car. For some people (like myself), they get car sick/nauseous when trying to read in the car.

Instead of books why not get books on tape, or download books from places like Amazon or Audible.

Find a book that would appeal to young and old alike so mom and dad can enjoy it too.

Goodie Bags

Visit your local dollar store and pick up several small toys and games, even crafting products (chenille stems/pipe cleaners are always fun to play with). Put a few little toys/games in small bags along with a healthy snack and/or beverage. When your children start getting antsy and restless give them their surprise goodie bag. That should keep them entertained for a while.


Oldies, but Goodies

Don’t forget about the classic car ride activities to help pass the time.

One game I remember playing was trying to find as many different license plates as you can. Make note of the ones you see. See if you can find all of the states. Bonus points if you find one from some place like Alaska or Canada.

“I Spy” is always fun to play too. “I spy with my little eyes…

“Would you Rather” is another fun game. Each player takes turn asking a question (for example – “Would you rather win a billion dollars or live forever?“) then each person in the car takes turns answering the question.

The Alphabet Game. Try and find things along the road in alphabetical order (for example Animal, Bus, Car, Dog, Exit Ramp, Fallen Tree…).


A great stand by will always be to bring along your child’s favorite movie. We used to do that for our kids when they were little (although my daughter always seemed to watch what SHE wanted to watch).

We kept their favorite movies on hand at all times. We kept them separate from the other DVDs so that we knew where they were in a moment’s notice instead of having to go look for them. Of course this was back when people had portable DVD players. These days people just download and stream things on their tablets and smartphones.

If you are looking for some movie suggestions the recently released Paddington is a fun choice. It’s a super cute movie the whole family will enjoy.

While you are heading off on you adventure why not enjoy Paddington on his adventure to acclimate himself to the human world.

You can see my review here – Movie Review: Paddington. The movie is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD where ever movies are sold.

In addition, here it the trailer for your enjoyment.


It’s a cute movie – sure to entertain your family where ever you go this summer.

Paddington would also like to join YOU on your family adventures.

Paddington Prize

One lucky reader will win a Paddington prize package which includes;

  • Paddington Luggage Tag
  • Paddington Plush Bear/Toy
  • Paddington Blu-ray Combo Pack

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on June 30, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via email and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me how you entertain your family on long road trips?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. Any opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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