Move over Fidget Spinner, there is a new fun toy in town


I am SO OVER Fidget Spinners. For more than a year the kids I worked with were obsessed with them. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to confiscate them in the classroom. Kids were too busy playing with them and not paying attention to what was going on in the classroom.

It got so bad that at one point there was a ban on them in school.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea behind the Fidget Spinner is great. It was initially created to help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and autism. It was also great for people with anxiety or nervous energy. I’ve even heard people say they used them to try and break bad habits because it gave their hands something to do and spinning the toy around helped them to focus on that and not other things.

Sadly that great idea was turned into something totally different. Instead of being used how they were initially intended to be used, they turned into a toy that kids would spin on their foreheads, throw in the air and trade like playing cards.

So what else can people use that want to keep their hands busy, or find a way to relieve a little stress and anxiety?

One of the many different collections from Tangle Creations.

There is a fun new product available called Tangle Creations.

A Tangle is a toy that is a continuous shape that can twist, turn and bend into a variety of shapes. All of the connecting pieces stay together no matter what you try and turn it into in your hand (if you pull on it you can break it).

As you play with it you can feel the motion. Its very calming and therapeutic. In addition, its shape, color and texture are designed to stimulate the brain.

The Tangle Therapy line also offers a variety of wellness products for total hand, body, mind and wellness therapy.

I was sent a variety of Tangle Creation products to try out with my family. I received an assortment in different colors, styles and textures.

An example of a textured Tangle.

It’s really hard to describe how playing with a Tangle Creation feels. The pieces are smooth and curved (they remind me of elbow macaroni). Each piece is connected to another piece to form one continuous product. I wouldn’t say that it is round, but it does fully connect.

You can see how the connecting pieces are shaped.

There is no right or wrong way to use a Tangle Creation product. Simply hold on to it. You can use one hand or both hands. Move it, twist it, wrap it around your finger… there possibilities are endless.

I have found (and my husband has said it to me as well) that after a while you don’t even realize what you are doing to the Tangle Creation product. You tend to play with it mindlessly sometimes. Other times you are fully aware of what you are doing to it.

I find them soothing to play with, especially the textured ones. They are very relaxing and enjoyable to play around with. I also find that playing with one tends to calm me down and regain my focus.

A Tangle un-twisted.

I don’t suffer from anything (no ADHD, OCD or anything like that), but like most people, I have plenty of stressors in my life (I’m currently unemployed, I’m gearing up for surgery…). Playing with one of the Tangle Creation products tend to help elevate some of the stress I feel.

Some of the Tangle Creation products are fairly large. They resemble a children’s toy – like something you would give to a baby or toddler. Those products I probably wouldn’t recommend to adults. After all, you wouldn’t want your co-workers or the person sitting next to you on the train to think you are toying around with a baby toy. For adults and teens I would recommend the smaller ones. They are small enough to be inconspicuous in your hand, but you still enjoy the same feel and movement as the larger ones.

I think some of them move more smoothly than others too. The smaller ones (non-textured) move more smoothly than the larger ones. The type of plastic used also has an effect on how smoothly they move about.

My whole family enjoys playing around with the Tangle Creation products. Every family member has their own. I see my husband using his the most, followed by our son. I keep two of them on my desk.

A Tangle twisted up.

If you are interested in learning more about these products, visit TangleCreation.com. They carry other interesting products on their website. They even offer Tangles that are fuzzy and hairy in texture.

The brand can also be found on social media. Their links can be found on the bottom left of their website.

Have you ever tried a Tangle before? If so, what did you think about it?

Do the Tangle Creation products sound interesting to you? Would you want to try one?

Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.


*I received an assortment of products free or charge to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Movie Review: Love, Simon


Now available on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K and on Digital is the sweet coming-of-age film, Love, Simon.

The film stars Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel.

Simon (Robinson) is a typical high school student. He has wonderful parents and great friends. But Simon is hiding a secret from them – he’s gay.

As with many gay and lesbian teenagers, “coming out” is not an easy thing to do. Simon struggles with finding a way to let his friends and parents know. Easier said than done…

Simon learns that there is a gay student on a community message board. Simon reaches out to him/her using a fake name in hopes of learning how his fellow student is coping with coming out to the rest of the world. The mystery person is simply known as “Blue.”

Simon and Blue form a friendship online that turns into something more. Simon is on a quest to find out Blue’s true identity.

Meanwhile, a fellow student gets access to the correspondence between Simon and Blue and threatens to expose his secret to the rest of the world if he doesn’t help him get together with Simon’s best friend Abby.

Simon slowly comes out to his family and friends, and their reactions come to a bit of a surprise to him.

All Simon wants is to come out to his loved ones and live a normal life, but can he? And will he ever learn the true identity of Blue?

To find out you need to pick up a copy of Love, Simon. Look for it where ever movies are sold.

Here is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment. This is the theatrical trailer. The movie is not longer in theaters because it’s available for home viewing.


I truly enjoyed this film.

I grew up in the 80’s watching John Hughes films like Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and Some Kind of Wonderful, to name a few.  Love, Simon has a John Hughes-like feel to it.

This film has it all. You will laugh,  you will cry and you will cheer in joy.

Nick Robinson did an amazing job in the lead role of Simon. He’s come a long way from his Melissa & Joey days. Robinson IS Simon. It’s as if the role was written with him in mind.

Robinson has a way of really conveying his emotions just by the look on his face. It’s hard not to fall in love with him when you watch this film.

I think the film makers did a wonderful job casting Simon’s friends. I also like Jennifer Gardner as Simon’s mom. I was a bit surprised by the choice of Josh Duhamel as Simon’s dad, but I quickly learned to enjoy him in that role.

I think what I really liked most about this film is that it’s believable. There is nothing far fetched about it. It’s the type of story that plays out in schools across the country and around the world. They actors seemed like your next door neighbors or students at a typical high school. There was also nothing crazy about this film (aliens, zombies, magic powers… silly stuff like that). It’s a very believable and well acted film.

This is a well written, well acted, amazing story. Even my hard to impress 18 year old son thought it was good (and he’s not a big fan of any movie). It’s also not a “chick flick.” This film can be enjoyed by anyone.

This film is rated PG-13 due to the nature of the story. There are a few bad words an sexual references, but nothing offensive at all.

There are some bonus features available. Aside from the usual deleted scenes and audio commentary, there is also a feature about “The Squad” and a featurette about the #FirstLoveStory content winner.

I liked the featurette about the adaptation of the film from the book (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda). That was pretty interesting.

I have a friend who is gay and he was really touched by this film. He remembers the struggle finding the courage to come out to family and friends. This film really struck a chord with him, and rightfully so.

This is also a “feel good” movie. You will cry, but think of them more so tears of joy.

Love, Simon is a sweet, touching, amazing film. If you have the chance to check it out I would recommend it.


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

The Gnomes are Back!


If you follow my blog on a regular basis you might recall my very first press trip. It was to Los Angeles for the Gnomeo & Juliet press junket, red carpet premiere and after party. I was on “cloud nine” over all of it. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

The highlight of my trip was meeting Sir Elton John, who wrote and sang some of the songs in the film. Not only did I get to meet him and interview him, but he also gave me a hug and kissed me on my cheek! It’s been seven years and I am still in awe that it happened.

It’s been seven years since we first met Gnomeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Lord Redbrick, Lady Bluebury, Nanette, Fawn (who was surprisingly voiced by Ozzy Osborne), Paris, Featherstone and Benny.

The gnomes are back and better than ever in a new film – Sherlock Gnomes. Sherlock Gnomes is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.

Many of the beloved characters are back – Gnomeo, Juliet, Lady Bluebury, Nanette, Lord Redbrick and Benny (to name a few). There are also many new characters introduced.

Some of the celebrities that lend their voice in this film include Johnny Depp (Sherlock Gnome), Emily Blunt (Juliet), James McAvoy (Gnomeo), singer Mary J. Blige, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ozzy Osborne, Michael Cain, Steven Merchant and Maggie Smith.

Some time has passed since the first film (not that much). All of the gnomes have moved to London where Lady Bluebury and Lord Redbrick have decided it was time to let Gnomeo and Juliet be in charge of the garden. But are they up for the challenge?

Juliet plunges into her garden duties while Gnomeo seems less inclined. This causes tension and arguments between the two of them.

Gnomeo comes up with a not-so-brilliant idea which involves breaking into a flower shop. Things go awry and Juliet has to come to the rescue.

When they return back to the garden they discover that everyone is missing. There have been a rash of gnome “kidnappings” around London and it looks as though their family and friends have fallen victim to the “gnome-nappings.”

Enter Sherlock Gnome and his sidekick Watson. They are on the case and are trying to track down the evil Moriarty who they believe is the mastermind behind the disappearing gnomes around London.

In effort to find their family and friends, Gnomeo and Juliet join them on their quest to find the missing gnomes.

Time is of the essence. They have to find them quickly or they could be destroyed.

Along the way the pair visit Chinatown (and meet up with a plethora of those “good luck” cats with the waving arms), a doll shop, a trip down the sewer and a visit to the Tower of London.

Will they be able to find their family and friends before it’s too late? Will they be able to mend their differences in their relationship? To find out you need to pick up a copy of Sherlock Gnomes. Look for it where ever movies are sold.

I received some cute goodies to go along with the review copy of the film. One of the items I received it a “paint your own gnome” kit. I cannot wait to paint this! I have to plot my design before I start. I’m on the fence whether to paint it like a normal looking gnome, or go all out and make it a zombie gnome. I actually collect zombie gnomes and other creepy gnomes like Godzilla eating gnomes and a cat eating gnomes. Some are pictured below (sorry for the blurry picture).

I cannot wait to paint this!

I also received a super cute garden kit where we can plant our own vegetable garden. I was going to bring this into school and make it with my kindergarten class, but school is over on the 22nd of this month, and I feel like there won’t be enough time for them to watch them grow. Since we have 17 kids in our class and this kit grows only six different vegetables, I don’t think I can send them home with the kids. Maybe I’ll hold off until the fall when school returns, Or maybe I’ll make the attempt to garden on our balcony again.

Something I received that I know I am going to use is a mini sketch pad and some colored pencils. I LOVE to draw, doodle and color. I KNOW I am going to be using this a lot over the summer. I can enjoy it while sitting on our balcony or take it with me to the beach, park or even waiting around at doctor’s visits.

There is a bit of a difference between this film and the previous film. The original film was more “cutsie” where as this film is far less “cute.” Don’t get me wrong, the characters are still cute and all, but I found Sherlock’s attitude towards Watson to be very “mean” and I didn’t like his character at all. I also found some of the situations they were in to be geared towards older children then little ones.

The animation in this film is amazing. No detail was over looked. Even the gnomes themselves all look naturally “weathered.” They are not perfect and shiny. They are faded, chipped and scuffed, just like a real garden gnome would be.

There is some Elton John music in this film, but not as much as the original film. I found that to be interesting. I would have thought there would have been the same amount of Elton John tunes as in the original film.

I think the film makers tried to put in a few jokes that only adults would understand and/or appreciate. Takes for example the “Mankini” gnome (he’s back) who shows his butt. There is also another part where Benny utters “fertilizer” but it’s made to sound like he’s trying to say the “F” word. I was a bit surprised by that. There is also the word “fudge bucket” mentioned in the film. I was a bit surprised by that for a family film geared towards most ages.

I think little ones (4-6 year olds) could be weary of the rats and gargoyles. They mind find them a bit scary. Older kids will probably think they are cool.

Over all I thought the film was entertaining. I personally don’t think it comes close to the original film, but we still enjoyed it none the less.

I enjoyed the music too, most especially the Elton John tunes. Oh, by the way, there are several references to Elton John in the film too.

I’m also curious to see if there will be a sequel. The way the movie ended leaves a door open for that.

There are bonus features for the Blu-ray version of the film.

  • Feature film in high definition
  • Bonus Content:
  • Gnome is Where the Heart Is – Go behind-the-scenes with the all-star cast
  • All Roads Lead to Gnome: London Locations in Sherlock Gnomes
  • Miss Gnomer: Mary J. Blige and the Music of Sherlock Gnomes
  • Stronger Than I Ever Was – Enjoy the brand new music video performed by Mary J. Blige
  • How To Draw – Learn how to draw your favorite characters: Sherlock Gnomes, Watson, Moriarty and the Goons
  • Animating Sherlock Gnomes – Discover the magic behind the movie’s animation

Normally I watch the bonus features for films, but I didn’t get a chance to (personal reasons, death in the family).

Here are some fun bonus goodies you might enjoy.

Learn to Draw Sherlock Gnomes

Paramount Pictures has teamed up with Art for Kids Hub to produce drawing tutorials for major characters of the film for their Sherlock Gnomes week.  Yesterday kids learned how to draw Watson and today they are demonstrating how to draw Sherlock Gnomes.  They are also giving away fantastic prize packs with plushies, books and more.  You can learn more about the giveaway here https://www.artforkidshub.com/how-to-draw-watson-sherlock-gnomes-giveaway/ .

Sherlock Gnomes Live

Sherlock’s on the case! The whole family can experience Sherlock Gnomes live on Facebook on Thursday, June 7th at 7 PM ET and can submit questions to him now.  Paramount Home Entertainment is bringing Sherlock Gnomes to life in real-time as he solves fans’ greatest mysteries.  This cutting edge experience utilizes motion capture technology to translate an actor’s performance into Sherlock, who will react live on the social network.



Below is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment. It is the theatrical trailer. The film is no longer in theaters.

Did you see the film? If so, what did you think about it? Do you have a favorite character? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.



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

Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Grease


Special edition Grease 40th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD/Digital with a leather-like cover and fun yearbook-like booklet inside.

A long, long time ago (in what seems like a life time ago), I was having a birthday party. It was my 10th birthday to be exact. Well, it was past my actual birthday. My birthday is May 26th, so it often falls on Memorial Day or during Memorial Weekend. Most people are never around that weekend, so my mom opted to have a belated birthday party for me and my friends when she knew people would be around.

A little back story. I had only a few birthday parties growing up. Whenever my mom planned something it would rain. For that reason my mom hated throwing birthday parties for me and my friends. My last birthday party was my 10th birthday party.

My mom had planned an outside party for my 10th birthday. She wasn’t too keen on having a lot of kids running around the inside of our home. My mom had a lot of fine collectibles and fancy furniture.

Unfortunately for me, that birthday party was also a wash out. It not only rained, but POURED. My mom was at a loss as to what to do with a dozen kids. The only thing she could think of was to load everyone up in her car and my father’s car and take us to the movies. She took us to see the movie Grease, which had just opened. The theater was crowded that day too.

That was my last birthday party. Mom wasn’t too happy with having to pay for a dozen kids and two adults to go to the movies. I didn’t mind. I got to see a movie I was looking forward to seeing – Grease!

I wanted to see Grease because I had a huge crush on John Travolta ever since I saw him in the movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble and in Welcome Back Kotter. 

Believe it or not, Grease is celebrating it’s 40th Anniversary this year. FORTY YEARS!!! And to think I saw it when the movie first opened. That is really showing my age.

I consider Grease to be a timeless classic. It’s one of those films that you can watch over and over again and never get bored with it. It’s also one of those films that you catch yourself watching whenever you stumble upon it.

Grease has everything – likable characters, great songs, a love story, comedy. It has something for everyone.

My cousins and I used to put on a “play” about the film and charge our family, friends and neighbors .25 – .50 cents to watch it. I was always the part of Danny because my cousin had blonde hair and she felt like she was the better Sandy. LOL!

In case you’ve been living under a rock (ha ha), and have never seen the film, let me give you a brief synopsis.

Danny and Sandy met on the beach one summer and fell in love. Sadly, it was a brief romance because Sandy had to return to her native Australia after her family’s vacation was over.

Upon returning to high school, Danny was asked about his summer. He told his friends about the amazing girl he met.

Unbeknownst to Danny, Sandy and her family never returned to Australia. Instead, her family decided to stay in the U.S. and they enrolled Sandy in high school, which happened to be the same school Danny attended.

The pair didn’t know that the other was in the same school, but mutual friends found out and brought them together during a rally. They were surprised to see one another, but Danny didn’t want to appear “uncool” so he played it off like it was no big deal seeing her. Sandy took offense to his attitude and ran off.

Danny realized that he was in the wrong and did his best to win her over. Just when he thought he did win back her heart he messed up again. They parted ways, but they were still very much in love with one another.

Sandy realized she was in the wrong and knew that she had to do something to get them back together once and for all.

Will Danny and Sandy finally be together? Will “life” or other people tear them apart again? To find out you need to pick up a copy of Grease. Look for it where ever movies are sold.

I was sent a copy of the film to host a viewing party. What a fun idea!

The 40th Anniversary edition of the film (I received the Blu-ray/DVD copy) comes in a really cool cool case. It has an almost leather-like feel to it and it resembles a book/yearbook. It even says “Rydell High” on the cover.

Fun yearbook-like pages in the booklet found attached to the inside cover.

Inside the front cover is a book featuring screen shots of the film (resembling a yearbook). It also features the morning announcements and commencement announcement on the back cover. The booklet is attached to the box.

I enjoyed flipping through the pages of the booklet. It reminded me of a book I had when I was younger (pictured below). It still have it too (its packed away in the basement).

There are also plenty of great bonus features that are certainly worth checking out including cast interviews, alternate beginning and ending sequences (I loved this bonus feature), deleted, extended and alternate scenes (another feature that I loved), behind the scenes, photo gallery, the theatrical trailer (I don’t remember that at all) and so much more.

The new 40th Anniversary Edition is pretty awesome and would be great for a die hard fan or as a gift.

I had planned on going to Party City to pick up some goodies. I know they carry the 50’s glasses (I’ve seen them there). I also know that they carry record/music themed decorations. I even received a fun T-Birds Jacket for my son to wear.

Sadly, I was unable to make it to Party City. A not-so-nice stomach bug prevented me from getting out to pick up some more goodies (my husband came down with it as well). I even missed work and I have never called out sick from work in two years! That’s how bad the bug was.

Every movie night needs some yummy snacks.

I did stop and get some chips, dips and salsa. We were going to order pizza, but heavy, greasy pizza was not something my husband and I wanted to contend with having that darn stomach bug, so we passed on that.

I received a super cool T-Birds jacket (PICTURED BELOW). I knew it wouldn’t fit my husband, but I figured it would fit my son. Sadly, my son’s chest and shoulders were too big for the jacket (more so his shoulders). So we hung it up on the bookcase near the TV when we watched the movie to pay homage to Danny Zuko and the T-Birds.

I LOVE that my kids (ages 21 and almost 19) know Grease, and they know the music/songs (even if they won’t admit to it). Grease it truly a wonderful family film that everyone can enjoy. I even have a Grease playlist on my phone. It’s hard to have a bad day or a stressful car ride to/from work when you are listening to “Grease is the Word” or “Summer Lovin.”

Look for the new 40th Anniversary Edition of Grease where ever movies are sold.

Are you a fan of the film? Do you have a favorite song, scene or character? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

I’m LOVING this replica T-Birds jacket. I’m going to hang it up on the wall with the rest of my movie memorabilia (I collect movie memorabilia from a variety of films). 


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

Black Panther is available TODAY on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital


Available today on Blu-ray, DVD and digital is the blockbuster hit of the year, Black Panther. 

Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordon, Lupita Nyongo, Danai Gurira and Forest Whitaker.

I hate to admit this, but I never saw Black Panther in the movie theater. My husband and I meant to go and see it, but “life” has a way of detouring you from your plans. This is certainly one movie you want to see on the big screen.

I was sent a copy of the film to review.

WOW! WOW! WOW! All I can say is that it totally lived up to all the hype – and then some!

Normally when I write movie reviews I write a brief synopsis in my own words, followed by my thoughts. Since this is a very involved film (there is a lot going on) and for the life of me I can’t spell many of the names, I am just going to go with an official synopsis, followed by my thoughts.

In the acclaimed film, T’Challa returns home to the hidden high-tech African nation of Wakanda to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king, following the death of his father. But when a man named Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) appears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he’s drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Pitted against his own family, the king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and embrace his future as an Avenger.

The film features a fierce group of Wakandan women, including Nakia (Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o), a War Dog and Wakandan spy; Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s little sister and tech wizard; and the Dora Milaje, the all-female Wakandan Special Forces led by Okoye (Danai Gurira). They team up with reluctant ally CIA agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) to help T’Challa defend Wakanda against the forces threatening to destroy it.

Again… WOW! WOW! WOW! This film is overflowing with awesome scenes and a lot of super cool special effects.

Up until now Falcon and Captain America were my favorite superheros. After seeing Black Panther I have a new set of hereos to consider.

This film is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

First of all, the acting is top rate. Disney/Marvel assembled an incredible cast of actors and actresses to round out this film. It was as if the film was written specifically with all of them in mind.

Until now I was only familiar with Danai Gurira (I’m a Walking Dead fan), Forest Whitaker and Lupita Nyong’o. I can see that other actors in this film, like the incredibly talented Chadwick Boseman is going to be a household name for sure.

From the very start of this film I was drawn into the characters and story line. I was glued to the television screen from start to finish.

The costumes in this film were breathtaking. I especially love the African costumes. They are beautiful.

As far as special effects go – wow! Spectacular is a word that comes to mind. I might even say that these are the best special effects out of all the Marvel movies I have seen to date (I have not seen Affinity War yet, so I can’t compare this film to that one).

This movie is about two hours and fifteen minutes long, which is a lengthy film. In my opinion the film didn’t seem that long. I think it’s because it’s so entertaining and jam-packed with action that the time just flies by.

Love it! Love it! Love it!

There are A LOT of bonus materials that come with the Blu-ray version of the film. There is almost too many to write here. There are the usual deleted scenes and commentary, but also included a lot of content that give you a behind the scenes look at how they brought this amazing film to life – from the technology to the diversity of people, and a great, detailed look at the women of this film. After all, the women warriors are a huge part of this film.

Believe it or not there is even a gag reel for this film. Even though this is a serious film, it looked like the actors had a lot of fun on the set.

There is even a sneak peak at the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp film. I can’t wait to see that one.

I don’t mean to to make this a long post, but if you saw Black Panther, or plan to do so, you might find these 10 Fun Facts about the film very interesting.




When it comes to the inspiration behind the story of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, director and co-writer Ryan Coogler admits that he delved deep into the history of the acclaimed Marvel comic book series. “We pulled from all of the comics,” Coogler explains. “When you watch our film, you will probably see something from every writer that has touched T’Challa’s character in the Black Panther comics. Everything from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s initial runs through to Don McGregor, Christopher Priest, Jonathan Hickman and Brian Stelfreeze. We grabbed from it all. Each writer left their own mark, so Agent Ross [played by Martin Freeman in the movie] came from Christopher Priest’s run and the character of Shuri came from Reginald Hudlin’s run. Each run left something for us to pull from, but we pulled from absolutely all of them.” 



“It was incredible to walk on to the Wakandan sets,” enthuses Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye in the movie. “Our production designer, Hannah Beachler, was amazing. I remember walking into the Tribal Council room and thinking, ‘This room is stunning.’ The floors were see-through. There were massive, beautiful panther statues. The throne was very African. The entire décor was very African. It was an amazing experience, which was very rich for my character because I stood there and I thought, ‘This is like nothing else on the planet and it’s my character’s job to protect it.’ Hannah pulled from lots of awesome traditional African esthetics. You don’t get to see it in the movie, but she also designed T’Challa’s office, which was another amazing room on set. We shot some scenes in there, which were left out of the movie – but the office was constructed and it looked amazing.”



“We took a really important trip to South Africa to do a ton of research for Black Panther,” reveals production designer Hannah Beachler. “We went up and down the country, which helped immensely when we started to create the sets. It was incredible to see all the colors, the textiles and the way things were built. In the end, we shot a lot of plates and second unit footage in South Africa. We shot footage in Uganda, which was used to show the farm land and open space of Wakanda. It was beautiful. We also shot at Victoria Falls in Zambia. When the fighters come flying through the falls and get to the challenge pool; that flight through the falls is Victoria Falls. But when you get to the challenge pool, what you see behind them is a bit of Iguazu Falls, which is in South America. We smashed the two together because we wanted a horizon.”



“The tag scene with Bucky [played by Sebastian Stan] at the end of the movie came as a wonderful surprise to me,” explains Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri in Black Panther. “I was so happy when I read about it. Props to Ryan [Coogler] for adding it to the movie. This scene was shot quite late in the production, but I really enjoyed it. It was a beautiful day on set and I thought it was a great way for us to find out where Bucky had been hiding in Wakanda. We shot the scene in a forest area somewhere in Atlanta, but it only took a day. Sebastian was really great to work with. He’s a good chap.”



Marvel fans can delve deeper into the wondrous world of Wakanda with the exclusive bonus features packaged with the in-home release of the movie. Not only are there behind-the-scenes featurettes and never-before-seen outtakes, but there are also a number of deleted scenes. “There are a couple of scenes with Okoye and W’Kabi [played by Daniel Kaluuya] that I would love people to see,” explains Danai Gurira. “There’s a scene between Okoye and W’Kabi, which takes place after Killmonger tells us what he’s going to do with the kingdom. Okoye is very disturbed by her man seeming to positively respond to Killmonger. There’s also a scene where W’Kabi and Okoye go head-to-head. Okoye pushes W’Kabi to a place where all the rage he had towards T’Challa comes out. I hope some of those moments end up in the deleted scenes.”



“The African language that we speak in the movie is Xhosa, which is a Bantu language from South Africa,” reveals Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Nakia in Black Panther. “It has the clicks which my native tongue does not have, so I had to learn it for the movie. I worked very closely with a dialect coach to get it right. I also speak Korean in the film, which was a doozy. A week before we shot the scenes in South Korea, they finalized exactly what Nakia was going to say, so all week I kept practicing the lines over and over again. However, I slipped up from time to time. At one point, the Korean extras laughed because they told me I’d said something about a barbecue by mistake – but we got there in the end.”



“The audition process was really interesting,” admits Letitia Wright. “I sent over two tapes from London and I didn’t think anything would happen – but then I got a call asking me to fly out to Los Angeles for a screen test. That’s where I met Ryan [Coogler] and Chadwick [Boseman, who plays T’Challa]. Thankfully, we had an immediate connection. I went home and I didn’t hear anything for a couple of weeks – but then I was called back for another screen test. This time, I flew to Atlanta and they put braids in my hair – and I knew I just had to have fun with the audition. I remember thinking, ‘Man, if this happens, it will be very special for me.’ A couple of weeks later, I found out they wanted me for the role of Shuri. I was standing at a bus stop in London when the call came through. I went crazy! I was screaming at the bus stop! I was overjoyed to be part of this epic movie.”



Before the cameras started to roll on Black Panther, cast members flew out to Atlanta to prepare for the movie’s awe-inspiring action sequences. “The boot camp lasted six weeks,” reveals Danai Gurira. “It was really helpful to get athletically conditioned for the film shoot, although we also got into the specifics of the movements of our characters. We learned fight choreography, as well as different techniques of how our character was going to move on set. It was intense, but I learned a lot. Okoye is the general of the army and the head of the Dora Milaje, so the way she fights is very traditional. Her movement with the war spear comes from very ancient movements of the nation. It was really interesting to learn.”



An exclusive gag reel has been created for the in-home release, which is packed with comedy bloopers and slapstick slip-ups from the set of the movie. “There were a lot of funny moments during the filming of Black Panther,” recalls Letitia Wright. “Even though the shoot was a lot of hard work and there were some incredibly physical scenes, we always found moments to have fun. We had rap battles in between takes, or we organized dinners and bowling sessions. There was a day where we did a Get Out challenge, because we had [Get Out star] Daniel Kaluuya working with us. Who won the rap battles? To be perfectly honest, I think I was the best. I was up against a lot of people, but their rapping skills were terrible.”



Hannah Beachler admits she had a ton of fun working on the high-tech gadgets for the movie. “The Kimoyo beads are my favorite,” the production designer admits. “I really pushed the design on them because I knew the beads needed to be something really cool. The Kimoyo beads were originally introduced in the Black Panther comics – but Ryan [Coogler] loved the idea of using them for communicating in the movie. If you look closely at the beads, you’ll see there’s a prime bead, which is given to you when you’re born in Wakanda. There is a little peak on the prime bead, which makes it stand out from the others. All the beads’ symbols light up, but the prime bead lights up completely. A Nigerian language – nsibidi – is used for the symbols on the beads. You’ll also see nsibidi writing on columns of some of the iconic buildings in Wakanda, too.”

The next time my family and I watch this film I am going to keep all these interesting facts in mind.

In addition, I have some Black Panther Bingo cards you and your family and friends might enjoy. Simply click on the image to download them.

Did you see Black Panther? If so, what did you think of the film? Did you have a favorite character and/or scene? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.



*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinion expressed is my own and not influenced in any way. 

Bring out your inner “Rock Star” with Yamaha


Photo Source: Dreamstime.com

Do you play an instrument? Have you ever played an instrument?

When I was in elementary school we were given the opportunity to play an instrument. We have many options to choose from. For me there was only one choice – the drums! I wanted to learn how to play the drums. I begged my parents to let me take up drums. Sadly, they didn’t share my enthusiasm for the drums and instead signed me up to learn how to play the Viola. Sigh…

I took lessons for about a year then I told my parents it was not for me and I quit. Thankfully they didn’t purchase a viola for me so they were not out hundreds of dollars.

Fast forward to when my kids were offered the opportunity to play an instrument in school.

Our daughter chose to play the clarinet. In fact, she was so adamant that she was in it for the long haul that we did purchase a clarinet for her. Sadly, two years later she lost interest in it. We ended up donating her clarinet to the school for a child who wanted to play but couldn’t afford to rent one.

When it came time for our son to choose he wanted to play the drums. Yeah!!! I could live vicariously through him. I was just as excited for him to play the drums as he was.

Unbeknownst to us, before the school lets you lose on REAL drums, you have to learn how to play on a drum pad. I guess there is a process you have to go through.

Drum pad and drum sticks. Photo Source: Dreamstime.com

I was equally as disappointed as our son when we had to purchase a drum pad and some drum sticks for him. It’s not what we had in mind. We were thinking he would learn to play on real drums.

A drum pad doesn’t really make much noise. All you hear is tap-tap-tap when you hit it with a drum stick.

Our son was able to play a real drum during a school concert, but it was just a lone drum and all he did was hit it with a stick a few times during one song. He was so disappointed. So much so that he told us he no longer wanted to play the drums. I didn’t blame him one bit. It wasn’t what we had in mind. We both thought he’d learn how to rock out on a real drum set.

Years have gone by and our son has often talked about how he wished he kept up with the drums at school in hopes he would learn to play on a real drum set.

A couple of months ago I was sent information from Yamaha about their electronic drum kits. I told them how our son really wanted to play, and how I wanted to play the drums too (something I have held on to since I was a kid). The company was kind enough to send us their Yamaha DTX400K electronic drum kit to review.

I don’t know who was more excited – me or my son.

Here are some features that really stood out to me.

Keeps the noise down: Hook up your child’s DTX kit to a set of headphones so you and your neighbors will be undisturbed while he/she practices quietly.

We live in a condo complex. We have neighbors next to us, across from us and below us (we’re on the top floor – thankfully). I am pretty sure our neighbor would NOT be too happy listening to the banging of drums throughout the day. Our neighbors are not necessarily quiet people – so they deserve a “taste of their own medicine” – but we wouldn’t do that. Not only that, we didn’t want to hear it from the condo board.

This drum set is SUPER quiet. In fact, you barely hear a thing. You can hear the tap-tap-tap of the drum sticks hitting the pads, but that is about it. The person playing the drums hears a totally different thing. When you are wearing the headphone while playing this drum set it sounds like REAL LIVE DRUMS!!!! It’s amazing! More on that later.

If you have concerns about disturbing your neighbors, or you simply do not want to listen to the drums day and night, this is the PERFECT option for your wannabe rock star.

Expand the kit with your iPhone: Use the DTX400K Touch app (free at the App Store) for iPhone to create new kit configurations, select preset kits, access tempo and metronome settings, and much more.

There are free apps (there are more than one) you can download for your phone that can help you to change up the drum set to make totally new sounds. There is also an app that can teach you how to play the drums. It’s like having your own personal music instructor right at your finger tips.

I love how you can change up the sound, tempo and other details of the drum set so you are not stuck with just one way of playing it. You can jam like a rock star or kick it with some jazzy beats. It’s like having multiple drums all in one set.

The apps not only teach you how to play the drums, but it also gives you more ways of enjoying the drum set and there is less of a chance your child (or you!) will get bored with it.

There is a built in “dashboard” (for lack of a better description) that allows you to change the sounds of the drums, change the tempo and more. There are 169 sounds to choose from so you can truly customize this set.

There is even a spot on top to house your smart phone when using the apps that you use when playing with these drums.

Built to last:The Yamaha DTX400K line offers quality and durability at an affordable price; your child’s kit can take a lot of punishment and still maintain a solid performance level for years.

Yes! I have to agree with this. The set is made very well.

The frame is made from a strong, plastic pipe. Maybe a PVC type pipe? All I know is that we have banged on these drums a lot over the past couple of months and they are still in perfect condition.

I LOVE that this drum set is very light weight. You can easily pick it up and move it to another location.

Originally the drum set was supposed to go in the corner of our son’s room, near the window. The problem with that was the cats looked at it as a “jungle gym” and something fun to climb on to look out the window at the birds and anything else happening outside. That was not what we wanted for the drum set. So we ended up putting it in the corner of the living room. It’s still by a window, but the cats don’t bother with it much there.

Whenever we want to play with the drum set we simply lift it up and carry it into the living room. When we are done we put it back in the dining room. It sounds inconvenient, but honestly, it’s not that big of a deal.

We need to rearrange a few things in my son’s room so that we can put them in a place where the cats are NOT going to look at them as a “jungle gym” to climb on.

*The foot pedals were not attached/plugged in when I took this photo.

The drum set is electronic, so you need a play to plug it in if you want to play with it.

Overall I think this drum set is THE BEST SET you can purchase for your child (or yourself) if you have an interest in learning to play drums.

This is NOT some cheap set you can pick up at the local toy store. This is NOT a toy! This is a legitimate drum set, with the only difference being you don’t hear the music you are making without headphones and the drums are pads, not real drums.

This set gives you the real drum experience, from the realistic clashing sound of the cymbals, to the beats you get when you step on the foot pads.

Yamaha thought of everything when it came to this drum set. They even went so far as to include Velcro straps so that you can have the wires hug the drum set frame so that they are not dangling and in your way.

I should mention that set up is a breeze. My husband had the drum set put together and ready to rock out in about a half hour (give or take). Yamaha even took great care in the packaging of this drum set.

Each piece was carefully packed.

Set up was a breeze!

My husband couldn’t wait to start playing the drums once they were set up.

I cannot rave enough about this drum set. I love it. My husband – who didn’t really have an interest in drums – plays with it often and our son (before he got his first girlfriend) played with it almost daily.

I honestly feel like I’m playing real drums when I play with this set. I can live out my rock star fantasies I had when I was a child. It’s awesome!!!

If you, or your child, has interest in learning to play the drums, this is the way to go. Forget about those silly drum pads that don’t make real drum sounds. Skip those and go right to the real deal (well, almost real) with the Yamaha DTX400K electronic drum kits.

*There is another cymbal where the arrow is pointing. I didn’t realize it at the time that one of our cats was on the coffee table next to the drums and stepped on the cymbal, making it tip to the side.

If you are interested in learning more, visit THIS PAGE on the Yamaha website. There you’ll find a great video that explains the kit a bit more (including how it really sounds!) as well as a video about the apps.

You can also go to www.USA.Yamaha.com to learn more about other products the company offers. The brand is also on social media. You can find the links on the bottom of their website.

What do you think about this drum kit? Does it look like something you, your child/grandchild would enjoy? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.


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