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Tuesday
Sep302014

Prep like the Red Cross: 21 Necessities in My Movie Lover’s Emergency Go Bag

This emergency themed backpack for my Red Cross fundraiser includes a Special SIRENS Edition DVD of "Abyss: The Greatest Proposal Ever," a military homecoming movie.Today marks our country's National PrepareAthon Day and on this day of action, FEMA encourages Americans to practice preparedness so we can be ready to respond to disasters or emergencies before they occur. After learning more about disaster preparedness in recent months, I’ve noticed that having well stocked Bug out Bags are among the most simple but important steps we can all take to ensure we know what to do and have what we need in the event of a crisis.

While the contents necessary for a Bug out Bag vary based on the disaster or situation in which you find yourself, having even the most basic supplies can mean the difference between being safe or sorry; with this in mind, I assembled an emergency preparedness bag inspired by the Special SIRENS Edition DVD of my short film about a U.S. Army Officer’s homecoming gone wild, and am raffling it off with other baskets on my Dinner-and-a-Movie Tour, to raise funds for the American Red Cross – an organization that is working 24/7 to prepare communities across the nation for dealing with disasters of all sizes including the following hazards:

  • Earthquake
  • Flood
  • Hurricane
  • Tornado
  • Wildfire
  • Winter Storm

According to the Red Cross, being prepared means equipping yourself with the proper supplies you may need in the event of an emergency or disaster and keeping these items in an easy-to-carry kit that can be used at home or taken with you in case of an evacuation. So, the emergency themed movie night bag for my Red Cross fundraiser is based on the list of basic supplies they recommend everyone have, at minimum, in a survival kit.

The Red Cross recommends that your survival kit includes one gallon of water per person, per day. In addition to the backpack filled with a special SIRENS edition DVD of “Abyss: The Greatest Proposal Ever” included with my disaster readiness bundle, there are 21 items rounding out a nice emergency starter package for one lucky movie lover who wants to win it.

I chose a backpack for this initiative because mobility is crucial in a survival situation; just imagine -- if you’re running around trying to stay alive like Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic,” Don Cheadle in “Hotel Rwanda” or Matt Damon in “Contagion,” chances are that handbags, rolling luggage, duffel bags and related items won’t be very helpful!

The Movie Lover's Emergency Go Bag, here we come....

(2) Bottles of spring water to provide hydration

(10) Packets of Quaker instant oatmeal in a variety of flavors for breakfast

(1) Mini CREE LED Tactical Flashlight

The pocket sized Mini CREE LED Tactical Flashlight takes up little room in your survival kit.(1) Bottle of Gatorade for calories and hydration

(1) Can of Progresso soup for lunch or dinner

(1) 6-pack of Duracell Quantum AA Batteries to provide power

(1) Deck of Aristocrat Playing Cards to provide comfort, per the Red Cross’ suggestion of adding games, activities and entertainment to your emergency kit

(1) Bag of Dried fruit for antioxidants and dessert

The Aristocrat Limited Edition Bank Note 727 cards with a linen finish provide a luxurious escape from your everyday hustle and bustle, while being light enough to carry while you're on the move.(1) French Green Clay bar soap by Bare Body Soaps Organics for sanitation and personal hygiene

(1) Pouch of Knorr Pasta Sides to provide calories and carbohydrates

(1) Pack of Uncle Ben’s Red Beans and Rice for carbohydrates, protein, fiber and antioxidants

Many basic items essential for survival are often forgotten until the last minute or not even considered during preparations for disasters.

As I add a few more items to this emergency themed movie night bag in the coming week or so, here’s hoping that this element of my fundraising initiative will get more people involved in planning and preparing for catastrophic events.

Disasters can happen at anytime, anywhere. There’s no better time like today to be ready for when they occur. 

If you (or someone you know in or near the PA/NJ/DE tri-state area) want to buy a ticket for this raffle supporting the Red Cross, follow me on Twitter @MadlabPost or subscribe to this blog to get the updates on where the latest stop on my Dinner-and-a-Movie tour is scheduled.

Monday
Sep292014

Monday Movie Meme – The Bug Out Stash for National Preparedness Month

A military couple load their emergency kit on their patio. FEMA/Zachary KittrieAs you may know, September is National Preparedness Month and the perfect time to take inventory of our readiness skills for dealing with emergencies. Do you have an evacuation plan? Have you practiced the plan to test its level of effectiveness? How about a 72-hour emergency kit – did you build one yet? That’s what the theme for this week’s Monday Movie Meme is all about: Bugging out.

A Bug out Bag contains all of the essentials you need, plus some additional supplies, to survive for a minimum of three days if you are forced to leave your location. So this week I invite you to join me in highlighting some film characters who packed gear that was crucial to their survival during one or more scenes. Share on your blog, or in the comments section, movies featuring people who pack survival items in their travel bags.

Here are my selections of films that fit this mold, based on the Graywolf’s sixteen plus categories of contents essential to your surviving an emergency situation.

Most Essential Survival Contents

Sam packed a bag of bread (or are they crackers? Whatever it is, the item sure makes a lot of crumbs!) for his and Frodo’s trip in "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King." This takes care of the nurishment needs for these two hobbits...until Gollum sabotages their food supply, turning best friends against each other, or rather, making Frodo get all monstrous on Sam. Case in point: Hungry people tend to get volatile quickly.

Next Most Essential Survival Contents

Danny has the weapons/security thing down when sneaking into a military tent to pack a go bag, or sorts, for his and Solomon’s trek through a war torn area in "Blood Diamond."

Additional Survival Equipment

We could argue that Aaron Ralston’s video camera was a useful and much needed comfort item in "127 Hours," yes? After all, it helped address the issue of boredom while also lifting his morale, even if only briefly, while he was trapped under that boulder in the canyon. I am sure there are better, more important types of electronics and comfort items that also weigh much less than a camera to pack in one’s Bug out Bag. However, given that this is one of the few movies that came to mind when thinking of backpacks and survival gear, “127 Hours” makes my list for the purpose of this week’s Monday Movie Meme.

What movies featuring people who packed essential survival gear would YOU add to this list?

In the last six months, how much priority did YOU place on taking steps to become better prepared for when an emergency or disaster strikes?


Friday
Sep262014

Urbanworld’s Best Feature Documentary of 2014 is a ‘Lucky’ Win for Laura Checkoway 

Lucky Torres stars in "LUCKY" directed by Laura Checkoway.When the 18th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival, presented by BET Networks with founding sponsor HBO, announced the 2014 festival winners this week, I was glad to find out that “Lucky” directed by Laura Checkoway won an award for Best Feature Documentary.

Having recently sat in a packed theater watching “Lucky” amidst a bunch of strangers, I must say it is one of the most unforgettable films to come out of Urbanworld this year. Forget what you know about wearing your heart on your sleeve. This movie is about a woman who, after growing up in foster homes, wears her pain on her face and body.

The documentary serves up a clear reminder of the fact that regardless of our surroundings, we know very little about what the person next to us is going through. Life is a struggle – for some more-so than others, so it helps to keep that in mind when facing people or circumstances that make us uncomfortable. Chances are that many of us know nothing about what it’s like to live on the streets. Some of us are unfamiliar with the experiences of child abuse, rape or gang life. We do, however, know what it’s like to experience struggle, at least in one capacity or another.

(l-r): Fantasy with her children, director Laura Checkoway and Lucky's fiancé at the 2014 Urbanworld Film Festival.Checkoway, a career journalist who spent five years and her own money making “Lucky,” does a great job making this heart wrenching story relatable to the average viewer who may not know someone like Waleska Torres Ruiz – a Hispanic runaway from the Bronx, NY whose parents died when she was a child. A well-known figure in New York’s LGBT community, Ruiz was nicknamed Lucky after having survived being hit by a yellow cab when she was thirteen.

I honestly didn’t know what I was expecting when going in to watch this film but it certainly made me more aware of the hardships that children of the foster care system face when our country’s social services fail them. The long-term effects that these failures have on one person’s life have a trickle effect on those around him or her and that extends outward to our nation’s communities.

Despite not having any formal film training, Checkoway forged ahead, learning about the process as she embarked on what has become her first feature length documentary. Lucky for us, she came out of the corner swinging with a bold movie that could easily make some viewers want to look away and run back to their secure (and convenient) bubbles. No matter how hard you try, however, you can’t bear to turn from such an intimate view of one woman whose days are filled with the kind of uncertainties that most of us hope to never have to encounter. That’s just the thing about movies; when you’re in the theater and the lights go down, all you’re left with are the images on the screen.

Lucky Torres with her son in the documentary "LUCKY, directed by Laura Checkoway.Checkoway forces viewers to look beyond Lucky’s tattoos, stylish outfits and ever-changing hairstyles to understand the inner turmoil of the person underneath all that armor; a homeless mother who wants to provide a sense of stability for her son while working on her own personal growth, including self-love.

It’s raw and sometimes even wicked, but it’s real. This is somebody’s life and I wouldn’t be surprised that if, by watching it, you take a closer look at your own – particularly the areas that you take for granted, because I know they exist. We all have them.

“Lucky” is one of those movies that have you thinking “this person has it worse….so what’s MY excuse???” and you would be right. If there is one thing to learn from this movie, it’s to live out loud while remaining conscious of what, if anything, you want to leave behind. My congratulations go out to Laura Checkoway (and Lucky Torres) for winning Best Feature Documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival 2014!