Mighty Midget Mascot

For decades, this comical character has adorned the hallowed halls of Freeburg Community High School.  He is a symbol of strength and drive.  The true embodiment of the community’s spirit.  Yet, some are demanding that he be banished forever.

The Little People of America claim this character to be offensive.  He is viewed as a derogatory depiction of people with short stature.  This is not the first time that the group has tried to change the mascot.

Four years ago, the LPA brought this case to the Freeburg School Board.  Representatives explained the story of how the mascot came to be.  In the 1930’s, a journalist coined the phrase “Mighty Midgets” after witnessing the passion and tenacity of a basketball team that was made up of very short members.  The LPA came to the decision that the mascot was not meant to be offensive, but inspirational.

Nothing about the mascot has changed.  So, why now?  How can this mascot suddenly become offensive again after just four years?

What I find offensive is the idea of people who do not even live in the community breezing into town and demanding a change.  Have they ever come to a Midget’s football game?  If they had, they would see the crowd going crazy in the stands.  They would hear the cheering and applause from the Midget’s adoring fans.

The Midget inspires all sports teams to play their hearts out  Even if the opposing team is larger, we face them head on with no fear.  When in the midst of defeat, we never give up.  That is the spirit of the Mighty Midget.

I also find the reasoning behind wanting the change to be lacking.  In the clip that is circulating on TV, a spokesperson for the LPA states that:  “If you ever have a family with dwarfism, you are going to create an uncomfortable situation for them.”  He also went on to say that bullying would ensue.

I fail to see how a cartoon mascot would make someone uncomfortable.  The community would treat such a family the exact same way it treats all of the town’s residents, with respect.  I also feel that the bullying comment is a complete stretch.  Why is our community and its residents being judged based upon our mascot?

This mascot does not affect the livelihood of the Little People.  He does not prevent anyone from living a happy and fulfilled life.  So why is he the target of such hatred?

As I mentioned before, the Midget is a CARTOON character.  He is completely fictional.  Is the LPA planning on attacking other fictional characters as well?  How about going after Disney for those scandalous dwarfs in Snow White?  And they most certainly will want to go after the producers of The Wizard of Oz for the demeaning munchkins, right?  We won’t even mention the despicable Oompa Loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I feel that the LPA is quick to get offended.  You do not hear of people with speech impediments petitioning Warner Brothers over Porky Pig.  They realize that he is just a character created to bring laughter and joy to others.  No one is laughing at people with speech impediments when they enjoy a Porky Pig cartoon.  Much in the same way that no one is making fun of Little People by maintaining our mascot.

I believe that the Midget represents our community’s heritage.  A heritage that we are proud of.  Why would anyone seek to take that away?

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Wild Weather

Lightning flashes across the sky.  Thunder crashes in the night.  Amidst nature’s fury, a siren pierces the air.  A tornado is coming.

I race to the local storm shelter.  As a volunteer shelter manager for the local Emergency Service and Disaster Agency (E.S.D.A.), it is my responsibility to open the shelter when a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued.

Sadly, many people refuse to take action.  The watches and warnings are viewed as a joke.  Some even leave their safe area in order to film the impending storm.  This is how lives are lost.  In 2011, a devastating tornado ripped through Joplin, MO.  Numerous people perished that day because they did not heed the National Weather Services’ tornado watch that was issued.  Instead, people continued with their outdoor activities until it was too late.

Some are brazen enough to think that they can “out run” a tornado or severe storm.  With winds raging at over 100 miles per hour, throwing debris and destroying all objects in its path, tornadoes can easily overtake a vehicle.

My father has been the E.S.D.A. Coordinator for over 40 years.  Weather awareness has always been important in our family.  I can still remember being scared of the weather alert radio that would blare from my parent’s bedroom.

Weather Alert Radios are devices that are activated via a special tone when a watch or warning is issued.  The device has evolved greatly since I was little.  Not only are portable versions available, but many models can be programmed to only activate for specific weather advisories.

In today’s tech savvy world, there is no excuse for people to ever claim they are “unaware” of impending weather events.  Numerous free weather apps are available on iTunes, Google Playstore, etc.  Many TV stations have their own version of “Storm Mode” where they will not return to scheduled programming until all severe threats have passed the viewing area.

What I cannot understand is why a great number of people call the TV stations to complain.  I recently watched a meteorologist on Channel 4 apologize profusely for interrupting an episode of “Big Brother.”  Seriously?  People are more concerned about a faked “reality” show than they are about keeping their families (and themselves) safe?

Even with all of the advanced technology, there is no substitute for common sense.  People have complained to my dad that they cannot hear the outdoor warning sirens from inside their home.  The key word is OUTDOOR.  These sirens are not meant to penetrate walls, basements, etc.  They are designed to be heard OUTSIDE.

One resident became furious when he found out that a new siren was going to be installed in his subdivision.  His issue?  He claimed that he moved there for “peace and quiet.”  I suppose he is not concerned about the safety of his neighbors.

In 1968, a tornado ravaged our town.  My dad decided that something needed to be done.  He gathered his friends and went door-to-door gathering signatures to petition the mayor for outdoor warning sirens.  Definitely not your typical high schooler.

Thousands of signatures later, the mayor purchased two sirens.  Through grants, my dad was later able to secure two additional sirens.  We are also designated as a StormReady Community by the National Weather Service.

Being weather aware is crucial, especially for those of us living in Tornado Alley.  Remember that a watch means that conditions are favorable for severe weather/tornadoes.  A warning means that the severe weather/tornado is happening now.  In the words of Channel 5 meteorologist Scott Connell, “Don’t be a statistic.”

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Meltdown Maggie

The change had been a long time coming.  At first, I attempted to turn a blind eye to the things that *Maggie was doing and saying.  I attributed it all to a phase, like a mid-life crisis.  Now it is very plain to see that she will never be the person that she used to be.

Maggie had always been a sweet, caring, fun-loving person.  She was a beyond loyal friend willing to lend a hand even when she wasn’t asked.  As the years passed, Maggie slowly began to narrow her focus of the world onto one thing:  herself.

Instead of being the vibrant, confident individual that I had known and loved, she suddenly turned into a narcissist.  Maggie began needlessly comparing herself to others.  I still cannot understand why.

She is blessed to call one of the most amazing men on the planet her husband.  This man showers her with jewelry and flowers for every holiday and anniversary.  Even the obscure holidays that really have nothing to do with love.

I received a call from Maggie last December.  She was completely enraged.  Imagine my shock when her complaint was that the Christmas flowers she received from her husband “were not the right ones.”  Yes, she was whining about the size of the bouquet, the color of the flowers, the type of vase.  I was blown away.  What type of person complains about receiving flowers?

That is also about the time that Maggie became addicted to fashion and home decorating magazines.  She would dreamily leaf through the glossy pages and decide that certain “upgrades” needed to be made to her home.  And she even went so far as to have a custom piece of glass made to cover her dining room table to “prevent scratches.”

Suddenly, she was allowing the magazines to dictate her life.  If “they” said that purple was the “it” color, she would immediately run to the mall and purchase a purple blouse, jacket, purse and shoes.  So much for being an individual.

Her life had turned into a never ending episode of Keeping up with the Kardashian.  She recently flaunted a new necklace that she found at an art show.  Maggie then mentioned that *Janet, a fellow co-worker, had a similar one that was bigger.  As if this was not bad enough, she attempted to push her snobby feelings off on me.

A visit to my house is now a critiquing session.  She will point out “flaws” and give her expert opinion on how I can make things better.  Of course, all of her ideas cost massive amounts of money, which we do not have.

She then hones her critical eye on me.  Starting with my straight hair and ending with the comfortable Keds on my feet, I am made vividly aware of how off trend I am.  Honestly, I cannot stand half of the clothes that Maggie wears.  She has become obsessed with cheetah prints!  But I understand that we both have different tastes.

What I find to be amusing is the fact that Maggie claims not to care what other people think about her, yet she appears to be desperately seeking the seal of approval from the world.  And my eyeshadow that she absolutely loathes?  I get complimented on every time that I wear it.  Who’s the trend setter now?

Every conversation suddenly turns into a one-woman show.  I had been telling Maggie for months that I was in the process of publishing my first children’s book, Priceless Penny (www.pricelesspennyp.com).  When I brought up the subject a few weeks ago, she gave me a very smug reply:  “Oh, you’re self publishing?”

More hurtful than her disbelief in me was the fact that she had been tuning me out for quite some time.  I always gave her my undivided attention.  Why was she not doing the same for me?

In the midst of trying to understand why Maggie was emulating a housewife from Atlanta, I made a huge discovery.  She was not truly happy.  Despite taking two vacations every year, shopping every weekend and going to restaurants almost every night of the week, something was still missing.

I believe that the greatest difference between myself and Maggie is that I am living in my truth.  I love the person that I have become and I am not going to change just to “fit in.”  Living the life of a social chameleon must be exhausting because you constantly have to change.

Something that Maggie told me at dinner one evening really opened my eyes.  She said, “What happens when *Larry retires?  I can’t see us meeting friends in a restaurant or having people over to the house.”

That is when it hit me.  Maggie was living out a pattern instilled by her mother.  Maggie’s mom was constantly worried that her house, furniture, dishware, etc. was never good enough, so she refused to have people over.  Now Maggie does not feel that she is good enough.

By this point I am sure you are wondering why I have not simply cut her out of my life.  How can you have a relationship with someone who is only focused on themselves?  And who wants to deal with all of that baggage?  The truth is that Maggie is my mother.

Shocking, isn’t it?  The person that I have spent almost my entire life with now appears to have become a complete stranger.  I have begun to wonder if I ever knew the real Maggie at all.

What terrifies me the most is the sheer idea that I will become like her.   While my husband and I cannot afford to do half the things that my mother can, we are very much happy.  We love the life that we have made together.

My self worth does not come from the opinions of others.  It comes from inside of me.  I have never placed great value on material things.  Truthfully, I would rather spend my money (what little I have) on something meaningful, like donating items to animal shelters.

As crazy as it sounds, I am thankful that I have noticed my mother’s transformation.  It has awakened something inside of me, making me more aware of the numerous blessings in my life.  I have also become more vigilant about preventing her habits from influencing me and the decisions that I make.

It is my sincere hope that one day Maggie will be able to see beyond the mirror.  There is a world filled with people who love her just the way that she is.

*Names have been changed

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Bad Business

The sound began in late November 2014.  My husband and I tried to ignore it.  With each day, the sound not only became more audible, but more visual.  Seeing the standing water in our bathtub was the final straw.

We had tried the “duck tape” fix as I like to call it.  Even my wonderful father-in-law came over with his extensive tool collection to see if we could be spared from having to call a plumber.  No such luck.

In February of this year, it was revealed to us that our hot and cold knobs had gone bad.  The seals were cracked, which explained why the water would never fully shut off.  We also discovered that this was the reason for the water never maintaining its proper temperature.  If you ran nothing but hot water, you received a lukewarm soak at best.

I sat nervously in the living room as the plumber went straight to work.  Loud banging noises as well as the unfamiliar smell of solder filled our house.  In three hours, we had a new, top of the line faucet and shower head (with adjustable settings).  Guess what else we had?  A hole in our bathroom wall leading from the top of the shower head to the base of the faucet.  The plumbing company that we used does not patch the hole or do any type of enclosure work.

So, the search began for someone to complete the project.  My mom had suggested a long time friend of the family.  In fact, he had even worked on their own shower enclosure.  He came over right away to take measurements.  We were told that we would receive several samples via e-mail by that Friday.  The e-mail never came.  My husband diligently called twice a week for two weeks, leaving messages each time.  Our calls have STILL not been returned.

We decided to take matters into our own hands and headed to Lowe’s.  After finding a simple (and affordable) enclosure, we asked one of the workers about scheduling an installation.  We were informed that Lowe’s no longer handles installations, but contracts through other local companies.  The worker printed off a list of their top five groups and told us that we would need to get in touch with them.

Matt called the first company on the list the very next day.  The scheduler made an appointment for us to receive a free estimate.  *Fred was so nice and polite.  He was actually the person that had installed our toilet years ago.  We showed him a photo of the enclosure that we wanted.  He told us that he was going up to Lowe’s later in the day and would look at our top choice and call back that Friday with a quote.  Three weeks later, we have STILL not heard from Fred.  Matt called and left several messages on his cell phone and messages on the company phone.

We began trying the other companies listed on the sheet.  One told us that they charge $50 just for an estimate.  No, thank you!  Still another told us that they don’t go “all the way out to Freeburg.”  I grabbed the phone book and headed straight to the yellow pages.  My husband reported that the very first number he called also stated that Freeburg is “too far away.”  And this coming from a company with a Belleville phone number!  We are literally 20 minutes away from Belleville, but you would think we live in Siberia.

Matt was able to schedule two plumbers this week.  A wonderful man from Spengler showed up promptly when he said he would and treated me like royalty.  Another plumber was supposed to come today between 9-11:00 a.m.  Notice I used the words supposed to.  Why?  HE NEVER SHOWED UP!  And he didn’t bother to call.

I like to think of myself as a very caring and understanding person.  If there is a sick family member, I totally understand needing to reschedule.  We had some pretty strong storms and even a tornado rip through parts of Illinois yesterday.  I would not have been surprised to hear that the plumber’s house may have suffered damage that needed immediate attention.  Instead, I received nothing.

What I would like to know is how are these businesses managing to stay in business?  You cannot tell someone that you will give them a quote and then simply never get back to them.  This is known as lying (something that you are taught not to do in kindergarten).  And not returning a potential client’s phone calls is rude and unprofessional.  Not to mention standing up a potential client with no given notice.

While I have purposely not listed the names of the offending companies, I would like to praise the two that actually showed up and did what was promised:  Spengler and Bell-O.  Even though Bell-O was almost a week late in giving us our quote, we did receive one.  We have a second meeting scheduled for next week with Spengler when the quote will be presented.

As my dearly departed Grandpa would say:  “The joys of home ownership.”

Will it ever be fixed?

*Name has been changed

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Witchy Wendy

The clock slowly ticked away.  In exactly five minutes, my favorite T.V. show would begin.  I set my phone on silent so that I would not be disturbed.  I was ready!  Or so I thought…

Wendy Williams has been my favorite T.V. show hostess for years.  I love how her show is always positive and upbeat.  There are no “baby daddies” or women throwing chairs at each other.  Just juicy gossip about the stars of Hollywood along with some fashion, make-up and cooking tips.

She had just queued up a picture of Mariah Carey with her new boyfriend, Brett Ratner.  Wendy went on to say that she did not trust Brett.  Why?  Her exact words:  “If you have never touched a drop [of alcohol] or drug in your life, something is wrong with you…”

I was stunned, then outraged.  I, at 30 years of age, have never drank alcohol (except for Communion wine) or done drugs.  And why does Wendy consider this a bad attribute?  She claims that “people need to have fun.”

When I think of having fun, being wasted or high does not come to my mind.  I think of going on shopping trips, vacations, reading, playing with my fur babies, spending time with my husband, etc.  I want to make memories that I want to re-live, not ones that I am praying everyone on the Internet forgets about.

I have always lead a clean and healthy lifestyle.  Here are just a few of the numerous benefits of doing so:

1. I met and married the love of my life (who has also never drank or done drugs).

2. I graduated Suma Cum Laude from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

3. I have adopted five wonderful dogs and two mischievous cats who fill my life with joy.

4. I have published a poetry book entitled “More Than Words.”

5. I created a self-publishing company called Theuerkauf’s Tails, LLC.

To me, that does not sound like a boring life.  And I did not need to be influenced by substances in order to achieve my dreams.

Let’s take a look at what kind of “fun” you can experience if you are a frequent drinker/drug user:

1. Alcohol poisoning, in which you could die

2. Suffering from a hangover in which you spend an entire day throwing up and have a massive headache

3. Drug overdose, in which you could die

4. Drunk driving, in which you could die or kill/injure someone else

5. Getting arrested for DUI and spending the night in jail and possibly pay a hefty fine

6. Damaging your brain and other vital organs from frequent use

I was fortunate enough to have parents who instilled things called values and morals early on in my life.  By the time I reached high school, I knew exactly who I was and never pretended to be someone else.  And I still had a large group of friends who accepted and loved me for who I was (and still am).

Even people who simply dabble in drinking and drugs can suffer horrible consequences.  *Erica, a former co-worker, told me a harrowing story about her brother.  He had been drinking at a bar one evening and decided to walk home.  On his way, he was hit and killed by a drunk driver.  Even though walking home was the responsible thing to do, he ended up paying with his life.  Had he not gotten into the habit of frequenting bars, he may still be alive today.

My opinion of Wendy Williams has completely changed since viewing this episode.  I feel as if she is saying that people who have not drank or done drugs are not worthy of her time and attention and that she will always be suspicious of such people.  Why is she afraid of wholesome individuals?  Do we make her feel guilty about her alcohol and drug littered past?

Please understand that I am not saying that those of us who have not drank/done drugs are better than those that have.  What I am saying is that we should not be ridiculed or mistrusted because of our values and beliefs.  Further more, I am concerned that young girls may look up to Wendy as a role model. This is NOT the kind of wisdom that she should be imparting on today’s youth.

I will no longer watch the clock in anticipation.  Instead, I will do something more important with my life, such as publishing my first children’s book.  That’s how I’m doin’, Wendy!

*name has been changed

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Pointless Papers

I feel like I have been chasing paper my entire life.  No, I am not referring to money.  The paper I have been chasing is academic.

Ever since I was a little girl, my parents stressed the importance of education.  And with my mom being a teacher, I could certainly understand why.  Dad would tell me every day before he left for work that “Knowledge is power.”  I foolishly believed him.

I would definitely say that I was a prisoner of school.  My entire world revolved around getting good grades.  Not that I didn’t have any incentives.  I was one of the spoiled children that was rewarded with money for a good report card.  I also enjoyed making my parents proud.

Being known as one of the “smart kids” was definitely a plus.  I loved sharing my knowledge with my fellow classmates.  As silly as it sounds, I wanted them to succeed, too.  This is not to say that I never struggled with any of my subjects.  Geometry was my downfall.  My brain just does not work that way.

Then the awards slowly started to roll in.  It all started back in the third grade.  We were required to write an original short story.  The stories were not only going to be graded, but judged.  The winning story (one from each of the third grade classes) would receive the Young Author Award.  At that age, I didn’t care about awards.  I just loved to tell stories and draw (albeit very poorly).

When the teacher stood up at the front of the class and announced that I had won, I felt….amazing!  I was like a five year old on a sugar rush.  I wanted to jump up and down, run through the halls, shout at the top of my lungs.  You get the picture.  My parents were blown away.  I got to attend a special conference and was even given a trophy.

That was just the beginning.  In sixth grade, we were made to write another such short story.  I was blessed enough to win another Young Author Award.  Later that year, we all had to write an essay describing what we learned in the D.A.R.E. program and how it had affected our lives.  The night of our D.A.R.E. graduation, we were seated in the auditorium.  The essay winners were to be announced.  Again, I didn’t think I had a chance.  I had just written from my heart and expected nothing in return.  “And from class 5-1….Lauren Kramer!”  My friends cheered as I made my way up to the podium.  I was given a medal (much like that in the Olympics) and made to read my essay out loud to the family filled audience.

During my eighth grade graduation ceremony, I was awarded two plaques:  one for Outstanding Spelling Student and another for Outstanding Academic Achievement.  In high school, we are required to meet with a counselor to “determine our path in life.”  I knew right away that I wanted to be a writer of some kind.  The counselor gushed over my grades and promised that I would achieve big things.

With my running shoes on, I began to chase paper for a whole new reason:  My future.  I made the Honor Roll every year.  I was inducted into the National Honor Society as well as the National Thespian Society (I play a mean Kanga in “House at Pooh Corner”).  I was in Advanced Placement English all four year and Advanced Placement History for one.  The courses count as college credit.

I was completely shocked when I actually earned a certificate for how well I scored in the history portion of the Illinois Prairie State Exam.  I have always hated standardized tests.  They made me extremely nervous.  During my senior year, I earned another certificate for being involved in the Mentor program.  Can you believe that my mentee didn’t know what a Smurf was?  I feel old!

My parents and high school counselor kept praising me.  The world was to be my oyster.  Just like Barbie, I could be whatever I wanted to be.  But, not yet.  There was more paper to chase!

The keys to my happily ever after future were to come in the form of college degrees.  I was blessed again to receive two scholarships from my high school.  I quickly pounded the pavement towards my Associate in Arts degree.  I was on the Dean’s List every semester.  My most exciting moment was being inducted into Phi Theta Kappa.  This is the honor society where my parents met, so it had more than just an academic meaning for me.

With degree in hand, I didn’t pause or slow down.  The end was in sight.  Time to finish up my academic career with a Bachelor’s degree.  Mass communications-print journalism was my chosen path of study.   I loved being able to study what I was passionate about.  I was getting to hone my craft every day.

My mind was completely blown when one of my teachers informed me that I had won the St. Louis Post Dispatch Outstanding Journalism Student Award.  This felt like a momentous achievement.  It is not easy to stand out in a university that sees thousands of students walk through its hallowed halls.  I also felt like it was a sign that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing with my life.  While I love writing, if I stink at it, I would want someone to tell me.  I cannot imagine wasting my time and energy on something that I don’t even have hope of improving on.

Later in the year, I was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi.  All inductees were informed that less than 1% of students receive this honor.  I was certainly humbled.  Before graduation, I was inducted into the National Scholars Honor Society.  The stars were aligning!

With my Bachelor’s degree in hand, I had one more paper to conquer:  the elusive resume.  How do a few pieces of paper sum up your entire life?  And I have never been comfortable with “selling” myself.

I have been very fortunate to have continuous employment.  But, for some reason, I have had the misfortune of having terrible bosses.  Even more frustrating is the fact that I cannot seem to ever move up within the same company.

I recently applied for a position within my current place of employment.  The requirements called for a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s preferred.  Foolishly, I believed that I would at least be granted an interview.  I had, after all, performed the very function that the job required while working in a previous position at the very same company.  I soon found out that the interviews had already been scheduled.

One of my co-workers told me that a Master’s degree is the new Bachelor’s.  I greatly resent this.  I followed the path the my parents and school counselors had instructed me to.  I excelled in my academics, earning just about every honor and accolade that I could.

In the end, these “honors” are nothing more than useless pieces of paper that hang on the wall of my study.  They have not helped me attain my dream job or even progress slowly up the corporate ladder.

And I have NO desire to go back to school.  I do not miss writing endless papers and studying for hours.  Nor do I miss waking up in the middle of the night worrying about a test the following day.  I would rather spend my “spare” time with my husband and fur babies.

Essentially, I feel as if I have been lied to.  Academic achievement is no guarantee for a successful career.  Parents and academia staff need to continue to encourage students to reach for excellence while keeping their feet on the ground.

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Out of the Woods

*SPOILER ALERT!  The plot of Disney’s “Into the Woods” will be revealed.

I was hooked from the very first commercial.  “Into the Woods” looked like it was going to be simply amazing.  And the fact that Chris Pine plays a prince is just the cherry on top.

When I got home from work on Saturday, my husband and I headed out to our favorite movie theater.  We were quite surprised to find that there were only about 20 people in attendance.  I excitedly snuggled into my seat and waited for the lights to dim.

About 30 minutes into the movie, a strange feeling came over me.  I tried to shake it off.  But as the movie continued, it only grew stronger….BOREDOM!

Yes, the film that we had been so anxious to see turned out to be an epic fail.  I actually had thoughts about walking out, but I wanted to get my $40 worth (including popcorn and soda, of course).  In the beginning, the audience is introduced to five main characters:  Cinderella, Jack, a witch, Little Red Riding Hood, and a married couple.  Rapunzel gets tossed in later on.

The main plot is that of the married couple, a baker and his wife.  They have been trying (unsuccessfully) to have a child.  One fated day, the witch from next door blows in to tell them that the reason they are barren is because a curse was placed on the baker for the actions of his father.  In order to reverse the spell, the couple must collect the following items: a cape as red as blood, a  cow as white as snow, a slipper pure as gold and hair as yellow as corn.  And this all must be accomplished in three days by midnight.

Though Disney tried to intertwine all of these differing fairy tales, many of the appearances were short lived.  Little Red Riding Hood is literally on screen for about 15 minutes….then she is eaten by the wolf.  By the way, for all of the hype that Johnny Depp has received about being the wolf, his role was a cameo, at best.  When the baker discovers that the wolf has eaten Little Red and her grandma, he immediately cuts the wolf open, saving the day.

We were then made to suffer through a musical montage recapping the scenes leading up to Red being eaten.  Next came the horrible song that Red sang as she was falling down the wolf’s throat.  The background was a swirling purple vortex that appeared to have glitter in it.  Seriously?

Moving on to Cinderella.  I was comforted by the fact that Disney seemed to be staying true to the classic version of the fairy tale.  However, Cinderella not only leaves the ball once…but three times.  She is not bound by any magical spell that would turn her riches to rags at midnight.  What plagues her is doubt about whether or not she should stay with the prince.  By the second time she ran away, I had already lost interest in her story.

The witch (who is the next door neighbor to the baker) we soon find out, is the one who is pretending to be Rapunzel’s mother.  Unlike “Tangled,” her hair does not have any magic powers.  It appears that the witch genuinely cares about her “daughter” and seeks nothing more than her company and love.

I will not regale you with Jack’s story.  It is literally just “Jack and the Beanstalk.”  The only twist is that a second beanstalk ends up growing in which the recently widowed female giant comes down to take revenge on Jack (who killed her husband).

Here are my personal thoughts as to why this movie is absolutely horrible:

1. It was virtually a musical.  And I am not talking about a regular musical like “Hello, Dolly,” where there is actually dialogue in between songs.  I mean to say that almost every single word was sung.  And not always well.  I was expecting something more along the lines of a traditional Disney movie where there are four to five great songs dispersed between an actual, plausible storyline.  This felt more like an opera.  Unfortunately, it was not in a foreign language.

2. Rapunzel’s character really had no relevance.  She lent nothing to the main plot other than the fact that she ended up marrying the prince’s brother.  She became a princess…and did nothing more.

3.  The witch’s final scene made absolutely not sense whatsoever.  She sang an awful song called “Last Midnight.”  Her dress swirled around her as she asked her dearly departed mother to curse her again.  Why?  We don’t know.  I suppose that the theme is even though she had her youth, she lost her powers and the only thing that she had ever truly cared about:  Rapunzel.  The witch ends up being swallowed by the ground, leaving a large tar pit in her wake.

4.  In the opening scene, we discover that the witch stole the baker’s sister when she was a baby as payment for the father’s stealing.  The baker is shocked to find that he has a long lost sister.  So, why does he never try to find her or mention her in the movie ever again?

5.  While in the woods, the baker’s wife decides that they should split up in order to find Jack.  As she searches, she crosses paths with the newly married prince (Chris Pine).  His bride is nowhere to be found…and he promptly begins a make-out session with the baker’s wife.  He then leaves and she sings a song about wanting to have the baker AND the prince.  So….she turns into a hoe after finally giving birth to the child that she and her husband always wanted?  And why was the audience never privy to the fact that the prince was a womanizer?  He seemed totally devoted to Cinderella.  I think that this was very poor scripting.

6.  The prince and his brother sing an atrocious song about being in agony over not having the loves of their lives.  At first, I had been taking the film seriously.  After I saw this number, I began to view the movie as a spoof.  Much in the vain of Monty Python.  I remained confused throughout the rest of the movie.

7.  I also thought that the film was a bit dark for children.  I think that the rating should have been PG-13 as many of the stories held true to the original Grimm Brothers version and not the squeaky clean Disney version.  Case in point,  Cinderella’s evil step mother cut off various parts of her daughters’ feet in order to make the golden slipper fit.  Cinderella’s bird friends pecked out her step sisters’ eyes.  The witch made a thorny brier patch grow in front of where Rapunzel’s boyfriend was riding and he fell into the thorns, making him blind.  Not exactly the feel good story of the year.

8.  The ending was abominable.  The witch, widowed giant, Jack’s mom and baker’s wife are all dead.
Cinderella will be divorcing the prince.  The baker decides that Cinderella, Jack and Little Red Riding Hood can all come and live with him.  As he tries to quiet his crying son, an image of his wife appears to him and he begins to tell the whole story that we (unfortunately) had just witnessed.  A reprise of one of the witch’s songs plays as the movie fades to black.  I literally turned to my husband and said, “What did we just see?”

There were several aspects of the film that I did like.  Meryl Streep did a fantastic job in the role as the witch.  She can really act and sing.  Her costume was very beautiful.  James Corden also gave a wonderful performance and to me, was the stand out actor in the movie.

All in all, I don’t know what Disney was thinking when they created this film.  I fear that the company may be feeling a bit too comfortable after their huge success with “Frozen.”  I hope that they will be able to find their way out of the woods and onto better projects.

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