Vote November 7th

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Originally this was going to be a “Letter to the Editor” of the Redmond Reporter, however I put it together too late for them to put in their paper (Redmond Reporter does not post letters regarding political races for the issue immediately prior to the election).  Although I find this an odd practice, it gives me the chance to post this to my blog instead and ramp up the word count from under 300 to whatever I like.

 
November 7th will be an important election day for our state, county and city.  In addition to contentious races for Legislative Districts 45 and 48, there are also 3 Redmond City Council positions up for decision.

 

If you’re pleased with a downtown park that appears to be more concrete than “park”, traffic at all hours of the day in residential areas, out of sync traffic lights, skyrocketing rents (commercial and residential) and the loss of small businesses then you should stop reading right now.

 

However, if you are concerned about the lack of affordable housing, finding parking, the growing crime rate and saddened by the loss of Frankie’s, Spicy Talk and Nara (to name just a few), then I hope you’ll read on a bit.

 

 

I recommend you vote for some new voices on November 7th.

 

Steve Fields is a small business owner who has a background in budgeting, project management and working with teams of people.  He has been an active member of our community for over 20 years.   A long-time volunteer for the City of Redmond, he has coached youth basketball, baseball, and soccer; he annually raises money for small local charities at his coffee shop.
I met Steve through Cub Scouts and he’s been a friend and mentor ever since.  When he ran for mayor, I was amazed at his energy and willingness to talk to everyone about any issue.  He hosts coffee times to discuss issues of concern to Redmond and has been responsive in communicating ideas and strategies, not just sound-bites for solutions.

 

Eugene Zakhareyev is a 9 year Redmond resident; he lives with his wife and two children in Overlake.   Eugene’s campaign focus has been on community involvement, balancing growth with the needs of the residents and addressing transportation issues in Redmond. He is non-partisan candidate who will stand for the interests of the residents of our city.  In the last three years he has been closely involved in different aspects of land use planning in our city (due to a pending project in his neighborhood), has spoken with multiple residents, and is informed of the city processes and the citizens’ expectations. He is an advocate for small businesses and community engagement.

I became acquainted with Eugene when he attended our first Neighborhood Association meeting over a year ago and he’s been a sounding board and knowledgeable ally; someone I’d certainly trust to make fair and informed decisions on issues that would affect all of Redmond.

Jason Antonelli has lived in Redmond for over 20 years and has decades of professional experience growing teams, mentoring junior engineers, building consensus and making the right trade-offs necessary for individual and team success.

He will represent the people of Redmond as he works to resolve the traffic and growth issues that plague us every day.  He supports small businesses and is concerned about increased crime and out-of-control spending by our current council.

I’ve only recently met Jason but have always found him to be relatable, and interested in solutions to many of the problems that citizens find frustrating.

If you’re happy with the path the City of Redmond is taking us down, then by all means vote for the same people who took us there.

If not, then please join me in voting for a much-needed CHANGE in Redmond City Council.

 

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old

~ Peter F. Drucker

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
~ Narcotics Anonymous

 

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Apple breaks Windows

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I’m sitting in the mall waiting for my iPhone 6sPlus to be repaired.  I switched to an iPhone in February when we changed cell carriers and haven’t regretted the change for a single moment.  The customer service experience is just one of the reasons why.

 

I have an Otterbox case for my phone, and one of the hard screen protectors (I think it’s an InvisibleShield product); purchased at the Sprint store where we bought the phone.  Neither the case nor the screen protector have ever been off the phone (*see below) and I’m pretty careful with my phone so I rarely drop it.

 

The other night, trying to carry too many things (including my phone) while opening my car door, I dropped my phone.  It fell face down on the pavement.  I checked and it worked (phone, text, email, apps) so I went on my merry way.  The next morning I was going to take some photos to post on social media and noticed my camera didn’t work.  I rebooted the phone (twice), tried the camera in a few different apps, and then took the case off to see if I could see if the lens was cracked or damaged.  (*this is the only time my case has been off my phone).  No go.

 

I look up a couple of links to see if I can fix it myself, but none of the suggestions work.  So, I look up iPhone help online, expecting that I’ll get a faceless web page with lists of community help points that don’t resolve my issue (Ahem, Microsoft Customer Support).  INSTEAD, I get  the nearest Apple Store “Genius Bar” listing.  With a LOCAL phone number.  I call the number and, after a few phone-tree selections that made sense, and a voice recognition of my problem that ACTUALLY HEARD MY PROBLEM I’m transferred to an actual human being, named Jorge.  Jorge walked me through a couple of steps, checked out a couple of other things, and finally, after 45 minutes of trying told me we’d need to reset the phone.  He explained how to do that, and gave me my claim number so that “if it didn’t work, I could call and schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar to have it fixed”.  Unfortunately, the reset didn’t work, so I called the number, gave them my claim number and was immediately transferred to the Genius Bar in Bellevue who made an appointment for the next date I could get in.  No muss, no fuss, no “I’m sorry, we can’t help you”, no script.

 

I’m a bit in shock here.  I’ve had numerous issues with Microsoft products (links below); both phone and PC.  EVERY TIME I needed assistance from Microsoft I’m expected to read through pages of community help boards (that aren’t helpful).  There’s no phone number to actually get in touch with a human — I had to search through several pages of “help” and “contact us” to get a phone number for customer service.  When you actually get a number, you have to wade through several levels of hell phone tree button-pushing before you get to a customer service representative.  And then you have to wait , on hold, for a long time.  When you FINALLY get a human, they are either 1) unintelligible (even though they have an ‘American’ sounding name 2) following a script 3) not helpful because they aren’t really listening to your problem 4) unable to actually resolve the issue.  I have had a CSR at Microsoft actually tell me SEVERAL TIMES on several occurrences that they are unable to help me.  Or blame it on some app or my laptop (not their precious OS).

 

The last time I had to contact MS Customer support was after I’ve upgraded to Windows 10.  The initial upgrade was ‘fairly’ simple, but about two weeks after I booted up my computer “Windows couldn’t locate Cortana” and put me into a swirl of reboots that never resolved the issue (plus locked me out of using my laptop). Using my phone, I found MS Support and tried to resolve through the online support community.  Nope.  Finally get a number for MS Support only to have the CSR tell me (after 30 minutes of script) he didn’t know how to solve my issue and I’d just have to wait until it resolved itself.  EXCUSE ME?  I ended up using the “Phone a friend” option and getting an in through a series of f-buttons and coding strokes.  From a non-MS employee, just a friend who’s figured it out on his own.  Problem solved in less than 15 minutes — through my friend — after no help at all from MS and a cost of about 2 hours of phone time

 

Back to the Apple Genius Bar.  The woman asked when I could come in and she laughed when I said I couldn’t come in until the weekend.  I think she said “You just made my day.  Most of the time people are upset because I can’t get them in immediately.”  So I made an appointment, gave her the pertinent details and waited for my appointment date to come up.

 

I missed my phone.  I was attending a concert in the evening and had several times I could have used my phone over the roughly 3+ days I was without.

 

So this morning, I drive into Bellevue and am greeted at the Apple Store by a very friendly employee who seats me at a bar.  I waited maybe 15 minutes before a representative greeted me, went over my claim with me and tried a couple of new things to diagnose the issue.  No go, so she says to me “well, your phone is under warranty” and she was checking to see if they had the part in stock.  It will take roughly an hour to repair, she makes sure I backed everything up (I had already), turns off my security settings, takes my password to my phone and has me sign the agreement.  No hassles, no fuss, no “sorry we can’t fix it”.  In fact, if they can’t fix it I’m getting a new phone.  ONE hour later I have my phone back, repaired and am on my way.

Based on the customer service of Apple vs. Microsoft, I’m converted.  In fact, even though it may cause a rift in the time-space-marital-continuum, I may switch completely to Apple products.  Because when customer is king, it’s a win for everyone. Apple CLEARLY respects it’s customer base and doesn’t ignore the single user in favor of the corporate.

 

BTW, I did find a use for my old Windows phone…I used it as a camera at the concert I attended.  But that’s the only use I can find for it now…other than a reminder of which company really appreciates their customers and values their equipment.

 

Kindle vs Microsoft

Hotmail Issues and phone

Thank you Bill

Dear Bill

What’s in a Name?

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Recipe for frustration:

  1. Have child apply to college
  2. Complete FAFSA application
  3. Find out your 18 year old’s name is wrong

Wait, what?  I named my child, filled out the paperwork at the hospital for “Certificate of Live Birth” and received that birth certificate back in the mail.  The birth certificate that I placed in the folder with the other vital records for future use (school, driver’s license, passport).

Attached to the birth certificate is a carbon receipt with his name listed correctly, amount of payment and the stamp of approval from the County that they’d received the information.  The Certificate of Live Birth listed two lines for names:  “Given Names” and “Surname”.  They were spelled correctly, in the correct order and with no spaces or hyphens where they should or shouldn’t be.  Silly me thought this meant that everything was fine.

Hubby and I decided after several weeks of wrangling to name our last child with One first name, Two middle names (no hyphens, two words) and one last name.  And, that’s how we’ve completed every form of paperwork since that time. Fast forward (because really, 18 years is nothing in the scheme of things) to college applications, FAFSA and scholarship forms and it became clear that the name that we gave our son wasn’t the name he actually had; even though he has a driver’s license, medical records and school records that show him with one first, two middle and one last name.

The FAFSA process is a tortuously confusing system that could possibly be used to interrogate terrorists or validate claims of insanity in a court of law.  In any case, it’s neither simple nor fast and requires several hours of patience plus tax records and maybe an adult beverage or several.  And the good news is it needs to be completed every year that you are intending on sending a student to college.  In addition, both the student and the parents need to complete the process separately.

We completed the first FAFSA process in fall of 2016 with 2015 tax records for both my son and our household.  It didn’t immediately ‘verify’ my son’s information with the SSA (Social Security Administration), but verified our household’s and passed us on to the next level which was identifying the colleges we wanted the results to be sent to.  He received an acceptance letter from the first college he applied to; they had received the appropriate FAFSA information and would be sending him a financial aid package in the spring for the 2017-2018 year.

Again, the beauty of the FAFSA is that you need to complete one every year, so after our taxes were filed in March I went back on the site and completed our FAFSA information with 2016’s tax information.  We also completed the FAFSA with my son’s information and waited for verification.  And waited…and waited…and waited.

In between the waiting were more college applications, ACT testing and all the other administrative joys of senior year.  He was accepted by 3 other colleges, turned down by the college he most wanted to attend (after more administrative snafu’s by the High School and college), and made his decision in June to attend a college in Washington State.  He made the decision so late in the game because the rejection from the school at the top of his list wasn’t received until late May — almost a month after many schools have made all their acceptances and sent out financial aid packages.

So, now he’s decided on a school and we dig into getting all the boxes marked off the list of thing to do before he can attend.  Step 1, turn in the FAFSA information.  This means returning to one of the levels of Hell that is the FAFSA form.  Still no verification from SSA so no information can be sent to any of his schools.  After several attempts at re-sending the information, I sat down one day in June and made a phone call to SSA to figure out what the challenge was.  The representative was patient and helped me wade through many of the questions but notified me there was only so much information she could provide to me because my son was 18 and an adult.

Yes, he can vote, sign up for the military, work 40 hours a week, purchase tobacco products, apply for a loan, legally have consensual sex with other 18 year olds or older, get credit cards and get married; however his parents no longer have any input or ability to gather information because with the addition of one more candle on the cake this man-child suddenly has all the aptitudes that have taken his parents decades to acquire.

He walks in the door from school (because he’s still a high school senior mind you, NOT a graduate) and talks to the representative on the phone who informs him that his FAFSA can’t be verified because his name is entered incorrectly.  He repeats his name and we check it on the FAFSA page; however he doesn’t have ONE first name and TWO middle names — he has TWO FIRST AND ONE MIDDLE NAME.
Mic drop.

She suggests that for the time being we complete the FAFSA with his name as it is listed in the SSA files and figure out how to correct it at a later date.

After we’ve both climbed out of the haze of confusion (because really, EIGHTEEN AND A HALF YEARS???), we change his name in the FAFSA application to match the SSA files and wait for verification.  This will take an additional 3 to 4 business days before the verification is complete and then we can send the FAFSA information to the chosen college.

Now, thinking that I certainly know my own child’s name (I have told him often enough about the stretch marks with his name on them), I pull out the Certificate of Live Birth and the carbon ‘receipt’.  My eyes do not deceive me and he, indeed has One First and TWO Middle names.

I’ve done a bit of genealogical research and usually these files are kept at the county or state level, so I call the County offices and ask for Vital Records.  Vital Records for the County verifies what is in their computer database and it is TWO FIRST AND ONE MIDDLE name.  But, they don’t keep the original paperwork — I’ll need to contact the state for that.

I contact the State Vital Records department and the woman on the phone tells me that the carbon receipt is only a receipt of payment, not a verification of the name being correct.  I explain that the certificate lists 3 “Given Names” with no designation as to first or middle.  Different years had different formats and that how they have it listed in the system is the correct name regardless of any receipt I may have.  If I want to prove that the name is listed in the system incorrectly, I’ll need to contact the hospital and ask for a copy of all birthing records.

I contact the hospital; oddly enough they don’t have birthing records that are 18 years old.  Go figure!  But I can fill out a request for archived files and see if they have it in the archives.  However it’s more likely the County will have the original paperwork and should be able to provide me with the “correct” documentation.  I fill out the medical records request form (6-8 week turnaround) and call the County again.  Then the State.

The 2nd phone call to the State provides me with a method to “correct” the names; by completing an “Affidavit of Correction” and attaching two forms of proof, we can correct his name for $20.  This will take about 4-6 months.  Among the two forms of ID that are acceptable to correct the name are:  1) Driver’s License 2) School Records 3) Passport 4) Military Identification.

I will point out that the first 3 require a BIRTH CERTIFICATE to verify the person’s name.  Except in this case the Birth Certificate is wrong.  And so, therefore are all those forms of ID (with the exception of the school records because we always completed them with One first and Two middle names.  As the Birth Certificate lists 3 given names the school never questioned our naming pattern).

By now, I am confused and frustrated; as is my incorrectly-named son.  So, I call our attorney to see if there is an easier way to resolve this issue.  The conversation with the lawyer took 45 minutes for me to explain the situation before he could even begin to give me a suggestion.  He was as confused as I, and in the end suggested that we complete the FAFSA with the name as the SSA has it listed, then tackle the name change after the fact.  He agreed that the correction process was nonsensical, but pointed out that it was time-consuming and unless my son had credit or a security clearance under either the incorrect or correct name(s), it was a good time to decide what name he would use for the rest of recorded history.

Son is excited that he can decide to change his name if he wants (He’s still a bit miffed that we didn’t name him our 2nd choice — he likes that name better).

What is the end of this story?  Son changes name (mentally only) from FIRST MIDDLE MIDDLE LAST  to FIRST FIRST MIDDLE LAST.  Completes FAFSA, verifies with SSA, receives financial aid package to college he’s attending, and makes a note to sign all future documentation from this date forth with TWO FIRST NAMES and ONE MIDDLE name.

Thankfully we didn’t decide to hyphenate or combine names; who knows what kind of trouble we’d be in now!

Griffith Observatory

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A total bucket list item for me!


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http://www.griffithobservatory.org

Follow the signs to the Observatory up through a residential neighborhood.  There is a LOT of parking, but location depends on the walking distance.

You can park on the roadside up and down the hill from the Observatory for $4.00 an hour.  (Can you spot the place where Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone danced in La La Land??)   There is quite a bit of a hike from these parking spaces.

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The Greek Theater

Parking is FREE if you park by the Greek Theater and you can take a shuttle up the hill to the observatory.  YOU MUST HAVE EXACT CHANGE — 50 cents/person for the shuttle (one-way). No credit cards.

No charge for entrance to the observatory grounds; I recommend you walk around the outside and take in the views of Los Angeles from all the angles.  There are elevators and wheelchair ramps in all areas of the exhibit.  There are several theater shows including the planetarium; price is $7 for adults with decreased pricing for Seniors, Students and children.

There is a café called “The Café at the End of the Universe” that has an extensive menu including salads, soups, sandwiches and wraps; plus coffee, other beverages and snacks like nuts or cookies.  Plenty of seating; sit outside for a great view of the “HOLLYWOOD” sign and northwest views of the cityscape.

Gift shop has a great selection of science toys, t-shirts, cups and all the other souvenir items; pretty decently priced.

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Wander around all you like.  Some interesting items were the statue of James Dean, the HOLLYWOOD sign and (again) the non-stop views of the city.

Check hours (CLOSED MONDAY, open noon to 10 pm other days).

Movies /shows filmed on or around the location include:

Rebel Without a Cause
LaLa Land

And a host of TV shows and other media: https://moviemaps.org/locations/om

 

 

 

 

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One of the telescope domes

 

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LWSD Boundary Survey

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If you haven’t taken the survey, I encourage you to do so. It’s a bit time consuming to wade through the information; I found that printing out the maps for each scenario and page 2 (describing how many kids to and from which school) helped a lot.

And a map of the district to see feeder schools to Middle and then High is helpful too.

LWSD Boundary Website link

Boundary Review Process

​A boundary committee will determine the boundaries for two new elementary schools and one new middle school

Boundary Feedback Meetings
May 4, 2017
The information presented at both Redmond Boundary Process Community Meetings is posted here. The first set of slides covers background information, including how the district determines how many students a school can accommodate. Three slides follow that present three different options for elementary school boundaries. The last set of slides provides information on four possible middle school feeder patterns.

After you have reviewed the possible scenarios, you are invited to provide feedback to the committee on these options.

To provide input, fill out the Boundary Change Scenario Feedback form by May 19.

No decisions have been made. The committee will use your feedback as it continues to develop options. The committee’s goal is to determine their recommendations so that boundaries can be set before February 2018. That’s when kindergarten registration will begin for the 2018-19 school year.

These changes would go into effect for elementary in the 2018-19 school year and for middle in 2019-20.

 

 

​​LWSD Seeks Feedback on Redmond Area School Boundary Changes
April 17, 2017
In January 2017, a Lake Washington School District boundary committee began the work to recommend new school attendance boundaries in the Redmond area. The district is building two new elementary schools and one new middle school in the Redmond area due to enrollment growth. These new schools serve students drawn from existing schools. Neighborhood boundaries for all elementary and middle schools in Redmond could change as a result.

The boundary committee is preparing multiple new attendance boundary options. The boundary committee will hold two meetings to get feedback on those options. Attendees will view the options in an open house format. Committee members will be present to discuss these scenarios and answer questions.  Both meetings will present the same information.

Boundary Feedback Meetings

  • May 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Redmond Middle School Cafeteria
  • May 9, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Evergreen Middle School Cafeteria

Parents and community members are invited to come to either meeting to learn more and review the options. Read the full press release about the May 4 and May 9 boundary meetings.

 

Redmond schools boundary criteria results
April 12, 2017
The first step in the committee’s process to develop new boundaries for the Redmond area is to review the criteria it will use to evaluate potential new boundaries. On January 31, parents received a message about the boundary process and a link to a survey. This survey asked for the boundary criteria to be ranked. Over 1,300 families responded to the survey. Respondents ranked the criteria in the following order:

 

​Ranked Criteria Rank 1 Rank 2​ Rank 3​ Rank 4​ Rank 5​ Rank 6​ Weighted Rank Total​
​1. Maintain neighborhoods to the extent possible 436​ ​383 ​204 ​124 ​109 ​67 ​6004
​2. Minimize the number of students and families affected 325​ ​245 ​223 ​193 ​184 ​153 ​5167
​3. Redistribute enrollment to match school capacity and accommodate growth ​269 ​207 ​251 ​233 ​201 ​162 ​4916
​4. Minimize transportation impacts ​115 ​217 ​280 ​302 ​250 ​159 ​4460
​5. Use natural boundaries to the extent possible ​97 ​161 ​216 ​233 ​255 ​361 ​3821
​6. Provide proximity of special programs to the extent possible ​81 ​110 ​149 ​238 ​324 ​421 ​3415

 

The boundary committee will meet throughout the school year. Later in the spring, families will be invited to participate in a community feedback meeting. Boundary options will be available for review and written feedback at the meeting. An online feedback forum will be available for families who cannot attend one of the community meetings.

 

 

Redmond area school boundary process begins
January 20, 2017
Lake Washington School District will build three new schools in the Redmond area to meet the needs of its growing enrollment. New schools draw enrollment from neighborhoods now assigned to existing schools. As a result, a boundary committee is beginning the process to determine the boundaries for two new elementary schools and one new middle school.

The new middle school and one elementary school will be located in Redmond Ridge. The other elementary school will be in north Redmond. The two new elementary schools are scheduled to open in fall 2018. The new middle school will open in fall 2019.

Read the full press release.

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Here is the bell schedule for this week at Redmond High School (Redmond Washington):

No automatic alt text available.SBA testing is for 10th grade students and certain others who may require to take the SBA tests

Dear RHS Families:

This is to remind you and your student of the SBA testing next week – April 17th thru 21st.  All 10th Grade students will be testing along with several 11th and 12th students.  The Bell Schedule and more information is linked below.

 

The SBA (Smarter Balanced Assessment) test is connected to the Common Core curriculum and is part of the overall testing plan for Washington State.

My son is a senior this year.  As you can see from today’s (Wednesday) schedule, he has no school until 10 am followed by a 2 hour home room class followed by lunch.  It’s no wonder that he’s asked me to skip the day.  (I’ll let you guess if I said yes or no).

Tuesday’s schedule was not much better; with an 85 minute class period followed by and 80 minute home room period, then lunch or 4th period lasting 2 hours and 5 minutes.  They round the day off with 6th period of 85 minutes then dismiss at 2 pm.

I’m not a fan of the shortened Wednesday (LEAP) schedule to begin with.  On top of this year’s shortened Wednesdays, block scheduling, and standardized testing the school District had to change the school calendar due to snow days.  They made this decision AFTER the scheduled mid-Winter break (another waste of time) and added 2 days to the school year and made four ‘early release Wednesdays’ regular full school days. Last day of school for non-seniors in the District is June 23rd.  (Graduation day for Seniors at Redmond High is June 15th).  Here is the bell schedule for the Snow Days.

What is the purpose of having school days/hours if those hours are not used towards the best possible purpose?  For non-10th graders (for math sake, let’s say 3/4 of the student population or roughly 1500 students) the schedule seems to be mostly an excuse to skip.

Homeroom seems to be an excuse for the schools to host multiple assemblies. Attendance is required and absences are not excused except for the case of medical appointments. Last Friday (regular bell schedule) my other son ‘skipped’ home room to do homework in the lunchroom/cafeteria.  I received a call to report his absence and when I asked for it to be excused it was denied.  Apparently assemblies for ASB elections are far more important than studying or homework completion.

So, let’s recap:

Washington State schools are required to provide an annual average of 1,080 hours per school year in grades 9-12.

Those hours are not required to be actual learning hours.

 

 

 

Review of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

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**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Pros:

The music and singing were fantastic.  I was truly impressed with Emma Watson’s voice and felt she embodied Belle in character and voice when compared to the animated movie.  Her acting was believable and not over-done, she had chemistry with her father (Kevin Kline), Gaston (Luke Evans) and the Beast (Dan Stevens).

I loved the costuming and only had a few issues with outfits (see ‘cons’).

The movie story line followed the animated movie quite well, added in some new songs (I’ve been told from the stage play) and layered in some other story points to add depth to the tale.

Cons:

Two wardrobe ‘malfunctions’ of note:  Belle’s skirt being tucked into her waistband and then, inexplicably, not.  And in one of the final scenes she discards the signature yellow ball gown and rides to the castle in, presumably, nothing but her undergarments.

I was disappointed in Dan Stevens but only because he isn’t (wasn’t?) Robbie Benson.  I’ll admit I had a not-so-small crush on Robbie Benson for most of my pre-teen through college years.  Okay, who am I kidding, I still do.  He was what I pictured the “Beast” to be (even though he was animated and the prince looked nothing like him in the animated version).  In every other way The Beast played by Dan Stevens was fantastic.

The ballroom scene was a bit stilted and I was unimpressed with the lack of actual ballroom dancing.

The CGI wolves were corny.  I’m surprised that with all of Disney’s skill they couldn’t make more realistic looking wild animals.  And there were a few scenes where the CGI of the Beast were a bit off.

The Hype

Disney and many review sites made a huge deal about the reveal of some ‘exclusively gay moments’ in the movie.  It was, as I suspected, media hype by Disney to get more press about the movie.  The ‘moments’ were tame and most people wouldn’t even have blinked if the media commotion hadn’t been so pronounced.  I’m EXTREMELY pleased that Disney didn’t take a traditionally romantic fairy tale and rewrite it to make a politically correct social commentary.  Although the original story is not completely portrayed in either the animated or live-action version, the story is a heterosexual romance between a man and a woman.  The main social commentary that should be prevalent in the story is that appearances are not an indication of a person’s value, character or principles.  Perhaps Disney can use their deep well of talent to create and develop their own, original story lines if they want to accommodate romantics of other sexual genres.

I didn’t read up on the cast before, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Lumiere portrayed by some well-known actors.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie a great deal.  Several friends and I, with their pre-/teenage daughters attended together as a Girls Night. We saw it on a Monday evening (it opened Friday); the theater was half-full; mostly couples and women.  I managed NOT to sing the songs however I did lip sync quite a few of them.  It was not as emotionally wrenching and breath-taking as the live action Cinderella (although several of the ladies I attended with cried during the movie).  I will see it at least one more time in the theater; and I’ll buy the soundtrack which should be impressive.

 

Professional Review sites:

Plugged In

Rotten Tomatoes

 

News Articles:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/human-again-the-exclusively-gay-moment-in-beauty_us_58ccd706e4b0537abd9570f7

http://attitude.co.uk/world-exclusive-beauty-and-the-beast-set-to-make-disney-history-with-gay-character/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/39125727/beauty-and-the-beast-to-feature-disneys-first-gay-character-and-love-scene