Commentary

Thu
17
Dec

'Have a jingling Christmas, Santa'

Santa letters have been a staple in the Standard-Radio Post for decades. These timeless rituals remind readers that no matter how much the world changes or how ugly it seems, children’s imaginations, innocence and desire for toys remain constant.

Gillespie County children asked for popular toys such as Elf on a Shelf, iPads, Tablets, Xbox One, Wii Us, Legos, Shopkins, Pokemon Cards and Wubble Bubble Balls.

Toys specific to the Hill Country’s young residents were ATVs, BB guns and bows and arrows.

First and second graders at Fredericksburg Elementary School peppered Santa with questions like “Do you eat penguins for Thanksgiving?” and “What is Mrs. Claus’ first name?”

Many children wanted to know Santa’s favorite reindeer and elf. Others wanted to know how he managed to fly all over the world in one night.

Thu
17
Dec

Oscar contender ‘Spotlight’ hits all the right notes

Stop the presses: Boston newspaper journalism docudrama ‘Spotlight’ is an instant classic

 

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that shows its viewers the power of a no-frills, no-nonsense drama.

“Spotlight” smacks people in the face, shakes them awake and says, “This is what good cinema is about.”

Tom McCarthy’s film, based on a script he co-wrote with Josh Singer, follows the four-person Spotlight investigative reporting team of the Boston Globe as they discover a massive cover up by the Catholic Church to hide Boston area priests who sexually assaulted children.

Their work, done over the course of a months-long investigation in 2001-2002, culminated in a Pulitzer Prize award for the Globe team as well as massive legal settlements for the hundreds of abuse victims across the Boston archdiocese and thousands of victims nationwide.

Thu
17
Dec

Age of Enlightenment


Jazyr Benitez enjoys read-ing about the first Thanks-giving with Rosemary Merdian. – Submitted photo

Age of Enlightenment

 

Reading mentors help create life-long learning, find inspiration through mentees

 

By Lindy Segall

 

 

 

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

       — C.S. Lewis

 

I long ago adopted Joseph Addison’s maxim: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” My parents read to me from childbirth, and probably before that. The result was a lifetime love affair with books and learning about new things.

In years past, I could never emerge from a bookstore with only one title; nowadays, it’s a dangerous thing for me to enter the Amazon Prime site. My home has books on a variety of topics scattered about. I give books as gifts for any occasion. So no one was particularly surprised to hear I’d signed up for the fall “Our Time to Enjoy Reading” (OTTER) reading program at Fredericksburg Primary School.

Wed
09
Dec

Don't mess with the Hill Country beauty

By Ken Esten Cooke
 

Harry and Donna Reichenau of Willow City spent much of an afternoon last week picking up after strangers.

The residents of the vaunted Willow City Loop — frequently listed as one of Texas’ prettiest country drives, particularly during Bluebonnet season — picked up beer cans, soda cans, plastic bottles and other discarded detritus. And they’re more than a little mad about it.

Donna and Harry were disgusted as they picked up all the trash in a 3½-to-4-mile stretch. “We actually got tired of picking up so we stopped,” Donna shared on the newspaper’s Facebook page. “We will continue when we go back and finish what we started. I guess ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’ doesn’t apply to the Willow City Loop.”

Wed
09
Dec

Batteries spark talk of 'green' games

 

With the price of batteries these days, it takes as much of an investment in batteries to keep a Christmas gift operating as the present itself.

One night last week, while driving home from work, I listened to a talk show discussing just that – how much money people spend on batteries to keep a game going and never blink an eye.

And one of the radio hosts was yammering about the fact that he had four children and nearly had to buy stock in a battery company in order to keep stocked up on batteries.

The two deejays got to discussing returning to a “green” lifestyle and purchasing games that did not require batteries — board games from years ago, in specific.

I found myself agreeing with them and answering the radio, “We had that game when we were kids and played it all the time!” to about half of those on the list they rattled off.

One of the oldest ones named was Monopoly. Who hasn’t played Monopoly some time or the other?

Wed
09
Dec

Authenticity in an iPhone world

In an era of selfies, Snapchats and Instagram videos, it’s hard to fathom why more young filmmakers haven’t emerged from behind their smartphones.

Thousands upon thousands of smart, talented people from all walks of life are documenting their entire youth through bursts of short videos, but few have realized those clips into a fully formed, quality feature film.

Inspiration for this YouTube generation has arrived, though five minutes in, it’s hard to remember that this year’s best independent film was shot using three iPhone 5s smartphones and some Steadicam equipment.

Wed
02
Dec

Some good news for diabetes epidemic

By Ken Esten Cooke

“It’s the most difficult time of the year” … for dieting, that is.

From our gluttonous Thanksgiving rituals through the cookie- and candy-infested holidays, Americans will face the most challenging part of our “battle of the bulge” these final months of our calendar years.

But there is a little good news. The New York Times reported that new cases of diabetes in the U.S. have begun to decline since its rapid rise began about 25 years ago. There were 1.4 million new cases of the disease in 2014, compared to 1.7 million cases in 2008.

There is still plenty to do, but some modest inroads seem to be being made in people taking care of their health. Eating habits have slowly begun to improve and the amount of soda Americans drink has declined by about a quarter since the late 1990s. The average number of daily calories consumed by children and adults also has fallen.

Wed
02
Dec

Where does all that love come from?

If a person is lucky enough, he or she will receive a blessing so grand that it’s hard to put into words. While this gift from the Almighty is filled with joy, happiness and charm, it also comes with bumps, bruises and tears.

Of course, I’m talking about grandchildren.

I don’t mean to offend anyone, but my wife and I have the two best granddaughters in the world. It’s a simple fact, but one I’m sure you might want to dispute. That’s okay, I’m sure you have your own reasons.

While our two munchkins are seven years apart in age, their birthdays are separated by one day. In a way, that adds another special aspect to their charm. When we shop for birthday presents for one, we can usually find gifts for the other one (I just wish their birthdays weren’t three weeks after Christmas — but we gladly deal with that “inconvenience”).

Wed
02
Dec

Revitalizing a fallen franchise

Seven years ago, Steven Spielberg attempted to pass the torch of cinematic icon Indiana Jones from Harrison Ford to Shia LeBeouf in the disastrous “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

What resulted was a shoddy, poorly conceived disaster that has kept the franchise grounded in a movie-making era where anything and everything has been remade or rebooted in pursuit of the almighty dollar. All too often, this spells a franchise’s death knell for years to come.

Similarly, Sylvester Stallone attempted to atone for the sins of the abhorrent “Rocky V” with the release of the mediocre “Rocky Balboa,” which limped a once iconic character to presumably the finish line in spite of the Oscar-winning original film “Rocky” in 1976.

Six films in, Rocky had no more punches left to throw.

Enter Ryan Coogler.

Wed
02
Dec

Revitalizing a fallen franchise

Seven years ago, Steven Spielberg attempted to pass the torch of cinematic icon Indiana Jones from Harrison Ford to Shia LeBeouf in the disastrous “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

What resulted was a shoddy, poorly conceived disaster that has kept the franchise grounded in a movie-making era where anything and everything has been remade or rebooted in pursuit of the almighty dollar. All too often, this spells a franchise’s death knell for years to come.

Similarly, Sylvester Stallone attempted to atone for the sins of the abhorrent “Rocky V” with the release of the mediocre “Rocky Balboa,” which limped a once iconic character to presumably the finish line in spite of the Oscar-winning original film “Rocky” in 1976.

Six films in, Rocky had no more punches left to throw.

Enter Ryan Coogler.

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