Commentary

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.

Tue
24
Nov

Sorting and giving


Volunteers, in the front row from left to right, Hermina “Minnie” Car-rion, Philomena “Pat” Boulette and Dottie Weber are the longest serv-ing volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. Other volunteers include, from left to right, include Carol Smith, Joy Noble, Gladys Edwards, Francis Pfiester, Diana Koch and Hailey Koch. – Stand-ard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

 

By Christine Granados

 

Lottie Weber, Hermina “Minnie” Carrion and Philomena “Pat” Boulette reflect the spirit of the holiday season year round through their volunteer efforts. These three women are not only the oldest working volunteers at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, but the longest serving.

The trio has been working a combined total of 96 years at St. Vincent’s. Weber and Carrion have volunteered there for 36 years each and Boulette for 24.

                The store’s namesake St. Vincent de Paul is the Catholic patron saint of charitable societies. The thrift store first opened in 1970’s inside the late Margaret Schnappauf’s garage. The store moved to a space on Tivydale Road, then later expanded to Main Street and moved to its present location on West Live Oak Street in 2012.

Tue
24
Nov

Small business are our economic engine

As “Black Friday” creeps onto Thanksgiving Thursday and beyond, solicitations from the country’s wealthy and marketing-savvy big businesses hit us at every turn.

Yet instead of driving down I-10 to hit the mega-retailers after you digest your bird, we hope you will give thanks for and patronize our small businesses right here in Fredericksburg.

In our country, we tend to treat large-company CEOs like royalty or rock stars. Yet for every billionaire who makes their mark on CNBC or Fox Business, there are thousands of bosses outside the spotlight who do what it takes to keep revenue flowing and expenses in check enough to make for a profitable bottom line.

For many small-business owners, their craft is a labor of love.

Tue
24
Nov

Destroy the terrorists, but not American ideals

By Ken Esten Cooke

 

Immigrants, whether voluntary or in a refugee situation, have always had a rough go. Irish, Italians, Polish and many others were always viewed with a degree of derision by those who had been here longer.

Even some long-settled Germans were viewed with suspicion when their Vaterland was at war in the last century.  

It seems fear is the biggest motivator of opinion today, especially among our presidential hopefuls hoping for air time. And if we let it, could well be a driver of policy.

People are scared, understandably so. But we shouldn’t let fear become larger than ourselves, our values, no matter the threat. One has to admire the French response to the recent attacks in Paris: Go out and enjoy “liberte, egalite, fraternite” (liberty, equality, fraternity).

Tue
24
Nov

Heading out for one last battle

Cinematic Considerations by Matt Ward

 

After four feature-length films about the ravages of state-sponsored murder and outright civil war, today’s premiere young adult movie franchise has come to a close with the release of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.”

What makes this franchise stand apart from its young adult dystopian apocalypse franchise brethren – most notably the “Divergent” and “Maze Runner” empires – is the casting of then-unknown actor Jennifer Lawrence. The 2012 Academy Award winner Lawrence plays the leading role of Katniss Everdeen, a Joan of Arc-esque female warrior, who is forced into combat time and again for the survival of her family and her people.

Lawrence brings a gravitas to the role that few other actresses her age could aspire to. She is able to create a complex character in a genre lacking in depth.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Commentary