Gillespie Life

Wed
25
Feb

Warmth from up north


Bill Downs, an Austin, Minnesota resident, caulks around a window at the most recent Habitat home on Park Street. — Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

People who think retirees check out and live a leisurely life of luxury don’t know the Care-a-Vanners.

Dick and Linda Aide quickly tired of “touristy stuff” after they left the working world in 1997. The Wisconsin-based snowbirds felt the need to do something besides tool around in their RV and visit sites that catered to visitors in Texas and Arizona.

They visited Texas, visiting the LBJ State Park and Fredericksburg museums. They liked the town, but wanted to do something constructive. They began to research the Habitat for Humanity program.

Now the Aides are two of around 400 “RV Care-a-Vanners” who construct homes around the nation, using part of their “down time” to transform the face of some communities. Over the past month, 19 people in 10 RV rigs have set up camp at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park’s RV station and come into town to construct House No. 15 for the Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity program.

Wed
25
Feb

What we talk about when we talk about 'Birdman'

It shouldn’t come as a total shock that “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” — a very inside acting film — would continue the trend of movies like “The Artist” and “Argo,” winning the Best Picture prize at Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Now three of the last five films to win the most prestigious award in Hollywood are about Hollywood, actors or some combination of both, and that’s certain to upset a lot of members of the general public, whether they’re indie die-hards who were mystified by Richard Linklater’s 12-year filming odyssey “Boyhood” or patriotic Clint Eastwood backers supporting a box office smash hit in “American Sniper.” But when you watch or re-watch “Birdman” — now out on DVD and Bluray — it’s important to realize just how complete a film “Birdman” is and what exactly we should be talking about when we talk about “Birdman.”

Wed
18
Feb

History's lyrics


Woellhof points out "ghost faces" designed into the sheets. — Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke

 

Ron Woellhof, Fredericksburg’s now retired friendly antiquer, has lent material for another exhibit at Schreiner University in Kerrville.

“The Medieval Lyric in Illuminated Manuscript” shows off the intricate artistry of pre-printing press-era scribes, who adorned lyric sheets with ornate works of art and some hidden treasures.

“Sheets of the hand-scripted 14th and 15th centuries are among the largest and most beautiful manuscripts that have survived from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance,” said Sara Schmidt, associate professor of library science. “This exhibition celebrates the splendid decoration and form of these manuscripts.”

This is the Logan Library’s third exhibit of illuminated manuscripts from the collection of Ron and Jane Woellhof, who together ran Main Street’s Showcase Antiques from 1976 until last year.

Wed
18
Feb

From corn to cork


Filled bottles await the final sealing, stamping and signing at Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye. — Photos by Phil Houseal

It was a great Hill Country day to take a tour of Garrison Brothers Distillery. It was on our way and combined three irresistible draws: a trip that starts with a wagon ride, ends with a shot of bourbon, and is near a town whose name is a greeting — Hye.

We pulled into the rustic visitor area on Albert Road just a few miles south of the historic Hye Post Office, and lucked out with timing as a tour was just ready to go. You should reserve a spot online, but we happened to find a seat, and took a short ride to the “place where the magic happens.”

Making bourbon is a pretty simple process. After all, people have been doing it for centuries. But when Dan Garrison started Texas’ first “legal” whiskey distillery in 2008, he wanted Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey to be “the best bourbon ever made.”

So it’s made pretty much by hand. Well, 18 hands. Currently nine full-time employees take the product “from corn to cork.”

Wed
18
Feb

It's all grey: '50 Shades' too bland

It takes two to tango — one to lead and one to follow — in the feature film adaptation of E.L. James’ best-selling erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

The follower, Dakota Johnson as the naïve and bookish Anastasia, is a breath of fresh air anytime she appears on screen and truly gives 110 percent of herself to every scene no matter how much clothing she wears.

However, the leader, Jamie Dornan as the charismatic and mysterious billionaire Christian, can’t dance to save his life.

In relationship-heavy two-handers like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” it’s important that both leads utilize the other’s performance to help elevate their own, but Johnson is acting against a brick wall.

There’s only so much an actor can do when given nothing to work with. It’s what makes Johnson’s honest portrayal of the loss of innocence more noteworthy.

Wed
18
Feb

It's all grey: '50 Shades' too bland

It takes two to tango — one to lead and one to follow — in the feature film adaptation of E.L. James’ best-selling erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

The follower, Dakota Johnson as the naïve and bookish Anastasia, is a breath of fresh air anytime she appears on screen and truly gives 110 percent of herself to every scene no matter how much clothing she wears.

However, the leader, Jamie Dornan as the charismatic and mysterious billionaire Christian, can’t dance to save his life.

In relationship-heavy two-handers like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” it’s important that both leads utilize the other’s performance to help elevate their own, but Johnson is acting against a brick wall.

There’s only so much an actor can do when given nothing to work with. It’s what makes Johnson’s honest portrayal of the loss of innocence more noteworthy.

Wed
11
Feb

Student artists display work

First-year art student Camela Patton’s work is included in the annual Student Art Exhibition at Whistle Pik Galleries. Patton, a 10th grader at Ambleside School, created her black scratch paper piece, “Owl Study.” Although she hopes to continue studying art while in high school, she said that she is looking at pursuing a career in some type of architecture. — Standard-Radio Post/Yvonne Hartmann

Wed
11
Feb

Sci-flop "Jupiter Ascending" not worth your time

It’s unfortunate that “Jupiter Ascending,” the latest sci-fi adventure from the Wachowski directing team of “Matrix” fame, wasn’t released last summer like originally scheduled.

The film, which believes itself to be the second coming of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, is more like the Jar Jar Binks of the sci-fi genre, heavily derided, over-animated and just not that good.

It certainly doesn’t seem like the extra seven months taken following its July 18 expected release date helped the overall aesthetic of the film.

To be sure, “Jupiter Ascending” is a terrible film lacking in any semblance of character development, cohesive plot or sense of purpose.

But films like “Jupiter Ascending” are necessary evils that remind us just how fortunate we are for movies like “Edge of Tomorrow” or “Guardians of the Galaxy,” science fiction films with an actual point of view and something interesting to hold on to.

Wed
04
Feb

Sun setting on Pat's Hall


The mighty live oak tree, around which dancers scooted to two-steps and waltzes, stands ready for its new role at the home of what will be Providence Hall School. Owner Kathy Shearer sold this and the adjoining property to the school, which sought to expand to expand its local facilities. — Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke

 

True Texas dance halls are becoming more rare as time marches on, and the sale of Pat’s Hall means there will be one fewer of the iconic structures in the Lone Star state.

Steve Dean, director of the nonprofit Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc., said owners have to adapt to changing times to survive.

Pat’s Hall was sold recently to Providence Hall, a small Christian school looking for room to expand.

The hall, with its exterior dance floor surrounding a huge oak tree, has been the site of many a good time for locals for generations.

Dean was disappointed to hear of the sale, but said he understands the challenges faced by today’s dance hall owners.

“It’s unfortunate, because Fredericksburg is such a lively, energetic town,” he said. “I wish we could have found an owner who would continue the dance hall.”

Wed
04
Feb

Chastain, Isaac shine in 'A Most Violent Year'

Hollywood is putting serious pocket change into remaking vintage films using modern technology for new audiences.

It seems as though no film is beyond the grasp of remake-hungry directors, though there are still some movies that need to be left untouched.

You just can’t remake “The Godfather.”

“A Most Violent Year,” a little-seen film that the National Board of Review chose as the best of 2014, isn’t a “Godfather” rip-off or remake, but carries with it all the lessons modern filmmakers can learn from the Francis Ford Coppola crime classic.

J.C. Chandor’s third feature film — following 2011’s breakout hit “Margin Call” and 2013’s “All Is Lost” — stars Oscar Isaac as a businessman trying to stay clean in a dirty, corrupt heating oil industry.

The film gets its title from the background in which it is set — New York City in 1981, a disproportionately violent year in the town’s history.

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