Gillespie Life


Wounded Texas vet to share story

By Richard Zowie —

Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris thought he’d died.

Serving in the 10th Mountain Division in his second deployment in the U.S. Army, Harris sustained third-degree burns over 35 percent of his body and lost his ears, the tip of his nose and three fingers on Feb. 19, 2007, when an improvised explosive device (IED) struck the armored vehicle he and other soldiers rode in.

The explosion injured the driver and killed three of Harris’ fellow soldiers. It also fractured his left collarbone and C-7 vertebrae and left him with hearing loss.

The severity of his injuries resulted in him being placed in a medically-induced coma for 48 days.

“There are still days now I think maybe this is just a dream, maybe I’m really in a coma somewhere,” he said. “Sometimes I think maybe this is heaven. I wonder if I’m living in an alternate timeline.”


Latest ‘Jurassic Park’ installment shows what good sequels should look like

Sequels that genuinely work, or even come remotely close to living up to the original film, are few and far between.

While last weekend’s smash hit “Jurassic World” isn’t exactly a modern carbon copy of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 masterpiece “Jurassic Park,” so much of what made the original feature awe-inspiring, terrifying and innovative is preserved in what very well may be the summer’s best blockbuster film.

Brash, loud and in your face, “Jurassic World” gives viewers everything they could possibly want from a return to Isla Nublar, scene of the original film’s theme park turned prehistoric demolition derby, but cranks everything about the original up to 11 while expounding on what might happen if the doomed park actually opened for business.


Retired sergeant major to be inducted in Ranger Hall of Fame

The U.S. Army will salute retired Command Sergeant Major Jim Broyles on June 24 when they induct him into the Ranger Hall of Fame. Broyles served two tours in Vietnam as a ranger. — Submitted photo

By Richard Zowie —

For nearly 12 weeks, with only two half days off, Jim Broyles averaged one hour of sleep a day.

His superiors gave him one meal a day. If he was still hungry, he subsisted on whatever was available — snakes, lizards, grub worms or insects.

“Anything you could catch,” he said. “If it moved and crawled, you’d probably try to eat it.”

While hungry, thirsty and exhausted, Broyles moved around, set up ambushes and planned reconnaissance routes.

The U.S. Army did this not to punish Broyles, but to test him to see if he could still function as a soldier and lead despite sleep deprivation, hunger and stress.

For his service as a ranger, Broyles will be inducted June 24 into the Ranger Hall of Fame in Fort Benning, Georgia.

With his induction into the hall of fame, Broyles will join David L. Grange, his platoon leader in Vietnam. Grange is also enshrined.


Serious comedy done right: McCarthy makes comeback with hysterical ‘Spy’

Sookie St. James is making a comeback.

The warm, kind-hearted neighbor character played to perfection by comedienne Melissa McCarthy in TV’s “Gilmore Girls” has been largely missing from the rising star’s film credits, while McCarthy has made her name mucking it up in less than savory roles.

Her latest adventure, the spoof film “Spy,” is by no means family-friendly entertainment, but continues a step in the right direction for the actress, who needs to continue to display versatility on screen.

Since McCarthy broke out in 2011’s “Bridesmaids,” nearly every single role she has taken on — from her hilarious turn in the buddy cop film “The Heat” to more lackluster roles in “Identity Thief” and “Tammy” — has been some iteration on the bumbling, intentionally fat and ugly bridesmaid Megan.


Peaches, row crops benefit from recent moisture

Gillespie County Extension Agent Brad Roeder, left, and Calvin Ransleben walk through Ransleben’s haygrazer field, recently. The recent rains have helped hay crops as well as corn, milo, sorghum and peaches, but have hurt the wheat and oats crops. — Standard-Radio Post/Yvonne Hartmann

By Yvonne Hartmann and Autumn Bernhard —

For farmers and ranchers, rain is usually a blessing, but sometimes it can be a curse.

Some years, the lack of rainfall has keeps farmers and ranchers looking to the heavens and hoping that the much-needed moisture will start to fall.

And this year when the rains did fall, the moisture has been beneficial for many of the crops, including the peaches, hay, corn and milo.

“The rain has been a blessing to the peach crop,” said Jamey Vogel of Vogel Orchards and president of the Hill Country Fruit Council.

For others, however, the recent heavy rains and winds came at the wrong time for the wheat and oats crops.

“A lot of the wheat and oat fields were demolished by the last rain,” said Gillespie County Extension Agent Brad Roeder. “Those crops were already hurting and now most of them are ruined.”

A wet month


Big stars, Crowe can’t save ‘Aloha’ from meddling studio

Dead on arrival.

Angered by a Seth Rogen-James Franco buddy comedy that saw the duo attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-un, North Koreans hacked emails and threatened war if 2014’s “The Interview” was released into American theaters.

Despite their best efforts, last year’s email hack of Sony Entertainment executives didn’t kill the raunchy buddy comedy, released video on demand to widespread support from celebrities and First Amendment activists alike. In fact, controversies surrounding the film likely helped “The Interview” do better than it would have with a regular theatrical release.

North Koreans helped get the ball rolling to kill a major Hollywood film, but it just wasn’t the one they intended.


Up-and-down “Tomorrowland” worth taking a chance on

Disappointing. Underwhelming. Lackluster.

Three words that easily describe how Disney executives this week feel about their latest feature film, the George Clooney-helmed “Tomorrowland.”

The film, well on its way to becoming a commercial failure due to its $180 million budget according to Variety, is generally believed to be a mistake, which is the best thing that could possibly happen to this family friendly sci-fi, action adventure film.

How would things be different today if “Tomorrowland” was raking in the dough at a rate Disney was comfortable with? We’d already be talking about “Tomorrowland 2” less than one week after the film’s initial release.


Rockets 2015 dodges clouds, hosts student projectile projects

FHS team’s transonic rocket takes flight over the hills at Hillview Ranch near Willow City. – Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke —

                Fredericksburg High School students arrived at Hillview Ranch near Willow City before sunup.

                Thursday was a big day for the students, who had worked on a transonic rocket during the semester. “Launch day” was here.

                A semester’s worth of work is crammed into an eight-foot cylinder, along with a motor, cameras, data modules, a parachute, and, in some cases, personal artifacts or items.

                FHS students’ rocket fired off near 3:30 p.m. during a break in the clouds. As one of the more powerful and high-flying rockets, expected to reach 10,000 to 12,000 feet, it quickly disappeared from view.

                A crew of volunteers, spotters and members of the Willow City Volunteer Fire Department helped locate where the rocket landed.


Crank it up to 11: “Fury Road” provides best kind of sensory overload to audiences

Two films espousing feminist ideas broke through in a big way commercially last week, but it’s the movie franchise you’d least suspect that does the best job of celebrating women in cinema.

In fact, it’s just a better movie all the way around.

Don’t look now, but George Miller, the director behind the Mel Gibson-led “Road Warrior” trilogy, is back with a new installment of “Mad Max” and its “Fury Road” is simply one of the three best films so far in 2015 and by far the year’s most feminist.

It’s not earth-shattering if viewers haven’t seen the trilogy before heading to theaters for “Fury Road.” In fact, seeing the film with fresh eyes offers a richer perspective on this visually brilliant epic adventure.

Tom Hardy — further cementing his status as both leading man and character actor — holds his own as the titular “Mad Max,” taking over where Gibson left off in the mid-1980s.


Indie comedy 'Welcome to Me' a refreshing hit

Comedy, as a genre, is a tough nut to crack.

More than any other type of film, the art of making people laugh is inherently more difficult than, say, making people cry. It’s why good actors do drama and great actors have the timing for comedy.

Films like the Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara-driven “Hot Pursuit” don’t help the matter any, especially when that derivative mess of a feature is one of only a handful of movies led by strong, independent women this year.

Since there’s still another week of waiting for Anna Kendrick to save audiences with “Pitch Perfect 2,” avid moviegoers are forced to hit the independent film circuit for good laughs, but even that’s a mixed bag.

Enter Kristen Wiig.

While many viewers will remember her best for her roles on “Saturday Night Live” and breaking into Hollywood with the sensational “Bridesmaids,” it’s in the smaller, independent films that Wiig does her finest work.


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