Gillespie Life


The darkest side of Boston

Johnny Depp is different things to different people.

He’s borderline flamboyant, swashbuckling pirate Johnny Depp to many filmgoers; undercover teen cop Johnny Depp to an older generation and an enigmatic Mad Hatter Johnny Depp to a much younger subsect of audiences.

There’s no mistaking that he’s charming when he wants to be, brooding when he needs to be and enigmatic always Johnny Depp feels at home in any number of characters.

But it seems that every five years or so, audiences are treated to the best kind of Depp, crime drama anti-hero Johnny Depp. We’ve seen this Depp play undercover agents in “Donnie Brasco,” drug lords in “Blow” and famous gangsters in “Public Enemies.”

Six years after he died on the street as famed bank robber John Dillinger, crime drama anti-hero Johnny Depp is back and channeling a “The Departed”-era Jack Nicholson as real life Boston kingpin James (Whitey) Bulger in Scott Cooper’s “Black Mass.”


Go wild with independent film

You’ve probably seen Bruce Greenwood in a lot of movies.

He’s one of those “Oh that guy” character actors. You know the ones. A friend will say something like “I really liked (NAME OF ACTOR) in that movie I saw last week,” to which the immediate response is almost always, “Which one is he?” Then the friend explains what movies you’ve seen the actor in and the immediate response is always “Ohhhhh, that guy.” It’s a situation that applied most often to talented veterans like Steve Buscemi before “Boardwalk Empire” or Kevin Spacey before “House of Cards.”

Bruce Greenwood is an “Oh that guy” actor.

This isn’t to slight Greenwood at all, given the quality work he’s done playing the president in both “Thirteen Days” and “National Treasure 2,” Ashley Judd’s ne’er-do-well husband in “Double Jeopardy” and as Chris Pine’s mentor in the “Star Trek” reboots.

Ohhhhh, that guy.



Wandering through the forest

By Matt Ward —

It’s difficult to like “A Walk in the Woods” as much as you might like to.

Pair acting royalty like Robert Redford and Nick Nolte together and send them off on an Odyssean-like quest through the Appalachian Trail in search of themselves based on the book of the same name by travel writer Bill Bryson and it feels like a sure-fire recipe for success. 

To be fair, there’s a lot of great things happening within Ken Kwapis’ comedy adventure, which steers clear of the harsh realities of life on the trail like Reese Witherspoon’s “Wild” showed audiences last year. In fact, it’s in the comedic moments where “Walk” shines brightest, though viewers may be surprised by the film’s vulgarity, which features several of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.” “Walk” is much cruder than the trailers might have audiences believing, with the language making the film a definitive R.


Battlin' for season tickets

Hand rails were installed this year for easier access to the upper rows at Fredericksburg High School Stadium. — File photo

By Christine Granados —

If Fredericksburg High School fans were the barometer for success on the gridiron, the Battlin’ Billies would be state champions every year.

Season tickets along the 50-yard line (Section D) are difficult to come by, because of boosters like J.T. Maner.

“You can’t buy any until someone gives up some,” he said. “No one ever gives up any.”

Which is why, Maner, who played tackle for the Hillbillies in the ’40s, has had his season tickets since 1964 when FHS Stadium was built.

“We picked our seats before the stadium was finished,” Maner, 85, said. “I went out there and looked at the plans and what they were building and I liked what I saw. When they went on sale, I bought four seats under the press box.”

Every year since, he has renewed his tickets to guarantee the same seats.


Where's the nearest exit?

By Matt Ward —

Pierce Brosnan is trying very hard to revitalize his career, reshaping himself in the mold of Liam Neeson, aging action star.

It certainly helps that Brosnan spent a decade in four high profile films as the iconic James Bond, cinema’s longest lasting character, crafting a niche for himself as a classier version of the action star actor.

It’s these Brosnan Bond films like “GoldenEye” and “Tomorrow Never Dies” that helped to pave the way for Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne franchise and the passing of the spy torch to Daniel Craig, who will appear in his fourth Bond this fall with “Spectre.”

With last year’s “The November Man” and the large independent release “No Escape,” which debuted in theaters over the weekend, Brosnan begins his re-ascension back up the action star food chain with much success.


Threads of education

Schoolgirl samplers were used to help learn the alphabet, their numbers, to promote reading, writing and math skills. Often, the name of the student creating the sampler was also stitched onto the fabric such as this one created by Rosalie Ahrens. — Standard-Radio Post/Yvonne Hartmann

By Yvonne Hartmann —

Samplers have a story to tell.

These pieces of fabric art have been used as a teaching aid in country schools, and today they help tell the story of a girl’s education in earlier times.

These stories will be brought to life when the 2016 Country School Association of America Convention is held in Fredericksburg, June 19-22, 2016.

Theme for the convention, hosted by the Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools, is “On the Land, Learning at Hand.”

And in keeping with that theme, an exhibit of over 40 antique and contemporary samplers is planned at Pioneer Museum.

“Samplers are just woven into our lives,” said Jane Woellhof, a national CSAA co-chairman and director at large with the Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools. “They teach us a lot but they mean a lot. Most families don’t throw them away.”


Out of the shadows: Independent thriller ‘The Gift’ comes from nowhere to shine

Meryl Streep isn’t in “The Gift.”

Twenty years ago, the smart independent thriller from writer/producer/star Joel Edgerton would have been something right up Streep’s alley, but just because the performers don’t have top level name recognition doesn’t mean that the relative upstart film isn’t without its merits.

In fact, Australian triple-threat Edgerton provides one of 2015’s most inventive and original films on par with the well-rounded science fiction think-piece “Ex Machina,” starring Domnhall Gleason and Oscar Isaac.


Gangsta rap biopic ‘Straight Outta Compton’ a compelling, worthy film

Hollywood has struggled in recent years with developing a broad appeal for its critically popular staple of biographical films, dubbed “biopics,” despite large portions of accolades being heaped upon the genre which brought us Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the little seen “Theory of Everything.”

For every Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood helmed “American Sniper,” there’s at least a half dozen biopics that also hit the big screen to little commercial fanfare, with 2014 bringing audiences retrospectives on Martin Luther King Jr. (“Selma”), Alan Turing (“The Imitation Game”), Louis Zamperini (“Unbroken”) and James Brown (“Get On Up”) to mixed results at the box office. Already, Hollywood has slated films on Apple creator/genius Steve Jobs, jazz musician Miles Davis, chess champion Bobby Fischer and Lili Elbe, a transgender Danish artist.


Superhero movie ‘Fantastic Four’ falls flat on its cinematic face

Someone in Hollywood better take note quick.

Indie darling and rising character actor Miles Teller needs a star vehicle ASAP, but “Fantastic Four” just isn’t it.

It’s hard not to feel bad for the star of last year’s Sundance winner and Academy Award nominated “Whiplash,” who played the perfect whipping boy to J.K. Simmons in the heavy drama.

To go from one of the most well-written and pitch perfect features of 2014 to perhaps the most inept, slow and tedious films of 2015 is a major step back for Teller, one he doesn’t deserve.

Teller invests heavily in his role as super-nerd turned world’s stretchiest man Reed Richards, but with a subpar film that even director Josh Trank has disowned, Teller might have been better off staying on the indie circuit until next “Allegiant: Part 1.”


X Marks The Spot: Geocaching combines technology, treasure hunts

FOUND IT! — After finding each cache, a “selfie” is a must for this geocacher. Geocaching is a worldwide game of hide and seek treasures that was created in 2000. — “Selfie” credit to Autumn Bernhard

By Autumn Bernhard —

Travel bug, muggle, ground zero and SWAG. These words might sound a bit odd, but they come second nature to a seasoned geocacher.

I was never supposed to get into geocaching. My plan was to spend a day learning the ropes and get enough information to write my story and be done.

Maybe it is my never wanting to admit defeat or the fact that I always want to get to the bottom of things, but what started out as a general assignment quickly became a hobby.

When I began researching what geocaching was, I described it as a hide and seek of treasures. But the proper definition says geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure.

I still couldn’t fathom how something could be “worldwide” when I had never heard about it. It turns out, I was just talking to the wrong people.

My first experience


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