"Reel REviews: ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ visuals stunning" by: Jessic Shepard

   I have been a fan of the original “Nutcracker” ballet since it came on TV every holiday season during my childhood.
   Naturally, I went into “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” with high hopes and expectations.
   Outside of the stunning and decadent visuals, there’s hardly any dancing and the story is very confusing.
   That being said, if you don’t know the original story, then you’ll enjoy the film.
   The movie is a retelling of E.T. A. Hoffmann’s short story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” and Marius Petipa’s “The Nutcracker,” about a young girl who is given a locked egg from her deceased mother and sets out in a magical land to retrieve the key. 
   The film stars Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Anna Madeley, and Morgan Freeman.


"Agriculture and county’s economy" By Aaron Sumrall, PhD County Extension Agent Agriculture & Natural Resources

   A late county agent friend of mine was frequently quoted as saying, “Agriculture affects you if you eat, wear clothes, or lives in a house.” 
   Just from my simple understanding of math, pretty much all of us should fall into at least one of those categories so by default we are all directly involved in agriculture. 
   Though we all may be part of the agriculture wheel, many of us do not understand how agriculture may be influencing the world right outside our door. 
   Matagorda County is synonymous with the concepts, practices, and economics of agriculture. 
   Did you know that agriculture in Matagorda County is responsible for more than $265 million annually and is the county’s main employer? So how does that break down?
   Crop production in Matagorda County is responsible for more than $130 million of the total, with primary crops being cotton, corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, and rice. 


Bonnen files to become Speaker of Texas House

   EDITOR’S NOTE: State Representative Dennis Bonnen, House District 25 announces his decision to become Speaker of the Texas House.
   I am announcing today that I am a filed candidate for Speaker of the Texas House. 
   After thoughtful consideration with my family, I have decided to heed the call of many of my colleagues to enter this race. 
   I am truly humbled by their support. Throughout my career in the House, I have always emphasized my respect for the institution as a whole as well as the unique position each member has to serve their district. 
   I look forward to the many conversations to come with members across the state. 
   My desire, which I believe I share with the vast majority of my colleagues, is that this process come to a conclusion with a House ready to do the people’s business with strength, resolve, and unity in the 86th Legislative Session. 


"Heading into holiday season with uncertainty" by: Jessica Shepard

   October is winding down while I write this and we’re at the last few weeks of the year.
   Finally, 2018 will be over and 2019 can hopefully lead off on a better foot forward. 
   Not that I’ve had too many issues this year, it just seems to be more intense than 2017.
   It sort of feels like there’s less room to breathe and step back to take a moment and just be still.
   Though, that might also be due to Hurricane Harvey disrupting so many scheduled events last year.
   Either way, we’re headed into the holiday season and unsure of how things will play out.
   Thanksgiving was easier last year since my brother was still living at home and we only had to coordinate with my sister’s work schedule.
   Now, since he lives in Dallas and she’s still in Bryan, it’s harder to get them to sync up and come home at the same time.
   We might actually end up with a split-week Thanksgiving and I’m not sure I can handle that much turkey.


"Is this a correction, or the beginning of a Bear Market?" by: John Sample

   Another week and the fear factor is in full swing just in time for Halloween. The market is below where we were at Independence Day this summer. 
   Some would suggest the market is concerned about the upcoming election, tariffs or rising interest rates. 
   I would suggest that this market needed to take a breather after attaining all-time high levels. 
   The debate will continue as to whether this is a correction or a move into a bear market. Some are going so far as to predict a recession. 
   That will in fact come in time but you have over a year to prepare. 
   The inevitability of a recession is the fact that the Federal Reserve has yet to provide a soft landing when they raise rates to rein in inflation. That would leave one with what to do in the interim. 


The key to consistent investing? Paying yourself first

   Consistency is a key ingredient of success in many activities – including investing. 
   And one technique that can help you become a more consistent investor is paying yourself first.
   Many people mistakenly wait until they’ve got some extra cash before they start investing – but as you know, it’s pretty easy to spend whatever amount you’re holding. 
   Instead, try this: Each month, have your bank automatically move some money from your checking or savings account into whichever investments you’ve chosen. 
   By putting the investment process on autopilot, you’ll find it much easier to stick with it.
   Even if you can’t afford to invest a lot, you’ll help yourself by putting away something each month. 
   For example, you can typically invest relatively small sums into an IRA, although some accounts do have required minimums. 


"It’s important that we operate in our lives with hugs and love" by: Betsy Monico

   I am happy to share that the book fair last week at Fairfield Elementary was a success. Our gross sales were over $11,000. Moms and Dads shopped! 
   Grandparents shopped! Kids cleaned out their piggy banks, vacuumed their houses, and marched in with fistfuls of one dollar bills and Ziplocs full of coins. 
   Aunts and Uncles shopped. One Aunt helped me sack up books when our line was out of control. Everyone at our school pitched in to make the week a success. 
   Today my cardio was moving back tables and chairs so that we will be ready for tomorrow.  
   The amount of teamwork comes to mind as I sit back and reflect on the week, after sleeping all day yesterday to regain my strength. The other thing that comes to mind is one pen that was for sale over at the “junk table.” 


"Know that whatever you face God’s love is with you" by: Caleb Gibson

   Many people know that God loves them, few know how much. Most of us recognize that God forgives, but few know how great. 
   And, still most Christians recognize that God is good, yet how many of us know how good God really is? 
   The grace of God cannot be calculated into a square where we know the width and the height. God’s grace is immeasurable.
Bible Scholar Eugene Peterson recently died at age 85. He was the author of the Message Bible. 
   Some have trouble with the Message Bible because they say it is not an accurate translation of the Bible. 
   We have to understand it is not a replacement for our standard Bibles, but it is an addition to our tool belt. 
   I love it personally because I know it is not a word-for-word translation, but merely a paraphrase of the scriptures. 
   This helps us to see a different perception and can help our study of God’s word. 


"Reel Reviews: ‘Hunter Killer: Submarines battling in Russian waters’" by: Jesica Shepard

   With just over $6.6 million during its opening weekend, “Hunter Killer” is barely treading water.
   The film is based on the book “Firing Point” by Don Keith and George Wallace.
   It stars Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Michael Nyqvist, Common, Linda Cardellini, Michael Gor, Alexander Diachenko, and Toby Stephens. 
   The movie follows a group of Navy SEALs and submarine crew who rescue the captured Russian President from a coup.
   After an American submarine vanishes while shadowing a Russian sub in the Arctic, Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common) sends another U.S. submarine, the USS Arkansas, under the command of newly-promoted and unconventional Captain Joe Glass (Butler) to investigate what happened.
   At the same time, a four-man Navy SEAL team under the command of Lieutenant Bill Beaman (Stephens) is sent in to discreetly observe a highly-active Russian naval base.


"Getting older doesn't mean getting less weird" by: Jessica Shepard

   Ever since we started the paper about four years ago, I’ve had a hard time deciding what to write for my birthday column. 
   I can’t make a claim to fame like Mike and his eyebrow or my mom’s tenure in Matagorda County. 
   But, I can say that the 30-plus years here have been an adventure. 
   Even now, when my siblings come home for the holidays we just drive around and remember the old and new and the constant. 
   It just depends on how long it’s been since their last visit. 
   I guess the one thing I notice most of all besides the traffic increase, is that overall I haven’t changed much since high school. 
   A few friends have even mentioned as much to me and I don’t know whether to be amused or a little insulted. 
   After all, I spend more time writing than I do reading now and I don’t have screaming matches with other friends. 
   But, I also understand how they can say something like that. 


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