"Reel Reviews: ‘The Reckoning’ panders to ancient fears of plague, witchcraft" by: Jessica Shepard

   I’ve think we’ve gotten to the point where the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown everyone’s usual schedule for a loop and now we’re seeing strange things like horror movies in February.
   I mean, I’m always down for some scary or thriller movie, but, usually I don’t find one debuting the week before Valentine’s Day.
   Case in point is “The Reckoning,” a mash of a witch trial and the 1665 Great Plague of London that doesn’t solve either problem really.
   According to a quick Google search, the last woman executed as a witch in Europe was 1782, so, that’s well over a century later than this movie is dated.
   Reckoning is an adventure horror film directed by Neil Marshall, from a screenplay by Marshall, Charlotte Kirk, and Edward Evers-Swindell.
   Marshall is known for his work on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and horror flicks “Dog Soldiers” (2002), “Doomsday” (2008), and “The Descent” (2005), and the latest “Hellboy” installment in 2019.


Letter to the Editor: "Let your Senators know you want accusations of inciting a takeover of our Capitol firmly resolved"

   EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter was mailed to Texas’ Senators Cruz and Cornyn at their respective DC offices Monday, Feb. 2, to addresses readily available online.
Dear Senator Cruz, 
   On Jan. 6, the world stood in gut-twisting awe as a riotous mob laid siege to the Capitol of our nation. Offices and chambers were illegally entered, public and private property stolen or destroyed, vile threats made against our elected officials and duty-bound law officers viciously assaulted.  
   Far more distressing was the loss of five lives as a result of this senseless violence and mayhem! Chaos and death reigned supreme, and the mindless thugs beamed with great pride! 
   This blatant disregard for the laws of our land violated everything authentic patriots have courageously fought and died to defend.  
   Overall, it was 180-degrees counter to the time-tested ideals for which our great nation stands.  


"Where do I sign up for ‘Procrastinators Anonymous?’" by: Jessica Shepard

   Sometimes, I wonder if there should be “anonymous” groups for more health or lifestyle-related problems. 
   Sure, there’s “Alcoholics Anonymous” and “Narcotics Anonymous” and I understand the importance of such groups. 
   But, what about something for people who deal with anxiety, depression, or Attention Deficit disorders? 
   I’d like to see one for procrastinators, to be completely honest. 
   Now, I might never make the meetings on a regular basis, but, having a group of like-minded folks who deal with the same issues has to be a boon. 
   Plus, if it’s free, then more people would be able to show up. 
   At least, that’s my working theory because things like group therapy or even regular therapy are hard for some to come by and aren’t always covered by insurance plans. 


"Looking at equities market like gambling can only end bad" by: John Sample

   Last week was the first down week in the various indexes and averages since October. 
   That came when the financial news focused on the small investor taking the big investors to the woodshed. 
   The social media platform Reddit was the vehicle for small investors to come together and punish the massive short positions in Game Stop. 
   By week’s end, Game Stop climbed from the mid-teens to nearly $400 per share. 
   Now it will be fun to see if the retail investor can keep the hedge fund’s toes in the fire. 
   It appears that the focus may now change to silver, which climbed over 10% to nearly $30 per ounce. 
   Whatever happens, it is encouraging to see small investors turning the tables on big money investors.


Financial gifts for your Valentine

   Valentine’s Day is almost here. 
   This year, besides the flowers or chocolate hearts, why not consider making some financial gifts to your loved ones? 
   For starters, you could write a check for loved ones to put toward their IRAs. 
   As long as they have earned income, they’re eligible to contribute. 
   Keep in mind, though, that recipients can use your gift for any purpose. 
   You could also give stocks. 
   Many people enjoy owning shares of companies that make the products they use. 
   If your valentine is also your spouse, you can help provide financial security by protecting his or her ability to keep paying the bills if something were to happen to you. 
   A financial professional can help you find the right protection package, which may also include a defense against the potentially enormous costs of long-term care. 


"Once established, relationship with God never severed" by: Betsy Monico

   We were traveling down our usual route this week on 488 when my youngest child, Blaise, did something she is notorious for in our family.
   She often slightly mixes up her words and thoughts. I have coined a new word in her honor. I now call her mixed up sayings a “Blaiseism.”
   Her previous “Blaiseisms” include her exclaiming with her hands on her hips that something annoying to her was her “PET PEE.”
   She also informed us all at the dinner table recently that her grandfather was going to get “Coca-Cola” cancer if he was not careful.
   She had heard us say colon cancer I guess and in her defense, “pet pee” is really close to pet peeve.
   The crème de la crème of “Blaiseisms” was a remark she made about Mr. Casey’s beautiful, reclaimed pastureland on 488 a few days ago.
   There were several cattle grazing in the pasture that she noticed as we drove by.  


"Take time to thank the Lord that we are filled with God’s spirit today" by: Caleb Gibson

   Today, Feb. 4, is our church’s four-year anniversary! 
   What a celebration. We are so thankful to be able to worship the Lord for these years. 
   If you have gone to our church, thank you!  
   This year’s theme was Refill, Refuel, and Go Fourth. When we are refilled, we can accomplish the purpose that God has for us. 
   God wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This happens when we accept Christ as our savior.  
   God places the Holy Spirit as a deposit into our heart to give us life. As believers in Christ, we are full of God’s goodness.
Colossians 2:9 tells us, “For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ” (HCSB). What a wonderful verse.  
   The fullness of God’s identity is found in Jesus. Want to know God’s heart, look to Jesus.  
   When we get a hold of this truth it will change our life. 
   When the Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA championship, they had a great team.  


"Reel Reviews: ‘The Little Things’ set in 1990s, could have benefitted more during that time" by: Jessica Shepard

   I’ve noticed a nostalgic surge of 1990s pop culture in movies, music and other artistic mediums lately. 
   It’s just a little weird in “The Little Things” which has a storyline that runs nearly identical to “Seven” (1995). 
   On the surface, Things is just another veteran detective plus a newbie trying to solve a serial murder case spanning a few years. 
   There’s also a charismatic and downright creepy suspect in their sights for the main culprit. 
   But, that’s where the similarities really end. 
   Things is a neo-noir crime thriller film written and directed by John Lee Hancock and produced by Hancock and Mark Johnson. 
   The film centers on stars Dezel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto with other known character actors Michael Hyatt, Natalie Morales, Joris Jarsky, Terry Kinney, and Glenn Morshower.’ 
   Things is rated R for violent/disturbing images, language, and full nudity and runs for 127 minutes. 


"As Super Bowl nears, spread word: Fans don’t let fans drive" By Gabrielle Kanu Family and Community Health Agent Texas A&M AgriLife Matagorda County

   Super Bowl LV is right around the corner, falling on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. 
   This year, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to remind football fans and Super Bowl partygoers that designated drivers are the best defense against the dangers of drunk driving. 
   When Super Bowl celebrations involve alcohol, plan for a ride home with a sober driver. NHTSA and AgriLife Extension want to remind everyone: Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk. 
   If hosting a Super Bowl LV party, prepare plenty of snacks and non-alcoholic beverages for guests and the designated drivers. 
   Additionally, do not serve alcohol to minors. If an underage person drinks and drives, the person who provided the alcohol can be held liable for any damage, injury, or death caused by the underage driver.


"Lucky to have guides on journey becoming a writer" by: Jessica Shepard

   Ever since 2009 when I had my first newspaper job, friends and strangers have asked me why I’m in this field. 
   And while I get that it isn’t for everyone, it is something I deeply enjoy doing. 
   To be fair, open and honest I’ve always loved writing and can pinpoint truly nurturing my skills in my fourth and fifth grade classes. 
   It helped to have teachers who encouraged me to read more challenging stories and to explore the boundaries of my imagination. 
   Writing back then focused more on creativity rather than technicality and while both go hand in hand, we were allowed more freedom to be descriptive and paint a picture with our stories rather than fit some boring construct. 
   For some, that was harder and others were about average, but I loved every minute of it. 


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