Sunday, December 18, 2005


Fans of the New Orleans Saints have a new dark lord: Tom Benson. He has been dubbed "Satantonio" for his desire to take the Saints away from the Crescent City.

Before last week, Benson had been non-committal about his post-Katrina plans. He took out an ad in the Times-Picayune saying "Tom Benson wants to stay in New Orleans," but didn't promise a return, blaming the city's crippled economy.

He made it official Dec. 16. He intends to file an appeal of a decision from the NFL which may send the Saints back to their New Orleans-area practice facility.

If filing an appeal doesn't draw a line in the sand, the Mailbox doesn't know what does. Talking heads on sports radio were quick to point out that the team is a business and that Benson has to make profitable decisions. The Mailbox would like to remind those idiots that an NFL team is not just a business--it is a football business. Different rules apply, because profits are almost guaranteed. When a team comes to town, more business follows. An NFL team is usually the top draw in a city.

New Orleans will change over the next few years. It's going to get more white and more rich. Benson has the chance to profit hugely just by being the anchor that holds the Big Easy's economy close to shore. If he does the right thing, that is, and stays in New Orleans. And the NFL has every right to compel Benson to stay.

Two more Saints-related thing: The Mailbox really likes Joe Horn and his candidness. And the Mailbox hated to see Brooks benched, especially since his replacement threw four interceptions this Sunday. Brooks signed a football helmet for the Mailbox after a tough, ref-decided loss to the Rams. He's a class guy.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


And two Russians are trying to bring more beautiful queens to the game of kings. They have started a beauty contest for female chess players and are trying to bring more hot women to the game.

All for the glamour, co-organizer Vladislav Tkachiev said. He is a grandmaster of the game, and he's tired of people thinking that chess is played by stodgy old guys in the park.

"They think that it is only a game for those who are quite inactive and unattractive and aged. It is simply not true. This is a very democratic game for anyone. There are a lot of attractive people, whether female or male. We decided to show this side of chess."

This is bad news for most chess players, who the Mailbox thinks are
somewhat awkward around the fairer sex. It's also bad news for feminist-minded people who will observe more women heralded for their knockout looks, while their inferior talents are ignored.

Besides, women can completely pwn men when they use their wiles. They are doing so in poker, long considered a gentleman's game. How else could Jennifer Tilly have won a World Series of Poker Ladies' Tournament? Heads up men: Time to start thinking of women as equal competitors.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Props for Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis. He is promising to filibuster the hell out of a compromised Patriot Act.

The AP reports that House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal to extend the USA Patriot Act, the government's new-found tool against terrorism, before it expires at the end of this month. The deal would extend the act's most controversial, rights-stripping parts, including:

~ Authorizing roving wiretaps.

~ Permitting secret warrants, without a judge's approval, for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.

Feingold is the only Senator with the brass ones to stand up to his colleagues. He was also the only one to vote against the original act, passed hastily after Sept. 11.

"I will do everything I can, including a filibuster, to stop this Patriot Act conference report, which does not include adequate safeguards to protect our constitutional freedoms," he said.

Proponents of the deal say it adds congressional and judicial oversight, while preserving the provisions of the original act. But critics, including the ACLU (you know, that group that likes to protect our rights), say that the deal is bunkum, because it allows too far an invasion into our personal privacy rights.

Most scary about the deal: Most of the act would become permanent.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Actually, no it didn't. But critics of the Internet's interactive encyclopedia allege that anyone could rewrite history.

USA Today reported that some are losing faith in Wikipedia's credibility after a high-profile incident of erroneous reporting surfaced last week. A Wikipedia article about the assassinations of Robert and John F. Kennedy claimed that John Seigenthaler, a one-time administrative assistant to Robert (and now a member of USA Today's staff), alleged he had been suspected.
Seigenthaler published a large editorial about the claim last week.

Wikipedia has responded by tightening controls on submissions. Users must now register before submitting any information. Before that, anyone could edit anything before the group. Creator Jimmy Wales started the site to create a sort of digital collective knowledge base that would one day contain the answers to life, the universe and everything. Or something like that.

Anonymous users can post entries and articles. Other users can correct the information. "You are a Wikipedia editor," reads the site's submission policies. The problem comes from bias. A USA Today article alleges former MTV VJ Adam Curry used the site to inflate his role in the creation of podcasting. What happens if Dubya figures out how to get on the 'Net and starts rewriting history about the Iraqi War? Or Clinton redefines the word "is"?

The Mailbox has referred to Wikipedia several times on many different subjects. Unfortunately, now the site's authority and credibility is called into question, which is too bad. The biases of a few wack jobs has ruined the whole thing for everyone. Makes the Mailbox wonder if Wikipedia's articles on evolution, Thanksgiving and the moon landing are just as spiked.

And the Mailbox has a teensy problem about writing things under the guise of anonymity. Sure, the Mailbox does it every day—sometimes twice a day—but Joe Hadsall does not deny being the voice of the Mailbox, whatever it is. That means Hadsall (dang, it's weird to talk about myself in the third person) takes ultimate responsibility for whatever the Mailbox thinks, feels, wonders and ultimately writes. Siegenthaler has no such luxury...according to his editorial, he wants to unmask the "biographer" who libeled him.


Oh, what we will do for credibility. Problem is, it's the one thing you can't buy. Sony learned that the hard way.

The electronics conglomerate hired some urban artists in San Francisco to paint graffiti pictures of hip lookin' kids gettin' their PSP on. Other artists have responded, vandalizing the vandalism. And others have reacted on the Internet, saying that Sony's attempt to buy street cred is pathetic.

What cracks the Mailbox up is that the campaign was designed by Sony's ad agency. The original concept featured dizzy-eyed kids holding their PSPs like skateboards, ball bats and rackets. At least they are paying the building owners to use their walls. How hilarious that Sony paid for the medium for its critics to use.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


A famous movie critic is taking heat from gamers for suggesting that games can't compete artistically with movies or books. After reviewing the movie "Doom," based on the popular video game, he said he had "no plans to review the source material." Why, that's just ruttin' fancy talk for "playing the game."

In response to someone on his Web site asking why Ebert thought video games were a waste of his time, he wrote:

"I believe books and films are better mediums, and better uses of my time. But how can I say that when I admit I am unfamiliar with video games? Because I have recently seen classic films by Fassbinder, Ozu, Herzog, Scorsese and Kurosawa, and have recently read novels by Dickens, Cormac McCarthy, Bellow, Nabokov and Hugo, and if there were video games in the same league, someone somewhere who was familiar with the best work in all three mediums would have made a convincing argument in their defense."

After a bit of angry replies, he clarified his position:

"Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control. I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art."

The Mailbox has screamed like a girl playing Fatal Frame 2, had dreams about butter knife-wielding demon babies from Silent Hill, awed and nauseated by God of War, enchanted by Prince of Persia, impressed by David Duchovny and Marilyn Manson in Area 51, immersed by Deus Ex, suckered by the twist ending of Half-Life (really, the Mailbox should have seen it coming), swept away by Star Wars: Battlefront (shooting Ewoks, Gungans and Jawas really is good for the geek's soul) and completely taken in by the Tomb Raider stories--er, games (holy freaking crap! A new Tomb Raider game in spring 2006!). The memories of those experiences are comparable to the experiences of enjoying many movies.

What exactly makes a movie "art?" The presentation of visual images? The work of fine actors? The plot, relevance and import of a compelling story? Video games are making fast advances in all of those areas. Time will bring the medium to a compelling level. And so will the work of good designers making good games. For every outstanding game, there are plenty of dogs. But, the same problem exists in our local theaters.

Let's not forget that only 25 years ago, the best video game ever made featured a yellow dot-eating pizza running away from ghosts. Story? You had to clear two mazes, then every three after that. For those who appreciate video games, the medium will outpace its silver screened competitor one day.

Friday, December 02, 2005


No kidding. Killer squirrels in Russia.

A gorram pack of the lil' buggers eviscerated a dog.

Holy crap.

From the BBC:

"They literally gutted the dog," local journalist Anastasia Trubitsina told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. "When they saw the men, they scattered in different directions, taking pieces of their kill away with them."

The newspaper said that squirrels were also terrorizing cats last winter. From "terrorizing cats" to "gutting dogs"...that's quite an aggressive jump. These rodents must be stopped.

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