Tuesday, April 25, 2006


When models go retro, it's usually a good thing. But the Jasper County Sheriff's Department is getting so nostalgic you'll think you've taken a wrong turn to Silver Dollar City.

The department is getting new uniforms as part of a recent tax increase approved by voters. They ain't going with a metro look, like Greene County or Christian. They're goin' Ol' West, podna. Tan shirt, coordinating trousers, flat-heel boots and Western hats. No word on spurs or chaps.

Sheriff Archie Dunn is a big fan of the Ol' West. But it was his staff that approved the change, he told the Joplin Globe:

"We put the whole thing to a vote and brought in sample uniforms that people could look at," he said. "Everyone is really excited about getting them."

More than $60,000 will be spent on the new unis; $2,032 for the hats alone. Dunn said that the expense was necessary, since the department is growing and many of the current uniforms don't match each other.

The Mailbox thinks that if a law enforcement agency is going to spend cash from a recent tax increase on new uniforms, then the public ought to have a say. Then again, this look would probably win with Ozarkers. The Mailbox hopes Nixa police chief Bruce Belin won't be jealous of the new look...we understand he knows a thing or two about cowboys.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Let's be clear from the outset: Silent Hill is not a great movie. The acting is so-so, the imagery is among Hollywood’s goriest, the story is puzzling and it won’t win any Oscars, unless the Academy introduces an award for “Goriest Application of Barbed Wire.”

But, the one thing it does well is respect its source. Where Tomb Raider, Doom, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Wing Commander and Super Mario Brothers failed, Silent Hill actually gets it right. Where those others treat the game as a marketing tool without actually considering the game, Silent Hill taps its games for inspiration, story and mood.

Silent Hill sprang from four video games for the PlayStation by Konami. While Resident Evil was grossing out players with zombies, guns, bloody messes and action-filled gameplay, Silent Hill spooked out players with psychological horror and nightmarish, drug-induced visions. The first game, for the PS1, used a graphic limitation as a story element: Instead of a fade-to-black in the distance, the programmers made it gray and said the town of Silent Hill was covered in fog. When the more graphically-capable PS2 emerged, the designers made the fog even creepier.

The main character of Silent Hill is the fog-covered town itself. From hideous monsters to humans who fight their own demons as well as the bizarre creatures stalking through the town, Silent Hill is not the best place to take the family. Each of the four games is a heart-pounding, Lovecraftian adventure that takes game-playing to a new level.

Indeed, the movie plays out like watching nothing but the cut-scenes from a Silent Hill game. Fans might criticize how the movie takes bits and pieces from the four games to make its own story. But it works. Director Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) paid close attention to how the game plays. He used the same crazy camera angles (including the first freaked out sequence in SH1), the same music, the same contrast of beauty and gore, the same silent, suspenseful pauses and the same creatures.

Gans shows an important thing: Video games have good stories that Hollywood doesn’t have to muck up. There is great storytelling available for the PS2 and Xbox. Silent Hill won’t win any awards, but it will help legitimize video games as an art form.

Friday, April 21, 2006


In nearby Riverton, Kan., police arrested five students for allegedly planning a violent rampage throughout the school. School officials caught word of it through a posting Tuesday on myspace.com. The new job has the full story.

The deed was planned for April 20, the day of the Columbine shootings seven years ago. Charges against the two 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds and the 18-year-old are expected today. We can ask the obvious questions about copycats and school violence.

What struck the Mailbox about this story is that it was in a small town. Is it just the Mailbox, or is part of the tragedy of these things because of how those sorts of things aren't supposed to happen in a town like Riverton? Makes us wonder whether those sorts of things are much more abundant in bigger schools; only we just don't hear about them. Or, maybe we need to start looking at school security a little more objectively.

In any event, this case shows the value of adults getting over their fears of electronics and doing the same e-things their kids are doing; i.e., getting involved.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


That doesn't matter to some, who love their dogs. Yet, other pit bull owners are getting chafed by a new law in Springfield which requires the dogs to be registered, at a cost of $50 per year. In addition to microchips and muzzles, a pit bull owner could be in the doghouse "after paying for everything.

The Mailbox has two questions:

1. Aren't there other dangerous dogs that should be included in this ordinance, such as Rottweilers, Dobermann Pinschers and any other dog that is mistreated by its owner? Not so sure that the attacks justified this sort of law.

2. Are pit bull owners talking a little TOO loudly about how sweet their adorable puppies are? There's a reason people get pit bulls: They make great guard dogs. If people really wanted a sweet dog, they'd get a collie.

Friday, April 14, 2006


One thing my Mac-loving friends regretfully accept is the wack behavior of their Mac's beloved creator. Steve Jobs is legendary for secretive behavior, strange Nazi-ish edicts about Easter eggs and absolutely anal about marketing and copyrights.

Apparently, the company is so uptight that it can't take suggestions from a third grader.

A third grade girl received a nasty letter from Apple's lawyers after she sent in a letter suggesting improvements to the iPod nano. Apple responded with a terse dismissal about not suggesting product improvements. The girl then "ran to her bedrood to hide." Shit...who wouldn't? The Mailbox once freaked out over having to enter in its iTunes code to buy a song a second time.

ANYWAY...Apple has since apologized for the incident.

Say what you want about the evil Bill Gates; he never laid the smack down on a little girl. Although, the Mailbox is not POSITIVE... (thanks a lot, Paula)

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Again, much love to iTunes for getting the Mailbox caught up quick-like.

This week we learn about Bernard and Rose, what Eko and Charlie are building, that Locke is losing his faith in the island a bit and that Jack is a stone cold badass shooter. When getting caught in a net with Kate (rrrRowr, by the way), he shoots the rope holding them up with one shot. DAMN.

The Mailbox's gripe: How long has Jack been this good with a gun? Seems like his skills could have been used a lot better. He coulda shot Ethan Rom way before Charlie. He coulda put Locke back in his wheelchair. He coulda kept the survivors much better stocked with boar before finding the hatch.

Maybe he's been taking some lessons with AnaLucia that we haven't seen.


The Mailbox is a little behind the times, here. Because of the new job, it can't watch "Lost" at its normal time. Not knowing what to do, the Mailbox frantically investigated expensive TiVo and digital cable options. Then, while driving home listening to Joe Satriani on the iPod, it occurred to the Mailbox that episodes are $1.99 each on iTunes.

Disaster averted. The Mailbox is downloading the newest episode as it types. Meanwhile, let's go back a couple of episodes:

"Lockdown": The ABC ads say five things will happen that will change everything. OK, we have 1.) the pile of food mysteriously showing up, 2.) discovery of the balloon, 3.) the lockdown in the hatch, 4.) the secret map visible on the blast door only in UV light and 5.) proof that Henry is one of the Others.

The Mailbox's gripe: A pallet full of food is dropped by parachute on the island. NO ONE HEARS THE PLANE? That's the one thing they've been listening for since day #1! Side gripe to ABC: How, exactly, did those five things change anything?

"Dave": This episode is great simply because of Hurley kicking Sawyer's ass. But throughout the episode, we are led to wonder whether Dave is real or not. Throughout the show, this has been a common concept: Jack and his dad, Kate and the horse, the polar bear, etc. The island has the power to make hallucinations real.

The Mailbox's gripe: When the doctor in the mental ward reveals that Dave is imaginary, it's treated like a "big revelation" with music, cut to commercial and everything. Talk about a no-shit-Sherlock moment. Do the producers think viewers are dumbasses? What was our first clue Dave wasn't real...when he first showed up at the pile of food wearing a perfectly clean bathrobe and slippers?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Memo to Chatter's Ron Davis: Two posts in a month? THAT is a paucity of posts, my friend.

Forgive the Mailbox...it has been getting used to its new digs. MoJoe now works for the Joplin Globe at the design desk. It's a great opportunity at a daily newspaper, and a good one at that. It's a nighttime gig, so the Mailbox has been getting its biorhythms and schedules all realigned. That means more posts to this here blog, tho', so that's good news.

Also, the Mailbox is digging some new gadgets: Namely, a new computer and a new iPod. The old beast is gone...the Mailbox, when not sneaking a post from the G5 at the former job, was forced to exist in a piece o' crap PC with a 333 mHz processor and only 256 megs of RAM. Now, the Mailbox has gone from a hoopty to a Viper: A Gateway GT4010. No dual core processor here, but it does have an AMD Athlon clockin' at 2.2 ghz, a gig o' RAM and enough hard drive space to last me until the next time I decide to upgrade the ol' 'lectric typewriter.

Betwixt the commute from Nixa to Joplin, the new 30 gig fifth-gen iPod is helping the trip go by much more easily. It's a black one. Holds all my Dream Theater and Joe Satriani. What's engraved on the back? Wouldn't you like to know. And the Mailbox quite agrees with Momus about his concept of hell.

Soon, the Mailbox will be packing up its Nixa digs and moving 'em somewheres around Jasper County. Until then, it'll be posting and griping right here through the morning hours. Tell your friends.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Man, Neanderthals must have had a tolerance for pain. Found in the Mailbox today: A report from the AP that details how scientists have discovered evidence that dental drills were used between 7,000 and 5,500 B.C. That's about 9k years ago.

No anesthesia, then, either. Teeth were drilled while the teeth's owners either hollered and writhed or bit the bullet. The scientists were impressed with the quality, too:

"The holes were so perfect, so nice," said study co-author David Frayer, an anthropology professor at the University of Kansas. "I showed the pictures to my dentist and he thought they were amazing holes."

The Mailbox recommends being very careful about whom you tell has "amazing holes."

Anyway, Frayer and co-author Roberto Macchiarelli said they used flint drill tips attached to a bow and spun those things around. But, while they had a good procedure, another dentist was skeptical that the process was based on good dentistry.

Dr. Richard Glenner guessed that they did the tooth drilling for decoration or to ward off evil instead of fighting tooth decay. But, the co-authors of the study dispute that, saying the location of the drilling (inside back molars in some instances) wouldn't serve a decorative purpose. They likely drilled to relieve the pain of cavities, the co-authors said.

The Mailbox isn't sure who to agree with. After thorough research which involved remembering a few seconds of a National Geographic special, the Mailbox remembers something about some tribes' ways of using painful displays as a decoration or sign of strength, virility or beauty. Dentist drill? Bring it on...make the Mailbox a man!

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