Sunday, October 29, 2006


Oy vey. As much as the Others are torturing Jack, Sawyer and Kate, they are torturing Lost viewers with their outright cruelty and complete lack of justification. These episodes are flat out painful to watch.

For the record, there is NO FREAKING WAY there is a second island. The Losties have been over a whole lot of that beachfront. The plane fell apart over the Others' quaint village, and two of the Others went to intercept immediately. And Sayid, Jin and Sun had access to a boat and sailed across a good portion of the island's coastline without seeing a second island. Most likely conclusion: They're messing with's the only way to take the fight out of him. As Benry said, "The only way to gain a con man's respect is to con him."

But that's not the Mailbox's gripe. Before their hike across the island, the Others claimed to put a pacemaker in Sawyer's ticker, which would make his heart explode if he reached a heart rate of 140 beats per minute. Afterwards, he's sitting in his cell, watching Kate get naked (the Mailbox believes the proper spelling of that word should be nekkid). Heart rate goes up, which we hear thanks to the handy dandy monitor the Others thoughtfully provided. Realizing the danger, Sawyer hatches a brilliant plan to lower his heart rate by looking away and dousing himself with water. It works, because we immediately hear his heart rate go down.


The Mailbox doesn't think that was the warmest of water. Chilly at worst, tepid at best. And that is going to encourage the growth of goose bumps (or, as Jack, official father of the Mailbox, used to say: It would be a titty-bit nipply). Sure as hell ain't gonna slow an already fast-beating heart.

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Friday, October 27, 2006


The Mailbox hasn’t written much about the New Orleans Saints this year, because the Mailbox can’t believe the Saints are as good as they are.

This, so far, has been a dream season: 5-1, second place in the NFC. The Saints are winning games that they would have blown in the past. They are well-coached, making good play-calling decisions and showing character during tough times. Most importantly, they are playing with heart.

The Mailbox imagines it's pretty easy for anyone to get behind the Saints right now. Brian Billick, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, said it best when talking about their upcoming game against the Saints this Saturday:

"They are the sweethearts of the league. Everybody loves them, and deservedly so. You go in and beat them, you might as well go and beat up on Mother Teresa."

As a lifelong Saints fan, the Mailbox is always skeptical how the Saints will do every week. As a young boy, the Mailbox remembers a night in 1979 where the Saints took a huge lead over the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football (Chuck Muncie
relives the game in this article). Jack, official father of the Mailbox, sent us to bed at halftime, leaving the Mailbox to dream of such a great win. The next morning, the Mailbox discovers the awful truth: The Saints blew a three-TD lead and lost.

But, darned if that old optimism hasn't resurfaced. The Mailbox is thinking that anything less than a playoff berth will be a disappointment. Not bad, considering this team was in shambles after Hurricane Katrina. The Mailbox won't tap its kegs early: In 2001, the Saints started 6-1 only to blow it--they played cupcakes in the last three weeks of the season, where they needed one win to clinch, and blew every gorram game.

However, it's been well-documented that the Saints are a crucial part of New Orleans. They are symbolic: If the Saints can rebuild, repair and reclaim past glory, then so can the rest of the city.

Enjoy the new links to the side: Those Web sites are filled with some of the best Saints-related info.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006


Wow. The Mailbox doesn’t remember a time when a political ad has garnered such backlash.

Of course, the Mailbox is talking about the Michael J. Fox ad about embryonic stem cell research, in which he urges a vote against Jim Talent for his opposition. There’s also a response ad, featuring several other stars.

Rush Limbaugh acted like Rush Limbaugh and said that Fox exaggerated his condition for politics. Joplin Globe columnist Mike Pound says it best about Limbaugh. Bill O’Reilly took a similar path, completely ignoring Rush’s comments and featuring a debate about whether Fox was out of line.

All this hype clouds the embryonic stem cell issue, which was cloudy enough, since people generally don’t like to think about scientific details. The issue has become fodder for moral ministers and ideologues. As the News-Leader pointed out, there are legitimate reasons to vote against Amendment 2.

But now, if Amendment 2 suffers a defeat, it endangers stem cell research and emboldens its religious, zealous, technophobe opponents to further force their morality upon the public.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

For those that don’t know,
Bully is officially out. Hit the stores last Tuesday. That didn’t matter to a Florida judge.

Before it was released, a crusader against violent video games convinced a judge to block it. Instead of dismissing the case firsthand (as the First Amendment calls for), the judge is going to play it himself to decide how violent it is.

Bully is designed by the same company that did Grand Theft Auto. If you
listen to the designers, however, you’ll hear that the game does not glorify violence at all. There is the potential for mayhem within the game, but reviewers have concluded that it doesn’t glorify violence, but focuses on defending the helpless.

The Mailbox was considering getting the game. Now that it’s found out about this judge, the Mailbox is getting this game with its next paycheck.

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Friday, October 20, 2006


While the loss of most childhood institutions would be bemoaned, here's one the Mailbox is glad to see die a slow death.

The Washington Post reports that cursive writing is slowly being fazed out of American classrooms. It's being killed by computers and printers, experts say. Teachers say penmanship seems reliquary, when there’s so much technology, foreign languages and state testing standards to teach. Lord knows, kids aren’t crying about it.

Of course, some think that cursive teaches good cognitive lessons. The 15 percent who wrote SAT essays in cursive scored better than the 85 percent who didn’t, according to a blurb in this press release. Others think that our national culture is at a crossroads, switching from the written word to the typed one.

The Mailbox thinks this is B.S. Cursive is a waste of time. The Mailbox, as a third-grader, dreaded the inefficiency of having to learn a second alphabet. The only use for cursive in high school was for girls to send florid notes with i’s dotted with hearts or smiley-faces. Sure, it’s supposed to save time, but how much? Any time saved writing my cursive was lost trying to read my cursive. Many may mourn the loss of this fancy form of writing, but the Mailbox won’t.

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A reminder: Because of the night job, the Mailbox doesn’t get a chance to watch Lost until it appears on iTunes, so that’s why these official gripes appear two days late. And if you haven’t gotten lost in the Wiki yet, the Mailbox highly recommends it. That site writes show summaries much better.

~ In “The Glass Ballerina,” Sayid, Jin and Sun try to track down Kate, Jack and Sawyer by setting a trap for the Others. Doesn’t work out too well; Sun pops a cap in Colleen’s stomach. We find out that Sun is really good at lying and keeping secrets. We also see Sawyer and Kate in hard labor, and Sawyer plants a big one on Kate (finally). The episode ends with Ben making an offer to Jack: Help with something and he gets to go home. To prove that the Others have access to the outside world, Ben shows Jack a tape of the 2004 World Series where Boston beats St. Louis -- significant because Jack’s father always said the Red Sox would never win the World Series.

The Mailbox’s gripe: Of all the things that Ben could have put on the tape that shows connection to the outside world, he chooses the World Series? That implies that the Others know a whole heck of a lot about Jack. That’s way out implies pre-selection of the plane passengers by the Others. But that’s not possible, because Desmond is the one that caused the crash, and Ben and the Others were genuinely surprised to see the plane breaking up in the sky. For Ben to know about Jack’s father’s predilection of Boston’s losing prospects is just too far out there.

~ In “Further Instructions,” Locke rescues Eko from a polar bear (who is probably just sad because he doesn’t get any more fish biscuits), Hurley makes it back to the beach and Desmond does his best Scott Stapp impersonation (link NSFW, but hilarious: “Babies come from my SACK!”). As Charlie and Locke struggle with Eko, two new faces --Paulo and Nikki -- burst out of a tent to assist.

The Mailbox’s gripe: Who are Paulo and Nikki? GOOD FREAKING QUESTION! The only way the Mailbox knew their names was from reading the Lost Wiki. Two new characters not named Steve or Scott get close enough to the camera, but we don’t know a thing about them. If you only watched the show, you don’t even know their names. TLP, official girlfriend of the Mailbox, said it best: “It’s like on a sitcom, when they trot out new characters because the show is failing and it needs some new blood, but it never works out.”

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Thursday, October 19, 2006


In a desperate gambit to corral the fantasy-geek vote, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., made a comparison of the war on terror with the legendary battle for Middle Earth. Here’s what The Intelligencer in Pennsylvania reported:

Embattled U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said America has avoided a second terrorist attack for five years because the “Eye of Mordor” has been drawn to Iraq instead.

Santorum used the analogy from one of his favorite books, J.R.R. Tolkien's 1950s fantasy classic “Lord of the Rings,” to put an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq into terms any school kid could easily understand.

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

“It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.,” Santorum continued. “You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

The Mailbox has seen Peter Jackson’s movies (extended editions, because that’s how the Mailbox rolls) and read J.R.R. Tolkien’s books (but skipped over the bad poetry). And the Mailbox has NO FREAKING IDEA what Santorum means. A spokesperson for Santorum’s opponent, Democrat Bob Casey Jr., said what we all are probably thinking:

“You have to really question the judgment of a U.S. senator who compares the war in Iraq to a fantasy book,” said Casey spokesman Larry Smar. “This is just like when he said Kim Jong II isn't a threat because he just wants to "watch NBA basketball.' ”

The Mailbox knows that Santorum (link NSFW and pretty gross) has a long history of speaking out against homosexuals and denying them basic human rights. Doesn’t he know that Frodo and Sam are gay? (Link NSFW)

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Another casualty of the Mailbox not posting often enough: 417pundit was outed.

In case you haven’t clicked on the link to the right, 417pundit claims to expose ignorance of Springfield-area bloggers thorugh his learned and erudite manners. In the 417pundit’s dictionary, the entry for ignorance must include “inability to spell,” since a good majority of its site concentrated on grammar errors instead of political commentary and exposing the more-commonly known form of ignorance.

The Mailbox first caught the outing from the Snarling Marmot, who pointed out the outing on Curbstone Critic. Head typist John Stone on Oct. 4 said he would raise a toast to the man who duped everyone by playing 417pundit:

Doc Larry of Lost Chord.

Cheers and huzzahs were to fill the room during the blogger’s get-together Oct. 17. Since the Mailbox has a night job in Joplin, it had no prayer of making last night’s meeting. The Mailbox hasn’t seen any entries on other Springblogger’s sites, and Doc Larry hasn’t addressed the allegation yet.

That means the Mailbox can, in the spirit of Tony Snow, neither confirm nor deny that Doc Larry is 417pundit.

417pundit’s site, while appearing mean-spirited and anal on the surface, started out interestingly enough. Its first entry announced a monitoring of us Springfield-area bloggers and how it was sick and tired of “errors, illogical thinking and contradictions.” At the very least, the 417pundit experiment reminded us of our obligation to be good community journalists. But it devolved into a gossip-fest of hurt feelings and pointless commentary. Which leaves the question: What is the point of 417pundit’s blog? To stop taking ourselves so seriously? To thicken our skins?

To stop anthropomorphizing a mailbox and speak for ourselves?

ANYWAY... is it really Doc? Still not sure over here... In the meantime, the Mailbox is thinking it will have to start a night where Joplin bloggers can get together. Maybe Randy Turner will come...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Maybe if the Mailbox was updating a tad more regularly, it would have caught this story when it came out. Mea culpa.

A USAToday report says that teens get their news from TV and the Internet. Half of all high school students get news online at least once a week, but teens rate TV as the easiest news source to use. And the most accurate.

No offense to the Mailbox’s TV bretheren, but that is absolutely blood-curdling. Most accurate? Oy vey.

The Mailbox has bemoaned TV news before. A huge, two-minute TV news feature when typed out is only 300-400 words. That’s about 9 or 10 inches of news copy. Wally Kennedy’s outstanding, informative story on the Memorial shooting measured in at more than 50 inches. And his story gives a much more vivid picture of the events than showing the school’s sign for 10 seconds. And when was the last time you saw TV news issue a correction?

ANYWAY...the study, done by the Future of the First Amendment (a research project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation) says that newspapers do play a part...or their Web sites do. 21 percent get weekly news from national newspaper sites, while 66 percent use sites such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! or AOL. Those sites make thorough use of the Associated Press.

The newspaper industry still has a lot going for it, despite the proliferation of the Internet. Yet, newspaper publishers are still flummoxed about the best way to move into the Internet age. Newspaper sites have the printed word going for them, however, so a continuation of that might help snag future readers. So, the best thing to do would be to hire more reporters and have them post their stories to the Web site, right?

The Mailbox is hearing about several short-staffed newspapers in the Ozarks giving their reporters video cameras and filing TV-style reports on the Internet.

Oy vey the sequel.

Despite it’s e-savvy and affinity for the latest tech, the Mailbox thinks that is a colossally bad idea. Nothing good can come from taking perfectly good newspaper reporters and changing them into TV reporters. The Mailbox is a big fan of Wally Kennedy's reporting, but has no desire to see his face talking about the news.

Though it hates to recognize it, the Mailbox sees a day when newspapers are artifacts. But even on the Internet, a byline means something. If newspapers don’t want to find themselves going the way of their product, they will concentrate on making their written words as strong and reliable as possible. As for snagging younger readers...if those young readers care about their community, then they will search for a local news source. There’s no need for newspapers to panic and do stupid things.

Monday, October 16, 2006


A week ago today, the Mailbox was driving to work, wondering why a KY3 news van followed me all the way to Joplin. The answer revealed itself quickly.

A week ago, 13-year-old Thomas White entered Memorial Middle School with a Mac-90 semi-automatic rifle and threatened to shoot students and faculty. After pointing the gun at two students and telling two administrators, “Don’t make me do this,” Administrator Steve Doerr and principal Stephen Gilbreath coaxed the student out of the school and into the hands of law enforcement. Wally Kennedy’s account in the Joplin Globe is harrowing.

Since then, White has been charged with first degree assault, armed criminal action and making terrorist threats. He will be tried as a juvenile. His father, Gregory White, also faces charges of being a felon in possession of guns.

Memorial students and parents showed their faith in the school: 93 percent of students returned to class the next day.

All in all, Joplin dodged a bullet, because a rifle jammed. Two school officials are heroes, parents are confident with their school’s security and a father and son face charges.

In the aftermath, we found ourselves asking the same question: How could this happen? The Mailbox doesn’t know the correct answer, but thinks it has a clue: parental attention.

Blood could have been shed last week by a 13-year-old -- someone who can be trusted with only the most basic responsibilities. Someone barely a child...too young to be tried as an adult. Someone who figured out how to get a gun from his father’s locked cabinet and sneak it into Memorial Middle School.

Instead of looking around at the youth of America, we should be looking at our own kids. Are we, as parents, doing everything we can to teach them how to make good choices? Are we giving them outlets to vent their frustrations? Are we getting involved with their interests, learning everything we can about them? We all know our kids are capable of achieveing tremendous successes. The Mailbox agrees that the kids who commit these atrocities are rare and far from the norm. But these terrifying close calls show our kids may be just as capable of awful nightmares.

If we can give attention to our children and concentrate on being the best parents we can be, we can dramatically reduce the chances of another school shooting.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Finally, Lost has returned for another season. It's a good thing it took so long, because so much happened at the end of season two that it took a while for the Mailbox to catch up. To recap all the WTF moments:

~ Locke thought the Dharma Initiative monitored the button-pushing stations as a psychological experiment. At the "?" station, they found all those notebooks and bank-teller tubes. But then Jack, Sawyer, Michael, Kate and Hurley walk by a pile of the tubes, meaning all that psychological monitoring was a waste. Or, Dharma hasn't bothered to pick it up yet. WTF?

~ The Others capture Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley with Michael's help. Then they let Hurley go, to tell everyone else? Kind of a waste...WTF?

~ Desmond was responsible for the plane crash. But that bright light and humming when he triggered the failsafe device...WTF? And the Others seemed totally unfazed by it. WTF again?

~ Michael, before he and Walt leave the island, ask the Others, "Who are you?" Henry replies, "We're the good guys." WTF?

Now to the gripe. In "A Tale of Two Cities," we see how the Others live, and it ain't all that bad. A little suburbia without a nearby city. They have a book club, and can even get their hands on Stephen King books. We see how easily Henry gave orders for Ethan Rom and Goodwin to assimilate themselves (and we see how easily those two accept the mission). We finally see where the three captives are being held. We find out Henry's real name: Ben. And Juliette doesn't like him much. They have a zoo (or what used to be one, anyway).

And that's about it.

DAMMIT! The Mailbox waited an entire summer to get some answers from questions in season two! It realizes that this kind of dragging things out is Lost's modus operandi: The beginning of season two stretched out one moment over three episodes and three points of view. The Mailbox should have known that season three would provide the same experience. We still have to see what happens to Sayid, Jin and Sun on the boat, where Michael and Walt end up, how the Losties are doing without the hatch, if Desmond really died and how Locke is beating himself up before we find out anything else about Dharma and the island's unique, disease-curing magnetic properties. And there was a monster loose on the island, dammit! What about that?

The ultimate answers won't be revealed until the show approaches the end, of course. In the meantime, the opener just gave us more questions.

Side note: The Mailbox has discovered the Lost Wiki. You should too.

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