Wednesday, November 29, 2006


The Fountain: A serious submission into the sci-fi genre, hailed by critics but not by movie-goers, apparently. The movie pulled in only $5 million over the Thanksgiving weekend. Jason Silverman of says that's a bad sign for Warner Brothers and "another grievous wound for serious- minded sci-fi."

The Mailbox agrees, and feels the Matrix trilogy is to blame. The Matrix was wildly popular because of the special effects and compelling story involving self-awareness and Gnostic philosophy. But then the Wachowski brothers had to mess it up by making two more movies that focused a lot more on the special effects and turned their intriguing philosophical take into a religious wank-fest. And other movies copied the stylistic visual images of the Matrix without paying attention to the quality of their stories.

Look at this year's sci-fi offerings: The two blockbusters over the summer were Superman Returns and X3: The Last Stand. While the movies were successful, they didn't offer sci-fi purists much. It may be a while before we see a sci-fi like Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Brazil or Contact again. At least Silverman gives hope to true sci-fi fans by saying the genre is dormant, not dead. The Mailbox is excited to go see The Fountain, but not about the long drought of any good sci-fi movies.

Why won't they bring Firefly back?

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Thursday, November 23, 2006


Our Thanksgiving glow in the Ozarks was made even brighter when we heard that the Kansas City Chiefs would play their rival, the Denver Broncos, on Thanksgiving night. However, as it dawned on us that the game would be on the NFL Network, the glow quickly dimmed.

The NFL Network is available to satellite subscribers, such as DISH network. Cebridge (or SuddenLink or whatever it is calling itself now), Christian County's cable provider, does not offer the network as part of its basic package. It costs a cable company 20 cents per subscriber to air the network. But the network wants more: It's trying to leverage broadcasting its own games to justify charging 70 cents per subscriber. It's a power struggle -- even Congress is interested.

And it doesn't look good for the NFL Network. Especially in the Ozarks.

Consider that the Chiefs are a big draw in the Ozarks. The region holds the Chiefs' strongest fan base outside of the K.C. area. Local broadcast of an NFL game is blacked out until it is sold out; only then can local fans watch the game on the tube. But the Ozarks is too far to be affected by those rules.

That means someone who wanted to see the Chiefs play had to get a satellite provider or go somewhere with satellite TV. For a majority of people, that means they went to a bar. Not exactly where most families want to spend a Thanksgiving evening.

The NFL Network is going to feel the effects of this for a while. Granted, the NFL's product is top-notch. But its treatment of broadcasts and local fans shows pointless greed at the expense of fans. It will also suffer in the ratings. Though hundreds will go to bars to watch the game, that won't show up in the ratings, which means advertising rates will suffer.

If anything, the treatment of the Denver-KC game should galvanize area cable companies and prevent them from getting bullied into a higher price.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Relax: This is not a whiny entry about how I really should post more on this blog. Although I should. But I'm not writing to whine about that now.

I have an idea for a book. Close friends know it as "Project Ghost." I think it's a kick-ass idea for a ghost story, and it's been in my head for almost 10 years. I have about 15 chapters on it completed, but it's not done. My work on it seems to come in spurts -- the first spurt came when I was going through a tough time in my former marriage that eventually led to a divorce. The second came a few months after the divorce. The story has taken incredible shape, and I get excited just thinking about it.

You'd think that excitement would translate to actually writing more.

Funny thing about writing: To be a writer, you have to write. No ifs, ands or buts. Your writing muse may provide you with inspiration, but she eventually becomes a nagging wife, reminding you of all your shortcomings and lack of attention. She's there. She's not going anywhere. She will remind you of the beautiful potential that could become reality. She will help you find ancient, gilded temples and beautiful treasures under that mundane dirt...if only you'd spend a few hours digging.

I read writing magazines. I keep a journal for the story. I keep my characters fresh in my mind. But the toughest thing for me to do is to work on it. The job is partly responsible...I spend two hours of each day driving and eight working a night shift. By the time I get home, I'm ready to unwind, not get back in front of another computer, unless it's to spend some time looking for this creep. And getting up? Hoo boy. Official family members of the Mailbox can tell you what a joke that is.

I feel the same kind of guilt that I have when I know I haven't called a friend in a long time. I can see my characters tapping their feet, checking their watch, wondering where the hell I am. One character is torn between two fighting friends, another is discovering how powerful he has become in his new state. They are anxiously awaiting their next discoveries...and man, if they only knew how bad things are going to get, they wouldn't be so anxious.

I hope to make significant progress on the novel in the next few months. It's just tough to sit down and actually write it. Not exactly writer's block, but irritating enough. Maybe I'll post a few chapters on the blog when I get caught up.

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Monday, November 20, 2006


A final thought on one of the most contentious issues of the 2006 election: Embryonic stem cell research.

Amendment 2 passed with a slim majority. Conventional wisdom held that evangelicals would turn out to the polls and quash the proposal. Obviously, that didn't happen. The Mailbox thinks that the religious-based opposition to the measure helped it pass.

The Mailbox has talked before about how embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is not abortion. Yet opponents used abortion arguments to try to defeat the amendment. They said it legalized cloning. They said it used deceptive language. They even equated it to killing babies.

There were legitimate reasons to vote against Amendment 2. The bill was written by an institution with a lot of money to throw at an election. It gave constitutional protection to a business industry. And it stripped our legislators of power to make a decision about an important issue.

But that wasn't sexy enough for evangelical pro-lifers. In effect, they tried to cram their anti-abortion debate into another forum. If Amendment 2 would have lost, it would have been a tremendous victory for the pro-lifers and encouraged them to take their platform to the next logical step.

ESCR promises a wealth of life-saving cures. The Mailbox isn't so sure that we needed a constitutional amendment to reap those benefits, however. In any event, ESCR is here to stay.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006


Sorry about the lack of posts lately. The Mailbox BRBs, then doesn't show up for a week after the election. All the Mailbox will say is that big things are circulating.

As for the 2006 elections: No big shockers. Presiding commissioner John Grubaugh was re-elected (David Stokely made a respectable showing of 41 percent). Big majorities for Jay Wasson, Dan Clemens, Roy Blunt and Jim Talent, which fall in line with the county's Republican majority. County voters said no to Amendment 2 by 59 percent, no to Amendment 3 by a bare 50 percent.

The lone surprise for Christian County: Voters passed a minimum wage increase to $6.50 an hour by 73 percent.

The U.S. Census reports that as of 2003, the county's median income was $42,566 and the percentage of people below the poverty line was 9.3. The minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, which adds up to an annual income of $10,712 before taxes, significantly below the poverty level.

That means a majority of voters who make much more than the poverty level were generous enough to give more to the poor. That's significant in a Republican-minded area, because conservatives fear raising the minimum wage, believing it to hurt small businesses and raise prices in the economy. It's incorrect to label the vote as charity, because Christian County voters didn't vote to give their own salaries to the poor -- they simply told businesses to raise theirs. However, it's interesting that 73 percent of the voters chose to deviate from this conservative conventional wisdom.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


What an interesting election. Since the Mailbox was working throughout the night, it's a little behind on analyses. Keep checking for election-related posts throughout the next couple of days. In the meantime, other bloggers have some interesting takes worthy of checking out: Click on some of the Official Friends of the Mailbox to see what I mean.

The Mailbox heard Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh frothing at the mouth over the change in balance of power, and how it is tied to a verdict on the Iraq war by voters. They had one point they repeated: The Democrats have no plan for Iraq. That's a lie, but let's indulge the blowhards for a second. If the Dems won without a plan for Iraq, it follows to reason that the American public decided that no plan was better than the President's plan.

Surely Hannity and Limbaugh aren't suggesting that...?

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Sunday, November 05, 2006


A few thoughts on the upcoming election:

~ The Mailbox wishes it could vote for Doug Harpool for state senator. His campaign's DougTV ads are great. And his campaign has been nothing but class: He has attacked his competitor, Sen. Norma Champion, on the issues and nothing else. Champion has resorted to ugly, baseless attacks that say nothing about the issues. Unfortunately, the Mailbox doesn't live in the 30th District...

~ ...It lives in the 20th District, represented by Sen. Dan Clemens. Four years ago, Republicans in the 20th overwhelmingly chose this newcomer over Democrat and former Speaker of the House Jim Kreider, who lived in Nixa. What did Christian County get for its removal of a hometown native? A man who is continually a no-show.

The latest example of Clemens' lack of attention to Christian County happened last week when the Christian County Headliner News and the NixaXpress hosted a candidates' forum in Ozark. Commissioner candidates John Grubaugh and David Stokely showed up. Rep candidates Jay Wasson and Mark Blevins showed up. Senatorial candidate Barbie Kreider Adams showed up. But her opponent, the incumbent Sen. Clemens, didn't bother coming. Headliner editor Donna Osborn does a good job explaining why that is a problem.

Apparently, Clemens loves being a no-show. This is not the first time he's missed important forums with voters -- just ask the League of Women Voters. His campaign site is bereft of opinions and plans of action about many major issues facing Missouri: He has no attitudes on stem cell research, education funding or restoring Medicaid cuts (again, judging from the content on his Web site).

When Republicans launched a vicious attack on Jim Krieder in 2002, they hoped to place a puppet in the Senate, and the Republicans in Christian County fell for it. Clemens has done nothing of value to address Christian County's growth. He also hasn't had the courtesy or common decency to attend a campaign forum. The Mailbox recommends that Christian County Republicans remember this slap in the face and vote for Barbie Kreider Adams. Christian County was better represented when a Kreider was in office.

~ Though the Mailbox has a left-leaning mind, it has always been fiscally conservative, and believed that before the state can establish any new outreach programs, it must be able to afford them. No candidate has better represented that point of view than Dist. 141 Rep. Jay Wasson (no Web site found). He has balanced good fiscal spending with common sense legislation. Though he is proud to be a Republican, he is not a mouthpiece for the party. Many will probably vote for Wasson based on name recognition alone. That's a good thing: There are many good reasons to send Wasson back to the General Assembly to keep up the good work he's doing.

His opponent, Mark Blevins, means well, but the Mailbox can't support a candidate who has so many typos on his Web site.

~ As for Christian County's presiding commissioner, John Grubaugh (no Web site found) will probably walk away with the election. Which is too bad. Grubaugh says the county's coffers have grown under his leadership. Well, duh. The economy is getting better and the commission cut a massive chunk from the sheriff's department in 2003. In the meantime, Christian County -- the fastest growing county in Missouri -- HAS NO RESIDENTIAL BUILDING CODES. Some leadership.

David Stokely believes in bringing in more stakeholders to development issues and upgrading planning and zoning. Of course, Stokely is biased: He has had a front-row seat to watch Christian County's broken growth policies in action.

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Friday, November 03, 2006


Good writing exercise. Submit your own.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame announced nominees for its 2007 class. Five of the following bands will be selected for enshrinement: Van Halen, R.E.M., Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Chic, Patti Smith, the Dave Clark Five, the Ronettes, Joe Tex and the Stooges, the band that spawned Iggy Pop.

Where the zhen dao mei is Rush?

The legendary trio released their debut album in 1974. Since then, the progressive rock band known for its masterful musicianship and poignant lyrics has influenced hundreds of musicians. After 32 years, they are still together, making new music and touring. Why are they being snubbed by the hall?

The Mailbox can agree with the nominations above, except for Chic (Quickly: name two songs by Chic other than "Good Times." Can't do it, can you?) But, it seems the Hall is more famous for its snubs than its honorees. Van Halen was snubbed for four years. The Sex Pistols were snubbed for five, and Black Sabbath was snubbed for nine. It seems the Hall is built to celebrate not legendary rock, but legendary sales.

Who else is getting snubbed?

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