Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Very rarely does the Mailbox come across a movie review like this: Moriarty of Ain't It Cool News calls this -- Neill Cumpston's review of "Grindhouse" -- the only review of Grindhouse you need to read. This was sent to the Mailbox from a guy who does some pretty classic reviews himself -- Scott Meeker of the Globe. The Mailbox loves the first 'grafs of his review of "Black Snake Moan":

It was one of those movies that would be difficult to recommend to many people. Now, if someone were to come up and ask, “Do you know of any good movies about a nymphomaniac who is beaten and left for dead on the side of the road, then discovered by an old bluesman who chains her to his radiator and cures her savage sex drive through some scorching Southern blues? Well, that’d be easy. “Black Snake Moan” is your movie, my friend...As for anyone else, ehhh ... it’d probably be a safe bet that it’s not going to be your cup of tea.

Before reading Cumpston's review, the Mailbox was not the least bit interested in Grindhouse. "Whooo," it said. "A girl with a gun for a leg? Bruce Campbell called, and he wants his idea back." Now? Well, the Mailbox is still uninterested by Grindhouse, but may now consider watching it at the dollar theater.

"He could f--- a bulldozer into eight Mini Coopers." That's just prize-winning reviewing right there.

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Friday, March 23, 2007


Things are pretty interesting right now. There's an offer on my house that may be accepted -- meaning I can finally move to Joplin and stop doing the daily drive. Of course, that leads to a whole bunch of new stress related to a move.

But none of that matters right now. TLP, the greatest girlfriend in the world, got us tickets to see two of the greatest guitar players in the world -- and the greatest rock drummer in the world is going to be there too. Joe Satriani and John Petrucci are playing tonight in KC as part of the G3 tour. WOOT!

Remember: This is Joe Satriani's world. The rest of us only live in it.

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Friday, March 16, 2007


Another good ol' newspaper war is about to get started, and it will likely be fought in Nixans' mailboxes. But instead of paper vs. paper, the Mailbox thinks this war will be fought between newspapers and readers.

Having worked in Christian County, the Mailbox is fascinated with media coverage of Missouri's fastest-growing county. Christian County has always been a tough nut to crack, media-wise. Circulation numbers for both companies have always been much lower than they should be, given that the county's population is growing like kudzu. However, all that unserved readership is too tempting for Gannett and Community Publishers, Inc. to leave on the table.

CPI already made its move to claim its share. The company felt a weekly newspaper was unsuccessful for Nixa, so it replaced the Nixa News-Enterprise with the Nixa Xpress. It's a weekly tabular publication delivered free to every Nixa resident's mailbox. The switch inflated circulation numbers, facilitating the advertising value. The Christian County Headliner News, long perceived by Nixans as an Ozark paper, became Nixa's "newspaper" by default.

Next month, Gannett will make its move: The News-Leader should be releasing a news product specific to Christian County. Already, it's editor, Chad Hunter, has been making the rounds, getting it started and covering county news. It will also be some sort of free publication. If it succeeds, its business plan will become a blueprint for publications for other suburban markets, such as Marshfield and Bolivar (where CPI has more-established publications).

The N-L's Christian County pub will no doubt use a multimedia approach. The Mailbox hears that all N-L reporters will be armed with videocameras as of April 1, so that they can file audio and video stories as well as news stories. Ads will be sold on the basis of appearing in several of the N-L's slew of spin-offs. However, the pub won't have any of its own reporters -- Hunter will have to rely on a staff that has assignments for other pubs.

CPI's likely response to the new competitor will be to blanket the area with samples. The Mailbox hasn't seen any marketing of either of its products, and likely won't. However, marketing the Headliner to Nixa is a wasted effort, since the Headliner doesn't have any Nixa news that isn't in the Xpress.

However, the real competition isn't between CPI and Gannett, as much as it is an experiment to see exactly what kind of publication that will get Christian County's attention. Will it be a traditional weekly newspaper, an alternative-style free pub or the who-knows-what backed by the 800 lb. gorilla? Gannett has the clear advantage, because it won't be afraid to throw a big initial investment into the market. CPI has always been timid about placing its names anywhere other than a newspaper, so the Mailbox thinks Gannett will win this battle by attrition.

That stinks, because the Mailbox has a soft spot in its heart for the Headliner. As for the Xpress: It isn't worth the paper it's printed on until it does 15 questions with Reba Pfander and gets the cereal off of its front page.

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The Mailbox is depressed.

Holy crap. That kid -- Eloy Casagrande -- is good. I'm jealous of what he can do with his feet. This video was recorded at the Modern Drummer Festival in 2005. So no telling what the kid can do now. Maybe we can catch up once the English version of his Web site is released.

Yeah, the Mailbox is two years too late on this. That's YouTube for you...makes the past the present again.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007


I don't usually editorialize over stories that I write for The Joplin Globe. But I'm impressed as all get out over these kids.

They are fourth- through sixth-graders, and they were spelling words I have never heard of. And I consider myself one of the more geeky, vocabulary-loving types. But sagathy? Coacervate? Picotee? Ecchymosis? Destrudo? I had no idea these words existed.

If you read the story, you saw the sidebar which gave some definitions of the words. But several of those words weren't even in our abridged Webster's dictionaries. Not even Merriam-Webster's Web site had them, without registering and paying for an upgraded membership. To find the definitions, I had to refer to the Globe's unabridged dictionary.

We keep it in a dungeon in the basement, right past the sand volleyball courts and Jeremiah Tucker Memorial Music Library. The unabridged dictionary is guarded by gargoyles, ninjas and a series of intricate traps. I successfully got past the gargoyles by using a creative combination of glass cleaner and tent stakes. The ninjas nicked me a few times with their throwing stars, but I slipped past them (thank goodness I wore the Doc Martens instead of the Rockbridges). I placed the talisman on the stake at exactly 4:27, but I had forgotten that the series of ancient traps had not been corrected for the proper Daylight Savings Time. Fortunately, Scott Meeker chose that exact time to surprise the ninjas and save me. He rigged an avalanche of debris (mostly movie press kits) that pushed the ninjas into the boiling lake of lava below. We got the definitions, closed the dictionary and dashed off before we got flattened by the huge, strangely-spherical-for-a-boulder boulder and went over to the Globe's smoothie bar.

All in a day's work for a reporter, I guess. Funny thing, though: I never knew the Globe had a sand volleyball court.

ANYWAY... congratulations to the participants in this year's Joplin Globe Spelling Bee.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007


So the Mailbox is watching Lost on KSPR-TV, trying to clean the kitchen during the commercials, when it heard something that grates its nerves: "Tonight on (the news), you'll see a report YOU WON'T SEE ANYWHERE ELSE..." Sure enough, during said report on the news, anchor Kyle Bosch repeated the phrase.

This bugs the Mailbox because No.1, it will precede a sensational story that's not really news. If it were news (a euphemism for "if it was important"), it would be on all the stations. The story was about Strafford middle school girls not being allowed to bring purses to class. The horror. It's not news.

No. 2, it's pointless advertising to say you'll see this report only on this station. The reason to say something like that during commercials is to draw viewers to the news. Only journalists switch channels back and forth while the news is on. The rest of the sane world keeps the station where it is. With that in mind, saying the "only seen here" phrase is either desperate wankery or illusions of grandeur.

Petty gripe here? Yeah, pretty petty.

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This week's gripe is just a continuation of last week's gripe, since this week's episode confirmed the fact that Locke is a bleeding moron. After Locke attempted to keep Sayid out of his backpack, it's discovered that Locke kept a nice little brick of C-4. Read last week's gripe again.

What, you want a new one? OK, fine. Charlie must be crazy in love, because you'd have to be crazy to love a woman like Claire. After Charlie appeared non-committal about her bird plan, she flipped out to almost the same degree as when Charlie went crazy and kidnapped Aaron. Sheesh! How about some perspective?

On the other side of the coin, this week's episode was pretty kick-butt. We finally got confirmation that Claire and Jack are siblings. And we see Jack in a new situation: Playing a little football with ol' Zeke. The promo promised that next week we would see how Locke got into that wheelchair. The promos are notoriously bad for overpromising (which affects the show's ratings and fan base), however. Wait and see...

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Friday, March 09, 2007


"Enter 77" was one of the best episodes of this season. Kate, Sayid and Locke go with Rousseau to go hunting for Patchy. Find him. Interrogate him. And come across the same chick who seemed to lead the Others at the dock where Kate, Jack and Sawyer were taken.

Because it was a good episode, it makes the Mailbox's gripe even more painful: Locke is a dumbass. He beats the chess program, gets the secret codes. He then gets popped by Patchy, but Kate and Sayid help Locke get the upper hand. He goes back to the game, beats it again, then enters the code to indicate hostiles have seized the compound. And then he looked surprised when it sploded.

Was the Mailbox the only one in America screaming, "Don't enter 77"? Those manuals in the basement sure would have been handy! Surely Kate and Sayid would have told Locke that the whole place was wired with C4! Surely he could have put 2 and 2 together... especially if he can beat a computer chess program! Crichton on a corn dog what a dumbass!

Best moment of the show: When Sawyer looks at Paolo and says, "Who the hell are you?"

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