Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Just in case y'all didn't know, I'm going to hell. So said a candidate for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma.

I interviewed Dennis Lopez, R-Thackerville, Okla., about his quest for a seat on the U.S. Senate. His run ended Tuesday night, when he came in fourth place among Republicans, with about 2.75 percent of the vote. I interviewed him a few weeks ago for our election coverage. When I asked him on what issues he would be running, he asked if I was a Christian.

"Excuse me?" I said.

"Are you a Christian?" he said. "Because if you're a Christian, you'd know what those issues are."

The interview did not go well. He continually asked about my soul, and whether I was saved. I told him the status of my soul didn't matter, because the voters of Oklahoma weren't interested in that. He said he was. I told him about my mom, who was a pastor with the United Methodist Church, and who has already done considerable work helping me understand God. He suggested that she might be mistaken on some things.

Eventually, those "Christian issues" came out. His intelligent, well-spoken thoughts about energy (we need to diversify, can't rely on just oil, we need to develop alternative energy sources, etc.) were drowned out by platforms of declaring homosexuality illegal, getting evolution out of classrooms and banning abortions. The conversation ended with him warning me that unless I was saved, I was destined for the fiery pits.

"At least the music is good down there," I said.

"That's a lie," he said.

I give Lopez a lot of credit. You'd think that a guy running for one of the highest offices in the land against an established incumbent would be a political machine. Instead, he spent a majority of the interview worried about whether I was going to heaven. In other words, he stayed true to his beliefs, and did what he thought he should, not what was the best for him. He didn't tell me to "go to hell," like he was ticked off. He didn't talk to me like I was an inarticulate heathen, or a college student walking between classes who has stopped to listen to a street preacher. He was genuinely worried about me. He sounded like he was going to pray for me.

Religiously, I'm a cross between an agnostic and a Methodist -- and what good Methodist doesn't have a strong agnostic side? I have felt the emotional rush from being "saved." I'm not so big on organized religions, however. I believe that no person on Earth can come between one and God. But my biggest struggle is with believing -- just believing. I've always been a skeptic at heart. My views on things change regularly, especially when presented with new information. I'm a trust-yet-verify kind of guy. A part of me wishes I could just believe without getting facts and truth. But I can't. That's not the way God made me, I would argue.

It's very easy of me to be jaded and skeptical about the actions of a loud minority of Christians -- especially when it comes to efforts of trying to control thought (i.e. the theory of intelligent design). It would be easy for me to dismiss Lopez as a wacko, religious Bible-thumper. But I can't believe that. Though I found his anti-homosexual, on-the-verge-of-fascism views repugnant, I can't shake how he sounded genuinely concerned about me and what would happen to my soul. Not everyone is willing to do what he did.

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Sweet mercy! Or, as Miley Cyrus would say, sweet niblets! Whatever those are. ANYWAY... we have wedding pictures! TLP, official wife of the Mailbox, and the Mailbox invite you to check them out at our wedding blog: Bwessed Awangements. Yeah, I'm pretty good-lookin'. And she's gorgeous.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Additions to the Cohorts are:

~ After being in the Joplin media for more than two years, I have learned that everyone has a story about this guy, and everyone has a story about one of the guys behind Idiocracy Now!, namely John Hacker. About those stories you hear: They are all accurate, and hilarious. For those who don't know, the face on Hacker's blog belongs to MSSU faculty advisor T.R. Hanrahan (fan of AN Ohio State University), who slaughters, maims and rips Hacker new ones on his blog rather regularly, whenever T.R. feels like writing something. Hacker takes his role as whipping boy gracefully, so it's good to see some retribution. Get 'em, Hacker!

~ Photoshop Disasters has become a guilty pleasure. I found the link from the Grammarphile, chief typist of Red Pen, Inc. and official friend of the Mailbox, to whom I used to send all kinds of typos -- so much so that she thought southwest Missouri was the bad grammar capital of the world. (Sorry, G-phile, I's been lazy lately.) ANYWAY... the PsD site should be required viewing for any teenaged girl who believes that fashion magazines present an iota of reality.

~ Joplin Daily Photo (which has nothing to do with the defunct publication) provides a daily glimpse at our beloved JoMo. At least it does when it is regularly updated. But one of the team members behind it is Nate, official friend of the Mailbox. He recommended two of the outstanding teens serving on the Globe's Youth Editorial Board.

~ One of the things I miss about working in the Springfield Metro is the large amount of blogs kept by people in the media -- especially our TV personalities. Granted, because of Joplin's market size, Joplin is a great place to start a career in TV, which means there's a fair amount of movement. But there are plenty of TV reporters I've met who are smart, savvy and oughtta be writing on the Web. I'm lookin' at you, Iris Hermasillo and Gretchen Bolander. C'mon -- if Brad Douglas is brave enough to maintain this awesome Spider Man site, then you have no excuse.

~ While I'm thinking about local TV stations, props to KODE's Good Morning Four States, which has the cojones to publish its bloopers on its site. Funny stuff.

~ Down in Vibes, I'm adding Hydrovibe, a band that is growing on me quickly. The first I heard of them was some snarky newsroom comments about how the band with a song on the Saw 3 soundtrack was coming to Joplin. ("You mean THAT BAND? I listen to the Saw 3 soundtrack ALL THE TIME!" Those kinda snarky comments.) Because they were a rock band, I volunteered to interview them. And I'm glad I did. Here's the story from Friday's Globe.

Hydrovibe was already signed to a big label, but decided to do things their own way and go the indie route. But the indie scene is, for the most part, a mishmash of dissonant, scrambled, flighty artists who obviously are not destined for the big-time, yet the fans think that big-time equals selling out, so their bad music is placed on a pedestal. Not the case with Hydrovibe: I'm hooked on its five-song EP, "Killer Inside."

It's a band with solid bass and drums, intricate guitar work on top of solid power chords, surprising chord progressions and a surprisingly abrasive yet addictive lead voice. Heather St. Marie sounds like she could scream death metal for hours and not need lemon and horehound tea afterward. She reminds me of a female Lajon Witherspoon, lead singer of Sevendust. Note to Walls of Jericho: St. Marie shows how to sing rough and raw without resorting to Cookie-Monster vocals. ANYWAY... the lyrics she sings are relevant to guys and girls, unlike those other girl-fronted bands. All I'm sayin'. They are in Joplin on Monday, and I can't wait to see the show. Their CD should be out in September, and I can't wait to get it.

Their logo has a fleur de lis, as well. They had me there, truth be told.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I guess she's TLPH now. Ah, who am I kidding. She'll always be TLP.

TLP has finished the name changing rounds. She has new checks on the way, a new drivers license, a new Social Security card in the mail and -- maybe, just maybe -- a new badge for her job.

Guess which one was the most difficult for her? TLP works with idiots, and one of the biggest idiots is the receptionist, who is the sole HR representative at that location of the company. This tool has driven my girl crazy just for wanting to change her name. Get this:

~ It took all of 10 minutes and $12.50 at the DMV to get a new license. All she needed was her old license, marriage certificate and a current bill.

~ It took ME all of five minutes to drop off a name-change form at the SS office in Joplin. Because they keep such wonky hours, we had to download the forms off the 'Net and bring them in.

~ Her bank was good to her: All she needed was the receipt we got from the SS office that showed a new card was on the way.

But what is good for the United States, the state of Missouri and a financial institution is apparently no good for the tube nut that wouldn't give Paula a new badge. According to the beehive-brained imbecile, TLP needed the actual new card to get a new security badge. The receipt wouldn't do it; neither would a new license. Compounding the problem: The company charges money for replacement badges, but was waiving that cost with the installation of a new security system. Paula couldn't get her new badge with her new name on it, and would have to pay for a newer badge once the SS card came in.

But Paula went over the tool's head and called her superior. Turns out all they needed was the receipt, after all.

From my point of view, this is a nice change. My last wife didn't even want to take my name, and I was OK with that. But Paula has been excited about taking my name. That, combined with what she had to deal with, makes me fall in love with her all over again.

Friday, July 04, 2008


You've heard the question. It's on everyone's lips, and it has nothing to do with the presidential race: "What's in Matt Blunt's e-mail that he's hiding, and that CNN is going to show?" I think I know. I don't buy rumors about a relationship with a girl (or a guy, according to a Post-Dispatch blog) who is not Matty Matt's wife. Rather, I think the Governor is embarrassed about his answer to the latest Internet meme.

Here's the sitch: You're in a mall when the zombies attack. You can have one weapon, one person, and one song blaring on the speakers. What are they? I'm dying to know what Blunt answered. While we await the results of this pressing matter of media relations, here's my answer.

WEAPON: The gravity gun from Half-Life 2. It only does two things: It pulls things to you or punts them away. That's it. No blood, no spiky things, no fiery splosions, no awesome laser-light show. How can this be the greatest weapon, fictional or otherwise? Dull, right? Yeah, right. Watch this baby in action.

Seriously: Think about all the things in a mall that you could chuck at zombies, from earring-and-bling shrapnel from Icing by Claire's to sofas and loveseats at Macy's. And we haven't even touched the supercharged version later in the game that can pick up and punt people. I think I'll get one and call her Vera.

PERSON: When originally discussing this with Scott, official boss of the Mailbox, I thought Milla Jovovich would be good, considering she has three movies worth of experience fighting zombies -- fierce ones, at that. Those zombies in Resident Evil were no Romero-tards. They were nasty vicious. However, Ms. Jovovich has the personality of a speed bump. Those screams of hers would grate on my nerves. So I got to thinking: With whom would the act of killing zombies be pleasurable, maybe even hilarious? The answer became clear:

Bruce freaking Campbell. Hell yeah. Come get some.

MUSIC: Instead of going for irony by thinking of a clever title or relevant lyric, I'm going for function with this one. Assuming that I need a gravity gun and Ash, it's safe to assume there's going to be a lot of freaking zombies. So much so that even the most awesome song would get old. I don't care how awesome a song "Killing In the Name Of" is, I'm gonna get sick of it after hearing it three times. So I select Dream Theater's "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence," a 41-minute, epic prog-rock masterpiece divided into eight movements.
The song is about the different ways people go insane, but zombies aren't mentioned, for some reason.

(For DT fans: Has to be the version from Score. One bad bass note, one feedback screech and an orchestra with no monitors can't stop the power of that performance, and you know it, so quit your whining.)

Those are my choices. What's yours?

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