29 November 2008

Happy Birthday

... to me. I'm 23 today!

28 November 2008

Bolt: The Super Dog

(Photo comes from www.allmoviephoto.com, Bolt is copywrited to Walt Disney Pictures.)

Another movie review for you, and this time it is Walt Disney Pictures' Bolt, the story of a dog raised to believe he is a superhero but is in reality an actor for a hit television series. After many years as "Bolt the Superdog," Bolt really thinks he has superspeed, a Super Bark, can leap over tall objects in a single bound, and can crash through walls!

After the studio decides to up the ante on its program, Bolt's owner Penny is "captured" on set by "the Green-Eyed Man" and taken away. Bolt, believing he must rescue Penny, escapes his ruse of a life and winds up in New York, struggling to understand why his powers have vanished (maybe the styrofoam?). He, his captured cat guide Mittens, and a pudgy Uber-fan of the TV show Rhino the hamster set off to return to Hollywood in search of the truth.

I must say, I really enjoyed the movie, and my sister did too. It was funny, well-animated, and had a nice story with multi-dimensional characters. The moral of the story, though not overbearing, was well executed: loyalty to your friends brings happiness for yourself. If you have enjoyed other Disney movies (Disney/Pixar movies like The Incredibles or Finding Nemo) then I would recommend that you check this one out too. Good for kids (and kids-at-heart) of all ages!

Black Friday

It's the most... wonderful time... of the year. Black Friday! The one day a year when stampedes over the last XBox 360 at Wal-Mart which kill one employee and cause a woman to miscarry are more-or-less accepted by society. I mean, to save $29.99 on that must-have Christmas sweater, it's totally worth it to juke the security guards and bust down store doors! Not to say I've never done shopping on Black Friday, because I have: last year I won a $500 Visa gift card from Arizona Mills Mall on Black Friday from a drawing I entered at 6am. Then I went shopping in the mall for a bit, and nabbed some nice deals. But I have never seen anything so like a feeding frenzy before as this day! Good luck and Godspeed to those of you who are brave enough to attempt Wal-Mart today! In other news, my family totally forgot my birthday isn't until tomorrow. I woke up this morning and my dad and brother came into the den with a joyous "Happy birthday!" only to have me remind them that today is 11/28/2008, and my birthday is 11/29/2008. Needless to say, my dad now feels "old" and "forgetful." (Sorry Dad! Next time I'll just stay quiet and eat the cake!) Otherwise, I may or may not be suffering from an acute allergic attack at the moment due to the high amount of dust/pollen in the air, or I may just be getting a cold. Either way, it sucks!

27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, while we have turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry and pumpkin bread, green bean casserole, jello, yams, and assorted other foods, I would like to thank some of the special people in my life for being there when I needed them and for being my friends: Scott: Of course, #1 on my list, you've always been my best friend. I am thankful for the time we get to spend together playing video games or watching bad anime! Ryan: I always enjoy our discussions. It's not often I can find someone who won't put up with my crap and will call me out on it! I look forward to many more intellectual conversations at midnight at Tempe Marketplace! Kaylynn: Always fun, never dull when we hang out getting coffee or whatever. You're absolutely, unequivocally CRAZY, but then again, so am I so it works! Max: Ah, Max, you're the bomb - coming to put up with me and my sign-posting madness during the election, and now going to Europe! You still need to email me your stuff, by the way.... My family: Well, I could have been screwed for a place to live after college, so it's nice to be home for that, and even though it's a pain having me home putting a strain on resources in a tough time, I love you all! All my other friends: If you didn't get mentioned by name here right now, FEAR NOT! It's mostly because of the triptophan and my strong desire to fall asleep right now. Zzzzzzzz! But really, you know who you are, and I thank you for all you do! People like Chris, Chelsea, Blake, other Chris, Jenn, Tim, the View Crew, Ryan and Summer, and more! "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God." - Thessalonians 5:18 (I know I'm not the most religious person, but this verse seems especially appropriate!)

25 November 2008

A Bond Bombshell

And not the good kind, either. Last week I went to see the opening of the newest Bond movie, "Quantum of Solace." What a disappointment, let me tell you. While I do like Daniel Craig as Bond, this movie was nothing like the Bond of old - a singular bad guy working for "the other side" whether that be Commies, terrorists, or mad scientists hell bent on world domination. Instead, Bond was just another guy with a gun, pissed off because of Vesper's death and betrayal, who decides to go on a killing rampage. The plot of the movie involves something about the lead Bond girl's (Olga Kurylenko as Camille) desire for her own brand of revenge and the plot to take over a country's water supply in the middle of the desert. Thus, obviously giving tons of money and power to the South American thugs who will sell Aquafina at ridiculously obscene prices to the starving (and dehydrated) Bolivian natives. Along the way, a new criminal terrorist organization is introduced, Quantum, whose sole purpose is to meet at the opera in plain sight and communicate through throat microphones. Not really, but that's what you get from the film. I guess they're the H2O-deprived masterminds who thought up the take-all-the-water plot, but it's not really completely clear. I don't think I even heard the line "The name is Bond. James Bond." anywhere in the entire movie. Recap: No plot. No desirable Bond women. No "bad guy." Bond's character is monodimensional and dull. No memorable chase scenes, explosions, or special effects to speak of. I give it a major thumbs down, and I would not recommend it to my friends unless it happens to be on Spike TV sometime in the future and you've got 2 hours to kill. Hopefully the next Bond will bring the character back to the martini-drinking, shaken-not-stirred, tuxedo-wearing, Goldfinger-thrashing badass we all love!

22 November 2008

Snow in Phoenix Yesterday?

Yesterday night, it was snowing in Mesa near my house. Or at least I thought it was. I was driving out to hang with my friend Scott, and all of a sudden I noticed little white flecks catapulting on my windshield and beginning to cover the roadway. For a split second my brain went "HUH?!?" Then I saw the truck about a quarter mile in front of me, filled with pillows, a couple of which had split open, and small down feathers were flying out of the bed of the truck. The "snowstorm" was about the closest we'll come to winter weather in Phoenix, so it was pretty cool, even if it wasn't real!

21 November 2008

Non Sequitur

Okay, so I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to start this post, and I really have no good way to do so. It's not like a story, where you can just begin with the old standby "It was a dark and stormy night," and it's not like a techincal paper which requires a table of contents and a formal introductory paragraph (yay college term papers), so it can be tricky. Do you begin with "so, this week..." blah blah blah, or start off with the infamous "I did..." blah blah "then I did..." blah blah blah? Either way, I foresee epic failure. Maybe I'll try this: the word of the day from Merriam-Webster.com is "non sequitur," meaning "it does not follow" in Latin. Okay, that's technically two words, but whatever. Their problem. This week has been a bit of a non sequitur for me. Logically, nothing I did this week was really well-related to anything else I did. I need a job, but I decided that with what little cash I actually have, I would go to Flagstaff last weekend. Mind you, it was TOTALLY worth it, but nonetheless, it was something more spur of the moment get-me-the-hell-out-of-Phoenix-esque than logical for my situation. Ryan went along with me, after much arm-twisting, and we both had a good time seeing some old friends from Mountain View and Taylor Halls, hiking in the gorgeous weather, and hanging out at some of the local bars like the Wine Loft and Rendezvous, neither of which I had been to more than once before. (I actually did find a great wine I like called "Bommarito" - a red Cabernet Sauvignon.) Then, the job hunt continued most of my week until yesterday, where I took a break from job hunting to - what else? - work. I substitute taught for a sixth grade class at the school my mom works for, which wasn't a bad gig, but I'm really finding I don't enjoy elementary teaching. If I was going to be a teacher in the future, it would have to be high school to college teaching, because I think I would be a better fit there. It's hard to have thoughtful discussions on whatever with a bunch of 12-year-olds. Still, it's not a hard job to substitute, and it pays $90 a day, so it's some pocket change every now and then. After teaching, I came home and flipped on the news - a habit more than anything now - and there was ABC15's Daphne Monroe talking about the great deal of the day: $50 in free Thanksgiving groceries from Albertsons to the first 50 people at a couple select locations around the valley. Well, hell, who's going to pass up free everything non-perishable you will need for Thanksgiving (paper plates, cups, towels, canned goods, soda, juice, au gratin potatoes, stuffing mix, etc.) if given the opportunity. So I drove out to one of the locations, and I was number 49 of 50 in line to get the groceries! Good times! Mom was happy. Today, I've been fairly productive. My dad left me with a mandate that if I was going to be home all day, instead of job searching in the morning, I should (okay, had to) clean up the house, dishes, all that crap instead. So, after about four hours of work, the house looks great, and I even have dinner all laid out for tonight for them. I just have to cook it at 5:30 or so. Ham and salami paninis with fresh-sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and peppers on toasted sourdough with kettle chips, bacon and potato salad, and a pickle spear. For drinks, Arnold Palmers (lemonade-iced tea mix).

13 November 2008

42 Days 'Til Christmas

I'm really on the ball this year. There are 42 days left until Christmas Day (which means 41 shopping days left, for you procrastinators) and I am proud to say that I am DONE with my gift-getting. I had it all planned in advance, I had some money from my temporary election job, and I got it all done within the past week. The only thing left is to get the addresses of my friends for whom I do not have addresses. I sent you all out emails, so please respond! Now all I have to worry about is the job hunt and budgeting the rest of my money to maximize its effectiveness in said job hunt.

09 November 2008

A Collection Complete

I finally completed a collection near and dear to me: all seven seasons of "The West Wing," possibly my favorite TV show of all time. Circuit City near my house is going out of business, and they were liquidating their entire stock of everything, including DVDs. So I got the last season in my collection for dirt cheap!
For those of you who don't know, The West Wing stars Martin Sheen as the President of the United States, and follows him and his staff throughout the President's two terms of office, beginning shortly after Inauguration Day of the first term, and ending on Inauguration Day of the new POTUS eight years later. The show was nominated for, and won, many Emmy Awards, and its cast is phenomenal, including Allison Janning as CJ Cregg (press secretary and later Chief of Staff), John Spencer as Leo McGarry (CoS and later Vice-Presidential candidate), Bradley Whitford as Joshua Lyman (deputy CoS and Santos for President campaign manager), and many others.
Written by Aaron Sorkin, the screenplay genius and mastermind of such films and shows as "The American President," "A Few Good Men," "Schindler's List," "The Rock," and "Charlie Wilson's War," the show has done everything from exploring a possible presidential assassination plot and following the post-traumatic stress syndrome of characters afterward, to terrorist attacks in the Gaza Strip, to exploring the tensions between Christians and Muslims in the episode "Isaac and Ishmael" which ran immediately after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, to enduring the death of John Spencer from a heart attack (coincidentially not long after his character had a major heart attack on the show).
If you are even remotely interested in a good TV drama show that is funny, well-written, and very intelligent (you won't get your fix of brain-cell-killing slapstick humor here), I encourage you to check out the show!

08 November 2008

Now That It's Over

It's time to get back to basics. I'm talking food, water, shelter, JOB here. And so thus begins the great job search yet again! I'm well aware that it won't be easy: jobless rates in the country today are as bad as ever at 6.5%, and the economy only looks to be declining further in the coming weeks. It's pretty much time to hunker down and try to wait out the storm more than actively searching for employment, but search I shall. Otherwise, now that election '08 is finally over, I'm sort of bored. There's no more polling data to look up, very few "too-close-to-call" races left to adjudicate, and people in general seem to be pretty well done with talking politics or baseball (my favorite subjects!). My birthday is actually right around the corner, on Nov. 29th, right after Thanksgiving, which only means that both days will get combined into one celebration. Kind of like having a Dec. 25th birthday; a bit lackluster. On the plus, Phoenix has gotten much, much cooler in recent days, with highs in the mid-70s to upper-80s, and it's actually quite nice. Now all we need are some trees and grass here and it would be nice. Maybe a lake. I am going to try to head out to Circuit City today, as they are liquidating everything in their stores out here in Mesa, going out of business. Maybe I can find a decent laptop for relatively cheap? That would be nice. Updates to follow!

05 November 2008


Well, Americans, once more you have gone the route of change, though not for the better. Yesterday, you voted for a move to socialism and big government, rather than for sound economic policy and a more limited government. Indeed, we all kind of knew it was coming, because the Republican Party has done little to earn your trust as the party of fiscal restraint, limited government, and sound judgement and morals over the last eight years, but it's still a little disheartening and disappointing. In 2006, voters cast their ballots against Republicans - not for Democrats, a big distinction. In 2008, however, the Republican Party really let conservatives down. Voters voted in liberal ideologues, and for at least two years, we're stuck with that decision. As a party, Republicans are now at a tipping point. Will we tip backwards and become the party of yesteryear, resigned to a fate as the minority in the House, Senate, and White House? Or will we tip forward and work harder to reclaim the majority by getting back to the fundamental principles of conservatism? The 210-plus people we have sent back as Republican delegates to Congress will tell. It's on their heads now. Perhaps Congressman Jeff Flake (R - AZ06) said it best in his guest column "A Way Out of the Wilderness" in the Washington Post this morning:
"There is reason for Republicans to feel optimism. Politically, America remains a center-right country, and America loves a chastened and repentant sinner. As surely as the sun rises in the east, the Democrats will overreach. As long as we Republicans are willing to admit our folly, get back to first principles and work like there's no tomorrow, we've got 'em just where we want 'em."
To Senator McCain, you fought a long, greuling campaign and impressed a lot of people. I am glad you will be coming back to work for the State of Arizona in the Senate. I was at the Biltmore Hotel last night for the results party, and I was moved by how gracious your election concession speech was - your pledge to support President-elect Obama in the Senate, your call to action for your supporters to do the same, and your heartfelt thanks to all those who had made a difference in your campaign. To President-elect Obama, congratulations. Your election is an historic one. While I remain skeptical of your policy positions, I will be among those watching your presidency very closely in the hopes that you do bring some good to our country as you have promised. Good luck, and God speed. To the American electorate, while I am disappointed in your choice, I understand it and was not surprised by it. I urge every citizen of this country to look back on the campaigns that were just fought, and do you part to hold our leaders accountable for their actions in Congress and the White House. In four years, we'll start all this madness again, and it's your right, your duty, and your responsibility to be ready to make the best choice for America at that time. ---------------------- Arizona Results: President: John McCain (54%-45%) CD-1: Ann Kirkpatrick CD-2: Trent Franks CD-3: John Shadegg CD-4: Ed Pastor CD-5: Harry Mitchell CD-6: Jeff Flake CD-7: Raul Grijalva CD-8: Gabby Giffords Prop 100 and Prop 102 passed Prop 101, 105, 200, 201, 202, and 300 failed Maricopa County Sheriff: Joe Arpaio MC Attorney: Andrew Thomas Corporation Commission: S. Kennedy, S. George, and P. Newman (the so-called "Solar Team") LD19 House: Kirk Adams and Rich Crandall LD19 Senate: Chuck Gray

04 November 2008

How We're Voting II

How We're Voting

Breaking Down the Election

Poll Closing Times (all EST): [Battleground States in BOLD] 6:00pm: Most of Indiana, eastern Kentucky 7:00pm: Florida peninsula, Georgia, Indiana, western Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia 7:30pm: North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia 8:00pm: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida (western panhandle), Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (most of state), Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, eastern South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas (most of state) 8:30pm: Arkansas 9:00pm: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan (rest of state), Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, western South Dakota, Texas (rest of state), Wisconsin, Wyoming 10:00pm: southern Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, eastern North Dakota, eastern Oregon, Utah 11:00pm: California, Hawaii, northern Idaho, western North Dakota, western Oregon, Washington 12:00am: Alaska 1:00am: Alaska (Aleutian Islands) As you can see, by 9pm EST, 3/4 of the "battleground" swing states will be closing their polls, and we will see who wins this election. Of course, if some states like North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida remain too close to call (within about 4-5 percentage points), the night could get interesting! Now, not only are we voting for the highest executive office in the land, but also for 435 members of the House of Representatives, and 1/3 of the Senate, eleven Governors, and incalculable local races and ballot propositions. Here are some of the more interesting races to watch this evening. Many people are predicting a Democratic landslide overall: House: 250 Dem, 185 Rep Senate: 58 Dem, 42 Rep (note that this is 2 seats shy of a 60-seat supermajority for the Dems; it will be very interesting to see if there are any surprise red-to-blue flips in Senate seats to get them there) Governors: 29 Dem, 21 Rep (currently there are five Rep seats up for election and 6 Dem seats; the only one really contested is Indiana, where it could flip) For Arizona: My predictions for the major races in the state of Arizona: President: John McCain by 8 points (54-46) CD-1: Kirkpatrick CD-2: Franks CD-3: Shadegg CD-4: Pastor CD-5: Mitchell CD-6: Flake CD-7: Grijalva CD-8: Giffords Corporation Commissioner: McClure, Stump, Wong County Attorney: Thomas County Recorder: Purcell County Sheriff: Arpaio Prop 100: No Prop 101: No Prop 102: Toss up, I'm guessing Yes Prop 105: Yes Prop 200: Toss up, I'm guessing No Prop 201: No Prop 202: No Prop 300: No LD-19 (my district) House: Adams and Crandall Senate: C. Gray We'll see how I do come tomorrow!

03 November 2008

The West Wing

Today, I am reminded of one of my favorite television shows, "The West Wing" which has since ended after seven great seasons. I was thinking today about one particular episode, and indeed one quote. It's the one where Sam Seaborne flies out to Orange County, California, where Will Bailey is running the campaign of a man who died, but whose name will still appear on the ballot. Sam asks Will to stop, because the campaign is becoming "an embarassment to the President" and Will abruptly ends the conversation and starts to walk away. On the way out the door, they stop to talk to a couple little girls who have been making campaign posters.
GIRLS: "We did the PSA." WILL: "Let me see. Very nice. But do me a favor - read this for me." GIRLS: "It doesn't matter who you vote for, make sure you vote!" WILL: "I like the sentiment, but the thing is, I think it does matter who you vote for. What if it said, 'No matter who you vote for, make sure you vote!' What do you think?" GIRLS: "Good."
In this election today, I too think it matters who you vote for. So in the words of Will Bailey, for Election Day, November 4th, 2008, NO MATTER WHO YOU VOTE FOR, MAKE SURE YOU VOTE! Happy Election Day!

One Day Out

Currently, we are now less than one day out from Election Day, and this is my plea to all of the people reading this blog to get out and vote. Not only is it your civic duty, but this election stands as one of the most important of this generation. The mainstream media is already comparing it in importance to the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy. For those of us in the Mesa area, you will not only have the opportunity to vote for President of the United States, for which office there are five candidates (Dem., Rep., Lib., Grn., and Ind.), but also for the U.S. House of Representatives, County Attorney, County Assessor, Sheriff, Special Healthcare Board, Corporation Commissioner, School Board, the retaining of judges to the bench, and a host of very important propositions which could seriously have an impact on Arizona's economy and society. Most of you who read this will already know for whom my votes have been cast, and I would urge you to consider those people and Propositions accordingly, but ultimately, just make sure you get out tomorrow and cast your own ballot! God bless America!