Nothing Special, Really

Monday, September 29, 2008

I've Changed My Mind

It wasn't too long ago how I mentioned how I was sick and tired of hearing about Sarah Palin. I officially retract that statement.

Now, I can't get enough of her.

You have to click on this one because NBC is a bunch of fascists and won't allow their content on YouTube.

Thursday's debate is going to be the most glorious yet depressing 90 minutes ever.

So And So Had A Baby

Last night, while Wac & I were walking to go see My Morning Jacket, I called my brother to wish him happy birthday. When I told him what I was doing, he asked who I was going to see. Knowing that he's probably never heard of My Morning Jacket, I tried to explain how they sounded to someone who's never heard them. I'm naturally HORRIBLE at trying to describe a band's sound, and pressed for something to say, I though of the song below (which actually starts about 3 minutes into the song) and for some reason came up with "southern modern rock" although in retrospect, I should have thrown in "blues-y" too:

Had I been a bit quicker with the wit, I would have remembered to rely on my standard way of describing a band: as being the love child of two other bands. In this case, imagine if Prince had a baby with Lynyrd Skynyrd (and maybe abandoned it for Neil Young to raise):

Oh, by the way...if anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, take note: I now want a velvety cape:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Glory Days

I miss 2006. I had a bigger apartment, a job, my car wasn't all beat up, and Shawn Marion was still with the Suns.

I've been making good use of my XBox lately, going through a season on NBA 2K7. It was cheap, only $6, and it features the Suns during their glory days, with the same roster that lost to the Spurs in the playoffs (remember Horry-gate?). I made some changes though, because honestly, I have no interest in playing video game basketball with Marcus Banks and Erik Piatkowski on my roster. So I made some trades, juiced up my lineup. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say this: My bench alone consists of Dirk Nowitzki, Gilbert Arenas, and Ray Allen.

Holy shit, playing NBA 2K7 with Ray Allen is way too unfair. He refuses to miss from 3-point range and is averaging almost 45 points a game.

Oh, and in NBA 2K7, the Suns will win the championship, and the Sonics still exist (minus Ray Allen, of course).

Yay XBox!


Lest you think that I'm completely unproductive, I should mention that I did other things too. Like grab a voter registration form before it's too late, and I got a library card while I was at it too. I also found a cool little shop that specializes in Spanish goods, and grabbed a bottle of Rioja and a jar of chimmichurri spices.

I also applied for three jobs, none of which I think I'll get. They're all relatively big companies, all nationally known, and I've had less success getting interviews with those guys.

I also sent an email to a company I'm still in limbo with. I interviewed with them last week, and they're continuing to interview through this week too at least. Rather than sit on my hands and wait to find out what's up, I cranked out one of my patented "wordy" emails, explaining how excited I was, and highlighting my strong points. Especially considering I was the first to interview, and it was over a week ago, I need to make sure I don't get forgotten. Last time I did this I didn't get the job, but the HR Director put the word out to all her colleagues about me. That got me a couple interviews elsewhere; hopefully this time it helps seal the deal.


Halloween is just ahead. We didn't do anything last year, so we're counteracting that by throwing a Halloween party. I still don't know what my costume will be this year. In recent years, I've been Tobias from Arrested Development, Emo-Dad, Lil' Jon (the rapper) and Maggie Simpson. I like my costumes to be either really obnoxious (Lil Jon) or easy to do (Emo-Dad was basically just me with a baby strapped to my back).

The problem with Halloween costumes is that my glasses and my baldness don't lend themselves to that many options. I had a good idea for this year, but to really get the full effect, I would have to get different glasses. I'm going to the party store down the road tomorrow to see if I can get any more ideas from them. I don't want to cop out on my costume this year but I don't want to be pressed for time either, so I feel like I need to decide now.

Otherwise, I may just try to squeeze into a kid's costume and go as Fat Batman.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Being Un-American

Josh Howard is an idiot. Let's start with that.

If you don't know who Josh Howard is, here's a summary:

1. He plays in the NBA for the Dallas Mavericks
2. He's a pretty good player, even making the All-Star team a couple of years ago.
3. He's not worth much in fantasy basketball because doesn't do anything great statistically other than score points.
4. He made headlines earlier this summer when he admitted that he smokes pot during the offseason.

That last statement makes him an idiot. Not because he smokes pot, but admitting to it to a journalist as a public figure. There was some backlash for a while, but for the most part, it's been brushed under the rug. What also makes him an idiot is, despite the public outcry from that, he was stupid enough to go and do this.

The video was taken on a cell phone camera at some charity event sponsored by Allen Iverson, another NBA player. Howard hasn't come out and made any sort of public statement now that this has become such a controversy, so who knows what his intent was. Perhaps behind that was some sort of social commentary about how the National Anthem was written during a time when slavery was prominent, and authored by someone who lived on a plantation and related to someone who authored the Dred Scott decision (stolen from Wikipedia, I didn't know that either). Perhaps the intent was to communicate that patriotism amongst the black community is much different than patriotism from the white community given that many of the common symbols of patriotism are much more prominent within white culture than black culture (although it could be interpreted to mean many different things, I can't imagine very many blacks connecting to a "patriotic" song like Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The U.S.A.").

But Josh Howard didn't say any of those things. What he said was anything but eloquent. What he said came across as ignorant and disrespectful, and can easily be interpreted as Josh Howard not being proud of being an American.

And you know what? If that's the case, that's fine. Of course, until he makes a statement, we'll never know what his true intent was (and even then, it'll probably be a statement doctored by some PR agency to put this whole thing to rest, so maybe we'll never know what his intent was). But if that's how Josh Howard feels, then so be it. We have the right to believe what he says was ignorant and misinformed, but he, as an American, has the right to say what he said.

Some of you reading this probably didn't even know who he was until now. In fact, I'd venture to say that a very large portion of people who were offended by his comments didn't know who he was either. Many people probably saw some clip of the video on SportsCenter or some other show, and immediately got offended by a rich, black athlete making an unpatriotic statement about THEIR country. They then maybe read comments from Mark Cuban, the Mavericks owner, regarding how the issue was being handled by the organization & felt unsatisfied with the resolution. Some of them even took to Cuban's blog and made their thoughts known, just as Josh Howard did at some small charity event back in July.

And in a brilliant move, Cuban organized many of those comments, which were posted with email addresses and names, and centralized them into a blog post which you can find here.

Perhaps you'll disagree with me, but personally, I'm much more offended by the majority of comments on Cuban's blog than I am about Howard's statement. I believe that what Josh Howard said was just plain retarded, and while there may be a different intent behind his comments, on face value, his remarks were out of line. But I'm not offended by them. What I am offended by are Americans, in this day and age, still referring to someone like Josh Howard as a "coon" or a "nigger". Or the opinion that "him and Hussein Obama can go to another country and live if they don’t want to support our symbol of freedom." Or "If you allow a hate of America play for your team, you also Hate AMERICA. GET OUT OF HERE!!!!" Or, maybe my personal favorite:

"Fire that ass hole this is America send him to Iraq No wonder kids act the way they do this is there role model they have no clue what we have been through in our history and how we became this country we all have faults but this is not the 60`s if it was he would of been hanged. I suppose that he thinks all the fireman, police and innocent citizens in 911 should of died also only in America could this happen and thats the point he does not get."

I respect that all of these people, as citizens of this country that they may or may not support in the historically approved methods that the majority support (i.e. National Anthem, American Flag, etc.) have the right to speak their opinion. But I consider using racial epithets, suggestions of deportation, or the ideology that criticism of America is equal to hatred of America and therefore makes a person not worthy of living in their own country MUCH MORE UN-AMERICAN than the voice of one person, whose opinion shouldn't mean anything to anyone anyways, making an ignorant comment about the National Anthem.

That's all I can say right now. Today is the first day that I was actually up before 8:30am, and I don't want to waste my morning spewing on a blog post how sick and tired I am of what has become a narrow definition of what being "patriotic" or "a good American" is. I'll save that for another post. Instead, I want to leave you on a lighter note.

In what was either a pure stroke of genius on ESPN's part or just completely unintentional comedy, Bob Ley of ESPN conducted a short interview with the person who recorded Josh Howard's comments on his phone. For one of the most incoherent interviews ever, complete with unrelated answers to questions, horrible attempts at spinning the interview another direction, and misguided rambling, click here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bow to Me, Citizens of Tanzania!

Somewhere in Africa, in a small town in Tanzania, I will become a God.

Our friend Elliot spends half to 3\4ths of the year in a small village in Tanzania as part of Project Kesho, a non-profit founded by his brother & sister-in-law to help improve the educational system in underprivileged areas in East Africa. He's a huge dork; you can seem him in pictures here as the curly-fro'd goofy looking dude. Anytime he comes back to Seattle, he just shows up at our door unannounced and can't stop quoting from Borat even though the movie is three years old now.

He stopped by earlier this week, and we hung out for a little bit, playing some Guitar Hero and Rock Band on my sweet new XBox 360. Since I've upgraded my gaming system, I had no need for my PS2 anymore, and Elliot offered to buy it to take back to Tanzania. For the system, one controller + a guitar controller, all three Guitar Hero games and GTA: San Andreas, he gave me $50. I tried to get him to take my football and baseball games too, but he declined, explaining the kids there would have no idea what to do. It didn't dawn on me until then that they had no concept of American football or baseball. He could explain that it's kind of like rugby or cricket but they still wouldn't understand.

But the language of music has no boundaries So for $50, the kids get to experience the joy of faux-shredding to Metallica's "One" or Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride and Joy". They'll stumble their way through to the end, and when they get there, I imagine they'll wonder who this Matt guy is that owns every single high score on the game. Perhaps, after time, they'll be good enough to play on Hard or Expert, but each time, I'll be there, waiting for them. My name will become legend.

Who says video games are a waste of time?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stress Release

I'm trying really, really hard to be unbiased when I discuss politics, but sometimes, I just can't help to get worked up. So, as a bit of a stress release, I offer you the following three words:

Screw Sarah Palin.

(This will be the only time you'll read anything about Sarah Palin on this blog; after this, I'll go back to discussing what's really important in this election.)

I'm sick of her and I'm sick of hearing about her. I'm tired of the McCain campaign deriding Obama as a celebrity yet continuing to bask in the similar attention that Palin has gained. It's amazing how much buzz is created when you pull a relative nobody out of your hat and hand her the VP role. I'm tired of the McCain campaign trotting out the same line about Obama being inexperienced, yet nominating a candidate for VP that they rarely allow to speak freely to the press. I can understand that though, after the last time they let her loose.

During last week's interview with ABC's Charles Gibson, Palin let loose with some interesting comments, including:

In reference to earlier comments that our occupation being a "task from God.", she clarified this point by stating "But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words when he said — first, he suggested never presume to know what God’s will is, and I would never presume to know God’s will or to speak God’s words. But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that’s a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God’s side."

What's remarkable about this is that, according to the context of what she actually said, her comments bear no relation to the what Lincoln said. You can see the whole text of the speech from June here, and I'll freely admit that what she really said is not as frightening as the excerpt that was referenced in the Gibson speech. But, even within context, she is asking that the congregation pray that, in reference to the Iraq War, "that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending out on a task that is from God." Obviously, my religious views are much different than hers, or even the majority of the country for that matter, so I accept that I might be in the minority. However, I can't help but to be appalled that anyone would pray that a war is part of any God's plan. Praying for the safety of troops, praying for a swift resolve to the end of war, praying for protection from terrorists, I completely understand all of that. But to pray that unprovoked attacks and killing Iraqi citizens who do not support another country's plan for what Iraq should be? Consider me disgusted.

Then there is the whole dialogue about the Bush doctrine. I'll admit, if I was posed the same question, I can't say that I would have come up with the correct answer either. But I'm also not a candidate for Vice President. Anyways, here's the unedited transcript:

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you — what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that’s the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.

GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?

I'd love to hear her expand on what she believes those blunders & mistakes to be, but I'm sure the McCain campaign has prevented her from making any such admissions.

Finally, when talking about Palin's experience in foreign relations, she gives us this gem:

GIBSON: Have you ever met a foreign head of state?

PALIN: There in the state of Alaska, our international trade activities bring in many leaders of other countries.

GIBSON: And all governors deal with trade delegations.

PALIN: Right.

GIBSON: Who act at the behest of their governments.

PALIN: Right, right.

GIBSON: I’m talking about somebody who’s a head of state, who can negotiate for that country. Ever met one?

PALIN: I have not and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you. But, Charlie, again, we’ve got to remember what the desire is in this nation at this time. It is for no more politics as usual and somebody’s big, fat resume maybe that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment, where, yes, they’ve had opportunities to meet heads of state … these last couple of weeks … it has been overwhelming to me that confirmation of the message that Americans are getting sick and tired of that self-dealing and kind of that closed door, good old boy network that has been the Washington elite.

What? The nation does not desire some with a resume of several decades of experience (and I love how she so simply puts it: "opportunities to meet heads of state") Apparently, we don't want someone who has foreign relations experience, or experience as a diplomat? I read somewhere else that this was supposed to be a jab at Biden, but isn't McCain supposedly the one who's experience makes him most qualified at foreign relations?

Anyways, I just had to get all that out. Suffice it to say that I'm not a fan of Sarah Palin, nor am I a fan of all the attention she's getting. I'm not a fan of how the McCain campaign is keeping her sheltered from the media, and I'm not a fan of how she seems to be doing nothing but spouting off the same refrain that we've heard from every other Republican thus far.

If you haven't guessed by now, when I've made references that my vote is leaning toward one candidate over the other, then I'm sure you can guess now that I'm referring to Obama. I'll get more into that in the next couple of weeks. I don't deny that McCain had some appealing qualities, but the more I learn about his campaign, the less I believe that he represents the values that I believe in. I'm truthful in saying that my decision hasn't yet been made, but I can assure you that his selection of Palin as VP isn't helping his case for obtaining my vote.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Phlegm Is A Funny Word

I'm on the downswing of a cold right now. My sore throat lasted only a day, and I'm alternating between sniffles and phlegm hacking. It gets better as the day goes on, which does me no good when I have a phone interview in the morning. I apologized for my voice early on, which probably sounded as lovely as Gilbert Godfried after 10 consecutive cigars. The surprising part was a call back just hours later to set up an in-person interview next week. A same-day call back; that has to be promising, right? I won't bite though, I'm experienced enough now to prevent myself from getting my hopes up anymore.

I've curtailed my online poker playing almost completely. I've withdrawn the majority of my money from my accounts online, originally leaving about $600 left, but when I started blowing through that, I cashed out the rest. At one point the other day, I was left with $.77 in my account. I've spent the majority of my unemployment thus far staying at home playing online poker. While I was successful at first, I hit a rough streak that was really hard to handle, especially knowing I have a couple grand sitting in those accounts. When my severance package ran out, and I was left living off of my unemployment checks, cashing out was an imperative.

I used my most recent cashout from online poker to buy an XBox 360. My Playstation 2 is on it's last legs, and it was time for an upgrade. Aside from Guitar Hero, I'm not really an avid video game player, so the money invested was probably not the wisest investment, but I don't care. I love it.

Since my last post, I haven't done much reading up on either candidate. One thing I will say is that I'm really tired of hearing about Sarah Palin. I have to give the McCain campaign credit here; the selection of Palin as VP, whether or not she was the best candidate, was a stroke of genius. The addition of a young, unknown woman governor as VP has generated much needed buzz for the McCain campaign, both positive & negative. It's certainly invigorated my girlfriend enough that I've already let her know that I'm sick of hearing about her. I should note that she's not invigorated positively about her; instead, she sees Palin as exactly the kind of woman she doesn't want to be, but I'll let her discuss that on her blog if she so desires.

The hardest thing for me as a voter is trying to not vote based on simple emotions. Many of the things that I am the most unhappy with this country are a direct result of George W. Bush, a Republican. What's ironic is that the one Republican candidate I felt like I could vote for (aside from Ron Paul) was McCain. The only problem is that McCain now is not the same McCain of two years ago, even a year ago, and I can't help but make the connection between his transformation & his willingness to cater to the same neo-con influences that we've experienced the past 8 years.

But on the other hand, I don't necessarily want to throw my support behind Obama just solely based on the fact that he isn't a Republican. I think there are many positive reasons to support him, but I don't want this to be a repeat of 2004 where I vote Democrat simply because I don't want a Republican in charge.

Enough politics, there's still plenty of time for that.

I still have to finish the final post in my 5 part post from before my birthday. The first four posts I had written beforehand, but not the last part. I've been working on it here & there, but it might take some time. Partly because I haven't been pleased with what I've written thus far, but mostly because I've been lazy.

Time to go spit out some more phlegm.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sorting Through The Bullshit

I received an email about a month or so ago, one of those mass emails that gets forwarded across the country that somehow found its way into my inbox. The subject of the email was questioning Obama's qualifications to be President. Unfortunately, I deleted the email, but the gist of it was this:

1. Obama is less qualified than McCain because, if you exclude the times that the Senate was not in session, his experience as a Senator was less than two years, maybe even one year. Likewise, in the same sentence, the claim was made that McCain had over 20+ years as a Congressman

2. Quotes from Obama's two books were also mentioned, although the excerpts taken were fragmented in an attempt to portray Obama as being somewhat racist towards whites, or at least very pro-black. These quotes were listed as one-off statements, completely out of context from the book.

I doubt that I would ever get an email that would significantly influence my vote, but what really struck me is that I could really see someone who is on the fence being swayed by this to vote for McCain. In this particular situation, I don't think that was an issue because the majority of the recipients were probably voting Republican anyways. But I wonder how many undecided people received that email and were influenced to vote for McCain.

The truth is, I myself don't know who I'm voting for. I'm very heavily leaning towards one candidate more than the other, but I do consider myself undecided. My goal is to not make my vote an emotional one but a more logical one. And with that, it means filtering out all the bullshit coming from both campaigns to figure out what is truthful and what is meaningless.

On top of that, I have to weigh all that with my cynicism about the election itself. There's a significant part of me that feels it doesn't matter if it's McCain or Obama, it's more important to know who's in their back pockets. In some ways, both men are just figureheads for the initiatives & agendas of the organizations supporting them. So for me, it may not even come down to what the candidates have to say (I haven't even seen or heard a speech from either candidate thus far); it may just come down who's agendas I support the most.

But above anything else, my main purpose in this election is to really understand what exactly I'm voting for. I don't find any shame in admitting that I'm hardly the most politically knowledgeable or politically aware, but my goal is to do something about that. I feel that if I want to be a "true American", then it's my duty to base my vote off of more than the following points:

- McCain was a POW in Vietnam so he has the resolve & experience to defend this nation from terrorists
- Obama is a champion of change and has the vision & willpower to put this nation on the right track
- Obama lacks the experience needed to be President
- McCain has moved too far to the right-wing & no longer represents a departure from the neo-con Bush Administration
- Obama is black
- McCain is old
- McCain's VP choice, Sarah Palin, has a husband with a DUI from 20 years ago & a pregnant teenage daughter
- Biden is too old (honestly, I don't know anything about Biden)

It's always easy to simplify the election into Republican vs. Democrat, Liberal vs Conservative, youth vs. experience, old vs. new, red vs. blue. I'd venture to guess that majority of this nation has already made up it's mind, but what bothers me so much is how many of those decisions were made based on biased, incomplete, or downright untruthful bits of information.

For the next two months, if I can muster up the motivation to write, you'll find me getting a lot more political on this blog. I'm not going to try to influence anyone to vote one way or the other. I'm just going to write about what I find when I try to sort through the lies & figure out what's really going on, because I truly believe that the only "wrong" vote is an uninformed vote.