It is such a cliché for a columnist to do a Things For Which I Am Thankful column during Thanksgiving Week. That's why I hardly ever do them. As a matter of fact, I can't remember the last time I did one. So I guess the first thing for which I am thankful is a short memory.
Obviously, I am thankful for my family, my badass wife and our two spectacular nerd/jock kids who are now both successful engineers. I'm not sure what I did right to deserve them. I must have been Mother Teresa in a previous life. No wait, I'm Catholic; I'm not supposed to believe in that stuff.
Anyway, some of the other things and people for whom I am thankful include:
• Congressman Raul Grijalva. Yes, I said Raul Grijalva. I know that he's all too often a punch line, but he did a kick-ass job fighting off a furious and blatant multi-million dollar lobbying campaign aimed at throwing one more roadblock in the way of the soon-to-open Tohono O'odham casino in Glendale.
After being smacked upside their fat heads by the courts over and over and over and over and over again, the casino-owning tribes in the Valley of the Sun tried to get their elected lackeys to keep the T.O. folks from opening up shop. Congressman Trent Franks (who is not Arizona's worst representative) authored a bill laughably entitled the Keep the Promise Act of 2015. Yes, a lawmaker in Washington, D.C. was trying to lecture Native Americans on keeping promises. That's priceless.
Franks was joined by fellow Arizona Republicans Paul Gosar (who is Arizona's worst representative), Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, John McCain and Jeff Flake. Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who must be beholden to somebody something fierce, also joined the Hater Squad. They tried to pull a fast one to stop the casino from opening, but Grijalva headed them off at the pass.
(Kudos to Republican Martha McSally, who threw off her party shackles and voted with Grijalva and the Southern Arizona tribe.)
I've said before (way too many times; I know) that I don't drink or gamble, plus I hate cigarette smoke. But on the evening of Dec. 20 (opening night), I am going to be standing somewhere inside the Desert Diamond-West Valley casino, helping to be a part of a big, giant collective middle finger aimed at Franks, Gosar, and Gov. Doug Ducey, et al.
• Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors for making the NBA watchable again. Man, I love that style of basketball.
• Popeye's Chicken, which remains my all-time favorite food. I'm also very thankful that the only one in town (other than the restricted one on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base) is about a 40-minute, one-way drive from my house, so I don't get over there very often. (My bathroom scale is thankful for that, too.)
• Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, a good and decent man who genuinely cares about his hometown.
• Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who have proven, once and for all, that absolutely anyone can run for president of the United States. Didn't you just love it when, during the last "debate," Carson said that China is also involved in the mess in Syria. Somehow, that whopper slipped past moderator Maria Bartiromo, but when asked about it later, Carson doubled down on the assertion.
So, besides the brutal Assad regime, ISIS, and al-Qaeda, we now have to worry about invisible Chinese warriors.
• Fast-food places and grocery stores that are open on Thanksgiving. I'm sorry, but I hate turkey and I'm not a big fan of mashed potatoes, cranberries, or pumpkin pie. For me, the best Thanksgivings in recent memory were when my daughter would come home from Cornell and want to eat nothing but Mexican food for four or five days. Thanksgiving enchiladas—that's simply something that hasn't caught on ... yet!
• Arizona Football Coach Rich Rodriguez. He's got the constitution of a giant saguaro and the temperament of a desert snake. He's just wonderful.
While I'm in this area, let me also give a shout-out to Arizona Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians. He was recently discussing how some of his defensive players were looking forward to a rematch with the Seattle Seahawks and their brutish running back, Marshawn Lynch. Last year, Lynch ran over several Cardinal players en route to a long touchdown, one which he capped off by grabbing his crotch in the end zone. When a reporter asked Arians if he, too, was seeking revenge, Arians replied, "Nobody ran my ass over."
• Adele (and her fellow pasty-faced Brits Sam Smith and James Morrison) who are keeping my beloved soul music alive in the 21st century
• The Tucson Weekly. I look back, somewhat wistfully at the early days of the Weekly, when it was a "Hey Gang, let's put out a newspaper!" operation being run out of an old house in the Snob Hollow area near Downtown. It has survived many changes but continues to lovingly reflect its community. Long may it rage.
I am also thankful for do-it-yourself car wash places; the police (most of the time); the military (all of the time); teachers who hang in against the know-nothing Haters; non-buttered microwave popcorn, which, while it tastes like cardboard, has helped me shed a few unsightly pounds; and Roma Imports, which always stocks frozen gnocchi.