so i called up the mac sensei. he's working on it now. he pulled the top case off and was able to get it to boot up and run. he ran a DVD on a loop all day to see if he could heat it up and make it have problems. so we know the hard drive is good (the biggest concern) and the LCD works (one of the 2 second biggest concerns). one problem is that it doens't start consistently. it's possible that it may end up needing a new motherboard, and i might need a new keyboard.
the other news of goodness is that it looks like some of this is covered under warrantee.
i'm thinking of getting an 80 gig external hard drive and ghosting my data onto it.