Archive for August, 2010

live 1975


on the brown leather chair


hands securely fastened with magical splints


bob dylan only in my ears headphones filled with 1975 live


alone with acoustic guitar harmonica voice poetry and thoughts


reverie rewritten as dynamic duo enters


couchbound with homegrown mac and cheese


too hot for baby too hot for mama


sufficiently cool enough to consume eat enjoy

my eyes see




no sound but the sound of music by mrs zimmermans baby boy


the love shared between emma and fehmeen




Read Full Post »

You know you watch way too many movies when you begin to see patterns emerging in the closing credits.   First you have the unit production manager and the first and second assistant directors.   I’ve learned that they get their own separate section above everyone else.   Then comes the camera operators and the costume and set designers.  About one minute down the scroll comes all the various gaffers and grips followed by a small army of drivers.  I also like to see who is big and powerful enough to warrant an assistant and quite possibly a stand-in.   I especially enjoy finding out who the foley artist was and am always quite relieved to know that no animals were harmed during the making of this movie.   Sometimes I prefer the credits to the actual film.

Now,  on with the shows.

Festival Express:   If you are a fan of the Grateful Dead,  Janis Joplin,  the Band,  and Buddy Guy,  then you need to add this awesome documentary to your queue.   Follow the groups as they travel by train across Canada (eh) playing various festivals along the way.   The concert footage is spectacular but the real magic happens when the musical icons get together for several impromptu jam sessions as they ride the rails of the Great White North.   Grade:  A-

Chloe:  This is not your typical wife hires a hot prostitute in order to tempt her possibly-cheating-on-her husband only to get involved with Little Miss Hottie herself kind of movie.   It is so much more than that.   Actually,  no,  that’s not true,  that’s pretty much all it is.   If you laugh like a hyena and have a propensity to say stuffins every chance you get (like someone I know whose name rhymes with kickball),  go to the nearest Red Box, spend that hard-earned dollar and take Chloe home for the night.   Grade: B-

Extraordinary Measures:  Back in the seventies, this film would have been a network movie of the week.  Unluckily for this decade’s movie-going population,  we have to pay for the privilege of  viewing movies that were based on actual events.   The cheesiness factor of this film jumped the shark when the doctor knew that his magic elixir was working because the sick kids were giggling from the effects of a sugar high about a minute after they had received their injections.   Velveeta to the max.   Grade: D+

The Crazies:  I am usually very enamored by pandemic zombie movies but two weeks after viewing it,  I can only remember the crazy-ass drive-thru car wash sequence.  Other than that one awesome scene,  I can’t recall a single thing.  Not a good quality in a movie.  Grade:  high D

Amelie:   Watching Amelie is a lot like reading a really well written book by a masterful storyteller.  Maybe that’s a natural byproduct of watching a French film with the subtitles on but it doesn’t really matter because this movie is a work of art.  Whimsical and relevant,  silly and serious,  Amelie is a story about love and how it’s never too late to fall in.  Grade: A-

Turistas:  I learned a little bit about my cinematic tastes the moment this unknown-to-me-at-the-time-of-viewing movie appeared on my screen following an episode of Freaks and Geeks on IFC.   Mix an exotic locale with a few naive ingenues and their male counterparts and add in several dastardly folks with seriously murderous intentions and sit me in front of the screen for upwards of 105 minutes.  In this particular edition of my newly diagnosed go-to movie genre,  the ladies and gentlemen were backpackers in Brazil and the bad guys were organ harvesters.   All in all,  not a terrible combination,  for the viewer,  not the backpackers.  Grade: B-

The Runaways:  I can typically judge a movie about a real or fictitious band/singer by the burning necessity on my part to rush out and purchase the soundtrack and/or original source material.  Rock Star,  Crazy Heart,  La Bamba,  and even Almost Famous are all prime examples of excellent films whose accompanying soundtracks currently maintain residence amongst my mythical (in my mind) cd collection.   Sadly,  The Runaways made it as far as my looking the music up on Amazon.  The film focused way too much on lead singer Cherie Curry at the expense of the band.  Grade: C+

Colma  The Musical:   By my count there were perhaps two decent songs and a couple of creative moments in an otherwise completely amateur production where a bunch of people listlessly wandered around the screen singing monotonously how crappy their lives are.  Please wake me up when they get to the scene that takes place at the famous Colma watering hole Malloys.   Wait,  there is no such scene?  Maybe they were saving it for the sequel.   Sorry to be so harsh but thank goodness they didn’t try to make San Bruno the Musical.   Grade: D-

Do you have a different take on any of these films?  Perhaps a recommendation?

Read Full Post »

Pining for PIN

Parent Information Night — PIN for short — is an annual tradition at La Entrada School.   PIN takes place one evening during the first week of classes and it is the same exact concept as Back to School Night except PIN is a way cooler sounding acronym than BtSN.

I used to enjoy PIN a whole lot more than I probably should have.  We teachers were given twenty minutes to sell our entire program — from curriculum to grading policy and every conceivable detail in between — in the front of a jam-packed classroom filled with upwards of 150 parents.   I could stand and talk for days on end to a room full of students but the second you put me before a bunch of adults,  I turn into a bundle of nerves.

Typically,  once I began my presentation the anxiety subsided to such a degree that the rate of my speech resembled that of a master debater.   When all was said and done,  not only had I survived,  I felt better than awesome.  Invigorated.

By far,  my favorite part of PIN was trying to take my friend and colleague Diane off her game mere minutes before her presentation.   It all started my first year when I wandered next-door to see how she was doing and we got to talking about this and that.   As it got closer and closer to showtime,  a joke that I had recently heard came to mind.

So this guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office wearing nothing but Saran Wrap.   The doctor looks him over and says,  “Sir,  I can clearly see your(e) nuts.”

Diane laughed hysterically as the bell rang and the parents began to file into her room.

Read Full Post »

How does it feel to finally be an eighth grader at LE?  No matter what you are feeling right now — overwhelmed,  empowered,  excited,  terrified,  eager,  or even a tad nervous — one thing is unequivocally true:  at least you are not a sevie any more.

Thank goodness for that.

Among the many privileges you have earned by becoming an eighth grader,  and trust me there are a lot,  there is one perk that you will no doubt enjoy more than anything else.

But before I tell you what it is,  I would like to make a deal with you.   I assume that by now you have all seen my documentary.  I am exactly the same person I was back then with the exception that I walk a little less now and I smile and laugh a whole lot more.   I promise to continue smiling and laughing — and making you grin and giggle when Ms Picetti tells her classes of Emma’s and my adventures — if you promise to give it your all in each and every one of your classes this year (especially in English, okay?).   Is it a deal or what?   Cool.

Before I go,  I should tell you about that privilege.  It’s so mind-blowingly spectacular you are not going to believe it.

Welcome to my blog.

Read Full Post »

First Day of School

Give me syllabus or give me death.

Okay,  it wasn’t exactly like that but it was pretty close.   I have always been and will always be a syllabus junkie.   The only thing on my mind during that first class meeting was getting my mitts on that precious piece of paper.  Sure,  it was nice knowing what textbooks we were going to be using and when the exams were scheduled to be given but that wasn’t my main reason for showing up.   What I really needed to know was the breakdown of the grades.    I couldn’t wait to see what percentage of my grade was based on homework,  tests,  and finals.  I would even spend a little time calculating various scenarios and what score I would need to get on the final and still pass the class based upon my hypothetically earning perfect scores on everything else.   And then came college and that fun little exercise became more of a survival skill because the everything else wasn’t necessarily made up of perfect scores.  More like barely passing scores.   Oh how the mighty had fallen.

The first day of school as a middle school math teacher was almost like running a forty-three minute sprint six times in a row.   There was so much to get done in such a relatively short amount of time.   Take attendance,  assign seats,  go over class rules and expectations,  distribute texts for the year,  hand out course syllabi (35% for homework/classwork and 65% for tests),  be both serious and funny, teach an abbreviated lesson and then assign homework.   I believed that it was important to establish my class routine as early as day one hence the homework the first night.  I will never get over the pre-class jitters I would feel in the pit of my belly the moments before that first bell would ring as I wondered whether or not I still could bring my A-game to Room 36.   Man,  I miss those days.

And then you have Emma.   Even though she is set to begin pre-school next week,  she has already had the opportunity to attend classes for the past two weeks.   On her first day of pre-school a couple weeks ago,  Fehmeen observed this little Emma-ism in person when she picked her up.   As the majority of the class was gathered around the teacher on the carpet for story time,  Emma was seated on a chair next to a little boy who was suffering from the effects of too much saliva.  There she was wiping the drool from his chin as soon as it would appear,  just like she does with her daddy at home.

No matter how hard you look,  you won’t find that on any syllabus.

Read Full Post »

Love ’em or hate ’em,  you just gotta respect ’em.

Philanthropic to a fault and more courteous and respectful than a young man asking his potential future father-in-law for his daughter’s hand in marriage,  these eight raven-haired ambassadors of decorum and dignity have burst onto the pop culture scene with such panache and aplomb that they are collectively destined to extend Mr Warhol’s statute of limitations with regard to fame for at least an additional ten minutes,  twelve minutes max.

Have you ascertained the identities of these eight upstanding citizens yet?

Do the letters G,  T,  and L hold any special significance for you?  How about if I spell it out for you?  Can I get a little Gym,  Tanning,  and Laundry around here?

Still stumped?  Then consider yourself lucky.  The folks to whom I am referring are none other than those lovable scamps known far and wide as the cast of Jersey Shore.

Oh yeah,  those guys.

Rather than blather on and on about how incredible this new season is and how you should be watching it,  I will respect the fact that most of my readers absolutely detest these talentless twits.   Which is why I feel the need to ask you all the following question:

Let’s suppose for a moment that the world is about to end and the only way to prevent its destruction falls squarely on your shoulders.   You must spend a consecutive twenty-four hour period with any cast member of your choosing.   You are such an altruistic person that never for a single second would you ever think about abstaining from participating so you are not allowed to play that card.

I have provided a photo with names to help those GTL virgins amongst you to make a more informed decision.   I will also include an anonymous poll for you to cast your vote.   Only the bravest will dare to leave a comment in the usual place.

Thank you for playing along.

Top: The Situation, Pauley D, Ronnie, Vinny. Bottom: JWoww, Sammi Sweetheart, Snooki, Angelina.

Read Full Post »

Older Than Dirt

You could never tell just by looking at him but today my dad officially became a geezer.   Even though he has been receiving AARP Magazine for at least a decade,  it is on this date,  August 20, 2010,  that John Picetti turns sixty-five.  Holy crap,  65!!!  That’s older than dirt.

This is a guy who used to have an actual photograph on the fridge of Elvis Presley sitting down at a table and my dad would tell anybody who expressed the slightest interest in it that the picture was taken here in our kitchen when The King was over for a visit one evening.

This is the guy who told anyone listening that he believed that cars and trucks should be made of flesh instead of metal and plastic so when they would inevitably be involved in fender benders all the driver would have to do was apply a little Neosporin to the wound and put on a bandage and a few days later,  vehicle all better.

This is the guy who upon being informed that my little league baseball game was fogged out — love ya San Bruno — decided to drive the family VW Bug around the bases of the field while the opposition’s coaching staff chased after us with fire in their eyes and bad words exiting their mouths.

This is a guy who,  along with my mom,  upon learning of my ALS diagnosis did not hesitate to put their own retirement plans on permanent hold by selling the family estate in sunny San Bruno and moving into a shared home with Fehmeen,  Emma and me in order to help take better care of their number one (and only) son.

I guess what I am getting at is that one’s age may just be a number but those rules never for one second applied to my dad.  He has always been the coolest dude I’ve ever known and I am so lucky to have him in my life.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Read Full Post »

Worth a Looksee

Have you seen the latest episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO?   It is quite interesting to say the least.

Scientists have discovered a link between traumatic brain injuries such as concussions and ALS,  particularly in regards to professional football and soccer players,  boxers and even Lou Gehrig himself.   Those same scientists were able to show that in some athletes the bad protein that accumulates in the brain following a tbi somehow migrates its way to the spinal cord which results in conditions prime for ALS.  The part at the end of the segment about the disease’s namesake was especially fascinating to me.

If shows like this interest you in the slightest,  then you should definitely check this one out.

Read Full Post »

Breathing Easy(er)

Everything we ever needed to know about BiPAP we learned in ten minutes.

Muchas gracias to Peggy and Cyndi and the entire team in the Pulmonary Medicine department at Santa Clara Kaiser.   Throughout the duration of my personal ALS experience in regards to the astronomical number of doctor visits I’ve accumulated,  it is their department I enjoy going back to time and time again.

Since I tend to be a mouth breather (ha ha) when asleep,  Peggy switched out the more highly touted nasal pillow face attachment I had been told was better for the old school,  traditional over-nose-and-mouth-combo mask.   The difference between the two devices was rather pronounced:  The former transformed me into even more of a saliva monster than I already am and the latter was,  in the immortal words of Goldilocks,  just right.

I will tell you right now,  this thing is going to take a little time to get used to.   Don’t expect me to make it through the night for a while,  okay Fehmeen and Peggy and Cyndi and even our friend R-Lean the RT.

I would appreciate any advice or or even an amusing anecdote from any member in good standing of the sibling-hood of the ventilated BiPAP.   Thanks for your (life) support.

Read Full Post »


Back when I was a wee lad of eleven,  my dad dragged me up to Drum World in San Francisco to attend a drum clinic put on by legendary drummer Louie Bellson.   The joint was jam-packed with percussionists so much so that people were sitting on the floor.   I remember being seated next to a young dude with long hair who was wearing brown corduroy pants.  After the show,  my dad drove to Tower Records,  took me to the J’s of the rock and roll record section,  and pointed out that the guy that sat next to me was Steve Smith,  the drummer from Journey.

Later on that year and for the next few years,  the band and its music became a personal cultural touchstone for me and the direction my life would be heading.   Click here to read about that journey,  I’ll wait right here for you.

Fast forward to last evening following Emma’s shower time.   Every night for about fifteen minutes before she goes to sleep,  Emma and I watch a little tv while she drinks her chocky milk and Fehmeen tubes my Ensure.   As Feh scrolled through the on-screen channel guide,  I let out a grunt when she got to a listing for Journey Live in Manila.   She gave me a smile and pressed enter on the remote.

The concert was good but not great.   They focused too much on their newer material,  imo.   The band did however perform two of my favorite Escape album cuts (Mother, Father and Still They Ride).   The new singer did a nice job reaching those Steve Perry high notes although I believe he landed the job for the simple fact that 5’4″-with-his-seventies-fro Neal Schon could dunk on him in a pickup basketball game.

The best part of the entire concert occurred when they played Open Arms.   Emma was mesmerized by the music.   I think I even saw her mouthing the words as the song ended.   Then they played the more up-tempo tune Separate Ways and the Bug was rocking out to beat the band.  You couldn’t have pried the shit-eating grin off my face with a crowbar.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »