Archive for April, 2011

Some of my best ideas have come to me while shaving.

Standing in front of the sink with a towel around my waist and staring at my Edge gel covered face in the mirror, the creative thoughts seem to flow inside my mind like the warm water draining out of the faucet as it washes the stubble off the razor blade in my right hand.

It was at intermittent times during this daily morning ritual that I gave birth to ideas that shaped my life for years to come.

Like the time I envisioned performing an a cappella version of Stand by Your Man (a la The Blues Brothers at Bob’s Country Bunker) with two of my teacher friends at our middle school talent show one year.

And like the time I figured out how to pop the question to Fehmeen in such a way that wasn’t expressly forbidden by the power that be, like at a baseball game or at a family gathering, in a restaurant or in a classroom, or in any way deemed too cliché.

It involves eighty-eight keys, a nursery rhyme and is a story for another time.

Anyway, since I no longer have the ability to stand and/or shave, I’ve been forced to find my creative juju elsewhere than over the bathroom sink.

This morning, however, was just like old times.  Almost.

As I sat in my shower chair, slumped over the white porcelain sink, my mouth open so the saliva-toothpaste mixture occupying my oral cavity could exit and find its way down the drain, I felt an idea brewing.

Last night I saw an ad for this new dish at Olive Garden called Pastachetti and I got to thinking that this was not the first time I remembered that one of their entrees had a ridiculous sounding and obviously made up name.

Pastachetti?  Are you kidding me?  How much of a bonus did they have to give to the MBA-degreed veep over at the OG corporate offices who stumbled onto that one?  It sounds to me like a hybrid of my college nickname (Pasta) and my last name (Picetti).

Come to think of it, that’s why I’m so annoyed by this latest turn of events.  And they didn’t even think to get my permission to use my good names.

So, my plan was to go online to do some research on all the other silly names for food at this particular restaurant chain and make fun of them in this posting.

Well, as the title states, the best laid plans yadda yadda yadda.

When I accessed their menu with my eye gaze, I quickly came to the realization that pastachetti was all that I had to go with.  (For awhile, the appetizer known as Fonduta was a candidate but sadly, it didn’t pass through the Google search filters for having a made up name).

Even though I didn’t have enough to go on, I couldn’t just let this delectable morsel of a topic be brushed off the table like so many crumbs.

I open the floor up to you, my wise and knowledgeable reader community, to access your memory banks and come up with names of dishes and meals from (any) restaurant that fit the criteria listed above.

Thank you.


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I’ve got no problem admitting out loud that I have this tendency to get really into something at the expense of something else.  For seemingly days on end, this thing that I’m into becomes something akin to an obsession to me.  It’s the only thing that I want to spend my time doing, regardless of anything else I have on my to-do list to accomplish.

For examples:

When I first got Spotify, nothing else in the (online) world mattered to me except finding as many songs as I could to occupy my ever-expanding playlists.  Even though the initial fervor to which I initially hunted down those tunes has subsided to a large degree, the potential to catch the “finding more music” bug can strike at any moment.

Then there was the time where I rekindled my mania with searching for and finding FAIL pictures.  If you haven’t yet been acquainted with photos of the FAIL variety, allow me to introduce you to some.

From there, it was only a quick hop, skip, and jump until I discovered the subtle and subversive art of photo-bombing.  To photobomb is to hop into someone else’s picture at the last second.  Even though my dad and my Uncle Mike pulled one off at Benihana’s several decades ago, I had no idea that there were entire websites dedicated to chronicling the exploits of these picture spoilers.  And yes, that’s Michael Cera behind the parrots.

But recently I discovered my latest and quite easily most addicting — and not to mention most time consuming diversion of all:  The online Crossword Puzzle.  So far, I only allow myself to solve less than one per day (basically every other day).  I imagine that there are many more sites to discover, but right now I’m content with this one on sfgate.com.

So now you know what’s up when I’m not working diligently on my blog like I should be.

BTW, what’s a four letter word for long-tailed monkey?

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Spring Break 2011

Several highlights from the Picetti family’s Spring Break last week:

This conversation took place at the dinner table one evening.

  • Fehmeen — Who do you love more, Mommy or Daddy?
  • Emma — Papa (the diplomatic choice)
  • Emma — Batman or Spiderman?
  • Fehmeen — (running into the living room occupied by me) How can you have so much influence on her?!? You can’t even speak!!
  • Jason — (Grinning ear to ear in his BiPap mask)

The first comment Emma uttered to Fehmeen after witnessing her first up-close birthday party clown performance was “Do you think Buki (the clown) takes off her nose when she goes to sleep?”

I took the trip over the San Mateo Bridge with Fehmeen in order to pick up Emma from an overnight stay at No Nap Nani’s house.  The moment the wheels on my wheelchair hit the pavement Emma came running over to introduce me to the gardener who was mowing the lawn in the park where she was playing.  From there I watched her gleefully hop over a piece of poop on the ground (a la the opening scene in Up, now her second favorite movie followed by Beauty and the Beast).  Then she practically flew to the moon on the swings, climbed up the business end of the slide at least a dozen times, and back down that very same slide on her (cute little) buttsee a dozen more times after that.  The last time I watched her playing at the park was over a year ago and she was not as courageous and confident as she was now.  It goes without saying that I thought it was awesome seeing her having so much fun.

Emma, The Italian Man Servant and I had the pleasure of catching a Motley Crue Carnival of Sin concert on Palladia the other night.  We were all rocking out (Emma especially) to the first three songs (Shout at the Devil, Too Young to Fall in Love, Looks That Kill) before they went to a commercial break (back to back with a vibrating device made by the folks at Trojan which was followed by an internet dating spot from a group called ChristianMingle.com).  When the mixed advertising messages concluded, the band rolled back onstage on choppers and launched into Girls, Girls, Girls, complete with Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats dressed in skimpy leather outfits performing death-defying (yet strangely mesmerizing) routines high above the sonic fury occurring on the stage.  Well, Fehmeen wandered in about then, sized up the situation and quickly whisked The Bug off the couch and into her room.  Meanwhile, the two munhooses kept on watching the show.

Did you know that there was a Jewish version of Sesame Street called Shalom Sesame?  I sure didn’t.  And neither did Fehmeen when she joined it mid-episode.  She was forced to go to the Info button on the Comcast remote when she couldn’t understand what was going on when they were counting to five in Hebrew.  While we are on the topic, does anybody know if Grover is Jewish?  He was the only muppet hanging around but we changed channels before I could find out.

My newest caregiver Julian told us about how he knows a guy that does tattoos in people’s homes.  I think that the Tattoo Concierge will be making a stop in the City of Good Living very soon to work on tattoo number eight for ALS Boy.

I didn’t think that it was possible but Fehmeen just got even hotter when she got her nose pierced!

It was just like old times on Saturday night when Fehmeen, Emma and I got cozy on my recliner and watched videos on the laptop.  We started out with my documentary but we quickly switched gears to the Wiggles, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, and the Black Eyed Peas.  It was the best thing ever to hear our sweet Emma’s voice singing every single word of Just the Way You Are while sitting right next to me.  Best thing in the whole world.

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Whattup, Peeps!  (And yes, by Peeps I am referring to those delectable little sugar-coated marshmallow thingies that people seem to have around the house this time of the year.  You know you love them.  For a little extra holiday fun, try putting a Peep in the microwave.  It’ll be the highlight of your day, I swear).

Anyway, welcome back to another caption contest.  Since I’ve rambled on enough already, let’s just get to last week’s winner.

Unfortunately, the party planners misconstrued Fat Joe's suggestion to "make it rain." - Ameena El-Bibany

Congratulations to Ameena El-Bibany for earning the big prize this week.  In addition to making your first title defense of the Coveted Caption Contest Crown, you have won the following items:  Free California Aggie newspapers for as long as you attend UCD, a lifetime supply of cheese (courtesy of the fine folks at the Milk Farm on highway 80), and the knowledge that after all those times you entered my caption contests in middle school, you have finally made it to the top of the hill.  Props once again, Ameena!

Here are this week’s runner-ups:

  • Never having grown an appreciation of humor, Phil, head of the janitorial services, mistook the meaning of a teacher’s passing comment that the class of 2012 “ought to be sterilized.” – Iris
  • Celebrating the school’s first “flush toilet.” – Jeff
  • April 18, 2007, was a day of anger, rage and mayhem, when Sanjaya was voted off of American Idol. – Matt

Congrats to the three of you as well.  Great work.

Now, I present to you, the picture for this week’s contest.  Good luck.

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ALS Boy: The Movie

At long last, The Adventures of ALS Boy (the movie) comes to a computer screen near you.

A thousand thank you’s to my friend and filmmaker Alaa Al Dajani for providing my family with such a beautiful and incredible keepsake for us to treasure.  Also, thanks for uploading it online so we can share your brilliant vision with our appreciative audience of loyal readers.

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Working as a caregiver for ALS Boy Enterprises, LLC has quite a bit of down time.  Sure, mornings are seriously high volume — getting me out of bed, putting me on the toilet, transferring me to the shower chair, brushing my teeth, bringing me into the shower dirty and rolling me out clean, drying me off, dressing me (in socks and sandals, still), wheeling me out to the living room and plopping me in the recliner — but it’s usually over by 8:30 AM.

Once that first Boost gets funneled into my stomach and I get hooked up to the Eye Gaze, then begins the down time.  I still require suctioning (for excess saliva) every fifteen minutes or so and the occasional trip to the bathroom but for the most part, it’s fairly smooth sledding by and large.

Most of this non-focused-on-the-health-and-well-being-of-their-patient down time is spent watching sports or movies on television but it is not an uncommon thing to overhear the tell-tale sounds of fingers on smartphone.  Then there is a brief pause in activity, which is followed by an incoming message sound, which is then followed by another round of typing, more pausing, more typing and so on and so on.

Sometimes the texting gets so consuming and involving that the texter disappears from the living room and into the kitchen for upwards of thirty minutes at a time.

On one such occasion when the texter was busily texting away in the privacy of the kitchen for over an hour, I decided to help set the mood of their conversation by providing background music from my Eye Gaze machine.

I hopped on to Spotify — it’s just like Pandora but with the ability to search for and play specific songs and albums — and typed into the search engine a four letter word that starts with the first consonant after the fourth vowel in the alphabet and rhymes with peppercorn.

(The letter precedes Q, by the way.  But you knew that already).

To my absolute and uninhibited delight, up popped a seventy-five track compilation of two minute songs that easily could have been taken directly from those adult-oriented features alluded to in the paragraph above.

As ALS Boy transformed into DJ iGaze for the afternoon by playing tunes with titles like Make You Sweat and Mo Booty for the sole purpose of providing (in)appropriate music to text to, I can only speculate on whether or not my efforts were successful.  Or even noticed at all.

Bow chicka wow wow!!

FYI – I still have the entire playlist saved to a folder aptly entitled p***gruves2text2.  If you want to hear it, just come over and start texting in the kitchen.

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Greetings and salutations to all you Captains of the Caption out there and welcome back for another week of mischievous mayhem and cleverly-crafted calisthenics of the verbal variety in the form of our weekly Caption Contest.

Thanks to a late-week surge in entries, this week’s competition certainly heated up.

Though her parents insisted there were no wheelchairs in Medieval times (centaurs, breast tattoos and dead rabbit necklaces, yes, but wheelchairs, no), Erica managed to sneak into the family photo anyway. - Traci

Congrats to Traci for earning the title of Caption Contest Champion for the week.  Along with the bragging rights afforded to winning contestants for the next six to seven consecutive days, you have also earned quite an impressive prize package:  An original cast recording of Capuchino High School’s 1986 production of Grease on cassette tape, a special once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the directors cut of the seen-by-dozens film entitled Colma The Musical, and backstage passes to the next Band Camp performance.  Enjoy your well-earned stash of stuff, Tra!

Here are the runner-ups for the week:

  • Disappointed at how the blind date was going, Cindy left the Renaissance fair because she was feeling a little hoarse. – Patrick “Higgy” Higgins
  • Please tell me I’m adopted. – Julie
  • Woman:  “I know your personal ad said you were ‘Hung Like a Horse’, but this is ridiculous… ” – Sean B
  • His career sinking, Charlie Sheen agreed to star in the new WB series Three and a Douche Bags, about a Modesto family and their struggling Dungeons and Dragons Theme park. – Matt

Also, special consideration goes to Ross for the funniest entry that 90% of our readers didn’t get with his mention of the Aristocrats.  You’ve been awarded the prestigious Referencia Obscura Prize for your efforts.  Congratulations to you, Ross.

Thank you all for participating in the contest this time.  I really appreciate it.  Good luck this week!

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“if not now, then when?”

My friend and one-time ALS Boy documentarian Alaa posted this video on my Facebook page.

It’s about how entrepreneur Mick Ebeling and a team of collaborators built an open-source invention for an artist living with ALS which gave him the means to make art again.

Until this morning, I had never even heard of TED.com before.  I have a feeling that I’m going to be making a habit of going there.  Plus, unlike on Youtube, my Dynavox can actually handle playing the videos in an unchoppy manner from TED.

But the best thing to come out of this experience from my perspective was what I had to go through to put the actual piece on this blog.  The long and short of it is that today I wrote my first ever short code.

Hooray for me!!

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Hello my friends and welcome back to yet another edition of the most popular caption contest on this blog.  Thank you for making Calling All Captions a part of your online lives these first four weeks of its existence.  It only gets better from here so be sure to spread the word about what we’re doing here to folks who would enjoy it.  Thanks again.

Let’s check out the winning entry from last time.

"You have done well, my young apprentice. I shall call you Darth Sharpie. Now ... RISE!" - Sean B.

Congratulations on your victory, Sean B, from all of us in the wretched hive of scum and villainy at the Mos Eisley cantina.  Along with the bejeweled and bedazzled “captionship” crown, you have won a year’s worth of lodging at the swanky and luxurious Viking Apartments on D Street in Davis.  Also included in this spectacular prize package is the greatest hits disc of The Steve Miller Band as well as the complete series of Mr Belvedere on DVD.  Happy lodging, listening, and viewing, Sean!

A round of applause goes out to the following runner-ups:

  • Batman’s nemesis The Joker had an arch enemy even earlier in life called “The Doodler”. – bvd
  • Little Chrissy’s career as a tattoo artist ended as swiftly as it began. – Traci
  • But you said, “Kiss and makeup!” – Kevin Connell

I would also like to say thank you to everyone who submitted a caption but came up a little short of seeing your name on the list above.  It takes a lot of courage to even put something out there and I recognize and commend your efforts.  Props to you, too.

Now, enough of all this feel-good stuff, here’s the new picture for this week.  It’s not like you’re gonna need it this time around, but good luck all the same.  This photo is overflowing with potential captions!

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Free Parking

This photo was taken exactly seven years and seven days ago on my thirty-fifth birthday.

The reason for the semi-amused, semi-perturbed look on my semi-chunky face is because even though it is a little after 6:30 in the morning, someone has decided to park their car in the one space (of the roughly two dozen available in the lot) that I have parked in every day for the last three school years.

Funny, yes, annoying, hell yes.  And on my birthday, even!!

As I would come to find out later that day, the entire stunt was orchestrated by my boss and school principal, Dee Brummett, who witnessed my reaction to the unprecedented event of losing my beloved parking space from the relative safety behind a curtain-drawn window in her office.

Apparently Dee had borrowed her son’s car, arrived at o’dark thirty, parked the heap in “my” space, and hid out in her trailer awaiting my arrival.  (Recall at the time that the administration offices were in a portable due to campus-wide construction).

Although I didn’t realize it in the moment but I was forced to confront a serious issue of mine at the time.  Why was I so programmed to park in the same spot day after month after year when any other one would have sufficed?  If I couldn’t muster the intestinal fortitude to find a different space, what did that portend about the possibility of changing things in other areas of my life?

In retrospect I have learned — with a lot of help from those around me — to just let go of the seriously insignificant crap.  Stuff like getting to school early enough to make sure you get your favorite parking space or the order you put your shoes and socks on (left sock, left shoe followed by right sock, right shoe).

While I have by no stretch of the imagination mastered this vitally important life skill, I have made some serious strides in the right direction.  You will never again hear me lose my mind over a lost parking spot.

Granted, I no longer drive anymore, but still.

*Note to the curious:  The word WORD at the time was my personal catchphrase, hence its inclusion on the sign located on the rogue vehicle’s back end.

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