Archive for June, 2011


The only thing better than having Emma sit next to me on my recliner when we watch Beauty and the Beast or Tangled or Up together while she makes short work of an ice-cold grape popsicle is when she eats fluffy microwave popcorn from an ornately decorative San Francisco Giants souvenir cup from Opening Day of the 2011 season. Even though the BiPap mask is covering my mouth and nose, I can smell the salty popped kernel scent as clearly as I can hear her teeth crunching down on each and every morsel of the lightly salted snack food. And from her perch atop the recliner’s armrest, I can feel every ounce of her thirty-five pounds leaning up against me and it’s the best feeling in the world.


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Since we are currently smack dab in the middle of superhero season in the movie theaters (X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, and Thor) and in the news (Peter Parker was recently killed off in Marvel Comics’ Ultimate Spiderman latest issue), I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to share with you some of my newly acquired super powers of the past three weeks.

  • The (near) inability to balance myself while seated due to ever-weakening trunk muscles. This phenomenon is most noticeable while sitting on the toilet. Thank goodness there’s a wall on my left hand side in the bathroom.
  • Off the charts levels of regularity. Existing on a liquid diet means increased movements of the bowels. I have most definitely shed the label of One Dump Chump as of late.
  • A new and exciting way to save a little bit for later. Somehow, someway, I created a silver dollar pancake sized globule of phlegm and managed to get it stuck to the roof of my mouth. If you think that’s disgusting, you should have seen it when Fehmeen scraped that bad boy out.

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B & W

Many thanks to my cousin Nicole Hamilton for taking these amazing photographs. There are absolutely beautiful. Quit your day job now, kid*, because you’re going places.

*I am twenty days older than her.  🙂

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Everyone knows how much I love music. A close second on that list is my love for movies. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that whenever some rock band graces the silver (or flat) screen with even twenty seconds of their onstage act, the collision of these two elements from my pop culture radar is almost too much for the trivia nerd inside me to handle.

So I decided to write a post about it.

Here are the ground rules:  1. Bands must be fictitious entities. Real groups don’t count. 2. Bands must perform at least one time during the movie. There is no minimum amount of time needed to qualify. 3. The name of the group needs to be mentioned or seen (on a sign or on a bass drum) in order for it to be legal under the Law of Picetti.

Now that we’re clear on the parameters, here are some Celluloid Rock Stars — at least the ones that I could remember. Enjoy the show! And the post!

Adult Education from She’s Out of Your League.  Pittsburgh’s own Hall & Oates tribute band.  Just don’t call them a cover band.

Steel Dragon from Rock Star. Mega huge heavy metal band that Mark Wahlberg’s character joins as lead singer after fronting…

…Blood Pollution from Rock Star. Steel Dragon tribute band, who coincidentally also hail from Pittsburgh.

Uptown Girl from Step Brothers. The strictly eighties Billy Joel cover group who don’t take kindly to requests from outside their era of specialty.

Prestige Worldwide from Step Brothers. Will Ferrell’s and John C Reilly’s character’s singer and drummer duo that debuted at the effing Catalina Wine Mixer.  And don’t forget about their Boats n Hoes video either.

Spinal Tap from This Is Spinal Tap. With song titles like Big Bottom and Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight, Spinal Tap is the gold standard of fictitious rock bands. I could do an entire blog about the sheer awesomeness of this super group.

Stillwater from Almost Famous. More than a haven for groupies band aides, Stillwater is an amalgam of at least a half-dozen groups from the seventies. Hold me closer Tiny Dancer.

Alice Bowie from Up in Smoke. Who could ever forget the sight and sound of Cheech Marin singing the classic song Earache My Eye while dressed in a pink tutu? Not an impressionable version of me during the mid-eighties, that’s for sure!

Marvin Berry & The Starlighters from Back to the Future. Marty McFly introduced Johnny B Goode to an unsuspecting teenage populace at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance.

Otis Day and the Nights from Animal House. The moment Boone uttered “Otis, my man!” to an obviously perplexed lead singer onstage at the bar, we knew that they were a long way from Delta House on the Faber College campus.  Bonus points for recognizing legendary blues guitarist Robert Cray playing bass in the band.

Sex Bob-omb from Scott Pilgrim vs the World. The band at the epicenter of the greatest video game, kung fu, music movie hybrids of the last few years.

The Jerk Offs from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. The all-gay band with a straight bass player and a drum machine, The Jerk Offs seem to be perpetually searching for a new name — although they may have settled on one (Fistful of Assholes) late in the film.

Blues Hammer from Ghost World. You can literally see Steve Buscemi’s blood begin to boil when this group is announced as real delta bluesmen.

Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow from Get Him to the Greek. Usually, a little of Russell Brand goes a long way with me but this film is the exception. Every song is practically a comedic gem, especially The Clap and Furry Walls.

The Blues Brothers from The Blues Brothers. I played the soundtrack album so many times that the song She Caught the Katy sounds funny to me when the song in the movie doesn’t skip like my worn-out record does. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve seen this movie at least one hundred times.

Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate from Coming to America. I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.




Now that I’ve exhausted my list, I cordially invite you post any other ones in the comment section below.

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Writing on the Wall

Upon my confirmation of her as my Facebook friend about a week or so ago, I decided to take a look at her profile to see if her face was more recognizable to me than her name was.

After flipping through her photos for a few moments, I decided to check out her wall posts. I discovered that a mutual friend had written something referring to me and another classmate of ours.

To the best of my recollection, it said, “…you know about Tom A and Jason Picetti then…”

Her response was along the lines of, “I’m new to Facebook etc…”

She didn’t pick up on what our mutual friend was trying to communicate to her. And to be quite honest with you, I didn’t really understand what he was getting at, either.

I clicked on over to Tom A’s page to what was going on over there but after a few quick minutes of checking things out, I put my curiosity on hold and bailed for a different website.

Several days later, I noticed Tom’s name appearing on a different friend’s wall in my Top News feed on my homepage.

It was then that I discovered that Tom had spent the last five years with cancer and had only just a few days earlier passed away.

* * * * *

My condolences to Tom’s family for their loss.

* * * * *

Upon reading about his illness and passing, our sharing a place on someone’s wall post made complete sense to me now.

Of all the students in the Capuchino High School graduating Class of 1987, the two of us apparently had the most Wall-worthy backstories (courtesy of our diagnoses, I’m assuming).

It’s not the fact that I’m particularly private about having ALS — have you read the title of my blog? What it boils down to is that even though I’m extremely open about my life and what it has become these past three years, reading what it said on the wall that day was the first time (since the early days of my diagnosis) that I became acutely aware of my own mortality. Just to see with my own two eyes that classmates I haven’t thought about in over twenty years were aware of my circumstances just kind of freaked me out.

The feeling of dread I experienced that day subsided after several hours but the writing on the wall will linger with me for far longer.

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No Ukes (For Me)

A few weeks ago, Robin and Lindsey were talking about Eddie Vedder’s Ukulele Music while they gave my woefully underworked leg and arm muscles their weekly once-over.

They went on and on about the music so much that the first I did when I got home — after a quick visit to the toilet — was to get on the Eye Gaze and listen to it for myself.

My first stop was to Spotify. Spotify is a lot like Pandora except that you are able to search for and play specific songs — and even entire albums — by practically every recording artist in the world.

I typed Eddie Vedder’s name into the search box and there it was, Ukulele Music in its entirety. Switching from the keyboard screen to the desktop moves screen, I activated the left double mouse click button and blinked on the first track.

Nothing. Except for an error message telling me that these files are unavailable at this time.

To quote Vezzini from The Princess Bride, “Inconceivable!”

I tried again and got the same result.

Annoyed but otherwise undeterred, I maneuvered myself to NPR’s website because at one point during their conversation, Robin had mentioned that she had originally heard about the record on NPR’s airwaves.

It took about ten minutes of digging around but I was able to find not only an article about the album but they also had it set up so that you could give the whole record a listen.

Not needing to be asked twice, I clicked on the First Listen link and waited… Patiently, at first, for it to start playing… Then frantically, as I waited in vain for the volume of the music coming out of the speakers to lower to the level that I had commanded it to onscreen… And finally, desperately, as I was forced to close the window in order to turn off the completely unresponsive audio player.

At this point, I decided to temporarily abandon my ukulele dreams for a couple of days, and instead, went to Amazon and ordered it with a gift card I’d received for my birthday. Thanks, Beusch.

After three consecutive listens in a row upon receiving it in the mail Monday evening, I am not ashamed to admit that I really like this record. Being a huge fan of melody as an integral part of the art form, every one of the sixteen tracks delivers musical sweetness to my ears.

If you are in the market for something new to get into this summer, let me be just one of many who would be suggesting that you purchase Ukulele Music for yourself. You will not be disappointed.

* As I was writing this piece, I went to Spotify in order to get the actual wording of that error message, but a funny thing happened when I double left clicked the first tune, it actually played. Truth be told, I listened to the entire disc two more times while writing this post.

** I also discovered that the audio component on NPR’s  Eddie Vedder page had been removed.

Irony or conspiracy? Discuss.

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Spoke Too Soon

Once upon a lifetime ago, there was a man who could stave off a cold by sheer force of will. He had the ability to stop that little tickle from taking root in the base of his throat just by using his head to convince his body that it doesn’t have the time or the desire to deal with the inconvenience of being ill.

Well, apparently, that man has gone and lost his mojo.

These days, that very same man can’t even kick a simple cough and cold, even though he’s had it for almost a week and usually during that time frame it starts to subside just a little bit, but it wasn’t until four straight nights of little to no sleep that the tide began to turn in his favor because of the five superball sized globs of phlegm that Fehmeen had to fish out of the back of his throat using the suction machine when he lacked the ability to hock the snot out on his own.

And although each trip to the fishing hole causes him to drool incessantly and hack cacophonously for about five minutes following, it’s the only way for him to get any relief.

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I swear that my intentions were to change it from a weekly contest to a bi-weekly one but the fates intervened and conspired to keep its return under wraps for exactly one month.

Until now.

Welcome back to the little caption contest that could. Rather than waste everyone’s time with yet another filibuster, let’s just get to the winning caption.

1984. Big Brother wished he didn't have to watch. By Marty

Congrats to our second twice-decorated champion Marty on her much-deserved Double U. For your W(in), you’re taking home a lifetime supply of Turtle wax, five pounds of Swedish Fish, and unlimited rides on Stanford’s Marguerite Shuttle. Great work and enjoy.

Here are the runner-ups:

  • God of Love in the front, party in the back. That’s how Cupid rolls.  By Mick
  • Man, Old Spice commercials sure have changed over the years.  By Patrick “Higgy” Higgins
  • Mary Beth and Billy Bob posing for a prom photo at Ted Nugent High.  By JWoo

Props to you, gentlemen.

At long last, I present to you this week’s picture. Good luck.

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It felt as if I was resting most comfortably atop an infinite amount of fluffy cotton puffs. No aches or pains were registering on the radar. My breathing was audibly soundless and completely in control, which was a departure from the newly established status quo these past few nights since I’ve acquired this cold.

The only issue I was having was that I was now completely awake and consciously counting the sheep as they gently leapt from atop the night nurse’s quiet snores and out the window and into the darkness of the evening.

I was at a crossroads in my head and a decision had to be made. Do I remain in this perceived place of relative comfort and do my best to fall asleep again or do I put my faith in the notion that getting repositioned to my side would do the trick like it always does?

The instant I saw the numbers on our digital clock with both of my eyes, I knew I had chosen poorly. It was 3:23 AM.

Phlegm thickened saliva accumulating in my left cheek, grunt for suction, Bzzzzzzzzzz (sound of suction machine suctioning), coughing coughing, eyes closed to sleep, hack hack hack, cough cough COUGH COUGH, dislodged phlegm ball now at the base of my tongue, grunt grunt GRUNT for suction, Bzzzzzzzzzz Bzzzzzzzzzz, slithering phlegm escapes back down my throat due to involuntary swallowing reflex.

Eyes closed to sleep.

Hack hack cough cough grunt for suction

Rather than repeat this drama for the remainder of the evening, I was relocated to the recliner. Reunited with my trusty Giants wearable blanket, I finally drifted off to sleep (for about an hour) dreaming about outside food.

It was 4:20ish, of course.

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Just when all the technical difficulties got solved, leave it up to me catch a cold. Posts will have to wait until tomorrow to get written. Sorry. 😦

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