Considering that I am living with a terminal illness, I have decided to make a list of ten famous people who I would like to meet before the Great Delicatessen in the Sky calls my number. I am leaving it up to you, the esteemed readers of my ALS Boy blog — with your personal and/or friend-of-a-friend-type connections — to help me make the acquaintance of the talented folks who populate this list. Feel free to forward this url to anyone you know who could make this happen for me. I thank you in advance for your assistance.
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Please note that the order of the list is completely arbitrary and in no way, shape or form indicative of my personal preference. If you find yourself on this list, please know that you are numero uno in my heart regardless of your relative position below.
1. David Letterman I have been a fan of David Letterman’s shows since high school. I used to enjoy watching him make fun of his more prickly guests without them really knowing he was putting them down. Even more than that though I would love to see him be completely sweet and nice to guests like Teri Garr. I have even had the privilege of attending a pair of tapings at the Ed Sullivan Theater in NYC. Comedian Brett Butler and singer Al Green appeared the first time I visited and Samuel L Jackson was there the last time we were in town. It has been a perpetual dream of mine to be interviewed by Dave for the show and then have the opportunity to jam with the band when we were done chatting.
2. Tom Waits Mr Waits didn’t become my all-time favorite songwriter and recording artist until I saw the movie Smoke in 1996. Just one listen to the song entitled Innocent When You Dream (the tune that plays over Augie Wren’s Christmas Story montage at the end of the film) and my life and cd collection changed forevermore. I spent the next six months after viewing the film purchasing his entire back catalog and I waited with eager anticipation for each new release from the album Mule Variations onward. I whiffed on getting tickets for his show at the Paramount Theater in Oakland the only time that he performed live in the Bay Area but I did manage to first hear and then see him one afternoon at AT & T Park in San Francisco. The Giants had just finished playing the Pirates and as my parents and I were exiting through one of the stadium’s doors we heard Tom’s distinctive gravelly voice several feet away saying, “Hey, quit hitting me with that bat!” As my dad and I turned around to where his voice was coming from, we saw what we assume was Tom’s son playfully smacking his old man with one of the plastic souvenir bats that had been given away earlier in the day. Not quite as cool as seeing him play live but I’ll take it just the same. Also, congratulations to Tom on his recent election to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.
3. Larry David Larry David is on this list for a couple of reasons. First, I am a fan of his shows Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. They are that rare breed of television program that you can begin watching at any point during the thirty minutes that they are on and you will still be amused and entertained every time. Second, and most importantly, it would be one of the highlights of my life to bear witness to the meeting between Mr David and my dad. The two men share an overall curmudgeonly attitude as well as an almost preternatural knack for soliciting confrontation with everyone they encounter. While my dad is a good deal shorter, a few hairs balder, and infinitely less famous, this pair could easily have been separated at birth.
4. Nicolas Cage I believe the first time that someone told me I looked like Nicolas Cage was while waiting in line for a ride at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk when I was back in high school in the mid to late eighties. Even to this day, not a month goes by where somebody doesn’t tell me that I look like Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew. In terms of his performances in films over the years, I list Raising Arizona, Wild at Heart, Adaptation, and Kick Ass as movies that I rank in the pantheon of personal favorites of all time. And considering the fact that Mr Cage is a fellow comic book nerd, the conversation should flow quite nicely from his being my celebrity doppelganger to that of graphic novels we have loved throughout the years and what superpower would we want and why.
5. Scarlett Johansson I have enjoyed Ms Johansson’s career in the movies for almost a decade now. Amongst my favorites of her starring roles are the films Ghost World, Lost in Translation, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and In Good Company. While her body of work is both prolific and impressive, I am most smitten by the fact that she had the chutzpah and guts to record and release an entire album of Tom Waits cover songs. In addition to that disc, she also collaborated with Pete Yorn on a highly underrated recording of original tunes.
6. Kathy Griffin Even though I am most likely one of her only heterosexual male fans in the country, I secretly get all giddy inside whenever one of her shows magically appears on our DVR. Kathy Griffin loves to talk smack about major celebrities so much so that the overwhelming reason for meeting her in person is for me to have a front row seat for the ensuing conversation between Ms Griffin, Fehmeen, Farah and Alia (Fehmeen’s sisters), Maheen and Iqbal (Fehmeen’s parents), and Emma. Not only would that discussion be boisterous, obnoxious, and freaking hilarious beyond description, I can already imagine my mother-in-law Maheen asking Kathy repeatedly about what the hell a D-list is.
7. Erik Per Sullivan I was a big fan of the television program Malcolm in the Middle during its first few seasons but that is not the only reason why Mr Sullivan appears on this list. It was about halfway through my first year as a middle school math teacher when I happened upon this picture (to the left) in an Entertainment Weekly magazine. I removed the full-page Got Milk advertisement from the pages of the weekly periodical and thumb-tacked it to the wall of my classroom. Not two hours after it went up did one of my students say (in an intercepted note) that I was boring. I nearly exploded with rage. You can call me any name in the book but never accuse me of being boring. The very next day I placed a word balloon (like one you’d find in a comic book) to the right of the picture on my wall that had the following words written inside: Mr Picetti is NOT boring!! My students thought that the sight of the big-earred kid named Dewey from Malcolm in the Middle sporting a chocolate milk mustache saying their math teacher wasn’t boring was just about the funniest thing they had ever seen. In what was the single greatest decision of my teaching career, I put a new word balloon with a new humorous observation or one-liner up every day after that for the rest of the year. The Daily Dewey became the signature accoutrement of my classroom for the next seven years and aside from my brilliant teaching of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade math, it is the one thing that every single student I have ever taught remembers to this day.
8. Regina Spektor Although I arrived rather late to the Regina Spektor party, I have emphatically made up for lost time. Upon receiving her 2009 album Far as a gift from my acupuncturist for my birthday in April 2010, I must have listened to that disc every day on my faux-leather recliner with my headphones on for three months straight. I then went and purchased her 2006 Begin to Hope album. That disc also spent three consecutive months in my ears. Of the twenty-five tracks on those two records, each song is like an audible work of art or a painting come to life or an exotic blend of lyrics and music distilled to perfection and simmered over low heat. There is that dizzying solo section in Two Birds, that swimming under water feeling in the chorus of Genius Next Door, the alternating lyrical whimsy and wisdom of On the Radio, and even the sound of the keys being pressed and released on the saxophone that is playing at the end of Lady that I look forward to hearing every time I give those tunes a listen. While individually these songs are incredible achievements in the areas of performance and songwriting, collectively there exists an overarching standard in regards to production and attention to detail that is above and beyond anything I have ever heard before. The result of this flawless marriage between artistry and aesthetics inspires and challenges me to demand more of myself as a creative thinker and a writer.
9. My Future Book Publisher
Popular school teacher with a baby on the way gets diagnosed with a terminal disease and writes an inspirational blog under the name of ALS Boy. Everyone around here knows the story, and now, with your guidance and expertise, we can bring this occasionally heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, and always heartwarming tale of my life (so far) to a worldwide book-buying audience. I’ve got several chapters already completed, as well as an entire, detailed outline. You can contact me through Facebook, via e-mail (email@example.com), or by posting a comment below.
10. Willie Nelson I have always had an inexplicable affinity for the music of Willie Nelson. Sure, my dad used to play his records for me all the time when I was growing up, but my love for Willie’s songs seemed to run deeper than through my ears and into my brain. It almost felt as if I was connected to the music on a cellular level. And although it wasn’t necessarily one of those burning questions as to why that was, it has always bugged me a little. Then I discovered the answer. Apparently, at some point in time several months before my birth, my mom attended a Willie Nelson show with my dad while she was pregnant with me. While I can’t say I remember any details from that particular performance, I do know with one hundred percent certainty that I was imbued that fateful night with the indomitable spirit of Willie’s music. I also think it would be cool to lament the loss of California’s Prop 19 while eating lots of outside food with him.
11-14. The Wiggles I realize that this list was only supposed to go to ten but what kind of father would I be if I didn’t include something for Emma. My daughter has been a fan of The Wiggles since the moment she could see and hear. Together as a family, we have listened to their music and watched their dvd’s so many times that we all know every single word to each and every song by heart. And speaking only for Emma and myself, we absolutely love it.
Major props for making it all the way to the end of my list. I have been drafting it for a very long time and I can’t believe that it is finally going to be published. It seemed like only yesterday when my friend Robin helped me type the introduction and we accidentally hit a key and the entire paragraph went irreparably into italics. She offered to retype it but its inclusion adds a little character to the post.
I appreciate your reading my blog and putting it out there for me. Thank you.
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