Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

Most evenings, from about 8 o’clock onward, the time I spend on the recliner with the Bi-Pap tethered to my face is a complete mystery to me as to how the television program I catch the beginning of actually ends.

I know that was an awkwardly constructed sentence. My bad.

Basically, I usually fall asleep midway through whatever it is we’re watching.

But that was not the case last night.

Sort of.

Once Emma headed off to dreamland, Fehmeen grabbed the Comcast remote from the coffee table and pressed the My DVR button so we could begin to make a dent in our backlogged show queue.

My wife pressed play on the latest episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey and away we went…

…to join our sleeping daughter in dreamland.

I sacked out almost immediately after the opening credits were done. I even missed out on watching the replay of Teresa’s inebriated hubby, Joe Giudice, chipping a tooth by bouncing his face off the floor of his foyer.

All I knew is that I woke up during a commercial.

Which was weird because typically Fehmeen fast-forwards right past any advertisements that happen to appear on our 42″ Mitsubishi flat screen.

One quarter turn of my head to the right and I saw that my matrimonial partner had fallen asleep as well. Aww, how cute, was my initial thought.

Groggily, I refocused my attention on the television and this is what I think I saw:

It was an ad for some kind of supplement, like a fish oil or an omega 3, created by the fine folks at Chia.

Yes, that Chia.

Ch Ch Ch Chia.

Apparently, the same stuff that grows on the ceramic cats, dogs, and even Mr T’s and Obama’s has nutritional value and/or is good for you.

Go figure!

The next thing you know they’ll be selling us that Sea Monkeys are high in fiber, that ShamWows make excellent diapers, and that if you wear a Snuggy backwards, it’s almost the same as a robe.

Please someone tell me they’ve seen this commercial and that I wasn’t hallucinating the whole thing.


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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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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.
*     *     *     *     *     *    *    *    *    *    *
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 (jasonp110@yahoo.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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Random Miscellany

Have you noticed an uptick in the number of people wearing jean jackets these days?  Could it be that the beloved Canadian Tuxedo is primed for a comeback?  I would appreciate any commentary regarding this phenomenon from all of our fashionista readers out there.

Just in case you were wondering, this is a Canadian Tuxedo over here to the right.  Any comments from our neighbors to the north (including members of my extended family) would be welcomed.

I am downright giddy with anticip…pation about this evening’s upcoming Rocky Horror-centric episode of Glee.  Growing up in the eighties, I was really into the RHPS and I have been to over thirty-five midnight showings of the film.  I hope that they do Sweet Transvestite and Rose Tint My World tonight because those are two of my favorite songs from the show.

Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law Alia today!  Have a good day Pea-Hag.

How friggin’ awesome is it that the Giants are in the World Series this year?  For the sake of my friend Mike Beusch’s health and sanity, I hope they win.

Beginning this Thursday and continuing every Thursday into the foreseeable future, I will be attending a movie with my new caregiver Juan at the theater in downtown Redwood City.  This is an open invitation to any of you local or visiting folks to join us for an afternoon at the cinema.  I will post the movie and showtime by 10 a.m. Thursday morning in the area to the right just below the photo at the top of this page.  The last sentence is not applicable to my Psychology Today readers.  Sorry.

And finally, have any of you seen the latest campaign commercial for California governor?  It is the most effective political ad that I think I have ever seen.  While I am not exactly thrilled with either candidate, I am looking forward to seeing the return volley.

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Now that the new Fall television season is upon us, our DVR is preparing for an onslaught of series recordings to begin occupying space on its hard drive.  Here is the comprehensive list of shows that we love to watch at our convenience without commercial interruption:

The Office – This show really fires on all cylinders when the producers involve the entire cast and not just the principal players.  A perennial go-to favorite regardless.

Weeds – We’ve been absolutely loving this new season.  But that’s what we say every year.

Parenthood – This one is more in Fehmeen’s wheelhouse than it is in mine.  I pay attention occasionally when it gets good.  Keyword occasionally.

Eastbound & Down – Only four more days until the premiere on Sunday! Kenny Powers rules!

Real Housewives of DC – Technically this is a holdover from the summer but I can never get enough Bravo-style reality show drama.

Boardwalk Empire – I’m not quite sold on this one yet.  I still remember all the hype about John from Cincinnati.

Bored to Death – This little gem also returns for a second season on HBO this Sunday as well.  Best show on television imho.

Now that I’ve shown you mine, I would love to see yours — DVR record list, that is.

Seriously, post your list.  Please.

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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.

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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.

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I am,  and have always been,  a fairly easy-going guy.   I do my best not to force-feed my personal popular culture values and tastes down anybody’s throat (unless I am absolutely 110% certain that they will love it).   I may use my abilities as a writer to get my readers intrigued enough about some product to at least give it a cursory shot but that’s about as far as I go.

But that subtle and delicate approach ends right here with this following blue-chip endorsement and recommendation:

You MUST watch Freaks and Geeks on IFC!!!

The popular cable channel is currently replaying television’s most amazing show every Friday evening at 8:00 pm (with repeated viewings during the week).   They have only played the first two episodes so far so it is not too late to jump aboard.

Besides having resonating storylines and a kick-ass soundtrack,  Freaks and Geeks boasts an incredible cast of future A-list superstars.   Check out the wiki page, I’ll wait right here for you.

Not to get too dramatic here but you owe it to yourselves to get into this awesome series.   I’ll say you’re welcome in advance.

Thank you to Traci for getting me involved.

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Listen!  Do you hear that harmonious and soothing absence of noise?   How about that complete and utter lack of droning plastic horn racket buzzing through the speakers of our nation’s flat screens and into our collective consciousness? Isn’t it pleasant?

Now that the cultural coming-out party of the dreaded vuvuzela is finally over, we can all get some much needed peace and quiet, at least until some pimply-faced marketing MBA with Major League Baseball gets the notion that what the 2010 All Star Game needs is Thunder Sticks 2.0.

It is taking place in Anaheim, you know.

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“How you doin?”

If that phrase is unfamiliar to you — and I’m not talking with a Joey Tribiani from Friends accent — then perhaps you need to start watching The Wendy Williams Show on BET.   If you’ve seen it,  you already know what I am talking about.   If you are living in a Wendy-less universe,  let me try to explain just exactly what you are missing.

The Wendy Williams Show is the ultimate in train-wreck television.  She has these pink notecards that are a high-lighted hot mess.   She liberally reads off them during the show and the conclusions she comes to defy all rules of logic and reason.   Fehmeen and I regularly exchange confused glances at thirty second intervals.   And then comes the interviews.   To say that she has the slightest clue as to how to conduct one would be stretching the truth like so much taffy.   To call her style non-sequitor would be giving her too much credit.

Now before you set your DVR to Record Series I must strongly caution against that hasty an action.   I would advise should you enter this fascinating world — and I wholeheartedly endorse such an entrance — that you do so gradually.   We recommend no more than five minutes per viewing at first.   Once you begin to feel comfortable then bump up your time to an entire segment,  but no more than that.   Trust me on this.

If you are secure with your place in our society,  you owe it to the group as a whole to watch The Wendy Williams Show for no other reason but to keep it on the air for more to discover and for all to enjoy.

Another Me, Myself,  and Eye Production

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