Turn to 19!

During this whole "collapse" by the Cardinals, people have been asking me "Al, how do you even get out of bed anymore?"

Honestly, quite easily.

1) I found some methadone in the trash can outside of my apartment last Wednesday, so I really haven't "slept" in a week or so now.

2) When I do sleep, I watch this while I'm in the shower (yes, I shower with my laptop) and remember that I do have a friend:

And it's name is WHOI, Channel 19.

PS. That Seavers cameo at the end is sheer magic.


WEED FOR FOOD! (Goodbye, Wendy's)

When I was 18, I pretty much had the world figured out. Well, not the “world” per se, but I did have “how to get free food from Wendy’s” figured out.

Plentiful were the nights were I would cruise home from whatever party I was at -- riding dirty in my baby blue ‘93 Le Baron, stinking like Mickey’s Malt Liquor and that flavor of smoke which only comes from running through a pack of Newport Ices -- and do a quick stop by the neighborhood Wendy’s. A pair of Jr Bacon Cheeseburgers and some Chicken Nuggets always polished the night off right.

One night, I got home and realized that they had screwed up my order. I probably got a Jr Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe instead of a normal one, I was pretty messed up at the time and I really can’t remember exactly what it was that they got wrong. Anyway...

In my drunken, confused state I skipped what was my normal inebriated bedtime routine of playing NBA Live 96 on my Sega (I had a custom made team of the guys from my high school squad. We were unbeatable) and passing out in my recliner; flaccid penis in one hand, Sega controller in the other. Instead, I picked up the phone and called Wendy’s, explaining that they had "given me the wrong order or something.” When they asked why I couldn’t just come back and pick up the right order, all I could really come up with was “That’s not going to work... I’m pretty fucked up right now.”

In order to remedy the situation, they said that the next time I went up there, my meal would be on the house. They took down my name and put it in “the red book” in order for them to have proof that I was in fact in need of compensation (compensation being Chicken Nuggets, perhaps for the first time in history) and not just some random jerkass that was demanding free food.

The next time I made my intoxicated pilgrimage to that specific Wendy’s, I mentioned that I would not be paying for my meal, as my name was in “the red book.” The asked no questions, not even “what is your name” and gave the food over to me without a problem. “Odd,” I thought, “you’d think they’d at least ask me for my name. Perhaps this is on the honor system? Too bad for them I lost my honor three years ago in a snow mobile accident.”

And I began to abuse “the red book” system again and again, getting free food out of it for at least three nights a week for almost a year. Amazingly, and I have no idea how, I went from weighing 160 lbs to 190 lbs in those months. Must be the genes.

This whole thing only springs back into my mind now because while I was perusing the cyber-papers this morning, I noticed that my ol’ neighborhood Wendy’s has shut their doors for good, having gone bankrupt (perhaps others knew of this “red book," too?) (And yes, I realize I’m from such a ridiculously self centered small town that “Area Wendy’s Closes” is labeled as “News.” Just keeping up with our slogan: “Peoria, IL: Weirdest Town Ever”)

I never went back to that Wendy’s after the summer of 1999, and I would like to say it was because I had gained an ounce of dignity and I didn’t want to show my face at the restaurant where I officially laid my claim as a low level con man, but that’s not the case.

The real reason is that in May of 1999, some friends and I were on our way home from a party and were all starving. We quickly surveyed the situation and realized we were all sans funds of monetary concern. What we did have, however, was a plastic bag which used to be filled with some sort of dried plant that I guess kids in the 60’s used to smoke (I’ll have to remember to ask my parents what that’s called again) but now only held the seeds and sticks of said plant (“weed?” Is that right?)

Figuring that the type of people who work at a fast food joint at 2 in the morning probably smoke this “weed,” we proceeded to Wendy’s in order to feed our booze filled bellies and fulfill our hunger.

We pulled up to the drive thru and stated our rather massive order. When they told us how much our order would cost, I replied “No, were going to try to barter this one out.”

From the speaker shot back a rather defensive “Excuse me?”

“I believe we’ll be paying for this with a little twenty-twen-twen,” I replied.

After a few awkward seconds of silence the speaker spoke again. “What?” it asked.

“WE WANT TO TRADE YOU WEED FOR FOOD!” My buddy Damon shouted from the back seat of the Baron. “WEED FOR FOOD!”

“Please pull ahead,” the man working the mic said without a seconds pause.

As we pulled up, a dude started hanging out of the drive thru window, motioning for us to pull into one of the parking spots. We complied. A different guy came out and said with a chuckle “ya’ll boys want to trade weed for food?”

“Yes. Yes we do.”

“How much ya got?”

“About a tenth,” one of my buddies said, holding up a bag which may have weighed a tenth of an ounce, but it was purely sticks and seeds.

“Alright… we’re gettin’ ready to close up shop anyways, so why don’t I just give ya’ll everything we got sitting under the heat lamps?”

“You got yourself a deal.”

A few minutes later, he came out with a cornucopia of greasy burgers, chicken nuggets, and frenched fries. We handed him the bag of pot stuff and were off. With food, minus weed, and happy.

And that is why I never went back to that particular Wendy’s. Because I didn’t want to get beat up for trading a bag of pot sticks and seeds for a bunch of old, soggy fast food items. Looking back, I’m pretty sure that exchange had no clear winners, only losers. But it had been done.

So with that, I bid you adieu, Wendy’s at 3129 N. University St. in Peoria, Il. With your eye for details, keen business savvy, and sharp bartering employees, I have no idea how you could have been run out of business. But you shall be missed.

(And yes, I just wrote a 1,000 word tribute to the Wendy’s in my old neighborhood. The fact that I ever get laid is mind boggling.)

[have a great weekend, kids. don’t abuse the red book. unless it’s jason marquis. then please, abuse away. and I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.]



Oh, Albert... You're Alright in My Book

Can a team that has gone through two separate eight game losing streaks and one seven game slide actually make the playoffs? Maybe... But only in this year's craptastic National League.

Can they make some noise once the get in? No.

But Pujols can.

It's not that unimaginable really, is it? Is there anything El Hombre can't do? He can win a World Series by himself, right?

Fuck it, Tony; put him into the rotation, too. Let's see what the kids got. If you don’t think he would throw a no-hitter, you're only fooling yourself.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2006 National League MVP: Albert Pujols.

[This is where I should probably confess to missing Albert’s home run last night. I was hurrying between the kitchen and the living room last night with two piping hot bowls of bread soup (bread soup? You ask. Yes, bread soup. It’s surprisingly delicious, thank you very much. In fact, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. I could really go for an Italian sandwich right now. Fuck… is Quizno’s open at 4:45am? They should be.) and heard the crack of the bat while I was walking through the dining room. By the time I got to the TV (which is all of seven feet away from where I was), the ball was already rattling around in the upper deck. Damn you, dinner. I’ll get you back for this… someday.]

Kudos Bars are also being given out to Scott Rolen for beating his recent case of SARS, Anthony Reyes for somehow sweating through his hat on a 65 degree night, and Ronnie Belliard for just being Ronnie Belliard (he's hilarious!)

Also, hooray for Adam Wainwright! The Bulge gets into his first real save situation of the year and K's two with that nastier than Janet Jackson deuce of his. Sure that double was pure Isringhausen, but Cardinals arch nemesis Dave Roberts grounding out to end the most important game of the year was a nice touch.

So the magic number now sits at 4, having moved for the first time in half a fortnight, and if everything lines up correctly, those tickets I have for Saturday's game against the Brewers could very well help me see a division clincher. I've never seen an important game in person -- sure, I've been at a few games that a few people remember (Reggie’s grand slam last year, Eckstein’s walk off suicide squeeze, a couple of Will Clark moments in 2000) -- but no perfect games or clinchers or anything like that.

The most memorable game I have seen in person would probably be Rick Ankeil's meltdown in the 2000 NLDS. I don't want that to be my most rememberable (?) game any more. I want to be there for a clincher.

I want to spill beer all over people around me in celebration, instead of in a sick combination of lust and jerkassishness like I normally do.

That's all I really want.

Well, that and an Italian sandwich, of course. From Quizno’s.




Sorry Otis!

Today, I offer a formal apology to Otis Nixon for not being named to the All Coke Head Team.

I have already sent Paul Molitor a strip-o-gram in lieu of his absence.

And if Dave Parker's thinking he'll get an apology, well forget it!

(He knows what he did.)

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Ah, Fuck It

The Cardinals suck, but we've known that since June.

So, to take our minds off of that, why don't we all just take some 'ludes, turn the speakers all the way up to 11 and watch the greatest music video ever made?

"We don't have the power but we never say never." What the fuck is that supposed to mean?



More Monday Readin'

I love baseball, I think cocaine is funny... Why not somehow combine the two?

Well, I guess I could...

Presenting The Phat Phree's MLB All-Coke Head Team

[sorry for all of the non-FYC related reading today. it's not like you planned on being productive any which way.]

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Saturdays, On The Couch...

... I wish it was the 23rd of September...



The 2006 St Louis Cardinals: A Sinking Ship?*

[The dreaded and rare weekend post, Al? Well, yeah, it’s a long night in the office and that damn gerbil in my head won’t stop running on that tiny little wheel, so I’m just going to throw something out there for the internets.]

Cardinals and sports fans, we are in the midst of a collapse of epic proportions. Dogs and cats are living in sin, somebody just screamed something about Leonard Bernstein, and Kevin Costner is delivering mail to Tom Petty. It’s the end of the world as we know it, alright.

The Cardinals are not going to win their division anymore.

They’re still in first place, but are without their closer and are missing a big bat due to injury. Heck, they’ve got a rookie closing games. This will not end well.

Take a look at what the Cardinals have done since September the 8th, squandering what once was a nice, cushy lead in the division down to 5 ½ games with nine left to play:

9/8 L, 2- 4
9/9 L, 5- 6
9/10 L, 5-10
9/11 L, 1- 6
9/13 W, 6- 4
9/14 L, 9-10
9/15 L, 5- 7
9/16 W, 2- 1
9/17 L, 0- 5
9/18 W, 2- 1
9/19 L, 5- 7
9/20 W, 7- 6
9/21 L, 0- 8
9/22 L, 1- 4

That’s a total Record of 4-10 with 50 runs scored and 79 runs allowed.

Except, that’s not the Cardinals record: That’s the Chicago White Sox’s record from September 8th to Sep 22nd in 2005. By that point in time, the Cleveland Indians had reduced the White Sox’s division lead from 15 games to 1 ½.

And then they went out and won the fucking World Series.

All without their old closer, without that big bat in the lineup, and with a rookie playing a vital role in the bullpen. Sounds familiar, right? Like exactly what the Cardinals are going through?

There wasn’t a dramatic change in personnel or game calling, either. Things just started clicking and the next thing they knew, they were running on all cylinders. And they won the World Series.

So what have the Cardinals done in that same time span? Just a little bit better than the Sox did really: 5-8, with 67 runs scored and 59 runs allowed. But there are still nine games to play and with a 5 ½ game lead, it’s not guaranteed that the Cards make the playoffs, but it will take a collapse of epic proportions from here on out for the Cardinals not to make it.

And I’m not saying the Cards are going to win the World Series even if they do make it. They won’t. They’re just not that good of a team. But every year, on the second to last weekend of the baseball season, one of the divisional leaders starts to slip just a bit and all of a sudden, the over reactionaries of their fan base start glooming and dooming about how they’re the next 1964 Phillies. Last year it was the White Sox. This year, apparently, it’s the Cardinals.

So sit back and enjoy the ride, Cards fans, because it’s going to take a monumental stumble from first for the Redbirds not to make the postseason.

A collapse that neither fan nor foe of the franchise will ever forget.

Unlike what will happen when the Cardinals do make the playoffs and get swept by the Mets in the NLDS.

Nobody is going to remember that.

[of course, if the cards could go ahead and finish out the season playing ball at a .800 clip like the ’05 White Sox did, that would be great, too. either way, keep on having that grand weekend, kids.]

*God bless Shea Hillenbrand!




"If you don't tell me who put my calculater in jello than I'm going to lose it!"

I'm too busy trying to wrap my head around the hilarity of last night's "Office" (God, I'm glad to have Thursday nights back -- it's like a piece of my soul has been missing over the summer) and wondering why Franz Ferdinand won't just cover Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" and get it over with to come up with anything remotely engaging, so I'm just going to send you over to Eric Filipkowski's amazing piece of literature "The Blood of Democracy..." [which made me yell rather loudly "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!" and do a backwards chair lean ("mmmm...slanty") after I was done reading it] at The Phat Phree and be done with you for the week.

(Wow. That was yet another unbelievably long run-on sentence. I'm really on a fucking roll with these this week. Like butter. Or sperm. On a roll.)

[have another great weekend, kids. go irish and go cardinals. and if the cards get swept by the astros, you will not here from me for a while, because i will be institutionalized after drinking a bottle of makers mark and urinating all over a rack of cartoon themed trapper keepers in isle twelve of our local office depot. i fucking hate garfield.]



Boxen. I bought 2 boxen of doughnuts.

I was doing my daily morning virtual-newspaper reading (another productive day at the office!) and I stumbled across a little interview in my hometown rag with comedian extraordinaire Brian Regan. Apparently, he's doing a show this Sunday in Peoria.

I wont be able to make it -- even if I was in P-Town this weekend, I would probably be busy nursing a wicked hangover after drinking canned domestics and talking about Tom Skerritt's rugged good looks Saturday night at my grade school's yearly Fall Festival (We are the TIGERS!) -- but I encourage anyone who lives in a town that he (Regan, not that handsome bastard Tom Skerritt) is stopping through to check him out (St Louis' show sold out pretty fast, luckily I caught him when he came into town a year or so back and got my fix o' funny).

(Also, congratulations. You just read the longest run-on sentence ever.)

You shant be disappointed.

Amazingly, the man has been making me laugh consistently for fifteen years now. And with Mitch tragically no longer with us, I think he's the strongest comic who still regularly tours.

You're problem!



Cocktails & Dreams

Over the last two or three weeks, I’ve noticed something different with the Cardinals. Nobody is really playing any differently then they were earlier in the summer; but they’re finally playing as a team, as if they actually enjoyed playing together.

Guys have been wearing the striped high socks. Everybody is chewing tobacco now. They’re laughing. After Ronnie Belliard went yard in the top of the second yesterday, Albert Pujols and he did one of the more elaborate hand shake -> Hug combos I have ever seen. All of a sudden, we’re two or three playoff beards away from this ball club leading the league in “Good Vibes.”

These guys look like they’re having fun. For the first time since early May, they look like they’re enjoying playing baseball. It’s nice to see.

Last night, listening to Shannon and Rooney call the Cards - Brewers game, I dozed off around the sixth inning with the Cards up 4 to 2.

I had a dream. I dreamt that the Cardinals won the World Series. Actually the dream was of me watching a highlight film of the Cards October run of 2006.

They beat the Dodgers in the NLDS behind two shutdown starts by Chris Carpenter and one walk off homer by El Hombre.

Down three games to one in the NLCS to the Mets, the Redbirds took it to seven games after a dramatic pinch-hit, walk off homer by a semi-concussed Jim Edmonds in game five, and a great start by Jeff Suppan in game six. Game seven was won by (who else) Carp and Pujols.

The Minnesota Twins awaited the Cards in the World Series. My premonition gets a little fuzzy here, but I remember a dramatic Chris Duncan homerun and Adam Wainwright striking out the final batter to win it all.

And the whole highlight reel was synched up with ELO’s “Showdown.” It was awesome.

I liked that dream.

Meanwhile, back in reality, I have to wonder if the Cardinals can possibly succeed with 2 ½ starting pitchers, two concussed former all-stars, no real closer, a rookie left fielder who has no idea how to play in the outfield, and a bunch of guys who have been designated for assignment by other teams? Logically, I don’t see how in the world this team can make it past the NLDS.






Ugly Babynappers

Now, I'm not the type of guy to make light of stealing a baby (actually, you know what... I'm exactly the type of guy to make light of a stealing a baby -- and I'd like to think that over these last two+ years I have proven to you that I'm not above making fun of it, either) but now that they have released the sketch of the babynapper, can we start calling this whole incident "The Case Where The Ugliest Person Alive Finally Snapped And Stole A Damn Baby?" Please?

"Okay officers, she had Peter Gallagher's eyebrows, big brown eyes (one of which is kind of lazy), a spaniard style moustache, Steve Perry's hair, a man chin, and one of the stupidest hats I have ever saw. That is to say, seen. Now go get her!"



Monday Afternoon Readin'

Man, Notre Dame looked bad on Saturday. That was painful to watch.

Public Service Announcement: Also, if you are a parent and want to take a Sunday trip out to the wineries, leave your fucking obnoxious offspring at home. All they're going to do is ruin the atmosphere for everyone else there, asshole.

more later...



An Ode to the Greatest Thing Since Birth Control

When I was a young pup, I had a strange fascination with encyclopedias. But I absolutely hated school. “Why would I want to learn how to write in cursive?” I would say. “I want to learn about bubble gum and what a golf ball is made of!” So after school, I’d come home and hit the family encyclopedia; learning about bubble gum and golf balls and neglecting my handwriting assignments (like my Uncle always said, “cursive is for fags”).

I also saw my first vagina in an encyclopedia. Of course, the encyclopedia had been published in the early-70s, so the vagina was all hairy and unkempt, but hey, when you’re 11 years old a vagina is a vagina, even if it reminds you of Bob Ross. I was hooked (to the encyclopedias).

(And to vaginas.)

(And to Bob Ross.)

When wikipedia first hit the Internets, I was intrigued. I liked the concept, but it wasn’t quite delivering the goods. Then it grew. And grew. Then, surprisingly, it shrunk a little bit. But then it greeeeew.

And now it is what it is: A spectacular time wasting juggernaut. Perhaps it doesn’t quite have the procrastabilities (?) of YouTube, but it does look a lot better when you get caught reading and learning and looking all smart and shit; instead of say, your boss walking in while you’re watching this.

A few months ago, I went through wiki and read recaps of every episode of The Simpsons. No, it wasn’t “productive” or “efficient” or “socially normal” time spent, but I got to read the line “An alligator with sunglasses? Now I've seen everything!” and it made me laugh. So there.

One night last week, I learned all about jazz hands and Scientology and spent the whole night going back and forth between laughing and, well, laughing.

Last night, as I was gazing through a recap of Big Van Vader’s life, it struck me: This is the single greatest thing ever made.

Saying nothing of the fact that it is essentially one giant, harmonious, mob driven, communicative monster; its greatness is in its vastness. Whatever the hell you want to know is there. In fact, I just clicked the “random” button and learned about Lionel Tennyson, 3rd Baron Tennyson. I bet you don’t know shit about Lionel Tennyson, 3rd Baron Tennyson. Well, you can if you want to.

So I urge you all to spend your Friday afternoon time wasting at the finest place on the Internets: Wikipedia. Check out the random button. You’ll be glad you did.

Or just go get high and chase squirrels in the park. Actually, that sounds better.

See you there!

[have a tremendous weekend everybody. try to make out with a dominican if you can. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.]




Three things have been bothering me for quite some time, and I could probably find out the answers to all three of them on wikipedia in about five minutes, but instead I like to ponder them as if they're unanswerable Ray Mysterios of the universe:

1) How do people in China use a computer? What do their keyboards look like?

2) Can blind people type? On a typewriter?

3) Do people who were born deaf have an inner monologue? What does it sound like?

Sorry, I just needed to throw those out there...



Quick Thoughts: Cold Baseball

When I walked out to my car this evening, there was something noticeable in the air. Familiar, too. I know I had smelled it before… what was it? It wasn’t the smell of yeast and onion rolls I would waft when Anheuser Busch would be cooking up a fresh batch of lager down in my old ‘hood. But it was close to that. It was… it was…


It’s in the air, kids… Playoffs are in the air! If you are planning on heading down to Busch for some cold baseball this October, you need to get your virtual ass over there and register by Sunday evening. And if you want to actually see a game, you should probably opt for the NLDS tix, ‘cause this Cardinals team isn’t exactly “good” and I’m not about to guarantee a NLCS berth.

But 9th inning rallies give me optimism, and last night Albert Pujols reminded me that he can single handedly win however many fucking games as he wants. It helps if Brad Lidge is pitching, of course.

But get into the playoffs and hope for the best... that's the gameplan. It’s good to know that the Cards are 7-0 this season against the Dodgers, but right now, who the hell knows who they are going to get in the first round?

But all they gotta do is throw Chris Carpenter out there for two starts, hope to get a win out of Jeff Suppan and move on to the NLCS.

Once there, throw Carp for three starts and hope to get another win out of Soup (this is the adage being thrown around on Viva El Birdos as “Carp and Soup… The rest are poop”) and move onto the World Series. Hey, crazier things have happened, right? Like John Mark Karr.


I seriously feel bad for Lidge. As much as I hate the Astros, I can’t help but feel sorry for him. Albert Pujols has literally destroyed the man’s career.

If he goes all Donny Moore on us, I think El Hombre owes somebody an apology.


If KTRS would simply give Mike Shannon a bottle of scotch and three hours of air time, would anyone not tune in? I’m no super genius (or are I?), but I’d be willing to bet that 100 percent of the St Louis area would listen “Mike Shannon’s Ridiculous Drunken Ramblings.”


Since the Cardinals finally have a guy named Wilson on the team, is it too much to ask for the PA guys to conjure up a little Matty Mo magic and play some Phish? Like, preferably the song “Wilson.” I’m not saying P-Dub has to get totally into Phish dorkdom and call himself the “Duke of Lizards” or anything… I just remember hearing 15,000 people all yell “WILLLLLSONNN!!!” in unison knocking my proverbial socks off as a stoned 18 year old, so why wouldn’t it tickle my fancy to hear 42,000 people do the same as a drunk 26 year old?

Get on the ball, Busch Stadium sound guys. Get on the ball and make this happen.


Again, I’m not saying the Cards are “good” or anything, but I can’t help but to get excited about cold baseball. Scotty Ballgame getting all sorts of fired up for the first time in his career… Braden Looper doing a good job… Albert Pujols trying for the rare “unnecessary walk off inside the park home run”… a bunch of grown men jumping around like five year olds hopped up on Jolt Cola (watch the vid of Pujols' game winner, it's tremendous boner inducing) … and it’s official: The Cardinals have sucked me back in for yet another heart attack inducing October.


Text messages I received in a five minute span last night:

Mozzy: “I wonder if lidge is shitting himself yet cause he has to close a game.”
Cathy: “Fuck yeah! Fuck Lidge!”
Krimil: “I love him” (“him” being either El Hombre or Dave Coulier, I’m not sure which.)
Mozzy: “Morning’s headline: ‘Professional Baseball Player Shoots Himself in Face.’”

Yep, the kids are getting ready… October is coming up fast.


Speaking of my jerkass friends, we’re all planning on making some homemade Cardinals Tee’s for the playoffs (and by “we” I mean my super crafty friend Erin.) Suggested tee’s so far:

"Do it Dunc!"
"Put in Wainwright's bulge!"
"Taguchi-san is number one!"
"Get 'em next time, Miles"
"Chris Duncan Eats Babies"
"Joe Pettini Would Like More of Your Whiskey, Please"
"Ronnie Belliard for Pope!"
"I Can't Believe the Cardinals Are In The Playoffs Considering They Sucked So Bad This Year"
"Adam Wainwright Can Bull My Pen Anyday"

You guys got any other? Drop ‘em off in the comments and help make those tee’s happen.





Tremendous Boner

While mentioning how Notre Dame football gave me a tremendous boner on Saturday, Internet commentator Poophopanonymous22 noticed that "Tremendous Boner" would be a great band name:

"ladies and gentlemen, please join me in giving them a HUUUUUUGE Vein Popping welcome, TREMEEEENDOUS BONEEEEEEEEEEER!"

[and yes, this post is only really here to get rid of the last self masturbatory post being on top o' the page. sometimes, i need to just get the fuck over myself and the rest of the world... like today.]


Just Because I Feel Like Being A Downer

Here are the best of the 9/11 five year tributes that I read yesterday (and I still don't know if it's scary that's only been five years since 9/11, or that it's been five whole years since 9/11... know what I mean?)

Ace Cowboy

Jason Mulgrew

Matt Ufford

Andrew Sullivan's alternate reality

And Pat Tillman's as told by Gary Smith

As for me, well I wrote about my experience once before... I think that will be enough... 9/11 wasn't so much of an apex of emotions for me as it was a beginning.

I remember the long night's the weeks after 9/11. I was in Pensacola, Fl in a Signals-Intel course while the twin towers still burned. I remember philosophizing around bottles of rum and history books late into the night with my fellow Marines. I remember crying myself to sleep every night for three weeks after 9/11.

And I remember when I just happened to "stumble across the news" on the morning of October 7th, 2001, right when we started unleashing fury on the Taliban... and I remember how my buddy Matt wondered how in the hell I knew to turn on CNN right at that moment, on a hung-over Sunday morning in downtown Memphis (I'll never tell). I drove back down through Mississippi that afternoon. I had to stop to throw up a few times, mainly because of all the booze from the night before, but also out of fear of what was to come.

Just a few months after that, I remember seeing one of my best friends lie in a hospital bed after he tried to take his own life while we were in Guantanamo Bay. Seeing him in that bed, fighting violently against doctors who were trying to help him.

I remember crying that night for the first time since the weeks right after 9/11.

Nine months after that, I was back in Peoria, Il for my grandmothers funeral. My fondest memory of that week was being out for lunch on that Saturday afternoon, as Notre Dames backup-QB, Pat Dillingham, audibled and connected with Arnez Battle for the game winning TD against Michigan State. The happiness I saw in my families faces that afternoon reminded how much something as trivial as sports can cheer us up when we're down. It was just what my family and I needed.

And I cried again.

Three months after that, I would being sitting on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by 1,000 men within 1,000 square feet, but never so alone.

Later, on land, I found myself late at night, lost in the slums of Kuwait City, too numb to feel fear, with nothing surrounding me but the thought that ghettos all look the same after midnight, whether they be in Kuwait or Chicago.

I no longer cried. And I no longer feared.

I remember sitting in front of the computer as my friends pulled north into An Nasiriyah. I heard the news that the bridge they were attempting to take was taking the heaviest casualties in a Marine Corps urban assault since Hue City. I was not scared, but I couldn't sleep. I smoked Camels and I stayed awake, chatting with them, cracking jokes and making sure everything was alright. They slept in a dump that night. I did not sleep at all.

A few weeks later, one of my buddy's moms had been kicked out of her apartment back home and was out on the streets and some bad shit was going down with his little sister, too. Despite my recommendations, he could not go home to help and/or save his family. Shit sucked.

By June of 2003, we were on our way back home. My body ached, my mind screamed, and my soul simply fucking hurt. Stopping in Cartegena, Spain defiantly did the trick to let off a little steam, but I never got fully recharged till I made it back to Peoria that 4th of July weekend.

When I first saw my niece, I cried again.

Like a fucking baby.

And of course, it all comes back to me every now and then. All of the crisp, tropical scents of Cuba reminding me of an afternoon on the Skiff with 6 friends and a bottle of Appleton Estate… and all of the pungent scents of heat, sand, and oil in Kuwait which wash together in the oneness and remind me of a friendly futbol match in the sand.

The cold, lonely nights on ship and the gentle tap of a 3am Persian Gulf rain storm. It comes back.

When I hear some of my boys are going back over, yet again, it comes back.

When I see a sky so blue that it hurts my eyes (I swear, the sky is no bluer anywhere than the Middle East), it comes back.

I wonder if this is how my grandfather feels when he feels something in the air that reminds him of the Pacific, ala 1945.

And I wonder if he'd be strong enough to tell anyone if it did.

Some nights, I lie in bed and I think about not only the innocent friends that I have lost, but my friends who have lost their innocence.

And sometimes I cry.

Someday, maybe I’ll write all about what happened on 9/11, but for now, for me, that story isn’t quite complete.


A First Name Basis

His name is Jeff.

I'd love to say that I cracked this mystery using some devious scheme like renting an Impala, a siren, and a police officer's uniform and pulling him over while leaving work to get a glimpse at his drivers license ("But wouldn't he have recognized you, Al?" you ask. To which I respond "Shut up.") But in fact, it was nothing more than one of my coworkers finally calling him by name while I was within earshot.

But why did it take three months for someone to finally say his name? Did nobody else know it either? Was I not alone with this? Who found Jeff's name out first? And why didn't they inform me when they did? Or, in fact, did they?

So many questions... so few answers.



Bored at Work?

Yeah, if you're reading this, I'm willing to bet that you are... So why don't you head on over to Joe Sports Fan and read all about how I spent my Saturday.

And if I hadn't had a notebook with me, I probably wouldn't have a single memory from that evening. Good lord, my friends and I likey the booze.

I'll have something more for you folks tomorrow... But right now my liver hurts and I'm hungry. So there.



Weekend Advice: Getting Your Goose On

The days are getting shorter, baseball fans are talking magic numbers, the Malibu Sands has closed up shop after another unforgetable (and sexy!) summer, and the air is just right for drinking.* Yes, kids, fall has fallen (or something like that). It’s time to make the donuts and dish out some helpful advice.

"What's the best way to take advantage of this glorious season, Mr. Fritz?"

Thank you for asking. It would behoove you to sleep in a little late on Saturday, maybe go down to the park and have a catch, swing by the deli and grab a sandi, and then get your asses back home and on the couch for an afternoon of college football. Its #19 Penn State at #4 Notre Dame at 2:30cdt and #1 Ohio State at #2 Texas at 7:30cdt.

And, if I may I be so bold, I would suggest a menu of chili, Bloodys, beer, and a round of good times on the house.

"Provocative. Who do you think will win those two matches?"

Well, as I told my buddy Sammy (who is the only Penn State fan I know, which seems kind of odd. Further investigation into this is possible), Joe Paterno will probably have a stroke as soon as he sees how handsome Brady Quinn is. So I'm going with the Catholics in that one.

And I'm going to have to lean towards Texas is the latter match up. My buddy Will called me last night from the Capital of Weird (also known as Austin, TX) to give me an Austin Wacko Update. Apparently, Longhorn fans have been tailgating since early Wednesday morning. For a Saturday night game.

That is something that I can respect the damn hell out of. And I don’t want those drunk, bloated Texans to leave the party unhappy, so I’m rooting for the ‘Horns. (note- this should be good news for any Ohio State fans who may be reading this, since whatever team I’m pulling for normally craps the bed.)

“So, ND and Texas, huh? Care to put any money on that?”

No, but The FYC's resident Venezuelan Evelio owes me 500 shoelaces from last week’s ND v. GaTech game (I bet him 500 mustard packets ND would win, he went with 500 shoelaces and GaTech), so I could transfer those over to you if you’d be willing to make a bet.

“That’s a good plan for Saturday. What about Sunday?”

If you play your cards right on Saturday, you’ll have so many Bloody Marys and Sam Adams Octoberfests in your belly that you won’t even wake up until that hot blonde with the nice rack that you met last night nudges you in the back at 3 in the afternoon because she needs a ride home. You dog, you.

“Awesome! I’m going to get laid?”

We’re all gonna get laid!**

“Sweet. What else is going on for Sunday?”

Something called the National Football League will be showing some sort of displays of athletic expositions. I am not all that familiar with it, but I’d assume that it goes well with hot chicken wings and cold frosty beers.

“What a weekend! How am I supposed to get myself out of bed on Monday to begin yet another cruel, soul crushing week in the office?"

I’d have a cup of coffee and sit down at your computer. Then you should head on over to the new and improved Joe Sports Fan and read a college football column by a certain well endowed blogger with a slight(ly large) substance abuse problem of whom you may have passing knowledge of.

“Will do! Thanks, Al!”

You got it, Internets. Have a great weekend.

*I promise that will be the only “Men at Work” reference I make this month.
**No we aren’t.



Good Domain Names Still Available

I'm not going to say that it's appropriate to jeer a man in public, but I will never forgive myself for not booing Jason Isringhausen when I saw him eating dinner at McGurks last winter. I am honestly starting to believe the hyperbole: He is the worst closer in baseball.

The Cardinals would be better off trotting the rotting bones of Dennis Eckersley out there for the 9th inning from now on, let alone Adam "The Bulge" Wainwright.

That being said, if you are looking to start up a website, may I suggest:




You guys got any others?



Goodbyes, Yellow Brick Roads

Two quick heavily hearted RIPs from here at The FYC:

1) Best of luck to Dan from The Daily Dump in his future endeavors. The Dump was easily my favorite blog over the past few months and helped make my long, lonely hours keeping watch over these Internets a little more enjoyable. Dan had the rather rare ability to make me actually laugh out loud while reading, but for whatever reason he's closing up his blog shop. So I'm sending out some cyber good vibes and I hope to read from him again soon.

2) Steve Motherfuckin' Irwin, RI-Motherfuckin'-P. Way back in that magical year of 1996, my friends and I used to make home movies, which we called “Footage.” They would range from parodies of "MacGyver," to unscripted weird moments (covering ourselves in foil and reeking havoc in a supermarket; Getting dressed up in three-piece suits and walking into the local Holiday Inn to use their pool for a “suit diving championship”), to plot driven movies like "The Lost Retard" (in which someone lost their pet retard and had to find him during a Christmas parade.) “Footage” took up large percentage of our time, and we normally spent our lunch hour sitting around our table, thinking up footage ideas and trying to make each other spit up their soda from laughter. Amazingly, none of us were getting laid at the time.

Anyway, The Croc Hunter was somewhat of a hero to us, as his entire show seemed to be one elaborate ruse in which everyone was in on the joke. We admired his and Terri's work so much, we would have "Croc Parties" on Thursday nights, in which we would watch his crazy ass do something stupid, and then we'd run outside into the freezing night and get wild on the Crocodile Mile, in a bizarre attempt to out crazy a professional nut-job.

Much like a great indie-band, The Croc Hunter was our little secret back in '96. When his whole bag blew up a couple years later, we were happy for him, but it simply wasn't the same. He was there for the masses now; for everyone, not just us jerkasses, to enjoy watching as he stuck his thumb up a snapper's brown eye. After the string of movies, imitations, and commercials, he was not just playing a caricature of himself, but a parody of a caricature of himself. He was still having tickling contests with dinosaurs, but it just wasn't doing it for me anymore.

Then, Monday, I heard he died. By a sting ray to the chest, nonetheless. At first I was sad to hear he passed, but then I figured his last words were probably "Crikey! What a RIPPER!" and I started giggling.

An e-mail from my buddy Nick sums up my feelings about this whole matter better than I actually can:

“To think we gave Steve and Terri their start back in 97, it is a sad day. How do I get my hands on the live video of Steve pulling a ray's spear out of his heart and then dying? Now that is footage!”

Good night, sweet Croc Hunter.



I'm An Asshole

This weekend my buddy Vince is having his bachelor party up in the Socialist hotbed which is Milwaukee. As you already may know, I will not be in attendance of the b-party because a pair of self-serving fucks decided to get married on a holiday weekend and invite me. Thanks, ruiners.

Vince's best man/ brother started up an e-mail chain last week with a bunch of the details involving said party. The e-mail thread had started to lose some life a few days ago, so I decided to inject it full of party-hearty Al Fritz flavor.

I “replied-to-all” a classic tale from a road trip up to St. Paul, MN to see the groom-to-be back in the Spring of '99. The story loosely wraps around me, a moe. concert, and a newly single little Minnesotan temptress.

I'd post the entire story here, but it basically reads like a hilarious porn, and since there is a good chance I will die in the next two years (damn this dysentery!) I do not wish to be known as an Internet porn writer. The last thing I need is for the following conversation to take place at my ten year high school reunion:

Person #1: “I can’t believe Al died.”

Person #2: “Yeah... that must have been a hell of a case of gout.”

Person #1: “I thought it was dysentery.”

Person #3: “Actually, he had both. And scurvy. But, hey... that’s what happens when you refuse to eat limes as a teenager and floss your teeth irregularly.”

Person #1: “I’ll be damned. What was he doing with his life anyway?”

Person #3: “Last I heard, he was writing porno on the Internets.”

Persons #1 & 2: “Oh…”

Really, Really Hot Chick: “I wish he was still around. If he was, I would totally make him a bacon sandwich and bang him right here, right now.”

The Ghost of Me: “NOOOOOOOO!!!!”

So, I'll keep that little e-mail in the trust tree, thank you very much.

Anway, before I replied-to-all, I failed for whatever reason (read: extensive recreational drug use as a young adult) to check the list of recipients for the e-mail. And as it turns out, Vince's dad was on the list. Awwwww-kkkkkk-ward.

So now my buddy's father (who I’m pretty sure goes to AA meetings with my dad and God only knows what they talk about in there) has read all of the sordid, slippery, and downright dirty details of an 18-year-old Al Fritz's sexual exploits on a chilly night in March of 1999. This will definitely make for some fine small talk in between the toasts and the cake cutting at Vince's wedding, no?

And however awkwardly entertaining as that will be, nothing will beat hilarity of the electronic mail which we all received an hour after I sent in my wild, wacky, and perverted tale:

"As interesting as this email is.... kfoley@ipsinc.com is not a correct email address and it is coming to me instead. So pls delete this from your address book.

PS It sounds more like a bad porno script than reality!

Don [last name withheld]
Polyurethane Technologist International
Polyurethane Systems Inc."

Oh… my.

So, I take this little slice of the Internets to send my formal apology to Mr. Don.
I'm sorry that you had to read about one of my sexual romps which may or may not have contained some sort of analogy between "hand sex" and all-time bad asses The Legion of Doom. And I'm sorry you had to read about public face-sucking and missing socks from a total stranger. And I’m really sorry you had to read the term "she wanted a bowl full of Cock n' Noodle soup."

I'm sorry, Don.


[have a great holiday weekend, everybody. remember to keep in mind what this holiday is really all about: solving tupac's murder.]


Look Out Play'a...


Josh and Evelio, I hope you guys are listening to Carmina Burana off of the classic "Hurricane Izzy '03" mix CD and getting drunk off of your respective asses. I know I would be.

Times like these I miss the Carolinas. Probably some decent surf out there this week.

Also, "Ernesto?" That's weaker than Jose Vizcaino. I want my hurricanes to have classic, strong names. Like "Debo." Or "Hollywood Cole."

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"I'll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I recognize the state of Missouri."