Bobby Flay; Jacksonville Ninja

The Lady Friend and I are utterly addicted to the Food Network. Unabashedly so, actually, as we have found that way more 20-somethings than we would expect are also fans; we find ourselves talking about various aspects of their programming with others while we are out at bars, which, to be guileless, always strikes me as a touch odd. Most of my friends can all agree on a few things: Mario Batali seems like a cool enough dude, Giada De Laurentiis should wear less tops, Rachael Ray has to be on coke, Morimoto is (if I may be so frank) the balls, and Bobby Flay is probably the biggest bag of d on television (and that’s saying something).

I have a growing list of qualms with Bobby Flay: His utter disregard for his viewers well being in the flaunting of his man boobs [and it’s okay to have man boobs (“moobs,” if you will) -- hell, Lord knows I’ve got a set of my own -- but if you know that you’re going to be filmed for a television program which will be broadcast to the masses, that’s probably the day you want to leave the lycra and baby tee’s in the dresser. The man’s pert nips nearly ruined my entire weekend last Sunday when it was obvious that somewhere, I couldn’t help but to think, there was a frosty eight year old missing his shirt.]; his insistence on grilling everything and making all of his food look like it came straight out of an Applebee’s commercial; the arrogance it takes to host a show where he tricks people into thinking that the Food Network will be airing a half hour show dedicated solely to them, only to cut the amount of time they are on camera down to about four minutes, make the entire show (including narration) completely and totally about yourself, and then challenge the hoodwinked commoners to a “throwdown” (why does he insist on shadow boxing the camera?) and -- from what I have gathered -- assume that they should be honored that you (the Bobby Flay!) crashed their party (truthfully, my favorite part of the show is when he arrives to a party and 90% of the crowd has no idea who he is. I really, really want one of the competing cooks to say “Who the fuck are you?” after being challenged to a “throwdown”.)

But this morning I stumbled across an article by Alissa Rowinsky entitled "The Staggering Dicketry of Bobby Flay." While this article happens to be three and a half years old, it is still able to sum up my feelings in a strikingly analogous manner [and since it is that old, I guess it is fair to surmise that Bobby Flay won’t be changing his ways (or baby tees) anytime soon. Old maestro, new tune, etc.] If you’re a fan of the Food Network (and its okay to admit it), I highly recommend.


From future groomsman and perhaps the worst blogger in the world, Josh, comes a youtube clip straight from the rough streets of Jacksonville, NC. While I was never fortunate enough to see this cat while I was living out there, I can picture it perfectly in my mind, as this type of thing, as odd as it sounds, would actually be somewhat normal in the city of Jacksonville, a town known to have ATV’s with spinning hubcaps, a strip club named “The Driftwood,” and more check cashing, insta-credit, and pawn shops than one could shake a pawned stick at. Ghetto-fabulous, to say the least.

This would be reason number 17,834,032 that I do not regret, in any way, shape, or form, leaving Jacksonville.

I do, however, miss the quasi-surf. (and I apologize for the music in this clip.)

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"A Painting of the Barbary Coast Showing a Gay Marine Officer and a Scurvy Pirate Sharing a Sunset."

The painting to your right is one of about ten which used to hang in the lobby of the office building where I worked in, while I was stationed at Camp LeJeune, NC in the Marines. They were all "historical" paintings (which were all painfully lackluster), showing old timey Marines doing old timey things like carrying cannon balls around, loading muskets, and raising flags for no apparent reason.

While these painting were (and probably still are) kept around many Marine Corps offices in order to inspire and motivate the troops by showing how good we whippersnappers had it compared to our scurvy and gout infested, racist fore-fathers, the general reaction my friends and I would have is "this sucks." (It was our reaction to most -- alright all -- things.)

So, one day, we got to thinking: Of the seventy or so people who worked in our building, how many of them actually noticed any of the paintings? Let’s say we took one of the paintings, and, say -- I don't know -- painted in a guy who was gently, tenderly holding another man around the waist. Nothing too obscene, of course, but something transparent enough that if you actually took the time to look at the painting, it would be noticeable –- but, here’s the question: Would anyone actually notice it?

Sure, this query was most likely raised while we were all drunk off of rum, watching The Postman, and playing around in our air vents instead of doing what we were supposed to be doing (which was basically the entire aforementioned, sans the booze), but it was something which we needed answered. And with that, in what has to be considered the most well planned scheme to pilfer the dumbest possible item worthy of theft, we stole the painting from our lobby.

The most artistic Marine of the bunch (we'll and call him "Daryl" because, well, that's his fucking name), took it home and pulled out the old water colors, finessing the canvas with the stroke of a God. Unfortunately, this particular God only had primary colors, so all of the mixing was custom (read: horrible). The next day, back at the office, we pulled a maneuver straight from The Thomas Crown Affair and hung the painting back in its rightful place, front and center in our lobby. Truthfully, Daryl’s work was sketchy at best, but it was far and away better than anyone else in the group could have done, and we figured that no matter how well it was played, someone had to notice it at some point in time. It was, after all, an old timey pirate, soothingly, lovingly holding another man by the waist.

[In case you couldn't tell already, the little green guy which I have crudely circled in black (my Microsoft paint skills rival many newborn koala bears in their craptitude) was not, in fact, in the original painting. His Marine love, in blue, was. Why was he holding his left arm up in such a manner, you ask? Because he was waiting. Waiting for a sketchy pirate to softly hold him in his pirate arms and sensitively whisper in his ear “Johnny, everything’s going to be alright, arggh!”]

And we knew that if someone, particularly someone without a sense of humor, did discern it, that we, no doubt, would be blamed for what some may term the “vandalization” (if that was a word), but what we thought of as the “vast improvement,” of a tacky, common watercolor. Nobody else would have taken the time to do something so subtle, unnecessary, and -- let’s face it -- dumb. They would have known it was us.

Yet, the weeks and months went by, and nobody besides the half dozen or so of us knew. We’d walk by it on our way to the bathroom, and normally be completely and totally paralyzed with giggle fits; people would wonder what’s so funny, even as we stood in front of what Daryl describes as “a painting of the Barbary Coast showing a gay Marine officer and a scurvy pirate sharing a sunset” and, at times, pointing at the work of art, but still, only those whom we wanted to know knew.

One of the fondest memories I have from my last few days of being in the Marine Corps is of walking by the print one last time, and having a hardy chuckle at its expense for probably the five thousandth time.

(I realize that the picture, in and of itself, really isn’t that funny; its just one of those things which strikes me at precisely the right nerve and continues to send me into absolute fits to this day whenever it pops into my head.)

I had hoped for it to last for generations, hanging on the wall in splendid anonymity. Only it would know its terrible secret. And someday, many years down the road, an astutely attentive Marine would notice that something made that particular painting a little different from the rest. And perhaps he would share this discovery (which, frankly, made him a little uncomfortable in a way which only that creepy Santa whose lap he once sat upon as a boy had made him feel in the past) with a few of his buddies. And the joke would continue, down the line, for years to come.

But a few months ago, I found out that Daryl, in his last moments at Camp LeJeune, stole the fucking thing from our old office and it now hangs proudly in his living room.

And you know what? That’s even better.


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Recess; Monical's Pizza Help

We played the stupidest games in grade school.

I will freely admit that my grade school class wasn’t exactly the most refined group of kids to ever grace the halls of St. Philomena’s; We melted crayons in the teachers coffee, urinated in class room corners, and engaged in enormous "book fights" in the library (as a defining testament to our unruliness, on one particular day in eighth grade, both of our homeroom teachers -- our class was split into two homerooms -- would be out attending a conference, so the school decided to just give the entire eighth grade the day off of school to keep them from being forced to use two separate substitute teachers to try to deal with us. Because nobody doubted those subs would have killed themselves and/or all of us after about ten minutes of class.) -– And yes, most of us had criminal records of one kind or another by the time we were 21.

(Of course, our eighth grade teacher left her husband and ten or so kids and ran away with one of the priests from our parish after we graduated, so it’s not like we were the only fucked up people in that school.)

(Plus, there was that whole "priest molestation" thing, but that’s only funny when it happens to people I don’t know, so I can’t really make any jokes about that.)

But one of the less urbane games to grace the blacktop was "the penis game", which consisted of -- well -- punching someone in the dick and saying "penis." (The premise is essentially the same as my favorite playground game ever: "wet butt," which is where you step in a puddle and then kick another kid in the ass and yell "Wet butt!" at them).

Sure they weren’t the most sophisticated of games, but what the fuck do you want from us? We were ten. As Judge Roy Snyder once ruled, "Boys will be boys."

But it’s not just boys who will be boys, sometimes (supposedly) grown men will be boys as well. As was the case when I was in the Marines, where the "penis game" made a brief comeback, the classic "safety-farting game" was a staple, and whenever a new guy would check into our platoon we would make a point of having someone push him into a wall and yell "How’s my dick taste?" at him, just to see how they’d react (the normal reaction? Confusion.)

(Also, those are some of the things I think about whenever someone talks about how proud they are of our nation’s military – dicks and farts. That’s why I giggle so much whenever the topic comes up.)

One of my favorite days in the Marines was a day where we were allowed to have a "recess" and everyone went out onto the lawn next to our office. We taped off a circle about 35 feet in diameter and proceeded to play "bull in the ring," a game which essentially is a battle royal, except there aren’t any ropes and Diesel has never eliminated seven consecutive people in "bull in the ring."

There were about twenty of us in the circle, and eventually all were eliminated except a giant country boy named Andy and myself.

Andy and I had rather different styles – I preferred the "dead bear" style of fighting (where one lies motionless on the ground and screams "DEAD BEAR!" whenever someone tries to move their stock-still , fat ass; eventually they tire of your nonviolent resistance and move on to try to eliminate someone else) while Andy, in fact, was actually a bear and would fucking military press people out of the ring.

It’s probably Douglas needles(s) to say, but Andy won our showdown in about three seconds (as soon as he looked at me I ran away screaming like a irrate chinaman and hid in a tree).

(Just kidding, I don’t know how to climb trees.)

What’s the point of this shit-show of a blohhhg post? Well, as I sit here in my office, blinded by the stale lighting, trying to find something to occupy my time, with the theme from "Sanford and Son" running on the TV in the background, it dawns on me that I could really use a recess break in my day-to-day life. You know, just throw on some sneakers, hit the blacktop and punch a dude in the dick! Who’s with me?

Really? Nobody? That’s cool; I never had any friends, anyway. I’ll be meekly throwing a tennis ball against the wall if you need me.

I realize this is about a one in a million shot ("So you're saying there's a chance!"), but The Lady Friend and I need some help. We had been planning on going up to Peoria this weekend, but our plans fell through as I have to work late tomorrow (AmerenUE’s electrical service in the St Louis area has been so crackerjack over the last six months that my company needs to plan power outages just to make sure all of our back up generators are working alright. And guess who gets to make sure all of the computery things don’t die during the outage? I’ll give you a hint: He’s 26 years old and kind of wants to punch another man in the dick.)

We were really looking forward to the trip, my grandpa is having his 80th birthday party on Saturday and we were going to get drunk and play shuffleboard with infrequent-drunken-FYC-comment-leaver Tito and his wife.

But it’s not the friends and family we are most disappointed to miss out on (sorry guys), it’s the pizza. Monical’s pizza, actually.

We freaking love Monical’s. And since the nearest one to the StL is over an hour and a half away, it’s not something that we normally have access to, so whenever we make it up to Peoria, we like gorge ourselves on its deliciousness. And it’s this – not our beloved grandfather celebration into octogenarian land, nor hanging out with some of our best friends – that we were most looking forward to.

(Admittedly, that last sentence isn’t 100% true, but there is a dash of truthiness in there.)

So, TLF and I, in our quest for a taste of Central Illinois, will be trying to make a Monicals-esque pie this weekend.

Now, it’s difficult enough to reverse engineer a pizza period, let alone trying to do it from memory alone, so it is my hope (my slight, faint hope) that somebody, somewhere out there reading this now has either worked at a Monical’s or knows someone who has, and can help a brother out into what, exactly, makes that pizza so freaking delectable.

[Of course, it is rather obtuse of me to even assume that anybody, anywhere is still reading this rambling, incoherent 1200 (!) word mess which I have created, but what the hell, huh?]

If you’re of any help, you’ll be in the running for a special mystery prize!*

[have a great weekend, kids. if you get the chance, try pushing a stranger and yell “hows my dick taste” at them. i think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the reaction. it works even better if you’re a girl.]

*It’s a crude pencil drawing of Nancy Pelosi and Anthony Michael Hall naked, riding a unicorn together.

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"Set Your Nightsticks on 'Whomp'."

Have you ever woken up, started getting ready for work, then noticed that there’s an alligator in your bathroom and all of a sudden you realize that you’re not actually brushing your teeth while throwing on a polo ("Damn it, I got toothpast on my shirt again!"), you’re still in bed dreaming? So you wake up, put your jeans and boots on, start tiptoeing around your apartment (man, I love the hardwood floor and all but not waking up my neighbor is quickly becoming an all-consuming passion of mine), grab a diet coke from the fridge, and notice that your living room is on fire, but it's okay because Ed O'Neill is there to put it out ... and god damn it, you did it again! And this continues to happen for three to seven more times, and the next thing you know you’re two and a half hours late for work? And you're kind of waiting for the 1981 Baltimore Orioles to walk into your office, because you're still not sure if you're awake or not?

Yeah... Me neither.

This lack of -- what’s it called? -- “sunlight” while waking up to get ready for the third shifty is really getting to me. While some of youse have your smell of crackling bacon (don’t step on that Foreman getting out of bed, though!), cockeling of roosters, and searing giant balls of fire to wake you up, I just lie in bed with the soft glow of electric sex the street light in my back alley creeping through my blinds, wondering whether or not I am actually awake. I’m beginning to think that the electric yellow has got me by the brain banana.

Now, if you excuse me, I need to get back to work, guarding my giant pile of sugar company’s network. What do you think I do all day? Write blogs?




15-7; Nowhere To Go But Up.

A Frosted Flakes level “Grrrrr-reat!” win by the University of Illinois over Indiana last night, and while it was nice to see the Illini not give away a lead and commit 26 different shot clock violations, it was especially satisfying that the “big win” the Illini so desperately needed came against “Coach” Kelvin Sampson and his newly hated Hoosiers.

Sure, it would have been nice for the Illini to have gotten that “signature win” of theirs against either Wisconsin or Ohio State, but let’s face it, those two squads are leaps and bounds more talented than the boys in orange (how the hell did Wisconsin get so good in one year? Didn’t they lose to North Dakota State at home this time last year? That’s an impressive turn around to say the least). But they beat a ranked team and if they manage to finish out conference play at .500, they should sneak into the NCAA at somewhere around an 11 seed; playing with no pressure and, with a good draw, they might get to play Vassar or whoever knocks Kansas out of the tourney in the first round this year and sneak into the Sweet Sixteen. (Of course, this is a best case scenario; there is always the distinct possibility that they lose out and are NIT bound.)

And it’s not just that they beat a ranked team; they beat a newly venomous conference rival. The Illini have never really had an intra-conference rivalry – during the run of awesomeness of the last seven years, pretty much every other school has hated the Illini an equal amount – besides Mizzou there isn’t a school which year after year the fan base passionately wants to beat. One could make the case for a handful of schools (Michigan State, Wisconsin) that one despises for any particular reason (I personally still hate Ohio State for ruining the unbeaten season of ’04-’05), but there wasn’t a school which really made the blood boil for the entire state.

Kelvin Sampson and his shenanigans in the Eric Gordon recruiting wars have changed all that, though. And I like it. I want to see Johnny Cougar effigies burning brightly in Champaign and kids burning REO Speedwagon albums in Bloomington. I want to feel threatened the next time I run into Babbs Super Valu in Spencer, Indiana for a loaf of their ridiculously tasty cheese bread while wearing an Illini jersey. I want an all out border war.

And while I started looking forward to rowdy crowds at the Assembly Halls for the next few years, I also started looking forward to what the Illini’s prospects are for next season. I am, to say the least, cautiously optimistic:

For ’07-’08, there is the simple case of addition by subtraction, and that subtraction of course comes in the form of Marcus Arnold and Dick McBride. McBride, after a stellar high school career at Springfield Lanphier, has gone on to have one of the most underwhelming collegiate careers I can remember. I really thought he could develop into a potential NBA caliber three point specialist, but I guess the fact that he is actually a 47 year old accountant from Dallas finally caught up with him. And Marcus Arnold may very well be the nicest guy on the planet, but he is simply a really, really bad basketball player (although, he does love him some Red Lobster!).

The only other senior, The Enigma That Is Warren Carter, needs to start saying nightly prayers to Serge Zwicker, the patron saint of inexplicably long eligibility terms. If Marcus Sommerville was allowed to play college ball for 17 years, I don’t see why “The- Double-You-Sea” can’t get a fifth frame.

Meanwhile, the following are for sure (barring any ill-advised early NBA jumps or beer pong related altercations) returning to the fold:

Shaun Pruitt, who is quickly turning into an absolute beast (the development that Weber’s coaching staff has done on Pruitt is worth noting and, in my opinion, is nothing short of amazing – I’m pretty sure that they lock him in a room with Wayne McClain, tape his eyes open, and make him watch Marcus Griffin highlights for twelve hours a day, seven days a week) and in next year’s (hopefully) Greg Oden-less Big Ten, could be the conference’s premiere post player.

Dee Brown v2.0, otherwise known as Chester Frazier, the scrappiest point guard to ever scrap, will be back and will probably continue to get weird injuries and gut his way through them once again.

Jamar Smith, who really has nowhere to go but up next season. He’s not just personifying the term “Sophomore Slump” this year, he’s defining it to the point that they may change the term to “The Jamar Smith Effect.”

Brian Randle will be back and gunning to foul out of every game he enters, often within his first six minutes of action. Then he’ll get hurt. A few weeks later, he’ll have a sweet dunk, but he’ll hurt himself and get called for a charge. Then he'll get called for a foul while on his way to the hospital.

Chris Hicks will be back for another year of people asking “What the devil is a Chris Hicks?” when they look at their programs.

The Brian Cardwell Experience, all 280 or so pounds and 9’2” standing reach of it, will be back and filling up the lane like never before.

Plus, incoming freshmen:

Quinton Watkins, who is from Compton, CA, and if every NWA song is to be believed as truth (and they are), must be a bad ass.

Westchester St. Joseph’s PG Demetri McCamey, who, if history has taught us anything (and it hasn’t) is either the next Isiah Thomas or the next Arthur Agee.

And Bill Cole, who if I was forced at gunpoint to describe his game I would say: “Brian Cook Light.”

So, yeah, now that I look at it on paper, with the exception of a possibly dominant Pruitt and a resurgent Smith, maybe I shouldn’t be looking forward (cautiously or otherwise) to next year all that much.

Whatever, as long as they beat Mizzou, it’s cool. (Oh, and Indiana. Gotta get used to that one.)

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Weekend Grievances

Did you know that if it rains in Phoenix, it’s nearly impossible to fly? Not a hard rain, either, just a light mist? Well, apparently it is. And that is why, after sitting on the runway waiting for takeoff for an hour and a half on Sunday, I missed all but the last two minutes of the Bears game. A light fucking mist -- one which lasted for the entire 48 hours we were in Arizona.

Now I am by no means a Bears fan, however I like sports and wanted nothing more than to get home, throw some chili on the stove, knock back a few whiskey gingers and watch some championship football. Instead, I was left fuming in my seat on flight 2009, with an old fat guy coughing up a lung and/or kidney behind me and to my right, some hick who couldn’t figure out how to turn his god damn air vent off, so he stuck his fucking gum over it. When that didn’t work (it caused the gum to blow a bubble), he then covered it with a band aid. Way to go, MacGyver.

But there were actual Bears fans on my flight, and I could not have felt any worse for them, as they sat in their seats, just waiting to at least be able to check the score on their phones, let alone watch their franchises biggest game in twenty years like they were planning on (apparently AirTran has XM radio on their flights, which really would have come in handy. Get on that, Southwest Airlines). Last October, The Lady Friend and I were flying back from Minneapolis a few hours before the Cards took on the Padres in game four of the NLDS. If that flight would have been an hour and a half late, I would have eaten somebody. So I commend those Bears fans on their restraint and lack of cannibalistic intentions.

(Actually, that flight from the Twins was a little late, but that just led to one gigantic rush to Nick’s Pub; catching the radio pre-game waiting for our shuttle on the Lambert curb washed in that magical exuberance and life which engulfs this city during October, speeding down 170 like we had a police escort, walking into Nicks in the bottom of the first and having a bucket of Buds with my name on them waiting for me – good memories, really.)

This was after a frustrating weekend of conversing the many high and/or byways of Phoenix, most of which were closed for construction. It’s not that I mind roads being closed (progress and all that), but if somebody is flying in from out of town and renting a car, I would expect the people renting them said car would mention said road closings. This would be akin to someone renting a car in St Louis come March and not being told that highway 40 will be closed. Yeah, it may very well happen, but it’s just fucking discourteous and a little rude.

Of course rude is probably the proper term for the transgendered gentlemen at Alamo who rented us our 4Runner Friday afternoon. I had the car booked for two days at a total of $150, so I was more than a little shocked when he handed us the receipt and was trying to charge us $411 dollars. Four hundred and eleven dollars. For not even 48 hours worth of a car. After I was told it would be $150 total, after taxes, fees, and the like.

We eventually talked this charlatan down to around $200-ish (“No, we don’t want your insurance, we have our own. No, we don’t want a non-prorated tank of gas. No, we don’t want undercoating and rust proofing. No, we don’t want vapor lock protection. If you don't stop all of these shenanigans, I will take your mother out to a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.”), with the $50 bump coming from the fact that TLF is six months shy of that magical 25th birthday which will make her ever so much more responsible and, apparently, a better driver.

Never again, Alamo. Never again.

(Of course, this is what I get for not listening to Moose and going with Enterprise. If an Enterprise car can get that nerd laid at his ten year reunion, it’s obviously the bees’ knees.)

So, in conclusion, fuck Phoenix and their constant light mist, construction delays, swindling car rentals, and scrappy white point guards. Fuck them right in the ear.

(Although, to be fair, the wedding was lovely and our room at the Hampton Inn was more than accommodating. But their breakfast buffet reeked.)

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"Mighty fine cereal flakes, Mrs. McDonough!"

If you need me this weekend, The Lady Friend and I can be found in Phoenix, AZ, attending our first stop on the many weddings we our obliged (and delighted!) to attend in ’07, and (hopefully) working on that threesome and/or Suns game.

But I will leave you with this article about a Bears fan who was crying during their game last week. I’m posting it for two reasons: 1) It’s hilarious, and 2) I went to high school with the guy in the article, and that makes it even funnier to me (and the fact that they mention his "Ahitow-Lacher" Bears jersey in the article just completely throws it over the top).

I find it all well and fine to cry during important sporting events (The Lady Friend was as shocked that I didn’t cry after the Cardinals won the World Series -- The fact of the matter is I couldn’t believe it just happened, and still can’t really -– as I was), but this was only a second round playoff game. That’s like crying when your team wins the NLDS.

Sure, it may happen, but would you admit it to a newspaper? Hopefully you would, because it’s fucking hilarious.

My only gripe is that he did not just come right out with it and say "The Chicago Bears... they are light of my life. Are you surprised at my tears, sir? Strong men also cry... Strong men also cry."

[have a great weekend, everyone. enjoy your championship sunday -- even though i don’t have a horse in this here race -- it’s still one of my favorite days of the year. just makes me want to sit on the couch and hold a pennant which reads: "sports."]




More Current Events!

I like to think of this week's FYC posts as being something of a "Weekly Reader" only for jerks, not kids...

The Cardinals visited the White House earlier this week, with the Prez getting in a cheap joke about David Eckstein (Also, shouldn't it be "Eckstien" with that whole "I before e, except after c and when as sounding as an a as in 'neighbor' or 'weigh' and on weekends and holidays and all throughout May and you'll always be wrong no matter what you say. And in 'Budweiser'" rule? Somebody get on this.) and, by my interpretation, trying to compare the war in Iraq with the Cardinals many stumbles en route to winning the World Serious. A comparison which, if I may be so bold, is not exactly apt. In fact, it’s fucking ridiculous.

Anyway, I was listening to KMOX yesterday morning and they had a quote from Eckstein at the White House which blew my mind a little bit: “This is the ultimate. With everything that this nation stands for... and what this house stands for is this country.”

Go ahead and marinate on that one for a minute.

I have no idea what he was trying to say and I wish he just would have broke out into an a cappella version of “This Is Our Country.”

The kid who helped find that creepy pizza maker that was stealing kids by giving such a detailed description of his white Nissan truck with a topper (note – any truck with a topper is automatically creepy. Not "John Lee Malvo windowless van creepy", but creepy nonetheless.) to the authorities was honored with a pep rally at his school and presented with an FBI hat (is that supposed to be some sort of award? A crappy hat? I’d be furious.) for his constant vigilance of creepy trucks.

I found this all fit and fine. The kid did well, deserves his moment in the sun, etc, etc. Then I read this:

"Dressed in a camouflaged jacket and jeans, the only statement he made came from one of his favorite comedians, Larry the Cable Guy.

"Git 'er done!" Mitchell cried into the microphone."

And in five quick seconds, my opinion of this kid went from “Good job” To “He is everything that is wrong with America.” You’re being honored by the FBI and presented in front of your school and what do you do? Wear camo and quote Larry the Fucking Cable Guy.

That, in two quick lines, is why everyone else in the country thinks "Inbred hicks" when they hear the word "Missouri." Well, that and all the meth.

And, if you’re in a reviewing mood, you can go read this article of mine and hand out some rave ones.

Now go do your word search and later we'll play Heads Up 7up.




Help Me Help... Well... Me.

I’ve got nothing for today, once again. I am absolutely serious about this being the most boring stretch of days on the whole calendar. I’m not helping any by lying rather low these past few weekends, but after the holidays and before my upcoming two weeks of social obligations, I’ve felt the need to recharge my batteries. And I regret nothing.

Anyhoo, [Dennis Miller] since I’m about as useful as affirmative action in 1870’s Georgia [/Dennis Miller], I turn to you fine people for two things which I need help with:

1) The Lady Friend and I are flying out to Phoenix on Friday and are looking for something to do that night. She suggested “go to the Grand Canyon” but since we’re not an early 1970’s ABC sitcom, I really don’t see the need for riding some donkey down a cliff, getting lost, and stumbling upon some wise Indians who help us find not only ourselves, but also each other, instead of – you know – something useful like the fucking interstate.

My second suggestion (“Go to a Suns game”) went over only slightly better than my first (“threesome”), so I don’t think that’s going to cut it, either.

So, if you’ve ever been to Phoenix and did something cool, be a pal and let me know what it was. Please.

2) For any of you St. Louis folks – I’m getting sick and/or tired of crappy cuts of meat from my neighborhood Schnuck’s and I believe it’s time I found myself a butcher. I had an awesome one back up in Peoria, and I miss them dearly. Since I don’t have any real family around this place, I’m turning to you, the Internets, to help me find an Al Fritz approved butcher in St Louis.

All I’m looking for is good, quality meat (“That’s what she said.”) and a nice selection – steaks, chops, poultry, the usual. I’d just go to Whole Foods for my weekly shopping, but I have yet to go in there and spend less than $75 on a single meal for two (and it’s not that they’re too expensive, it’s just by the time I’ve grabbed two steaks, I’ll see a bottle of wine which peaks my interests and one or three or eight weird beers which sole reason for being is to live forever in my magical tummy,* along with a fresh loaf of bread, some sushi, a ginger ale, and some squash. Every fucking time we’re there, I shit you not.), so I can’t imagine how much shopping for a whole week’s worth of food would set me back. Other than that, I’m not looking for anything fancy – Just quality meat (again, “That’s what she said.”)

However, I am restricted somewhat by geography. Well, “restricted” really isn’t the word. I guess it’s actually “lazy.” I’m lazy. And I fucking hate driving in this town, so I pretty much refuse to go west of 170 on 40 and west of 270 on 44. Hence, I’m looking for a butcher in the city proper. Actually, something outside of the city would probably work, too. I’ll just send The Lady Friend.

(Although, considering she’s engaged to me, she probably doesn’t have the faintest clue about what quality meat really is. So... )

Anyway, sorry about the boring post, but I’m seriously working with nothing over here. I swear, this weekend I’ll get all boozed up and drive my rental car through a museum or steal a few of Nathan Arizona’s many babies or something equally ridiculous and write about it next Tuesday.

But for now, if you kids could just assemble into some sort of advisory board and help me find a quality butcher and something to do in Phoenix on a Friday night, I will forever be in your gratitude, and, if you play your cards right, will open mouth kiss you.

*I love saying “tummy.”

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Hot Topics (Dead Topics!)

I am pretty much bored out of my mind right now, something that happens towards the end of every January: Pitchers and catchers are still 30 days away from reporting, there’s no time to go out and play outside, TV (minus Thursday nights) is pretty much craptastic (as an aside: I am realllly missing “Arrested Development.” Damn everybody for that show not being on anymore.); it’s just a really boring stretch of days.

So… Let’s see what’s in the news:

An absolutely fantastic weekend of football is behind us and just about everything which could possibly be said about the gang bang of games has already been said. However I still have two notes:


If you haven’t got sick of this story yet, just you wait. It sounds like we’re in for a “Today Show” this morning and an “Oprah” tomorrow. I’m just guessing here, but from the looks of it, I’ll say that ABC will have a mini-series starring Jeremy Miller as Mike Devlin and an obscure Culkin and that little brat from “Jerry Maguire” as the kids out by the end of the month.

I went out for burgers and pints at O’Connell’s(') with Neighbor Matt, Mozzy, and Mozzy’s roommate Dan on Saturday night when this story naturally worked its way into our convo. We started wondering: If this kid didn’t have to go to school for the last four years, what in the hell did he do all day? Which, of course, led to this:

Mozzy: “So, he just hung out all day, eating pizza and playing video games?”
Me: “Yeah, that doesn’t sound that bad.”
Dan: “I wonder if he’d abduct me next?”
Matt: “Maybe we should quit talking about this now.”

Yeah, we know, we know. We’re going to hell.

Speaking of The Virgin Mary (wait... what?) Krimil has observed a minor miracle.

St. Louis was awarded the 2009 All Star Game. I, for one, can not wait for America’s sportswriters to complain about our decaying urban infrastructure, stifling humidity, dearth of taxis, horrible public transportation, and increasingly generic ballpark. And this is assuming that our city's beloved giant hole of dirt next to the stadium will be filled with, you know, buildings or something by then (which, I’m sure, it won’t be).

I didn’t bother reading the article (I don’t know how to) but from the looks of the headline, either Scott Rolen has been listening to a lot of Phish’s “Billy Breathes” or he spent the last month in Mike Devlin’s apartment.

From the guerilla marketing genui that awarded a shoe contract with Heaven's Gate, Nike is now providing headbands to the jihadi's (or whatever they're doing in that picture.) Eat your giant heart out, Ben Wallace.

Since I para-phrased the title of this here post from Jim Gaffigan, here's some more Gaffigan:

Still bored.




A Bitter End to a Bitter Week

(Or maybe it should be “A Perfect End to a Bitter Week”?)

"Will someone please think of the children?" – Helen Lovejoy

"I'm sick of these constant bear attacks. It's like a freakin' country bear jambaroo around here!" - Homer

Few things in life are finite. There’s the whole “death and taxes” thing, but I don’t buy that since I never pay taxes and I don’t plan on ever dying (must... kill... Connor MacLeod...). One thing that you can count on is that if you ever plan on scratching your good times itch, some asshole is going to but his or her massive, misshaped head into your business and stop you.

Case in point, the saddest news of the week:

Drinko is being pulled off the market.

"Prevention First is greatly disturbed at the message these drinking games are sending to young people," Mary Pat Angelini, executive director, said in a written statement issued last week. "Underage drinking is not a game, and it is obvious that this type of "entertainment' has greatest appeal to high school and college students where binge drinking is at an all-time high."

Well, you know what is a game, Mary Pat Angelini? Overage drinking. It's a hell of a game. And so the fuck what if it happens to be binge drinking? I happen to enjoy binge drinking! You know who else enjoys binge drinking? The President of the Unite -- wait I already used that one this week... um... -- James Brown! James Brown enjoyed binge drinking a great deal, thank you very much. And he’s a man so revered by the American people that we still haven’t buried his super dead fly ass!

So thanks, Mary Pat (by the way, pick a fucking name!), now the drinkers out looking for novelty drinking games won’t be able to just swing by their local department stores, they’ll have to go to some shitty Spencers. That’ll keep the kids from getting drunk. Yep.

And thank you, Prevention First. Your top notch organization has successfully targeted the middle-class workers like myself you frequent Kohl’s while were out on our crime sprees; and not the cracked out homeless guy stealing copper from the local five and dime (what?). Now it’ll be that much harder to gather up a few friends and shoot a few hearty rounds of beer. Well played. Crime in ’07 will be non-existent thanks to your vigilant watch.

But the next time an issue as such comes to light, may I suggest you pull whatever it is that is currently up your collective asses (I’m guessing a rather large barrage of dildos) and mind your own fucking business? Perhaps letting the market decide what exactly should or should not be at Kohls and not your moralistic, dictative, irrational, illogical values. This is America is it not? The next thing you know, it’s going to be illegal to play the great sport of Beer Pong in Belmar, NJ!

You win this round, Prevention First.

But guess what, asshole? I’m still going to get drunk whenever I fucking want. Who’s coming with me?

[have a great weekend, kids. we’ll be back next week, hopefully with a randall floyd level attitude adjustment. i fucking hate people. although my stapler magically reappeared, so maybe things will turn out alright afterall.]

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Welcome Back "Handsome" Mark Mulder

If this signing does anything, it guaran-tee(martin)s that I'll get another 18 versions of this e-mail in June of '07:

"Well ~ I guarantee Hrabosky and Dan will be discussing in the next few weeks that when we get Mulder healthy and back in the rotation, it will be like making a trade for a starting pitcher. So we have that to look forward too. Hey, when we get Bigbie back playing left, it will be like picking up that impact bat we were looking for. That fucker better have a new number if he gets called back up."

That's from my buddy Dave (who is a huge Larry Walker fan and seriously considered attacking Larry Bigbie with a dulled knife when he saw Bigbie was sporting #33 last year) in June of '06 after Dan and Al spent every damn inning of Cardinals baseball that month talking about The Great Mulder returning to the rotation later in the year. And we all know how that ended up, now don't we? Let's hope this years rehab/return ends up a little bit better than '06's (read: LaRussa doesn't pitch him into the ground when he's clearly not healthy).

Other than that, I agree with Dan on this whole brewhaha.

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A Really Disjointed Post Which May or May Not Be About Basketball (I'm Still Not Sure What The Subject Is)

There has been a lot of angst around the great state of Illinois concerning the recent craptitude of U of I’s basketball team. A 13-5 record in what is essentially a rebuilding year? Not good enough for some people, apparently. Myself? I’ll take it (plus, we do have Rights!) and I will throw this in as well: If Ron Guenther listens to any of the blowhards and lets Bruce Weber walk within the next three years, much like the New York Jets letting go of Kevin Ward, it will be the biggest mistake of their life.

Most of the worrying around the state of the Illini’s program is focusing on Weber’s inability to recruit so-called “athletes” (this worrying makes no sense to me, for if Kelvin Sampson had a soul, Weber would have just landed the top senior “athlete” in the country for next year) and instead focuses on guys like Jamar Smith. You know… guys that fit into a motion offense. Like the one Weber runs. What a dumb idea.

Anyway, all of this talk about “athletes” got me thinking about the most athletic basketball player I ever saw (that is to say, seen) in my life (not hyperbole): Ronnie Fields.

I remember on a lazy Tuesday last November, I was lying on my couch, watching Fox Sport's "Behind the Glory" on Kevin Garnett. "That's really random, Al," you may be saying to yourself right now. "Why were you watching that?" Easy. To get to the part where Garnett moves from South Carolina to Chicago and enrolls at Farragut Academy, where he teamed up with Ronnie Fields to form the core of a ridiculously talented Farragut squad. Basically, I watched an entire FSN product (hard to do) just to see some of Fields’ unbelievably amazing dunks.

Ronnie fucking Fields.

He was 6'3" and possessed a 48 inch vertical. Just freakishly athletic – If he didn't make the grades to get into DePaul, he would have gone the Garnett route and head straight into the NBA. He would have won every Dunk contest he entered, on any level of competitive ball.

In what continues to be the most spectacular dunk I have ever seen in person, during the 1996 Peoria River City Shootout, he drove the lane, took off from about two feet inside of the free throw line and jumped over Sergio McClain (who was a good 6'3" at the time himself) before slamming the ball home (he literally jumped over him – Sergio's head was just south of Fields' nuts).

He averaged 32.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 4.5 blocked shots, four steals and 4.5 dunks a game his senior year at Farragut and dropped at least 40 in nine games, topping out at 51. He left high school as the third all time leading scorer in Chicago Public League history with 2,619 points.

Then, on Febuary 26, 1996, in a late night car accident, Fields suffered three broken vertebrae. Doctors weren’t sure if he'd be able to walk again, let alone play ball.

Eventually, he made it back on the court, but he has never the explosive player which he once was. He rehabbed, played a little overseas and around the country in the many minor leagues of basketball. Right now, he's 28 years old and plays for the Rockford Lightening in the CBA (he played alongside the Rev. Roger Powell for a bit), hoping someday to finally make the jump to the NBA.

Around Illinois, among the tens of thousands of residents who treat high school basketball as a bit of a religion, Ronnie Fields' name is still almost sacred. But nobody else really seems to know of him. In probably the only apt comparison I have heard, my buddy Nate likes to say that Ronnie Fields is the Earl "The Goat" Manigault of our generation, even going so far as to hope that "in 10 years a Don Cheadle look alike will play him in a movie."

So I was more then a little excited to get to Garnett's senior year to see just a couple clips of Ronnie. And what happens? They show him a handful of times throwing alleyoops to KG. That was it.

Now, I'm not saying Fields ever would have been even half the pro that KG is now, but I think that Fox Sports should have at least mentioned the fact that Garnett wasn't even the best player on his team.

Really, though, I just wanted to see some of his old dunks. Luckily for me (and, of course, for all of us) there is YouTube. So sit back, relax, enjoy some dunks, and enjoy your Thursday (and don't forget to watch "The Office" tonight) (and I apologize for the music in the second one. I think the song is by "MC Generic Late 90's Rapper"):




Hopefully the Last Thing I Ever Write About Mark McGwire and the Hall of Fame

"Do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?"

"Dingers! Dingers!"

I honestly respect Mark McGwire. I think what others have referred to as his “shameful” display in front of Congress was actually the classiest of any of the ball players who sat upon Capital Hill that day. He didn’t flat out lie like Raffy, he didn’t forget how to speak English like Sammy, and he didn’t wear a see through shirt like Jose. He just didn’t comment.

If it was I up there, I would have gone off. I would have said “Yeah, I did steroids. And so did almost every single player from 1995 to 2002. Clemens, Caminiti, Ripken. Everyone of the guys sitting here. We all juiced. It wasn’t exactly a secret. Did you see me? I was a freaking cartoon character. If you didn’t realize Sosa and I were on steroids in 1998, when the people at SI dressed us up in togas and declared us gods among men, you’re fucking stupid. That’s your fault, not mine. Do I regret doing it? Yeah. It makes me sad. So when I start to cry, I use the millions and millions of dollars steroids helped me make, and I blow my nose with a thousand dollar bill. Fuck you. Like you wouldn’t do the same? Who here wouldn’t have? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? You’re Goddamn right I did it!”

But Big Mac just skirted around the issue and didn’t comment. Not the ballsiest thing he could have done, but at least he didn’t sell anyone out (like I would have). Then he went back home and he hasn’t been heard from since. In today’s society, that’s probably the best thing he could have done. Because of it, he may never make it into the Hall of Fame, but you know what? Any club that uses a massive collection of douche bags to decide who gets in isn’t a club I want to join.

He used drugs. That’s it. Drugs.

I’d be willing to bet that the percentage of Americans who have used drugs is 100%. Sure, maybe it’s only alcohol, but that was once so evil that it was outlawed to produce in the states. Maybe it was tobacco. That’s on its way out, too.

Maybe you’ve dabbled in something a little bit harder. Maybe, say, cocaine. You know who else used coke? The fucking President of the United States of America.

(And in all seriousness, if you've never done any drugs, I feel kind of bad for you. I'm not saying you should be an addict or anything, but every now and then it's time to fly the freak flag and freak out some squares. Like a
jester with an invisible proclamation proclaiming conformity factories closed style freak out.)

The American people can elect (twice) a man who used coke (and also has a DUI) as their President, and a guy with as many DUIs as Leonard Little as Vice President (and then he shot a man in the face!), but the hypocritical douche bag Baseball Writers Association of America (many of whom I am quite sure have more than enough skeletons in their own closets) can’t elect a guy who used steroids to something as trivial as the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Well, then, fuck them.

I actually hope that Mark McGwire never says another word to the public again. He can go off and live his life of solitude; playing golf, banging his hot wife and being left the hell alone (sounds kind of nice, actually). He’ll fade out of public mind and in fifty years, he’ll become nothing more than a myth. An infamous character that everybody saw play, but nobody ever knew. He’ll be our generations Joe Jackson, Moe Berg, and Ed Delahanty all wrapped up into one.

Then, someday, my grandson will be rummaging through my boxes and come across my old SI’s, ticket stubs, and tapes from 1998. He’ll see a picture of me next to McGwire in 2000 and notice that his thighs were the size of my waist. Maybe he’ll even read through uber-hypocrite Mike Lupica’s “Summer of ’98”(which at one point in time was one of my favorite books). He'll see photos of McGwire's devestating, thunderous swing -- the way he used his legs like no player I have ever seen before or since. And he’ll ask me, “Grandpa, how come this man who hit so many home runs and broke so many records and was so beloved never made it into the Hall of Fame.”

“Because, my boy,” I’ll say. “The lazy ass, pompous, hypocritical, dick bag writers who once claimed that he helped save the game of baseball at its darkest hour decided to get up on the ever so high fucking horse, re-write the games past and not let him in. Fuck them and fuck the Hall of Fame.”

“Yeah! Fuck them!”

“Watch your mouth, you little shit,” I’ll say with a slap to the head. “And stay out of my boxes!”

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Where's My Stapler?

Peanut butter and jelly in the same jar. I don't understand that. I mean, I'm lazy but I'd like to meet the guy that needs that. This guy must be thinking, "I could go for a sandwich, but I'm not gonna open TWO jars. I can't be opening and closing all kinds of jars and cleaning WHO KNOWS how many knives." – Brian Regan.

I thought of this when I saw that the iPhone was launched yesterday.

Typical consumer: “It’s reeeeeally tough carrying around both an iPod and a phone at the same time. That 0.55 ounces is really weighing me down. Oh, if only there was a way to rid myself of this weighty burden. In fact, I would be willing to pay up to $600 and switch cell phone providers to alleviate myself of all this extra weight!”

Needless to say, I thought it was the epitome of a pointless product. Then I got an e-mail from my buddy Nate, who closed his note by saying “buy me an iphone I want it.”

First of all, “No.” Secondly, I wondered to myself, why would he want that? That’s when I remembered he lives in Chicago and relies on mass-transit to get around. And I guess I can see the functionality in only having to worry about losing one device during your commute instead of two.

But here in St. Louis, we have cars to get us from point “A” to point “B” during our day so we don’t have to worry about having some stinky hobo in a 1992 Charlotte Hornets Starter Jacket swipe our iPod out of our pocket while we’re on our way to work. Which is actually something that I’m getting very sick of (um, the driving in cars part, not the thieving hobos part). As much as I love this city, I have two complaints: 1) The arch is stupid, and 2) the public transportation in this town is abysmal.

I will use myself as an example here:

I live in what is considered by many (read: me) the exact center of the city of St. Louis. I work a few miles outside of the city, but at a campus which employs around 10,000 people. Now, in my mind, if we had a decent public transportation system, I think that both of these places would make ideal candidates for stops. But what would I have to do if I wanted to use our metrolink to go to work? I would have to walk about a mile and a half to the nearest stop by my house, and then walk about five miles once I got to the closest stop by my office.

Sure, I could take a “bus.” But you know who else takes the bus? Losers and lesbians.

In conclusion, I hate the metrolink and I’m not buying you an iPhone, Nate.

Sweet fuck I’m bitter today. (Somebody stole my stapler from my office yesterday. And of course today was the first time in months I actually needed to use my stapler. And yes, it's a swingline.) Here’s some Steely Dan to help us all (again, read: me) cool out:





When I was in high school, my buddy Gibby once said “Al doesn’t need a girlfriend. He has beer.”

And for the last ten years, this has been mostly true. Sure, there have been a few girlfriends, but those were mostly for lazy, regular sex and to keep my mom from thinking that I’m gay (I’m still not sure she’s convinced), but at the end of the day, there was always beer.

A cold can of Busch on a hot July afternoon.

A pint of Newcastle to help melt the snow off of my boots in a dimly lit pub during January.

A bottle of Sammy Adams Octoberfest while grilling some burgers on a crisp Saturday in the fall.

There was always beer. And I fucking loved it.

And with that, and with great sadness, I tell you this:

I’m giving up beer for the rest of the year.*

See, The Lady Friend and I are getting hitched on a beach, and I would like nothing more than to wear a linen suit with no shirt underneath during the ceremony.** If I tried to pull a sans-shirt in my current state, I’m pretty sure someone would throw up. So in an effort to drop about twenty pounds and get down to my playing weight of 165*** I’m cutting beer and all of its empty calories^ out of my ’07 plans.^^

To have a proper bon voyage to suds, I enjoyed an extremely gluttonous weekend (even by my standards) where I drank: 12 2-Belows (which if I had ever tried before, there is no way I would have been willing to give up on beer for the next 12 months. This shit is unreal), a six of 1554, a sixer of Boulevard Wheat, and a few Blue Moons mixed in for good measure.

Sure, drinking 30-ish beers over a weekend probably isn’t the best way to start a quasi-diet, but then again, shut up. If I have to give up one of the great loves of my life (all for the slim chance that I can get married topless? Good Lord, Al.), I wanted to have one last unhinged, overindulged weekend with them.

And, as much as it pains me to say this, it’s over.

Late Sunday night, as I poured my last Boulevard and got ready to call it a night, I contemplated putting on “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men and having a good cry. Instead, I watched Wrestlemania VII and passed the fuck out.

Which, in a way, correctly ends the weird, ridiculous relationship that beer and I have had lo this past decade. So, um... Whatever.

(And the irony that there is thousand island dressing dripping onto my keyboard from the Reuben that I am currently devouring while I write a boring post about losing weight is fucking delicious, thank you very much.)

*Except when watching baseball games. If I don’t drink beer while at Busch, the terrorists will have won.

**I highly, highly doubt anyone will actually let this happen, but a man can dream, no?

***I have no idea what “playing weight” really means (I think Jake Taylor talked about it in “Major League II”), but I’ve always wanted to say it.

^Amazingly fucking delicious empty calories.

^^These footnotes are really annoying.




The Weekend of Al

One of the reasons I like this newfangled blog thing (even if, from time to time, it makes me feel like Doogie Howser) is that it can provide me with a glimpse into my past. Say, in three years, I wonder what I did the final weekend of August in both 2005 and 2006, after a few quick clicks of the mouse (good name for a progressive rock album: “A Few Quick Clicks of the Mouse”), I would find out that I was at a boat race on both of those weekends. Then I would wonder aloud “boat races?” Then I’d probably have a beer.

A few weeks ago, The Lady Friend told me that over the first weekend of January she’d be making her annual girly pilgrimage to Kansas City in order to hang out with some of her college friends and drink cosmos, watch crappy TV, gossip, and (presumably) menstruate.

“Cool,” I said. “Have fun.”

Then I got suspicious [I assume she’s cheating on me and is only marrying me for my money. After our wedding ceremony, I will suspiciously drown in a snorkeling accident and she and her Ecuadorian lover Pablo will sail the seas, making passionate love in the cabin of the boat my life insurance policy paid for and using my ashes to scrub the calluses of their feet (all of that salt water is bad for their feet.)] and consulted my blog for what exactly was going on over the first weekend in January last year, to which I found this entry:

What's on tap for this weekend? Well, The Lady Friend is hoping a train to Kansas City, leaving me up to my own devices (and by devices I mean not wearing pants, cooking up a batch of my award-winning-world-famous "Adam Vinatieri Chili", drinking whiskey, and watching playoff football.)

So, I guess she was telling the truth (this time). Anyway, with her out of the apartment for the weekend, I was all set to have myself a big old time once again, with more whiskey, more chili, more football, and even less pants. Plus, I got a new college basketball game in the mail the other day; I was planning on building Southern Illinois University into a National Champion.

I was even going to write a few articles that have been on the backburner for a few months now -- I need an evening of alone time to write an article [In case you were wondering, my process for writing articles is:

1) Write the article.
2) Check for grammatical and structural errors.
3) Ignore the grammatical and structural errors.
4) Drink. Drink to the point to where if I had one more drink, I probably wouldn’t be able to read, let alone type. Then open up the file, read the article, and insert as many inappropriate jokes as I can.
5) Finish writing, continue drinking.
6) Wake up in the morning (where are my pants?), if the jokes I don’t remember writing make me laugh, submit the article.

Is it a healthy process? No. But it pays the bills.*]

It was going to be a glorious weekend of bachelorhood, and I was contemplating referring to it as “The Weekend of Al,” in an attempt to get back to that magical 2004 season of freedom known as “The Summer of Al.” I would be bottomless, drunk, and bite into a block of cheese like it was an apple.

Then, on Wednesday, the girl The Lady Friend was going to be staying with in KC had to cancel. The brief she was writing for law school had to be changed by next week due to some new law being passed. Then she fell down her stairs on NYE (in her defense, her stairs are ridiculously wide and treacherous) (another good name for a progressive rock album: “Her Stairs are Ridiculously Wide and Treacherous”) and got a concussion (thus once again showing that the majority of our friends, while extremely intelligent people, are unabashed drinkers and have trouble staying upright at times).

So “The Weekend of Al” was canceled at the last second. It appears that I will be spending the weekend with my pants on and I’ll probably end up at Linen n’ Things registering for a fucking teapot at some point in time.


[have a great weekend, kids. if you find yourself bottomless and eating cheese at any point in time, know that at least one man in the world is extremely jealous of you.]

[also, just kidding baby.]

[kind of.]

*No it doesn’t.




Al the Inventor

Years ago, when I was a poor black child, I watched Navin R. Johnson invent the Opti-Grab in “The Jerk.” After that, I always assumed that I too would go on to become a great inventor someday. The ideas, they came to me in droves. I would change the world.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, Matthew Lesko filed a restraining order against me (don’t ask) and it became harder and harder for me to perfect my inventions. But I was steadfast in my determination, and despite the many obstacles, I pressed on and worked with a diligence never before seen by man, crafting my many ideas into the kind of inventions that they someday name solar systems after. Of course by “work” I mean “get drunk and scream at people about” and by “many” I mean “one... two tops.”

The first great invention I had was for a prescription windshield. See, I don’t have the greatest vision in the world, but I don’t exactly have the worst, either. And while I should wear my glasses when I drive, I don’t always (much in the same way I should pay taxes and I should stop committing arson). So to alleviate my predicament (the driving without glasses one, not the arson), I thought it would be wise to somehow meld my prescription eyeglasses with my windshield.

Now, the naysayers and Monday morning quarterbacks would all say, “Al that would never work. What if someone else wanted to drive your car?”

To which I would reply, “Why the fuck do you want to drive my car? Get your own, freeloader.”

Anyway, where you killjoys and worrywarts saw a problem, I saw an opportunity. In order for other people to drive my car, they would have to wear “reverse glasses,” glasses which would give them a reverse prescription of mine, allowing them to see 20/20 through the windshield. And if you didn’t have the glasses, you were driving blind, which I believe would count as some sort of a theft deterrent system, thus lowering your insurance payments. Win, win, win.

Unfortunately, due to a nasty accident/lawsuit in my test market of Mae Hong Son, Thailand (again, don’t ask) that idea had to be placed on the proverbial backburner. This was all well and good, because soon after that I came up with my next great idea:

The Steak and Cheese Pizza.

I moved to Pensacola, FL in January of 2000 and soon fell madly and desperately in love with a little pizza chain named Hungry Howie’s. They had this steak and cheese calzone sub which on a few occasions cured cancer and once, as rumor has it, brought somebody back from the dead (some Jew named Jesus or something). It was a soft, chewy pita shell, filled with strips of sirloin, caramelized onions, a variety of melted cheese, and topped off with some shredded parmesan and a secret sauce (the secret? It was melted butter with oregano).

This sandwich had a profound impact upon the rest of my life. It remains, to this day, the greatest sandwich I have ever consumed. It is the apex; the sandwich to which all other sandis are measured. I cannot overstate how much I fucking love that sandwich. In fact, when I was considering taking a job in Tampa, I made a list of the pros and cons of making such a move. The pros were: 1) Beach, 2) Hungry Howie’s, 3) Boobs. (The cons, in case you were wondering: Hurricanes, Mexicans, and Baptists, not particularly in that order.)

Anyway, one day while I was in Pensacola, I was feeling extra gluttonous. So I grabbed an 18 pack of non-light beer and made a call to Hungry Howie’s. I knew I wanted a steak and cheese sandwich, but was there anyway they could make it any worse for me? Indeed there was, as they took all of the ingredients and made it into a pizza for me instead of the more healthy (?) sandwich dripping in butter.

And it was good.

Not too long after that, a bunch of my buddies starting ordering up the steak and cheese pizza instead of their usual pepperonis and sausages. And a few months later, wouldn’t you know it, it appeared on their menu. Even if I never conceived a child, my contribution to civilization was complete. As Costanza was to that Frogger machine, I was to Hungry Howie’s.

Soon after, I moved to North Carolina, where unfortunately there was not a Hungry Howie’s to be found (or, maybe that’s actually fortunately for me, as I would now easily weigh 285 pounds if I continued to have access to those heavenly, butter drenched sandwiches). I have only been back to Hungry Howie’s a handful of times, but the steak and cheese pizza is still there.

It’s still there.

(This is where a single tear starts rolling down my cheek.)

A year after I left Pensacola, Domino’s came out with their “Philly Cheese Steak Pizza.” At first I was flattered. “Hey,” I thought “if it’s good, who cares!” Of course, like everything Domino’s has ever touched (The Noid, anyone?), it was complete and utter crap. I made a few angry phone calls, demanding that I should receive royalties for inventing the Steak and Cheese Pizza, but I never saw one red cent. Not even some free breadsticks. The bastards.

[Note – this is probably the point in time where you say, “Al, that’s not really an invention, it’s just a recipe. And to think that nobody else could have had that idea is, to say the least, absurd.” To which I say, “Shut up.”]

Still, my inventive light bulb burned bright. This time, I had my non-lazy eye set on technology in general, media modes in particular.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a staunch advocate for both VHS and cassette tapes. This all began sometime in the mid to late 90’s after the first CD I ever owned began skipping after it was only a few years old. (And since you must know, the first CD I ever owned was the “Young Guns II” soundtrack. Again, shut up.) Sure, the music didn’t “sound” as good on a cassette as a CD, but if a cassette ever broke, you could simply fix it with some scotch tape, a pencil, and a little Midwestern sensibility. You try doing that to a CD and you know what happens? People die.

So when DVDs came onto the scene a few years later, I simply didn’t buy into them. What was to keep them from scratching up like my Bad Company and Foreigner CDs did after a few years? Nothing, that’s what.

These days, I am far shorter sighted, as I have come to accept my fate (that Michael Gross will have me killed this Fourth of July) (and again, don’t ask.) and frankly I don’t care if my movies end up being scratched, because I wont be around to enjoy them anyway (Damn you, Gross.)

But to once again leave a lasting contribution, I envisioned a solution to the epidemic of scratched DVDs which will no doubt sweep across the US in 2011 like a plague of angry Italians eating overcooked pasta (not my strongest analogy).

I pictured something of a hybrid VHS-DVD combo: A DVD disc, encased in plastic, as to keep the disc from being scratched; that was the answer.

It may be awarded to me posthumously, but that Nobel which I have long deserved would finally be mine.

Then The Lady Friend got me a PSP for Christmas, and I learned that this technology has actually existed for years.

And with that, my life can officially be labeled a failure.

See you in hell, Gross.

[Note- I also claim to have invented Internet gaming because when I was little and playing Bases Loaded II on my NES, I always dreamed that there was someone, somewhere around the world that was actually playing against me. The other player somehow connected to my Nintendo through the power cord, which in the early days of Prodigy and CompuServe, may very well have been the Internet. And, yes, I choose to use this snapshot into my childhood as an example of what a visionary I am and not for what it really was: a pathetic little kid with no friends, sitting by himself playing video games and keeping detailed stats on said video games (I had a scorebook and everything).]




The Greatest Post of the Year!!

I’d tell you about my NYE night, but the fact of the matter is you don’t care and I can’t remember much of it anyway. There were some Irish car bombs, then some flippy cup, and then I fell down a bunch. Final memory of the evening: Lying on one of my neighbor’s lawn at 2am after I had just walked into a parked car, screaming at nothing in particular. I woke up in the morning with a half empty plate of pizza, an unfinished glass of wine, and a dislocated left thumb. “Hangin’ in a chow line... Good times.”

(Wow... I just reread that paragraph, and... um... I’m engaged? How in the hell did that happen?)

Anyway, yesterday The Lady Friend’s brother had a seizure. He has epilepsy, so it’s happened before and wasn’t exactly the most surprising of things; regardless, it’s still a rather scary moment. Seizures in general tend to freak me the fuck out. The fact that the wiring in your body can get all crossed up and cause you to (essentially) short-circuit, is one of those things that it’s better for me to not think about, because if I try to wrap my head around the idea, my head will literally explode (other things I don’t think about for the same reason include: The size of the universe, the thought that after death there is nothing, Fraggle Rock in general, and how the Banks kids never noticed that their mom was a totally different person all of a sudden on “The Fresh Prince”).

I’ve only been up close and personal to someone having a seizure once before. And since I’m bored and you probably are, too (why else would you be reading this?), I’m going to tell youse about it.

It was early in the fall of 2003; I was out in North Carolina, simply biding my final nine months in the Marines, literally counting down the days I had left every morning when I awoke. On one such morning, we (my platoon) had what we called “PT” [for “Physical Training”, because just fucking calling it “working out” or “going for a jog” didn’t sound “military” (read: douchey) enough.]

Before we set off on our run -- and if I recall correctly, we were scheduled to go for about four miles that day [I only remember because I despised running any further than three miles (I don’t even like to drive that far, let alone run) and would do just about anything to get out of having to run that far (as opposed to now, when I won’t run over, say, two city blocks)], so I was already being one groggy, cranky son of a bitch -- everyone gathered into a giant circle, with longtime friend of the show Evelio leading us in stretches (because as we all know, everybody stretches out in the same manner, be them 19 or 40, so uniform stretching is easily the most effective way for everyone to be ready for a run).

We went through our ten minutes of coordinated, bullshit stretches and Evelio told us to stretch out on our own for a few minutes. A few moments later, I noticed the dude to my right, an odd fella named Murphy, had begun staring at the sun and walking around in tiny circles.

Now, to know Murphy was to know weirdness personified. He was in his young twenties, spent most of his time in a bath robe, really, really liked “The Matrix,” and was being let out of the Marines for being (oh, how do I put this nicely?) “batshit fucking insane.”

So when the Murph started walking around in little circles and staring at the sun, everyone just thought to themselves “There goes crazzzzzzy ‘ol Murphy… Being all crazzzzzy again!” (If you want to get a more realistic feel for the way we said it, say it to yourself in your best Professor Frink voice, and do so while performing jazz hands.)

Then he started making some weird, gurgling noise. “Huh?” everyone thought aloud.

Then he fell to the grass and started convulsing.

Still, no one knew what the hell was going on. In fact, the first statement put into words when Murphy started seizing was by Evelio who said “Ha… That’s a funny stretch.”

(And, yes, that was the exact second that Evelio punched his ticket to hell.)

After what felt like at least ten minutes, but more realistically was at the most five seconds, I finally spoke up and said “Ummm... I think he’s having a seizure.” This was met by twenty sets of eyes; all staring back at me, not knowing what the hell was going on. “Well... then... I guess I’ll go call an ambulance,” I said to the crowd of stunned dumbasses before running into our barracks and calling the paramedics.

While we were waiting for the paramedics to arrive, most of the rest of the platoon left for their run (someone tried to tell me to go too, but I counteracted them by saying that if something else bad happened, these brain morons would apparently need me around to dial “9-1-1”) and I started thinking about what in the hell seizures really were.

After about three seconds of thinking about it, I stopped. Too weird and too big for me to grasp, it’s better if I don’t bother. All I need to know is that they’re scary as all hell.

Although, once, they did get me out of having to run four miles.

And that’s my boring story for the day. You’re welcome.

[As an addendum, I always assumed that Evelio’s “Ha... That’s a funny stretch” would be the most offensive line I would hear while someone was having a seizure. But then, about two months later, Murphy started having another seizure, this time directly in front of my room. My roommate Will and I were lying in bed (not together. We had bunks!) when our neighbor Billy flung our door open and said “Murph’s having a seizure!”

To which Will replied, “Well. Shut the damn door, then.”

And then we went back to bed.

(Not together.)]

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