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).]


Damnit Al, now I want some Hungry Howie's.
Yoohoo...I'll make you famous.

I was doing on-line gaming before Al Gore ever came up with the internets. It was on local BBSs in the St.Louis area. There was a website called firehouse, or something like that, that listed phone numbers of all the BBS's. The BBS, "The Laughing Buddha", was my favorite.
You are not a god.

Why don't you pull the trigger and find out.

I love that movie.
Oh, man... The Young Guns series became an alltime classic with the release of "Regulators" by Warren G (perhaps the greatest rap song of all time? You decide.) If you can get rap artists to sample from a western movie, well... that's one damn good western movie.

And, in my opinion, Guns Duece was better than the first. But, as I will freely admit, I am a sucker for sequals. Of course, I'm also a sucker for all things Emelio, Alan Ruck, and Keifer Sutherland (pre-A Few Good Men).
You said "staunch."
Agreed. Two was much better than one. I believe you are also forgetting the immortal Christian Slater from your list. He has a long rapsheet of outstanding flicks.

Any movie that contains a Lady Godiva scene is an instant classic.

Didn't "Regulators" only sample from YG1 and not YG2?
Yeah just the "You can't be any geek off the street" speech from one was on Regulators.

Arkansas Dave Rudabaum was a great character. I like to confuse people by calling semi-superstars on a team with bigger superstars (ie. Scott Rolen to Albert Pujols) "Arkansas Dave Rudabaums" from time to time.
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