Here’s the deal. I saw a movie some time ago and, following the films final images, the screen went black…and then read – “The End?” This is not good. And not unique to this particular movie (and, no, I can’t recall what movie it was). A number of cinematic features have employed this clever end title over the years, and I think we can tolerate it no more.

Often “The End” will appear first and then, after a beat, the coy question mark will appear. To which I say – make up your mind, gosh darn it! Is this or is this not the end of the movie? You made the movie. You should know when it’s over.

Look, I have no problem with a good, old fashioned “To Be Continued.” Whether used accurately, as in Back to the Future, or as a failed promise, as the end credits of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension incorrectly guaranteeing his return in Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League. The point is, if you want the audience to know that you’re planning a sequel, it’s okay to just let them know. Adding a question mark after “The End” doesn’t make you appear mysterious, it makes you seem like you don’t know what the hell is going on.

I could continue my rant. If I had more information. You see, I wanted to look over a list of all of the movies that had utilized this unacceptable end credit punctuation…but no such list exists. Which brings up an even bigger issue – apparently the internet does not know everything!!!

I know, I know, take a moment. Catch your breath. It’s a game changer. Granted, when I was growing up and I wanted to know something I had to either (a) ask an adult, (b) look in a book, or (c) sadly face the fact that I would never really know anything, but nowadays I fully expect for Google to be able to answer any ridiculous question that pops in my head. But when I asked everyone’s favorite search engine to give me a list of all movies that ended with “The End?” there was nothing to be found. Not a single article addressing this issue. Nary a blog post. Wikipedia was bare.

Sure, if you want to know any number of ridiculous other things, the internet is there for you. If, for example, you’re pining for a list of Strangely Specific Apology Cakes, you’re all set.

If you’re desperate for information regarding the Things You Can’t Bring to the Sochi Olympic Games (for example, no meteorological equipment was allowed), merely type the words.

And if you’re looking for a list of Good Places to Cuddle in Public, that’s easily found as well. Obviously I’m not arguing against the fact that “Under a tree,” and “The Zoo,” are exceptional places to cuddle in public. Everyone knows that. I’m just a little upset that these crazy lists are available and my crazy list is not.

The world has changed. I have changed. I am no longer capable of finding information on my own. I don’t know how to do it. And Google is to blame. Listen up, Google, if you’re going to create a world in which everything we ever need to know is available at our fingertips, in mere seconds, via your site…you better darn well make sure that everything we need to know is available at our fingertips, in mere seconds, via your site. And you’ve left me wanting. I need a list of every movie ever made that chose to put a question mark in the end credits. I can’t possibly go and watch every single movie ever made in an insane effort to compile this list myself. That’s what the internet was built for – for all of the crazy people with bizarrely specific obsessions to do the leg work for the rest of us.

So please, Google, use your autobots and drones to read this post and correct this error. (And, again, I apologize for getting upset and trying to sacrifice you to Satan. My bad).

Here’s the deal. When I was growing up I had to remember only one password – the three digit combination to the tiny padlock on my purple, Care Bears diary. Granted, I didn’t have all of the responsibilities of an adult, but as a nineteen year old, it was refreshing to only concern myself with the recollection of this one password. It’s a little different today.

According to an official sounding study I located, the average adult today has 25 password-protected accounts. Furthermore, the average adult uses only 6.5 passwords to protect these accounts. Which begs the question – what good is half a password? Does it, perchance, get you access to the face but not the book? Very suspicious.

But I can hardly blame the average adult, it is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all of the passwords we need to get through a day in our digital age. I know that I can’t remember all of my passwords. I have 46 passwords written on the back page of my padlocked, purple, Care Bears diary – and I am constantly referencing this page when I need to access any of my many important online accounts. Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to write down our passwords, but I don’t know what else to do. It’s the Catch-22 of passwords that the easier it is for you to remember, the easier it is for a hacker to guess. Unfortunately, the harder a password is for you to remember, the harder it is for you to remember, thus rendering the password fairly pointless as your inability to recall it denies you access to whatever it is that password was protecting in the first place.

And passwords are only getting more and more complicated. Many sites are now requiring you to use both uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers and special characters. It’s pretty easy for me to remember the password for my ATM (“Money Now”), it’s a little bit trickier for me to recall the password for my LinkedIn account (“2*goPW671#bLLlL39?vF21>4 Now”). And now many sites will kick you off, or accuse you of not being human, or deny you access all together after you incorrectly guess your password three times. Why should we have to be guessing our own passwords in the first place? But this has happened to me many times. Granted, I’m taking educated guesses, but I have no idea what most of my own passwords are. And when I try to create a new password, the site just tries to make me feel bad when that little password strength meter comes up and informs me that my current password choice is “weak.” Hey, screw you, password strength meter – I’m doing the best that I can over here, it’s a freakin’ complicated world, alright?

Passwords started out as something much simpler. In ancient Rome, the military guards would only allow access to certain areas if their toga-clad countryman knew the correct password.

“Halt,” the sentry would grumble, “Who goes there?”

“It is I, Antonius Danica Patrickus.”

“Hmmm, what is the password?”

“Simple. It’s 2*goPW671#bLLlL39?vF21>4 Now.”

And that’s all there was to it.

Clearly, most of our hesitant to enter this new world of complex, unique passwords. The three most common passwords in 2013 were: (1) 123456, (2) password, and (3) 12345678. Experts claim that 123456 is not a strong password as it follows a common pattern. Take a moment and see if you can spot it. That’s right, it’s a series of whole numbers in ascending order. Similarly, “password” is not a good password in much the same way that Child would not be a good name for your child. Some have extended the most common password by two digits, taking it all the way to 8 – but as they are still keeping the numbers in the order that we all learn in Kindergarten, it’s not a great improvement on the original.

But I understand the desire to keep it simple. I’m half tempted to change all my passwords to 1 -2 -3. Let the hackers do what they well. There’s only so much they’ll be able to accomplish with access to my old Poker Stars account, the eleven coupons on my grocery store card membership, and the eighty three bucks in my checking account.

My only real concern would be that they could access my Care Bears diary and find out that I had a crush on Mrs. Owens in third grade…crap, time to change my passwords again.

Here’s the deal. I love cereal. Here’s how I shop for cereal – I buy whatever is on sale. That’s how much I like cereal. That is to say, I like so many different types of cereal that I am content with whichever brand is currently discounted. That being said, there are definitely some cereals that are better than others…

BONUS LIST – TOP TEN CEREALS

(11) Honey Graham Oh’s

(10) Cinnamon Toast Crunch

(9) Fruity Pebbles

(8) Captain Crunch

(7) Rice Krispies

(6) Krave

(5) Grape Nuts

(4) Special K Chocolatey Delight

(3) Cinnamon Life

(2) Honey Bunches of Oats

(1) Crackin’ Oat Bran

I must, however, take a moment to say that I do have my issues with Fruity Pebbles, namely – Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble. Did you know that these two used to star in a commercial for Winston cigarettes and a promotional short for Anheuser Busch? What kind of role models are they for children? As animated characters, they should know better. And, as I recall, in their cereal commercials, Barney was always finding ways to steal Fred’s Fruity Pebbles. Theft, underage drinking, and tobacco usage…any other messages for the kiddies watching at home, you pre-historic brutes?

Dude, she REALLY likes corn.

Then again, cereal advertising has always been weird. There was that criminally insane bird who fixated on Cocoa Puffs. There was that sad, unfortunate rabbit that only ever wanted a bowl of Trix, but was tormented by the cruel children who refused to give him even a bite. There was that wildly mistaken leprechaun who insisted that we’d never get his Lucky Charms, even though they were widely available at grocery stores everywhere for a few bucks. There was Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch who…okay, that guy’s actually pretty cool. And, according to the world wide webs, in 1965, Honey Smacks experimented with a mascot called the Smackin’ Bandit, a half mule, half kangaroo creature that would try and kiss everyone in sight. Yikes.

What the hell is going on in cereal commercials? Our product will drive your children to steal. Our cereal could lead to mental instability and hallucinations. Eat ours, and never share again. Ours is part of a complete, balanced breakfast…and could result in molestation from an ungodly abomination of a creature.

I also don’t particularly like how low they set the bar for new cereals. There is no other item in the grocery store that will introduce new brands so flippantly. Have a television show? We’ll turn it into a cereal. (Addams Family, Scooby Doo, Sesame Street, The Smurfs, SpongeBob Square Pants, etc.) Made a movie? Now it’s a cereal. (Star Wars, Kung-Fu Panda, Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters, E.T., Gremlins, Pirates of the Caribbean and others). Is your toy popular? Why not churn out yet another cheap, soon to be discontinued brand of breakfast delight? (Rainbow Brite, G.I. Joe, Barbie, Hot Wheels, Cabbage Patch Kids, Nintendo, and Monopoly have all been cereals).

Was there a Mr. T Cereal? Of course. Did someone produce Urkel-O’s? Amazingly, yes. Is there a Richard Petty themed cereal? Why not? Bill and Ted’s Excellent Cereal. Somehow it happened.

This is the dark side of my beloved breakfast treat. The fact that cereal companies will use any flavor of the week to create a flavor of the week. They probably have a huge vat of generic, sugary crunchy stuff. Dump in some blue marshmallows and they’ve got Smurfs cereal. Next week, they toss in a Johnny Depp trading card and call it Pirates of the Caribbean Flakes. After that they simply add some cabbage flavoring and – bazam – Cabbage Patch Kids cereal.

Please, just stop it. These are not good cereals. No one, and I mean no one ever in the history of the world, should have to eat an Urkel-O.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post…isn’t it annoying how long it takes for the cereal companies to update the back of their cereal boxes. You know how they put the games and puzzles on the back so you can have some wholesome family entertainment along with the most important meal of the day. Well, last week Honey Nut Cheerios were on sale, and imagine my disappointment when I got home, turned the box around, and was instructed to, “Help Buzz out of a Sticky Situation.” Son of a bitch. That’s the same damn sticky situation Buzz was in last time I bought this cereal about a year and a half ago. Has no one helped him out in all this time? It’s not that difficult to deduce which is the actual mayor and solve the code. And, frankly, I don’t want to do it again. It was just barely fun the first time. So, cereal companies, new games on the back of the boxes please.

And, dear God, no more Urkel-O’s.

 

Here’s the deal. Everyone knows the story of the Trojan War. There was this super hot chick, Helen of Troy, and there were the Greeks, and the Romans, and this guy named Troy…uh, so, they all go to Mount Olympus with the half man/half cooking utensil God, Pan…once there, Danny DeVito and James Woods sing about Hercules, and then war breaks out, and there’s a little metallic owl flying around, and everyone is rescued by Xena, Warrior Princess. Okay, so maybe not everyone knows the story of the Trojan War. But that’s not the point. The point is, the Trojan Horse is really pretty stupid.

For those of you who napped through your high school history classes, here’s the basics – the Greeks had been at war with the city of Troy for nearly a decade over the rights to the local condom factory. But they simply could not penetrate (you better believe that pun was intended) the city walls. Luckily, Odysseus had an excellent idea. Unfortunately, rather than sharing his excellent idea, he instead suggested the notion of the Trojan Horse.

So the Greeks decided to build a massive, wooden horse and hide a whole bunch of their soldiers inside. They then pretended to sail away, shouting things like, “Look over here, we’re leaving now! And we’re never coming back to destroy you! Just sailing away! War is over! Bye, bye!” And, because the whole plan wasn’t quite subtle enough, they left one guy, Sinon, behind. His job was to pretend to be upset at his fellow Greeks for deserting him. “Hey, Trojans,” he called out, “I can’t believe those jerks left me here. And they also totally forgot their awesome, giant, horse statue that is definitely not full of Greek soldiers.”

That’s it. Pretend like you’re giving up on the war and leave a huge present for your enemies. Then, of course, once the Trojans took the horse inside their city walls, the soldiers snuck out at night and let in the rest of the Greek army, which had used the military strategy of “turning around” and sailing right back to Troy. And then they killed all the Trojans.

The only thing dumber than that plan was the people it worked on. Seriously? Why would the army you’ve been engaged in a brutal, bloody ten year conflict with leave you a parting gift? Do you think Lincoln considered sending Robert E. Lee a fifty foot gift basket full of life size Union soldier shaped chocolates to end the Civil War? It’s absurd.

Plus, it’s lead to the phrase, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” which I can only imagine has given millions of Greeks a terrible complex when they go to birthday parties. That’s not fair. The vast majority of the time when you encounter a person from Greece and they offer you a present, it will not be full of mercenaries intent on murdering you in your sleep. Honestly, it’s almost never the case. It’s usually just, like, a nice goat cheese or some baklava.

Why we look back on this fictitious trickery as great military strategy is beyond me. No one has ever won a war by constructing oversized equine statues. And who would even want a giant wooden horse? Why were the Trojans all, “Oh, cool, a hollow horse statue big enough to hold many, many people but now almost certainly empty…that will look fantastic on our throw rug next to the dressing armoire.” “Yeah, let’s haul it inside before the neighbors try and nab it! Yippee!” Isn’t it just a little suspicious? Isn’t it just a little ridiculous? Really, what were they going to do with the Trojan Horse, once they got it inside their city walls? It’s not functional, they really didn’t have room for it, and, honestly, it didn’t even match the armoire.

Here’s the deal. Next week I turn forty.

I know what you’re thinking, “Now that I’ve got Makya’s birthdate, I’m one step closer to assuming his identity.” Well, I’ve got news for you – some guy stole my identity last year and after two weeks he called me up apologizing, telling me that he couldn’t keep up with the debt payments, that he was unable to lose weight, and that he was now haunted by memories of high school where he was routinely trounced at tetherball by an eight year old girl, and begged me to take my identity back. So go ahead, try my identity on for awhile, I don’t mind. Maybe you can make something happen with it.

But this post is not about identity theft, it’s about milestones. This is my 200th blog post. When I first started this blog, each and every one of my family members called me up and said that I’d never write more than three or four posts, that no one would read or comment on a blog written by a dirty Scotsman, and that I was a general disappointment. That’s not true. My family has always been supportive of everything I’ve done. Maybe too supportive. I think maybe my mom or dad should have tried to talk me out of taking out that two hundred thousand dollar loan to open a museum dedicated to Jewish stars of the NBA. Seriously. What was I thinking?

But this isn’t a blog post about basketball or how many blog posts I’ve written, it’s about the fact that I turn forty next week.

forty

Many people ask me the secrets of turning forty, and how I’ve managed to do it without even really trying. I’m not here to brag, but I’ve put virtually no effort into turning forty and yet it’s about to happen. So, for all you kids out there who aspire to some day follow in my footsteps and turn forty just like cool Uncle Makya, here’s how you do it.

How To Turn Forty Without Really Trying:

(1) Be born.

(2) Wait.

It’s just that simple. This ridiculously convenient two step plan is the secret to all of my forty-turning success. But I must warn you as well, there are some downsides to turning forty.

Firstly, there’s the ear hair. This has become a serious issue for me. I understand that we all have small ear hairs that help to keep the ear canal free of particles, sure, I can live with that. But what exactly is the advantage of the ear pony tail my body is apparently attempting to grow? My ear hairs come out thick and strong, like a substantial New England stew, or the undergrowth in the Siberian tundra – and they don’t go down without a fight. When I try and pull them out with a pair of tweezers, they often pull back.

There’s also the steep mental decline. About once a week now I will start a sentence and halfway through realize that I’ve no idea how it’s going to end. My own statements have become mystery novellas. Oh boy, I can’t wait to hear what happens next…should not be one’s inner monologue in relation to one’s own train of thought. I feel quite strongly that upon beginning a sentence I have some clear intent, but in the ensuing two to three seconds my brain goes down for a quick nap leaving me to look quite the fool. Oh, brain, remember our twenties when you were spry and clever and active for more than twenty minutes at a time?

And then there’s the ridiculous injuries. I hurt my wrist a few days ago. You know what I was doing? Sitting in bed watching TV. Was I changing the channel? Was I rearranging a pillow? No. My wrist was doing exactly nothing. It was sitting still between my arm and hand, as usual, when I experienced a sudden shooting pain. I shouldn’t be able to hurt myself doing nothing. I’ve dedicated my life to not going rock climbing, parasailing, or bungee jumping because I knew full well that these activities would end in an assortment of embarrassments and pains. But injuring myself through inactivity is even more embarrassing. My back hurts. Why? Because it exists.

Of course, turning forty should not be as big a deal as we make of it. It is, after all, the end of our fortieth year and the beginning or our forty-first that we are marking with this occasion. (Just as our first birthday marks the very last day of our first year of life, and the beginning or our second year). So, really, I’ve sort of been forty this whole past year…and you’re kind of a year older than you think you are. You’re welcome.

That’s not to suggest that I’m not accepting gifts. This is a big deal. My two hundredth blog post and fortieth birthday all in the same week. Come on people, let’s pony up. By which I mean – I want a pony for my birthday. Or cash. Yeah, cash is a lot better than a pony. Oooh, what about a pony full of cash? Like a young horse taxidermied and stuffed with money. That’s the best of both worlds. I could look at the pony and say something like, “Cool, I have a pony.” But then I could also reach down the pony’s throat and pull out wads of hundred dollar bills. Yeah, I want a money pony for my birthday.

Either that or a much better pair of tweezers.

Here’s the deal. As of February 3rd, this blog has received 2,313 comments…2,312 of which were submitted pre 2014. Clearly something needs to be done to remedy the situation. If this is going to be the year of super terrific fun time greatness for this blog, we are going to have to regain our former comment activity.

So I did a little research. There are a number of proven methods for increasing blog comments, and that number is seven. (All of which appear in convenient numerical order below). That’s right, rather than choosing one or two comment creating ideas as most people suggested, I am going to utilize all of them in this very blog post to maximize comment potential. In a historic, unprecedented internet move, I am crossing the streams and turning it up to eleven with this post – if there’s a way to get readers to comment, it’s going to appear below and no one will be immune…in all likelihood you’re already feeling the need to comment. That’s right, give in. It’s okay. All the cool kids are doing it. And you can comment as much as you darn well please. If anything below gets your ire up, sparks a thought, or compels you to lend a helping hand, this is your chance, let your voice be heard. Let’s do this thing. Let the comment-inducing tactics commence…

(1) Be controversial/Attack someone. Finnish people smell of cauliflower! Your aunt Linda is a bore! Poodles are ridiculous!

(2) Ask for help. Can somebody please tell me how to prepare a mint-infused bran muffin? What’s the best way to prepare for two thirds of a triathlon? How can I keep squirrels out of my kitchen?

(3) Be Unexpected. Sometimes I wear my socks in the shower. My favorite Jonas brother is Geraldo. 2 + 3 = 8.

 

(4) Take a Stand. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods was the best movie of the year. Greatest invention of the twentieth century…Pez. Su Lin the giant panda for president!

(5) Make a Mistake for Readers to Correct. As everyone reading this probably already knows, the War of 1812 lasted over three years. Neptune, the seventh farthest planet from the sun, is a gas giant composed primarily of nitrogen and hydrogen. Pauly Shore is a fine actor.

(6) Ask a Question. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Where have all the cowboys gone?

(7) Add Links. Click here for a recipe for chocolate, mint, oat bran muffins. Check out this entertaining and informative BBC article on the exporting of Chinese giant pandas to U.S. zoos.  And here’s a great article about how not to smell like cauliflower (are you paying attention, Finns?)

Okay, ball’s in your court…

Here’s the deal. After many moons of writing an award-worthy blog, I’ve often wondered about just who is reading it. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have an idea of how many people took a gander, and maybe even know where they came from? Unfortunately, no technology exists that would allow for such fantasy. Except, perhaps, for the web analytics programs that collect, measure and report internet data such as unique page views per day via server log file analysis and/or JavaScript embedded page tagging that produces web traffic statistics which can be converted into easily-understood, personalized reports such as the ones provided by wordpress.com.

So let’s take a look.

The newest and best technologies indicate that, in the past year, my blog received “quite a few” views from places “near” and “far.” What was everyone in such a tizzy over? If you’re new to the old MMVS, here’s a sweet, sweet taste to whet your appetite. The five most viewed posts of 2013…

(5) Vs. People Who Leave Their Shopping Carts in the Parking Lot. Everyone complains about people putting the cart before the horse, but I find this to be much more annoying.

(4) Top Ten Letters of the Alphabet. Big scandal when I wrote this one and P was subsequently accused of performance enhancing…that’s right, calligraphy.

(3) Vs. Women Walking Around Barefoot While Carrying Their High Heels. Right?

(2) Top Ten Most Annoying facebook Status Updates. Number 1 of all my top 10 lists, and number 2 on my top 5 of 2013, this is sure 2  be 1 4 the ages.

(1) Vs. Referring to Yourself in the Third Person. Don’t do it. Please.

But I’m not here to shamelessly promote my blog from within my blog, I’m here to get YOU to shamelessly promote my blog from wherever you happen to be. Yeah, you, the guy in Guatemala.

untitled

You see, I’ve got thousands of readers spanning the globe. (Note: I do not, to the best of my knowledge, have any one reader who is currently spanning the globe, much less thousands…it’s just that there are thousands of people who have read this blog and they do so from various countries around the world. So. You know.) And today I am most concerned with those countries which have produced only a single, solitary reader.

Latvia, for example, is fine. There were two individuals from Latvia who read my blog last year. So please feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Macedonia, Senegal, Libya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Angola, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Myanmar, Kazakhstan, and Bangladesh, however…that’s a different issue entirely. Each of these countries had one person check in. And this blog is addressing these thirteen individuals specifically. If you happen to be the one person from your homeland who has discovered my blog, congratulations and thank you. We’re in this together now. We both have important jobs. My job is to sit here, in the comfort of my apartment, and write silly, silly things. You’re job is to get out there and tell everyone you know about how much fun it is to read the silly, silly things which I write from the comfort of my apartment.

Come on, there’s a whole nation out there waiting for us. And it’s not all about me. Imagine the gratitude and gifts they’ll shower upon you for sharing this blog. You could conceivably receive cash, fresh fruits and/or gently-used electronics. Stick with me, kid. There’s no limit to how high we can soar.

Also, if you live anywhere other than Macedonia, Senegal, Libya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Angola, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Myanmar, Kazakhstan, and Bangladesh, feel free to talk me up as well. 2014 is going to be a big year if you and I are willing to put in the time, dedication and hard work. Mostly you.