Here’s the deal. Have you seen the infomercial for the Rapid Ramen Cooker? If not, go youtube that sucker real swift like. Here, I’ll do it for you, THIS is the link. I’ll wait…

Okay. Now that we’re all on the same page, what the hell is up with the Rapid Ramen Cooker? Let’s be perfectly clear, this is a small, plastic container for cooking ramen noodles in your microwave. Which is very close to the definition of something no one needs.

The main selling point is that it cooks the noodles faster. Am I missing something? Weren’t instant noodles already the absolute easiest thing to cook in the universe? They’re called instant noodles. How can instant not be fast enough for you? Do you want the noodles to appear, fully cooked, before you even know that you’re hungry? What is happening to the world?!?

Nobody needs a way to get this “food” into your body faster. These pre-cooked blocks of dried noodles have a shelf life of three to four centuries. We’re not in a hurry.

It’s a miracle!

But let’s break down the infomercial beat by beat to see just what makes Rapid Ramen so revolutionary. Here are a series of actual quotes from the Rapid Ramen infomercial and website with my thoughts…

“You know you love Ramen noodles.”     Are you a college student… we’re hoping you’re a college student.

“But it takes too long to cook in a pot.”     It does not take too long to cook Ramen noodles in a pot.

“Rapid Ramen makes perfect noodles in half the time.”     If you want perfect noodles, you should probably be willing to spend more than fourteen cents on your dinner. And if your time is so valuable that the difference between a six minute meal and a three minute meal is a deal breaker, chances are you’re not eating this stuff in the first place.

“Heat resistant handles.”     It has handles.

“Engineered in the same dimension as a block of Ramen noodles.”     It’s a rectangle.

“The patented reservoir design circulates just the right amount of water for ideal heat distribution.”     If you put water in a plastic container in the microwave, the water will boil.

“Reusable.”    Of course it’s freaking reusable, it’s a small, plastic container.

“Easy to remove from microwave.”     As opposed to what? That time you tried to microwave a greased up bowling ball?

“Never use pots or pans again.”     Sure, if the only thing you’re ever going to eat for the rest of your life is microwaved Ramen noodles.

“Clever cooking design”     Seriously?

“We are not responsible if information made available on this site is not accurate, complete, or current. Any reliance on the material on this site is at your own risk.”     At last, we agree.

Here’s the deal. There are roughly fifty states in America. And each state has at least four cities. But that’s no excuse for lazy city naming. For example, twenty-eight states have a city named after the state (New York, NY, Kansas City, KS, et.) – is there any way to put less effort into naming your city? Why not just call it City City? Pitiful. Then there’s Alabama, NY, Montana, WI, Alaska, NM, New Mexico, MD, Texas, NY, and New York, TX. Seriously? There are so many words out there, why do we keep using the same ones over and over? Thirty-five states have a Greenville. Look, if I was that 35th state, I think I might have raised my hand and suggested a name that wasn’t already a city in every other state – at least change the color. Magentaville has a ring to it.

Fortunately, some cities have stepped up to the plate and come up with truly interesting and unique names. Lest I be accused of xenophobia, first let me acknowledge the three international honorable mentions.

Top Three International Best City Names

3. Humpty Doo, Australia

2. Moose Factory, Canada

1. Middlefart, Denmark

And now, the moment virtually none of you have been waiting for…

Top Ten Best U.S. City Names

11. Humptulips, WA – States need not feel the pressure to have their city names make any kind of sense, just put some sounds together and see what happens.

10. Ninety Six, SC – And when you can’t come up with an original word, try using a number. This city name is even more interesting as no one seems to have any idea where it came from…they got 96 problems but an unoriginal town name ain’t one.

9. Disco, IL – You have to have big disco balls to name your city after a seventies dance craze. My fingers are crossed for The Hustle, Oklahoma.

8. Toad Suck, AR – What happens in Toad Suck…no, really, it’s a question – what does happen in Toad Suck?

7. Nothing, AZ – Actual sign outside of the city: “Town of Nothing Arizona. Founded 1977. Elevation 3,269 feet. The staunch citizens of Nothing are full of Hope, Faith, and Believe in the work ethic. Through the years these dedicated people had faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing, worked at Nothing, for Nothing.” Unfortunately, the town was recently abandoned and there’s now nothing there.

6. Pee Pee, OH – I try to be mature. I try to be an adult. But, come on, a place called Pee Pee? That’s almost as good as Middlefart. So, if you go to Ohio, you can actually visit an area where over seven thousand people live in Pee Pee.

5. Nimrod, AR – Do we call them Nimrodians? Nimrodites? Or just plain Nimrods?

4. (tie) Why, AZ and Whynot, MS – The question so many people have asked when moving to the Southwest…”Why Arizona?” And the answer to why people choose to live in Mississippi – why not?

3. Zzyzx, CA – Probably the most fun to say on the list. And points for not worrying about being at the bottom of an alphabetical grouping.

2. Unalaska, AK – This is the exact opposite of NY, NY. It’s Unalaska, Alaska. How is it possible? It’s simultaneously Alaska and not Alaska. I like it. 

1. Monkey’s Eyebrow, KY – Strangely specific and entirely nonsensical. We have a winner.

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.