I Hate, John Mayer!

I hate John Mayer so very much. I’m not sure if there’s anyone in the music world that I hate as much as John Mayer.

Why do I hate John Mayer?

I hate John Mayer because I don’t buy his sensitive singer-songwriter bit. I think he’s pulling a fast one over on the ladies. All of his songs should be called “What do I need to say to get you to sleep with me?”

And yet, it works. According to my research department (wiki) he’s dated Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston. Jennifer Aniston? That’s not fair! I have it on good authority (from my people in Cabo) that Jennifer Aniston is even hotter in person than she appears to be in the picture shows. And he dumped her! Not cool, John Mayer.

I hate John Mayer because he dropped out of school to pursue his music career full-time – and it worked! Schlubs like me dream of going to the world-famous Berklee College of Music (located in the scenic Back Bay of Boston) to hone our musical chops but we can’t get in because they don’t accept 38 year old C+ level harmonica players. John Mayer actually got into the coveted school but had the audacity to skip out after just two semesters to chase his muse. What a jerk.

I hate John Mayer because he’s a renaissance man. He writes songs. He plays the guitar. He sings like an angel. He writes well. He does charity work. He does stand up comedy. He collects (and designs) sneakers and guitars. The hip-hop community loves him. Steve Jobs loves him. Jeez, dude, leave a little for the rest of us.

I hate John Mayer because he thinks he’s the next coming of Eric Clapton. As the saying goes, “EC is god.” By Mayer’s logic that makes him the second (third?) coming of god. To think that some spoiled brat from Southern Connecticut would compare himself to god seems super-megalomaniacal insane. When you’ve loved and lost like Eric Clapton, then you can be a blues master like Eric Clapton. Or maybe when you make solid pop-blues albums like Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard you can be the next Clapton. You know, like Continuum. Oh, damn you, John Mayer, you really might be the next Clapton.

Aww, who am I kidding? I don’t hate John Mayer at all. I kind of love John Mayer. I’m just jealous of him because he’s so handsome and talented and popular and cool. And he is undeserving of our (my) scorn. So the next time you find yourself inexplicably hating John Mayer, think of these things:

• The John Mayer Trio is a pretty solid power trio;

• He’s written a ton of good to great songs, including “Gravity”, “Daughters”, “Dreaming with a Broken Heart”, “In Repair”, “Stop this Train”, “In Your Atmosphere” and “I’m Gonna Find a New You”;

• He had the audacity to cover Jimi Hendrix’s “Axis: Bold as Love” and did an impressive job with it;

• He’s so tough that he laughed when he got his many, many tattoos. He was stone-cold sober and he laughed at the puny needle. Now, that’s tough!

• His solo version of “Human Nature” at the MJ funeral was great, until they faffed it up with the shitty background vocals; and

• He dated Jennifer Aniston.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that I do not hate John Mayer and I do love John Mayer. He probably is the second coming of Eric Clapton (although I’m not sure if that’s the greatest things since Clapton has been a bit of an underachiever throughout his career). He seems like a nice enough guy and we’re lucky to have him. That is all.

###

A Handy Little Guide to Choosing the Perfect Place to Stay When Traveling Away from Home

Traveling away from home can be one of the most exciting things to do in life. It can also be the most frightening, especially when you get sleepy and are far away from your own comfy bed. And while most people understand the basic concept of exchanging money for a room, the options can quickly become overwhelming. Should you stay at a hostel, motel, corporate hotel, boutique hotel or luxury hotel? All are legitimate options and all have their pros and cons.

With the busy holiday travel season fast approaching, we’ve developed this handy little guide to help make your life just a little bit easier. We like to call it:

A Handy Little Guide to Choosing the Perfect Place to Stay When Traveling Away from Home

Hostels

Hostels are the cheapest option for the budget-conscious traveler. Traditionally, hostels were intended for traveling students, but thanks to our shameless European friends, anyone of any age can now stay at a youth hostel as long as they’re wearing shorts, thick wool socks and a rucksack.

The downside of staying in a hostel is that you’ll most likely end up sleeping in an army surplus cot in a large common room with the aforementioned European. Sadly, our Euro friends aren’t that concerned about daily showering and hostels usually smell pretty rank. Also, if you fall asleep too deeply someone will probably steal one of your vital organs.

On the plus side, if you’re in the market for a kidney but don’t have $15,000 to spare you can usually find a sleeping Euro at your local youth hostel. Just follow your nose!

Motel

If you like the general ambiance of the youth hostel but are seeking a little bit more privacy you might be interested in a motel. Motels are blocks of rooms with exterior entrances that are centered around a parking lot. The key to choosing a good motel lies within reading the message board carefully. When the board says “weekly rates” what they really mean is “hourly rates for you and your tranny prostitute.” When they say “A/C” what they mean is “no heat.” When they say “free HBO” what they really mean is “free HBO” – jump on that right away.

Definitely look for a motel that bills itself as a “motor lodge” or “inn”. It’s a little-known fact that in order to legally call yourself an inn or motor lodge you must have a mini-sized pool table in the game room. Don’t forget to bring a roll of quarters!

Corporate Hotels

Corporate hotels come in all shapes, sizes and quality levels and can cost anywhere from $75 to $500 a night, depending on the location and the thread count of the sheets and towels. Unlike motels, hotel feature interior room entrances, hallways, lobbies, restaurants/bars and patrons without felony convictions. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to scope out the individual properties in order to determine whether the hotel meets your personal standards and is worth the cost.

Things I look for in scoping out high-quality corporate hotels: those nice, thick plastic laundry bags hanging in the closet (perfect for transporting sensitive organs packed in ice!); an extra pillow in the closet that isn’t made out of feathers; 2-ply tissues and TP; ice machines on every floor (perfect for…well, you know); and a bar that doesn’t turn into a breakfast buffet in the morning (that really depresses me for some reason).

Boutique Hotels

I personally favor boutique hotels because when I stay at them they make me feel slightly hipper than I really am. Signs that you’re in a boutique hotel: the lobby and the bar area are nicer than your house; the staff is better looking than you; the staff is slightly rude to you (because they’re better looking – duh); your room is the size of a closet (but a nice-sized closet) and is all art deco-y; the mini-bar has condoms AND chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

Please note that the one thing you can never ask for in a boutique hotel is where the gym is located. There isn’t one. People that stay in boutique hotels stay thin through the cigarette and vodka diet. Looking for the gym is a tip-off to the staff that you’re not a cool boutique hotel person and then they’ll never, ever be your friend, no matter how many condoms and chocolate-covered macadamias you give them.

Luxury Hotels

Luxury Hotels are the most fun at the stay in because you can freak out the uptight patrons quite easily. Just walk through the lobby in jeans and a hoodie and you can literally hear the monocles smashing on the marble floor. Order a beer at the bar and I guarantee that you’ll hear some old bitty complain that the Four Seasons has turned into “a veritable halfway house.” Accidentally urinate in a plant and the police will accuse you of “disorderly conduct.” They’re uptight, I tell ya!

The nice thing about luxury hotels is that they put a lot of money into their bathrooms. Even the toilet paper gets its own fancy little metal door. And make sure that you load up on the free shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and hair dryers – they’re all top-notch and complimentary.

Summary

Whether you choose to stay in a hostel, motel, corporate hotel, boutique hotel or luxury hotel, the important thing to remember is that even though they don’t print the title of the movie on your bill, everyone will assume that you rented porn even if you just watched “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”

###

In Defense of (Fake) Food

Digging into a bowl of Peanut Butter Crunch the other night I had a major epiphany.

The epiphany that I’m referring to is peanut-related.

You see, after all these years of considering myself to be a huge fan of peanuts and peanut butter I realized that I actually like fake peanut butter flavoring much more than I like real peanuts or peanut butter…hence my love of Cap’n Crunch’s delicious spin-off cereal, Peanut Butter Crunch.

(Reese’s Puffs are actually better than Peanut Butter Crunch but I try not to stock Reese’s Puffs in the house because they’re way too good and I run the risk of eating an entire box in one seating. Seriously, giving me a box of Reese’s Puffs is akin to giving George Michael a wheel-barrow full of crack and a key to the men’s room. But I digress.)

The evidence is pretty overwhelming. For instance, I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups but I’m lukewarm on Snickers. I adore Butterfingers but I’m ambivalent about Baby Ruths. I obviously favor fake peanuts over actual peanuts.

Thinking about it, it’s not just peanuts that I prefer in the fake form. A couple more examples of delicious fake foods:

Real coconuts are terrible. The meat is dry and unpleasant. The juice is much too thick and tastes gross. But process that bad boy into a Pina Colada or a Mounds bar and I’m almost paradise!

Genuine crabmeat is generally disappointing. The texture is odd and gritty and it’s just not worth the effort of cracking open those pointy shells. But fake crabmeat rocks! It tastes like you think crab should taste and it has a much better consistency.

I think it’s nice that today’s ethical consumer is concerned with environmentally-responsible and healthy foodstuffs. I commend efforts to support your local farmer’s market and to buy sustainable organic produce. But I think it would be irresponsible for us not to realize that modern science has helped to make some marginal foodstuffs palatable.

So let us take pause today and celebrate the fake foods that so enrich our lives. Let us be brave enough to finally admit that Swedish Fish taste better than real fish. Let us be bold enough to declare our preference for candy corn over real corn.

Or maybe I just like candy.

###

Freaky Friday Presents: My Psychic Gift

Do you remember that old show “Crossing Over” with John Edwards? In it, John Edwards acts as a psychic medium between audience members and their dead relatives, friends, or neighbors. It’s a pretty compelling show, and it seems like John might be on the level.

Most people are pretty skeptical when it comes to the supernatural. It’s a logical position to take because the psychic industry (if it even qualifies as a real industry) is full of charlatans and scam artists. Now, I’m not claiming that Miss Cleo is a grifter per se, but how exactly do you give someone a tarot card reading over the phone?

And yet, I truly believe that John Edwards is on the level. I know this, because I too have been touched by the hand of fate. I have been blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with a psychic gift.

For many years I tried to deny my gift. Fearing ridicule and further ostracization from society, I suppressed my true self. But as any legitimate psychic would probably tell you (I couldn’t actually find any to talk to) if you have the gift, you can’t deny it.

My psychic gift first manifested itself when I was in my teens. I was working part-time at a bookstore. As a register boy, one of my responsibilities was to greet customers and bade them farewell. I noticed that some of my co-workers repeated the same phrases to each and every customer: “Thank you for shopping with us. Have a great day.”

No originality. No flair. Delivered in a monotonous tone that made it quite clear that they didn’t really care if you had a great day or not.

I made a vow to myself that I would make an earnest effort to say something different to each and every customer; no matter how much I personally disliked them. (Register boy disliked most people.) I would break from established tradition and deliver a unique and personalized greeting for all who patronized my book shop.

But a curious thing happened. Even though I kept saying different things, people would say the exact same thing back to me at precisely the same moment. I’d say, “Have a good one.” And they’d say, “Have a good one.” I’d say “Take it easy” and they’d say, “Take it easy.” And so on. It was like I was reading their minds, predicting the future, and forging a psychic bridge between us. Clearly I was slightly telepathic and a touch clairvoyant.

Needless to say, I was pretty freaked out at the time. Finding out that you’re telepathic and clairvoyant is a pretty heavy trip for a 15 year old. I decided to attempt a little experiment to verify my findings. I wanted to see what would happen if I turned the tables and played the part of the customer. I went to various stores and delivered my glad tidings. As I suspected, the same thing kept happening. My gift was very real.

To this day, I still struggle with my psychic gift. I know that it’s not cool like communicating with the dead, or lucrative like ripping people off with a 900#, but it’s real. Believe me, it’s real.

So, the next time you experience some unexplained phenomenon, don’t just discount it. As people like John Edwards and I can testify, the truth is out there.

{originally written way back on 4/23/02}

###

Posts That Could Have or Shouldn’t Have Been

Sometimes I’ll hit upon a topic that begs to be discussed but just can’t be. Usually, the problem is that the concept is too thin for a full essay (and too complicated for a tweet). Occasionally I’m afraid that the content will be deemed offensive (although my goal, as always, is to offend no one and everyone at exactly the same time.) And sometimes I just forget to write them.

But you’re in luck! Today I’ll be sharing some of the topics that could have or shouldn’t have been:

1) Gay or British?

Concept: Certain things in life seem to be the exclusive province of gay or British men. For example, straight men generally don’t use umbrellas, opting for a hat or just getting wet and looking tough. So when you spot a man with an umbrella, it begs the question: gay or British? Same thing goes for drinking (hot) tea.

Reason for failure: potentially offensive; couldn’t think of third example (I always use three examples in an essay).

2) Anything called ‘shower’ is a bad deal

Concept: Both baby showers and wedding showers are tortuous, especially if you’re a man and are obliged to attend. It’s just hours upon hours of politeness, dainty food and boring gift-opening. Rain and snow showers are also bad.

Reason for failure: shower showers are quite nice, so not everything named shower is a bad deal. I guess this essay should have been called “Please don’t make me go to your bridal/baby shower.”

3) In Defense of the MBTA

Concept: It’s fun to bitch about the public transportation in Boston, but in general it’s fairly reliable, occasionally clean and often humorous. Therefore, we should defend them to counterbalance all of the (insightful and hilarious) criticism.

Reason for failure: On Tuesday night my train was late (again), smelled bad and made red hulk angry.

4) French Cuffs are Lame

Concept: French cuffs, and their little partners-in-crime, the cufflink, are lame. Potentially only worn by gay or British men.

Reason for failure: What else is there to say? If it’s not your wedding day, your French cuffs are lame.

5) Posts That Could Have or Shouldn’t Have Been

Concept: A post that is allegedly about posts that were never written, but was really an original, high-concept piece.

Reason for failure: post not funny.

###

Album Review: Mark Karan’s “Walk Through the Fire” (2009)

Scene: The Crossroads

“Hey buddy, I’ve got a deal for you. How would you like to make a living doing what you love – playing the guitar and making music? You’ll play to sold-out venues across the country. You’ll make a good living. You’ll explore the greatest tunes in the American songbook. I’ll make your dreams come true.”

“Sounds good, but what’s the catch? You’re going to want my eternal soul or something, right?”

“Nope, I’ve already got plenty of souls. But there is one small catch: you’re going to have to replace Jerry Garcia.”

###

Exactly how do you replace a legend?

That’s the question Mark Karan has to grapple with each time he straps on his instrument as lead guitarist in Bob Weir’s Grateful Dead spin-off band RatDog. And while RatDog is definitely not the Grateful Dead, they play many Dead/Garcia songs and Mark Karan is tasked with playing the Jerry parts. By anyone’s standards, that’s a tough gig.

But over the last 11 years (starting with his stint in The Other Ones) Mark Karan has proven himself well up to the task of filling those tremendous shoes. His playing evokes Jerry’s tone without ever imitating it. He somehow lays down strong, confident leads while simultaneously deferring to Weir’s vision for the band’s sound. He’s the perfect sideman – selfless, professional, soulful and talented.

But the surprising thing about Mark is that he’s much more than just a sideman and a gifted guitar player. Listening to his band, Jemimah Puddleduck, shows a side of Mark that further illustrates what a beautiful, humble player he is. In Jemimah Puddleduck Mark is a band leader, an arranger, a songwriter and a vocalist. Listening to Puddleduck is a revelation – the realization that only half the picture was ever previously in focus.

Jemimah Puddleduck is probably best described as a pop-blues band that jams. So it’s no surprise that Mark’s debut solo album, Walk Through the Fire, has the same loose and fun feel. At first blush a listener might never guess that Mark is a member of the “family” (as the extended group of Dead-related and deadhead-approved musicians are affectionately referred) – but then Mark will drop an unexpected solo or groove and you’ll feel the ghost of Garcia hovering in the air. Mark is able to take a song to the next level with his playing. He achieves the ever-elusive lift-off.

Mark singing voice is strong and full throughout the album. While he doesn’t have the greatest range, he knows how to use what he’s got and his singing is rich and warm, giving the album a signature sound. His other voice – his guitar – is even better. Mark knows exactly where to put the notes for the maximum effect. He jams but he never noodles. His playing on this album might even surprise a few deadheads.

Walk Through the Fire is a mix of six Karan originals and six covers both well-known and obscure, with the disc clocking in at an impressive 68 minutes (or about three early Beatles LPs.) The risk of including so many covers is that it forces the listener to judge the originals within the context of the classic songs. It’s a statement that says “I believe that my compositions are as strong as these tunes.” To a lesser artist, this would force unfavorable comparisons. In Mark Karan’s case, it showcases his strengths as a songwriter and arranger.

Among the standout tracks (although the album is virtually filler-free) are three Karan originals: the soul-baring “Walk Through the Fire,” the epic slow blues tour-de-force of “Time Will Tell” and the delicious pop of “Love Song”. Among the covers, his treatment of Susan Sheller’s “Memphis Radio” is perfect; his arrangement of Randy Newman’s “Think It’s Gonna Rain” is amazing; and his take on the Pigpen classic “Easy Wind” shows the depth of his understanding of the music of the Grateful Dead.

Walk Through the Fire is a wonderful achievement for Mark and his band, including old friends drummer John Molo and keyboardist JT Thomas (Bruce Hornsby), singers Jackie LaBranch and Gloria Jones (JGB), bassist Hutch Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt) and Delaney Bramlett’s last ever vocal performance (on RJ’s “Love in Vain”).

For those who love the blues, the Dead, or just beautiful, organic music from the heart and soul of a gifted man, I can’t recommend Walk Through the Fire highly enough. This is an album that’s going to be spun frequently for many years to come.

You can buy Walk Through the Fire at Mark’s website, or via the usual iTunes/amazon/local store route.

###

Mark Karan’s “Walk Through the Fire” Song Ratings

(Ratings scale: 1 = poor; 2 = average; 3 = good; 4 = great)

1) Annie Don’t Lie: 3
2) Leave a Light On: 2
3) Bait the Hook: 3
4) Walk Through the Fire: 4
5) Love In Vain: 3
6) Rock Your Papa: 3
7) Memphis Radio: 4
8) Time Will Tell: 4
9) Love Song: 4
10) Think It’s Gonna Rain: 4
11) Fools In Love: 3
12) Easy Wind: 4

Final Score: 3.4

###

I know Your Secret, Crappy New York Diners

If you spend enough time in New York, particularly on the island that is long, you’ll soon find out that people love diners. Actually, love isn’t even a strong enough term to describe the phenomenon. Whatever emotion is stronger than love (creepy stalkerish obsession?) is how New Yorkers feel about their diners.

In fact, I will go so far as to say:

1) I have never met a New Yorker that doesn’t love diners; and

2) I have never been to a diner that I have liked.

Now, before I get into my highly logical and surprisingly compelling argument against diners, let me outline the signs that you should look for to determine if you’re in a real NY diner.

A real NY diner:

• Is usually named after the town that it preys on (or has some variation of “coach” or “coachman” in the name);

• Has more neon trim on the exterior than an Iroc-Z;

• Has at least three of the following items in the waiting area: biorhythm machine; stuffed animal crane game; Mike and Ike vending machine; local pennysavers/want ads; that weird donate-a-quarter to Jerry’s kids cardboard thing; a confused old person; vinyl bench seats (with a confused old person); signs about clothing requirements; more chintzy stuff like this;

• Has a menu that is too big (both figuratively and literally), has too many items on it and is sticky from syrup (I sure hope that’s syrup); and

• Has mini-juke boxes at the booths;

So, why do I hate NY diners?

1) Why bother serve 300 menu items when you can’t get any of them right? Focus, people. Don’t serve breakfast all day if you’re not even good at making it in the morning;

2) They will never substitute anything on the menu. Don’t like hash browns? Too bad. Want a side of mayo? That’ll cost you;

3) The service, atmosphere and food are all always bad. It’s the trifecta, every single time.

4) They’re surprisingly expensive to eat at and they pull that “4 oz. of OJ for $4” nonsense;

5)You always have to pay at the register up front and they act like a Boston cabbie if you pull out a credit card; and

They’re secretly Greek restaurants. And Greek restaurants are terrible.

That’s right, Zorba, I figured out your little scam. NY diners are really just Greek restaurants in disguise.

Look, I totally respect the fact that the Greeks figured out that people don’t like their food so they created diners in New York (and House of Pizzas in New England). It was a savvy move, as Greek food is terrible. To whit:

• Greek food uses the worst part of the grape (leaf)

• Greek food features the most disgusting olive (kalamata)

• Greek food always highlights the worst cheese (feta)

• Greek food has plenty of the worst dough (phyllo)

All of the “famous” Greek dishes – spanikopita, tzatziki, moussaka, etc. are awful. Have you ever heard someone say: “I’d kill for some moussaka right now!” No, you haven’t. Do you know why? Because no one in the history of the world has ever said those words. People would rather eat Vietnamese pho and even the pho chef doesn’t know what’s in that big bowl of scary.

So, now you know. NY diners suck because they’re really Greek restaurants and Greek food sucks.

The secret is out.

###

Are We Really Still Bothering With NASA?

People that know me well know that I hate two things more than anything else: wearing big boy clothes and NASA.

Now, I’m not going to get into the big boy clothes thing today, but suffice to say that any item of clothing that features buttons or zippers is no friend of mine. (Remind me at a later date to explain my awesome ‘dream pants’ invention.)

Back to NASA: for as long as I can remember I have railed against the waste of money that is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I really can’t think of another more wasteful government project, and that’s including the Department of Interior Design.

Since the beginning of the “space race” NASA has delivered exactly two notable inventions: TANG and Velcro. And let’s be honest – TANG sucks worse than Sunny D and Velcro is really just for fat kids who are too lazy to tie their own sneakers.

Twenty kazillion dollars down the drain and nothing to show for it except for a couple of alleged moon rocks.

Actually, I’m joking when I say “alleged moon rocks” because I’m definitely not a conspiracy theorist when it comes to the moon landing. This is surprising because I believe in literally every other conspiracy theory in the world. Anytime I can blame the Illuminati or the Masons for something, I’m in. But I definitely believe in the moon landing. Do you know why? Because it’s way too embarrassing to lie about landing on the moon since THERE’S NOTHING THERE.

We spent all that money and got into a huge pissing match with Russia over a useless hunk of rock floating in space. And the same thing goes for the rest of space. It’s empty. That’s why it’s called “space.”

Meanwhile, two-thirds of the Earth is just sloshing around, begging to be explored. All this time we could be searching for the hidden kingdom of Atlantis – which we all know exists – but, nope, we’ve got to waste our time trying to fix up that junky trailer park that they call the International Space Station.

We could be figuring out how to breathe underwater. We could be discovering delicious new varietals of deep-ocean fish to eat. We could be hanging out with mer-people. We could be building underwater cities modeled after Bikini Bottom. But, nope, we’ve got to blow our cash on stupid, empty, useless space.

And what’s the deal with the Space Shuttle? Assuming there are aliens somewhere out in the universe, wouldn’t we want to send up some bad-ass looking muscle car of a spaceship? Instead we’ve got this wimpy-looking shuttle that practically screams: “Invade our planet! We’re a bunch of pussies!” If I was in charge of NASA, I’d be painting flames and shark teeth on the side of my tricked-out space destroyer.

So, there you have it. To recap:

1) NASA is a waste of money;
2) We should put our scientific efforts behind exploring the oceans; and
3) Flames and shark teeth are wicked cool.

###

In Search of…a Fancy Title

For many years I’ve harbored a deep suspicion that the one thing that stands between me and super success in life is my lack of title. It seems like everywhere I go the high rollers are always flaunting their titles – Doctor this, General that, etc. And what have I got? Nothing. I’ve got “Mister” which totally blows.

“Mister” is the worst title because every adult male gets it for doing nothing more than hitting puberty. At least boys get “Master” which sounds a lot more impressive than “Mister.” You know what? “Mister” is a downgrade from “Master.” I’m actually worse off now then I was 30 years ago.

I’ve been wrestling with this dilemma for many years now and to be honest I’ve kind of lost hope of scoring a cool title. I guess I’ve also kind of lost hope of ever being super successful.

Education seems like the easiest way to get a title. All you need to do is pay a few hundred grand, go to school until you’re 30, crank out some boring-ass dissertation and you’re an instant “Doctor.” If I was a non-medical doctor I would never get tired of wearing scrubs around town, calling myself “Doctor” and letting people think that I was a medical doctor. But I don’t really think that I can go back to school right now. I’m too old to be a sexy coed and too young to be an inspirational octogenarian.

The Military is another great option for getting a sweet title. My problem with the military is that I could never quite pick a branch to commit to. I look terrible with a high and tight haircut so the Marines are out. Kerchiefs chafe my neck so the Navy is out. I’m a terrible driver so the Air Force is definitely out. And those Army uniforms are just too drab and dreary for words. Nope, I’m definitely not cut out for the military life, my inability to do push-ups notwithstanding.

Another option, admittedly more difficult, is to get some foreign noble to award me a title for outstanding service to the crown. I’m just not sure which noble I should befriend or what service I could perform. I could go for England. They speak almost the same language as us and Harry seems like an easy mark. Then again, if I tell those goth Spanish princesses that I can reunite Johnny Marr and Morrissey I’d bet they’d make me King of Portugal muy pronto!

Nope, I’m afraid that it’s just not going to happen. I’ve started to accept the fact that I will have to be content to live and die merely as boring Mister Blum – not dreamy Doctor Blum, stern General Blum or brave Sir Blum.

Just when I had given up hope the most surprising and wonderful thing happened! I read a letter in the local paper that was signed by a “Commodore.” And I was all like “Commodore? Commodore of what?” And it turns out that this jackass Commodore is the Commodore of the “yacht club” in the seaside shanty where I live.

That’s the ticket! Commodore is a rock star title. I put that on my business card and I’m set for life. Commodore Blum has a nice ring to it, too.

So, problem solved. My new goal in life is to infiltrate the yacht club and stage a bloodless coup. And then I will have a title – Commodore, no less – at long last.

Now all I need is a boat.

###

Will the World Finally Come to an End Already?

You know what? Being a predictor of doom is probably one of the worst jobs in the world.

Think about it. You really can’t win if you go around predicting when the world is going to end. If you’re right, nobody will know. And if you’re wrong, everybody will just make fun of you.

It’s a sucker’s game, alright. I’m definitely not going to let my kids pursue an Oracle Arts major.

The first time I heard that the world was going to end was back around 1980. I was in middle school and word spread around the lunchroom that Nostradamus has predicted the end of the world for the next day. Now, I’m not sure how some old, dead French dude knew the exact day and date in 20th century New Jersey when the world would end, but since he was right about the Kennedys and Hitler we gave him the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I was so sure that he was right that I didn’t bother finishing a book report that was due on doomsday. Tragically, the world didn’t end as planned and I got busted for not doing my homework. Even more tragically, it wasn’t the first time that I hadn’t completed my homework and my Nostradamus excuse didn’t fly.

The second time I heard that the world was supposed to end was back around 1984. This time the end was supposed to come courtesy of the business end of a Soviet nuclear weapon. This was a more general threat, as we were never promised a specific date for the end of the world. In a weird way this was even more frightening than Nostradamus’s prediction, as we spent months talking about bomb shelters and planning for nuclear winter. But the death paranoia came to an abrupt end on November 1, 1985 thanks to the heroics of one brave Englishman. As soon as Gordon “Sting” Sumner explained to us that the Russians loved their children, too, we all just stopped worrying about nuclear war. As far as I’m concerned Sting can hold back as many orgasms and play as much lute as he wants for the rest of eternity – he’s earned it. That man literally saved us all from worrying about the end of the world.

After 1985 we hit a long, dry spell without any real threats to the world’s survival. Sure, we had acid rain and Milli Vanilli to deal with but things were pretty calm until the Y2K frenzy started.

I was never too worried about Y2K because it seemed like a stupid theory from the get-go. First off, computer technology in the mid-90s was limited to writing term papers and very s-l-o-w-l-y surfing for porn. Secondly, everybody knows that computers don’t kill people – people with computers kill people. And finally, so what if all of the computers thought that it was 1900? What were they going to do – send the Ottoman Empire after us or make us work 18 hour days in unsafe factories?

Nowadays we worry about 2012 and the Mayan prediction about the end of the world. The Mayans were definitely a cool civilization and all but I’m not scared about 2012 at all. Here’s why: the Mayans worshipped the Corn God. What’s the secret ingredient of everything that we eat? CORN. Why would K. Taube (the tonsured corn god) destroy a civilization that worships high fructose corn syrup? The answer is that he wouldn’t. In fact, I think that he’ll be quite happy with us.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the world WILL NOT end in 2012. I’m so confident that I’m right that I’m willing to put some money where my big mouth is. Any takers out there?

###