Apologies in advance if today's entry comes across sounding cranky or surly or curmudgeonly. That’s not an impression that I particularly like leaving with others. I much prefer to think of myself as being a cheerful, optimistic, “glass half full” kind of guy, and have spent a lifetime desparately striving to portray myself in such a manner. Not always with success, I’ll grant you, but give me credit for trying. It’s more than some people I’ve met have ever bothered to do.

On the other hand, I’ve found myself starting to believe as I creep ever so closer to the half-century mark that perhaps I might just be entitled to an occasional bout of, uh, “curmudgeonliness” every now and again. 

Maybe these slightly (and, thank goodness, temporarily) darker spirits are just a natural part of getting old. Maybe it’s a lack of sleep, too much caffeine, or a sense of exhaustion stemming from all those years of trying to be that cheerful, optimistic, “glass half full” kind of guy. 

Or perhaps it’s nothing more than a delayed reaction to the unhappy realization that, regardless of whether the glass is half full or half empty, somebody out there drank half my cotton-pickin’ glass of soda!

All I know for sure is that it seems like the little things in life are starting to bother me a bit more these days than they did when I was younger. I don’t mean “little things” like not liking the available choices for dinner the night before payday or my favorite TV show getting pre-empted by some stupid sporting event or idiot drivers who whatever reason believe that the term “speed limit” refers to the minimum allowed speed rather than the maximum.

These are little things, true enough, but they are the kinds of little things which might reasonably be expected to bother admittedly imperfect people like myself. No, I’m talking about the REALLY little things... annoyances which mean so little in the grand scheme of the universe that speeding drivers and that pre-payday culinary choice of a frozen pot pie or boxed macaroni and cheese seem positively earth-shattering by comparison.

Recently my sons Joshua and William became concerned enough by my growing tendency to go off half-cocked over things not worth going off quarter-cocked about that they sat me down on the living room sofa, stuck a pen and a yellow writing tablet in my hands and ordered me to write down a list of the things which have been bothering me more than even I know they should be. 

The initial response that came to mind was to start the list with “People who insist you make a list of the things that bother you.” Then it dawned on me that the boys were simply acting out of concern for their old man and that I really should be touched by that fact. (Josh later admitted that they’d gotten the idea from a rerun of some stupid TV sitcom; still, it was the thought that counted.)

So I leaned back into the sofa, took a deep breath to clear my head, and began compiling the following list of things that I know shouldn’t bother me, but do:

• The unfathomable popularity of such so-called “comedians” as Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. The Marx Brothers and Abbott and Costello may be “old school,” but at least they’re FUNNY.

• Restaurants whose idea of a spaghetti dinner is a plate piled high with dry noodles topped with just the thinnest drizzle of sauce across the middle.

• The fact that most comic books these days cost around $2 to $3 an issue – and then are never worth the price you paid when you read it. (I remember the childhood shrieks of horror at our local newsstand when the cover price went from a dime to 20 cents – and that was back in the day when comics were still fun and worth reading, not these dark and somber “psychology plays” being published nowadays. The increase in price has definitely NOT brought with it a corresponding increase in quality or entertainment value.)

• DC Comics' "New 52" series. What a load of....

•The fact that you can’t buy comic books at newsstands the way we use to anymore.

• The fact that former Superman editor Mort Wisinger misappropriated Doc Savage’s Fortress of Solitude without even so much as a “Mind if I stop by and look the place over?”

• Those two little girls who keep showing up on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show. (I don’t watch the show but I’ve seen the ads - and those kids are just flat out annoying!)

• Similarly, those two goofs in the Sonic Drive-In commercials.

• Speaking of Sonic... those BancFirst Commercials that give the impression that the founder of Sonic created the concept of carhops and ordering by speaker systems. My mother worked as a carhop well before Sonic existed, and the old Steak N Shake in Bradley IL used carhops and speakers when my dad was a kid.

Jann Wenner's idiotic efforts to keep the Monkees out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 

• Chuck Norris' inane "1,000 Years Of Darkness" video. Pretty big talk from a guy who wouldn't know a decent movie script if it bit him in the butt.
• The continued lack of an official DVD release of the Batman and Green Hornet TV series of the 1960s.

• For that matter, the continued lack of DVD releases of seasons 4-8 of Diagnosis Murder. (Come on, CBS Video, what's the hold up?_

• The death of Saturday morning children's programming like the kind I grew up with. A pox on you, Peggy Charren...

• Events that publicize themselves as “first annual.” I’m sorry, but an event is NOT annual until it has taken place for at least two consecutive years.

 • Horror movies that feature copious amounts of blood and guts but very little in the way of actual suspense – or, for that matter, any semblance of an actual plot.

• Fanboys who think they know more about what makes a good Star Wars movie than Star Wars creator George Lucas.

• Fanboys who think you can't be a fan of both Star Wars AND Star Trek.

• The term “fanboy.”

• The Twilight series. Just in general.

• The current pop culture preoccupation with zombies... except they're not really zombies, they're reanimated corpses, and yes there IS a difference but that's an argument for another time...

• People who just can’t seem to get the hang of the proper use of commas, apostrophes and quotation marks. Don’t they teach this stuff in school anymore? I swear, if I see one more "oop's" there is going to be trouble.

• Soft drink companies who keep trying to convince us that their diet sodas taste just like the originals. (Let’s just put it this way: they’re WRONG!)

• The fact that you can’t buy Crunch Cones or a Mister Misty at Dairy Queen anymore. (Not at any of the ones near where I live, anyway.) 

• People who reach a certain age and still don’t know what they want out of life.

• People who say they know what they want out of life, but won’t do anything to make it happen.

• That girl in the car commercial who criticizes her parents for going out and actually living instead of spending all their every waking moment on Facebook like she does. I mean, come on, Facebook is a useful tool but it shouldn't be a way of life...

• That one key on my keyring that I still haven’t figured out what it’s for after all these years.

Big Brother. I don't know how anybody can watch this tripe. I still think the only reason it stays on is because Julie Chen threatens to withhold sex from her husband, CBS head Les Moonves, whenever he talks about canceling it.

• Ben Stein. If there was a downside to the success of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, it was the transformation of this self-aggrandizing dipstick from a little-known former Nixon speechwriter into a celebrity know-it-all.

• The fact that you have to drive a day and a half from where I live to get a freshly made White Castle burger.

• The notion that Uma Thurman is a sex symbol. That’s one I don’t think I’ll ever understand...

Avatar. Talk about an over-rated movie...

• Rock fans who think Kurt Cobain was some kind of god. As far as I’m concerned he wasn’t even that good of a singer, but each to his own...

• People who say nasty things about bagpipe music.

• Writers and directors who feel the need to “update” (i.e. “dumb down”) classic characters and stories in order to make them “relevant” to modern audiences with the attention span of a lima bean.

I got that far when Josh grabbed the pen from my hand and told me to knock it off. Apparently some of the items I’d listed were starting to get under his skin, too...