Every year at this time, strangers approach me in the frozen food aisle at the supermarket and say: "Doug, we have been far too busy to pay attention to the latest trends in fashion, music, politics, sports and life in general, so what can we do to become as 'hip' and 'with it' as you, a middle-aged, overweight newspaper columnist?"
And every year I give them the same exact answer: "Just read my annual guide to what's in and what's out for the new year and, before you know it, you'll be one of the coolest kids on the block."
OK, kids. The clock is ticking and you aren't getting any cooler just sitting there, so let's get started with...
OUT -- Dennis Rodman
IN -- Chris Hadfield
BECAUSE -- We'd rather hang out with someone who has actually been in outer space as opposed to someone who is just spaced out.
OUT -- Twerking
IN -- Biology class
BECAUSE -- Call us old-fashioned, but if you are going to be watching teens engage in a sexually provocative dance involving thrusting hips, we think there should be a teacher present.
OUT -- Grumpy Cat
IN -- Risqué pictures of Pamela Anderson
BECAUSE -- It's not that we are sick of LOL pictures of cats; it's just that we think it's high time we got back to the reason the Internet was invented in the first place.
OUT -- Looking down at your cellphone all the time
IN -- Looking up occasionally
BECAUSE -- God forbid you glanced up from your smartphone and discovered, without having to Google it, the sky is (gasp!) blue and rainbows exist in the real world and not just in video games.
OUT -- Royal babies
IN -- Regular babies
BECAUSE -- Even if a newborn has a ponderous moniker like George Alexander Louis, His Highness Prince George of Cambridge, it won't make him deserving of 24-hour news coverage on CNN, and, just like every pudgy baby since the dawn of time, all those (bad word) wrinkles will make him a dead ringer for the Michelin Man.
OUT -- The Senate
IN -- Hardened street criminals
BECAUSE -- If someone is going to steal our money and act like they're above the law, we'd rather they didn't lie to our faces and pretend they're doing it to make the country a better place for everyone.
OUT -- Candy Crush
IN -- Saving our marriages
BECAUSE -- As long as my wife has this frustratingly addictive game -- the most downloaded free app of 2013 -- on her (bad word) phone, there is absolutely no hope of contacting her via the ears.
OUT -- Saying "hashtag" before everything
IN -- Talking like a "normal" human being
BECAUSE -- We thought nothing could be as annoying as people constantly saying "It is what it is" or "I'm just saying" all the time, but apparently we were wrong.
OUT -- Rob Ford
IN -- The 2014 Ford Fusion
BECAUSE -- It gets better gas mileage, never runs anyone down in the middle of city council, has never been caught in an outrageous lie, and almost no one would be stupid enough to operate one in "a drunken stupor."
OUT -- What Does the Fox Say?
IN -- It's a Small World After All
BECAUSE -- If the goal is to play a mindless tune over and over until half the population of the world has gone clinically insane, it's pretty hard to beat this classic tune from the most annoying Disney World ride of all time. And a "wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!" to you, too, Goofy.
OUT -- Selfies
IN -- Talking to strangers
BECAUSE -- The world seemed like a kinder, gentler place when we walked up to random people on the street, handed them our cameras, and shyly asked if they would mind taking a picture of us because we were on holiday. Of course, if they try to give you a piece of candy or ask you to help them look for a lost puppy, RUN!
OUT -- Duck Dynasty
IN -- More zombie shows
BECAUSE -- They may not have creepy hillbilly-style beards, but at least we know they treat everyone equally and appreciate an audience with braaaaaaaains!