1. If a female gets nauseous for no apparent reason, she is pregnant. Always.

When a friend, relative, or someone else coughs unexpectedly and tells you it's nothing to worry about, he or she has a fatal condition and will be deader than disco in a matter of days, and in many cases, hours or minutes. Women get better looking as they near death. Everyone with an incurable illness suddenly becomes a dime store philosopher who is resigned to their fate with such noble calmness and serenity, it puts the rest of us to shame for being incapable of suffering in an equally transcendent manner.

2. Stay the hell out of parking garages.

Scary empty parking garage

Find a meter, take a cab, ride your bike, but for the love of God, do not leave your car in a parking garage or you will be assaulted and/or killed in an especially heinous way. Nothing good ever happens in these places and there's never any security within a 12-mile radius. This rule also applies to elevators, which you can get trapped in with a psychotic Amway salesman, or the devil himself. If you try to escape from a stalled elevator, it will wait for you to climb out before accelerating to the roof and crushing you, or plunging from the 30th floor to the basement with no brakes. Short of that, you will be dismembered and usually decapitated. Take the stairs, but be careful, because if you trip and fall down the stairs, you will break your neck and die with your head aiming in the opposite direction it would normally face under optimum conditions. To reiterate: avoid in a plague-like manner all parking garages, elevators, and stairs. In fact, never leave terra-firma if you can help it.

3. Everyone who lives in Manhattan resides in a spacious loft.

No matter what they do for a living, even if they are an out-of-work actor, a starving artist, a barista at Starbucks, a dancing welder or a sous-chef, they live in a huge loft with exposed brick, hardwood floors, twenty foot ceilings, and enormous neoclassic columns throughout. Whether they're a fashion diva, an assistant to a fashion diva, a billionaire hedge fund manager, a talk show host, or a model/actress/singer-songwriter who moonlights at a saloon and does a bump and grind burlesque act on top of the bar every night to the howling delight of a drunken mob of bikers and people with tattoos on their necks, they will live in a fabulous loft fit for a rap star.

4. If you crash your car, even if it's just a minor fender-bender, get out and run for your life, because that sucker is about to explode in a huge fireball.

Fortunately, the car usually has the good manners to wait for you to get well clear before self-destructing. At that point, in a show of respect, you should throw yourself on the ground face first in the general direction of Mecca. If you don't know which direction Mecca is, don't sweat it. As long as you're facing away from the explosion, you should be fine.

5. Psychics know everything about solving a murder, except who the killer is and where he lives.

Psychic tarot cards

The color of his hat, what he likes for breakfast, where he buried all the bodies, yes. Name and address? No fucking clue. Psychics are so common, you can't swing a cat without hitting a ghost-whisperer or someone with a direct line to all your dead relatives. Whether these self-appointed mediums are for real is an open question, but if they are legit, one thing is painfully clear: the dead are just as big a bunch of insufferable windbags as they were when they were walking around on this side of the abyss.

6. There are few challenges in life that can't be overcome with a montage accompanied by a medley of peppy, inspirational pop songs.

These tunes will traditionally accompany a flurry of activity while you redecorate your noodle shop, finish your novel, nail the audition, get a make-over, cram for the big test, work out furiously, shoot an automatic weapon, or practice martial arts of some kind. In addition, to get you through any emotional crisis, no matter how serious, from infidelity to a breakup, all the way to death itself, a few spins of any Joni Mitchell song (but especially "Both Sides Now") seems to be just the right prescription to turn that frown upside down and get everything back on the sunny side of the street. Who needs therapy when you have Joni? This axiom is usually reserved for females, who, after the emotional crisis has been weathered, can move on to complete empowerment by dancing around with their girlfriends and lip syncing to the Aretha Franklin anthem, "Respect." Sock it to me, sock it to me….

7. If you're having a nightmare, don't worry.

At the most disturbing moment of said N-mare, you will suddenly awaken and bolt upright in bed as if you've been electrocuted, your eyes will open wide as dinner plates, and you'll be breathing so hard it'll feel like you just finished running the Boston Marathon. Then you'll realize it's only a dream and you're not really in a terrifying aviation disaster. Yet.

8. Never disturb a mummy's tomb.

Especially in Egypt. If you do, you will soon have a nasty curse on your ass, complete with a rotting, embalmed, bandage-wrapped freak from Hell, bent on strangling you for interrupting his beauty sleep. Just to be on the safe side, never break into any tombs, Egyptian or otherwise. Every last one of them comes with a world-class curse. Besides, what the hell do you want in there anyway? Leave tombs be, unless you're a swashbuckling, ass-kicking archeologist who owns a whip and a fedora.

9. If you're searching for a place to lay low until the heat's off after you've committed a big stick-up, there is a unique area located on the outskirts of every large city in the country, known as The Abandoned Warehouse District, or AWD for short.

Abandoned warehouse district

Even if you've gone on a three-state crime spree, or just need somewhere to run your illegal herring smuggling empire and torture your rivals unmolested, the AWD is perfect. God knows what defunct industries decided to vacate their warehouses and factories in more or less intact condition, but these gargantuan storage sheds and former steel mills are ready for immediate occupancy by anyone attempting to escape the attention of law enforcement. The cops never think to check the AWD to track down fugitives or break up the bad guy's narcotics/car theft/illicit arms/bogus pharmaceutical ring they're running with impunity out there in the sticks. So if you're on the lam or need a place to set up a huge meth lab, get your ass to the Abandoned Warehouse District toot-sweet. They'll never find you.

10. Getting shot in the shoulder does not hurt.

If a bullet goes through your shoulder, all you have to do is rub some dirt on it, grab a small towel, and apply pressure; then you can carry on rigging the bridge with explosives, escaping from the inescapable prison, or charging the enemy foxhole. This wound only requires a few days bed rest and in no time flat you'll be installing a new deck single-handedly in the backyard with no discernible ill effects. Fortunately, most villains are such hopeless shots, even when using a machine gun, they couldn't hit the ocean if they were standing on the end of a dock.

11. The number one problem facing the world today is without a doubt the scourge of zombies, not vampires.

The walking dead have become ubiquitous of late, and they're generally in no mood for pleasantries. Avoid zombies at all costs, but be prepared to blow their brains out at the drop of a hat should the need arise. Apparently, it's the only way to get their attention. Vampires used to be a big pain in the neck (badump!), but nowadays they're mostly brooding, buffed-out hipsters with a surplus of sex appeal who just want to meet a nice, brooding, high school mortal chick, fall in love, get married, and proceed to devote themselves to keeping the werewolves from devouring the adored object. To recap: vampires are now our friends, but give zombies a wide berth.

12. What I learned from Lifetime movies: If a woman meets and marries her dream man, Mr. Perfect will turn out to be a serial rapist/killer with different families in four states who will eventually attempt to kill her when she gets wise to his proclivities.

Slow poison is a popular method of dispatch, but if that fails, he will chase her through a large deserted house late one stormy night with a meat cleaver. A word of advice ladies: if you ever find yourself being chased through a large, deserted house by your crazed hubby/ex-hubby/random stalker or boyfriend, do not run upstairs to get away, unless you have a helicopter on the pad up there, otherwise you could be caught and butchered. But even if you do run upstairs, don't panic, because the cleaver-swinging nemesis nipping at your heels will, more likely than not, fall off the roof and be impaled on gardening tools. It could go either way.

13. No matter how loud the bar or concert, even if you're attending a Metallica gig in a venue the size of a tollbooth, you will always be able to carry on a normal conversation without raising your voice one decibel.

14. Be careful traveling; all sorts of unspeakable things can happen to you while you're abroad.

Americans are despised in every country except Great Britain. Australia is full of sadistic killers who prey on unsuspecting hikers trekking through the outback. Very little good ever happens in the Australian outback, and if you insist on venturing there, you will soon be in deep didgeridoo. Chances are good you and your family will be eaten by dingos, burned alive in a bushfire, die of thirst, be forced to go on Walkabout, or simply disappear into thin air while picnicking. Other areas of danger down under include twenty foot long saltwater crocs and becoming lunch for a convention of white sharks after being abandoned scuba-diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

Visitors to the Czech Republic will soon find themselves abducted and sold to a worldwide cabal of depraved millionaires who have paid big bucks for the privilege of torturing them to death with a blow-torch while wearing unusual headgear.

If you're a gringo touring Latin America, you will be kidnapped by drug gangs and sent home one appendage at a time when your relatives can't scare up the exorbitant ransom in a timely manner. Or you might be used as a human sacrifice in some twisted Santeria voodoo ceremony. Even if you manage to avoid those fates, you will probably be killed in a seedy roadhouse filled to the brim with ancient Aztec vampires (still dangerous).

Avoid the Orient if you don't want to be thrown into a reeking third world prison on trumped-up heroin trafficking charges or sliced in half by a crazed Yakuza with a Samurai sword.

There is no misfortune in heaven or earth that can't occur to you on the continent of Africa, from being trampled by a rampaging stampede of wildebeests to being hacked to shreds by a rampaging stampede of machete-wielding Hutus. Basically, everything in Africa can kill you, so plan accordingly.

There's a very good possibility that your daughter will be forced into a Bulgarian sex slavery ring if she even thinks about a holiday in Paris. Unless you are an ass-kicking ex-CIA agent, this will be a problem. Europe in general is problematic. Sure, Amsterdam is a non-stop frat party, but other than that, the locals don't habla-Ingles, they'll cheat you blind, the electric plugs don't match, the food is weird, the waiters are surly, you'll have trouble with the bidet, the men wear Speedos on their pale, pasty bodies, and the women are hairy in all the wrong places.

Bon voyage!

15. Asians know Kung-Fu, can defy gravity, and will hack into any computer in seconds.

Asian Kung Fu fighter kick

  • Italians are in the mafia, eat a lot of cured meats, and comb their hair with WD-40.
  • Muslims are terrorists who have beards so long they make ZZ Top look clean shaven, wear turbans the size of lampshades, dress their wives in gunnysacks, want to blow themselves up in the name of Allah so they can go straight to Muslim heaven, and possess a ludicrously bloated sense of their own personal honor that causes them to go off like Krakatoa at the slightest imagined provocation.
  • American Indians and other primitive tribes of illiterate, bare-assed native savages are more spiritually evolved and in touch with the natural world than educated people living at any level of modern civilization.
  • Decrepit, addled seniors are bottomless fonts of wisdom and insight gleaned from years of hard won experience.
  • Children (and pets), are adorable and a lot smarter than the adults who clothe, feed, and shelter them.
  • Prostitutes have model good looks, hearts of gold, and make ideal long term companions once you convince them to stop blowing truckers and settle down.
  • Religious clergy (especially Catholics) are in league with Satan, or the Masons, or both, and spend their spare time buggering altar boys in the rectory.
  • Jews are doctors, lawyers, scientists, shrinks, deli owners, pawn brokers, theatrical agents, stand-up comics, leftist college professors, or jewelers.
  • Orthodox Jews wear ugly black tunics, fur hats as big as radial tires and have pigtails growing out of their foreheads. They enjoy fiddling on roofs, crushing glass with their feet and running for their lives from Cossacks and Germans.
  • People from India are all named Patel, have red dots between their eyes, worship livestock, and if they are not self-important Gurus or slumdog millionaires, work in convenience stores, tech support, or run flea-bag, highway motels.
  • Caucasian men from the Deep South are slack-jawed, gap-toothed, cross-burning, hand-fishing moonshiners who enjoy sodomizing random male canoeists and speaking with a chicken-fried twang so thick it comes with a side of gravy.
  • Corresponding Southern females are a combination of Scarlett O'Hara, Mammy, Blanche DuBois, Dolly Parton and Miss Daisy. They are repositories of repressed, smoldering sexuality, have an even more pronounced drawl than the menfolk, spend their time attending debutante balls in hoop skirts, swilling mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby, being casually racist, and dispensing the sort of home spun folk wisdom that only an addled senior could appreciate and hope to match. They are all fantastic cooks and whatever doesn't destroy them only makes them stronger.
  • Writers are blocked, tortured, addicted to something, and have so many inner demons they could start a soccer team in Hell.
  • All cops and politicians are corrupt. If it's a policeman's last week on the job, he will, with few exceptions, be dead meat before the week is out.
  • Lawyers are morally constipated sleazeballs unless they are fighting for the rights of oppressed minorities, Native Americans, victims of evil corporations, or wisdom filled seniors.
  • Corporations are evil, soul-crushing, conscienceless entities who put profits before people and never stop dreaming up new ways to destroy the environment, or scheming to introduce strains of flesh-eating microbes into the water supply.
  • Hispanics are hot-blooded sexual volcanoes who make great busboys, yard men, housekeepers, flamenco dancers, and bullfighters.
  • Attractive white women are the only people who can whip an inner city school full of ethnic, hyper-violent gang-bangers into a troop of pretentious, Shakespeare-spouting, poetry-loving pseudo-intellectuals in the span of one school year.
  • Texans are ten gallon hat-wearing, death penalty-mongering, armed to the teeth, red-meat blowhards, who each own a ranch the size of Rhode Island and like to hunt illegal aliens from helicopters when they're not drilling for oil, herding cattle, or conspiring to kill JFK.

* * *

And with that, I'm going to call it a wrap. This thing is getting longer than Dr. Zhivago and Giant put together, so let's fade to black and roll the credits. Another thing I learned at the movies is that practically everything resolves itself in two hours or less and the general public has a ridiculously short attention span. So if you've made it this far, congratulations, and stay tuned for the inevitable sequel.