The Anaheim Angels’ World Series victory probably seems like the 400th sign of the oncoming apocalypse to many of you (and rightly so). We see lots of these “horsemen” heralding certain doom for the near future. Examples: a Star Trek spinoff series, the heart-stopping drama of the International Skating Federation, and the respective success and popularity of Carson Daly, Bill O’Reilly, and reality TV shows like “The Bachelor.” It’s enough to make any cynic depressed.

As an answer to this sad, sad state of cultural affairs, I propose the following list — the Top Five Signs the Apocalypse is Still a Little Ways Off. We’re aware of the multitudinous reasons the End of Days is nigh, but surely we optimists can find at least a few signs of solace — signs that we have another decade or so before Armageddon-the-Shitty-Movie becomes Armageddon-the-Shitty-End-of-the-World.

5) Madonna. There are many reasons to find hope in Madonna at a time like this. She’s timelessly fabulous, effortlessly trend-setting and comfortably vapid. Whenever I worry at night that I’ll wake up in a war zone, I take a look at the reviews for “Swept Away” and smile to myself — yes, she still sucks as an actress, badly. There’s nothing like consistency to make you sleep easy.

4) Eminem. Y’all thought he was the Antichrist? No way. He hugged Elton John, so he’s clearly not a homophobic, misogynistic, unbalanced, hateful little cretin. Unlike Madonna, apparently he CAN act! Silly censor groups — Shady is for the children.

3) The disturbing collapse of Mariah Carey. We thought we were lucky when Celine Dion retired, but now the Five Octave Ho is also off the scene! A little public humiliation coupled with a bad album and a worse film equals Mariah’s gone mental. I hear she may be attempting a “comeback” so it might not be long before bandanna tops and unflattering spandex are back on TRL. But we can still dream.

2) Justin and Britney are, like, sooo over. My friend whose friend is roommates with the girlfriend of one of Justin’s friends told me this story that Britney likes it when Justin — [Ed. note: nothing we are allowed to print fits in this space]. Yeah, but they’re still virgins, right? I think we can dispel that Mickey Mouse delusion. Amusing as it is to imagine the progeny of their union, we really are better off now that the Burt and Loni of pop have called it quits. I believe this signifies a linear shift in the alignment of stars (a pun, oh snap) that explains the re-emergence of rock (so we can drool over greasy-haired Julian Casablancas instead of ‘N Sync, 98 Degrees, and other high-gloss objects).

1) Bruce, the Boss, is back. Sadly, I am not referring to my grandfather’s beloved Labrador. I’m actually talking about Bruce Springsteen the person and I guess that’s cool, too. It makes you feel all warm inside knowing Bruce and the E Street Band are back on the road, especially when you get to watch them perform in the rain before the MTV Video Music Awards. He even manages to remind us New Jersey is about more than just bad hair and Bon Jovi. I get all teary just imagining it all, (specifically, his butt on the Born in the USA album cover), and I remember patriotic hokeyness is kinda cute sometimes.

See? It’s OK! It’s all good. I’m talking about heroes and newly single sex symbols and stuff. I’m not mentioning Avril Lavigne, pointy-toed shoes, leg warmers, WB teen crossover stars, Ja Rule duets, Ben and J.Lo (why, cruel world, why?), Playboy posers who want to be taken seriously (the women of Enron — are you kidding?), Janis plugging Mercedes-Benz, Santana and Michelle Branch, Jack Black movies, Beatles reissues, the peasant look, and the entire guest list at Liza Minelli’s wedding.

I told you I was an optimist.

Catherine Halaby didn’t like baseball until the Giants won the Pennant, so now she is really disappointed.