Cabin, good questions, though sorry to learn you didn't much like it. I've got the recipe from Peace, Love and Barbecue right here, the book in front of me, and maybe I can encourage you to give it another whirl. It's a very good and decent all-around rub.
Try using demerara sugar, which is the same as turbinado. You can find it at wally-world. Mike sometimes recommends you grind it up into smaller granules. I've not ever done this, but it can't hurt.
I like heat, but increasing the mustard powder over 4 TBSP makes the whole thing bitter.
Same with adding Wasabi powder. Don't know where I got this tip, but it was from another book, not this one. Wasabi in anything over 1 TBSP per recipe will add bitterness and no discernable heat (to me) so it's a loser.
The salt. After so many dozens of trials, I have to say that reducing the salt (per the book recipe) to 1 TBSP is the best of all worlds. Really.
Black Pepper. If you use real, just-from-the-mill-coarse-ground-black-pepper, you are a saint. I've done it and 2 TBSP of this weren't any better than fresh coarse ground black pepper from my local hippy-dippy organic-fresh-stuff-and-spices-store. I have near sprained my wrists grinding that pepper from corns, all the time wishing I had on of LBJ's White House electric mills. No such luck. Don't sweat it, just don't use the year-old grocery store pre-ground black pepper that is almost dust.
If you have access to a "hippy-dippy" store that sells fresh spices, pay the extra and buy them there. You will support your community plus get REAL spices that smell and taste as they are supposed to. If you can't, go online to a place like Penzey's and buy from there. Top notch high quality stuff that will let you appreciate the difference.
Earlier in the thread someone mentioned cutting back the cumin. No worries, it is all about taste. Personally, I think the cumin is one of the signature tastes blended within the "Magic Dust", and if you get a fresh ground one, try the recipe while staying with the original amount. You may be surprised, though I will admit cumin is not for everyone.
I've added (to the basic recipe from the book) 2 or 3 TBSP of finely ground cardamom and found that it is perfect on chicken and pork. I have not added cardamom for beef, though I was tempted to just for brisket once, though I did not.
I've added a few tablespoons of Magic Dust to regular old "frijoles de la olla" (pinto beans in a pot) and it is outstanding! If for any reason to hae it around, this is sure one of them.
In any event, I hope this helps you as you try different things. It's a fun journey!