Pop Culture Feed

Super Bowl LI will kick off in a few hours. Get your guacamole made and place your bets! I obviously don't need to encourage folks to chow down or gamble on Super Bowl Sunday. Every year, it's the single largest day for U.S. avocado consumption and for betting. Yes, I've wandered through the betting section of a couple of Las Vegas casinos, but usually confine my money losing to the one-armed bandits. Last year, according to the Nevada Gaming Commission, a record $132.5 million in total bets were placed on the Super Bowl. Remember, these were legal bets made in... Read more →


Will we hear "Houston, we have a problem" during Sunday's Super Bowl LI in H-Town? Oddsmakers say yes, there is a good chance we will hear that NASA-related phrase (popularized by the movie Apollo 13, but not actually uttered during the real ill-fated 1970 mission) during the NFL championship game's live broadcast. Super Bowl LI kicks off at 6:30 ET/5:30 CT, Sunday, Feb. 5 from NRG Field in Houston, Texas. It will be broadcast on Fox. That's just one of the prop bets being wagered on Sunday's (Feb. 5) matchup between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. Total wagering... Read more →


It's Groundhog Day and for many folks that brings to mind the Bill Murray movie of the same name more than the Pennsylvania rodent who purportedly can forecast weather. Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." (Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures) In case you haven't seen it, in the 1993 Harold Ramis movie Murray is a television weatherman who, after being dispatched to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 2 to cover groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's emergence from his burrow, finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. Murray's character Phil (we see what you... Read more →


How's your holiday shopping going? If you're still looking for something to impress your true love, consider giving a gift inspired by the classic "12 Days of Christmas." For the 33rd year, the PNC Financial Services Group has analyzed the lengthy Christmas gift list from the song and determined, in its specially devised Christmas Price Index (CPI), just how much the prices have changed from year to year. Poultry prices aren't paltry: Overall, the cost of the song's gifts grew only slightly this year. But be prepared to pay a hefty prices if you opt for a few of the... Read more →


In 1994, Buck Showalter, current Baltimore Orioles (Go Birds!) manager but back then manager of the New York Yankees, had a small role in an episode of Seinfeld. Fans of the show about nothing might remember that this particular episode was, in part, about the Bronx Bombers uniforms. Orioles' manager Buck Showalter talks with MLB Network about his 1994 "Seinfeld" appearance and its tax ramifications. Click image to watch the full clip. Today on MLB Network's broadcast from Major League Baseball's winter meetings in National Harbor, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C., the ebullient Showalter talked about his brief TV career... Read more →


Halloween is a big deal for a lot of folks. I like the holiday, but don't go as crazy as some of my neighbors. Houses are decorated and adults dress up more elaborately than their trick or treating kids. I'm not sure I'd go to this house seeking treats! The hubby and I simply sit on our porch and hand out candy, particularly enjoying the youngest ghouls and goblins for whom this is the first Oct. 31 where they realize they're getting way more candy than they've ever seen before. Candy calculations: I try to estimate the optimal amount of... Read more →


Alec Baldwin has been having a field day portraying Donald Trump, the presidential candidate with, among other things, some tax issues. Click image to watch the Saturday Night Live skit from which this Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump GIF is taken. Now from the life imitates art files, Baldwin is facing his own allegations of tax avoidance. New York City art dealer Mary Boone filed a motion in New York State Supreme Court last week accusing the actor of "failing to pay sales tax." She alleges that in order to avoid New York taxes, Baldwin had the painting shipped to... Read more →


Eighty-five years ago today -- Oct. 17, 1931 -- a federal jury in Chicago convicted gangster Al "Scarface" Capone of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, ultimately ending up in fabled Alcatraz. Al Capone's U.S. Department of Justice mug shot, taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. Keep that in mind if you're thinking of blowing off today's extended filing deadline for getting your 2015 tax return to the Internal Revenue Service. All these years later, the IRS and Treasury still proudly point to Capone's conviction. It was T-men who put... Read more →


UPDATE: The Oakland Raiders received conditional approval from the National Football League on March 27, 2017, to move to Nevada. The team, however, will play in Oakland possibly through the 2018 season while its Las Vegas stadium is built (using taxpayer money; see below). At least the Northern California stadium use will justify for a while the $83 million in taxpayer-funded bonds, dating back two decades, issued for renovations to the Raiders’ current Golden State home field. Hmmm. Speaking of the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, the top seating deck already is blocked off because the team couldn't draw enough fans, partly because... Read more →


It's one of my favorite times of the year. Major league sports seasons overlap. The National Football League season is underway (How 'bout them Cowboys?!). Major League Baseball teams are battling for the World Series crown. Pucks drop in National Hockey League arenas across Canada and the United States this week. But the big sports news recently, at least from a tax perspective, is about the Olympics. On Sept. 29, an apparently not-that-limber President Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama looking on, welcomed four of the United States' Women's Gymnastics team members -- left to right, Aly Raisman, Laurie... Read more →


If you follow celebrity news, you've already heard about the impending dissolution of the marriage of one of Hollywood's highest profile couples. Angelina Jolie is seeking a divorce from her husband of two years, Brad Pitt. Brangelina's divorce likely will be much more difficult than separating their Madame Tussaud wax representations. (Photo by Cliff via Flickr) I'll leave it to the internet and tabloids, both print on television versions, to hash out the exact sordid "irreconcilable differences" Jolie cited in her Sept. 19 filing in Los Angeles Superior Court. The couple, who share six children, was together for 12 years,... Read more →


Personal note, Saturday, June 10, 2017: Batman has always been my favorite comic book superhero. While I love the Caped Crusader's dark history and how it is reflected in his crime-fighting style, when I was a kid Batman was pure fun thanks to the character's TV portrayal by actor Adam West. On this sad day that I learned of Mr. West's passing on June 9, I realize that Batman came with me from those joyful childhood "Bam" and "Ka-Pow" graphic days of diversion into my mostly more serious adult tax world. Thanks for always being there when I needed you,... Read more →


Music and tax fans have heard by now that rapper Nelly is in big tax trouble. Many have rallied to help the St. Louis rapper. But it's not just Nelly's fans who are coming to his aid as he deals with a $2.4 million Internal Revenue Service tax lien. Stephen Colbert offers rapper Nelly some tax advice in "Debt in Herre," a parody of the singer's hit "Hot in Herre." Click image to view full video on YouTube. Late-night television show hosts also are doing their part. Most notable is Stephen Colbert. The "Late Show" host, with help from his... Read more →


I love cats and I love art, but I gotta say that The New York Times story yesterday (Sept. 2) on a feline-themed museum exhibit kind of grossed me out. So of course I'm sharing it with y'all. "The Kittens' Wedding" is the centerpiece of a new show at a Brooklyn, New York, museum. But it's not your typical work of art. Stuffed cats say "I do" in a scene from a British Pathé report on the anthropomorphic taxidermy of Walter Potter. Click image to watch the video. It's an elaborate tableau by the Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter that is,... Read more →


Donald J. Trump's taxes are still under wraps, but a revealing statue of the Republican presidential candidate could be yours if you're willing to bid enough. Naked Donald Trump statue in Los Angeles (by @birdman via Instagram). Click image for a full view, if you dare. Surprise reveals across the country: Earlier this month, five identical life-size statues of a nude Trump appeared overnight on street corners in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle and New York City. The NYC clay version of the GOP White House hopeful was removed by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.... Read more →


It was an incredibly successful 2016 Summer Olympics for U.S. athletes. Ashton Eaton won one of Team USA's 46 gold medals in Rio, winning the 2016 Olympic Decathlon and again earning the title of world's best all-around athlete. He first won decathlon gold in London in 2012. (Click image to watch NBC coverage of Eaton's medal ceremony.) Overall, American competitors won 121 medals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gold medallions were bestowed on U.S. Olympians in 46 events. The country won another 37 silver medals and 38 bronze. The next closest medal-winning country was China, with 70. Right now, those... Read more →


Sports and betting, much to the chagrin of athletic purists and most league officials (except NBA Commissioner Adam Silver), are inextricably linked. Billions of dollars, from ubiquitous office pools to professional gamblers, are wagered, legally and illegally, on sporting events every year. Gamblers at a Las Vegas casino's sportsbook area place their bets, keep up with the many games on which they can wager. And this summer, the 2016 Olympics officially add to the U.S. wagering tally. Betting on the world's best athletes: Nevada Gaming Control last year revised state regulations to allow Silver State sportsbooks to offer wagering on... Read more →


If you need further evidence of how the 2016 presidential election has become a political Bizarro World, check out the list of billionaires who have disavowed one of their ostensible peers, self-proclaimed -- we're still waiting for the tax return proof -- billionaire Donald J. Trump, and opted instead to support Hillary Clinton. Bizarro World DC Comic panel courtesy DC-Wikia Meg Whitman, former Hewlett Packard executive and one-time California gubernatorial GOP candidate, says she's with her, meaning Clinton. Beaucoup billionaires: She joins fellow billionaires Michael Bloomberg (former New York City mayor and news/investment media mogul), Mark Cuban (owner of the... Read more →


The 2016 Republican National Convention started today. So did the latest round of stories about what the GOP must do to make Donald J. Trump, its expected presidential nominee, more electable. Richard Hatch (far right, front row), winner of the first "Survivor" show in 2000, makes his case as a contestant in 2011 on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice." Hatch was fired by The Donald, but some suggest Hatch's "Survivor" strategy could help Trump win the presidency. There's the typical approach of moving toward the political center. That the path that's been taken over the years by both Democratic and Republican... Read more →


Attention Pennsylvania digital aficionados, your electronic addictions are about to cost you a bit more. Gov. Tom Wolf on July 13 signed into law his state's fiscal 2017 revenue package. Among its provisions is an extension of the Keystone State's 6 percent sales and use tax to digital downloads of books, music, satellite radio and video and audio streaming. The new tax collection will take effect Aug. 1. It's expected to bring in nearly $47 million in its first year. Those millions of dollars in extra revenue are tempting targets for this week's By the Numbers honor. So is the... Read more →