Pop Culture Feed

Here are this weekend's full Flower Moon eclipse stages. The moon moves right to left, passing through the penumbra and umbra, leaving in its wake an eclipse diagram with the times (Eastern time zone) at various stages of the eclipse. Visualizations by Ernie Wright, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio. Click here for the video version. And if it's cloudy where you live, you can livestream the eclipse. It's Friday the 13th, the only one in 2022. A total lunar eclipse will turn the full Flower Moon red Sunday night. The only thing that could amp up our combined superstitions and natural... Read more →


Photo by Kampus Production via Pexels. Here in Austin, we're in the midst of doing our civic duties. In between the March primaries and late May runoffs from inconclusive races in that voting session, residents of the Lone Star State's capital are deciding on a trio of ballot questions. Two deal with property taxes. The third asks, in part, if we Austinites would like to eliminate enforcement of low-level marijuana offenses. There's a statue of Willie Nelson in downtown Austin. What do you expect the result to be? Toking in Tejas: Joking aside, Austin is just one Texas city that's... Read more →


The iconic Hollywood sign is still there, but films no longer are limited to Los Angeles backlots. They're made across the United States (and world), with film makers choosing locations based in many instances on available tax breaks. (Photo by Dmitry Rogozhin via Wikimedia Commons) You haven't been to a movie theater in years. You don't pay for streaming services. But chances are you have been covering the production costs for recent movies and television shows. That's because 33 states and the District of Columbia offer tax breaks to movie makers and more. The only states that currently don't offer... Read more →


March Madness, the name of the annual NCAA men's basketball tournament, begins today. The betting on the games began Sunday, as soon as the 68 teams filling the brackets were announced. I'm not a big college sports fan, basketball included, so all I know about this year's tourney is that my alma mater is attending the Big Dance. Texas Tech's impressive roundball team, with its AP Big 12 Coach of the Year Mark Adams, will play its first game scheduled for Friday, March 18, afternoon. I'm rooting for the Tech team. However, I am not betting on the guys. No... Read more →


@Beijing2022 As I type, athletes representing the United States at the winter Olympics in Beijing have won 12 medals. Six of the awards are gold, five are silver and one is bronze. In addition to receiving the medals themselves, along with a floral bouquet and a stuffed toy version of Bing Dwen Dwen, the immensely popular panda mascot of the games, the celebrated athletes get some cash. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee pays $37,500 for each gold medal, $22,500 per silver, and $15,000 per bronze. In case you were wondering about your own tax bill, the Team USA... Read more →


The winter Olympics are still going on, and I'm particularly thrilled about the "old" man of 40, Nick Baumgartner, finally winning his first medal after tries in four of the global games. And a gold at that! It was the second gold for his mixed snowboard cross teammate Lindsey Jacobellis, who until Baumgartner's win, was the oldest winter games winner at age 36. Congrats, but sorry, Olympics athletes. Here in the United States, we'll be taking a break this weekend. The Super Bowl is Sunday. And you know what that means. Betting on the National Football League championship game. Prop... Read more →


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels The continuing Joe Rogan Spotify podcast controversy also has refocused attention on the streamer's relationship with musicians. Supporters of Spotify and other mainly music subscription services — Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon, to name a few — say streaming rescued the music industry by providing it with regular monthly revenue. Opponents of the services say industry is the key word. The big winners, they point out, are the streamers and large record companies, while the artists who make the music aren't benefiting unless they are at the superstar level. Think Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Ed... Read more →


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels Cryptocurrency's popularity skyrocketed during the height of the COVID pandemic. Celebrities endorsed it. Athletes and government officials embraced it. So, of course, more of the less famous added the virtual money to their portfolios. Then 2022 arrived. The value of most cryptocurrencies has plummeted in recent weeks, wiping out billions of dollars of wealth. But the bad news doesn't stop there. Now it's tax time. IRS' increasing interest in crypto: The digital money's growing acceptance naturally attracted the tax man's attention. The Internal Revenue Service says that for tax purposes, crypto is treated property.... Read more →


Photo by Norma Mortenson from Pexels For the last couple of COVID years, more of us have been getting more home deliveries. So we're already used to tipping the folks who bring us our groceries and prepared meals and prescriptions and books and just about everything else. But with the holidays here — Christmas is just a week away! How in the heck did that happen? — we also should consider tipping other people who help make our lives more pleasant. These include our garbage and recycling workers, hairdressers, childcare help, and more. Rather than list all the possible tip... Read more →


Thirsty New Yorkers celebrate Prohibition Repeal Day at a local, again legal, bar. Image from Las Vegas' National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, more popularly known as The Mob Museum, blog post on how Prohibition changed beer. Today's a big day for tax geeks and craft beer aficionados, as well as for lovers of fine (or cheaper; no judging here) wines and liquors. On Dec. 5, 1933, Prohibition ended with the passage of the 23rd amendment to the U.S. constitution. Whenever last century's 13-year booze ban is discussed, the focus naturally tends to be on the alcohol component.... Read more →


This lord a-leaping and his nine other colleagues will cost you a hefty sum this year if you give them and the 11 other gifts inspired by the "12 Days of Christmas" carol to your true love. (Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels) Did you survive Black Friday shopping? More to the point, did your bank account survive? The crowds this year apparently were smaller, but the freedom to shop in real life didn't offer as many savings. Plus, there was inflation. As everyone knows by now, prices have been rising. That definitely is true for the annual PNC Financial... Read more →


Is the fifth time the charm? The owners of cannabis businesses legal in their states certainly hope that modified multiple maxim is true. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act would allow cannabis businesses in the 36 states with retail dispensaries (that are taxed) to operate the same way their non-marijuana related colleagues do. They could pay their federal taxes with a check, secure loans to expand their operations, and accept bank debit card transactions by customers. Right now, that's all problematic at best. Businesses that sell marijuana are limited in their banking options since the plant still is... Read more →


Sports betting has expanded beyond casino sportsbooks like this one in Las Vegas. And this NFL season, the league has made deals with seven sports betting companies. (Photo by Kay Bell) The National Football League's 2021 season kicks off tonight with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Are you ready for some sports betting, this time OK'ed by the NFL? The NFL reached deals last month with FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet, and WynnBET to be the league's Approved Sportsbook Operators. This means that, among other things, the four legal betting operations can purchase televised... Read more →


Of course there's a tax crime connection. A defunct Connecticut minor league hockey club is the focus of a new Netflix documentary. The film's tales of the brawling Danbury Trashers offer this weekend's diversion, along with a bit of a tax connection. I fell in love with hockey when I went to my first game, a Washington Capitals match back in 1981 shortly after we moved to the National Capital area. Those early Capitals' teams sucked majorly. But they had some good individual players. The skills and heart of Rick Green, Mike Gartner, and young American phenom Bobby Carpenter made... Read more →


Last November, Louisiana voters in 55 of the state's 64 parishes approved sports betting. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the necessary enacting bills into law in June. And this month, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board passed emergency sports betting rules, effective Aug. 23, to start the licensing process and finalize permanent rules. The process probably isn't streamlined enough to allow bettors to put down cash on the Thursday, Sept. 9, meeting of my frustratingly underachieving Cowboys and the current Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, which kicks off the 2021 National Football League (NFL) season. But the hope of sports betting supporters... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 18, 2021: The Capone auction slipped by me, as I focused on the impending Oct. 15 filing extension deadline. But it went off as planned earlier this month, with the convicted tax felon's heirs getting more than $3 million for many of his personal items. The Chicago Tribune has the sale's details, and notes the capital gains taxes they will pay. This U.S. Department of Justice mug shot of Al Capone was taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. It is not one of the Capone items that will be auctioned by his... Read more →


The newly built Japan National Stadium in Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies on July 23, 2021, as well as some of the COVID-delayed games' events. (Photo by Arne Müseler via Wikipedia Commons) The 2020 Olympics from Tokyo officially start on Friday, July 23. No, the opening ceremonies arriving after some events' preliminary matches have already been played doesn't mean we get do-overs. Sorry, women's U.S. soccer team. Yes, the global sporting event is keeping last year's designation for continuity's sake, as well as not having to go to the expense of reproducing material created before the... Read more →


Kickback apparently has discontinued its bottled cold coffee with CBD, but still offers the cannabis chemical in ready-to-drink teas and ground coffee. (Photo by Deceptitom via Wikipedia) It's been one of those weeks. That's why when I woke up late this morning – OK, early afternoon — I thought (was hoping) it was Saturday. Once the caffeine kicked in, I discovered that maybe I should be using another energy booster. Cannabidiol, or CBD as it's commonly called. CBD is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients in the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or hemp. As recreational... Read more →


New York last week became the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana. New Yorkers now can possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis for recreational use. But don't expect to pick up some of that legal weed any time soon. While using marijuana is legal for adults age 21 or older, the process of approving dispensaries and establishing precise regulations and tax rules for cannabis distribution will take a while. 17 cannabis OK locales: Still, the Empire State's move is a big one. New York is the 17th jurisdiction to join the legal cannabis club. The toking fraternity includes 16... Read more →


A scene from "Judas and the Black Messiah," which today received six Oscar nominations. The filmmakers also took advantage of state tax breaks to make the movie. (Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures) The 2021 Oscar nominees were announced today. Let the arguing begin. I'm generally happy with the nominations, especially since two of my favorite and (I believe) overlooked performers were nominated in the Best Actor in a Leading Role. Oh, you want names? Sure: Riz Ahmed for "Sound of Metal" and Steven Yeun for "Minari." However, disagreements about the nominees and the ultimate winners in all Academy of Motion... Read more →