Pop Culture Feed

James Holzhauer's epic winning run on Jeopardy finally came to an end, leaving him with winnings of almost $2.5 million. The take fell just short of the television game show's record winnings, but neither Holzhauer nor the tax collectors who'll get a nice chunk of the cash are complaining. James Holzhauer finally learned you can't win 'em all. It's been a good week for gamblers. For tax collectors, too. A 66-year-old North Carolina retiree came forward to claim the $344.6 million Powerball drawing, which he won thanks to numbers from a fortune cookie. A yet-to-be-announced lottery player in San Diego,... Read more →


Killmonger and crew steal a Wakandan vibranium ax in 2018's "Black Panther." This scene was filmed in Atlanta's High Museum of Art. (Watch full museum heist scene at YouTube) If you spend part of this long Memorial Day weekend watching a movie or two, chances are good that it was made in a particular place thanks to tax breaks. Movie makers have been getting tax incentives, at both the federal and state levels, for decades. The practice, however, is controversial. Supporters see the films, traditional television shows, streaming productions, commercials and even video games made in some part within their... Read more →


New parents Harry and Meghan don't have to worry about the expense of their new bundle of joy. But for us non-royals, raising children is costly. We former colonists here across the pond can get some help covering those costs thanks to several U.S. tax breaks. An obviously elated Prince Harry announces the birth of his and wife Meghan's son. (Screen shot from the Sussex Royal Instagram) It's a boy! Watchers of the Royal Family in the United Kingdom, here across the pond and yes, worldwide, are celebrating today's announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now parents... Read more →


Michael Cohen (left) and Tom Arnold run into each other in New York City in June 2018. (Photo via Tom Arnold on Twitter) Michael Cohen, Donald J. Trump's former attorney and previously self-described fixer, is heading to federal prison in a couple weeks. But in a recent conversation with actor Tom Arnold, Cohen said he didn't commit all of the crimes for which he will do time. Specifically, according to the story on the telephone discussion that the Wall Street Journal broke, Cohen says he's not guilty of tax evasion, one of the charges for which he's going to jail.... Read more →


420 Day celebrant photo by GoToVan via Flickr Happy 420 Day, when marijuana smokers commemorate cannabis. It's not surprising that the origins of this unofficial holiday to celebrate weed are fuzzy. Some say it's based on the California police or penal code number 420 that designates marijuana smoking. Not true. Another theory is that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana. That count must have been made after a few tokes over the line. There are more than 500 active ingredients in marijuana, with only about 70 or so being cannabinoids unique to the plant. A more likely explanation is... Read more →


Hope springs eternal for MLB fans on Opening Day. I'm looking forward to this season bringing another World Series pennant to join the 2017 one in the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park. (Photo by me, taken at the 'Stros' championship celebration with fans at their home opener on April 2, 2018) Today is a holiday in our house. It's Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Our formal celebration of the sport's first games of the year began when we lived in the Washington, D.C. area. In those days, there were no Nationals. The Baltimore Orioles ruled the MidAtlantic baseball world,... Read more →


R. Kelly performing in in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as part of his 2006 "Mr. Show Biz Presents: The Light it Up Tour. (Photo by Nicholas Ballasy via Wikipedia Commons) Singer-songwriter R. Kelly is (once again) facing serious criminal charges, but a more common complaint is what has landed him in jail. The 52-year-old R&B singer was arrested March 6 after a court hearing that he failed to pay more than $161,000 in back child support. (Update: Kelly was released from jail on March 9 after making the overdue support payments.) Incarceration for failure to meet court-ordered family payments happens... Read more →


Much of the music industry's elite will be at the Grammy awards tonight, all hoping to go home with a new piece of hardware. Many will be disappointed. But perhaps they can take some solace from the goodies they'll get as part of the swag bags that will be distributed before the Recording Academy's 61st ceremonies. This year, the official 2019 Grammy swag bag is worth more than $30,000. But that's not the only gift bag. More than 50 presenters and performers will have the option to go home with not one, but two collections of goodies from the Grammy... Read more →


Will youthful enthusiasm prevail over old age and treachery? That's one of the things, although not in exactly those words, that you can bet on in connection with Super Bowl LIII. (Photo courtesy NFL.com) Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, at right in the above photo, turned 33 last month. He's the youngest coach to take a team to a Super Bowl. Across the field (and at left above) will be Bill Belichick, a veteran of National Football League championship games as the New England Patriots head coach. He's twice as old as McVay. If the Rams win Super... Read more →


Super Bowl Sunday is the single largest betting day of the year. And now, Nevada is no longer is the only state where bettors can place legal sports wagers. A historic Super Bowl LIII will finally kick off in Atlanta late Sunday, Feb. 3, afternoon. It's the is the first National Football League championship game where legal sports gambling has expanded beyond Nevada. Bettors now also can head to casinos or other betting establishments in Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island or West Virginia to put their money down on the NFL's biggest game. You can bet... Read more →


The Dallas Cowboys, in white uniforms during a game with Detroit at Jerry World a few years ago, are heading back to the NFL playoffs. The Pokes last won a post-season game in 1996, when they ultimately won Super Bowl XXX. Will they change their dismal playoff run in 2019? (Photo by Kay Bell) National Football League fans in Texas are pretty happy this final regular season game weekend. Both the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys will play the post-season, with the Pokes actually winning their division. Go figure. I haven't been paying as close attention to the NFL this... Read more →


Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn in the 1947 classic "Miracle on 34th Street") gets in a little sleigh practice at Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Santa Claus is already hard at work, according to the Christmas specialists at NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, who are tracking his gift deliveries. (Yes, they're on the job despite the federal government's partial shutdown.) Santa's travels during this 24 hours of dropping off gifts for good girls and boys means he will travel around 212 million miles around the globe. As a small business owner, that's a lot of tax-deductible mileage — presuming that... Read more →


Are you an Instagram fan? I have an account, but it's not my go-to social media platform. That's not too surprising since, according to various data, I'm not part of the app's primary demographic. The digital marketing firm Omnicore says 59 percent of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram. The Internal Revenue Service has found other research that shows an even larger slice of young Instagrammers. The tax agency says more than 70 percent of U.S. young adults age 18 to 24 are active on the photo and video sharing app. And since young people... Read more →


Netflix has received a lot of attention lately. Some of it is good, like the online streaming service's impressive wins at this week's Emmy awards. Netflix tied cable giant HBO in overall awards for television program, with each taking home 23 of the statuettes. The impressive number of awards marks a major shift, say industry experts, putting streaming outlets on equal footing with network and cable television. One Missouri city appears to agree with that assessment. And that's the not-so-good attention now being paid to Netflix. Creve Coeur officials contend that a 2007 Show Me State law permits local jurisdictions,... Read more →


There won't be many bets on the Dallas Cowboys to win the Super Bowl next February. Odds makers say that possibility is a 30-to-1 longshot. I'm a fan of the 'Boys and I think that's being way too optimistic! (Cowboys playing Detroit Lions in Dallas by Kay Bell) Professional football fans are ready for some football as the NFL's 2018 season kicks off tonight. And the league itself may finally be ready for some legal gambling on its sport. The reason is, of course, money. Billions in betting-related revenue: National Football League could pocket an added $2.3 billion a year... Read more →


New York Giants fan chow down at a pre-NFL game tailgate party. (Photo by Ben Vardi via Wikipedia Commons) College football begins in full force this Labor Day weekend. The professional pigskin players kick off the 2018 season on Thursday, Sept. 6. That means crazy body paint, tons of tailgating and betting. Yes, although professional sports leagues and especially the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hate to admit it, gamblers put down billions on games every year. Most of those wagers have been, and will continue to be, placed illegally despite the May 14 decision by the Supreme Court of... Read more →


I smoked for way too many years, back when I was young and feeling rebellious and immortal. So I have no standing to tell these kids today that smokeless smoking isn't good for them. My unsolicited advice probably wouldn't be heeded anyway. It appears that many young people already are hooked on Juuling. Jumping on the Juul train: For those who are unfamiliar with Juuling, and I was one of the until today, it's the latest iteration of electronic cigarettes. The verb comes from Juul, the product introduced to the vaping market in 2015 by Pax and spun off in... Read more →


A week ago, the idea of indexing capital gains was just that, an idea. To move forward, the best bet was for the proposal to make it into Tax Reform 2.0. It didn't. So now it's looking more likely that the U.S. Treasury might act unilaterally. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had previously (all the way back in late June) said that he would prefer Congress take the lead on indexing capital gains. He did add, however, that "If we're not able to complete Tax Reform 2.0, then we'll go back to the drawing board and decide whether we want to... Read more →


Yes, it's just TV. But I like it. A lot. I know a lot of folks, including many of my friends, still look down their noses at television. But like any creative enterprise, it can provide much more than just entertainment. From the get-go, television has been a reflection of every country's cultural, political and social perspectives. That's why I always look forward to the annual announcement of the Emmy nominations. (More on this year's prospective winners later. You can take this a threat or promise, depending on your personal opinion about TV and its awards.) At its most elemental... Read more →


Real Madrid teammates Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Luka Modrić go against each other in a Portugal vs. Croatia friendly match in June 2013. (Photo by Fanny Schertzer via Wikipedia) I'm not a soccer or World Cup fan, but many of my social media pals are. That's why my Twitter feed is full of updates on upsets and expected results from this year's tournament hosted by Russia. But those sports fans have overlooked one thing. Some of soccer's — football to the world beyond the United States — biggest global stars also have faced serious international tax battles. Portugal star fights... Read more →