Pop Culture Feed

A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Frank Pallone called for a Congressional review of fantasy sports operations. The ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is concerned about the relationships of professional sports teams and players with the fake leagues. The New Jersey Representative also is seeking clarification on just how, if at all, playing fantasy sports differs from gambling. Pallone renewed his call for a hearing today in the wake of reports of so-called insider trading of information by employees of fantasy sports providers DraftKings and FanDuel. Dave and Rob Gomes, brothers from Boston, Massachusetts, won $1... Read more →

I am so jazzed for tonight. Tom Brady Deflators New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. Football is finally here! I know, college games started last weekend, but I'm not a big fan of any college sport. I always feel a little guilty yelling at ostensible student athletes. But I have no qualms unloading on the highly-paid pros. They're getting very good money to deal with my verbal admonishments, even though they can't hear them through my TV (yet). I've been getting ready for the kickoff of the NFL's golden Super Bowl season by stocking up on throat lozenges, reading a... Read more →

Computer hackers have taken over, in popular culture as well as in real-life situations adversely affecting the lives of millions of individuals. And we're all paying the price. Hacker extraordinaire Eliot Alderson, played by Rami Malek in USA Network's hit show Mr. Robot, crashed the computer system of Evil Corp. to free billions of global consumers from the giant company's financial clutches. Real-life hackers aren't as benevolent, generally opting to take over individuals' identities to access their bank and credit accounts. (Photo courtesy USA Network) The latest case in point is Uncle Sam's decision to pay more than $133 million... Read more →

Art and life have intersected once again, this time on Broadway. The hot new show on the Great White Way is "Hamilton," the musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. It's getting rave reviews not just from the critics, but also the public, including some guys who have a special perspective. Three Treasury Secretaries, two former and the current, have been to see the show. Treasury Secretaries who've attended the Broadway musical "Hamilton" about the first man to hold their job include, from left to right, Timothy F. Geithner, who served from 2009-13; Robert E. Rubin, secretary... Read more →

Television offers a wonderful view of modern superwomen. They're young, brash, tech-savvy and just what we need off screen nowadays to fight the ever-growing crime of identity theft. Real-life versions of popular TV characters Penelope, Claudia and Abby could be the answer to continuing hacks of federal government websites. There's Penelope Garcia, the hacker transformed into FBI computer wiz, on CBS' Criminal Minds; Claudia Donovan, the computer hacker who shook things up for the better on Syfy's Warehouse 13; and Abby Sciuto, whose many detecting talents on CBS' NCIS include digital forensics. All these female characters are young, offbeat and... Read more →

PBS is losing a beloved resident. Sesame Street, which debuted on public television in 1969, now will be seen on HBO, the premium cable channel heretofore best known for decidedly adult dramas. HBO star Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini, welcomes Sesame Street viewers in his own inimitable way to the premium cable network in @JRehling's Twitter take on the channel change. There is, however, a tiny bit of good news for PBS and families who rely on that broadcast outlet for their kids' entertainment. Old Sesame Street episodes will still be available on PBS. And the new... Read more →

It seems that the "SSL Secure Site" notation on AshleyMadison.com was as dependable as the promise of its clients' wedding rings. Which is to say, not very. That's right. The cyber security and privacy of the adultery website has been violated. Hey, no judging here. But I do want to offer the philandering members of the website, which advertises using the slogan "Life is short. Have an affair.", some divorce related tax tips. Just in case the cyber infiltrators follow through on their threat to make public the info on the 37 million marital cheaters. UPDATE: The wait is over.... Read more →

Disney is known for its princesses. That's fitting, because from a corporate tax position, the entertainment behemoth is a king. Beast and the Disney princess beauties by Jennie Park via Flickr And boy is it good to be king. Disney just got a royal tax deal from Anaheim. Tax deal for possible future tax: The Southern California city that is home to Disneyland just extended its entertainment tax agreement, which has been in place since 1996 and which was set to expire next June, with Disney for 30 more years. In the original deal almost 20 years ago, Anaheim promised... Read more →

Yes, it's summer and lots of folks are at the beach. And on many social media sites it's Throwback Thursday. So it's only fitting that we have new developments in the tax evasion case against Mike Sorrentino, one of the stars of Jersey Shore. Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, top right, and his Jersey Shore buddies in happier days, circa 2009. Photo courtesy FanPop. Mike Sorrentino, known as "The Situation" when he starred on MTV's quasi-reality show, has found life off the beach less appealing. Sorrentino's serious situations: In June 2014, some employees of Sorrentino's Middletown, New Jersey, tanning salon complained... Read more →

Ins explaining the United States to non-Americans, the quirky online comic website The Oatmeal notes that the Fourth of July is the day we celebrate our independence through alcoholism, concussive explosions and by scaring the crap out of our pets. I thought the characterization was just part of cartoonist Matthew Inman's exaggeratedly offbeat sense of humor, which is further demonstrated by his July 4th drawing there to the left. But Inman nailed it. All across the country this long weekend we have the fireworks and terrified pets and, yes, the over-consumption of booze. Biggest booze days: Independence Day is one... Read more →

Burning Man began as a bonfire on San Francisco's Baker Beach in 1986 where a handful of folks celebrated the summer solstice. It's now a week-long festival that drew almost 66,000 revelers last year to Black Rock City, the temporary Nevada desert town that springs up in late summer to support the event. Burning Man photo by Aaron Morgan via Flickr As the participation has increased, so has the price to be a part of Burning Man. For this year's event, which runs from Aug. 30 through Sept. 7, top tier pre-sale tickets issued back in January cost $800 each.... Read more →

I'm not much of a churchgoer, but if the new First Church of Cannabis opens a sanctuary in Austin, I might just drop by services now and again. The Indianapolis-based marijuana-smoking church has received approval of its incorporation papers from the state of Indiana and, from the more important tax perspective, from the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) religious organization. For the new religious order, that designation means no taxes. For donors, that also means tax deductions if they itemize. Religious freedom law opens church doors: And the new ministry is looking for donors to help it raise... Read more →

You've got to give props to Italian tax officials for their persistence. Last fall, Italy's highest court overturned the tax evasion convictions of fashion icons Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, whose luxe label bears their surnames. That, however, has not deterred Italian tax collectors. Now they are going after high-end jewelers Paolo and Nicola Bulgari. The brothers, whose watches and bracelets adorn the wrists of the world's wealthy, are accused of tax evasion. An item from the new Bulgari, or BVLGARI in the trademarked classical Latin lettering that appears in their packaging and ads, line of Serpenti jewelry. Click image... Read more →

It's here! The greatest day in motorsports. It starts early for Formula One fans in the United States. We set our alarm clocks to watch those multimillion dollar wheeled rockets maneuver the streets of magnificent Monte Carlo, Monaco. Click image to view Formula1.com's onboard camera capture of $155 million dollar man Lewis Hamilton's Monaco Grand Prix pole winning run. Midday the green flag drops on the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500. Then late afternoon racing turns to night driving at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, where NASCAR holds the Coca-Cola 600, its longest race. You now know... Read more →

There were no winners last week in literal national lottery games or in a taxpayer's call to the Internal Revenue Service that turned out to be an unexpected gamble. Let's start with the lotteries, since there's a possibility that someone (maybe me!) could soon be a multimillionaire. Lottery prospects, taxes: The Powerball jackpot has climbed to $138 million $154 million, which translates to a lump sum payout of $86.3 million more than $96 million. The numbers will be drawn tonight Wednesday, May 27.* Another chance at a life of lottery-funded leisure comes on Tuesday, May 26, when the Mega Millions'... Read more →

Duck Dynasty's Louisiana state tax credits could be winged
More bad news: no official A&E show renewal yet & Vegas musical flops

Things are not going so well right now for the bearded bunch of Duck Dynasty. As far as I can tell -- although I must admit I didn't search very long or hard as I don't watch the quasi-reality cable television show -- Duck Dynasty has yet to get an official renewal order from A&E for season eight. Then came word that "Duck Commander Musical," the Las Vegas stage production based on the 2012 book "The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty" by Willie and Korie Robertson, flopped. The hirsute musical began performances on April... Read more →

Happy May 4, the unofficial holiday of Star Wars geeks and punsters worldwide. I admit it. I've already intoned "May the 4th be with you" several times today, but I'm justified. I've always been a sci-fi fan. And I discovered more of them when I went off to college, where I got to be a part of a class at Texas Tech that analyzed the genre through the eyes of professors in ancient world history, classics and modern literature, archaeology and anthropology. It's also where I penned my first science fiction short story and got encouragement from one of the... Read more →

HBO's John Oliver defends the IRS as April 15 nears
And Grammy winner Michael Bolton serenades the tax agency

Wednesday is Tax Day. Those of us who've yet to file (guilty!) our taxes have until midnight our local time on April 15 to get our returns (and money) to the Internal Revenue Service. That means that these next three days are filled with frustration and anger, much of it directed at the IRS. That's understandable, notes John Oliver, comedian and host of HBO's Last Week Tonight. Dealing with the IRS is a dreaded obligation, says Oliver. "It often functions badly and it combines two of the things that we hate the most in life, someone taking our money and... Read more →

Mad Men's Pete Campbell complains about 1970's tax rates

Thank you Matthew Weiner and Mad Men writers for another tax tidbit in last night's return of the show. When the partners at Sterling Cooper & Partners agreed to merge their struggling agency with advertising giant McCann Erickson, they all became very wealthy. And of course Pete Campbell, the Mad Men character we all love to hate (except when he's dancing), bemoans the burdens of his new tax bracket. His 5 percent share in the company was worth about $1.5 million. Pete and Trudy Campbell show off their mad Charleston moves. To keep any of it, Pete complained in last... Read more →

Alabama smokers now pay 42.5 cents in taxes on each pack of cigarettes they purchase. If the Yellowhammer State's governor gets his way, those taxes will almost triple. Gov. Robert Bentley is yet another Republican who has been forced by fiscal realities to consider and even support higher taxes. One of the easiest routes to higher taxes, regardless of party affiliation, generally comes by hiking taxes that already exist. And many times, such tax increases are in the so-called sin tax category, those habits that are bad for individuals and the states where they live. Bentley's current budget proposals include... Read more →