Pop Culture Feed

Happy New Year! No, I haven't hit a time warp, although that could be cool! But I digress. Today is the start of the Year of the Monkey. Although 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, Chinese New Year parades still tend to be led by dragons. The Lunar New Year that began today is the biggest holiday in China. Thanks to the large communities of Chinese heritage throughout the world --- and because folks will jump at any chance to party -- it's a festive time worldwide. Although China officially operates on the international Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunisolar... Read more →


I am not a big gambler. Sure, as long-time readers of the ol' blog know, I buy lottery tickets. Way too many lottery tickets. But when the hubby and I go to Las Vegas, we go for the shows -- Cirque du Soleil, Penn and Teller, Blue Man Group -- not the betting. Today, however, is one of my favorite days of the year and it's not because of the Super Bowl itself, but because of the prop bets. (Full disclosure: That will change when the Cowboys finally get back to the championship game.) Beyoncé's appearance in today's Super Bowl... Read more →


Even before the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers players step onto the field at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, we'll already have one big winner. Click screenshot to view full NFL Super Bowl 50 trailer on YouTube. The National Football League will pocket millions thanks to the Super Bowl host city's agreement to hand over all its big game-related sales tax revenue to the league. Yep, the NFL, which made $12 billion over the 2014-15 season, demands that cities awarded the Super Bowl waive or reimburse sales tax on ticket sales and parking passes. What Super Bowl cities lose:... Read more →


It's Oscar nomination day! Let the arguments begin over who was properly recognized (yay Bryan Cranston for "Trumbo"), who was snubbed (Idris Elba and Johnny Depp both ignored!) and who surprised (yay again, this time for great film composer Carter Burwell) film fans and the industry by getting Academy Award nods. I'm sure someone already is researching which of the Best Film nominees got film tax credits. I suspect they all did, just like last year's batch. And one thing is for sure when it comes to future award-worthy movies. If they're made in New Jersey, the film makers will... Read more →


I live in gun-crazy Texas. Some folks would say the word "gun" is unnecessary. I'm Lone Star State born and bred, but many days I agree with that disparaging assessment, more so now that we have full open carry of weapons. But for every Wild West wannabe piece of legislation, there are acts to try to counter gun violence across the country. At the national level, President Barack Obama just announced executive office steps he plans to take to tighten the nation’s gun laws. Locally, states and cities have taken tougher gun stands with a modicum of success. Last December,... Read more →


Yes, I know we're in the midst of college football's bowl season. And many NFL teams are still in the hunt for a spot in professional football's playoffs. But baseball recently got my attention. Part of my sporting focus shift is that the two NFL teams I cheer for, the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens, are incredibly sucky this year and out of the playoff picture. The main reason, though, that I'm looking at Major League Baseball in late December is because 2015 is a record-setting year for the league's luxury tax. Multiple luxury tax records: The Los Angeles Dodgers... Read more →


The biggest hit on Broadway right now is an inventive musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary. "Hamilton" actors, left to right, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, and the musical's writer and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular Alexander Hamilton. (Photo via BroadwayBox.com) And on Friday, the tax extenders bill became law, including a new provision that gives a tax break to shows on the Great White Way. Coincidence? I think not. Tax help from "Hamilton?" Maybe: OK, I don't really think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's record-setting "Hamilton" is... Read more →


The Browns are in Pittsburgh today. That's good news for Cleveland tax officials. On this given Sunday, they don't have to worry about taxing visiting National Football League players. Cleveland officials are revising their jock tax system, through which they've collected money from athletes and entertainers who've come into town to perform over the years. The city lost a court battle over its jock tax methodology and could end up refunding, by one estimate, as much as $2.4 million to previously taxed NFL players. Before it was challenged, Cleveland had taken its tax portion from visiting pro footballers' pockets based... Read more →


One Colorado county is looking to change the traditional linkage of college kids and pot. At a story/suspected crime scene in my first post-college reporter job, smoking Marlboro Lights, not marijuana! Starting in 2017, Pueblo County high school graduates will be eligible for college scholarships funded by money from the local marijuana tax. Wisdom thanks to weed taxes: On Nov. 3, around 60 percent of voters in this county south of Colorado Springs approved a ballot measure that will gradually increase taxes on marijuana growers. The county pot tax rate will top out at 5 percent by 2020. Pueblo County... Read more →


It's no secret that I'm a big football fan. I prefer the NFL because I like to yell at my teams and the players, and it just doesn't seem right to berate college kids, even if they can't hear me shouting at my TV. I do, however, appreciate the special energy and enthusiasm that college gridiron match-ups generate. The Ohio State-Rutgers game this past Saturday is a perfect example. The Scarlet Knights knew it was a big game, probably their biggest one this year, going up against top-ranked Ohio State. Staying true to your school: So some Rutgers' fan took... Read more →


Did you watch the wannabe Democratic presidential nominees debate last night? Good for you. And good for America. Although the first Democratic debate drew less than half the audience of the last Republican one, the more than 15 million CNN viewers who tuned in to see Hillary Clinton et al is a record debate viewership for the Democratic Party. Pols top zombies: In fact, there were more eyeballs watching Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee verbally duke it out Tuesday night than tuned in a few days earlier to watch zombies. The Walking Dead fan favorite... Read more →


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 →