Ahoy, Maties!

Labor Day has faded into memory, and before you know it, the holidays will be here. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the year-end Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa cavalcade of commercialism are the obvious “Big Three.” But in all the holiday season hype, it’s easy to overlook a newer celebration that grows more popular every year. We’re talking, of course, about […]

Red Tax Rising

Novelist Tom Clancy shot to the top of the best seller lists when former president Ronald Reagan called his debut,The Hunt for Red October, “the best yarn.” His stories featuring CIA analyst-turned-president Jack Ryan redefined the “techno-thriller” genre, with hyper-realistic plots that foreshadowed real-world developments. Clancy earned special praise for his obsessive attention to detail, […]

Back to School Tax Time

Now’s the time of year when kids across America start heading back to school. New kindergartners eagerly don their snazziest big-kid outfits to pose for smiles and pictures. (The tears come after they get dropped off. We’re talking the mom and dad, of course.) New high-schoolers hit the snooze button and look forward to sleeping […]

Go for the Gold

For awhile there, it looked like the just-concluded Rio Olympics would be a carnival of chaos. Golfers boycotting to avoid the Zika virus? Check. Swimmers making their way through raw sewage? Check. And those were just the disasters we anticipated before the opening ceremonies! Who could have predicted divers splashing into a pool of green […]

Up in Smoke

The Mafia. The Mob. La Cosa Nostra. Call it what you will, this “certain Italian-American subculture” has a long and storied history. Mobsters like Al Capone, Henry Hill, and John Gotti have become folk heroes of a certain sociopathic sort. Fictional mobsters make special guest appearances alongside pop culture icons — witness The Simpsons’ “Fat […]

The Darker Side of Reality TV

Americans can’t seem to get enough of reality television. Most critics think that’s because reality TV presents us as we all aspire to be. Something about the camera seems to bring out the best in people, whether they’re bachelorettes, drag queens, or cake chefs. Reality TV is where we go to restore our faith in […]

Like This!

If you’re like most Facebook users, you get plenty of friend requests from people who aren’t really friends. Co-workers you never respected from your last job; classmates you never really liked 30 years ago; annoying blowhards you meet at your in-laws’ anniversary party. If you’re lucky, you can just ignore those requests and hope they […]

Now That’s Prime

Americans love peeking into the wallets of the rich and famous. Just how much are they really worth? How did they get there? And who’s on top of the pile? For years, Microsoft founder Bill Gates ($76 billion) has been the king of that particular gilded hill, with Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffett ($65 billion) […]

Plymouth Rocks!

Let’s say the IRS decides they don’t like your tax return from a couple of years ago. They audit you, and send you a “deficiency notice” for, say, $10,000. You appeal it, and they say “nope, sorry, it’s $10,000.” If you’re still not happy (and why would you be happy with a $10,000 tax bill), […]

Shell Games on the Big Screen

The dog days are here, and multiplexes across America are delighting audiences with the usual summer fare. Down to the left in Theatre Three, a motley crew of undersea chums are busy finding their friend Dory. Across the hall in Theatre Five, Universal Studios has ripped off reimagined the Toy Story premise with pets instead […]