Obamas’ Tax Return

Tax season is never the highlight of anyone’s year. It’s always a hassle to prepare your taxes. Then there’s the nagging aspect of actually having to fork over a huge portion of your salary to Uncle Sam. But at least he doesn’t waste it on the War in Iraq and pork projects.

The saving grace of it all is that even the President and Vice President must also pay their taxes. So how much did they pay? And how much did they earn?

According to Y! Buzz, the Obamas’ earned a combined income of over $2.6 million in 2008 and paid upwards of $1 million in taxes. That’s light years ahead of the Bidens’ income. They earned a measly $270,000.

So how did the Obamas’ manage to rake in that much moola? Simple: Obama wrote two books, you may remember “Audacity” and “Dreams”, which accounted for the majority of his income last year.

Now you can rest easy tonight knowing full well that the President and Vice President suffered just as much as you did if not more.

AIG Bonuses Side Effect of Bailout

While many people disagree with the recent government bailout of AIG, I think the more important issue is the $165 million paid in bonuses to employees.  In the grand scheme of things, it probably was a good idea to not allow the largest U.S. insurer to fail.  The economy might not have been able to bear it.  But certainly, the bonuses were inappropriate.

Rush Limbaugh, in all of his mumbled wisdom, believes that the AIG bonuses shouldn’t have been taxed.  But what he fails to appreciate is that the money allocated was wasted.  Yes, normal bonuses shouldn’t be so heavily taxed, but perhaps the bonuses shouldn’t have been paid at all.  And maybe, those funds could have been used more proactively.

It’s also disappointing that the government didn’t have a provision to prevent such misuse of the bailout money.  But I suppose that’s simply politics as usual.  At any rate, I applaud the taxation of these bonuses.

Natasha Richardon Dies at 45

Natasha Richardson

According to the Hurriyet Daily News, Natasha Richardson passed away Wednesday after suffering head trauma from a skiing accident.  She was only 45 years old.

The British actress and AIDS activist, who recently appeared on Top Chef,  fell during a private lesson on the beginner slopes at the Mont Tremblant resort in Canada.  She was not wearing a helmet which lead to a epidural hematoma, or internal bleeding of the brain.

Natasha Richardon was married to fellow actor Liam Neeson and had two sons.  She is also the sister of Joely Richardson, AKA Julia McNamara, of Nip/Tuck fame, and daughter of Vanessa Redgrave.

Hurriyet reports that Richardson initially felt ok, but later was sent to the hospital after sever headaches ensued: “About an hour [after the accident], she complained of severe headaches and was admitted to a local medical facility before eventually being transferred to a Montreal hospital where she was diagnosed with severe brain trauma.”

Unfortunately, Richardson eventually passed away after being flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Daylight Savings Time is Awful

Daylight savings time is awful. At least in the spring when you lose an hour.  Think that over for a minute.  You’re minding your own business, and then bam!  You wake up at 7:15am, except it’s actually 6:15am!  The sun’s barely risen and already your day has begun.

How did this horrid tradition begin?  According to Wikipedia, Daylight savings time (DST) was conceived in 1907 by the English builder William Willett.  Why did he have this ingenious idea?  He didn’t appreciate ending his golf game at dusk and also notice many Londoners slept during the summer.  Wow, those are pressing issues.  Thanks, Will.

DST isn’t without it’s benefits (although they are few).  Certain areas such as sporting events and retail thrive in sunlight and therefore are helped by DST.  But it’s not all fun.

As Wikipedia explains, “although an early goal of DST was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting, formerly a primary use of electricity, modern heating and cooling usage patterns differ greatly, and research about how DST currently affects energy use is limited and often contradictory.”  In other words, daylight savings time doesn’t necessarily reduce energy consumption.

I’m still cranky from losing sleep, so I’m a bit biased, but I don’t believe DST is necessary.  We should adjust our schedules, not our clocks, if we need more light.

Bizarre Celebrity Baby Names

I was reading Yahoo! site OMG! (please don’t hate me,  it was linked from their homepage’s news) and came across an interesting list of bizarre celebrity baby names:

-Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin)
-Banjo (Rachel Griffiths)
-Bronx Mowgli (Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz)
-Jermajesty (Jermaine Jackson)
-Kal-El (Nicolas Cage)
-Maddox (Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt)
-Moon Unit (Frank Zappa)
-Moxie Crimefighter (Penn Jillette)
-Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee)
-Satchel (Mia Farrow and Woody Allen)
-Suri (Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise)
-Zuma Nesta Rock (Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale)

My favorite name is either Pilot Inspektor or Jermajesty, but Banjo and Zuma Nesta Rock are also especially, bizarre celebrity baby names.  These actors should be disallowed from naming children unless they agree to at least select a name from a normal, baby name book.

Not included on this list was Lisa Bonet’s and Jason Momoa’s son, Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha Momoa.  It sounds sort of like a cross between an illness and Indian child.  This name would have definitely been included if I were incharge.  It’s so complex, so unusual, this child will be spelling it endlessly on customer service phone calls and when conducting business.  Imagine explaining your name to “Mark” from Dell customer support.  Maybe he can use the nickname “Wolf” or “Nakoa”.

It’s not surprising that celebrity’s have trouble simply naming their offspring commonly.  Their lives are uncommon, and filled with excitement, so a name like John or Bob, just doesn’t pass muster.  But at the same time a name such as Bryan for example is quite popular.  Basically, to these celebs, Banjo is much more thrilling a choice.

At any rate, don’t lose hope! Their are hundreds of celebrities that are still without children and may avoid these bizarre celebrity baby names in the future.  Keep your fingers crossed!  I know I will.

This is It for Michael Jackson

It’s common knowledge that Michael “I allegedly molested children” Jackson is eccentric to put it mildly.  But today, he managed  to shock us once again.

At a press conference in London, surrounded by cheering fans, Michael Jackson announced…well something.  But what exactly.  He seemed aloof and confused and uncertain about his statements.

According to the NY Times, Michael Jackson has plans ot perform what may be his last performances, “Michael Jackson…announced on Thursday that he would perform a series of concerts in London this summer, in what he called a ‘final curtain call.'”  We may ascertain from this, perhaps, that Michael is ending his career.  But in true, cryptic fashion, he has left us wondering his intentions.

Michael Jackson is probably one of the most influential, pop singers of the 20th century, but he has always been an enigma.  And his legal battles haven’t exactly helped his image.  Nonetheless, his fans are loyal and have stayed by his side.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this was merely a PR stunt, not unlike what some say Joaquin Phoenix recently did on Letterman.  Michael has been out of the limelight for a while, and this is a great opportunity to make headlines.

Nip/Tuck Season Finale

I’m saddened to admit that I may not have anything to watch on TV now that this season of Nip/Tuck has ended.  That’s because the show, despite what its detractors might say (that means you my former co-workers), was arguably the best program on cable.  It did win Emmys and Golden Globes after all.

But I digress.  The season finale of Nip/Tuck was probably one of the best episodes of the season.  I was extremely surprised that Teddy is leading a double life and even more so that Christian isn’t actually dying!  It makes sense that the lead character is going to live because you couldn’t replace him.  Could you envision the “furniture” doctor from the previous episode playing the “Christian Troy” role?

I found it thoroughly amusing that Kimber actually wanted to marry Christian, again.  She’s so pathetic, but equally attractive, and keeps you wondering what she might do next.  I suppose she was devastated that Eden stole her husband.  I think it’s appropriate that Kimber got her comeuppance for being so cold-hearted.

The best part of the finale of Nip/Tuck would have to be that Christian wanted to cryogenically freeze himself.  I couldn’t believe how dillusional he had become.  But I’m sure all of that will change next season.

Speaking of next season, will Christian remain married to Liz?  I give them six TV months, tops.  Better yet, how long will he wait to break the news that he’s not kicking the bucket?  I firmly believe that union is solely out of necessity.

The Nip/Tuck season finale was well worth the wait, and staying up past 10pm on a weekday.

Slumdog Millionaire: Indian Masterpiece

It’s painfully obvious to me why Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture this year after seeing it this evening (and seven other oscars for that matter).  The film, which was directed by Danny Boyle, is masterfully shot and has a truly original screenplay.

In case you are unaware, Slumdog Millionaire is the story of Jamal and Salim, two impoverished Indian boys, who brave the tough streets of Bombay/Mumbai after they are left parentless.  Eventually, Jamal is a contestant of the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and wins, only to be arrested on suspicion of cheating.

The film takes the viewer on a journey which chronicles Jamal’s and Salim’s lives, as well as Latika, their female companion, and the controversy and interconnectedness of the game show to their lives.

What makes Slumdog Millionaire special is its heart and grittiness.  And it doesn’t hurt that it’s well-acted by a great cast of relative unknown actors.  Moreover, the film has you rooting for Jamal, the main character, at each turn.

If you haven’t seen Slumdog Millionaire already, I would highly recommend it.

See the film’s trailer here.

Top Chef Season Five Finale

Tonight on the Top Chef season five finale, many viewers were left surprised by Hosea’s victory.  Not that I actually wanted Stefan to win (frozen carpaccio, anyone?), and as wonderful as Carla is in her soulfulness she wasn’t qualified, but I expected him to do so.  But Hosea wowed the judge’s with his last supper and emerged the next, Top Chef.

Top Chef New York was unique in its innovative new episodes and challenges.  The staple of celebrity guest judges was both expected and welcome, but the true draw was the top-notch group of chefs and their incredible and sometimes awful dishes.  Equally interesting was Ariyan who was an assault on one’s senses and generally not a good chef.

Top Chef has been a welcome addition to Bravo these past five seasons, and I’ll be curious to see what new concept they create for season 6.  Europe? Hawaii? South America? Any of these venues could add elements of intrigue to the next season.

Watch what happens.

50th Post! Nip/Tuck Season 5 Part II Almost Over

This is my 50th post at the new URL for Storybook Vacations.  A moment of silence.

Season Five, Part II of Nip/Tuck is almost over!  So brace yourself, Sean and Christian are putting away their scalpels for an undetermined number of months.  But at the very least, this season finale should be drama-filled and gripping.

On last night’s episode of Nip/Tuck, Sean and Teddy seemed to be together again, which as far as I can tell is not necessarily good for Sean and his well being.  Does anyone else think she’s certifiable?  Liz and Christian are, gasp, in fact tying the knot probably because Christian has one foot in the grave.  And Christian interviewed, and thought he found, his replacement who turned out to be slightly too affectionate toward furniture.

As for the season finale of Nip/Tuck?  I’m not quite sure what to expect.  That scene with Christian in the cryogenic chamber of sorts, left me feeling confused.  Could Ryan Murphy really be freezing Christian?  What strange, unfathomable scenario will unfold.  Stay tuned.