Memorial Day weekend is fading in the rearview mirror, and we've ventured outside to commemorate those who gave their lives in service to their country. Summer is as officially "open for business" as it can be in this year of coronavirus. But there's a lesser-known occasion coming up that the average American celebrates three times per week — and all year long, not just at their Memorial Day cookout. Thursday, May 28 is National Hamburger Day. And our friends at the IRS collect billions in taxes on the delicious dietary staple.
Life comes at you fast. Two months ago, the Dow was flirting with 30,000, unemployment was at 3.5%, and the economy was looking forward to spring with the rest of us. Today, of course, we've put the economy in a medically-induced coma. People who are trapped at home with cranky partners and children are wondering what it takes to declare their loved ones "nonessential." And trillions of dollars that used to slosh through our fingers have dried up like our social lives after the onslaught of the Coronavirus Shutdown Machine.
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. It gave us a great opportunity to indulge in the sort of lowbrow humor that made MAD magazine such a hit with 10-year-old boys. The problem turns out to be simple. Toilet paper makers produce two separate products for two separate markets: the plushy stuff we use at home and the scratchy stuff we find at offices and businesses. With coronavirus stay-at-home orders keeping us housebound, we've upset that usual balance of supply and demand.
Our calendar is full of "Hallmark holidays": meaningless commemorations and celebrations, usually created by marketers and publicists. Just this month, there's National Talk Like Shakespeare Day, National Hug a Plumber Day, and National Wear Pajamas to Work Day. (That last one may not feel like a celebration right now). Food fans have National Burrito Day, National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day, and Lima Bean Respect Day. (Two out of three ain't bad.) Literally every day marks a holiday of some sort. Think of them as participation trophies for the days that can't be real holidays.
Coronavirus has turned millions of Americans who used to laugh at the doomsday preppers on National Geographic into converts. Your neighborhood supermarket is working overtime to keep shelves stocked as panicked shoppers rush to settle in for stay-at-home orders. And the first item to disappear was . . . (checks notes) . . . toilet paper. Your grocery store aisle is probably still bare, and even Amazon ran out. But why? Is it because, as some psychologists say, bringing home the sheer bulk of a jumbo pack gives shoppers a sense of control in uncertain times? Or something more nefarious?
Millions of us who are staying at home in this time of coronavirus are discovering to our dismay just how much the clown car of halfwits, freaks, and grotesques of "reality TV" has taken over our living rooms. The endless parade of bachelors, teen moms, real housewives, and Kardashians have slowly sapped at our dignity. So what if we told you we'd found the most insane reality of all? Something one critic described as "like watching a slow-motion car crash, but only if that car crashed into a jet plane and then both tumbled into an oil tanker"? Would that convince you to finally watch?
And . . . what if we told you it had tigers?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines "digging your own grave" to mean doing "something that causes you harm, sometimes serious harm." Kids who don't do their homework, politicians who cut popular spending programs, and people who overshare on social media all dig their own grave in one way or another.
If you're like most Americans, coronavirus quarantines and "social distancing" mean you're going to spend a lot of time in front of your TV binging on Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Disney+;. If you're working from home, you'll spend more time listening to your favorite music on Pandora or Spotify. And believe it or not, even your lockdown entertainment choices have tax consequences.
When talented musicians join forces, they epitomize Aristotle's maxim: "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Collaboration is the essence of music, and even the most technically proficient soloists benefit from an ensemble framing and highlighting their skills. You can't whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.
Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, who died earlier this month, played nearly every role in his career: actor, director, producer, and writer. He was born before the first "talkie" hit theaters. He grew up one of seven children in an impoverished home. Then he worked his way through St. Lawrence University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, dated Lauren Bacall, and served as a communications officer on a submarine chaser in World War II before launching one of the most storied careers in film.