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So I'm strolling thru Target a few days before the holiday that shall not be named except everybody in America has the day off, and I see the dollar rack. There's never anything on the dollar rack except this time there's a cheesy Lone Ranger DVD with four episodes for a buck. Cardboard, no plastic wrap, no annoying security tape. Not kidding, a buck. So I'm thinking how can you miss?
Who's the Lone Ranger Dad?
We'll let's take a look Sonny Boy.
That Boy was enthralled. He and I watched all four episodes in one sitting, three black and white and one color. No wonder we loved that show when we were kids back in the dark ages of pre-hippiedom. It was about right, and morals, and stand-up guys. I expected Jake to be jaded, over stimulated with hyper real-action hero stories. Everything from Star Wars to Spiderman. The only thing he lamented is that you can't find any cool toy cowboy guns. But Dad, I toldja I wanted guns for Christmas. Hiding behind the dining room wall and shooting at me with Gameboy cartridges for pistolas. Maybe this is what the psycho babblers mean when they say quality time.
UPDATE: Got several emails using terms like hokey and predictable and come on to which TWC responds: The Lone Ranger is not Academy Award material but I've seen Power Ranger movies and I, therefore, rest my case.
The 2006 W-4 form is now available for download. It's a slick little fill-in-the-blank form that you can complete online or on your own computer, print out, and then hand over to your HR or payroll department. You'll need software that can read .PDF files such as Adobe Acrobat. There's a link down there on the left side under Useful Downloads that will get you that program for free. If you want a W-4 in Español go here. Although some employers require a new one annually, in general you aren't required to complete a new W-4 form unless you change jobs, marital status, or add or lose dependents. And finally (big breath, because I'm talking really fast) if you just can't come up with the right numbers the hard way, try this IRS calculator that will walk you through the process. It'll go easier for you if you are already well versed in tax preparation (yes, that was a snarky comment).
TWC recommends that employers use the same download OR keep the downloaded .PDF file handy so you can print it on demand. But if you prefer to have a stack of these things laying around you can order pads of 50 W-4 forms for around twenty-five bucks here.
Employers are no longer required to submit questionable W-4 forms to IRS. Questionable W-4's included W-4's claiming exempt, claiming tax protester status, claiming war tax resistance status, or claiming 10 or more dependents, the so called magic number. This doesn't necessarily mean every state has conformed, you may still be required to submit questionable W-4 forms to state tax agencies.
Oh yeah, and IRS plans to get tough with taxpayers (and their employers) with inadequate amounts of income tax withheld. Rest easy, so long as your taxes are paid by April 15 you'll be off radar. IRS is only looking at people who owe tax and don't pay to see if taxes withheld were clearly too little. More info here.
BTW, this is the 500th post at TWC, thank you all.
TWC was in downtown San Diego for a meeting just before Christmas and my guy was a couple of hours late so I strolled a few blocks from the Wine Bank on Fifth Avenue near Croce's to have my first look at Petco Park, which is one of the most visible projects of San Diego's Corporate Welfare Department. Irrespective of the 60 million taxpayer dollars recovered by licensing the name for 22 years, Petco Park is the stupidest name for a ballpark ever. Auuuggghhhh!
The stadium continues the retro-look trend while incorporating some features that you'd not expect, including one section in left field where one can sit at a bistro table and picnic.
Lending character to Petco Park is the Western Metal Supply Company warehouse, which the architects have integrated into the stadium’s left-field corner. The 95-year-old warehouse contains the Padres team store, two floors of party suites, and a fourth-floor restaurant terrace with great views of the field, plus standing room on the roof. Petco also features the “Park at the Park,” which includes a grassy picnic hill where budget-minded fans can watch the game for $5 apiece. When no events are going on, the public can use the Park at the Park for free.
If first impressions count, this ballpark might be a ten. We'll see how she looks in the morning when the martoonis have worn off. More rah-rah from the beneficiaries of the generosity of San Diego's taxpayers here.
Sidebar: San Diego snagged this guy's cigar shop for about 3-4 million under market to give it to Mariott for a hotel. Fortunately a jury has subsequently redressed the financial aspect of the taking, but the proprietor really just wanted to sell cigars and be left alone.
TWC rags on eminent domain and the Dodgers here, Souter & the Supers here and here.
The Winter Solstice is history and so this is the culmination of the Christmas Season that churned through days and weeks faster than cash departing my wallet (leaving faint green skid marks in its wake). We’re tired and I think that Santa's quick stop for coffee captures that satisfied kind of giddy exhaustion many of us feel quite nicely.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, A Happy Chanukah. (I too believe that the oil burned for eight days). If you do the pagan solstice thaang – dancing 'round the stones for Dagda, Brighid, and that lot – then for the sake of all that's decent, wear a coat.
Jack Frost Nipping At Your Nose
Drop by any mall and the first thing that is readily apparent is the plethora of really awful holiday music. You can confirm that if you have satellite radio or satellite TV as well.
For every original Merry Christmas Darling, Merry Christmas Baby, or Little St Nick, there’s dozens of other atrocious original compositions by musicians who should have stuck to rock or country or reggae or whatever they were successful with.
Although there are billions of ghastly covers of traditional carols and modern songs, there are very few classy interpretations created by the likes of Harry Connick, Jr., Dianne Schurr, or Ramsey Lewsey.
Sure, I’m a Christmas Music snob, but come on, there aren’t more than two dozen renditions of Christmas tunes worth spinning up. And of those two dozen or so that warrant a listen, there is THE one.
In 1946 Nat King Cole made history with a song written by Mel Torme and Robert Wells that is the quintessential Christmas Song. Arguably the finest Christmas song ever written it has often been covered, but Nat Cole’s first and best can never be duplicated.
…and so I’m offering this simple phrase. To kids from one to ninety two. Although it’s been said, many times many ways, Merry Christmas to you.
From Casa de las Rocas Grande, all the very best. However you celebrate may you and your family be blessed and may the New Year find things exactly as you would have them to be. And when that isn’t possible, take comfort in the knowledge that you are quietly loved and that somewhere a candle burns for you in thought and in prayer.
Special thoughts go out to Rick and his family. Rick's mother passed away early yesterday morning.
Your kids and grandkids can send a letter to Santa here. The kids compose a personalized letter to Santa using the online template and almost immediately receive a personalized, printable, online response from Santa Claus.
As the risks of becoming a victim of the legal system approach a one in four chance, the WC thought it prudent to submit our annual Christmas letter to our semi-official Wine Commonsewer attorneys over at Dewey, Screwem, & Howe, LLP for review and comment this year.
Along with a fat bill, the following revision was returned to me with an emphatic recommendation to not deviate from this text. So, Gentle Readers, here you are:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all...and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "America" in the Western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual orientation of the wishee.
This wish is limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period ofone year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. "Holiday" is not intended to, nor shall it be considered, limited to the usual Judeo-Christian celebrations or observances, or to such activities of any organized or ad hoc religious community, group, individual or belief (or lack thereof).
Note: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. This greeting is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for the wishee her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of same. This greeting is void where prohibited by law.
tip of the glass to Comic Relief (pretty sure this idea originated with them), and a couple of dozen Gentle Readers who emailed me various versions over the years, including the most recent incarnation from Del Mar Dave.