Friday, April 20, 2007

Good word

"Journalism, particularly at the lowest levels, will knock the F. Scott Fitzgerald right out of you...which is something many recent college graduates -- myself included -- could use."

-- Jennifer Weiner

Thursday, April 19, 2007

From Hitler to chick lit

In case you wondered, I finally came to the end of William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, the 1,599-page history that I despaired of ever finishing. I read the last page early this morning, during a bout of insomnia. The Germans lost.

Without missing a beat, and knowing that the insomnia was likely to continue, I grabbed the book I had placed on my nightstand in preparation for that moment: the copy of Jennifer Weiner's In Her Shoes that I found on the community bookshelf at the Willy Street Co-op. I like this book. It makes me laugh, which is more than I can say for the Shirer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The cruelest month

I'm relieved that I finished my taxes last night, just in time.

After defiantly filling out ever-more-complex paper forms for past tax years, last year I finally started using TurboTax, which has eased matters considerably. As someone who does freelance work -- mostly playing music, and writing in previous years -- I file the ever-popular Schedule C. And although I have filled out that form before, TurboTax does a much better job.

I started working on my taxes weeks ago, and things were going smoothly with TurboTax, as usual. But when it came time to fill out the Wisconsin form, the program told me I might need to fill out Schedule I, which bears this pithy title: "Adjustments to Convert 2006 Federal Adjusted Gross Income and Itemized Deductions to the Amounts Allowable for Wisconsin." Then TurboTax flashed the form in its entirety on the screen, and encouraged me to get cracking.

Now, I thought the point of TurboTax was that it asks simple questions in plain language, and then fills out the forms for us. If all it does is throw up actual tax forms for us to fill out, then what are we paying for? Schedule I intimidated me, so I ceased working on my taxes until last night.

I returned to Schedule I last night, and even downloaded the instructions for the form from the Wisconsin department of revenue's Web site. The instructions begin with these sonorous phrases:
INTRODUCTION – Generally, the Wisconsin Statutes require that the computation of taxable income on the 2006 Wisconsin income tax return is to be based on the Internal Revenue Code enacted as of December 31, 2004. Changes made to the Internal Revenue Code enacted after December 31, 2004, do not apply for Wisconsin income tax purposes.
Is that even English? More to the point, do those words seem particularly introductory? I'm sure my CPA readers are amused that I struggle to read that, but to me, the words all run together.

After some contemplation, I decided I didn't need to fill out Schedule I, and then I was all but finished with my taxes for another dreary April.

Monday, April 16, 2007


When prominent conservatives lambaste the Bush administration as "Clintonesque," you know the times they are a-changin'. Surely for that crowd there can't be a dirtier word.
Good word

"I might have been born just plain white trash, but Fancy is my name."

-- Bobbie Gentry

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Music, music, music

The Wisconsin Film Festival ends today. The Daily Page has two more of my reports from screenings, of It's Happiness: A Polka Documentary and Cork n' Bottle String Band: The Ken's Bar Story.
Book mark

I was perusing my collection of Kurt Vonnegut books just now, and what should pop out of my copy of Galapagos but a picture postcard, not inscribed, bearing the image of Tom Waits. Yes, when I was in high school 20 years ago, I enjoyed both Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Waits. Come to think of it, I still do.