Monday, August 25, 2008


I have come to the realization that I have spread myself too thin with my multiple blogs, tax and otherwise. I have decided to pull the plug on ASK THE TAX PRO and ANYTHING BUT TAXES.

I will occasionally post comments, ramblings and resources on topics from blogging to cats, personal finance, politics, religion, television, theatre, and travel here also – most prominently narratives of my travels and theatre reviews at THE WANDERING TAX PRO.
I will continue to maintain my THE FLACH REPORT blog for Schedule C filers and the NJ TAX PRACTICE BLOG for tax professionals preparing NJ returns, and will attempt to post to them more often in the future.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Telephone Scam Alert - Jury Duty Scam!
I recently received this email scam alert:

This has been verified by the FBI (their link is also included below). Please pass this on to everyone in your email address book. It is spreading fast so be prepared should you get this call.
Most of us take those summonses for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty, that a new and ominous kind of fraud has surfaced.
The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Give out any of this information and bingo; your identity was just stolen.
The fraud has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma , Illinois , and Colorado . This (swindle) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they are with the court system. The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their web sites, warning consumers about the fraud

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I just heard of the passing of George Furth (see also here).
Although probably best known as a collaborator of Stephen Sondheim – he wrote the book for Sondheim musicals COMPANY (an all-time favorite of mine – I produced it in Hudson County in 1973), for which he won a Tony and Drama Desk Award (I do seem to recall the COMPANY started out as a series of one-act plays by Furth), and MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG and co-wrote with SS the murder mystery GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER (which I saw during its brief Broadway run) – I remember him best as a character actor from television of the 1960s and early 1970s. He appeared in 85 tv episodes and movies from 1962 through 1998.

I was in the audience of a Broadway show, I do not remember which one, sitting behind two Hollywood legends (one was Jane Powell, but I do not recall the name of the other). During intermission George Furth came over to talk to the ladies.

Furth also wrote the book for Kander and Ebb’s 1977 Liza Minelli vehicle THE ACT and the play TWIGS.

George will live on forever in sitcom reruns.


Monday, August 4, 2008


This year’s free "Broadway on Broadway" concert, held each year in Times Square to launch the beginning of each Broadway season, has been scheduled for Sunday, September 14th.

This concert gives potential audiences a sneak preview of new musicals, performances from long-running favorites, and special appearances from current Broadway stars.

Co-sponsored by the Broadway League and the Times Square Alliance, "Broadway on Broadway" begins at 11:30am, but you should arrive a couple hours early if you want to get up close to the stage.

The concert is generally broadcast on television – on Channel 4 (NBC) locally I believe.


Friday, August 1, 2008


Here is a listing of some of the shows that will be offered by this year’s New York Musical Theatre Festival.
FYI, the venues selected for the 2008 NYMF musicals include: American Theater of Actors -Chernuchin Theatre (314 W. 54th Street), The Barrow Group Theater (312 W. 36th Street), The 45th Street Theatre (354 W. 45th Street), 37 Arts (450 W. 37th Street), and The Zipper Factory (337 W. 37th Street).
Bonnie & Clyde
Book by Hunter Foster; Music and Lyrics by Rick Crom
Bonnie & Clyde is a toe-tappin', gun-slingin', cross-dressin' romp through the Depression-era Southwest, where America's most famous criminal duo find themselves runnin’ from J. Edgar Hoover and straight into each other’s arms…as long as they don’t kill each other first.
The Bubble: A Musical Dot-Comedy
Book by Karen J. Paull, Music by David Pack; Lyrics by Karen J. Paull and David Pack
Welcome to Silicon Valley, circa 1999, a magical place packed with scooter parks, massage parlors…and “options”…in something called…THE DOT COM. Nobody knows what it is but everybody wants a piece, including Matt. Will his greed get the better of him? Or will he flush his future down the toilet to join hottie hippie Harmony’s quest to save the oh-so-rare yellow-bellied hoo-doo?
College: The Musical
Book, Music and Lyrics by Drew Fornarola & Scott Elmegreen
Endless parties. Skipping classes. Drunken hook-ups. And…um…finding yourself? Welcome to College: The Musical, a slice of contemporary dorm life and one hook-up you WILL remember the next morning.
The Fancy Boys Follies
Book and Lyrics by David Pevsner, Music by Michael Skloff, Jamie Forsyth, Michael Orland, Mark Hummel, Chris Lavely & David Pevsner
Down and dirty meets brains and heart as five sexy men sing, dance, and strip in this hilarious low-rent gay "Ziegfeld Follies" from one of the creators of "Naked Boys Singing". Filthy...but FABULOUS!!!
The Hatpin
Book and Lyrics by James Millar, Music by Peter Rutherford
When impoverished single Australian mother Amber Murray finds herself with no choice but to board her ailing son with a kindly rich couple, she unknowingly embarks on a journey that will change the lives of women everywhere. Uncover the grim secret behind The Hatpin in this gut-wrenching musical drama inspired by a true story from the late 19th century.
Heaven in Your Pocket
Book by Mark Houston, Francis J. Cullinan & Dianne Sposito, Music and Lyrics by Mark Houston
What’s a broad to do when her no-good ex-husband dies and leaves their daughter his run-down Kansas City juke joint in his will? Tap your toes and clap along as you watch the incorrigible Arlene Davis pack the other two members of the “Heavenly Belles” singing trio – her daughter Kay Lee and her best friend Celeste – into the pickup and high-tail it to Kansas City for a fresh start!
I Come For Love
Book, Music and Lyrics by Terrence Atkins and Jeffery Lyle Segal
A jaded reporter in search of a story. An adorable alien looking for love. A small town diner in need of a waitress. Intergalactic sparks and saucers fly in this screwball comedy that might just turn out to be the story of the century.
Book and Lyrics by Buddy Sheffield, Music by Buddy Sheffield and Keith Thompson
Whip Masters, Jed Strunk, Slim Johnson, Aunt Pearlie and the rest of the good folks from IDAHO! are rarin’ to introduce you to potato country’s simplest pleasures -- spud-peelin', dancin' and devirginizin’ – in this bawdy new musical that satirizes and pays homage to Broadway’s most beloved classics.
Max and the Truffle Pig
Book by Suzanne Bradbeer, Music by Bert Draesel and Lyrics by Nancy Leeds, Based on the story by Judith Gwyn Brown
A 9-year-old aspiring chef and his beloved pig Suzette head deep into the French woods in search of the legendary…the elusive…the absolutely positively most delicious of all delicious foods…the truffle. Will they find it in time for the Countess’s royal dinner? The answer lies in this oinkingly delightful new musical based on the book by the author of “The Mask of the Dancing Princess.”
Play It Cool
Book by Larry Dean Harris and Martin Casella, Lyrics by Mark Winkler, Music by Phillip Swann, with additional musical contributions by David Benoit, Michael Cruz, Marilyn Harris, Robert Kraft, Emilio Palame, Joe Pasquale and Dan Siegel. Directed by Sharon Rosen
It’s 1953 and there’s only one jazz club in town for boys seeking boys and girls seeking girls: Mary’s Hideaway. Welcome to Hollywood, a steamy almost-fairyland where everyone you meet wants to be a star and a few of ‘em might damn well make it…just as long as they PLAY IT COOL.
She Can’t Believe She Said That!
Book, Music and Lyrics by Matt Prager
The original Kathie Lee-sical. Watch as our plucky heroine converts, cajoles and connives her way through churches, recording studios and one very special long-running talk show to national fame...and international infamy. Take two cups of EVITA, add a gooey pound of cheese and take a big bite of VELVEVITA goodness with this loony satire from one of the writers of SOUTH PARK!
That Other Woman’s Child
Book, Music and Lyrics by Sherry Landrum & George S. Clinton
When the Hanovers hear their long-lost big city half-sister – “that other woman’s child” – is coming to claim her share of the farm, all heck breaks loose! Little do they know that she’s actually coming to connect with the family she never knew…That Other Woman’s Child is a joyful, bluegrass-laced look at the trials and tribulations of the ties that bind.
The Road to Ruin
Book, Music and Lyrics by William Zeffiro
Welcome to The Road To Ruin (The 1928 Exploitation Musical)…where sex, bad mommies, worse daddies, bottled water and Christians conspire to bring down Little Sally Canfield, ‘The Nicest Girl at Central High.’
Villa Diodati
Book by Collette Inez & Mira J. Spektor, Music & Additional Lyrics by Mira J. Spektor, Lyrics by Colette Inez, Additional Lyrics by Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and William Wordsworth
Switzerland, 1816. Two of literature’s most romantic and haunted couples -- Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley and their friends Lord Byron and his mistress Claire – spend a summer writing, sailing, telling ghost stories and discovering the joys and tragedies of love in this new chamber musical.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Yesterday afternoon I braved the heat (it wasn’t too bad) for a trip to NYC to see the revival of the British comedy SOME AMERICANS ABROAD by Richard Nelson at the Second Stage Theatre on 43rd Street.

I learned about the show when its star, Tom Cavanaugh (tv’s ED), appeared on the CW11 morning news program. I did not at all recall the original production, which appeared at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in May and June of 1990 with a cast that included Nathan Lane, Kate Burton and a young Elisabeth Shue in a small role.

From the television interview I gathered the play was about a college-sponsored student trip to England. However as it turned out it was not at all what I had thought it would be.

I had expected a story about college students and their reactions to British culture and their interaction with their professors in a different setting. My cousin and her husband, a college art professor, have been escorting student excursions throughout the world for years, and my friend Ann did the same when she taught art at Beaver College (she also once escorted a trip of upper class New Jersey suburbanites to Italy as Director of the now-named Visual Art Center of NJ), and both have many interesting and humorous stories to tell.

But there was barely a student in sight. Instead it dealt with the professors, members of the English department of an un-named New England college led by new Department Chairman Cavanaugh, on an apparent annual pilgrimage to worship at the temples of their “gods” of English literature and theatre that is disguised as a summer course.

The only college students in the play were the Chairman’s daughter, who because of her parentage is forced to spend more time than I am sure she would like in uncomfortable social settings with the professors, and, briefly, a truant girl who gets involved in a “she said, he said” sexual harassment issue in the second Act.

Included among the instructors on the trip is an arse-kissing professor (played by Nathan Lane in the 1990 production), accompanied by his wife, who have paid their own way in the hopes their participation will increase his chances of extending his teaching contract for one more year, knowing full well that he is not on “tenure track”.

To be honest this play is nothing to write home about. In the beginning it was almost difficult to watch. For the most part the professors are typical pompous arseholes who enjoy the sound of their own voice, although you do feel some sympathy for the arse-kisser whose only failing is that he did not graduate from a prestigious enough university. The show, almost twenty years old, did not appear dated – I am sure that college professors of this ilk have not changed much over the years – but was an odd choice to revive.

It has its share of laughs, mostly resulting from interaction with the more secondary characters – the bigoted former department Chairman (excellently played by Broadway veteran John Cunningham), apparently a former professor and mentor of the current tenured profs from whom they still seek advice, who has retired with his wife to England, a bubbly former female student of the current Chairman who has also relocated to the UK and now purchases the theatre tickets for the trip (just as I do when in London it appears that the group attends 2 plays a day), and an “ugly” American tourist who the Chairman encounters during intermission at a Shakespeare play in Stratford-on-Avon.

The professors are certainly cheap. At the end of dinners in a Covent Garden restaurant that begin and end the play they attempt to split the bill literally based on what each had ordered, down to counting how many glasses of wine each had – the arse-kisser’s wife pointing out that the retired Chairman had more than the one bottle of wine he has claimed as the play ends.

As usual I purchased my ticket through tdf for $27.00. My seats were in the third row, again on the extreme aisle, but then no seat in this theatre is bad (I had only been here once before to see a revival of THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON). At $27.00 for the ticket it was an afternoon’s diversion, not distasteful but also not memorable.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Sorry I have not been posting here lately – but I have been busy with the GD extensions and my other blogs. Here is some “stuff” you might find interesting.
+ FIVE CENT NICKEL reports that a "Brothel Offers Free Gas to Customers".
+ Did you know - you might be a redneck if you think “loading the dishwasher” means getting your wife drunk.

+ Prompted by the IndyMac Bank failure, Kay Bell of DON’T MESS WITH TAXES gives a good overview of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in her post “
A Look at FDIC Coverage”.

+ Want to know the real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse? You cannot post “Thou Shalt Not Steal” and “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery” in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians.

+ According to an
article in the entertainment section of my homepage, talk show host Wendy Williams called Trump’s buddy Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth "a delusional, D-list, pathetic woman" after the two went at it on Williams’ show. Delusional and pathetic pretty much describes every participant in a “so-called” reality tv show – man or woman!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


What a cast! Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Barry Fitzgerald, Debbie Reynolds and Rod Taylor. I am speaking of course of the 1956 movie A CATERED AFFAIR, directed by Richard Brooks. It was written by Gore Vidal and adapted, like Ernest Borgnine’s movie MARTY, from a television play by Paddy Chayefsky, which appeared on the PHILCO TELEVISION PLAYHOUSE in 1955. I had seen the movie many years ago on tv.

Despite the assembled talent it was a small movie with a small story - a story that was not unique for its time. It is a different take on the Spencer Tracy/Elizabeth Taylor FATHER OF THE BRIDE tale, this time told from the perspective of a working class family living in the tenements of the inner city.

It has been turned into a small musical by Harvey Fierstein, who takes on the Barry Fitzgerald role, with words and music by John Bucchino - which I saw Tuesday night, via TDF, at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

According to the synopsis appearing on most Broadway sites, “In 1953, relationships are strained to the limit when a Bronx couple must choose whether to spend their life savings on a family business or to launch their only daughter's marriage with a lavish catered affair”.

While I had been interested in the musical when first announced, being a fan of the film, I was not planning to run to see it. However the closing notice (it will close following the Sunday, July 27 matinee) reported on the Broadway Blog sent me to the TDF site to book a ticket before the final curtain.

I was certainly glad I did!

I said above that it is a “small” musical. As Clive Barnes said in his 4-Star review, “it emerges less like a musical and more like a play with music”. There is no chorus, no big production numbers, a minimalist set, no “bells and whistles” – just a good story (as Clive Barnes says “with an honest heart”) told and acted well.

Parents of the bride Faith Prince and Tom Wopat are certainly not the typical Broadway musical couple. They give wonderful, touching performances in roles quite different from what we are used to seeing them in.

Tom Wopat’s character sums up the frustration of most fathers of the bride faced with paying for “a catered affair” – “A life savings flushed down the drain to feed dinner to a bunch of strangers!”

Harvey Fierstein, as one would expect, sparkles. As he wrote the book, with I expect himself in mind for the character of Winston, Harvey has made the live-in brother-in-law (he sleeps on the pull-out couch) gay – although, in keeping with the setting and context of the story, not “flamboyantly” or stereotypically so.

“This is what we do best,” Winston says as he takes over the details for the catered affair from his overwhelmed sister. “You mean the Irish?” asks the caterer.

The future bride and groom, Leslie Kritzer and Matt Cavenaugh, are also very good. I may have seen Leslie in THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL – I will have to dig out my playbill.

The “Who’s Who” bios, which I read while waiting for the show to start, are usually pretty boiler plate. But the entry for Kristine Zbornik, one of the supportive players, caught my eye –

The NY Daily News called her a ‘madcap mix of Merman, Bette Midler and Lucille Ball’. Her Dad called her ‘a lazy piece of s**t that wouldn’t amount to anything”. You decide. Theatre: An Evening With Joan Crawford (1980), A Catered Affair (2008) and a whole bunch in between. I have a close relationship with Jesus, and he’s a nice guy.”

As is common today there are a dozen separate producers, a few of which are multi-named groups. I guess the days of the David Merrick or Alex Cohen are gone.

The Tuesday evening performance has a unique 7:00 pm curtain, and the show is performed without an intermission. This worked out very well. I had no traffic coming over on the “bootleg” bus (I made it from the Jersey City heights to Port Authority in about a half hour), the restaurant I chose for my “pre-theatre” dinner, a return to La Revista on Restaurant Row for Veal Bolognese (I did not have to teach this bartender how to make a Stinger) was more than half-empty, and I was back in my apartment at a little after 9:30!

My seat, at the TDF price of $39.00, was in the 2nd row on the extreme left – though not too extreme. Not one that I would have necessarily picked, but not bad at all. Lately I have done well with TDF seats – I haven’t risked a nose bleed in quite a while now.

It is a true shame that this “small” musical had to close after such a short run. Pardon my continued rant, but I cannot see why a show such as this cannot survive while RUDE AWAKENING, from what I have seen of it basically teen-agers screaming and cursing for two hours, plays on.

According to Harvey Fierstein’s blog at the show’s listing on - “Unfortunately, the numbers just don't match up with the enthusiasm and, although we have the MOST generous producers on Broadway, this is still a profit-making business and the numbers tell the tale.”

If you are looking for a enjoyable evening at the theatre you should try to see A CATERED AFFAIR before it closes.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008


As reports in the article “Celebrity Feud: The Donald Disses Hathaway” – perennial arsehole “Donald Trump seems to feel the need to express an opinion about everything”, this time weighing in, as if anyone cared, on the recent split between Anne Hathaway and boyfriend Rafaello Follieri, who was recently arrested for fraud.
Trump, who certainly knows about defrauding, or at least screwing, investors, supports Follieri, saying of Hathaway, “She hasn’t remained very loyal to him, has she? So when he had plenty of money, she liked him, but then after that, not as good, right?
The article replies, “Personally we think four years of standing by him with all the shady dealings going on was more than enough”.
A word to the tonsorially-challenged idiot – Donald, no one gives a damn about what you think about this, or anything else for that matter.

Monday, June 30, 2008


The “Movie Monday Blog Carnival Edition #61” is up over at Missy Frye’s OBSERVATIONS FROM MISSY’S WINDOW.

My posting SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE, A COMEDY TONIGHT is the first entry on the list – the only under the category of” Commentary”. It looks like Missy read my post.