Grrr! Spring Cleanup, Taxes and Random Weekend Grrrs

Why do people wait until the last minute to file their taxes, year after year?

We all know the date April 15 probably better than our own wedding anniversaries, yet everybody scrambles to get their returns in the mail by midnight on the big day.

It's the same story every year. Post offices are jammed so badly you can't even get a parking spot, and forget about it if you're stupid enough to wait until now to book time with an accountant. You might as well go right for the extension forms.

I have no sympathy for anybody waiting in four-hour lines at the post office this coming weekend.

Speaking of weekends, this past one brought out the rakes and and blowers and the wheelbarrows and the topsoil and the you name it. I don't know what's wrong with me, but when I drive down a block and see every single homeowner raking and generally playing catch-up with the Joneses, I can't help but think that nobody really wants to be out there doing yard work.

Something tells me the whole spring "curb appeal" weekend is nothing but a necessary evil for the sake of all the neighbors who would otherwise tsk tsk your poorly landscaped yard.

That said, the neighbor who leaves a pile of leaves and other crap in their front yard for the wind to blow it into someone else's freshly cleaned yard deserves a swift kick in the behind.

Come on, folks, if you're going to go through the trouble of doing the yard work, don't be an Oblivion. Follow through.

The $20 Test

MasterCard recently teamed up with AmeriSuites to award business travelers a $20 MasterCard gift card for travelers staying two nights or more. When asked what they would spend that money on in a survey conducted by "Find SVP," 60 percent said they would buy something for their families, most citing DVDs for the children.

The point is, Americans care about family life.

Is it any wonder then that "Ice Age: The Meltdown" led the box office two weeks in a row, bringing in over $115 million since opening at the end of March?

If Hollywood wants to juice the box office, they should release an animated feature every two weeks. Disney's "The Wild" opens this Friday, and it will more than likely knock "Ice Age" out of the No. 1 spot, even though from the previews it looks like nothing more than a remake of last year's "Madagascar."

It doesn't matter. It will still be more fun that most of the live action films that come out this time of the year.

Oh Yeah, Life Goes On, Long After the Thrill...

We all know the tune. John Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane" is an American anthem, and it gets better as we get older. Performing in Atlantic City over the weekend, Mellencamp put in a heartfelt peformance for some 2,000 or so fans, most of whom were over the age of 30.

The thing that makes Mellencamp's music so good is how simple the messages are.

"Two American kids doin', best they can."

Yeah, that's right. And although "there's winners and there's losers" whom we'll meet in our lifetime, Mellencamp sings in "Pink Houses" that "that ain't no big deal." And he's right. What matters most is doing the best we can.

Getting older brings with it several challenges. The pressures of the job tend to grow along with the responsibilities at home. There's the mortgage, clothes for the kids, car payments, taxes ... the list is endless.

What matters most to you? Is it the kind of car you drive, or the smile on your child's face as Daddy or Mommy comes in after a long day at work, or after being outside doing the spring cleanup?

Chances are you'll go for the smile over the Beamer any day of the week.

Mellencamp ended his show with a message to his fans. "I wish you all happiness and fun," he said, and "to have a dream for yourself, because for every great idea there's a dreamer somewhere behind them."

Thanks, John, and thank you for pursuing your dream to make music, and giving voice to so many people. Keep singing.

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