Friday, May 27, 2022

JUNE 2022


Today’s “cover” picture is a view of the river gorge falls of Wallenpaupack Creek behind the deck of the historic Ledges Hotel in my home town of Hawley in Northeast Pennsylvania. 



At a recent lunch with friends we had a discussion of movie remakes.  I thought I would open the first issue of the new BOBSERVATIONS with this article I wrote a few years ago.

Most movie remakes are at best unnecessary and at worst an insult to the originals. Yet Hollywood continues to crank out mediocre remakes featuring actors who are inferior to the stars of the originals (I am waiting for an announcement that THE WIZARD OF OZ will be remade with Ariana Grande).

The remake of THUNDERBALL also starred Sean Connery as James Bond.  While not a bad movie, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN was totally unnecessary. The sole motivation for making the movie was money – to cash in on Sean Connery returning to the role of James Bond for one last time.

Adam Sandler is no Burt Reynolds, let alone a Gary Cooper (one critic wrote, “Adam Sandler is to Gary Cooper what a gnat is to a racehorse.”). His remake of THE LONGEST YARD was totally unnecessary and his remake of MR DEEDS GOES TO TOWN was a true insult to the classic original.  Sandler makes movies aimed at 5th grade boys (or at least those with the sense of humor and maturity of 5th grade boys) – and both originals were made for adults.

As an aside – a good rule of thumb is to ignore any film starring, or produced by, Adam Sandler.

A literal shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO added absolutely nothing to the original.

There was even a remake of the classic Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn romantic thriller CHARADE, perhaps "the" classic film of its genre, titled THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE.  One of the worst decisions ever made by Hollywood, it, rightfully so, lasted about a day and a half in the theatres.

Some remakes are not really remakes - they simply steal the title and a basic plot idea. The producers hope to boost the box office of their movie by evoking memories of a far superior film. The Steve Martin CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN films had absolutely nothing to do with the Clifton Webb original (or its sequel) other than the fact that the films are about a family with 12 children. 

Don’t get me wrong.  There have been remakes that have improved and expanded on the original film – though this is the exception and not the rule.  In two of the best examples of this exception the remake was done by the same director.  Alfred Hitchcock remade his THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH some 22 years after the original.  And Frank Capra remade his 1933 film LADY FOR A DAY as POCKETFUL OF MIRALCES in 1961.  Although I have not seen the original films, the remakes are certainly top-notch classic films.

KING KONG was remade twice. The 1933 original was a breakthrough masterpiece. The first remake, made in 1976, was totally unnecessary, and inferior in every way - even though I was in the film (my friend Howard Bernstein and I were among the crowd that ran across the top of the World Trade Center to avoid a falling Kong – I remember seeing Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange standing alongside what was supposed to be a dead Kong on one side of the roof).  The “threemake” was better, and relatively respectful to the original.  However, the casting of Jack Black was, in my opinion, a big mistake.

A few years ago, Kirsten Acuna of BUSINESS INSIDER suggested “10 Movie RemakesThat Are Better Than the Original”.

She does not mention the two films that I thought were better than the originals, and really cannot come up with 10 true remakes.

Some of the films on the list are bogus.  AIRPLANE is not a remake of ZERO HOUR.  It was a parody of all airplane disaster movies.  And what is called a remake of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is actual the movie version of the Broadway musical comedy based on the original film.

While I would agree with THE MALTESE FALCON (I did not know that there was an earlier film movie) and THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, even though I did not see the original films, I certainly take exception to TRUE GRIT and OCEAN'S ELEVEN (to be fair I did not see the remakes).  The remakes may not have been bad - but they were not better, just different, and there was no reason for a remake.  Both originals were true classics, for the casting if nothing else.

I refused to see the recent Spielberg remake of WEST SIDE STORY.  There was absolutely no reason for its existence.  It could have been better than, or even as good as, or add anything new to the classic original.


Keep up-to-date on federal and NJ state income taxes by becoming a regular visitor to my tax planning and preparation blog THE WANDERING TAX PRO 

Each week, usually on Tuesday, you can check out “What’s the Buzz, Tell Me What’s A Happennin’? – a compilation of online tax-related posts, articles and resources.



Here is the answer a question that has been asked of me often by friends, family and clients – how did I lose 90 pounds in 9 months (exactly 10 pounds per month).

At age 61, after a trip to the emergency room at the local hospital, I was diagnosed with diabetes.  As a result, I had to completely change my eating habits, go on a diet, and start to exercise.  At the hospital I had weighed 247, although I had at that time already lost at least 10 or more pounds as a result of the symptoms that lead to the diagnosis.  Nine months later the bathroom scale I had purchased (the first one I ever bought) indicated I was 157 pounds.

So, what did I do?

I gave up bread, as well as desserts (except for “lite” vanilla ice cream at home), cheeseburgers, and pizza.  I replaced skim milk with 1% milk, and regular soda with club soda.  I avoided rice, and when I did have potatoes, I had half a baked potato, with limited margarine and no longer swimming in butter, or mashed sweet potatoes.  If I had spaghetti it was always with meatballs.  For the first time in my life I actually looked at labels, checking for calories and sugar content. 

Instead of two cocktails at dinner I had either club soda or one glass of dry red wine, which I learned is good for blood sugar.  And I replaced creamy Italian dressing with balsamic dressing on my salads, also good for blood sugar.  I started to eat fish more often, as well as trying a variety of new vegetables, for the first time asparagus and even brussels sprouts (the only thing I still avoid is cauliflower).   In the process I found that I actually liked much of the new healthier foods I was now eating, food that I never would have considered trying before.   

Prior to the diagnosis I had irregular daytime eating habits.   I now had to keep a regular schedule of 3 complete meals a day – breakfast at 7AM, lunch at noon-ish, and dinner at 5-ish.  My usual breakfast was replaced by half a banana and one measured cup of cereal – either Bran Flakes with raisins instead of actual Raisin Bran, Special K, Wheaties, or Total – with 1% milk.

When I dined out, which was very often, I would eat half of the meal I ordered, and take half home for lunch on the following day.  Not having two cocktails or dessert with my dinner reduced my evening’s check substantially, and I no longer had to purchase lunch, so I actually saved money by eating healthily!

In terms of exercise, I didn’t join a gym or purchase expensive home exercise equipment.  I just walked.  I started small.  In the past I would always park as close as possible to the entrance of wherever I was going.  Now I parked as far away as possible, at the far end of any parking lot, and walked to the entrance.  I work out of a home office and I use a Post Office box as my business mailing address.  Instead of driving I would walk the 5 blocks to the PO and back each day.  After a while I extended my PO walk up and down side streets to extend the trip, eventually making it about a mile.  I would back and forth across the Observation Deck at Lake Wallenpaupack, and eventually to the Visitor Center and back.  I would alternate this walk with a round-trip of the local River Walk.  

I began my diabetes treatment with a small injection, plus 2 insulin pills and a pill for my kidneys, each day.  As I lost weight and my blood sugar numbers got better my injection dosage was reduced and eventually eliminated, and I no longer take insulin pills.  My last A1-C reading (checked once a year) was 5.4.

When I hit 157 lbs. my research indicated that I had perhaps gone too far.  I began to eat more, including whole wheat bread, “regular” vanilla ice cream when eating out, and full instead of half dinners.  I got my weight up to the originally the mid-170s, where I wanted to be. 

I knew for years that I needed to lose weight, and began countless times to give up bread and desserts and to walk more – but I never followed through.  I truly needed something like diabetes to motivate me to change my ways.


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During my “apprenticeship” as a tax preparer my mentor would play NYC radio station WRFM, home of "American Popular Standards", all the time in our storefront office.  I learned the art and science of tax preparation listening to radio personality Jim Branch and the music of Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Mantovani, Henry Mancini, Jack Jones, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, and Frank, Dean and Sammy.  And discovering "Things No One Ever Told You" from Jim Aylward – “a collection of unusual facts, figures, and feats”.  With this feature I continue Mr. Aylward’s tradition.


Dick Wolf’s Law and Order franchise is perhaps the most successful one in prime-time television history.  It began with the premiere of LAW AND ORDER in September of 1990 and shows no sign of ending, as “LAW AND ORDER SVU” just completed its 23rd season and a new version of the original LAW AND ORDER has returned to NBC. 

How did Wolf come up with the concept for the original LAW AND ORDER – first half “law” (police capturing the “perp”) and second half “order” (the trial)?

Successful broadcast television shows can make lots of money in “syndication”, often more than the original production. Some shows have been known to operate at a loss on the initial broadcast episodes (they cost more to make than the network pays for airing) just to be able to create a sufficient syndication “inventory”. One online source explains - “If you can get a television show in syndication, you can live off that money for the rest of your life.”

30 years ago, it was easier, and more profitable, to syndicate a half-hour series than it was an hour-long program. But the networks were looking for hour-long drama series. The “Law and Order” format – basically a half hour of police and a half hour of lawyers - was essentially created so it could be run as two-part half-hour episodes in syndication.  Dick had toyed with several such two-part shows, with names like Night and Day.

As it turns out Wolf did not have to worry about creating half-hour segments for syndication. I expect that the L&O franchise is the most syndicated in history, and that every hour of every day an episode of L&O or one of its spin-offs is running somewhere in the world.

And, while it is usually American TV that adapts British shows, there is a UK version of LAW AND ORDER.  The episodes are based on scripts from the original American series rewritten to reflect British characters and locations.

Actually, the idea of half police procedural and half courtroom drama was not new to television. ARREST AND TRIAL was a 90-minute series that aired one season on ABC, ON Sundays from 8:30-10:00 pm during the 1963-64 season.  According to Wikipedia – “Each week's program was actually two 45-minute segments. The first segment followed Sgt. Nick Anderson (Ben Gazzara) of the LAPD as he tracked down and apprehended a criminal. The person Anderson arrested was defended in the second half of the show by criminal attorney John Egan (Chuck Connors).”  You will note that it differed from L+O in that the trial portion was presented from the defense point of view and not that of the prosecution.


In the history of our country no one individual has done more damage to America, the American people, American democracy and true American values than Donald J Trump.
Trump is a totally worthless piece of garbage, completely devoid of intelligence, integrity and humanity who does not possess a single redeeming positive human quality or value.  He has not performed a single totally unselfish act in his adult life.
The greatest threat to America is not ISIS, Russia or China – it is Trump and today’s Trump-embracing Republican Party.




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When are we going to say “Enough is Enough”?  When are we going to actually do something about mass shootings?

Pardon my “French”, but to those who support the erroneous interpretation of the Second Amendment promoted by the gun lobby – that ALL Americans have a Constitutionally protected right to own and carry ANY gun without regulation or restriction – I say, “Fuck You”.  And fuck the NRA.

These “pro-gun” Americans are totally ignorant to the true reason our Founding Fathers created the Second Amendment.

Conservative former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger correctly explained –

The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”

The 2nd Amendment is the only right in the Bill of Rights with a specific qualification.   This amendment does not say “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  It says "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  The important words here are “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state”.

The Founding Fathers preferred the state militias to a national standing army.  They were afraid of a standing army and wanted to maintain the authority of the individual state militias that had made up Washington’s Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  The members of Congress during that first gun debate believed that “standing armies in a time of peace are dangerous to liberty”. Those were the exact words used in the State of New York’s amendment to the gun debate.

America today has a permanent standing army and other legitimate organized and “well-regulated militias” for mutual protection in the form of police departments and the National Guard.  The Second Amendment no longer has any validity and is obsolete.

There is absolutely no legitimate reason an individual, regardless of their mental state, should be allowed to own an assault weapon, or an attachment or tool to turn a traditional rifle into an assault weapon.  You don’t need an assault weapon to bag a deer.  You don’t need an assault weapon for target shooting.  You don’t need an assault weapon to protect yourself, your family or your home from attack.  Conservative icon Barry Goldwater observed – “I've never used an automatic or semi-automatic for hunting. There's no need to. They have no place in anybody's arsenal.”  The one and only purpose of an assault weapon is in its title – to assault.

And there is absolutely no reason we cannot ban the ownership of assault weapons.  We did it before.  There was a federal assault weapon ban in effect in the United States from September 1994 to September 2004.  President Bush and the Republican Congress let this ban expire.  However, a new assault weapon ban must be stricter and more forceful, with absolutely no “loopholes”. 

We must totally ban all assault weapons.  It should be illegal for an individual to purchase and own an AK-47, an assault rifle, or any such weapon, or anything that converts a traditional rifle into an assault weapon.  Upon passage of the ban legislation the government should begin a program to buy back all currently held assault weapons.  

And we must go further.  In addition to banning all assault weapons and passing a “red flag” law, ownership of a gun must be treated in the same manner we treat automobiles and driving.

All gun owners must have a valid license, which must be renewed every year. The initial issuance of a license must be based on a thorough and comprehensive background check.

To get a license a person must pass a written test and a “practical” test. Gun licensees must demonstrate they know how to properly operate and maintain a gun.

Underage individuals must not be allowed to own guns.  The minimum age for a driving license is usually 17, but the minimum age for owning a traditional gun should be 18.

Gun owners must have insurance similar to auto insurance.

We must title and tag each gun at point of purchase, so each gun is registered in a local data base and law enforcement can know if a person is stockpiling an excessive number of guns.

Guns must be inspected at least every other year.

We have had too many mass shooting tragedies not to act.  Today’s deplorable and despicable Republican Party must acknowledge that American lives are more important than political contributions.



Trump comes to the fortune teller and asks how she sees his future.

She looks into the crystal ball and says, You are travelling down Constitution Avenue.  On both sides are cheering and happy crowds with flags and flowers.  It is a great celebration.”

“Go on, tell me more.” pleads Trump.

“Everyone is happy, people are hugging each other”, continues the fortune teller

“And they shake my hands?” Trump interrupts again

“No”, the fortune teller explains.  “The coffin is closed.



C0PYRIGHT © 2022 by Robert D Flach

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