“Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”: Estate Planning for Millenials

Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?” asks New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast’s aging parents, whose hesitance to discuss End of Life issues Chast captures in her upcoming graphic memoir. They are not alone: No one wants to talk about a subject that inspires either boredom (What will happen with our Social Security checks?) or terror (Who will raise the kids?) or some toxic combination of both (In what exurb will our bodies be interred to spend eternity alongside cars roaring by?)

The story of Mickey Rooney, who shuffled off this mortal coil on Sunday, is a good reminder to face down boredom and terror alike in an effort to keep one’s affairs in order. Otherwise your family members might turn into grave-robbing lunatics, claiming everything, including your corpse – especially perhaps if that is all you have to leave, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

Rooney’s trust didn’t have a dime. He owed back taxes to the IRS and the state Franchise Tax Board. He was estranged from most of his nine children and separated from his wife. He had disinherited everyone except one stepson, according to a will filed along with court papers that showed assets of just $18,000. …

After his death, his wife, Jan Chamberlin, and her son, Christopher Aber, contacted Forest Lawn and tried to move Rooney’s body against his expressed wishes, Augustine alleged in court papers filed Tuesday morning. Charlene Rooney said she and Mark received a call from Forest Lawn about the attempt a few hours after Rooney’s passing.

“Mickey was not even gone for a few hours, he had just left here on a gurney, and this ugliness started,” she said.

Rooney updated his will as recently as March 11th but missed the opportunity to include certain crucial details. Granted, he had a lot to remember. The actor had more wives than Henry VIII.


The Tricky Business of Criticizing Big Philanthropy

Dissent has published a smart primer by Joanne Barkan on “how to effectively criticize big philanthropy.” The piece uses education reform as a way to talk about how unregulated mega-foundations can exert influence on policy outside of the democratic process. Barkan talks us through a few common “challenges” you might hear when, say, you have a little too much wine at a dinner party and decide it’s time to be that guy.


The Labor of Being Famous

Anne Helene Peterson writes for The Baffler (together at last) about Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, and the work it takes to manufacture celebrity. She talks about how we feel about certain celebrities has a lot to do with how they make, or don’t make, that labor visible. It is fun and smart, in typical AHP fashion.


Oh, How I Love a Good Personal Assistant Horror Story

Jennifer Vineyard at New York Mag’s The Cut relays the story of “one longtime personal assistant’s time working for a Hollywood household name.” It’s wild.

My favorite part is probably when she has to break up with the celebrity’s boyfriend for her, but this is good too:


The President Went on Between Two Ferns to Plug His New Website

REMINDER: We all have until March 31st to get insurance for the year through healthcare.gov.

In case we weren’t paying attention, the President of the United States has guest-starred on a comedic web series to remind us of this fact.


It Was Peggy All Along

Willa Paskin’s profile of Elisabeth Moss for New York Magazine is 1. great and 2. affirms the years many of us have spent deeply and actively relating to Moss’ character on Mad Men. “Don may be the show’s dashing face, but Peggy has always been its point-of-view character, “our Virgil,” in the words of Hamm, “leading us through this hellscape of ’60s advertising.”


Andrew W.K. Has Some Thoughts About Money

Marketplace talked to musician Andrew W.K. this weekend, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the musician talked about why spending money to have fun and party can be worth it:


Nothing Leprechaun Gold Can Stay: Financial Lessons From “Harry Potter”

• Witches and wizards apparently operate in a cash only society. Maybe you too can get by without a credit card!

• “One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” –Dumbledore, who should start celebrating Hannukah

• The wizarding world does not seem capitalist; in fact, it seems barely post-industrial, perhaps in line with JRR Tolkien’s shire. Everyone is pretty happy even though no one makes it onto Forbes’ Fictional 15. More leaning back, drinking butterbeer, and watching Quidditch for us all.

• 1 Galleon = 17 Sickles = 493 Knuts. This must be mocking the pre-1971 British currency system, where 2 farthings = 1 half-penny, 12 pence = 1 shilling, 5 shillings = 1 Crown, and so on. Decimalization FTW.

• Keep your money safe by hiding it in a locked vault at the bottom of a goblin bank protected by blind dragons. Or the modern equivalent: a CD.


Can God Make It In Hollywood? Crunching the Numbers

Looking to the premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming epic film Noah, starring Russell Crowe and The Lord, possibly in that order, the New York Times asks, “Can God Make It In Hollywood?” Religious movies do not always make it past the gatekeepers, and even when they do, they often fall flat with audiences, since viewers would rather watch cars go vroom! and robots go pow! than somber, toga-wearing men in beards talk about sin. The Times reports:

Once, studios routinely made movies with overtly religious themes for the mainstream audience. Classics like “The Ten Commandments,” “Quo Vadis” and “A Man for All Seasons” — each of which was nominated for a best picture Oscar — were box-office winners with a wide range of viewers. But after years of neglect or occasional hostility, the question now is whether Hollywood can still find common ground with religious audiences.

So, is God box office poison? I decided to investigate, using sophisticated analytic measures: I typed “God” into the search engine at Box Office Mojo. Here is what I found:

• The highest-grossing movie with “God” in the title is Godzilla (1998) which has made $136,000,000 worldwide since its release. The wrathful, rampaging character of Godzilla is not that different from the world-destroying character of God in the Noah story, come to think of it.

• The next three highest-grossing movies with “God” in the title are The Godfather, The Godfather Part III, and The Godfather Part II, which is funny since if you ask an aficionado s/he will probably say that Part II is the best film, followed by the original. Also funny: The Godfather has made a whopping $135,000,000 which is more than its two sequels put together. (Sequels! Turns out they are not always the surest and most profitable bet.)

• Next comes a comedy from 1977 called Oh, God! that I’ve never heard of, and I was a Film major. It made $40,000,000 domestically, which is roughly the advertising budget of a movie like Transformers.

Perhaps the Times is right? Or perhaps I am going about this the wrong way.


The Judge Who Captivates America

One of the most popular shows in television, Judge Judy, is now in its 19th year and Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza examines why Judith Sheindlin, who earns an annual salary of $47 million, is so beloved and how the show is produced at Pacific Stardard:


Kanye West on Success When You Have All The Money in The World

Steve McQueen — the one who is alive and directed 12 Years a Slaveinterviews Kanye West for Interview Magazine and it is kind of amazing.

So you talk about doing all of these other things, which is great, but there’s really no amount of money that could make you more influential than you are now. So my question is: What are you going to do with all of the influence that you have right now?


What Happens to Olympians After They Win Gold?

I am fascinated by what Olympians do, per se, after they win gold medals. Or moreover, after they win no medals! Or, really, what does any person do after great success? Lucky for me we have an entire profile on Shaun White a.k.a. The Flying Tomato — a name he no longer appreciates, by the way — who is apparently a two-time snowboarding Olympic gold medalist who will be heading to Sochi for more Olympics stuff in February (okay I kind of knew that already but now I definitely know).