One more week, brothers and sisters, and the Internal Revenue Service will denude our savings accounts once again, in its usual rather demanding, rather humorless way.
But if it's tax-related humor you want, there's a new card game that will provide plenty -- and just might see you through this darkest time of year.
The game's title might be a little raw for some breakfast-eaters. So we'll modify it slightly and call it "Verb The I.R.S."
The game is similar to poker, except that the cards are tax-related items, not ace-through-deuce. The object is to amass deductions that equal your income, so you don't pay any taxes. First player to earn $1 million without paying Uncle Sam a cent wins.
The game was born in St. Louis, at a party, said one of the creators, Judy Laski, herself a tax accountant. "We had thought about creating the game for quite a while, but after a couple of carafes of chablis, we decided to really get to work on it," Judy said.
So, a year and a half ago, she and a friend, Margie Haag, did. The results have been a barrage of capital gains: 10,000 games sold at $18 apiece, with more orders arriving all the time.
Letters often arrive with orders, says Judy. "People will make little jokes, like they are purchasing the game with their refund money, or that they will deduct it as a business expense," she says. "I even received a check that was drawn from the IRS credit union."
What do the butts of the joke think of it?
"We have no opinion on games," sniffed Johnell Hunter, a public affairs specialist for the IRS. "The IRS does not care about games."
So it looks as if it's a standoff. Judy and Margie are laughing -- all the way to the bank. And the IRS is scowling -- toward the same destination.
Today's eagle-eye award goes to Douglas W. Nelms of Herndon. He eagled a bit of deja vu in a very well-known novel by the very well-known daughter of the president of the United States.
"I was reading, for the ad nauseam time, about Patti Davis' new book, 'Home Front,' " Douglas writes. "It suddenly occurred to me that I had that book.
" . . . .So I checked my bookshelf and, sure enough, there it was -- 'Home Front.' It was not, of course, by Patti Davis. It was written by Mr. Winston M. Estes, a Washington, D.C., native and former Air Force officer. Copyright date is 1976, published by J.B. Lippincott Co."
Did the president's daughter improperly shoplift the title of her book? Not according to the way the law defines "authorship."
According to Cheryl Rich, senior copyright information specialist at the federal copyright public information office, a book title may be reused as long as it isn't more than 15 words long, and as long as it doesn't refer to the same subject as the original work by the same name.
For example, said Cheryl, "you can't title a book on the burning of Atlanta 'Gone With the Wind.' " But you could use that title for a book about kite-flying, or anything else. Anyone with doubts about a particular title, or with a case that isn't so clear-cut, should call 287-8700 for more information.
Maybe Evel Knievel would feel at home in Chevy Chase Circle. The more timid among us can only obey the traffic signs there and hope to survive.
Maps will tell you that CCC is where Maryland becomes the District or vice versa. Neighborhood residents will tell you that CCC is actually where sanity becomes madness.
But if chaos reigns supreme over the traffic in Chevy Chase Circle, who or what reigns supreme over its foliage?
This question came up the other day when a woman who lives nearby noticed that the limb of a tree in the circle was dangling dangerously over the road. Realizing that the CCC traffic pattern didn't need to be made any more hazardous, she began calling around to see which agency was responsible for trimming CCC trees.
Not us, said Montgomery County. Try Chevy Chase Village.
Not us, said Chevy Chase Village. Here's a number in the District government to try.
Not us, said that number. Try the National Park Service.
Not us, said the Park Service. Try Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning.
Not us, said M-NCPP. Try Montgomery County.
The classic Washington runaround. So milady called me.
It took just four phone calls to unravel the unvarnished truth. The D.C. Department of Public Works is responsible for all green and growing things inside Chevy Chase Circle, and inside all the other circles that sit astride a D.C. border, too. To request that DCDPW trim limbs, or perform similar maintenance, call 767-8512.