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Q&A: What is the origin of the dollar sign?

'Producers' plays well in Berlin

I heard that The Producers had recently opened in Berlin. Do you have any information as to how well it has done?

Staged at the venerable Admiralspalast Theater, where Hitler himself attended plays during World War II, The Producers is earning strong reviews and a steady box office. Opening night May 17 ended with a standing ovation and no small relief among the financial backers who brought the Nazi spoof to Germany for the first time.

This was hardly a slam-dunk. In the week leading up to the opening, even the newspaper Berliner Morgenpost had to ask, "Should we be allowed to laugh at Hitler?"

The play had only become available because of a shortened run in Vienna, which had booked for a year. A lagging gate led to its close after just 10 months, giving Falk Walter, a maverick who owns the Admiralspalast, the chance to bring the play to town for the contract's remaining two months.

"There was nothing at all that I thought wouldn't work about it," Walter told the Los Angeles Times. "Aesthetically, the costumes, the staging, the rhythm, the music, the dialogue, the jokes, its depth — everything seemed to me to work brilliantly as a whole, as a way of reducing Hitler to the ridiculous figure he was."

Berliners seem to agree. The run of the musical has been extended into mid August.

Civil unions: taxes and divorce

Do civil union participants pay the same "marriage penalty" to the IRS as married heterosexuals? And when a civil union is dissolved, is the legal process the same as when a married couple gets divorced?

Under federal law, the IRS does not accept joint tax returns from any same-sex couple, whether they are united by marriage, civil union or domestic partnership. In the eyes of the IRS, same-sex partners face the same disadvantages or advantages as single people in similar financial circumstances.

As for civil unions, the legal process for dissolving them, in the states that offer this option, is the same as for dissolving a marriage.

Origin of the dollar sign

What is the origin of the $ symbol for the U.S. dollar?

According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and World Book Encyclopedia, the origin of the $ sign is unknown. The most widely accepted explanation is that it evolved from the Mexican or Spanish P's for pesos, or piastres, or pieces of eight. This theory comes from a study of old manuscripts suggesting that the "S" gradually came to be written over the "P," developing a close equivalent to the "$" mark. It was widely used before the adoption of the U.S. dollar in 1785.

Q&A: What is the origin of the dollar sign? 07/28/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:53am]
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