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Howard Zaharoff


Howard Zaharoff reads (a lot), writes (mostly humor), teaches (occasionally) and practices law (doesn't everyone?). He is the author of "Stump Your Lawyer!" (Chronicle 2007), and his work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Amazing Stories, Computerworld, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, The Annals of Improbable Research and the books Growing Up Jewish (Penguin 1987) and Sex As a Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble (and Further Improbabilities) (Workman 1993), among other places.

Jun 272017
 By , June 27, 2017

MPAA film rating system updated for an era of polarization and the politically correct.

G – General Audiences. All politics accepted. Nothing too offensive to conservatives or liberals. Lassie may come home. Miracles may occur on 34th Street. Language no saltier than “damn,” “coccyx” and “tushie.”

King Kong, politically correctExamples: The Little Mermaid; Mary Poppins; King Kong

PG -R – Political Guidance Suggested – Rightward. May contain content too conservative for many progressives, including performances by Arnold Schwarzenegger. May positively portray police, firearms and private schools. Characters favor nuclear and thermonuclear families and oppose The Homosexual Agenda.

Examples: The Shootist; True Grit; Kindergarten Cop

PG-L – Political Guidance Suggested – Liberal. Some material may offend conservatives, including performances by Ben Affleck. May sympathetically portray minorities, immigrants and people on entitlements. Characters may unselfconsciously use terms like “power to the people,” “Big Oil” and “vegan.”

Examples: American Beauty; Billionaire Boys Club; I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney

NC – R2. Radically Rightwing. Themes or actors may infuriate liberals, including performances by Ronald Reagan or Charlton Heston. May glorify combat, Wall Street and golf. No actors from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan or Yemen; Iraqi actors extremely vetted.

Examples: Die Hard; The Ten Commandments; Bedtime for Bonzo

NC –L2. Kneejerk Leftie. Themes or actors may infuriate conservatives, including performances by Susan Sarandon or Jane Fonda. May criticize war, the death penalty and people who cling to guns or religion. Beware: pro-life or pro-military viewers may throw hard objects at screen.

Examples: Dead Man Walking; Coming Home; Barbarella

PC – Politically Correct. May induce nausea in those uncharmed by cloying treacle. May feature performances by Alan Alda or Tom Hanks. Characters may say things like “Why can’t people just get along?,” “Violence doesn’t solve problems“ and “Happy Holiday.”

Examples: Glory; Philadelphia; The Family Stone

NC – SxN – Sexually Neanderthal. May normalize sexist attitudes and male chauvinist behavior. Female characters have supporting roles and are typically housewives or home wreckers. May use language like “Dames,” “Chicks,” “beer-flavored nipples” and “Eliza, where the devil are my slippers?”

Examples: My Fair Lady; Guys and Dolls; 10 Things I Hate About You

NC – LGBT – Sexually Enlightened. May favorably depict homosexuality or transexuality, feature known gay or lesbian actors, or include nudity (beware the butt double!). May add “Q” to LGBT rating. May use words like “Dames,” “Chicks” and “beer-flavored nipples,” but only ironically.

Examples: Boys Don’t Cry; The Rocky Horror Picture Show; The Panic Room; Beauty and the Beast

The above major ratings can be combined with the following refined grades for greater specificity:

♂. May contain feminist themes or imply that women can be as funny as men, including performances by Sarah Silverman or Amy Schumer.

Examples: Bridesmaids; I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With; Ghostbusters (2016)

✡. May favorably depict Jews or Judaism; contain self-deprecating humor or short balding protagonists; or imply that Jews are particularly comedic, including performances by Sarah Silverman or Amy Schumer.

Examples: School Ties; Funny Girl; Annie Hall; Analyze This

V. May glorify violence, including favorable depictions of war, pro football and couples therapy.

Examples: Saw; Speed; Any Given Sunday; anything by Quentin Tarantino

Z. May glorify Zombies or Zombie-like behavior. May induce fear of Zambonis among dyslexics. May lead to TV shows like The Walking Dead; Fear the Walking Dead; and Fear More Dead Spin-Offs (Ha, not a real show).

Examples: Night of the Living Dead; World War Z; Warm Bodies

The above rating systems can be customized for particular movies or TV shows, as shown in the following ratings for these popular programs and movies.

A Few Good Men: PG- L + Code = This movie may contain language critical of border walls and the grotesque and incomprehensible soldiers who command them. Veteran discretion advised.

Moonlight: PG – LGBT = This movie may contain favorable depictions of homosexuality. This rating may contain spoilers. (Oops.)

Mozart in the Jungle: TV-MA + SV = This program is designed to be viewed by adults. It may contain scenes of graphic Sex and Violins.

May 142017
 By , May 14, 2017
Books Not Currently on the President's Nightstand

Here are some books we can be pretty sure are not being read by President Trump: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Professional, reassuring advice for coping with the disorder – at work, at home, and in [more…]

Apr 262017
 By , April 26, 2017
In Praise of Catchy Book Subtitles

More books are being embellished with catchy subtitles – here’s some more suggestions. Because books compete for readers’ attention with many less demanding entertainments – from film and TV to streaming video and interactive games – publishers must give customers reasons for reading this book [more…]

Dec 282016
 By , December 28, 2016

Last minute shopper? There’s still time to buy your loved ones a new Trump-era technogadget for the holiday season. Here are our top-rated holiday season gift ideas: FITBIT CHARGE DT. Easily check your vital signs as they react to the latest moves by our President-in-waiting. [more…]

Dec 202016
 By , December 20, 2016
A Modern Jewish-American Confession

During the Jewish New Year, congregants recite the “Vidui” – updated and secularized here for the benefit of every American. During the High Holidays, which includes the Jewish New Year, congregants recite the “Vidui” (or “Confession”), an acrostic prayer that lists all possible sins, alphabetically [more…]

May 032016
 By , May 3, 2016
Why Turning 65 Is So Great

A few reasons turning 65 is actually pretty awesome! Turning 65 is daunting – a definite tunnel at the end of the light – but the more I think about it, the more I can identify the pluses (and not just plus sizes) that accompany [more…]

Feb 262016
 By , February 26, 2016
Music I Dance To

As I get older, it’s harder to get me on the dance floor. As I get older, it’s harder and harder to get me on the dance floor (or, if I really strut my stuff, help me off it). Basically, there are only 8 songs [more…]

Oct 082015
 By , October 8, 2015
The GOP Bowl

The playoffs continue, with the GOP on Fox… “New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw his support behind GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump … [and] says he thinks his golf partner can win …” — AP 9/16/15 Kenny: Good evening. I’m Kenny Albert, here with [more…]

Jul 112015
 By , July 11, 2015
Siri Flunks Jewish

When it comes to Jewish, Siri often lets me down I generally have a love affair with Siri. She – as available on my iPhone 5 – gets me. My dictation of emails, texts and notes is almost letter perfect, far quicker and more accurate [more…]

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