AJ Ericksen's Blog World

Tuesday, January 18

Strange Amazon Gems

I watched Ken Burns's superb documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson on PBS tonight. One of the examples cited of the racism in America around WW I was D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation. For the ignorant, that was the 1915 silent film, an Academy Award winner for Best Picture, that with its racist propaganda revitalized the Klan. At a screening at the White House with the entire cabinet and Supreme Court (the Chief Justice himself a Klansman), President Wilson called it "history written in lightning."

Anyway, wanting to learn a bit more about that film, I headed online. When looking for a copy of it, I stumbled on this ironic gem of a review:
***** A D.W. Griffith Joint, November 24, 2004
Reviewer: Pink Orpheus

Word. Dis film is da bomb yo. It's slammin' got plenny of comedie, actshun, and even some steemy seenes. If you lyke your movees long and HOT like Bad boyz II this is Da [...]!

Also I reckamend the movees 'Eight Mile' 'The South Park Movie' and 'Team America'

God Bless America!!!!! GO MARINES!
Great!

On an entirely unrelated note, I just heard about this book today, which I will need to buy soon -- English as She is Spoke. The summary from The Collins Library:
In 1855, Jose da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino sat down to write an English phrasebook for Portuguese students. There was just one problem: they didn't know English. Even worse, they didn't own an English-to-Portuguese dictionary. What they did have, though, was a Portuguese-to-French dictionary and a French-to-English dictionary. Perhaps the worst foreign phrasebook ever written, the resulting linguistic train wreck was first published in 1855 and became a classic of unintentional humor. Armed with Fonseca and Carolino's guide, a Portuguese traveler could complain about his writing implements ("This pen are good for notting"), insult a barber ("What news tell me? all hairs dresser are newsmonger"), complain about the orchestra ("It is a noise which to cleave the head"), go hunting ("Let aim it! let make fire him!"), and consult a handy selection of truly mystifying Idiotisms and Proverbs ("Nothing some money nothing of Swiss.") Mark Twain, prefacing an American edition, marveled of its "miraculous stupidities" that "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect."

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