January 16, 2007

with way too much time on my hands after finishing my first semester of grad school, and no netflix movies at home or arriving because of the holiday, i decided to borrow the first yiddish film in 60 years, “a gesheft” (a deal), from the library. the movie is absolutely ludicrous. “a gesheft” tells the story of a childhood vendetta taken to the nth degree: our protagonist, perets, believes that wolfie zichler has been snitchin’ (which, btw, the OED lists as having an obscure origin), resulting in his expulsion from school, cheyder (in reality he was caught on tape). perets proceeds to make wolfie’s life miserable over the next forty years, along the way doing some truly irredeemable things.ultimately, perets decides to kidnap wolfie, and redemption ensues.

the movie also bills itself as an action movie despite the fact there is no action. also, there are no women in the movie, which is not as much of a problem as it seems on paper.

did i mention its in yiddish? that’s really the only reason to watch the movie, which, by the way, either has some terrible anachronisms or is the most disappointing sci-fi epic ever. you see, while most of the movie appears to take place in the present day, the childhood a-gesheft.jpg

scenes take place 40 years earlier. despite that, the school principal has a brand new dell and high tech security camera, and a young perets has a pretty crappy desktop. this leads me to believe that the movie actually takes place in the future, although this assumption is also problematic. if they live in the land of tomorrow, why does everyone drive cars from the early aughts and use present day cellphones? and why set the move 40 years in the future; why not 45? is there some significance to 2046? perhaps our filmmaker is a big wong kar-wai fan. or perhaps the date is chosen out of respect for the 100th anniversary of the NBA, the most jew-loving of all pro-sports leagues. just ask kobe bryant. or shaq.

just keep ’em torched.

regardless, jews love movies.

and since this was supposed to be the word of the day…

today’s word is maven. maven is a well known english word meaning, “An expert, a connoisseur; a knowledgeable enthusiast, an aficionado.” but did you know that maven is of yiddish origin? a meyvn is an expert or connoisseur. the word enters yiddish from the hebrew mavin, understand.

the OED credits Vita Herring with popularizing the word. here’s the relevant quote:

1965 Hadassah News Let. Apr. 30 (advt.) Get Vita at your favorite supermarket, grocery or delicatessen. Tell them the beloved Maven sent you. It won’t save you any money: but you’ll get the best herring.

don’t say herring never did nothing for you.

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