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Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Game

Earwick, Nosepick, Facelick

Earwick, Nosepick, Facelick

It’s a game the source’s mother, used to play with her, her brother and her sister. The rules of the game are as follows: “two people race to see who can complete three tasks first. They have to stick their finger in the other person’s ear and nose, and then lick their face. The game can be started by either person at any time.”

When the source and her siblings were kids, they thought it was just a game, but when they were older, their mother explained that it wasn’t really a game at all. It turns out she was testing for cystic fibrosis. She was really only trying to lick their faces, and if it tasted salty it would mean they had cystic fibrosis. Healthy kids are supposed to taste like flour.

The source’s mother invented the game so her kids wouldn’t run away every time she tried to test them. She added the steps of picking the nose and ear because it made the source and her siblings laugh.

 

I believe that while the game started as a way to practice a folk medicinal test, the reason why it caught on in the family, and why they still occasionally play it now is because it is a way for the family to playfully get close to each other. All of the actions performed in the game are fairly intimate gestures, and at the heart it’s a way for the family to stay close.

Folk speech
Game
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Who’s Got the Rock?

Who’s Got the Rock?

Is a game the source learned at her high school near Augusta, Georgia. Apparently the game was originated by her Latin class, and is still played at the school to this day.

“Our teacher wasn’t very aware of what was going on at most times, so while she would lecture us in the front of the class we’d play this game. Basically someone would just wrap a piece of paper around any solid object they had. I think the original rock was an empty ink cartridge for a printer, but sometimes people would use tennis balls or scotch tape dispensers wrapped in paper. There was always one rock per day at least and people would just throw it from one person to the next to see who could throw it at the most daring time and not get caught. If Ms. Grimaude ever caught anyone and took the rock away, everyone would try to determine who had made the next rock. We had a chant we’d do—well I’m not sure it was a chant, but we’d do that thing where you shout but are also whispering but everyone would say it at different times. Once the first rock of the day was thrown we’d say “who’s got the rock?!” until someone threw the next rock. The funny thing was, we didn’t have that many rocks taken away the whole year. She never really caught us except a few times so much of the time when we would say “who’s got the rock” it was more of a dare for whoever had it to throw it at that exact moment. Ultimately it got out of hand with my class and people started throwing eggs and stuff. My brother though, who is 3 years younger than me told me that they still were playing that game in Latin class when he was there, which made me happy that we had created a game that lived on at the school.”

 

This game is interesting to me because there doesn’t seem to be any particular point to it. There’s never any winner or goal to the game, except to unite the class against the teacher. It’s also a rite of passage for Latin students at the school, the game continues to this day because if you haven’t played Who’s Got the Rock?, you clearly weren’t part of the Latin program.

Folk speech
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Kutchky’s Army

The source’s mother grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, in a predominantly Italian neighborhood. Most of the families on her street didn’t have more than three children.

When she was growing up, her mother and a lot of the other people in the neighborhood had a saying, if they have a lot of something, they would say they have enough for Kutchky’s Army. So if they had a lot of food, for example, they’d say “We have enough food to feed Kutchky’s Army.” Growing up, the source’s mother always assumed it was a reference to a real army in a war.

However, it was really a reference to the one Polish family on the block that had at least ten children.

Now, neither the source, nor the mother live in Chicago, but its been adopted as a common saying inside the family, and their friends from back home in Chicago.

 

Chicago has been, and still is one of the most segregated cities in the country. I think the saying reflects the tension between established ethnic groups in certain neighborhoods, and newcomers from different ethnic backgrounds. The saying probably started as a way for the established Italian families in the neighborhood to playfully separate themselves from the Kutchky’s, who they probably saw as Polish interlopers.

Game
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

J Cup

Jew Cup, a.k.a. J Cup is a drinking game for four players, split into teams of two.

The source learned the game when he first came to USC. It was popular among the upperclassmen in the School of Theatre. He learned it from his older brother, who was a senior at USC when the source arrived. The exact origins of the game are unclear and contested, but it is agreed that it was invented by a group of guys who graduated in 2008. They lived in the so called “Raymond House”, which was a popular hang out for theatre students before the source came to USC. The game was passed down through the students in the BFA Acting program, but has started dying out. To the best of the source’s knowledge, J Cup has not been played on USC campus in at least two years, but may still be played by the originators elsewhere.

J Cup is an amalgamation of many popular drinking games, especially beer pong, and has complex rules. It is often referred to as “more of a drinking carnival than a drinking game.”

Set Up:

Like beer pong, J Cup is played on a table with cups and ping pong balls, but the set up is entirely different. In the center of the table is a large cup, filled with beer. This cup surrounded by smaller plastic cups, also filled with beer, in the shape of a Star of David, hence the game’s moniker: Jew Cup. On either side of the table there are two plastic cups (a total of four), filled with beer. On the ends of the table, each team has a wash cup filled with water for rinsing the ping pong balls, behind these each team has a crushed beer can on the very edge of the table.

Play:

The teams take shots to determine who goes first, the first team to sink a ball in any cup in the middle goes first. A winning team from the previous round always shoots first.

The teams then take turns trying to sink the ball in the center cups. If a ball lands in any of the cups making up the Star of David, the other team has to drink the content of that cup, and place it in a stack on the left side of the table. If both players on one team make shots, they get to throw again. If they make it into the same cup, they get the balls back, and the other team has to drink three cups. This is where the similarities with beer pong end.

If a player sinks a ball in the big, center cup, both teams run to the side of the table to their right, and play flip cup, another popular drinking game, with the cups on the sides. The team that loses flip cup must consume two cups from the Star of David, chosen by the winning team.

If a player sinks a ball in the opposing team’s wash cup, both team members must shotgun a beer. The rules for the crushed beer can behind the wash cup are complicated. Instead of trying to sink a ball in a cup, a player can attempt to knock the opposing team’s beer can off the table. If they succeed and the can hits the floor, the opposing team members must both take a shot of whiskey. If, however, a player hits the beer can, but the opposing team catches the can before it hits the floor, the throwing team must each take a shot of whiskey.

Play is continued until all of the cups in the Star of David have been consumed. The team with the fewest empty cups in their stack are declared the winners, and hold the table until they lose to a new team.

 

The game to me is interesting, because the name could be construed as anti-Semitic, but other than the Star of David in the center of the cup, the game has absolutely nothing to do with Jewish people. I think its more of a reflection of the kids who lived in the Raymond House, and their desire to have a unique house game, that would draw people to parties. It must have worked too, because School of Theatre alumni from that time often recall fond memories from parties at Raymond House.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

The Blowjob Frog

The source was told the following joke by an Irishman, while he was on a family vacation in Martinique in the Caribbean. He believes it has origins in Ireland. He generally only tells this joke when he’s in a group of other men, he would only tell it in the company of women if multiple people were sharing dirty jokes.

The Blowjob Frog

A wife is out looking for an anniversary present for her husband. She’s walking by various stores looking in shop windows for something he’s really going to like, but she’s having trouble finding anything, right? But then she walks past a pet shop, and there’s a sign out front that says: ‘Blowjob Frogs, 5$’.

So she goes into the shop, and says to the guy who runs it, “Blowjob Frogs?” And he says, “Blowjob Frogs”. She asks what they do, and he tells her its pretty self explanatory, right? They give blowjobs. So she thinks its funny and that her husband will like it, so she buys it for him.

That night the husband and wife have a lovely, romantic dinner at their home. And they exchange presents. He opens his and he’s surprised. “A frog?” he asks, “A blowjob frog” she replies. They laugh, and put the frog in a box with some water so it’ll be alright until they figure out what to do with it in the morning. And they spend a passionate night together in the bedroom, best sex they’ve had in years.

She wakes up in the middle of the night, and she sees that the bed is empty, the husband’s gone, right? Then she hears the clattering of pots and pans in the kitchen. So she gets up to investigate, and when she gets into the kitchen, she finds her husband in there, with the blowjob frog on the counter.

So she says, “What are you doing in here?”

And then he says, “If I can teach this frog how to cook, your ass is outta here!”

 

This joke is funny on several levels. First it plays on the common husband/wife stereotypes, and implies that a man really only keeps a woman around for home cooked meals and blowjobs. Also, bestiality is definitely a major taboo, and freaks a lot of people out, so the joke allows people to discuss it. It would also make sense if the joke really does have Irish origins, because it might be more acceptable there than in America, which still tends to be fairly Puritan, and uncomfortable with sex.

Game
Humor

And the Nominees are: … an Actor’s Game

The source is an Acting major at USC. He’s in a small class of 17 people that have every class together for all four years, and do several plays together as an ensemble.

And the Nominees are: is a game that the male actors in the class made up, while backstage for a production of the play Moonchildren. It is an improv game that can be played anywhere, and a round of the game generally occurs any time four or more of the original players are in the same room, and have time to kill.

The game is played as follows:

One person in the group starts the game off with “And the nominees are:” they include someone’s name in the group, and then make up a movie title for that person to act off of. So a person might say, “And the nominees are: Jack Smith, for his performance in The Darkest Knight”, then Jack Smith would have to improvise a 15 second Oscar clip from the made up movie. The nominated player can include any other player in his Oscar scene, and they must play along. After a player performs his Oscar clip, all of the other players clap for him, and shout out stupid questions heard at many actor Q & A’s, for example: “What’s your process?”. After that, any player can create a new nomination for another player in the group.

Play continues until all players have performed their Oscar clip. Then, any player can declare a winner. The winner is not decided for any particular reason, as the game is not competitive, but just to end the round. The winning player then finds something to stand on top of to deliver an acceptance speech. It is good form to start the speech with the phrase, “Means the world”. Depending on how funny the speech is, the other players will allow the speech to end naturally, or start making up a song to cut the speech short.

New rounds are started, and the game can keep going into perpetuity. Generally play naturally fizzes out after 10-15 minutes, or the players are yelled at by their stage manager for being too loud, and the game is cut short.

 

This game probably caught on for three reasons. First, it allows the players to keep warm, and keep performing during large breaks in rehearsal or before shows. Second, its an effective method of ensemble bonding, as all of the players support and entertain each other. Lastly, it allows the players to joke about and make fun of the Oscars, because as actors, they most likely all have a deep desire to win an Oscar they’re afraid to talk about with each other.

Folk speech

Recipe for Success in Hollywood

There’s a saying in Los Angeles that if you’re an actor going in for a casting director, you’ll be successful if you are:

Happy, Pretty, Busy.

The source learned this saying from his girlfriend, who was a child star in several movies in the ’90s. Whenever she went on auditions, she was coached to always be Happy, Pretty, Busy; to be as desirable as possible.

It meaning is fairly straightforward, it is a guideline to making good impressions when meeting people in the film and TV industry.. You need to be happy, so people don’t think you’re a miserable person to work with, and to show you have a positive attitude. Pretty, because you need to be good looking or you wont get cast. Busy, you always need to be coming from something important, or going to something important immediately after a meeting; because people will want you more if they think other people really want you. Also if you make a person in the industry feel like meeting them is the most important thing you have to do that day, they wont take you as seriously.

Game
Humor

Ghost Potato

Click Here for Audio file of Interview

“So, Ghost Potato is a game, that was passed on to me, uh when I lived in England, by a colleague. And I don’t know where he got it from, whether it’s an ancient game, I am uncertain about that. But in Ghost Potato, a large group of people are divided up into two possible roles: one is Ghost, and the other is Potato. Uhh, the game is then played blindfolded or with closed eyes. Nobody can see anything. And uh, the participants wander around a-a confined space. When they bump into each other, they must gently whisper their identity to one another. So for example, someone would bump into someone and then they’d just go ghost, or like that, or potentially potato. Now, and then the rules of the game state that if a ghost meets a ghost and they, exchange identities, then nothing happens. And if a potato meets a potato, then, nothing happens. But if a ghost should meet a potato, then the potato DIES! That is the rule of the game. And then all dead potatoes move to the side of the room, next to the sensei or referee who’s looking, who’s looking after the whole thing, and um, and then when potatoes, dead potatoes see live potatoes in danger of being caught by ghosts, they are encouraged to make the following sound: oohwoahohoh. Like that, thus warning the still living potatoes, or tubers, uh that they are um, potentially about to be caught. That’s ghost potato.”

“Well, I understand, all walks of life can attempt Ghost Potato, but it is a little dangerous. So I prefer to reserve it for, um, sophisticated, uh, actors, who understand, the dangers of, of the imagination. And uh, I think in my time only one or two people have tipped over the edge and, and sort of lost themselves in the spiritual abyss that awaits them, at the vortex which is Ghost Potato.”

 

This game allows the players to really have fun, and prevent them from taking themselves too seriously. The rules are extremely simple, and its very funny when Actors, many of whom try to come off as serious artists play something that was probably designed for kindergartners. Its also like a practical joke on the players, because the source, who moderates this game with his students, gets to watch a group of adults wander around a room, bump into each other and whisper.

Foodways
Material

Marzipan Potatoes

The source’s father is a second generation Norwegian. Her grandfather immigrated from Norway to Chicago. While marzipan isn’t a specifically Norwegian desert, its found at every family gathering.

What makes the family marzipan unique, is that they always make it in the shape of a potato. This tradition was started by the source’s grandmother, who felt that potatoes were good luck, and wanted to serve marzipan potatoes to the family member so everyone would drive home safely. Her grandmother has since passed on, but the family tradition is now carried on by her Aunt Camille.

I believe that the tradition of making their favorite marzipan desert in the shape of potatoes reflects the family’s new home in Chicago, which has always had a very large Irish population.

Childhood
Musical

Nigerian Lullaby

“So my sophomore year, one of my acting professors was this big crazy guy that did a lot of volunteer work around the world. He was like, really big into using theatre as therapy and stuff like that, and he goes to Nigeria every few years to work with the people there, and give aid, and use theatre to help them deal with the situation over there. And anyway, he taught us this song, which is a Nigerian lullaby, and its a round. And I don’t remember if he actually told us what it meant, no one in the class remembers what it meant, and we might even be singing the wrong words. But we like sing it, the people in my acting class, that took that class with him sing it. We use it as a warm up song before performances, because its pretty gentle on the voice, and also sometimes when we get together, and we’ve been drinking we sing it, because everyone knows the tune, and its a round so it sounds good without people having to know how to create harmonies and stuff like that.”

Nigerian Lullaby

 

I find it remarkable that the song has really been re-purposed from a lullaby to essentially a drinking song by the group of actors, who really don’t know what the song means, and could be singing the wrong words anyway. I think it’s a testament that certain sounds, like harmonies are almost universally pleasing. I don’t believe the meaning of the song is the reason people in Nigeria still sing it to their children, but rather that the sounds are relaxing and pleasing to the ear. That’s why people from cultures as disparate as Nigeria and the United States can find so much enjoyment in the same tune.

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