Author Archive
Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Story of Booty Itches

This is the story of Booty Itches. People used to tell it on the playground because it’s hilarious. There once was uh, uh, uh a little boy named Booty Itches. And, uh, on the first day of school he went to class and his mom said, uh, or his teacher said, uh, “What’s your name?” “Booty Itches,” he said. And then the teacher said, “Uuuuuh, okay, funny. What’s your real name?” And he said, “Booty Itches!” “And she said, “Okay, uuuuh, I’m getting mad now, to tell you, I’ll ask you one more time and I’ll send you to the principal’s office. What’s your name?” “Booty Itches!” So he gets sent to the principal’s office. Um, and the principal said, “Okay, son! You’re new here. What’s your name?” He said, “Booty Itches!” Uh, the principal was all like, “Haha, funny! What’s your name?” “Booty Itches!” he said. He said it one more time and the principal got mad, so sent him home. And on the way home, um, he got hit by a car, and his mom saw it. And his mom said, “Oh, my poor Booty Itches!” And the police said, “So why don’t you scratch it?”

This story is a joke told by elementary school children. The joke deals with potty humor (such as the name Booty Itches), and violent death. Both of these subjects are taboo, and potty and body humor is popular among elementary school children. As is the wordplay found in the punch line: “my poor booty itches!” Which in this case refers to a person named “Booty Itches.” Word play is popular among elementary school children, because most children at this age are still developing an understanding of words and grammar.

This maerchen also has an element of blason populaire. This joke could be a way for children to talk about how many unusual, non-English names sound like certain words in English–at times to amusing effect. The name “Booty Itches” is an extreme, and perhaps insulting, example of a non-traditional, non- English name that a character in the joke possesses. The joke also illustrates the lack of integration and acceptance children with unusual, non-English names may experience within the school system. Police, in addition to school authorizes, is unknowledgeable or unwilling to listen to or believe this student who has such an unusual name.

Children would tell this joke to friends and classmates to gain acceptance and form groups based on humor. Although children would probably hear a joke like this many times from classmates (as repeating jokes is more popular with children) each child would try to tell the story better than the others to be thought of as funny, and therefore gain popularity.

Legends
Narrative

Killer Upstairs

So when I was younger all the kids in the elementary school were scared of going upstairs. You know the parents say go upstairs to my room and get x object. And you’re all downstairs, the lights are all off upstairs, so you always run up the stairs to get, to get the stuff and run back down, because there was a story going round that a guy went up to his parent’s room to get a, uh, a remote, a TV remote or something like that, and he got killed by a killer who only goes up there when the kids are told to go up there by their parents. So all the kids were afraid, and um, I was literally terrified, because I knew for a fact . . . there is a guy in there! There wasn’t though.

This story is an urban legend spread by elementary school children. It was told to initiate children, as older children in-the-know could tell younger children this to scare them, without believing it themselves. It was also told by children who might have believed, as many children are afraid of the darker and being alone, even in their own house. Going upstairs to a parent’s room in the dark to retrieve something can be a terrifying experience. This story helps rationalize why one should feel afraid to go upstairs alone as a child.

Childhood
Initiations
Legends
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Bloody Mary

Euclid Avenue Elementary School has one of the oldest buildings in the LAUSD. In the basement of the C building was the bathroom, restricted to all students. The ultimate dare in the 3rd grade. Who has the guts to stay in a dark restricted bathroom? To resurrect the ghost of a little dead girl? The rules: make sure the lights are all off and splash water in the mirror, then say the words 5 times: Blood Mary. If done right, she would appear in to the mirror and take judgment on you. If you sinned, she takes your soul, if you’re pure, she would leave you be.

The tale first brewed and echoed the hallways in the 2nd grade. The 6th graders dare the 5th, the 5th to the 4th, and the 4th to the 3rd graders. It was a right of passenge here at Euclid elementary, the day came when it was our turn to conjure up spirits and play necromancer.

As the performer of this piece of folklore said, this is a right of passage. The story of the ghost of Bloody Mary is a way to test and prove one’s courage to one’s older peers. This is an interesting variation of the challenge, as one repeats the name 5 times, rather than the more popular rule of 3 in most American folklore. Furthermore, water is splashed on the mirror, and the ghost seems to be tied to this particular bathroom. These variations seem to have made the rite of passage more accessible to male children, as Javier was aware of, and observed the practice of this elementary school tradition.

Legends
Narrative

Empire Hotel Marquee Ghost

The theater in my hometown is several hundred years old, from back when uh Salisbury, North Carolina used to be one of the centers of the state economy. There were a lot of famous actors that went there. Charlie Chaplin went there. Sarah Bernhardt went there, and other stage actors. And the legend has it that there was a passageway that went under the theater, under the street, to the hotel across the way where they would stay. It was called the Empire Hotel. And, um, I went down there one time. It’s sealed off.
Apparently there at one time was a secret passage. People have told me a lot of different things. It could have been an air conditioning shaft. But it was structurally unsound so it’s gone. But they say that the big stars went under there to the hotel. I’ve been in both places.
One time I was in the Empire Hotel. I was—I don’t know if I believe in ghosts or not! But I know I heard one. You’ll understand what I mean if you have too. I was on the third floor of this Empire Hotel after filming, it was Halloween night, I know that sounds really cheesy, buuuuut, I was looking around, just taking pictures for the heck of it, it was really dark, it’s abandoned now, so it’s completely empty, and I got the keys from the manager of the city. When from downstairs, the bottom of the staircase in the back came this like, “meaerrrrrrrrgh!” Like groaning sound. Ha, how are you gonna type that? Um it happened twice. I was with a friend and we both heard it, and we were both just like frozen in terror. And, um, then he was scared out of his mind and I was like let’s go downstairs and check this out. And we did. And we didn’t see anything there except this old, like, boiler, coal room.
But then we asked this sort of living-legend guy Clyde, who has no last name in our town, what that was and he told us it was a certain ghost whose name I don’t remember, who used to stand on his head on the marquee of the theater. Uh, that’s all I know about him.

This is a ghost story FOAF that I, for one, will be spreading. It is a ghost story based upon the town’s rich history. The ghost is apparently known to haunt the Empire Hotel. The hotel is actually infamous for its paranormal activity, as is the town of Salisbury, and the ghost Clyde tells my friend about it not the only ghost known to inhabit the Empire Hotel. Ghost stories are popular about the Empire, because it is an old place where a lot of history took place. Besides, old abandoned buildings are always disturbing—especially on Halloween night. The story gives importance to, and knowledge of the town’s rich history. While in America, especially, such creepy events are likely to be interpreted as ghosts, my friend and his pal might have interpreted the strange sound differently if they were from another culture. They also probably would not have suspected it was a ghost if they had heard the sound during the day, in a different building, and not on Halloween night.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Homeopathic
Legends
Magic
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Rally Monkey

Okay, uh, in like, um, in like 2000, so like the 2000, 2001, baseball season, uh, the Los Angeles Angels, who, er, at the time they were the Anaheim Angels, uh, they were losing in a regular season game with the Giants, and, uh, during like the bottom of the 8th inning, uh, one of the, on the Jumbo Tron, one of the graphics people, uh, played a clip from Ace Ventura, the Jim Carrey movie, that had like uh, uh, a foot long monkey running around, and they wrote, uh, “Rally Monkey” on it, and so the crowd that went to the Jumbo Tron, and I guess they kind of laughed about it, and in that inning the Angels came back and won, and so that became a huge phenomenon for like Angels fans and stuff. Even throughout the MLB it was like a iconic thing. It was like the Rally Monkey they would call it. And, uh, it got to the point they would bring, they actually, the Angeles organization actually bought like a monkey, I guess, and they had like a little Angel’s hat, and they’d bring it out, uh, in between innings. And the crowd would go crazy for it, and they started selling, uh, like plush toys of it that people would buy. Like I had one. And, um, so like whenever in the later end, the later innings, when the Angel’s were losing, uh, you’d like swing the monkey around, so you’re in the stadium, there’d be like hundreds—like thousands of people, all just like swinging monkeys around, and yelling, like, “Rally Monkey time!” And in the 2002 season, uh, they ended up winning the World Series, and it was like at the height of like the Rally Monkey era, like they would play it on the Jumbo Tron and it was like there were known for like, “Oh, the Rally Monkey!” stuff. And so they won the World Series and that’s the highest honor you can get, and so that was like a huge part of the season. And, um, after that season the Rally Monkey was around, but they started losing a lot, and now it’s gone forever. And it was kind of like, uh, a 2 season thing that’s gone now.

This is the story of the rise and fall of a sports tradition. The Rally Monkey was a superstitious, homeopathic form of magic, where swinging a plush monkey could bring luck to the players of the Angels. The tradition died after the Angels won the World Series and started losing, and it is now a part of the team’s and the fans’ heritage. Knowing about the Rally Monkey also was a way of creating group identity and community. One had to be initiated into the team fan group to be aware of the superstition, and to understand why Ace Ventura would play at the Angels games. At the time you were not really a fan unless you knew the tradition and participated.

Folk Beliefs
Homeopathic
Magic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Baseball Superstition for Keeping in the Zone

Uh, so baseball players are really superstitious, because it’s a really slow game unlike other sports. And a lot of it’s, like, mental, um, and so uh lots of players are like extremely superstitious so like if they’re hitting very well or the team’s winning, they’ll do like the same pregame rituals before every game. So, uh, if for instance someone’s like in a slump and they’re not doing well for like 6 or 7 games, and the next game he hits a home run or he does really well, uh, he’ll at whatever he ate that morning and he’ll like that superstition of how he did well. And also he’ll, he’ll eat the same meals before games and then uh in his head I would assume he’s attributing that to his better play. Um, and other players will like wear the same socks, or they’ll like won’t wash their Jersey, uh, cause I guess, uh, Baseball’s so streaky that players like attribute lots of their success to like these weird superstitions.
Uh so in baseball, uh, it’s pretty rare that a pitcher throws a no-hitter, it’s—it probably happens two or three times, maybe, a season. But it’s always uh it’ll be prevalent in games a lot and it’ll be broken up by the end, and so uh about like 5 to 6 innings into a baseball game, if a pitcher hasn’t allowed a hit in yet fans and like stat people will kind of like when there’s a no-hitter like possibility, it’s always like a big deal. They’ll like alert, ESPN will alert viewers and stuff, and, um, and during that time no one will talk to the pitcher, there’s just like an unspoken rule that like whenever they haven’t allowed a hit the managers, the pitching coaches, like the numerous coaches won’t talk to him, other players wouldn’t talk to him, and so the pitcher would just be in his zone, he’ll just like walk back and sit in the dugout while he’s waiting, um, yeah.

Baseball players are superstitious, and believe that once one is performing well at the sport, one must not make any changes to one’s routine or endanger themselves to falling out of “the zone.” The belief in and practice of these superstitions make the team closer and identify them as ball players, and baseball is perhaps the most superstitious of the major American sports due to its mental nature. Practicing these superstitions also provides a placebo effect, as the belief that it keeps the players in “the zone,” likely succeeds in helping keep them focused on the game.

Customs
Game
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Thunder Dome

Um, okay, so I guess I’m talking about Thunder Dome, which was a ritual thingie for my water polo team in high school. Um, uh, so, basically, it was like this exercise we did every week for hell week, which was like the most intense part of practice, I guess. It’s before the season starts, like a week. Anyway, this particular exercise, um, basically what they would do is, they wouldn’t tell you what it was until you were about to start it, so for like the freshman it was like this big deal. So what they would do is wheel out this big speaker system. And they’d start playing “Thunderstruck” by AC DC, like really, really loud, on the pool deck or whatever. And then, uh, they would have to uh line up in two different rows on each side of the pool. Basically the rules of the game is you have to stop the other person—you were like matched up with someone on the other side—you have to stop the other person from scoring any way you wanted to. And if you didn’t you had to keep going against another person, and another person, another person, another person, until you do. And, yeah, that was basically the game.

This sample of folklore describes a rite of passage. The secrecy and fear of the mysterious “Thunder Dome,” is a way for older high school students to intimidate, and allow new freshman team members to prove themselves in order to be accepted as part of the team. The game is an extreme version of water polo that allows freshman to show the team what they’ve got. If one performs poorly at Thunder Dome, they are off to a bad start as a member of the team. Doing well can increase one’s standing in the eyes of older players. This tradition can lead to acceptance by a niche peer group.

Customs
general
Holidays
Legends
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Oprah Gives Out Halloween iPods

Ever since I was a little kid, trick-or-treating was a big deal to me. Seeing as my parents were very protective of me however, I was never allowed to go very far outside my Santa Barbara neighborhood each Halloween. Every year, kids with more lenient parents would circulate tales of what fantastic goodies they collected from the more affluent neighborhoods I was not allowed to visit. Rumors of “king size” chocolate bars and candy buffets incurred awe and jealousy from the kids with restrictive Halloween guidelines, but what really captured my attention were the iPods Oprah Winfrey allegedly distributed to those lucky enough to make it to her Montecito estate. Nobody I knew ever made it out there to get a piece of this iPod action, it was always their brother’s friend or a friend of a friend who got the goods, but I believed all the same. I could just imagine a group of costumed children arriving at Oprah’s doorstep to be greeted by exclamations of “You get an iPod! You get an iPod! And you get an iPod! Everybody gets an iPod!” as confetti rained down, etc. To this day I’ve never been able to confirm the veracity of this rumor one way or the other, but I guess that’s the case with most urban legends; regardless of truth, the story never dies.

This is a FOAF legend, popular among trick-or-treating children who live in Santa Barbara, or near enough to Oprah’s Montecito estate they could potentially stop at her house on Halloween night. As Oprah has a reputation for giving our lavish gifts on special occasions, the story is not beyond the realm of possibility. However, as the person who told me this folklore never knew anyone directly who received an iPod, there is no guarantee that this story is true.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Homeopathic
Humor
Magic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Sucks

Ok, so in my high school winter guard team we had these things called sucks. We had them before every show we did. We also had them during color guard season, as like a pre-show ritual. We’d all eat jolly ranchers or life savers or whatever we got that week and say “Suck hard now so you don’t suck later.” And usually some sex jokes were made to lighten the mood, especially by my coach.
The main worry was finishing your suck before we started the show, cause you didn’t want to be sucking while you performed. But you have to finish it. And you actually had to suck hard in order to avoid the bad luck.

This is a high school Drama Club tradition that creates a sense of community through the team conducting a shared superstition to unite them before a performance. Although the “sucks” are a superstition that potentially has a placebo affect for the performers, much of the value of this folklore also comes from the inside jokes the club members would make based on the “suck” tradition. The dirty jokes and funny phrases helped solidify a team that would need to work harmoniously to pull off something as challenging and nerve-wracking as a high school play.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Folk Dance
Game
Gestures
Kinesthetic
Protection
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Booty Shaking, Vomit Dance for Good Mojo

Before every competition, my high school theater group would circle up, and shake all of our bad mojo/energy into the center of the circle. It usually involved some brushing off, fake vomiting, booty-shaking, etc until our jitters were out of like two minutes had passed. Then we all visualized that nasty ball of nervous energy, lifted it up as a team, and and threw it far far away. It made us perform better.

This is a ritual the theater group would conduct. For superstitious reasons they would join in a type of bad mojo warding dance. Obviously this ritual provides comfort, marks the occasion of the competition, and provides a good placebo affect, but the biggest benefit is likely that the team members joining together to do an embarrassing dance provided the club with a strong feeling of community.

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