Author Archives: Bryce Condon

An Irishman Walks Into a Bar

This informant grew up in San Diego, CA.  He is a freshman business student at USC.  I asked him to tell me his best folk joke he had and this is the first one he thought of.

One day an Irishman walks into a bar and orders two pints of Guinness.  The bartender denies the man, explaining that he only serves one drink per person at a time. 

The Irishman replies, “The second drink isn’t for me, it’s for my brother.  See, we both grew up on our family farm in Ireland and every day we used to hit the local pub after work and get a pint together.  One day my father passed away and left us the farm, but eventually the farm could no longer support the both of us.  Being the younger son, I decided to move to America to try my hand at fame and riches.  But before I left we both promised each other to always continue drinking two pints at the local pub after work.” 

The bartender sympathizes with the Irishman’s story and pours him his two Guinness’s.  This goes on for a few weeks, until one day the Irishman comes in and only orders one drink. 

The barman says, “I don’t mean to intrude, but is your brother alright?” 

To which the Irishman replied, “O ya, he’s fine.  I just quit drinking.”

This joke is a variation of the ever popular “…walked into a bar” jokes.  It plays on the stereotype that Irish people love to drink.

The Hermit Crab Story

The informant is a freshman at USC and grew up in Southern California.  He said he had a few stories that his dad used to share with him that he would do his best to remember.

There once was a grumpy old hermit crab who used to collect everything he possibly could get his hands on.  He was so greedy that he would go onto the beach sometimes to try and get the best human trash.  One day he saw something he really liked on the shore so he scurried up the beach, but before he could get his prize, a dog scooped him up in his teeth.  The hermit crab squirmed about but couldn’t break free of the dogs grasp.  When the hermit was about to give up and accept defeat, a boy came out of nowhere and demanded the dog to drop the crab.  As the crab went back into the ocean, he wished he could thank the boy but all he had was trash.  The next day, while wandering the ocean floor, the crab discovered a chest of buried treasure.  He knew at once that he must have all the gold coins inside for his cave, but he couldn’t carry the chest back because it was far too heavy.  For the next few weeks, the crab brought the gold coins back to his cave, two at a time but quickly ran out of space in his cave.  He decided that he had to start getting rid of some trash in his cave in order to make space for the gold.  Finally, after transporting all the gold to his cave he was left with no trash.  At first he was happy with all the gold but after a while he realized that he really wasn’t any happier than he was before.  So he came up with a plan to thank the boy who had saved his life.  He had a pelican hold gold coins in its beak and fly them to the boy’s house, where he dropped them down the chimney.  The crab was very pleased with himself and learned that sharing can make you happy.

No More Hiccups

This informant is a sophomore student at USC.  I explained all the different types of folklore there were and he decided to share his his recipe for getting rid of the hiccups that his mother swore by.

First you eat a lot of grapes, like 6-8 until your mouth is pretty full.  Then chew them up and swallow them quickly followed by a big glass of water.  After the water goes down, hold your breath for as long as possible and only let out small amounts of air at a time.  Finally when you absolutely have to, take a deep breath and your hiccups will be gone!

I really didn’t even know what to make of this hiccups remedy, the grapes seem to be completely out of left field.  However, I have heard before that holding your breath can help.

Lope

This informant grew up in San Diego, CA.  He is now a sophomore student at USC.  He told me about a few folk expressions from his high school and I chose “Lope”

Informant: Lope is short for “Low Profile” but it can be used in all different sorts of contexts.  If someone if drinking vodka in the parking lot they might ask their friends if they are being “lope,” meaning “is this cool? Will anyone see me?”  Also kids used to use the phrase all the time when smoking marijuana around school or parents.

Me: Do you know where the phrase came from?

Informant: I’m pretty sure someone at my high school came up with it when I was there.  It was basically a way to check with your friends if you were chill doing whatever thing you weren’t allowed to do, without anyone else around knowing.

Me: Was it a widely used word around the school?

Informant: Uhh I wouldn’t say widely, but all my friend group knew was it meant or anyone who partied.

The word “lope” looks like it was created by someone to remain secretive when they were breaking the law or doing something they shouldn’t.   More likely than not, some popular kid starting using it and then everyone tagged along.

The Warrior and the Hawk

My dialogue with this informant started right after I finished collecting from another informant.  He was insistent that he had a story his dad had told him a few times when he was younger, and for some reason he always remembered it.  The informant is a freshman at USC and grew up in Southern California. This is what he told me.

Alright, so the story started out with this great warrior that had just finished a long and gruesome battle.  He was tired, hungry, and thirsty and wanted to get home as quickly as possible so he decided to separate from the group and take his own way home because he new the land very well.  But the warrior wasn’t traveling alone because he had his hawk with him that traveled with him everywhere.  After walking for a while the warrior found a stream and decided to stop and take a drink because he was so thirsty.  But the stream was moving super slow so the warrior could only get one drop at a time.  While the warrior was waiting to fill his cup his hawk flew above him, probably looking for prey.  Finally the warrior filled his cup, but as he raised it to his mouth his hawk swooped down and knocked it from his grasp.  This happened a second time and the warrior was so pissed he drew his sword and threatened to kill the hawk if it spilled his water again.  A third time the hawk knocked the cup free, only to be struck down and killed immediately by its master.  The warrior was so impatient, he decided to climb the rock and find the water source.  When he finally reached the top, he saw a poisonous snake lying dead in the water.  He realized that he had killed his best friend, when the hawk was only trying to save his life.  From then on he would never act out of rage.

After hearing this story I felt like I recognized it but couldn’t quite pin point where from.  I thought it was interesting that the number three showed up, which is so common in children stories.  Unfortunately the informant had no idea where his dad had heard it from so the origin is tough to trace.  However I did do a search online and found pretty much the exact same story but with Genghis Khan so maybe it originated there, or at least we know its at least that old.

Here is the link: http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=baldwin&book=fifty&story=king

Don’t Pluck the Red Lehua Blossom

This informant is Hawaiian and a freshman student at USC.  I asked him for any traditional Hawaiian stories and he gave me this story:

The Ohia tree is often the first plant to grow on new lava flows, but don’t ever pick its red Lehua blossom because both the tree and flower are rooted in Hawaiian legend. Ohia and Lehua were young lovers, he a handsome trickster and she the most beautiful and gentle girl on the island. But, one day Pele came across Ohia and wanted him for herself. When he refused her, she turned him into a twisted, ugly tree. Pele ignored Lehua’s pleas to change him back, but the other gods felt sorry for the young girl. They couldn’t reverse Pele’s magic, but they did turn Lehua into a beautiful red flower and placed her on the tree so that the two young lovers would never again be apart. It is said that as long as the flowers remain on the tree, the weather is sunny and fair. But when a flower is plucked from the tree, rain falls like tears since Lehua still cannot bear to be separated from her beloved husband Ohia.

After a few follow-up questions I figured out that Pele is the God of Fire, who has a short temper. The story didn’t really teach a lesson but it does exemplify how much emphasis the Hawaiian culture places on nature and the environment.

P.L.U.R.

My informant is a sophomore student at USC that grew up in the Bay Area.

Me: Tell me about Electric Daisy Carnival

Informant: So ever since my senior year of high school I have been going to EDC in June.  Its in Las Vegas now but it used to be at the Coliseum and its basically one of the biggest raves in the nation and all the best DJ’s come perform for three nights.

Me: Sounds fun.  Has this been around for a long time or somewhat new.

Informant: Uh no idea when it started but I would guess after I was born.

Me: Ok, since you have been going for a long time what are some of the big traditions you have noticed?

Informants: Uh well [haha] people do a shit ton of drugs but I wouldn’t call that a tradition.

Me: More of a culture?

Informant: Ya sure, umm I guess P.L.U.R. is a big tradition that people participate in at raves.

Me: P.L.U.R?

Informant: Ya it stands for Peace. Love. Unity. Respect.  Basically people wear a bunch of colorful bead wristbands and exchange them through a handshake, while saying “Peace. Love. Unity. Respect.”  I know it sounds fuckin weird and hippy but you make a lot of new friends that way.

Me: Huh, and someone taught this to you?

Informant: Exactly, at my first EDC a girl “PLUR’d” me one of her bracelets and said she was my rave mother.  I thought it was pretty fuckin weird at first but got into it pretty quickly when I saw how many other people did it.

 

I didn’t really get much else out of the interview but it seemed obvious that P.L.U.R. was a big part of EDC’s culture and probably all of “rave” culture, given EDC’s size.  Ravers seem to embrace a non-judgemental, loving attitude and P.L.U.R. is a way for them to express to others that they embody these ideals. Meeting random strangers isn’t easy but trading bracelets with them is a harmless and easy way to break the ice.  It may be the music, and it may be the drugs, but Peace. Love. Unity. Respect. seem to be the all encompassing rules at EDC.

YOLO

This informant grew up in Bellevue, Washington and is a senior at USC.

Me: Can you tell me of an expression, or folk saying, that is commonly used today?

Informant: YOLO!

Me: Where did you hear that? And why do you use it?

Informant: Uh shit, I don’t remember who I heard it from but people say it all the time when they are gonna do something crazy or even really anything, its super overused.

Analysis: YOLO, or You Only Live Once, is a phrase that I had definitely heard before this communication but it was interesting that the informant had no idea where it originated from.  It came from a Drake song, but has since been transformed into an expression applicable in many situations.

Here is a link to the Drake lyrics: http://rapgenius.com/Drake-the-motto-lyrics

The Magical Wolf Island Riddle

This informant is a senior at USC in the Marshall School of Business.  He told me he had a riddle for me that he was asked in an interview for consulting, but then later said it could have been an investment banking interview as well he didn’t remember.

Out in the middle of the ocean there exists a magical island with only grass.  There are 120 wolves and 1 sheep on the island.  The wolves can live off the grass but they would rather eat sheep.  Every time a sheep is eaten that wolf turns into a sheep.  Now the wolf has to worry about being eaten by another wolf.  All the wolves are rational and smart and want to survive.  Given that there are 120 wolves and 1 sheep on the island, will the sheep be eaten?

The answer is: No the sheep will not be eaten.  This can be shown much simpler with smaller numbers.  If there is 1 wolf and 1 sheep the sheep will be eaten.  If there is 2 wolves and 1 sheep the sheep won’t be eaten, because each one knows the other will eat him right after.  So with this reasoning, whenever there is an even number of wolves on the island, the sheep won’t get eaten.

I definitely didn’t know the answer off the top of my head, but once I heard the answer it seemed like a pretty simple concept.  This shows how much people working in high finance value critical thinking and problem solving skills.

 

 

Fruitcake on Christmas

This informant is a student at USC.  His dad’s side of the family is Australian, originally colonists from England.  I asked him if his family did anything uniquely Australian.  At first he said his dad didn’t bring many Aussie traditions or practices over to the US other than his accent, but then he was able to tell me about a Christmas-time tradition that his grandparents had held for generations.

Every single Christmas my Aussie grandma makes fruitcake.  The shit is really gross and I don’t know why anyone eats it so after I tried it I had to ask why she makes it every year.  First she laughed and said she really does like it, but then she told me what she knew about its historical significance.  Apparently when England was colonizing Australia they used to send these fruit cakes over with people on the ships because they lasted longer than regular cakes. But those were plum cakes, which were boiled and the fruitcakes that my grandma makes are baked so it’s not really the same.  I’m not really sure how they got associated with Christmas but that’s how they got to Australia.  My grandma literally makes her fruitcake like a month before Christmas because the fruit has to marinate or something.  I have only been Christmas there twice, but I still can’t believe my dad and all the other Aussies there actually eat it.

So it looks like these cakes originated as travel treats for the colonists and maybe stuck around after that to remind the colonists of home and the long hardship they endured to make it to Australia.  In modern day fruitcake is probably just taken for granted and generally enjoyed by the masses during the holidays.