Author Archive
Festival

Pennsylvania Apple & Cheese Festival

The informant is an 86-year old man who spent his adult life in Northeastern United States.


 

Tell me about the Pennsylvania Apple & Cheese Festival

TS: Every October, for the past ten years, me and my wife made it a tradition to go to the Apple and Cheese Festival in Pennsylvania. Then, after maybe five years, we started going with some people from the fire department, until it became.. uhh.. a whole sorta tradition for a bunch of us in the community.

How many of you go to the festival together?

TS; There are about forty of us that go now, every October. It’s a wonderful place.


 

The Pennsylvania Apple and Cheese Festival is a celebration of the agricultural economy of Pennsylvania, with focus on  apples and cheese production. Using agricultural pride as the foundation for a festival, the festival-runners bring tourists and profits into an area that normally wouldn’t draw many.

Digital

MLG Remixes

The informant is a 19-year old college student.


 

BW: An MLG Remix is hard to explain.. It’s like,, making fun of the culture of like middle schoolers on Xbox Live, and everything around that. There are these gaming channels on Youtube that celebrate the highlights in a game of Call of Duty or Battlefield or something–usually CoD, and then set it to Dubstep music. MLG Remixes make fun of that by adding lots of really loud dubstep, a bunch of songs piled on top each other ’till you can’t even hear them… and also a bunch of other symbols and reoccurring.. “motifs” you can call them. Like Mountain Dew, Taco Bell, Snoop Dogg, smoking weed–they usually all show up in these MLG Remix videos. They’re meant to be funny too, like over-the-top, hyper-crazy, ironic.

What does MLG stand for?

BW: Major League Gaming. That’s the whole crowd that they make fun of, because they’re so serious about video games.


 

Various MLG Remixes:

 

Folk Dance

The Shopping Cart

The informant is a 26-year old man who grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, New York


 

BF: The shopping cart is an ironic dance move, I guess you could say. It’s not any fun, and it doesn’t come from any interesting cultural spots, so it was made as a sort of anti-dance to celebrate the lack of culture in the suburban areas.

How does one do The Shopping Cart?

BF: Sure. To do The Shopping Cart, you just hold your arms out in front of you and lean forward, like you’re shopping at a supermarket. Then every few seconds you pretend to pick an item off the shelf, inspect it, and you know… either put it in the imaginary cart you’re wheeling or throw it back on the shelf. I think it’s pretty funny.

How’d you hear of The Shopping Cart?

BF: I heard of it in high school, at a graduation party. Everyone was doing it. It was weird, like a weird ritual.


 

general

Using Car Horns in Indonesia

The informant is a 26-year old web developer who has spent much time traveling for work.


 

What was driving in Indonesia like?

BF: Indonesia was excellent. I never drove, I was always in a taxi. The funny thing is… everyone honks on the roads. Here it’s offensive or rude or abrasive–but everyone is doing it all the time in Indonesia. Sounds like New York City, with all the horns.

Were the roads different in any other way?

BF: Yeah, driving was also really tough because the cards weren’t as good and the roads were relatively shoddy. I guess that’s why everyone honks so much more. It’s funny how it’s not a gesture of rudeness there, but just the way people drive.

 


 

Video demonstrating the extreme use of car horns in Indonesia

Game

Mrs. Birdy Webkinz Glitch

The informant is an 18-year-old student, of Italian and American origin, who spends a lot of his time playing computer games.


 

Who is Mrs. Birdy?

BW: Mrs. Birdy was a character in the old online pay-to-play game, Webkinz–like Neopets and Club Penguin. Those kinds of games were very popular at the time, and the way it worked was you go to a store in real life and buy a stuffed animal called a Webkin, then you register it online and it gives you an online pet that you play games with and domesticate and care for and stuff.

And the glitch?

BW: Yeah, well, it was just a rumor, I think, but it spread a lot to everyone that played Webkinz. This was in… I was ten… so like 2007. And there was a rumor that the Mrs. Birdy character would climb in through your house and murder your Webkinz with an axe. Since the game is for little kids, it caused a lot of feared kids. I had to tell my mom, and she Googled it. The official Webkinz site had a whole page dedicated to the fact that it was a rumor and that nothing scary would happen to the kids’ Webkinz. I was still terrified, ’cause I was in the little kid bubble.. and then there’s all this worry about murdering my pets.


 

There are many forum sites either proliferating or desperately trying to end the fears about the supposed Mrs. Birdy murder glitch. It’s somewhat morphed into an issue of parenting and protecting children against the dangers of the internet.

 

Folk medicine

Marking Xs To Heal Mosquito Bites

The informant is an 18-year old student who lived in Louisiana for a few years.

He claims that he was told by family members to indent an X-shape over any mosquito bites and spit on it to keep mosquito bites from being itchy. The informant claims the folkloric medicinal strategy did in-fact cease the itchiness of mosquito bites, but that was without any saliva. Since then, he has spread the tactic to other around him when mosquitos come out at night.

Game
general

Polybius

Polybius is an urban legend videogame–meaning a video game that is only rumored to have existed.


 

What’s Polybius?

BA: Polybius is a video game, supposedly made by SEGA, that caused the kids to play it to have seizures. They say there’s only been one Polybius cabinet–this was the 80s, when games were in cabinets in arcades, like Pac Man and Asteroids and stuff…and this cabinet was in Portland.

Why was there only one cabinet?

BA: There was only one cabinet, because that’s how they tested the game before release. It was a big game by a big company, and it used new graphics technology, so they just secretly tested it under a fake name…if the game passed testing, it wouldn’t be called “Polybius”. But… the kids who played it got addicted to it and had seizures. People reported seeing men in suits watching them play, and some say it was the United States government watching to see the effect of the game, to somehow use it as a weapon. Anyway, they scrapped the game and hid it from the records once the kids had seizures, so they couldn’t get any bad press, so nobody’s heard of it since.


 

The mystery of Polybius originated on the internet in discussion boards in 1998. It’s since snowballed to a huge essential question: “Is Polybius real or fake?”. Some claim that it is a fabricated story based on the overwhelmingly negative reception of the early testing stages of Tempest, while others claim to have been part of the developer team responsible for the game.

There are some slight references to Polybius in popular culture, such as a background joke in The Simpsons and the plot of a long-cancelled G4 series, Blister

Humor

Jokes about Seattle

BA: There are a lot of Seattle jokes I hear. What do you call two straight days of rain?

What?

BA: A weekend. What do you call the big pointy sign above a tourist’s head?

What?

BA: An umbrella. As you can see, the only jokes I’ve heard about Seattle really just make fun of the rain, or maybe Kurt Cobaine or hipsters. One last one: a tourist goes to Seattle and asks a local kid, “does it ever stop raining here?”. He says, “How should I know, I’m only six”.


 

One of the defining characteristics of Seattle is its remarkably consistent rain, which the informant knows to be the source of most Seattle-jokes.

Legends

Squidward’s Suicide

Squidward’s Suicide is an urban legend surrounding the Nickelodeon children’s television show, Spongebob Squarepants (referencing the character “Squidward”).


 

BA: So, the story goes, that there was an intern at Nickelodeon; I think he just started working there, and he was really excited about it, I guess. And during one of the episodes, when they’re watching the..I think it was the final cut before air, I guess… And they were looking at the timestamps, and they saw it was edited only a few seconds before they watched it–basically the times of them editing it didn’t match up, and they realized. So, it starts out kind of normal, but something’s off: the eyes of all the characters are hyperreal–like not real, but not exactly CGI. But that’s, “that’s whatever”. SO they keep watching, and it’s an episode where Squidward has a performance (Squidward is a musician). He really f***** it up, it was really bad. But the booing was really intense, it was very unsettling.

Do you know if that was intended by the animators, or if that part just showed up?

BA: Oh, no no no, it was not intentional. The part where the eyes were hypperreal, that was not supposed to happen. The part where the booing was really unsettling, that was not supposed to happen. But, whatever, it happens. So, he’s in his house. And he’s sobbing. Sobbing uncontrollably. Then those sobs turn to screeches, and again, very unsettling–oh, it’s something like… there’s a noise that happens, that doesn’t sound like speaker noise, if that makes sense. So, the animators hear that and they’re like “so, this is super weird”. And I guess the creepiest part is that there are frames that are intercut into the episode of, like, dead children, who are completely maimed with their eyes falling out. And it looks like a crime scene, except there’s no tape or chalk, so it looks like whoever did it took those pictures. And they played it back, and they could see the kid move between frames, and they could tell he was still alive. Then, at the end of the episode, Squidward kills himself, and we don’t know where all the changes to the editing came in.


 

There are several variations to this story: In some versions, the episode was sent on a disk from the serial killer in Scotland to Nickelodeon, where an intern played it and later gave it to higher-ups for investigation by law enforcement. There’s also a version where the disk was made by a disgruntled ex-employee of Nickeoleon looking for revenge by broadcasting images of murdered children on a children’s network. Either way, this legend has circulated on the internet and even inspired some animators to recreate the episode based off the legend, then post those images to falsely prove that the legend is real.

general

Winchester Mystery House Tourist Site

The Winchester Mystery House is a house that was built in San Jose, California, in the 1800s, occupied by a husband and wife. As the story goes, as relayed by the informant, the woman in the story was paranoid that her husband’s ghost and others in the house would attempt to haunt her. Then, the woman, to avoid collisions with the supernatural, built several traps to fool her husband’s ghost: staircases that led nowhere, extra rooms, dead-ends, etc.


Interestingly, the house has since been turned into a tourist property, where, playing off the above legend, visits can pay for night tours through the “haunted house”. The Winchester Mystery House remains open to the public. Tours can be scheduled at its official website: http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/


It is impossible to know if the folklore surrounding the property caused the site to become a tourist attraction–or if the folklore was fabricated in order to promote the tourist attraction.

 

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