Author Archive
Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Grateful Dead Joke

A Grateful Dead song started playing in the car while my dad was driving. The informant (my dad) is WB, I am PH.

WB: Ugh, the Grateful Dead

PH: Want me to skip it?

WB: No, that’s okay. Did I ever tell you my joke about the Grateful Dead?

PH: I think so, but tell me again

WB: What’d the Grateful Dead fan say when he got out of rehab?

PH: What?

WB: [said in a lower, “hippie” voice that my dad uses when imitating his hippie, drug addict cousin] “What’s this terrible noise stuck in my head, man?”

Legends
Narrative

The Haunted Escanaba, MI Lighthouse

Informant, a screenwriting major, was talking about his screenplay for his class and mentioned it took place in Northern Michigan. The conversation is as follows, the informant is TP, I am PH:

PH: Of course it’s about Michigan [because the informant talks about his home state very often]

TP: If I knew of any other lakeside town with a haunted lighthouse, it’d take place there, but I only know of Escanaba

PH: A haunted lighthouse? Can I write this down for my folklore collection?

TP: Yes

PH: Okay, can you tell me about the haunted lighthouse?

TP: So there’s a famous lighthouse in Escanaba [in Northern Michigan] because people think it’s haunted because when Michigan was founded, the Menominee tribe used to have land in Northern Michigan but we slaughtered them so their official reservation is just in Wisconsin now but the land is still sacred spiritual ground and they built a lighthouse on this sacred ground… I think it was a burial ground

PH: Who is “they”?

TP: I think the Michigan people? The people who slaughtered the tribe… So people say the lighthouse is haunted by the tribal chief from the time and that, like, if you visit the lighthouse you’ll see his spirit and he’ll try to chase you out and that’s pretty much it

Game
Legends
Narrative

Mirror Man

After I told a friend that I was collecting folklore for one of my classes, he was intrigued so I asked him if he had any folklore he’d like to contribute. I briefly explained the different kinds of folklore he could tell me. He said he wanted to think of something that is specific to his hometown, and the following came to mind, though he prefaced his account to mention that he wasn’t sure or not if this practice was just specific to his hometown.

“I’m not sure how local it is, but I’ve heard many people tell it, it’s called ‘Mirror Man.’ So, what Mirror Man is, it’s similar to Bloody Mary and in…at a sleepover or something one of the kids would go into a bathroom or something, alone, at midnight or 3am or something, lock the door, and look in the mirror in the dark and think of something you want, and you have to stand still and stare at your reflection for long enough to see your reflection move, and that means your wish has been granted and then you have to move. But, if you continue to stare after it’s [the reflection] moved, something bad will happen to you, like being sucked into another dimension by your reflection or something. But, then, some people will try to stay as long as possible after the reflection has moved to see what happens so it’s not just a wish granting thing but a bravery, dare thing.”

Afterward, he told me that he often did this at sleepovers when he was younger, and told me a few personal anecdotes surrounding his experiences, but requested I did not include them.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Joke: How To Get A Drummer Off Your Porch

For our discussion section, we were required to meet up with a fellow student and collect folklore from each other. LA is the person I collected from, PH is myself. Our conversation is as follows:

LA: I have jokes, if you want those.
PH: Oh, yeah.
LA: My childhood friend’s dad is this older Jewish punk dude and he had a lot of good jokes.

(pause)

Alright, so I have two drummer jokes which are frequently passed around for people in bands because we love to make jokes about drummers.

Number one: told to me a long time ago by a family friend who was in a punk band in the ‘90s.

What do you do to get a drummer off your porch?

PH: What?

LA: Offer to pay for the pizza.

The second joke collected is documented in its own post.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Joke: How You Know A Drummer’s At Your Door

For our discussion section, we were required to meet up with a fellow student and collect folklore from each other. LA is the person I collected from, PH is myself. Our conversation began like this:

LA: I have jokes, if you want those.
PH: Oh, yeah.
LA: My childhood friend’s dad is this older Jewish punk dude and he had a lot of good jokes.
(pause)
Alright, so I have two drummer jokes which are frequently passed around for people in bands because we love to make jokes about drummers.

Then, the informant told me the first joke which is documented in a different post. Here is the second joke:

LA: Drummer joke number 2: told to me by my friend’s dad, he was also in a punk band in high school.
How do you know when a drummer’s at your door?

PH: How?
LA: ‘Cause the knocking speeds up and he doesn’t know when to come in.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Persian Proverb

RN is the informant, PH is myself. Our conversation began as follows:

PH: Do you know any legends, jokes, proverbs that you especially like?

RN: Proverb?

PH: Yeah

RN: Can it be in another language?
PH: Yes

The informant then told me of a Vietnamese proverb which is documented in a different entry. Afterward, the conversation continued:

RN: A Persian one I really like is… My friend taught me how to say it…
[says in persian], [it means that] the walls have mice and the mice have ears.

The proverb in Farsi/Persian is:

دیوار موش داره٬ موش هم گوش داره

The phonetic spelling is:
divār muš dāre, muš ham guš dāre

The informant was taught this proverb, both its pronunciation and its translation, by a friend he went to high school with who immigrated to the U.S. (Irvine, CA) from Iran at age 6.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Vietnamese Proverb

RN is the informant, PH is myself.

PH: Do you know any legends, jokes, proverbs that you especially like?

RN: Proverb?

PH: Yeah

RN: Can it be in another language?
PH: Yes

RN: I’ll give you the English translation and you can just write [that it is a] Vietnamese proverb

PH: Do you know how to spell it?

RN: [says the proverb in Vietnamese]

PH: I’ll let you spell it.

RN: It means there’s nothing like fish and rice, there’s nothing like mother and child.

The actual proverb in Vietnamese is:

“Không có gì bằng cơm với cá, không có gì bằng má với con.”

Translations of this proverb vary, and this translation was off the top of the informant’s head. The informant speaks Vietnamese, as it is the language primarily spoken in his home, but not at an advanced level.

For another instance of this proverb, see Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong.

 

Humor
Legends
Narrative
Protection

Professor Thompson’s How To Get Rid of A Bear Story

A fellow classmate and I went to Professor Thompson’s office hours to ask him for any folklore. ME is the classmate, PH is myself, and TT is the informant.

PH: We were wondering if we could collect folklore from you for the project.

ME: Specifically, any stories about Alaska, the Alaskan wilderness, maybe about animals

TT then proceeded to tell us a story not related to animals that is documented in a separate post. That other post has more background about the town he grew up in, where these stories come from.

TT: Oh, and I have one about …

There are plenty of stories about their encounters with animals and whatnot, um and especially with bears, that was the main thing you had to watch out for, especially brown bears, so there was all these stories of people getting, you know, attacked by bears and chased by bears, um, and the one that kind of sticks out in my mind, that my dad told me as if it were true, but I, I kind of wonder, (laughs) iit sounds a little traditional to me. Um, so this guy was out, um, somewhere and this uh, this brown bear started chasing him, and he climbs up this tree, which is what you can do when you’re chased by a brown bear, people are climbers, and uh, so the bear wouldn’t go away though, he just kind of waited for the guy underneath the tree, so the guy would try to climb down the tree and the bear would run over right underneath the tree, ready for him, so after a while, this kept going on, the guy would yell at him, try throwing sticks at him, nothing, the guy’d be up there for, like, hours, and he’s getting really annoyed, you know, the bear’s not getting him, but he’s not leaving either, and see it’s going to get dark, and he’s up in the tree, and so then he gets really annoyed, and he realizes he has to, uh, he has to take a leak, so he comes down, uh, about most of the way out of the tree, the bear rushes over right underneath the tree, and he just starts peeing right on the bear’s face, and the bear gets so upset, so annoyed, that he tears off, and then the guy can go home.

(We all laugh)

PH: Alright!

ME: That’s interesting…

TT: So as a kid, I always remember that story, so in case I ever got chased up a tree by a bear that was going to be my fallback move

(We all laugh again)

PH: Good to know!

ME: Now we know what to do, too

Humor
Legends
Narrative

Professor Thompson’s Alaskan Log Story

A fellow classmate and I went to Professor Thompson’s office hours to ask him for any folklore. ME is the classmate, PH is myself, and TT is the informant.

PH: We were wondering if we could collect folklore from you for the project.

ME: Specifically, any stories about Alaska, the Alaskan wilderness, maybe about animals

TT: Stories… You’re looking for something kind of traditional I suppose, um. There’s a story my dad told to me that was told as, somewhat traditional, he got it from someone else who got it from someone else… I got a few stories, probably somewhat true. So here’s, uh, um, uh uh um, there’s one from my hometown, I’ll give you one of those from my hometown, it’s not really an animal story but it’s one from my hometown. So, I grew up in, uh, what was at the time kind of transitioning away from a Native village, it was a Native village when I was born there, but then they discovered oil and a lot of people came in, but just a few years back it was more of a Native village, kind of a Russian Native outpost since the 1700s, this is in Kenai. So, um, my dad moved out there a few months after World War II, uh, and he hung out with a lot of people and collected stories, not that he was a folklorist he just liked talking to people and it was a small town but uh there were a lot of stories from the small town. One that was on my mind um, just recently… Are you ready for it?

PH: Yeah, it’s recording

TT: Back in the day, everybody had little cabins, it was a small little town, and everything was, all the heat was woodpower, everybody had to cut their own wood, there was just wood stoves, and at one point, some guy became aware that somebody in the town was stealing his wood and he didn’t know who, um, you know it’s hard to stop because everybody had their log pile right in front of your house and he just started noticing his log pile going down further than he was burning it, and he couldn’t figure out how to… how to catch the thief so he came up with an idea and he invited everybody over to a party and um, pretty much the whole town… It’s pretty cold in the winter so if someone throws a party everybody shows up, and, uh, they had food, drink, or whatnot, and at one point, he kind of just casually announced to the party, “Yeah, you know, somebody’s been stealing my wood, but that’s okay, I fixed it.” And everybody’s like, “Oh, how did you fix it,” you know, like, “Did you find out who it is?” Like, “No, no, I took care of it.” …like, “How’d you take care of it?” and he’s like, “Well. Here’s what I did, I hollowed out one of the logs and I crammed it full of dynamite and plugged it back up…so….and I noticed that piece of wood was gone last night, sooo, as soon as that…pretty soon we’re going to hear a big bang, and somebody’s fireplace is going to explode.” Yeah, he waits a couple a minutes, pretty soon this one guy says like, “Uhh, I have to get going” and he looks out the window and he sees the guy running as fast as he can home, so..”

All of us laugh

ME: How old were you when you were first told this story?

TT: Probably quite young, and I heard it many times over the years

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Life cycle
Narrative
Signs

Ability to See Ghosts

A fellow student in this class and I met to exchange folklore. We are both very aware of the guidelines of the project, so there was no explaining necessary. Neither of us had any preference for certain category of folklore, so we agreed to share whatever we wanted. She chose the following story. BD is the informant, PH is myself

BD: My name is Beanna, I am 19, I am from the San Francisco Bay Area. What other questions are there?

PH: Nationality

BD: I’m Filipino but I’m also American, my family is third generation

So when my mom was a senior in high school her dad passed away and then she…was the only one there when he actually passed away and ever since then she says that she can see ghosts or like not see ghosts but she experiences ghostly things..so…like seven years ago my grandmother on my dad’s side passed away, and again, like, my mom was not the only one there but, after that we were cleaning up my grandmother’s house and my mom said that she saw my grandmother in the …mirror? Like the main mirror of the house and like every time she passes it she sees like a white flash…and I’m not really sure if that white flash is also supposed to be my grandmother? It’s kind of freaky…and, yeah, things like that happen. Like whenever someone passes away and my mom knows about it, all of a sudden, she gets, like, mirror sightings ‘cause I don’t think it helps that in our house in our main hallway we have this very large mirror and like our neighbor’s…mom passed away …two years ago? And my mom kept insisting for like three weeks after that she kept seeing flashes in the mirror… Yeah.

PH: Wow. So, do you believe that she is, like, seeing those things and seeing ghosts?

BD: Not really, no. (Laughs) It’s also kind of like a Filipino superstition thing because her mom also thinks that she can see ghosts which is really weird because, like, my mom thinks it stems from her being present when her dad died, but my mom’s mom was not there, so why would she be able to see ghosts by that same logic, sort of?

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