Author Archive
Customs
Foodways
Material

Noodles and Ketchup Before Games

Abstract:

This piece is a ritual of eating noodles and ketchup before every baseball game.

Main Piece:

“S: Okay so baseball superstitions, there’s a lot. And even for me personally. When I was younger, before every baseball game since I was probably 9, which is like 8, 9 years of my life after this, the meal I had before was noodles and ketchup.

C: Noodles and ketchup? Is this just you? Like did you choose this?

S: People eat noodles and ketchup. But like to me… it was like a little bit of vinegar and carbs. The carbs to give me energy. So I would have the carbs and that would be great. And I would have that beore every game. My mom would cook that before every game. She is stoked with noodles because she knew… And like three games a week, it was noodles before every game. Even if it was in the morning.

C: Was that like… like did you enjoy eating it? Or was it like something you had to do?

S: No, I enjoyed eating it.

C: I’ve never heard of that before.

S: I never eat it outside of that. It’s like attached to baseball for me. And I ate it so much.

C: Wait, ketchup right?

S: Yeah ketchup, butter, and noodles.

C: I can’t imagine those together.

S: It’s really good. You should try it.”

Context:

The informant is a 20 year old from Arkansas who has played baseball for most of his life. When he started playing baseball at 9 years old, this food custom began and he has eaten this particular meal before every game, for good luck. His mom is the one who first introduced the noodles and ketchup to him.

Analysis:

I think eating noodles and ketchup is more of a good luck charm than anything else. Though it has a link to baseball, it seems that it’s most important role is to bring good luck before the game and eating the meal will insure that in the mind of the informant. It makes me think of the Spanish ritual of eating 12 grapes at the New Years to insure good luck and well being for the coming year. That is the same type of food related tradition of eating something before an event to insure good luck.

Customs
Game
Humor
Material
Musical

Gag Gifts Before Theater Productions

Abstract:

This piece is about traditions before the first production and the last production at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California. It mainly focuses on gag gifts, but touches on the last show’s medley tradition as well.

Main Piece:

“B: Another thing we would do in theater, for the first performance we would do everyone would exchange gag gifts and you didn’t know who it was. The first couple of years we would try to do it with everyone, but it got really confusing because it was just so many people. And no one in the pit knew who was in the cast or tech because we just didn’t spend as much time with them and so then we just did it in the pit that was nicer because we knew everybody. And it’s always stuff like… like I got a bag of rice one year. And then the last year I actually got my boyfriend, and he hates snakes so I got him a ton of fake snakes and put them on his drum set. And then he hates tomatoes and beans so I bought like five cans of tomatoes and beans. And then on the last performance, you’re suppose to reveal yourself and give like a real gift.

C: You give a gift every performance?

B: No just the first one and the last one. Because we had like seven performances. And for the last performance, like the last piece, we would meld it and make a bunch of cuts in the music and make it one big piece. After everyone gets their claps, like at the end of the show, then everyone from the cast will come down and surround the pit. And then we will all be playing. And we make the cuts so it basically goes through every big song in the performance. And it’s cool because the cast is right there and singing into the pit.”

Context:

The informant is a 19 year old girl who attended Mira Costa High School for all four years and was extensively involved in the theater productions at her school as a musician in the orchestra. She has played music since she was young. She first learned of this tradition freshman year after her first performance with the theater club.

Analysis:

This reminds me of the game White Elephant that is often played at Christmas time, but mixed with Secret Santa. In White Elephant, you are suppose to get bad gifts so that when people open up the gifts they want to steal to get better gifts. However, the element of Secret Santa comes into play with the idea that there is only one person who has you to give gifts to. In both Secret Santa and White Elephant, and this theater tradition, I think the main purpose of the gift is to show a sense of care – even with the humor involved. When the informant talked about getting her boyfriend, it seemed that the gag gifts were funnier to both involved because they knew a lot about each other. These types of games can be played with close friends or family or in larger groups as well.

Adulthood
Customs
Initiations
Life cycle
Material

Wall Quotes at HB Woodlawn

Abstract:

This piece is about painted wall quotes from graduating seniors at a high school in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.

Main Piece: (L is the informant and I is the interviewer)

“L: At my school when you become a senior and you’re graduating, you get to write a quote on the wall. In your group.

I: In your group?

L: In your, like, age group. Like the 2005’s. Or the graduates of the 2005’s.

I: What school do you go to?

L: HB Woodlawn in Arlington, VA.

I: Why do you guys get to do this?

L: Um, to have like your message to the school. So people can look at it. It’s not necessary to look at, but it’s not hidden away in a yearbook.”

Context:

The informant is a 13 year old girl who attends a middle/high school in Arlington Virginia called HB Woodlawn. She started attending the school in 6th grade and plans to graduate from the school as well. The school is small in comparison to the other local public high schools and can only be attended through a lottery system. The school is known as the “Hippie” School because of it’s nonchalant rules and artistic programs that other schools in the area do not have. This senior tradition at HB Woodlawn allows students to leave a quote or message painted on the walls of the school for future students to read, instead of having a yearbook quote.

Analysis:

Leaving your mark at this school reminds me of graffiti and leaving messages in that way as well. Since the school is artistic and focuses heavily on creative ideals, it makes sense to me that they would have this unconventional way of leaving senior quotes. In a way, this version of senior quotes allows for more students to view the messages over the years. For example, if you are a freshman looking at a yearbook, you will only see the quotes of the seniors from that particular year. You would miss out on the quotes from seniors in the years before you entered the school. However, in this version of senior quotes, you will see the quotes on the walls for years and years.

 

 

general
Legends
Narrative

The Legend of Kurupi

Abstract:

This piece is about a legend from Paraguay called Kurupi who has a long penis and uses it to impregnate girls while they sleep.

Main Piece:

“T: So my dad’s from Paraguay, and here I am, this was maybe five or six years ago. And I’m just walking around in this village place we were just passing through. And all of the sudden, I see this really weird looking statue, it’s made out of wood and not really tall… maybe four feet high. But it’s basically this really creepy looking dude with… a really long downstairs region. Basically, he had very long genitalia that was wrapped around his waist and I was very confused. I asked my father what is this? Why? I thought it was some kind of joke or something. Like some weird tourist gift thing and I was confused. But then my father told me it was some kind of creature from the jungle. I was very confused, but then I googled it the next day and was like “wow this is a real thing.” So apparently what this thing is called is Kurupi. Basically what he is, is this evil guy in the jungle who had… basically he was the king of the jungle, he had dominion over the lands. But he also happened to have a very long penis [laughter]. And basically it had the capability of going inside someone’s house while he was on the outside. So the legend goes that women when they were sleeping in bed could be impregnated during their sleep! By this guy. And sometimes it was used by adulterous women to excuse illegitimate children and their cheating. Also used as a tale to scare young girls because it would say you know if you’re doing bad this guy will impregnate you in your sleep and basically this guy was also used as a possible explanation for some disappearances of young women for his own purposes. But basically yeah, it was a curious piece of my own culture that I found out.”

Context:

The informant is a 19 year old student from USC who has lived in many different places growing up. His father is from Paraguay and his mother is from Lebanon. His family currently resides in Washington DC, but he is not a full citizen yet. He grew up living in Bolivia, Paraguay, and the United States, moving around due to his father’s job. He views himself as an American, but values his cultural background as well.

Analysis:

I think the informant touched on how this legend can be seen in society and the underlying views on females it brings out in Paraguayan culture. The fact that the creature is literally raping girls in the story, and is still viewed as a revered “king of the jungle” already shows how the gender dynamics in Paraguay are set up. Though it is humorous that the creature has a long penis, the idea that he takes girls for his own pleasure is disturbing as well. I thought it was interesting that the informant brought up the fact that adulterous women use him as an excuse for when they become pregnant. This was interesting because in the story the females are being raped – almost like it is preferable to an adulterous woman.

For another version and more information of this story, visit these links:

http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=37051

http://www.native-languages.org/guarani-legends.htm

https://paranormalhub.org/kurupi/

Customs
general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Santa Mouse

Abstract:

This piece is about a holiday legend of Santa Mouse who rides with Santa in his sleigh on Christmas Eve and leaves little presents in the tree if you believe in him.

Main Piece:

So when I was a little girl we had a story my mom use to tell us at Christmas that there was a little mouse that would ride in the sleigh with Santa and he was called Santa Mouse. And Santa Mouse would leave you a little present at the top of the tree if you believed in him. And the way he would find out if you believed in him is if you put a white light at the top of the tree, so when we put all the lights on our tree every year, we had to make sure there was a white light at the top to alert Santa Mouse to leave his presents. On Christmas Eve he would climb up to the tree, with his little mouse body climbing up the tree, to leave presents for us – little tiny presents at the top of the Christmas tree.”

Context:

This subject learned this story as a child from her mother. She is from Buffalo New York and her mother’s side was German and her father’s side was Irish. She remembers this story because it was a tradition she and her family would follow every year. She passed it along to her children and there is even an authored story these days that she reads to her family now as part of the tradition now.

Interpretation:

I think this is a similar tradition to Elf on the Shelf. It seems to have started in a cute way to bring more celebration to the holiday season, though it is not certain when this tradition started. Today, like Elf on the Shelf, it seems to be commercialized with books and other products to be sold along with the tradition. The white light part of the tradition is interesting, because other people who participate in this tradition don’t always do that particular aspect of the story. In other versions, people must leave out crumbs of cookies for Santa Mouse, like leaving out carrots for the reindeer.

Citation for Santa Mouse Book:

Brown, Michael, and Elfrieda DeWitt. Santa Mouse. Sandy Creek, 2008.

Customs
Foodways
Holidays
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Lunar New Year

Abstract:

This piece is about a festival tradition at the lunar new year and the process of “wishing” something to your family members.

Main Piece:

“Every lunar new year, we go to my uncle’s house and then the entire side of my mom’s family comes. Like my grandparents, all her siblings, all their kids, their spouses. And we all have this big party, so you show up and then, um, well we usually bring food. Like a potluck situation, we’re all close. You’re in charge of this, you’re in charge of that… You bring this, you bring that… So we usually have egg rolls, this dish that has flour patties and shrimp sprinkled on it. And then we have like spring rolls and beef… We have noodles and papaya salad, like shredded young papaya that’s still green. We have a sauce with it and fish sauce with everything else. So we eat all the food and then afterwards, we cut up fruit. Fruit is a really big Asian thing for desert. Whatever is in season. Afterwards, the tradition is that it’s oldest to youngest. So all of the kids of my grandparents have to go to them and wish them something for the new year. So it’s either like good health, um, like, lots of money. Usually the grandparents will wish back lots of money or something. So we wish them good health or happiness or wisdom or whatever. So my mom has four siblings, so she is the oldest of the five, so her and my dad will go first. And the same follows for the next generation. Like then the grandkids will go and it’s the oldest there too.”

Context:

The informant is a 19 year old student who is Half-Vietnamese and Half-Polish. The tradition stems from her mother’s side. She was born in Anaheim, California, but now lives in Manhattan Beach, California. She participates in this event every year with her family.

Analysis:

The very specific foods that are eaten at the celebration reminds me of the very specific German foods that are eaten at celebrations in my own family. I think food and celebration are often correlated in every culture and it is interesting to examine the differences of cuisine as well. One aspect of this festival celebration is the aspect about different ages and the importance of order of birth. It seems like this culture values birth order due to the custom in this culture that oldest needs to go first.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Verbum Sap Sat motto

Abstract:

This piece is about a saying at a middle/high school in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area that shows their ideals of independence and responsibility.

Main Piece:

“Verbum Sap Sat is latin and it means “A word to the wise is sufficient.” and that kind of goes along with HB Woodlawn’s idea that we should be independent, like if a teacher tells you, “hey this is important you should take notes on it – then a word to the wise is sufficient. They don’t need to keep telling you. You should just know.

M: What other examples of this phrase can you think of?

L: A lot of teachers when they’re doing important notes, they say “hey guys you have to focus, remember ok? Because Verbum Sap Sat!” At my school, you don’t need to wear shoes and you call your teachers by their first name. It just kind of goes along with the idea of Verbum Sap Sat. It’s like a motto, like a thing to that. Like for example our theater program is very big and they’re always building sets on the stage, but sometimes we still have class. So if you’re not wearing shoes and a teacher is like “hey there might be some nails on the ground. You might want to put something on your feet so you don’t get tetanus – then Verbum Sap Sat!”

Context:

The informant is a 13 year old girl who is an 8th grader at HB Woodlawn. She learned this phrase before even attending the school as a student and learned it when she toured as a prospective 6th grader. She plans to graduate from the school, attending from 6th to 12th grade. She does not view this phrase as a social one, more of an academic one.

Analysis:

I think it is interesting that they learn the phrase in Latin, though the main message is mostly understood in English. It is like an unspoken motto through the entire school that both students and teachers know of. I think the phrase emphasizes the ideals of the school to be those of independence and responsibility, but from the outside looking in it does seem like there are less rules and more freedom. They want the rules/deadlines that are set up at a traditional school to be found within the students themselves, rather than stating them outright.

Folk speech

What’s the BLUF?

Abstract:

This piece is about the BLUF acronym that is used in the military law career when giving information to commanders.

Main Piece:

I had a career in the military, in the Army as a lawyer, and one of the things in the Army is that there is not always a lot of time for like long explanations or details when you’re working with a commander and what they always say is “what’s the BLUF?” And BLUF is bottom line up front. So basically, you might want like as a lawyer three pages of analysis, but they’re like “give me the BLUF.” And that’s just like “okay. Yes you can do it and here’s why.” And you always have to put the BLUF at the beginning of any papers you write or any information you give.”

Context:

The informant has had a 25 year long career in the JAG branch of the Army and picked up this lingo as part of her job. She has worked under many commanders and used quick lingo such as BLUF in daily language at the offices. The subject has lived all over due to her military career, from Hawaii, Kansas, Virginia, and Germany. She is originally from Buffalo New York. She says she remembers this particular acronym and saying because it was used so often.

My Interpretation:

Growing up in a military family as well, I definitely see how this phrase/acronym could be used in daily language. My parents would speak in codes that seemed like a different language. Hearing one of the phrases explained is interesting for me, almost like learning a definition for a word you should know, but were always too afraid to ask because it seems like common knowledge. I think if you are around this kind of phrase everyday, then it is just common knowledge. For civilians, I never hear this phrase being used in the work environment.

Legends
Narrative

Camp Seven Hills Serial Killer

Abstract:

This piece is about a legendary serial killer that roams the woods near Camp Seven Hills in New York.

Main Piece:

“Informant: So I spent a lot of summers at a Girl Scout camp called Camp Seven Hills. And of course there were a lot of ghost stories around the fire, but every year they would tell a ghost story about a man who had wandered off from one of the neighbor farms, like right next to the camp, and wandered into the woods one night. Like a really creepy, scary, serial killer kind of man. And his favorite thing to do was to catch little girls, little Girl Scouts and kidnap and murder them. So the whole thing was never wander into the woods at night alone. They would tell this story every year.

Me: Where was this camp?

Informant: Camp Seven Hills in Western New York. I think it was to make sure we didn’t go off on our own, but it like totally freaked us all out every year.”

Context:

The subject is an adult woman who remembers her time as a child in the 1970s going to Girl Scout summer camp. She grew up in Buffalo New York and was an avid member of the Girl Scouts growing up. Camp Seven Hills is located in Erie County, New York and still functions as a Girl Scout camp today.

Interpretation:

I wonder if this legend of this Camp Seven Hills serial killer still exists today or if it has vanished from the folklore of this camp. Since this comes from the childhood of an adult, it would be interesting to compare the stories told to the young girls at this camp today and see if they are similar or very different. I think the informant was correct about the meaning behind this legend, that it would prevent girls from wandering around the woods alone or at night. Stories like this are terrifying for young girls and since it was localized to a nearby farm as the origin, it would make it more believable as well.

 

Childhood
Digital
general
Humor

Dan & Phil Fandom Inside Jokes

Abstract:

This piece is about an incident-turned-meme that is widely known inside the Dan & Phil fandom about Phil falling off a stage.

Main Piece:

“L: This is a thing everyone in the Dan & Phil fandom know about. On their most recent tour, Interactive Introverts, their first or second night – one of the first few nights, Phil one of the two main people, fell off the stage and into the audience. Someone saw it and now there are jokes about it and everyone knows about it. Like someone turned it into a Valentine’s Day card.

M: They made memes about it?

L: Yeah, like “i’ve fallen for you like Phil fell off the stage.” Like that kind of thing.”

Context:

The informant is a 13 year old girl who is part of a Youtuber fandom for the youtubers Dan and Phil. She regularly keeps up with their videos and social media posts. She even went to their latest tour and bought their merchandise. She has kept up with inside jokes in the fandom, such as this, that have become memes that only those in the fandom understand. She has stated her affinity for the pair comes from their approach to comedy and reliability.

Analysis:

This type of obsession reminds me of obsessions with boybands like One Direction or even earlier boybands like NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. When One Direction was in their hayday, it was common for fans to have inside jokes about the specific members. The informant’s affinity for Phil over Dan also reminded me of this aspect of fandoms as well. It is common for a fan to prefer one member of a band over the others and almost “claim” them as theirs. This is more common in fandoms surrounding boybands or other musical groups than comedy groups. The fact that memes have been created from one specific moment and have lasted for awhile show how powerful the fandom can be.

 

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