Author Archive
Digital
Folk speech

Wombo Combo

Context:
Playing Super Smash Bros with some friends at my house and one of my friends, S, keeps shouting “Wombo combo” while beating us all. S is a 20-year-old male from California who plays Super Smash Bros a lot.

Piece:
S: *hits me and another person in the game rapidly* “WOMBO COMBO BABY”
Me: “Did you come up with that or did you hear that somewhere?”
S: “Aw nah man, LumpyCPU said it in an old YouTube video but it’s hilarious.”

Discussion:
The video is only 49 seconds and it is clear why S appreciated its value; it’s hilarious. It sounds like two young men getting over excited about their victory in an older version of the game and screaming at the top of their lungs “WOMBO COMBO”. It is clear in the video that other people appreciated the new slang and it created a sense of unity amongst players of this game. It also is a good way to get people around you to laugh by screaming a nonsense phrase that clearly demonstrates excitement.

Reference:
The original video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD_imYhNoQ4

Digital
folk metaphor
Folk speech

“Where We Dropping?”

Context:
While discussing familiar folklore in class I sat with a few young white male peers and the conversation of video game folklore came up. It was clear that all of us were familiar with Fortnite and we realized how much slang has been created from the game. One student, Chris , exclaimed that we would all be familiar with the phrase “where we dropping?” but, most people, especially those who do not play the game, would not understand what this means.

Piece:
A few of us were circled around discussing folklore when Chris said “yeah and ‘where we dropping’, you guys all know what that means! We are going to Tilted Towers hahaha, but if I said that to my mom she would think that I am dropping something from my hands. It’s definitely only something people who play Fortnite would understand.”

Discussion:
This is a commonly used phrase when playing the game Fortnite because everyone playing the game starts out in the sky in a flying bus and, when you play with a team you all want to drop from the bus and land in the same place. Thus, everyone will ask each other “where are we dropping?” It’s a strategic term that millions of people understand because of the mainstream culture of this game but, not everyone in the world knows, and it is certainly not taught in a textbook.

Narrative
Tales /märchen

Momotarō

Context:
I sat with a friend of mine from USC and asked her to tell me some folklore from her culture, maybe something mainstream. She is a Japanese girl approximately 20 years old and both of her parents were born and raised in Japan but she was born in California. She and I sat privately and got lunch on campus while she told me of Momotarō.

Piece:
Momotarō was a child born out of a peach that was discovered by an elderly couple who raised him until he was able to leave his parents and fight off demons that were torturing his people. He wins the battle and returns a hero with his three friends, a talking dog, monkey, and pheasant. She tells me the story is retold in many different forms but as far as everyone knows this is the original which dates back to 1390. She believes it was told to encourage heroism and unity, and to push success out of the youth.

Discussion:
After briefly researching the subject I found that it is ~extremely~ popular in Japanese culture, for reasons I don’t totally understand because I am not from the area. The story has been converted into dozens of different variations including songs and war stories. There is even a festival held every year at a shrine for the young boy.

Narrative
Tales /märchen

Tale: José the Beast Slayer

Context:
I work with my friend J, whose mother is from Portugal and father is from Mexico. I asked him to tell me one of his favorite stories that he remembers hearing while growing up to try and get a folktale out of him. He told me this story while we were working, I was the only member of the audience. He said that his mother would tell it to him when he was younger as a sort of fairytale.

Piece:
The story is called Jose the Beast Slayer. The story starts with a woman being trapped in a wooden home with no door by her father. She is here for years until she eventually is able to escape and fall in love with a Duke. They have a son and soon after his birth the father dies and the son quickly proves himself to be wise and strong. He takes care of his mother for a while while they live in the woods. One day Jose the beast slayer runs into a giant and kills it quickly. He returns to his mother with some gold and the great news and she tells him he should go see the King and tell him of the story. When Jose meets with the king he quickly realizes that the king is his grandfather, the one who locked up the girl in the beginning. They are reunited and they go find the woman and bring her to the kingdom. Many years later when the king passes away and Jose the beast slayer becomes the new king of the land.

Discussion:
This to me as many of the elements of a typical folk tale. The hero is Jose, the protagonist is the giant. There is a brief love story. There is a happy ending of a reuniting family. The protagonist shows strength and intelligence beyond his years. The story inspires happiness and unity. I was surprised that there was nothing specific in the story that related to the culture of Portugal, but I didn’t consider that a loss or odd. The start of the story reminded me a lot of Rapunzel which also doesn’t represent one culture either.

Digital
Game
Humor

Spoon Full of Cinnamon

Context:
My friends and I were discussing the ongoing popularity of Internet challenges and where this all came from. It is clear that people do just about anything for some Internet fame. One of the earliest challenges that we could remember was the cinnamon challenge which we recalled to be happening at the end of our middle school experience. The challenge involves putting a tablespoon of cinnamon in your mouth and trying to swallow it without drinking anything and then posting a video of it on the Internet. It came to massive popularity in the early 2010‘s but quickly lost it after the realization of possible health problems.

Piece:
W: “remember when D—- and I did the cinnamon challenge?”
Me: “hahah yes! And you almost threw up”
W: “yeah that sh** made me sick, I can’t believe we even did that. Why?”
Me: “I don’t know, seemed like a good idea at the time I guess hahah, I’m pretty sure I recorded it.”
W: “where did that trend even come from, I swear Everyone and they mom did the cinnamon challenge.”
Me: “I saw it on YouTube, I think it was some kid I subscribed to.”
Wyatt: “I remember Miranda sings doing it.”

Discussion:
It was at this point that I realized that we had stumbled upon some folklore. Although just about everyone knows about this challenge I wondered who may not. We also mostly wondered where this originally started. Was it YouTube? Or was it somewhere else first? After some short investigating I discovered that the first documentation of the cinnamon challenge was in December 2001 but the idea made its way to YouTube in 2006. The massive popularity that we all remember was in January 2012 but only lasted about half the year then fell off again. I would consider this an American folklore for people born just before the start of the Internet age and after.

One of the earlier attempts:

Folk speech
Humor
Riddle

Running A Race

Piece:
If you are running a race, and you pass the person in second, what place are you in?

Informant:
MB is a 16 year old girl from Wilmington, Delaware. She is in high school, and she was born after the year 2000, a post internet era child.

Background:
I asked my sister to share with me some riddles and jokes that she was hearing in school to compare them to the ones that I used to hear and tell. She shared this one with me and it instantly wrung a bell. The answer is almost obviously second place but many people will incorrectly guess first because without giving it much thought it can seem like passing second means leaving second and entering first.

Folk speech
Humor
Riddle

Masked Men

Piece:
You leave home in a rush, make three left turns, return home, and find two masked men waiting for you. Who are they?
An Umpire and a Catcher. This is a game of baseball.

Informant:
SW is a late 30s white male. He is from New England. He lives, breathes, and dies sports. It came to no surprise that when I asked him to recall some jokes and riddles from when he was a kid that he would spout to me a sports based riddle that I would not understand until the answer was revealed.

Background:
Coming from a sports family I’m sure this was a hot riddle for my stepfather. The answer seems almost obvious once you’ve heard it, I believe that is part of the appeal, to make the guesser look foolish at first before rescuing them and shining light on the answer. My stepfather told me how he distinctly remembers hearing this riddle as a kid and being so excited to share it with his siblings and family. This goes to show how even a riddle can be folklore in a home and the impact it can have on a person.

Musical

“Sweet Caroline” at a Red Sox Game

Background:
Going to a game at Fenway park is a unique experience. There’s nothing like being surrounded by thousands of devoted Boston fans all with the same mentality of victory or death. There is truly an unmatchable energy at Red Sox games in Fenway park. My stepfather is from Boston so when we go to the games we bring several members of his family with us and we travel as a small gang. One tradition that stands out amongst the lot is that Boston fans will sing Sweet Caroline by Neil diamond after the seventh-inning stretch. The whole crowd will cheer that melody- “SWEET CAR-O-LINE” and so on.

Piece:
Me: “why do we sing this?”
S: “I don’t really know. But I do know it started during my lifetime.”
Me: “what do you mean? Well why do you think?”
S: “about 20 years ago I remember the song coming around and for some reason it stuck so I’ve been singing it ever since.”
Me: “Do you like it?”
S: “I love it.”

Discussion:
Immediately after the conversation I looked up the reason for this song being used at the games and there wasn’t much story to be told. A woman named Amy Toby like the song and she played it during a game and everyone knew it fit perfectly. It started out only been played at random games but then in 2002 it became the official Fenway tradition. I believe that this song resonates well with Boston people because of the emotional impact it has on the crowd. People can get rowdy during baseball games, especially people from New England but, this song has an exciting feeling that is both calming and unifying. This song was even used as a memorial after the Boston marathon bombings. There is no piece of evidence stronger than that to exemplify how important this song is to people of Boston.

Digital
Folk Dance

The Floss (Viral Dance)

How to Floss

Context:
Sitting with my grandma, younger sister, mom, and uncle. My sister, M, is 16. We started discussing Fortnite dances and how popular they have become, particularly the Floss dance.

Piece:
Me: “You can’t go anywhere without seeing a kid doing the floss dance.”
M: “Yeah, we were just at the Phillies game with dad and almost every kid on the screen started doing the Floss”
Grandma: “Flossing their teeth on the screen”
Me: “No hahaha, it’s a dance. It was online first, some kid was doing it at a Katy Perry concert on stage and then it blew up. Now it’s in that game Fortnite.”
M: *Starts doing the floss*
Me: “Yeah… I can’t even do it…”

Discussion:
I’m sure that thousands of people have had this same conversation because of how popular the dance craze is amongst the youth and their parents always having to ask them what they heck they are doing. The origin of this dance started with “the backpack kid” on SNL performing with Katy Perry in May of 2017. The internet quickly captured the moment and immortalized it in a meme and spread it like wildfire. By September 2017 the “Floss Dance” had earned its name and made its way into the game of Fortnite, an international sensation video game. At this point, everyone under the age of 15 was practicing the floss dance at their home, trying to perfect the arm movements. Every parent around the world was confused as to why their child was flailing their arms in such a way, until they did some research and learned the terminology. Now, “The Floss” is a common household reference and more people know of it than don’t.

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