Author Archives: Andrea

Rose water

“After I turned sixteen, every time that I came over to my grandma’s house she would always have like this vial of rose water with her and she would just be like, here you  need to put this on so you can find a boyfriend. That was like her thing, she believed rose water was a bringer of love because it was made with roses. And, now every time I smell it I think of her because it, it’s just kind of her, it was like her little obsession kind of thing about me finding a nice boy who would be attracted to this smell. So if she helped me then it would be faster. Well she’s from Georgia and she was a debutante, she was all of, like every stereotypical southern kind of girl and so I’m pretty sure she heard it from her mom, who it’s been kind of like a tradition they passed down sort of.”

Flowers symbolize new youth and fertility.  It makes sense that a debutante would pick up on this, and pass it on to her daughters and grand-daughters.  The scent of flowers are almost intoxicating.  Perfumes often have flowery and rosey scents because of this.  Wearing the scent from a bright red flower is like an advertisement to potential partners that one is young and beautiful.  There seems no better way to try to attract the attention of a young man by using a rose smelling perfume or rose infused water.

Town Festival

“So every May, um, in the little town where I live there’s something called the Redbud festival.  Um, the Red Bed is a type of, um, supposed to be like, a bush I think, it looks more like a bush, like technically considered a wild flower. But anyways so, they’re really pretty in May, and um you know like in other festivals you have the May Day festival, anyway this is celebrated in May. And, it’s a time when, um, in the community where I live they’re a lot of artists. And every, they come together, I’m not sure if other towns do this, there might be some other type of festivals around, but um, anyways the town comes together and it’s a way for, mostly for the artists to showcase of all their work. 

It definitely showcases the nature of the town. Like, we have a lot of artists, um, so if you come to the Redbud festival then you’ll get a pretty good glimpse of like, what the whole town is like and the type of people who are there. It’s mostly arts and crafts, so not really a lot of music, um, but we do have jazz people. So they’ll come and do like, little improve gigs and things like that. There’s not a lot of structure to it, it’s just kind of relaxed. Um, but yeah just a lot of arts and crafts which itself has a lot of folklore, like different ways of weaving and you know, traditional um, modes of activity um, craftwork.”

The town’s festival is celebrated in on mothers daay in May, in spring. This is the time of year when new life is being created everywhere, from plants to animals. The festival is even appropriately named after a vibrant, red wild flower.  The festival marks a time when the occupants of the town can come together and show off their particular artistic skill.  Spring is a great time to hold a festival; the weather is just beginning to become warm.  Additionallly, the informant states that arts and crafts are most prominant at the festival.  Women, especially mothers, are often associated with such domestic tasks.  The festival is a celebration of everyting associated with spring and motherhood.

School Ghost

“So, at my high school a small little high school I the central valley here in California, um, in drama, drama club, we believe, well I don’t believe, but a lot of people believe that there’s a ghost that lives in the, uh, the performing arts building. And his name is Charlie. Yeah, and, people have, I’ve never personally never had an experience with Charlie in the performing arts building, but a lot of people say that if they’re in the room by themselves if they get there early and its really dark, um you know, or they hear noises they think that Charlie is doing something backstage or is somewhere, uh. Yeah there’s a storage area underneath the seats it’s like, the seats are elevated. So underneath there’s, we store a lot of things in there. Uh, people swear that he, moves chairs and, or props and stuff for the scene around.  Some people think, I don’t think, I haven’t heard anyone say he’s important, or that he’s a historical figure.  Um, I don’t know, girls for some reason like to think that he’s younger. Guys like to think that he’s older. ”

The informant doesn’t know why why the particualr name “Charlie” was given to the ghost and is not sure how long the legend of the ghost had been around.  He  heard about the ghost when he was a freshman from a group of senior girls.  Girls may find the ghost of a young man lurking about the empty stage as exciting, and so encourage the idea that Charlie is a young male ghost.  Boys, on the other hand, may not find the same idea as appealing and rather, think of the ghost as an older man.

Chinese Shrines

Suzanne is currently spending a quarter abroad in Hong Kong, China. She heard about these shrines from her professor who said the shrines were there for the Gods to watch over shops for their owners.  She took these pictures in  the area of Sham Shui Po, where there are a lot of shrines

“The one with the tree next to it was next to a security guard’s booth at Lippo Centre, in Admiralty. Best guess says that it’s to the gods of guardians, asking him/her/them to watch over them, not necessarily or pertaining only to their protection.

Second one was a couple streets off Temple Street, outside of what I think was a mechanic’s shop. You can see a couple large stacks of tires in the background, a bicycle’s front wheel and handlebar basket in front of them. From what I can gather, the characters ask for finance to be brought to their door.
It seems that there are more shrines in areas where there are lots of local shops, definitely haven’t seen any in more western areas. In my opinion, it may either be due to big name companies not wanting the shrines in front of their shops, creating a connection between the two, or maybe because religion is fading from the “more well-to-do” areas because they think they don’t need it while the owner of a non-chain store still believes that his god(s) still have power over his life.”
Often the Buddist and Toaist people of Hong Kong worship dieties and ancestors of both religions.  Shrines of ancestors are usually inside the home, while shrines to gods are placed outside.  Each profession has their own god, consequently, different stores have their own unique shrine to their god.  And these shrines are often small, and placed directly by the entrance to a store.  This makes it easy to pay homage and worship the shrine to the god while entering and leaving.  By worshipping the gods, it is hoped that one will reap the benefits of the god’s help. 

School Tradition

“So in high school, um, I went to Phillips Academy Andover, which is like this, you know, hoity-toity prep school and um, so they do this really cruel thing to um, the students for um, for the, what’s it called, finals.  Where they put all the students into this one gym for like, everybody’s that’s in that um, in that class, like chem. 300 or whatever. You know they put everyone in the same room and they make everybody take the test at the same time. So like, its kinda like SAT time, when you all in a gym and like, everybody’s like nervous and like the energy is just nervousness. So you like sitting in their and you’re like, ahh this is crazy.  It’s kind of torturous actually. Um, anyways, above the door, um, where we would all like congregate in this little lobby and right above the door before the thing it says um, oh god, what did it say.  Um, “beware all yee who enter here.” It’s like wow, okay, as if that wasn’t disheartening enough. I think it was there, I was at the school for three years and I think it was there the first two years.  When it wasn’t there the last year everybody was really upset. It was like, come on, it’s like, part of the experience. Have to have it.”

Like any group of people, the communities at high schools often have their own traditions.  As schools are primarily places of teaching, learning and tested knowledge, a tradition  based aroumd the fear of tests is understandable.  Final exams can often be so stressfull that warnings such as “beware all yee who enter here,” may not be completly outlandish to a student.  What makes the phrase amusing in addition to a bit frightening, is the diction of the phrase.  When read, it reminds one of a sign that pirates would use to warn their enemies.  Consequently, the phrase above the door under which the students pass to enter the exam serves to warn and amuse.

Tatoo lore

“In Chinese, it doesn’t actually mean anything, because they forgot a line. So but yeah, this tattoo actually has this really interesting story to it. It’s um, like, me and my friend were like, oh my gosh, you know just sitting there, my friends like, I really want to get a tattoo. And I’m like, oh yeah okay, you know you just say things, like I’m going to go to the beach but you never actually go to the beach. But like, you know, we’re just, we talk a little bit, we get in the car. And she’s like, you know, I really do want to get a tattoo. And I’m like, okay. So then she gets in her car, turns it on, starts driving.  We ended up driving to a tattoo parlor. So literally, its three hours later and I walk out with a tattoo.  This is when I was eighteen years old, I didn’t just turn eighteen, but like you know it was kind of like that eighteen year old, you know, thing.   I was back home in Denver. And um, the funny thing was that um, that like, um, part of why, um, its folklore is that um, it’s kind of like um, like, why I have it is to, because it never goes away. And it’s like, it means um, sunrise. And to me like, after every night there is always a dawn. And it’s like, it reminds me of that, whenever people ask me, I can be like, oh yeah, I can tell them that and it’s kind of cool that way.”

LM’s tattoo is a permanent reminder to her that the world and life is cyclical. Additionaly, it is a reminder of that period of time of her life, and the friend she was with.  Although the tattoo artist forgot to draw one line making it so that the tattoo isn’t even Chinese, it is still an important symbol to LM.  People get various types, styles and designs of tattoos for many reasons.  But the one thing that is similar about them is their permanence.  Like a yearly holiday or festival, a tattoo can serve to remind the individual, or individuals who share a tattoo, of something important about themeselves and their life.  While some tattoos might look identical or similar, on different people they almost always have a different story and meaning behind them.

Onomastic – Newspaper

Claire told me that in her hometown in North Carolina, there is a newspaper called the “News and Observer.”  But it is commonly known as the “Nuisance and Disturber.” The paper itself is very liberal, and conservatives consequently like to make fun of it by using an onomastic to change the name to fit their idea of what the paper is to them; a nuisance and disturbance.  Occasionally, the reporters and writers from the paper have gone to Claire’s school and told the students that they have taken the new name to heart.  They find it amusing and refer to the paper using the new title. 

The individuals working for the liberal paper were faced with this harassment from the local republicans. By adopting the name initially spiteful name, they turned the situation into a humorous one.

Annotation: The News & Observer Publishing Company.

Homeopathic cold remedy

Claire’s roommate is Indian, and she told Claire about this homeopathic remedy.

I think she heard this from her mom, but, I also may have come from, because she sings, so it could be from one of her many many singer friends. And that’s if you drink hot water with tons of honey in it, I’m talking like, this much honey (hand gesture, fingers indicating about 2 inches) in a cup like that big (hang gestures to indicate about 6 inches) then it’ll make your cold go away. So, she just drinks it all the time even she’s not sick. And so, I’ll come in to my room and there’ll just be like this thing of honey and she’ll just like, rip the lid off because she uses it like, literally an entire jar in four days. But, um, she was, I was coming down with a cold and she’s like, “oh here take this, like here’s my honey, take my cup, you do everything. It’ll be totally fine.” And she says it’s because the hydration in the water, well, water hydrating will help make the cold go away but also that the honey will like, coat your vocal cords. And I don’t know if that’s true or not.”

While I do not think honey can actually cure a cold, from personal experience I can attest that honey helps a great deal to alleviate a sore throat from a cold or other sickness.  As Claire described, it coats the throat, and along with hot water or tea, is very effective in temporarily relieving pain.

Claire’s roomate is Indian, yet this homeopathic remedy is not restricted to Indian people.  I personally heard this from my parents who are of mixed ethnic decent. I do not know if this remedy has any one origen, but I think the concept that honey is soothing to the throat is apparent enough that someone could come to the conlusion on there own.  Consequently, many people utilize and pass on the remedy.

Legend of Cropsey

“Today in class we went over this thing about a guy named Cropsey. It started as a camp legend, but people have started to connect it to real happenings. It’s pretty cool. apparently it’s pretty far spread, it goes back at least to the 70’s if not further. Basically Cropsey owned a lakeside cabin that his family would live in during the summer, one day these kids left “camp scheduled activities” to go roast “marshmallows” and basically they ended up burning down Cropsey’s house consequently killing his family. Cropsey went crazy and ended up killing those kids. There are plenty of different variations out there, it’s pretty cool and far spread. What I make of this legend is that it’s slightly ridiculous, but a good way to keep campers in line.  

 “I think it’s so widespread because it is a simple story that is easy to remember, due to the lack of in depth detail. People can also connect actual killings to it, making it more believable. In fact there’s at least one movie about this myth and why it’s so wide spread, and some of the various tellings of it. It’s really cool how far spread this legend is, in fact it was used in my marketing class as a good example of a story that stuck. It is relatable, simple, and emotional.”

I agree with Elizabeth that the simplistic nature of the narrative lends itself to much interpretation and manipulation.  Used in the context of a summer camp with children, the story could be very effective in keeping young children in line.

Movie annotation: Brancaccio, B. & Zeman, J. (2009).  Cropsey (film).  Staten Island, New York City, New York, USA.

A [insert noun] walks into a bar

“I heard this from my friend, Ryan. And it’s a joke that his father apparently used to tell, that he wasn’t usually taken in by.  But, the one version, of the joke that he was taken in by.

His father went on a trip to Texas with his uncle, uh, and his father was telling him, “oh you know, we went to this restaurant that was, basically right on a ranch, uh, and so, you know, there were all these cowboys around with their horses and we went into the restaurant and sat down and we were just eating. Uh, and then, this cowboy comes through the door, and, and you know, sits down and he’s actually leading his horse after him, into the bar! And so the horse walks up to the bar, and the bar tender says, “hey, why the long face? It was the only version of the joke that ever took my friend Ryan in.”

The phrase “why the long face,” is often seriously ask about a person’s emotional state; their face appears to be ‘long’ due to a frown and/or downcast expression.  In this case, Claire’s friend’s father tells the joke often.  But the only time Ryan ever found the joke amusing was when his father used it in a literal context.  The joke, “why the long face,” being asked of a horse takes the phrase literally as a horse’s face is physically long in structure.  It is amusing because the joke uses a normally innocuous phrase, but with the addition of an actual horse, or at least an imaginary horse, the entire meaning of the phrase changes.  Asking a horse why its face is long is a bit odd.  In addition, the idea that a horse is at a bar is even more ridiculous.  Consequently, imagining a bartender asking a horse why its face is long makes for an amusing joke. 

The frame of the joke, “A —— walks into a bar,” is widespread.  Commonly, horses and men feature in this type of joke.  But occasionally a giraffe, mushroom or Charles Dickens are the subject of the joke, with their own specific comeback.  Even inanimate somtimes walk into the bar (soccer balls, books).  The ability to modify the joke so easily lends itself to much interpretation and manipulation and is consequently spread rapidly and in multiple forms.

Annotation: Encyclopedia of Humor.