Author Archive
Customs
Game
Humor

Beer Pong and House Rules

Piece:
K is the interviewed party.
J is the interviewer.

K: “Beer pong house rules kind of differ depending on which house, what house you’re in, like people always come up with different things, but the main rules kind of center around getting… I find the most interesting rules are what happens if you get b*tch cup. So, b*tch cup in beer pong is the center cup in a 4-3-2-1 pyramid, and some of the ways that I’ve seen it played is if you make b*tch cup you have to take off your shirt, and sometimes it’s different. sometimes for guys its shirts and for girls, it’s pants, sometimes for guys its shirts and for guys pants. I’ve also seen it where both genders just take off their pants. I’ve also seen it where if you b*tch cup you have to … there’s one where you have to drink a beer, drink a full beer, that was dumb, ‘cause if you got b*tch cup you have to drink a full beer. There’s also one where if you get b*tch cup as your first cup it doesn’t count as a cup, yeah… There’s also variations for if you get to pull your pants up after you make another cup or put your shirt on after you make a cup, or if it stays off the entire rest of the game. Or sometimes if [it continues on if] you play more games at the same table. There’s also a lot of things around trolling. One particular tradition, which is when you don’t make any of the cups in a game, you have to spend the next game sitting under the table, like as if you’re a troll under a bridge.”

J: “Are these [rules] largely regional or do they vary in local areas?”

K: “I’ve seen the ‘cup doesn’t count’ a lot more on the east coast, but I think the whole pants shirt, which one you remove thing is more up to the house. I find people do shirts more often in communities where there’s more girls around, whereas with guys it’s normally… I think guys normally just play pants.”
J: “Where did you hear about the style that you play?”
K: “I heard about it at my fraternity house, where we don’t really do anything.”

Analysis:

I have played or heard some variation of most of the rules discussed earlier. While the reasoning behind changes is hard to nail down, in this case, I would say that many of them come down to the comfort level and competitiveness of the main group of players for each area that has its own ruleset. For people who all know each other, taking off clothes is much less intimidating than if the room is full of strangers. It also helps that the drinking nature of the game means that most players are a little loosened up and more open to doing things of that nature. That being said, some people may have no interest in any of these rules and choose not to follow them. The interesting note that I have personally found about these house rulesets is how strictly people adhere to rules once they are made up and chosen. Groups are very unlikely to alter house rules and will defend their own tooth and nail when presented with an outside alternative. The only way to settle this argument can be found in the name. The reason they are often called house rules is that when you’re in that house, those are the rules you play. Playing house rules is usually done out of respect, but sometimes it is a way to lord power over those who aren’t a member of the in-group of the house; this is especially evident with many fraternity house rulesets. A fraternity house is the domain of no one but the members, where they are used to ruling with absolute authority. House rules are usually much more of a suggestion when the people playing are on a more equal level.

Context:

The interviewed party is a 21-year-old, male southern-California native. He lived his whole life in Irvine, California until he moved to Los Angeles to study at the University of Southern California. In the fall of his freshman year, he pledged one of USC’s fraternities and has been an active member since. This interview was conducted in person at the interviewer’s house. The audio of the conversation was recorded in order to ensure accuracy when writing the spoken words.

Customs
Game
Humor

Modifying Fortune Cookie Fortunes

Piece:
J is the interviewer.
K is the interviewed party.

K: “I would like to preface this with the fact that none of these are legitimate rules, I don’t think, as far as they go, and they’re just what I’ve always done. So whenever you go to a restaurant and they give you fortune cookies, right at the beginning, I’ve always heard that it’s bad luck or something to grab one — anyone but the one that’s closest to you. You have to grab the closest one otherwise its either bad luck or your fortune won’t come true or something like that. But then something that my mom would always do, believe it or not, is that whatever you read, whenever you say — it has to — you just add the words, when you read it out loud to other people, you read it and you say your fortune and then you add the words, as uncouth as they are, ‘in bed with a midget.’ So people will read their fortune, and it’ll say, ‘good luck will come to you’ or, ‘good favor’ or ‘you’ll discover something about yourself’ and then you say in bed with a midget at the end.”

Analysis:

Even though they come at the end of Chinese food meals, fortune cookies are actually a known American invention, so they exist as an example of one culture adding to another and being adopted by the new culture. If I ever go to a Chinese restaurant, I feel somewhat cheated if I don’t get a fortune cookie at the end of the meal, knowing full well that fortune cookies have no legitimate claim to Chinese heritage.

Fortune cookies exist for many people as a lighthearted form of the spirituality of another culture. The jovial nature of their existence is a perfect way to incorporate personal traditions of making the experience even funnier. At many of the dinners where fortune cookies are served, I have experienced a similar tradition of reading the fortunes and deciding who had the best one or putting personal spins on the fortunes to make them even better.

Context:

The interviewed party is a 21-year-old, male southern-California native. He lived his whole life in Irvine, California until he moved to Los Angeles to study at the University of Southern California. This interview was conducted in person at the interviewer’s house. The audio of the conversation was recorded in order to ensure accuracy when writing the spoken words.

Customs

Lifting Feet Over Train Tracks

Piece:

“So, basically, the gist of the ‘game’ is that when you’re driving in your car, and you go over train tracks, you have to lift your feet up off of the floor of the car. Otherwise, you would ‘get your feet chopped off’ by the railroad tracks. And then after you do it, you, ask other people in the car if they did the same thing.”

“Where did you learn this?

“I guess I learned it from [my] mom? Uh, I’m not… I couldn’t say exactly. I just remember it being something the family did.”

“Why do you remember this specific thing?”

“I’d say I remember it just ‘cause its one of those things that you do when we’re driving on, like, family road trips or really anywhere with railroad tracks. And it’s like one of those funny, bad jokes that you just tell over and over because they’re so not funny.”

Analysis:

The person being interviewed is actually in my family, so I definitely understand where he is coming from regarding this practice. It kind of calls to mind a memory or feeling of fun family times from childhood that don’t come around as much when you grow up. I have actually met other people who do the same thing, but not that many. Looking the tradition up, it comes from a superstition where you’ll bring yourself good luck if you do it combined with a cultural apprehension regarding railroads or crossroads. Many cultures create and spread practices for what to do to increase luck. This one may be more tied to the Southern United States, because that is where the interviewed source is from, but that is not a guarantee. I couldn’t speculate as to the removal of the luck aspect and the addition of the foot removal.

Context:

The interviewed party is a 22-year-old male who currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island attending Brown University. Although he currently lives in the North East, he spent a majority of his life living in the Southern United States. This includes his birthplace in South Carolina and continues on to North-East Georgia.
This interview was conducted via a skype call and audio was recorded in order to aid in the transcription of the spoken word.

Humor

The Mosquito Joke

Piece:

J is the interviewer.
B is the interviewed party.

J: “I know you love to, so can you tell me the story of the mosquito joke?”

B: “[Laughs] That is one of my favorites. So I got told that joke when I was in… the summer of my eighth grade, right before I went into ninth grade, and we were at Montreat, church camp. And I do not remember exactly who told it to me, but, [uh], some guy knew it and… he… everyone else was, like, asking him to say it like all day long. They were like, [falsetto] ‘Oh, tell us the mosquito joke. Tell us the mosquito joke.’ And he kept refusing and building up hype. And so we kept asking and asking, and he finally told us it. Afterwards, he told me that when I tell it, that you can, like, make up your own … your own details to the story, but the basic points you have to hit on all of it are that there’s a mosquito, and he lives in Africa, and then he comes to America. And you just draw it out really long. You talk about his childhood in Africa, and then him coming to America, sometimes he gets a college degree, sometimes it’s different… all these different things. But, eventually, he needs to make his way back to Africa, and the joke is almost over as soon as you get back to Africa. And you say, ‘but the whole time he was in America, he didn’t have anything to drink, so he’s very, very thirsty.’ So he waits in line at the watering hole, but there’s a huge water line, so he doesn’t wait there. Then he goes to the Coke hole, and there’s also a huge line there. There’s a huge Coke line. So he doesn’t go. So he looks around, he looks around and he sees the punch hole, and the thing is… there’s no punchline. And that’s the whole joke.”

J:  “And what made you remember this so long?”

B: “Well the joke itself is really long, but there’s not that many details, so every time you tell it, it changes drastically, and you only have to remember just a few tiny, tiny details. So, it’s very easy to remember. And the same way the guy who told it to me did, you can build up hype for this joke, and the longer you build up hype the better the joke gets, because the more hype there is the more angry they’re gonna be when they hear the end of the story ‘cause there’s no payoff at all. It’s just a god-awful, terrible joke, but that’s the funny thing about it. So, I just have been telling it whenever I remember it and I guess that’s why I remember it so well.”

Analysis:

There exists a whole genre of jokes, called anti-jokes, where the punchline is that there is nothing funny about the joke. Comedy is all about subverting expectations for a laugh, and the most basic expectation of any joke is that it will literally be a joke. By taking away the joke aspect, the teller completely shocks the audience, who for this specific joke will be a little angry at first, and eventually, they will realize that the joke is funny, although probably not laugh out loud funny. Anti-jokes had a large boom in popularity in the late 2000s, which is when much of this story takes place. The more true source of this example may come from someone who read a similar joke and decided to add their own flair to make the joke even better.

Context:

The interviewed party is a 22-year-old male who currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island attending Brown University. Although he currently lives in the North East, he spent a majority of his life living in the Southern United States. This includes his birthplace in South Carolina and continues on to North-East Georgia.

 

 

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends

Lake Champlain Monster: Champ

Piece:

“So, there’s this lake in the northeast called Lake Champlain, and people who live around the lake say that there’s a monster similar to the Loch Ness monster who occupies the lake, and the name of this monster is Champ. There have been multiple sightings ever since people have come to America, and people around there even believe that the monster, who lives in the lake, was worshipped by Indians as a god. But there have been no violent confrontations with the monster, and it is believed to be very nice and kind.

“I used to go to a ski lodge around the lake, and I heard [this story] from someone at a store there. Like one of those small souvenir stores.”

Analysis:

Local monster stories are both common and relatively easy to keep alive once started. As well as the two named in the story there are tales of the jersey devil, yetis, bigfoot, and countless other seemingly mythical creatures. Upon further investigation into Champ, the Lake Champlain monster, I was able to find examples of his cult of personality. Lake Champlain is the largest lake in the Adirondacks and draws large crowds for outdoor events throughout the year. Historically, the region was home to the Iroquois and the Abenaki, who both had stories about a creature that lived in the lake. Samuel de Champlain was cited as seeing a monster in the lake, but it was later found to have been in a different body of water. He described the creatures he saw as about five feet long, though he was told they grow up to ten, thick as his thigh with scales that even a dagger could not penetrate. This description sounds similar enough to a garfish, which current historians believe to be the actual creature seen in the lake. As time went on many of the stories began to report a larger beast. Some reported it at around thirty feet, while one even went as far as one-hundred and eighty-seven. Over time, sighting numbers and intrigue have grown, with Champ gaining national and international acclaim as ‘America’s Loch Ness Monster’.

More information on Champ can be found on the Lake Champlain tourism website at https://www.lakechamplainregion.com/heritage/champ.

Context:

The interviewee is a 23-year-old male who attends the University of Southern California, pursuing a masters degree in computer science. When he was very young, he lived in India, until he moved to South Africa. He lived in South Africa from then until he moved to New York City to pursue his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.

This interview was conducted in person at the interviewed party’s house. The audio was recorded in order to aid in accurate transcription of the dialogue that took place.

general

Origin of the Cheers Clink

Piece:

“So my friend was telling me that the reason why you clink cups together is because back in like the olden times, when if you match really full cups of beer, people used to clink cups together so that a little bit of each person’s drink would slosh into the other persons drink and it was kind of like about a sharing of a drink and also like to make sure that people weren’t getting poisoned because the cups… the liquids would like mix together.”

Analysis:

While there is truth to the amicable aspect of sharing a drink, the mixing of liquids to prove that no poison is present is just a very well-known and well-shared lie. Firstly, sloshing that much liquid would surely produce more waste than desired in olden times when food was much more scarce, but more importantly, proving a lack of poison was at best unnecessary and at worst rude. Often people drank from shared vessels, where drinks were already in a sense mixed, so mixing them again would be redundant. At the other end of the spectrum, requiring proof of safety may be regarded as the same as using a food taster, which displays a lack of trust and hostility. For these reasons, it doesn’t really make sense that clinking would show trust in lack of poison, although the story is interesting and possible enough that it makes sense the story is still told.
Clinking and toasting, in general, are, at their core, a carryover from those more communal days. By clinking cups and drinking together, drinkers can maintain that sense of camaraderie that comes with drinking of the same container. The sound made by clinking is also rumored to complete the fulfillment of the five senses that comes when drinking something like wine. The remaining four are already satisfied, so by adding in the resonating sound of clinking glasses, the drinkers are pleased in all five senses, which is a rather rare sensation, culinarily or otherwise.

Context:


The interviewee is a 23-year-old male who attends the University of Southern California, pursuing a masters degree in computer science. When he was very young, he lived in India, until he moved to South Africa. He lived in South Africa from then until he moved to New York City to pursue his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is very into alcohol and the history and science behind it, which explains why he would know and tell this tidbit, accurate or not.
This interview was conducted in person at the interviewed party’s house. The audio was recorded in order to aid in accurate transcription of the dialogue that took place.

Legends
Myths
Narrative

Buddha Reaches Enlightenment

Piece:
C is the interviewed party.
J is the interviewer.

C: “So this is a story about the Buddha. So the Buddha was doing this stuff, and like he reached enlightenment, right? And then he gets up and he’s like, ‘whoa, I’m enlightened,’ right, and he runs into this farmer and the farmers like, ‘wow, you look so radiant, you look like amazing, what is going on?’ And Buddha is like, ‘im enlightened, my dude, I just reached enlightenment.’ [The farmer says] ‘no you didn’t, that ridiculous. How did you — why would you say such a thing?’ And the Buddha is like, ‘that’s weird, can’t he see how radiant I am? Can’t he see that I’m enlightened?’ so the Buddha keeps walking on, you know, in his enlightened state and he runs into a wealthy merchant on a horse, and the merchant is like, ‘ wow you look so radiant. You look amazing. What happened to you? You look so at peace.’ And the Buddha says, ‘I’ve reached enlightenment.’ And [the merchant] is like, ‘get out of here, man. Who are you? What are you talking about?’ So the Buddha keeps trucking along, thinking, ‘no one believes that I’m enlightened. What’s going on?’ Finally, he runs into this old man, and the man is like, ‘you look so radiant. You look at peace, what’s going on?’ Buddha doesn’t say anything. He just asks the man, ‘do you need some help?’ And the man says he could use some help carrying his food. And so the Buddha helps this man take care of his stuff and spends time with this old man. Finally, the old man says to the Buddha, ‘you are enlightened, you’ve reached enlightenment.’ And that man became one of the first people to spread Buddhism because the whole thing is about showing and not telling”

J: “So this was a thing you were told?”

C: “Uh yeah. I was told this.”
J: “Was this like a family story or-”
C: “No. I learned this when I was a monk.”

Analysis:

This story exemplifies a common trope of many stories in many cultures, called ‘the rule of threes’. This rule identified a common theme among stories, wherein change occurs on the third attempt or the number three is significant. In this example, the Buddha approaches three people; the first two are dismissive to his attempts to tell them of his enlightened state, so he changes his approach for the third, who accepts him fully as enlightened.

While those outside of the Buddhist faith may not believe this story at all, and those within may see it more as a way to teach a theme or idea instead of a direct account of history, the story still presents a common trope of religions and faiths. The third man Buddha encounters believes he is enlightened because he is not focused on proving it; the Buddha merely helps the man and acts in a humble, enlightened way, which causes the man to come to his own conclusion that the Buddha has reached enlightenment.

Context:

The interviewed party is a 21-year-old male student at the University of Southern California. Before moving to Los Angeles, he spent large portions of his life in both New York City and Thailand, where his family is from and some still reside.

This interview was conducted over a series of days in person inside the common area of the interviewer’s home. The responses were recorded in order to accurately dictate dialogue.

[geolocation]