Author Archive
Childhood
Legends

Sleepy Hollow Road

Background: This piece was a common piece of folklore within the informant’s community. He lived on Sleepy Hollow Road, so parents in the community adopted the tale of the headless horseman and used it to scare their children, and prevent them from wandering around unsupervised.

Context: This ghost story was performed to an audience of one, in the village dining hall.

Body: I lived on sleepy hollow road so in my neighborhood there was like the typical legend, I’m pretty sure the guy was headless on a horse or something, so we would stay with our parents and walk around. Whenever Halloween would come around, the kids on our street would be scared by it, so we would want to walk with our parents. Our parents would use it as a ploy to make sure people we not leave the house without them. Like he’ll get us basically. Ironically, like, I’m actually pretty far from the actual town of sleepy hallow.

I believe that this piece is a tool which parents who lived on the street of sleepy hollow adopted from a pre-existing myth to prevent their children from wandering off and misbehaving.

For another version of this legend, see “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving.

Legends
Old age

Biking Grandpa of Kaohsiung

Background: This legend was commonly told in the area around Kaohsiung. The informant did not live in Kaohsiung, but nearby on the mainland.

Context: This story was performed in an Architecture studio, for an audience of two, in order to pass time while working on projects.

“There is a little island adjacent to my hometown called Kaohsiung. There are two ways to get to the island. The first is by ship, and the other is through a tunnel that we built under the sea. Usually the travel time using the tunnel is about half an hour, but for some people it will take up to two hours to get there. During that tunnel traveling people have found that the common thing is they have always met this grandpa biking. When they see that grandpa, it takes a longer time to travel. For some reason when you drive, you may be going 50 miles per hour, but the Grandpa is still biking fast enough to pass you. “

Car rides can be very boring, and in order to pass the time it is common to tell exciting stories. Providing a supernatural explanation to why your trip was is taking so long could be a welcome relief from that same monotonous travel.

Legends
Old age

Rice Ball/ Human Heart.

Background: The Informant was enlisted in Taiwan’s Military for two years, where he heard this story from his fellow soldiers.

Context: This story was performed in an Architecture studio, for an audience of two, in order to pass time while working on projects.

Body: “I learned this in the military in Taiwan. When you are a scout especially at night there are not many residential areas around the base. There are mostly old people around the base, who make money by selling food to the military people. Sometimes when you are scouting you will see a granny with a little cart selling rice balls. When a scout asks to buy a rice ball, the grandma says “OK” and takes out a human heart. ”

This was likely a scary legend told amongst soldiers in order to create a sense of solidarity regarding the eeriness of their situation, considering that many of them relocated from more populous areas.

Childhood
Tales /märchen

The Old Lady, and the Siblings

Background: This story was told to the informant by his parents.

Context: This tale was performed in the Architecture studio, for an audience of two, in
order to pass time while working on projects.

“So when kids don’t want to go to sleep in Taiwan, their parents tell this to them. A brother and a sister when their parents left for the night hear a knock on the door. An old woman comes in. At night the old woman eats one of the siblings. One night the old woman woke up and ate the brother. The sister hears the sound of chewing, so she woke up and asks the woman what she is eating. The old woman says, “Oh, I’m eating peanuts” and then she just throws the sister one of her brother’s fingers, “Oh, here’s a peanut”. The sister freaks out because of this, and says “Oh, I need to go pee” and then she goes outside and climbs a tree. The old woman comes out and says “I want to eat you too.” The sister tells the old lady “First I need a pot of hot water.” So the old lady takes the hot water outside, and brings it to the sister. The sister says, “Ok, Im going to jump.” The woman opens her mouth so that she can jump in, but the sister pours the hot water into her mouth instead. “

This tale is likely a cautionary one told by parents to convince their children not to trust strangers, and let them into their house. It also encourages creative thinking on the part of the sister to get out of a sticky situation.

Legends
Myths

Vanishing Hitchhiker Pele

Context: This myth was performed in an apartment to an audience of 3 people.

Background: The informant is from Hawaii, where this myth is popular.

“Pele was the goddess of Lava. One of the things that goes around that’s like a, I don’t know if it’s a myth. She was into some guy, but the guy was getting with her sister so she became some lava monster and chased him away. But they say if you’re driving under the mountain, because there’s a tunnel that goes under the mountain. That if you see an old lady with like white hair there and she’ll try to hitch hike. They’ll say that that’s Pele and sometimes she’ll just appear in your back seat.”

Car rides can be very boring, so it makes sense that the legend of Pele would be adopted into the form of a hitchhiking old lady: It serves as an interesting story which can help to pass the time during monotonous car trips.

Humor
Narrative

Katch Nazar

Context: This tale was performed in the apartment of the informant to an audience of 3 people.

Background: This tale was told to the informant by her father, who is Armenian.

“There is like this old dude in an Armenian village who calls himself, “Katch Nazar” Katch meaning Ferocious, or Strong. Nazar being his name. He says that he has killed 1000 beings. People are confused, and they ask how he, an old man, could have killed 1000 beings? He replies that he felt itchy in his sleep, and reveals that the 1000 beings which he killed were flies, not people.”

This joke shows uses wordplay to set up, and then defy the audience’s expectations by playing with the meaning of the word Katch.

Legends

Menehune

Context: This legend was performed in an apartment to an audience of 3 people.

Background: The informant is from Hawaii, where this is a common legend.

“Menehune are mischievous little creatures who will go around and steal objects. If something goes missing in Hawaii, we’ll blame it on the Menehune. “

This legend probably is a convenient excuse for those who easily lose things.

Riddle

Two Ropes on a Deserted Island

Context: This riddle was told to an audience of one in a fraternity dining hall.

Background: The informant learned this riddle during a long car ride, when he was trying to pass the time.

Q: You’re stranded on a deserted island with nothing but two ropes, and a lighter. There is an unlimited amount of gas in the lighter. The ropes vary in thickness and material throughout the entire rope. The only thing you know for certain about the ropes is that they each take exactly one hour to burn. How do you measure 45 minutes?
A: Light the first rope from both ends at the same time, and light one end of the second rope. When the first rope has burned up completely, 30 minutes have passed, and there are still 30 minutes of burning time left on the second rope. If you light the other end of the second rope, it will burn for 15 more minutes, 45 minutes total.

This riddle requires abstract thinking, and has a very elegant solution.

Legends

Yosemite Ridge Runner

Background: The Informant was backpacking in Yosemite with friends, and they heard this story from a member of the group they were traveling with.

Context:This ghost story was performed to an audience of one in a fraternity dining hall.

“In the early 1800s there was, like, a mining company that was out there in Yosemite. There was a big storm and one of the workers got left for dead there in the storm. And supposedly he became, like, a zombie named the ridge runner. If you’re walking in the valley you can see him and his fires. Apparently there used to be a lot of decapitated bodies in Yosemite. Like they would just be like ripped apart super weirdly, and people were like, “I don’t think animals could do that” so might have been like a serial killer, but they just blame it on the ridge runner.”

It can be very unnerving to go be exposed in nature, away from the comfort that four solid walls provide. This story seems to be playing off of these fears.

Legends

Hicks Road

Context: This legend was told to an audience of one in a fraternity chapter room.

Background: This is a legend that is popularly told in the city of Los Gatos.

“So there’s an old road that goes in the woods near my house. It’s called Hick’s road its in Los Gatos. On this road there’s a lot of cars that go really fast at night, like they just tear up and down. But people don’t like to stop because it’s rumored that there’s a colony of Albinos that live on Hicks road. And so if you stop the Albinos, its like rumored that they’ll take offense and they’ll think that you’re trying to come after them, or be like the kids that are making fun of them, or driving up just to leer at them. So it’s rumored you could get shot by the Albinos, because they’re very protective of their community. ”

Car rides can be very boring, so it makes sense to come up with stories about your surroundings which make the trip more interesting.

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