Author Archives: avouac

Thumb-a-War

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting on the informant’s living room couch . My informant (CH) was born in Pasadena, CA, but grew up in a very French household, learning English as her second language. All of her education has been in American schools, but she learned how to read and write French thanks to after school lessons her mom gave her and her older sister. She is currently a Sophomore in high school and enjoys horseback riding. 

Main Piece:

Interviewer: Do you remember the Thumb-a-Wars from when we were little? Can you describe them to me?

CA: Wait, wait, let’s just do it. *both turn to sit facing each other* Ok film it from above, yeah *moves the interviewer’s hand to a good position*

Interviewer: *interview switches from voice recording to camera and they proceed to film the video*

Both: *Sing Thumb-a-War song and then play*

One, two, three, four

I declare a thumb-a-war

Five, six, seven, eight,

Try and keep your thumb straight

Interviewer: *after settling down from laughing and playing a few games. Switches back to voice recording* Ok *laughs* so where and when did you learn this.

CH: I learned it at school! In like, kindergarten and we  played it during recess. Everyone I know knows the game so even today if my friend and I are bored we can just play for funsies. 

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (CH) and interviewer.

Thoughts: 

Thumb-a-War was a very popular game when I was in elementary school. We would play it during recess or on bus rides to field trips. We would have big competitions between classmates to figure out who was the strongest boy and strongest girl in the grade, so I have a lot of very good memories of this game! Like CA said, everyone who’s around my age knows this game, so we can whip it out at any time and play if we’re bored. 

11:11 wish

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting on the informant’s living room couch . My informant (CH) was born in Pasadena, CA, but grew up in a very French household, learning English as her second language. All of her education has been in American schools, but she learned how to read and write French thanks to after school lessons her mom gave her and her older sister. She is currently a Sophomore in high school and enjoys horseback riding, 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (CH) and interviewer.

Interviewer: When can you make a wish?

CH: When the time is exactly at 11:11 you can make a wish and it is supposed to come true if you don’t tell anyone but you have to say it, say it at 11:11 exactly for it to come true. 

Interviewer: Where did you learn this from?

CH: My sister. She’s obsessed with it, she does it all the time. She learned it from our older sister I think. 

Interviewer: And where did her older sister learn it from?

CH: Umm *laughs* I would guess, guess from school, from a friend from school or something like that.

Thoughts: 

I absolutely believe in my 11:11 wishes, they are very important to me. I learned about them from my older sister who had heard of 11:11 wishes at school. When I was applying for college as a senior back in high school, my 11:11 wishes meant the world to me, and many other people at school also used them to wish to get accepted into their dream school. While some people did it a little as a joke, and others made fun of the rest of us for believing in these wishes, during a time of great stress they brought a bit of relief to our class. I believe this a rather new belief, from what I have heard on the internet and among friends, and that it dates back to digital watches. However, as it is folklore, I do not know this folkbelief’s origin. 

Cold Remedies – Whiskey & Honey Milk

Context: 

This piece is collected in a casual interview setting around a cup of coffee. My informant (BA) was born in Lille, France, and moved to California in 2002 with her husband for their jobs at Caltech. She has a Master in Human Resources and Detection of High Potentials, is a mother of two teenage girls, loves to garden and go on hikes, and is overall a very energetic and happy woman. 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (BA) and interviewer.

Interviewer: How do you treat a sore throat?

BA: So, there are two ways. There’s the version a little more aggressive.  You take a chug of whiskey, you gurgle it around, you remove all the bacteria, and its supposed to leave [the bacteria and sore throat]. And the grandma remedy, which I love, and can’t do any har, is that you take a, a, a bowl of hot milk, actually more warm, you put two teaspoons of honey, you turn, you mix, and you drink it. That’ll take care of your sore throat.

Interviewer: Where did you learn these remedies? 

BA: My grandmother would make me drink the milk and my dad, who used the more aggressive method, made me drink whiskey. I liked the grandma version better *laughs* but I made my girls try both when they were little! 

Thoughts:

Growing up, the whiskey method was not my favorite either, but my parents and neighbors, who we are very close to, insisted I try it if medicine or hot milk and honey didn’t do the trick. The hot milk and honey is a remedy I use all the time, but I also use it to destress when I’m feeling anxious, not only for sore throats. Although I don’t think it cures a cold, it does help with the symptoms. 

Bubble Gum In a Dish

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting on the informant’s living room couch . My informant (CH) was born in Pasadena, CA, but grew up in a very French household, learning English as her second language. All of her education has been in American schools, but she learned how to read and write French thanks to after school lessons her mom gave her and her older sister. She is currently a Sophomore in high school and enjoys horseback riding.

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (CH) and interviewer.

Interviewer: Other than the classic “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” what’s another way you know of picking something based on a song?

CA: We had the bubble gum song! The girls started to use it in like, I don’t know, 3rd grade. We would sing it while going around pointing at someone in the circle. It went like this

Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish,

How many pieces do you wish?

*the girl who’s designated chooses a number, then they start counting to that number and who ever the last number falls on is it*

Thoughts: 

At school, the girls would use this song in order to pick out a girl when nobody volunteered to do something. For example, it was to see who would be the first person to chase others in Tag. This was a very fair and effective way to choose who would be “it” when we were young (around 6-8 years old) but once people started to figure out you can count who it would fall on so the person who chooses the “random” number can cheat, it started creating problems. For some reason, only the girls would use this song.

Annotation:

For different variations of the Bubble Gum Song, please follow this link: https://kcls.org/content/bubble-gum-bubble-gum-in-a-dish/

Nose Goes

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting on the informant’s living room couch . My informant (CH) was born in Pasadena, CA, but grew up in a very French household, learning English as her second language. All of her education has been in American schools, but she learned how to read and write French thanks to after school lessons her mom gave her and her older sister. She is currently a Sophomore in high school and enjoys horseback riding, 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (CH) and interviewer.

Interviewer: What’s Nose-Goes?

CH: Um, its when you’re with a group of people and there’s this one thing that has to be done but noone wants to do it so you go “one, two, three nose-goes” and everyone tries to touch their nose with their indent, index finger as fast as they can, but the last person to touch their nose loses and has to do the thing that no one wanted to do.

Interviewer: And, um, does everyone know when its going to be initiated or its just like out of the blue?

CH: Its kind of… out of the blue. Like you don’t, don’t say in advance “I’m going to say nose-goes” you just say “nose-goes.”

Interviewer: When did you start doing this?

CH: I don’t know, like fourth grade? 

Thoughts: 

The popular Nose Goes, in my opinion, is very effective, but very unfair. Basically, the first one to think of the game will automatically not be “it” and if someone in the group is not paying attention, they will automatically lose. For dealing with trivial matters, like chores, taking out the trash, sitting in the car trunk, it is fine, but after a while, if overused, it can start to cause problems in a friend group, or the person to always call it will be labeled as childish. Overall, I believe it can be used once in a while, if everyone knows the rules, and its a fun way for children to learn to pay attention to their peers. 

Annotation:

Follow this link to see more variations of Nose Goes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nose_goes 

Google Doc meme

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual setting on a FaceTime call. My informant is a USC Freshman and we are Animation Majors together. They grew up in Sacramento, California. They enjoy drawing, riding their scooter, and making memes. The following piece is a meme spin off they made of another popular meme “template”. The informant’s meme was intended for a specific audience, our Animation cohort, and it was sent in our class’s private group chat (fifteen USC Animation Freshmen). 

Main Piece:

Background: 

The informant created this meme by using the image of the train and adding words to it. Meme is basically saying the creator of the meme is getting a “free ride,” or leaching off,  of their classmates’ “google doc for the final” which we were all supposed to work on together (compile  notes from the class on it) but some people did more work than others. The meme is funny because the informant is basically confessing they did no work, but we can relate because we have all be there at some point.

Thoughts: 

Memes are a great way to make a quick joke that most people can be amused by because they feature funny pictures we can “connect” with, or a short amount of text that does this, and people can use their prior knowledge of other memes to find the meaning and get a giggle out of it. Since memes are so easy to understand and access, it makes sense that so many people make them, share them, or just look them up. Any group, no matter the size, can, and does, have its own folklore, and this specific meme is a perfect example of this since it took another more popular folk piece and switched it up to fit a new meaning ment specifically for the Animation student audience.

Blackout no Whiteout

Context: 

This piece was collected over a casual FaceTime in which we were previously just catching up and talking about our elementary school experiences. We are close friends who met in high school and have known each other for five years. My informant (JS) was born in California and is now attending Carnegie Mellon as Computer Science major. He enjoys coding, playing video games, and weight lifting.

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (JS) and interviewer.

Interviewer: What’s Blackout No Whiteout? 

JS: So, um, if you don’t want something you give it to someone and you say “blackout no whiteout” you don’t have to take it back and they have to keep it.

Interviewer: So can they give it to someone else?

JS: I think so. They just have to say “black out no whiteout” again.

Interviewer: How old were you when you used this?

JS: Um, like, kindergarten, five, six. I learned it from school friends. 

Thoughts: 

I like to think of Blackout No Whiteout as the opposite of Dibs. When I was little and we used this rule, it was often to get rid of trash and force someone else to throw it out. In my opinion, I thought it was funny and innocent at the time, but looking back, we used it as a way to pick on some classmates who always ended up getting stuck with the “thing” nobody else wanted. Children can be mean to each other, and this is one of the games that demonstrates that.

Hiccup Cures

Context: 

This piece was collected over a casual FaceTime in which we were previously just catching up and talking about our elementary school experiences. We are close friends who met in high school and have known each other for five years. My informant (JS) was born in California and is now attending Carnegie Mellon as Computer Science major. He enjoys coding, playing video games, and weight lifting.

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (JS) and interviewer.

Interviewer: So what’s your hiccup cure?

JS: I have a few. There are the common ones, like holding your breath or scaring the hiccups away, but I like the spoon in water one the best.

Interviewer: Wait tell me more about that one.

JS: So when you have hiccups, to get rid of them, you have to put a metal spoon inside a glass of water and drink it. That’ll get rid of the hiccups really fast. My third grade teacher told this to our class and we had the “hiccup cup” in the back of the classroom. I still use this trick today if I really can’t get rid of my hiccups.

Thoughts: 

I have heard of this method before and I’m sure it is just as effective as other hiccup home-remedies, like holding your breath, biting a lemon,  or eating a spoon of peanut butter. In the end, I think these are just placebo remedies meant to calm children down and feel more in control of a situation. 

Fallen Eyelash

Context: 

This piece was collected over a casual FaceTime in which we were previously just catching up and talking about our elementary school experiences. We are close friends who met in high school and have known each other for five years. My informant (JS) was born in California and is now attending Carnegie Mellon as Computer Science major. He enjoys coding, playing video games, and weight lifting.

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (JS) and interviewer.

Interviewer: Can you repeat that again, the one about eyelashes?

JS: So when an eyelash falls on your cheek, and you don’t know about it, a friend mentions it to you and you have to guess on what cheek the eyelash is, right? So if you guess the correct cheek and you manage to blow it off without, like, using a mirror or using your hands, you get to make one wish and it will come true! However, if you don’t, um, pick the correct cheek, you’ll have bad luck for the rest of the day, but it’s not like, major bad luck, it’s just, mild *laughs* 

Interviewer: And do you believe in this? And where did you learn it from?

JS: Um, I heard about this from my sister, I think. She brought it back from school. Hmm, I don’t believe it, but my girlfriend definitely believes it *laughs* so I always mention when one of her eyelashes falls down. Oh yeah and she’s from Pasadena. 

Thoughts: 

Wishing upon a fallen eyelash is an old practice. From what I’ve heard, blowing an eyelash away protects the person from witchcraft or the Devil, because the Devil tries to collect as much human hair from a person as possible in order to control them. For this reason, it makes sense to me that blowing an eyelash away would give the person good luck, because they evaded evil, but it was new to me that picking the wrong cheek would give the person bad luck. 

Barney Song

Context: 

This piece was collected over a casual FaceTime in which we were previously just catching up and talking about our elementary school experiences. We are close friends who met in high school and have known each other for five years. My informant (JS) was born in California and is now attending Carnegie Mellon as Computer Science major. He enjoys coding, playing video games, and weight lifting.

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (JS) and interviewer.

Interviewer: Wait you had the Barney Song too?!

JS: Yeah, wait we did! Wait let me sing it for you, how did it go again, oh yeah, yeah it was like this

Hurray, hurray, Barney’s dead,

We barbequed his head!

We didn’t care about his body,

So we flushed it down the potty

And around around it went

Around, around it went!

Down in the drains, through the ocean, bye bye Barney’s body!

Thoughts: 

The first time I heard the Barney Song was when I was in fourth grade. From what I’ve gathered from my friends, many middle schools had variations of the Barney Song, and each was as sadistic as the next. For some reason, we all wanted Barney dead. This might have been our way of rebelling against popular culture and authority, in our own small way. Many of us grew up watching the Barney and Friends show, so this was our way to make fun of the adults for pushing the show on us or to shock them with our violent words directed towards a character we were supposed to love.