USC Digital Folklore Archives / Digital

The Godfather of the NBA

This entry was given to the interviewer through digital means. The interviewer asked the informant, Sahit, about any superstitions in the NBA he knows because of Sahit’s die-hard obsession to the sport. He replied with a postseason ritual that he knows Lebron James does.


“So every year that Lebron makes it to the playoffs, which is really often, he has a series of requirements that he forces himself to meet in order to get him into that killer mindset. And it all involves the Godfather movies. Lebron watches the entire franchise end to end and he must be alone as he does it. After that, he’ll read a physical copy of the original book while he works out and prepares to be in playoff shape. He’ll also start to treat his team dynamic in similar ways to the dynamics presented in the movie. It’s all some pretty intense stuff.”

The interviewer keeps up with the NBA himself but didn’t know about this admittedly arcane postseason ritual Lebron goes through. He also finds it a little hard to believe that Lebron does this every time he makes it past the regular season because it tends to happen every year recently. Regardless, it is entertaining to know that even NBA stars are subject to some superstitions about their game.


The Toaster Era

This entry was given to the interviewer through digital means. The interviewer asked the informant, Sahit, about any superstitions in the NBA he knows because of Sahit’s die-hard obsession to the sport. He replied with a comment about the “winningness” of the Golden State Warriors.



“I can’t think of any pregame superstitions or anything like that, but there is this thing that recently came up about a toaster that Klay [Thompson] signed. Some guy on Reddit went to a Klay autograph signing but instead of a shirt or a basketball, he had Klay sign his official Warriors-branded toaster. This kinda became a meme in itself because Klay was just so dumbfounded about signing the toaster that there are pictures of the awkward pause right before he signed it. But, since then, the Warriors are undefeated. This is now known as the Toaster Era and the Warriors are 20-0 in the Toaster Era.”


The interviewer had heard about the “Toaster Era” but didn’t know what it was attributed to in the first place. More than anything, this whole thing seems like a passing meme about the Warriors’ insane ability to win against any team in the NBA. I really doubt that the Warriors are undefeated solely due to the toaster, but it is nevertheless entertaining to think of this superstition as a reason for their repeated victories.




This entry was given to the interviewer through digital means. The interviewer asked the informant, Sahit, about any legendary stories in the NBA he knows because of Sahit’s die-hard obsession to the sport. He replied with a certain player’s meteoric rise in the NBA, an era called Linsanity, named for Jeremy Lin


“Linsanity started off as a pretty mundane thing in the NBA. One of the more athletic players, Jeremy Lin was rising through the ranks in early 2012 when players like Kobe Bryant were in their prime and no one had heard of Jeremy Lin before this. Players in the NBA do get better, but no one ever did it as fast as Lin did, until his performance against the Lakers with Kobe at his prime. Just a year before this he was considered a poor player, and even a month before he was seen as a bench player, at best. The day of the Lakers game, it was fair to say that no one expected him to put up even 20 points, let alone 38 points. He even forced Kobe to play for longer than he intended to and still outscored him. This was the pinnacle of Linsanity”

The interviewer thought this story was interesting, but he heard a different spin on the Linsanity era. As far as he had known, the reason for the large amounts of attention Lin was getting was due to a minority’s increased prevalence in the league. He can definitely appreciate just how the era of Linsanity must have felt to his fans and NBA viewers. Lin was in the league knocking on the doors of the greats, having been dismissed completely just so quickly beforehand.


Fizdale is a Legend

This entry was given to the interviewer through digital means. The interviewer asked the informant, Sahit, about any legendary stories in the NBA he knows because of Sahit’s die-hard obsession to the sport. He replied with a certain coach’s recent interview after a blowout.


“So this happened after a pretty bad loss to the Spurs in the playoffs. Coach Fizdale, the Grizzlies’ coach, was asked for a statement after the game and it wasn’t hard to tell that he was pretty pissed off about how the game went because of foul calls that went mostly to the Spurs. In fact at the end of the game, just one player on the Spurs had more calls than the entirety of Fizdale’s team. He got really angry during the interview and made statements like “They ain’t gon rook us” and “Take that for data” that quickly became viral. It turned into meme status overnight. Text-based comment boards for the NBA all over the internet started to apply his statements to every little aspect of unfairness seen in the NBA and it was pretty funny. Still, overall, pretty legendary of Fizdale to go out and say that.”

The interviewer remembered seeing the interview posted online but didn’t know that it had escalated to “meme status” in NBA communities. Taken out of context, I suppose that the statements “they ain’t gon rook us” and “take that for data” would become funny if used for every single circumstance.


Pointy Thing Meme

Informant SM is a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is very passionate about philanthropy, specifically helping poorer parts of India and aspires to one day become a doctor. The informant tells me(AK) about a very popular meme regarding the recent construction on USC’s campus.

SM: Let me tell you about this new meme, it’s called the “Pointy Thing” meme (shows picture on phone). pointythingmeme

AK: I actually haven’t seen this one, can you explain a little about how this started?

SM: You know, I’m actually not sure. I just remember seeing someone post about it on the USC meme page and it kind of took off from there.

AK: Do you think this says anything about our student body?

SM: I think it’s a great thing that we’re all able to make jokes about something like this. You know, even Nikias posted about these “pointy things” on his Instagram, so it just seems like something everyone can laugh about.

I found this piece to be incredibly interesting because not only did it feature a very modern form of media, but also because it referenced the specific folklore of a college. In today’s day and age, people are always in search of a form of immediate gratification. Memes are the perfect outlet for quick jokes or puns because they feature a short amount of text that highlight a funny or playful picture. For this reason, memes are the perfect way for something like this to spread quickly across a college campus to the point where even the president hears about it. The other thing that made this so interesting to hear about is the fact that it is relevant only to USC. Any group, large or small can have folklore, and this piece is a testament to that fact.


An Encounter With A Bolero Musician

The informant is a musician from Oaxaca, Mexico. He has been playing Bolero music for sixteen years and is incredibly talented. I approached him at an outdoor coffee shop after hearing him on his guitar. I’ve included a clip of him strumming a Bolero chord.

“Yes so, something I would like to share is music. When I think of folklore I think of my music, Bolero music, the genre of Bolero music. It was something that was taught to me by my dad when I was ten years old. And Bolero music comes from Cuba but it also kind of influenced from myself, to stay connected to my own culture, my own language.

So there’s a folklore of Bolero music. It’s kind of a lost tradition. So I celebrate it, I preserve it, everyday by playing the music, if not listening to it, that style of song on Spotify or on the radio.”

How did your father introduce it to you?

“I think through cassettes or CDs, we would listen to it every evening. And he told me and my brother ‘I want you to learn it, to learn this type of music. So he hired a teacher because it’s folk music. So Bolero is folk music, so you won’t learn it in universities or in schools. It’s specific to my culture.”

So what makes Bolero music distinct, what defines it?

“In my opinion what makes it distinct is the lyrics and talking about it musically, chords, the artists, what they call the golden era of Bolero music. It was started in the 1920s. It started in Mexico. But the music has history since 1883, so it has African, Cuban, European influences.

It’s a lot of heartbreak songs, like blues. But also celebrating love. There used to be serenades, like back in the 1930s-40s where you would serenade a woman that you felt attracted to, a partner. So it’s about love songs, it’s about feeling nostalgia.

I’ve been playing since I was fifteen, so sixteen years now. So now I’m trying to preserve it myself through a concert series that I started two years ago. There’s a lot of artists in LA that play this music but there’s no space or outlet for them to showcase especially folk music, and just folk music in general. So I created this concert series called Boleros De Noche.”

Some songs the informant recommended: Sin Ti, Amorcito Corazon, Cien Años, Sabor a mi, Besame Mucho. The first bolero is called Tristesas. That’s the first Bolero recorded.


The Eagle Doesn’t Hunt Flies

I include this piece after an informant with family in Catalan told me that Catalonian proverbs are excellent. This one I found independently, but I quite like it.

L’àliga no caça mosques” 

In English translates to”

“The eagle doesn’t hunt flies”

Analysis: This is a brief but captivating proverb. I see it as a good summary of the wisdom that bickering about trivial things, and the accompanying haughty attitude one often finds in such situations, accomplishes nothing, and actually reflects quite poorly on the individual. A truly noble or wise individual deals with things in a just and calm manner, doesn’t chase after meaningless things and knows their position; thus, an eagle (the ruler of the skies) doesn’t bother with lowliness.


Bob Ross Twitch Meme

Informant: Alex is a 23-year-old from Southern California. He self-identifies as a gamer. He also frequently uses Twitch, a website that allows people around the world to stream videos – especially of themselves playing video games – live.

Main Piece:

Background Information about the Performance: This piece was found online by the informant. It depicts Bob Ross, a famous painter and TV personality, painting the Twitch logo. Bob Ross is a popular meme on Twitch following a nine-day-long marathon of his original program, The Joy of Painting. In this meme, his face has been replaced by another Twitch meme, Kappa. Kappa is a prominent emote used on Twitch videos.

Context of Performance: This meme is spread around internet communities, specifically through Twitch and other social media sites.

Thoughts: This particular meme is somewhat unique as it combines two separate memes in the Twitch community. It is also notable as it is authored media that has become a meme spread around the community.


The Uncle Who Works at Nintendo

Background: My informant was a young 23-year old adult who was born and raised in Las Vegas. He grew up playing many games on the internet including those on Newgrounds and talking with communities online. He currently professionally translates Japanese visual novels and manga.

Performance Context: According to my  informant, he learned about the story from someone who had mentioned to him the game over the internet. The friend has linked to them the game and from there they had come to play the game and subsequently learn the original story of “The Uncle Who Works at Nintendo” story.

Main Piece: The game is a text-based horror game using Twine, an interactive narrative game engine, with various images and sound during parts of the game adventure. The game, although authored work, is a derivative form of the original idea of the childhood fable of “My uncle who works at Nintendo”. My informant told me about how the original fable goes that in the early 90s, children playing the popular video game Pokemon would find themselves competing for attention in their small social groups. It was a common conception for younger children to claim that they had certain  advantages in the game because they had “an uncle who works at Nintendo”. An example of this was famously the indication that the child had access to the legendary Pokemon, Mew, because of their connection to Nintendo. Back on the original versions of the game, only those that had attended Nintendo Events could attain the fabled Mew and these events largely, if not exclusively, occurred in Japan, making their acquisition in America near impossible. The only other way to attain the legendary Mew was to use a GameShark, a common game-hacking application, to cheat the game into using the appropriately-titled “Mew Glitch” to obtain the Mew. According to my informant, children would use this as a means to show dominance and pride over other children and establish “coolness” in their friend groups. They would do so by pretending that they had obtained their Mew from a their so-called mysterious Uncle, despite the reality that they had merely cheated to get it. The game is a form of this folktale in game format, wherein a supernatural ghost story is told. In the game, you play as a middle school child in the 90s staying over at your friend’s house, when you hear that his uncle is coming over. It is a horror game where this strange entity known as the uncle is on his way and by the end of certain endings of the game, he arrives, and the game ends, implying that he almost quote on quote gets you. And that he always will.

The final ending of the game proves to be truly revealing as the game informs the player of a constant cycle that exists throughout this game each time you play it, and that the way to truly end the game is to leave it altogether. In the sixth and final ending of the game, the idea is shown that the uncle should be abandoned, and the child, your friend, can be saved. In the author’s note for the game, revealed only upon completing the game, the author waxes romantic on the current state of the game industry and how in some ways, saving your friend is a metaphor for the salvation of the industry by finding those within the community and having them repent for their self-applied attachment to the label of “gamer”. In the end, the game is about what being a gamer meant in the past, a prideful label meant to denigrate and obfuscate others and their voices though the use of games as power fantasy. The way forward, instead, is to work to let go of these attachments to the “gamer identity” and instead work against what the structures of exclusion and emotional manipulation that games have in the past allowed and encouraged.

My informant found this very profound and important to him as a long-time gamer who often found that he related and learned about the world a lot from video games. It was more so even because he had played it during a time including recent events such as the media incident called GamerGate, a controversial media event whereupon so-called “gamers” vilified and gave death threats to a small populace of anti-patriarchal women writers, developers and social activists. To him, it was somewhat introspective as a means to reflect on what it meant to be a gamer to him, and how the game industry sometimes excludes by patriarchal design women, minorities and other voices. Nowadays, he thinks people think of “gamers” as “everyone” now, rather than the small subset of young males in the 90s. He says that perhaps this is him being optimistic about the future, but who knows.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because as a game developer, this idea of using games and the power of games in order to manipulate and pull the rug over people is very dangerous. I don’t know that I quite agree with the author, but I agree with my informant that we can hope for a better future in which women and minority voices are free to be expressed. In a way, this game is a bit personal because of this as a minority game designer. This is a game that my informant highly recommends and that I played after him telling me about it. It is a short game that does take a couple hours to completely beat, but it is very interesting. If the game is too long, the author has also made his notes, which are supposed to be unlocked after beating the game, available online to be read. I will link these below.

The Game:

Author’s Notes:


Slender Man

Background: My informant was a young American male. He is a game design student studying at the University of Southern California and currently works as a VR Design Intern at Gadget-Bot.

Performance Context: According to my informant, he came to learn the story through viral media. Enough people had talked about it on platforms such as YouTube that he grew interested and looked into the story himself.

Main Piece: In 2009, a comedy website called Something Awful launched a Photoshop contest to create the “biggest creepy pasta”. Creepy pasta is a internet term for scary short-form horror tales that originate and spread on the internet. As part of this contest, some people photoshopped an original creature into some old photographs from a newspaper. The newspaper articles make reference to several children who have disappeared or vanished. My informant says that this is so that the creature could be passed of as even more real. Because of the use of the newspapers, people of the internet started to believe in this creature who became known as Slender Man, for his tall, skinny figure.

Slender Man has now become a legend about this mysterious creature with tentacles who comes, preys and steal children. He is a tall, slender figure with no hair, no face, and white skin. He is often depicted wearing a suit, appearing almost like a man in a morph suit with a business suit over that. Nobody knows why he does so as the origin comes only from photographs. Because people believed in the story so much as real, it spread as a viral internet phenomenon. Also, as a result, people began discussing ways to commercialize and spread the idea of Slender Man. Movies, games, short stories were produced en masse to explain this creature and his behaviors. One of the most famous of these is Slender: The 8 Pages, a horror game that became very popular on the internet through the game platform Steam. Sequels to the games and short films have also been produced and there are “even talks of a full-length feature film”. According to my informant, these derivative works are all a part of a large movement to “cash in” on the idea of this character. To them, they believe he was became so popular not just because people believed he was real, but also because to teh creature’s believers, how genuine and original he seemed. They said it was refreshing to see a story where the character seemed not only frightening, but also “genuinely original”. My informant says that people come up with myths all the time, but that a genuine modern myth that isn’t a rehash or remix of something else was interesting and made it all the more real.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it not only comes across the originality of ideas, but also the canonization and commercialization of these stories as products. To tell stories not only encourages the spread of those stories, but also the ways in which those that hear it want to capitalize and market that story in one or many forms. The way the story was turned from a photograph that had been photo shopped into all sorts of other media suggests that not only is the story can be spread in any or all formats, but that it can also be warped and changed to suit those need and strengths of those mediums. That the story itself has no need for origin as long as it retains the sense of originality and outside of that scope, can be warped to become whatever it needs to be to those that wish to indulge in that media. I think it’s interesting to ponder whether the original form of a story is necessary or perhaps that it might be just a stepping stone for the true potential of a story to deliver an experience to its viewers. It’s a sort of idea that suggests that mutation is inherently a part of the story and that variation should be encouraged rather than discouraged, unlike some other stories that we suggest should have a “proper”, “authentic” or “original form.