Monthly Archives: May 2015

“Ka le” or “Kale” in the DOTA 2 community

As of recently, when encountering a period of lag spikes during a match (especially if a professionally competitive one), players would often type in all-chat “ka le”, or more popularly, “kale”, instead of simply typing “lag”.


The community revolving around the e-sports game DOTA 2 is an incredibly international one. The game, which has as of now more than 12 million unique users every month, is immensely popular in not only North America and Europe, but also Brazil, Russia and China.

The Chinese teams play an especially important role in professional DOTA 2 tournaments. A nation that has had arguably the most endearing interest in the game’s predecessor, DOTA 1, its professional DOTA 2 teams are unsurprisingly amongst the world’s best. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly common for western tournaments to contain matches that are essentially “Chinese derbies” – matches where both teams were Chinese. This also, of course, incites in the western audience as well as the media an interest in Chinese DOTA 2 tournaments.

It’s not surprising then, to see Chinese DOTA 2 phrases adopted into the western scene. “Ka le” are the pinyin expressions of the Chinese characters “卡了”. The first character, “卡”(ka) means lag, while the second character “了”(le) is a modifying character that indicates past tense. Therefore a translation of “ka le” would be “there was a lag”.

As the Chinese DOTA 2 scene became ever-so-increasingly popular, this expression became known as well. However, the expression would never have become truly popular in the west, particularly North America, were it not for the coincidence that “ka le” bears such a striking resemblance to an infamous/famous word in our language (especially nowadays), “kale”.

So it happened. Many western players now, professionals and amateurs alike, type in all-chat: “kale” instead of “lag”.


The informant is currently a student in university. We were teammates together on our DOTA 2 team. As of now he has been a player and an active participant in the community for 3 years.

He learnt of this folkspeech through in-game experience; he was watching a live-stream of a tournament match, during which the players on the western team used this phrase during a pause. Later in one our team’s matches he told us about this experience.


This is an intriguing example of how one culture’s folklore or joke can come from a translation and its subsequent misinterpretation o2f another culture’s common phrase.

UFO Sighting

UFO Sighting:

G.H.: This was about, uh, 1974, or ’75. Back in the day, there weren’t many houses around here. I used to live in Hawaii, then I came back, and I was visiting my Mom and Dad, on Bloomwood over there. I had a dirt bike, and I took it, rode with J. He had a dirt bike. We rode them over by the quarry, you know, the quarry by Portuguese Bend. One day, we ride bikes, and we’re up by the Army radar tower up there, at the top by the road Crestwood, in RPV. So I stopped riding, and he did the same thing. So he said, what’s that? I was looking at the ground, because I thought it was a rattlesnake. So we’re looking at, our view is from Newport Beach to Malibu, and up in the sky are two white dots. I was guessing they were probably jets flying around. And they’re over Long Beach. And they’re going really slow, moving towards the north, and kind of like where Lomita and Harbor Freeway, downtown Los Angeles, and there, one of them stops, and the other one keeps going slowly, and when the one moving gets over LAX, the one that’s stationary goes “Shoom!” And in the blink of an eye, picks up the same position, and they go off. Really fast, like nothing I knew was possible.

ME: Very quickly, then.

G.H.: Yeah, just like this, so they’re over Long Beach, Downtown is in the distance, and this one’s almost from Malibu to LAX, and “Shoom.” To this day, I have looked out the windows to see if I could see something like this again. Never seen a damn thing.


G.H. describes a UFO sighting he has never forgotten, since believing the appearances in 1974 or 1975, while dirt biking with a relative.

The Red Whistle

MG describes an urban legend from her home town of Bergenfield, New Jersey in the 60s and 70s.

MG: “There was a deli in town that also sold candy, I think it was called Bob’s. The urban legend was that if you went into the candy store and asked him for a red whistle the guy behind the counter would go crazy and chase you out of the store. It was a dare if you could go into the store and ask him for a red whistle. It was mainly a boy thing, I heard about it from my brother. He did it once.”

What happened when your brother did it?

MG: “He got chased out of the store! He had to run for his life! But that was part of the fun, he was a grown man and the boys were in 8th grade, no one knew why it was a trigger point but it was the standing challenge so all the boys had to do it”

So no one knew why he would chase you out of the store?

MG: “I don’t think so, maybe someone 10 years older than me knew but all I knew was that you had to go ask for the red whistle. Someone told me it was because he was a child molester, but I don’t know if that was true. All the kids that I knew knew about it”

This legend was interesting because it was an example of how it is unclear whether the legend or the action came first. It isn’t clear whether the man would chase kids out of the store because he had been asked about the red whistle so many times and was fed up, or if there was an underlying meaning to asking for the red whistle that made him angry in the first place. The addition of the fact that they thought he was a child molester was a weird twist and maybe made their actions more ethical: they could continuously bother him because he was a bad guy.


Skiing down a mountain

JG describes a game she learned from her mother and would do to kids she babysat

What was skiing down a mountain?

JG: “So you know how little kids love to be bounced up and down on people’s knees? Skiing down a mountain was basically just bouncing a little kid on your knee but with a background story. Mom used to do it to me, but she was the one who made it up. She said she wanted to put a background story to it to make it more interesting because it made more sense if there was a story. And then I really liked it so I would do it to kids I baby sat and you when you were a baby”

What do you do?

JG: “So you put a little kid on your lap and bounce them around like normal, but then you say “skiing down a mountain” again and again. Eventually you yell “TREE!” and you swerve your knees to the side like you’re avoiding a tree. There was some other ones too, like rocks and moguls. For moguls you would do really big bounces. It was kind of open to interpretation. All the little kids loved it, it was a lot more exciting than regular bouncing a kid on your knee. Sometimes I’d do you and your cousin Louisa at the same time, you guys loved it. I just remember really liking it when I was little and I would watch Mom do it to Justin too when he was little. So then I did it when I started watching kids”

This piece of folklore displays the importance of regional differences. While bouncing a child on your knee could be adapted to have many different stories, it’s significant that this story involved skiing, mainly because the game originated with JG’s mother in Colorado where skiing is very prevalent. A child would immediately recognize the parts of the game because most children in Colorado learn to ski at a very young age.

The Westridgettes

CH went to an all girls private school in Pasadena, California.

CH: “So basically since we didn’t have a football team or any men’s sports teams we didn’t have any cheerleaders cause there was no point ya know? So we had something called the Westridgettes, there were 9 skirts that each meant something different. There was the Asian skirt, the glee club skirt, the captain skirt, the soccer skirt, the drama skirt, the tiger, and the skinny bitch skirt, the preppy skirt, and the black girl skirt. We told administration the skinny bitch was something else though cause they wouldn’t like that. Basically all of them were seniors but every year they would will them down to a girl in the class below them and every girl would add her name to a pleat of the skirt. So it was like a green skirt covered with names and the people who wore them were basically cheerleaders that would lead the pep rally and would do a provacative dance in front of the whole school to show how cool and fun they were. There was a lot of nepotism, the cool group of girls would have the skirt and pass it sown to other cool girls in the younger class. But then adminstration caught on and made them diversify the skirts so it went to a bunch of random people.

Why do you think this tradition started?

CH: “I think to enhance school spirit which is hard at an all girls school. We didn’t have any big football games or anything so it’s hard to have school spirit at an all girls school. Probably like fostering sisterhood too and creating a tradition of passing down the skirts”

I think this is an interesting initiation ceremony representing the liminal time of high school. Especially since the skirts are largely exculpatory, it creates a sense of being included or not. It makes sense that the “cool” girls would be selected because this ritual allowed them to join a lineage and stand out from other girls.

Mongolian Folk Dancing

The informant, RD, describes a mongolian dance class she took when she was younger. The dance class took place in Palo Alto, California. RD is of Mongolian and Chinese decent: her father is from Mongolia and her mother is from China.

Where did you learn the dance?

RD: “I was in a mongolian dance class. We had these velvet, red towels with gold chain and coins on them  on them and you had to twirl them around your fingers. It was like a big choreographed dance, there was a group of us”

How did you find out about the class?

RD: “My mom found out through her church I think”

Did you ever perform the dance, like at a festival?

RD: “We would perform in an auditorium for our parents. It was pretty much only parents there, not like an outside group of people”

Was everyone who participated Mongolian?

RD: “Mainly Chinese. Everyone was either Mongolian or Chinese. There was definitely no white people, they would definitely get freaked out by the music (laughs)”

What was the music like?

RD: “We danced to traditional Chinese/Mongolian music. It had a mixture of both languages, so parts would be Mongolian and parts would be Chinese. I think the background was traditional Chinese instruments.”

Is Chinese and Mongolian a common mix in Palo Alto?

RD: “No no no, it was just headed by a committee that had some Chinese people and some Mongolian so they kind of fused the two cultures. I don’t think I’ve ever met another person who is mixed Chinese and Mongolian, it’s not common. Everyone was one or the other.”

I thought this was particularly interesting because of the mix of Chinese and Mongolian culture. The fact that the music being used was a mixture of Mongolian and Chinese was very interesting, especially given the fact that RD said she had never met another person who was both Mongolian and Chinese. It seemed very unlikely that everyone there was either separately Chinese or Mongolian when the performance itself was a very balanced mixture of the two. I also thought it was interesting that she thought it was funny that white people, or members of any other ethnicities, would be a part of the dance. When I first heard her describe it I thought it was for the purpose of sharing their cultural heritage but based on the performances it seems like its main purpose was to preserve and pass on their traditions.

Morning Stretches

The informant, RD, recounts how her mother used to stretch her out every morning to make her taller

RD: ” My mother would tell me to hold onto the headboard and then she’d grab my feet and pull really hard, it was supposed to make me taller or something. My mom made me do all kinds of weird stuff when I was younger and I’d always do them. She told me to eat prunes in order to restore blood levels too.”

Did her mother do it to her?

RD: “Yes. Her mom used to do it to her back in China. They think that in the morning you are at your tallest so if you get stretched out when you’re at your tallest you will get even taller. I think my mom knew even then that I was gonna be short.”

Did she do it everyday?

RD: “No, it was only when we had extra time in the morning. I’d say a couple times a week, it wasn’t like an exactly timed thing”

How long did she do it for?

RD: “I think from when I was in elementary school until I was in about 7th grade? I don’t know, sometime in middle school. I think she realized I was just gonna stay short.”

Do you think it did anything?

RD: “(laughs) no it was just some weird thing my mom made me do.”


I thought this piece was interesting because it showed a clash between the Chinese culture and American culture. Obviously for RD’s mother, who lived in China until she was an adult, it made sense that stretching someone out in the morning would make them taller. She also must have believed it worked if her mother used to do it to her and then she did it to her own daughter. However, RD, who was born in America, thought it was preposterous and would never work. I think this demonstrates Americans supreme belief in Western medicine. It would probably seem silly to most people in the United States that yanking on someone’s body would make them taller because they believe being tall is something you get from genetics. This could also be an example of dying folklore because folklore has to contemporary. Since RD thought it was an outdated practice that didn’t work she probably won’t do it to her children and it will die out in her lineage.




New Jersey Alphabet


“How do you say the New Jersey Alphabet?”

“Fuckin’ A, Fuckin’ B, Fuckin’ C….”

I was told this joke by RG, who is originally from a small town in New Jersey called Bergenfield.

Who told you the joke?

RG: ” I think someone out here (Colorado) actually told me it”

What does it mean?

RG: “Well that’s just what people say out there (New Jersey) because you say “hey want to go to the movies” and I say “fuckin’ A!”. It’s definitely a New Jersey joke, it’s based off the expression. “Of course I want to!” is kind of what it means. Like if I say “Wanna go have a cocktail?” and you say “Fuckin’ A! Of course I do!”. I don’t know why that’s just how it is there, it’s standard New Jersey language which has a lot of that type of talk in it. That’s the lingo I grew up with, different than how people talk out here (meaning Colorado)”

This joke plays off the stereotype of people from New York and New Jersey as being more aggressive and vulgar. I thought it was interesting that someone from out of state actually told RG the joke, but he thought it was so funny because it fit well with what he grew up with. Even though the joke played off stereotypes, the stereotypes were accurate enough that someone from New Jersey found it funny because it was true.

The sense of regionalism that the joke evokes is also very interesting. The fact that RG said it was”different than how people talk out here” shows how even though New Jersey and Colorado are both in the United States, what is appropriate to say in one state is not necessarily appropriate in the other. As someone raised in Colorado, I can agree with RG that people from Colorado probably would not find the joke very funny because of its vulgarity and their inability to relate. I think one of the reasons RG found the joke so amusing and enjoyed sharing it with others was because it was a way to reconnect with his roots and remember where he came from. Although Colorado and New Jersey are within the same country, there are still regional social cues that need to be picked up on. Telling the joke would be a way to give people in Colorado a sense of what New Jersey is like in an amusing and entertaining way.

The Shadow Men

“The Shadow Men are an obscure, although certainly not unheard of phenomenon that has left it’s mark on the internet. This spectral figure is most often characterized as appearing pitch black, if not just dark with some illumination visible, and standing tall with an imposing, menacing presence. There is a variant of Shadow Men, usually referred to as the Hat Man on the internet, which exactly as the name implies, wears a hat. The hat is most commonly perceived to be in the shape of a wide-brimmed fedora hat, also black to match with the dark, dim features of the haunting figure. I have found myself to have an experience consistent with what I knew about this phenomenon, particularly in the form of the hat-wearing version of a Shadow Man. My own experience with this figure happened one night in either late spring or early summer 2013, and I had been asleep since a decent hour, probably 9:00 or 10:00 PM. I had been sound asleep, yet woke up suddenly, probably at some time past midnight or 1:00 AM, or alternately, before the sunrise closely aligned to the point after 6:00 AM. If it was not quite completely dark outside, excluding the night lights from the city and suburbs, yet it certainly was inside of my bedroom. I remember it being warm during the day, and earlier that night was not much different, at least indoors. However, I felt more of a breeze than I thought to expect. There is no air-conditioning in my house. In fact, the breeze sensation was bone-chilling. I did not feel myself to be completely awake, and strangely, I recall a feeling of sleep paralysis, not being able to turn my head, just with the corners of my tired eyes. I actually thought I sensed the presence of another person in the bedroom, not quite seen, yet distinctly with a human or semi-human characteristic. I glanced at the shadows against the wall, noticing the silhouette of what appeared to be a man wearing a trench coat or overcoat, and a hat, all black. The silhouette was human-esque, yet ominous, and strangely suggestive of stereotypical film noir characters clad in long coats and fedora hats. The entire situation was stereotypically enough as though it was befitting a horror movie. As if the cold, chilly feeling was not enough to accurately describe the experience, I also believed I faintly heard a voice, yet there were indistinct sounds. It sounded like whispers at the time, although I could not make out any words intelligibly. It was not long after my sensations of this phantom Shadow Man figure that I fell back asleep. Even though I felt unable to physically move, I do not believe this was a nightmare, and to this day, the event has left a lasting impression on me. I could not forget the silhouette, the icy chill in the room and on my face and arms, and the distinct sounds of what seemed to be a human voice, not quite audible, and never understood.”

This testimony of a Shadow Man is typically like one of paranormal sightings or sensations. The witness recalls his feelings and his apparent sleep paralysis, combined with the unexpected chilly air in the bedroom, and sensations of the ghostly figure in question. The apparition is described in painstaking detail as much as visual memory could offer.

I believe that accounts like this of the Shadow Man, or Shadow Men, may be the result of sensations gone awry when the mind and body are in unstable states. Mentally, people draw associations to things, so shadows could apply. The testimony of the figure’s shape, down to his clothes, is in line with previous perceptions of archetypal film noir, or more generally almost any film made during the era of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s heyday of that genre. This Shadow Men phenomenon also appears to have quite a bit in common with the Men in Black conspiracy, and individuals’ sightings of black-suited or otherwise darkly dressed government agents. The main difference between the two phenomenons seems to be that people sincerely feel physically attached to their sightings of the agents, whereas the Shadow Men are reported, yet viewed more ambiguously and with some skepticism. The Shadow Men may or may not be wearing hats, according to other versions of the accounts.


For further reference: Ahlquist, Diane (2007). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Life After Death. USA: Penguin Group. p. 122.

Senior Theme

KB: “Each year all the senior girls would get into groups and decorate overalls to wear on the first day of school. Basically you wold buy painting overalls and paint them red and blue because those were our school colors. Then you would put like your last name and other fun decorations.”

When would you wear them?

KB:”You would wear them on the first day of school and on game days and stuff. They were supposed to show school spirit because they were our school colors. But it was also a way to see who was friends with who because each group of overalls would look different. My year the popular girls did theirs tie dye so everyone could tell them apart.”