Author Archives: Adam Schall

Catch Riddle

Instructions in performing the Catch Riddle titled “Stop & Pots”:

  • Subject 1 asks Subject 2 to do two things
    • When Subject 1 says “stop”, Subject 2 must spell out “S-T-O-P” out loud
    • When Subject 1 says “pots”, Subject 2 must spell out “P-O-T-S” our loud
  • Subject 1 randomly alternates between saying stop and pots, nearly ten times.  Throughout this time, Subject 2 is constantly spelling the two words repeatedly.
  • Finally, Subject 1 asks Subject 2, “What do you do at a green light?”
    • Subject 2’s tendency is to say, “stop” even though that is the wrong answer, thereby being the catch riddle.

Eric, now a student in Santa Barbara, “learned this catch riddle in elementary

school when another boy pulled the catch riddle on me [him].  I fell for the catch riddle and actually said stop.  Most people actually fall for it.  I tried it out on my family when I first found out about it, and everyone except my mom fell for it.  The funny thing is that I haven’t forgotten the riddle and have actually used it as I have gotten older.  And still, even when people aren’t in elementary school and are more intelligent they still fall for the catch.  Anytime I say the riddle it brings back vivid memories of when I actually first heard it on the blacktops of my school where we played basketball at recess.”

When I first asked Eric if he knew of any forms of folklore, specifically jokes and riddles, he responded by beginning the process of this catch riddle.  I fell for it myself and then he went into detail about how and when he learned it.  It seems appropriate that these catch riddles would spread throughout elementary schools because kids find them extremely fascinating.  However, I am not certain that most originate at elementary schools.  One theory I have is that most originate amongst older children, anywhere from middle school to high school students, and they proceed to try out the catch riddles on their younger siblings.  Then, the younger siblings find the catch riddles amazing and cool, only to spread them across elementary schools.  This catch riddle seems appropriate to say to people of all ages, which isn’t always the case.

Chain E-Mail

*Below was in the e-mail*

Subject: The Passover Toilet Seat – Isn’t this the refined Passover gift for which you’ve been waiting?

“I received this chain e-mail, just recently around the Jewish holiday, Passover.  The initial email had been forwarded and sent to hundreds of people.  What is funny is that another Jewish friend of mine sent me the exact same e-mail and she does not even know the first person who sent this to me.  In fact one woman is from Dallas and the other woman is from Arizona.  I thought the image [above] was pretty funny, even though I usually just delete chain e-mails.  I didn’t forward the email to anyone else cause, that’s just something I don’t do.  The toilet seat cover is designed to look like matzo and the phrase “Let my people go” is the phrase Moses used to demand freedom from Pharaoh of Egypt.  Obviously this is a play on words referring to releasing your bowels or letting them go.”

Chain e-mails have become a very modern form of folklore.  It is almost impossible to trace an original source to this e-mail, and it is an artistic means of communication between people.  In this case the folk are Jews and the lore is Passover, specifically Passover jokes.  What is interesting is that Susan received this identical email from two people located in completely different places across the country.  The picture itself is a folk joke, and it has cultural meaning behind it, as Susan mentioned the story of Moses demanding his people to be “let go” from Pharaohs command.  It is also interesting to note how many chain e-mails go around a day.  Susan mentioned how she gets so many chain e-mails that she just deletes them because there is too many to go through.  This is also a seasonal chain email because if this were sent out in July, it would not be as funny, but in the context of Passover season, it is appropriate.

Game – Korean

Korean Jacks – Gongi

“This is how you play Gongi, which means Korean Jacks.  The game contains five very small plastic cubes.  Each player alternates turns and goes as follows: you throw the five jacks out of your hand and then grab one jack, throw it in the air, and pick up another jack.  You then proceed to throw both jacks up and collect another jack from the ground.  Keep doing this until all five are picked up.  Then throw them down on the floor again, and pick them up in sets of two’s.  Repeat and then do sets of three’s, four’s, and then all five.  You cannot touch other jacks when scooping up particular jacks.  If you do, then it is the next person’s turn.  If you drop any of the jacks in the air then it is the next player’s turn.  When you go through a complete series you receive a point and can play up to whatever you chose.”

“I learned this game back when I lived in Korea.  It was popular amongst children of all ages, ranging from 6 year olds to teenagers.  When I moved to the United States in Middle School, I brought the game over and several of my Korean friends from the States knew the game, too.  We played the game during nutrition and lunch at school and it actually became very popular amongst students.  Gongi pieces could be purchased in Korea Town in Los Angeles.  This game reminds me of my childhood growing up in Korea, and although I stopped playing it as I got older, every now and then I play by myself to get rid of stress.”

I sat down and played a game of Gongi with Brian and it resembles American Jacks somewhat.  It is interesting how two games can resemble each other when they are coming from two completely different countries.  Many childhood games serve as memories of youth to those who are too old to play them; however, the reason these games live on is because older adults pass them down to their children and even older children pass games down to younger children.  This is how other folk games such as Tic-Tac-Toe, American Jacks, and in this case Korean Jacks have lived on throughout the years.

Folk Song

Fraternity Fight Song entitled “Raiders” – Tyler did not want to reveal his fraternity in this project, so replaced the letters of the fraternity with “ABC”.

We’re ABC Raiders,

We’re Raiders of the night.

We’re crazy sons of bitches,

We’d rather fuck than fight.

Highty Highty, All so Mighty,

Who the fuck are we.

God damn sons of bitches,

We are ABC.

Who are we (song leader)

A (group)

Who are we (song leader)

B (group)

Who are we (song leader)

ABC (everyone)

Tyler, who just joined a fraternity to be unnamed this past semester, has great pride in his house and brothers.  “This isn’t our official fraternity song.  That is different and sung at different rituals.  This song is separate and unofficial.  I learned it through older brothers in the fraternity.  No one taught any of the new brothers this song, so at certain rituals when it was sung, I didn’t know the words.  I ended up learning from one of the seniors in the fraternity.”  I asked Tyler if he could tell me the rituals in which this song is sung at, he responded, “It is sung on our Bid Night, which is where we give rushees bids into our house.  It is also sung on Initiation Night, which is when the new guys or pledges are initiated into the fraternity.  So basically it is sung at the beginning and end of the Pledge Semester.  But sometimes it is sung on random occasions, such as bus rides to events.  When asked about how he feels about the song Tyler responded, “This is the one song that gets me so fired up and excited.  When we sing the song officially, everyone is in a circle with our arms around each other, and we just scream the song.  I feel so proud of being in this fraternity when I’m with all the other brothers singing it.” Tyler did not know where the song originated from, but felt it was just passed down.

Many teams, groups, or organizations have fight songs usually before events.  This fight song clearly marks the beginning and end of a vital semester in the fraternity system: the pledge semester.  The pledge semester is a rite of passage into the fraternity, and this song marks a celebration of this semester’s start and commencement.  Lyrically the song looks as if it could have originated long ago, rather than in the nineteenth and twentieth century, when fraternities were created.  The pride that Tyler feels runs parallel to the lyrics of the song specifically the part “Highty, Highty, all so Mighty”.  The song might serve a ritualistic purpose, but it also is a means to scream and shout pride of this fraternity.

Recipe – Jewish

Sephardic Haroset

8 oz pitted dates

2 apples, peeled and finely chopped

wine and honey to moisten

8 oz of dark raisins

¼ cup chopped nuts

Ashkenazi Haroset

4 pared apples 1 cup chopped walnuts or mixed nuts

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

4 tablespoons of grape wine or grape juice

Betsy makes the Jewish dish haroset, every year for the holiday Passover.  She said that the dish itself represents the brick that the Jewish slaves had to create and use for King Pharaoh of Egypt before Moses freed them.  Betsy claims, “Haroset is only served during Passover, not any other time of the year.”  The dish actually dose look like it can be mixed and made into brick but in fact is very sweet.  Betsy learned this recipe from her mother, who learned it from her mother, as the tradition is to pass it down from mother to daughter.  Betsy uses the Ashkenazi recipe above, not the Sephardic recipe because she is an Ashkenazi Jew; however, she says that she is not sure what the difference is between Ashkenazis and Sephardics.  She was taught both recipes in case of having a Sephardic Jew over for Passover; in that case, she would make both recipes.  When making this part of the Passover meal, it reminds Betsy of the springtime with her family, particularly her children who love her haroset.

After discussing with several Jewish Americans the difference between Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews, there seems to be a consensus that Ashkenazi Jews came from the Eastern part of Europe, such as Russia and Germany, while the Sephardic Jews came from Spain and Portugal.  As far as the meaning behind haroset, it is universal and is not just Betsy’s individual meaning.  At the Passover Seder, there are several dishes that hold representation to the Jewish slavery in Egypt.  I personally have taken part in many Seder’s and have had haroset, and before each dish is eaten there is a prayer and explanation behind the dish told to the entire table.