Author Archives: evildoso

“Locks don’t keep robbers from stealing. Locks keep honest men from making mistakes”

Title: “Locks don’t keep robbers from stealing. Locks keep honest men from making mistakes.”

Interviewee: Armando Vildosola

Ethnicity: Mexican-American

Age: 21

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?): Just me and my older brother Armando, as I asked him to share his most important pieces of wisdom that our family has shared throughout the generations. We do this every so often as some way to strengthen the bonds that we have as brothers, something of a brother meeting or a brotherly bonding session. We are sitting in our home in San Diego around our dinner table, having just finished dinner. Out house is full of family walking about visiting from Mexico. We are both on spring break from school at USC.

Piece of Folklore:

Interviewee- “Our Grandpa used to say, “Locks don’t keep robbers from stealing. Locks keep honest men from making mistakes.””

Interviewer- “Do you really like that proverb?”

Interviewee- “Of course! That is why I told you it! That’s why I always tell you that. I think it’s really important to us and to our family. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt for other people to hear this too.”

Interviewer- “Do you remember when you first heard that proverb?”

Interviewee- “Not exactly the first time no. I kind-of just learned it cause grandpa said it so much.”

Analyzation: Everything about this made sense to me personally because I had heard this being said in our family many times. This proverb that was perhaps started by my Grandfather embodies my family’s views on people in the world. There are people that do evil things, and there is little that one can do to stop them from being evil. What one can do however, is make sure that an honest man stays honest. This saying is extremely important to my family, and that is mostly due to the hardships that my family has faced. That can be said for a lot of proverbs floating around. They are usually born from experience, and usually a painful one. They are born in the hopes that future generations will not have to feel the pain that past generations felt. In this case, do what you can to make sure people stay honest, but don’t expect a simple lock to keep robbers away. You need more, you need to expect them to be clever. One must always see ahead and ensure that bad things don’t happen to their family. My older brother obviously values this, and wants to make sure that I take it to heart and use it throughout my life. Because at the end of the day, the Vildosola family is the only real family we have.

Tags: Locks, Proverbs, Wisdom, Honesty

“What a Cannoli!”

Title: “What a Cannoli!”

Age: 20

Ethnicity: Mexican-American

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?): AJ is sitting on a sofa in front of the Trojan Knights house, it is a calm warm Sunday in South Central Los Angeles. It is a group of 10 male students from the University of Southern California sitting on the front porch, sharing stories. All of these men are members of Trojan Knights, and are relaxing after having started cooking homemade friend chicken. All of these men are close to one another, including the interviewer.

Piece of Folklore:

Interviewee – “You’re a cannoli! What a cannoli!”

(Everyone present laughs)

Interviewer – “I am a what?”

(More laughter)

Interviewee – “A cannoli. Such a cannoli thing to ask if you’re a cannoli!”

(Uncontrollable laughter from the other men)

Analyzation:  This phrase/phrases are more of an internal joke. No one knows why the phrase caught on, but now there are a good 40 students at USC that will call each other and other people cannoli. The meaning behind this is simple. One could interchange the word cannoli with ‘dingus’, or ‘dimwit’, maybe even ‘silly-head’. It is a playful way of making fun of people that you are close with. The development of this saying, or better this word is that it is a way of signifying and showing that one if part of that group of people. Within the University of Southern California, and within a group called the Trojan Knights, and even within that, is a group of friends that call each other cannoli. It is how they show that they are part of the group, the group of friends that they all love and care for. Anyone that questioningly looks at them after they say that is understood to be an outsider, someone who is not from the group. This type of wording is seen throughout the worlds when certain groups develop their own language and rituals associated with the group. In this case, if you are part of the group, then you are, by definition, a cannoli.

Tags: Cannoli, inside-joke, funny

The Backyard Clown

Title: The Backyard Clown

Interviewee: Adrian Vigil

Ethnicity: Mexican-American

Age: 20

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?):

AJ is sitting on a sofa in front of the Trojan Knights house, it is a calm warm Sunday in South Central Los Angeles. It is a group of 10 male students from the University of Southern California sitting on the front porch, sharing stories. All of these men are members of Trojan Knights, and are relaxing after having started cooking homemade friend chicken. All of these men are close to one another, including the interviewer. AJ says he has a good one as he puts his drink down.

Piece of Folklore:

Interviewee- “Okay here we go. This is long one, but I have a good scary story that happened to my friend. I think it could have been a ghost, but I don’t know. Okay here we go you cannoli (see post “What a Cannoli”). Okay so my friend lives in these suburbs of Houston.”

Interviewer- “Texas?”

Interviewee- “Of course you cannoli (see post “What a Cannoli”)! Ok so he lives in the suburbs, and his house has this back yard. It’s pretty big back there not going to lie. And so the backyard is all grass and surrounding the backyard he has bushes that act like a wall between his backyard and other peoples yards you know? Ok so he has this backyard, and his bedroom is the on the second floor, and he has this one big window looking back over the backyard. So this is where it gets creepy. This one night, he was sleeping, and he is a really light sleeper so stuff wakes him easily. Ok so one night he was sleeping, and he wakes up because he hears something weird in the backyard. So he walks to his window, and he sees this stupid clown dude just stumbling around in the backyard, looked like he was drunk or on something to be sure. My friend told me thought it was funny to see this guy bumbling around. So my friend then went back to bed and made a mental note to tell his parents that they should make sure drunk people can’t stumble onto their backyard anymore. So my friend went to bed that night laughing to himself. He told his parents the next morning, and his parents waved it off saying that that was a one-time thing. So my friend goes about his day as normal. Only thing is, is that he wakes up the next night, and hears things coming from his backyard, but the sounds are different. Immediately he is more upset at the noises, and more on edge about the whole situation. So he walks slowly to the window, and sees into his backyard. And in the backyard, with a shovel, is the clown. The clown isn’t bumbling about anymore, and he has a shovel in his hand. The clown is digging, digging into his backyard, and at this point my friend is thoroughly freaked out. He walks back from the window, makes sure all the doors in the house are locked and windows, and goes back to bed to try to sleep, but the sound of the digging kept him up. The next day he tells his parents, and they say that he’s seeing things and he is just a silly guy who always tries to pull something on his parents. They say that it was probably a dog digging for something, because dogs usually do that and the hole left in the back was just a dog and they would fix it soon and have someone come to fill it up. They did admit however that it was quite a big hole, a hole that is far bigger than most dogs can make. They dismiss the idea of the clown none the less. Then came the third night. Once again, my friend woke up in the middle of the night, around three am I think it was. But something is wrong, something is very different this time. A feeling of dread came upon him as he realized he was awake. He knew something was wrong. He didn’t hear anything coming from outside, but he didn’t know why he was awake. He kept telling himself to just go back to bed, to ignore everything in his imagination and just go back to sleep. He told himself not to get out of his bed, but he did. He told himself not to walk across his room over to the window, but he did. He told himself not to look out the window into the backyard, but he did. And there was the clown, with his back to my friend, and he was staring at the hole he had made the night before. In that hole there was a coffin. My friend was very confused. Then the clown bent down and opened the coffin, it was empty. My friend was confused, he didn’t know what was happening. Then the clown turned around and stared at my friend in the eyes. He knew he had been watching. My friend was paralyzed with fear. The clown just stared and him, then the clown pointed at the coffin, and started to laugh. My friend realized the coffin was meant for him. He shook his head to say no, and the clown tilted his head in confusion, even putting his hands on his hips in a comical way. He pointed again at the coffin, and my friend again shook his head. The clown grew upset and now frowned, even showing his teeth a little in hatred. Then the clown once again pointed at the coffin this time forcefully. My friend started to walk backwards slowly, to go tell his parents, but then in a blink the clown was gone, like he had just disappeared, so my friend went up to the window to look and see where the clown had gone. That’s when he heard his closet door creak open, and a creepy laugh coming from behind him.”

(Long pause)

Interviewer- “Is that it? Did anything else happen?”

Interviewee- “Nope that’s it. It turned out to be nothing although my friend doesn’t sleep in that room anymore and hates clowns now. His parents still think he was dreaming.”

Interviewer- “Do you?”

Interviewee- “Ummm no. I think he was telling the truth, at least the truth from his perspective. Maybe he had nightmares that seemed too real, or he had nightmares that were real for him.”

Analyzation:

So there are many parts to this story, and they all seem to work together. There are multiple versions of this story going around, especially recently with the internet being as big as it is today. I personally have read an online story that sounded very similar. In that respect, there are certain things that give it away as being a story that has been told many times. That is not to say that it did not happen, more so to say that it has been converted into a form that is easy to remember and relay to other people. Firstly, the fact that the clown appears in the backyard three times, and the third time is the time that something big happens. Likewise, further into the story, when the clown is pointing at the coffin, he points three times, and the third time is again when something happens. This is prevalent in western culture, this fixation on the number three. Beginning with the Holy Trinity in the Catholic faith, to the three colors of the American flag and many other flags and such. Three strikes and you’re out, the list goes on and on. The number three is integrated heavily into our culture, but natural things do not usually occur in threes, so when things like that do happen in stories, and even twice within the same story, one can discern that it has morphed into more of a story than an actual account of what happened.

Tags: Horror Story, Clown, Backyard

Las Perlas de la Virgen

Title: – Las Perlas de la Virgen

Interviewee: Armando Vildosola

Ethnicity: Mexican-American

Age: 21

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?): Just me and my older brother Armando, as I asked him to share his most important pieces of wisdom that our family has shared throughout the generations. We do this every so often as some way to strengthen the bonds that we have as brothers, something of a brother meeting or a brotherly bonding session. We are sitting in our home in San Diego around our dinner table, having just finished dinner. Out house is full of family walking about visiting from Mexico. We are both on spring break from school at USC.

Piece of Folklore:

Interviewee- “Las perlas de la Virgen”

Interviewer- “What is that?”

Interviewee- “Well it directly translates to the pearls of the Virgin. As in the Virgin Mary.”

Interviewer- “What does that mean to you?”

Interviewee- “Same thing it means to all Mexicans. It something that you use when you want to make fun of someone for valuing something too highly or when they expect too much. Something like, “You want me to pay you how much for that? What do you think that is, the pearls of the Virgin?” Things like that. It’s really common among all Mexicans.”

Interviewer- “Where did you first hear of this saying?”

Interviewee- “Oh everywhere in Mexico growing up. I remember that my mom specifically said it a lot, and soon when I was around 16 it found a way into the words that I use. I kind of starting using the words my mom used.”

Interviewer- “Why do you use it so much?”

Interviewee- “I don’t know really. I mean it’s just so easy to use and it’s really good for what it does. On one hand I guess that it does fill a need word-wise. But on the other hand using it reminds me of my mother, and my family that I have since lost. It makes me feel like a real Mexican when I use the phrase. I like it.”

Analyzation:

This saying is common throughout Mexico, and one can see that it connects the Interviewee with his culture, even when he is living in the United States. It means more to the Interviewee than other people, but that it just this once case. This phrase is derived from the Catholic faith, and it makes sense that Mexicans would use such a phrase. Mexico is after all the most Catholic country in the world, total percentage of the population wise. It only makes sense for their faith to become a part of their daily lives, including the way they speak.

Tags: Mexico, Saying, Catholicism

The End of the Evil

Title: The End of the Evil

Interviewee: Taleen Mahseredjian

Ethnicity: Armenian

Age: 20

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?):

In her room in her house in Los Angeles. She is a sophomore at USC, studying neuroscience. She gets some papers ready for her essay that she will write soon. She looks up and realized that she promised to tell the interviewer a folktale. She lets out a sign of exhaustion, then go and sits on a colorful couch. The interviewee and the interviewer are close friends, brought together through the USC organizations of Helens and Trojan Knights. She is finally ready to tell the folktale.

Piece of Folklore:

 Taleen – “Once upon a time, this isn’t going to go well. Once upon a time there was hill. On the hill, there was a tree. In the tree, there was a hole in a tree. In the hole in the tree, there was a nest. In the nest there were three eggs. On the three eggs there was a Cuckoo. So one day a fox comes to the tree and says, ‘This hill is mine, this tree is mine, there is a hole in the tree.’ He calls up to the bird, ‘What do you have up there?’ The bird says, ‘It’s just me and my three baby birds, living peacefully.’ And the fox says, ‘Nope, that is too many birds. Throw one down or I am going to go get my axe and cut down the tree.’ And the bird says, ‘I found this hill, on this hill I found this tree, in this tree I made a nest, and laid three eggs. I’ll give you one if you let the rest of us be.’ So she threw down a baby bird and the fox left. A few seasons later, the fox returns. The fox comes to the tree and says, ‘This hill is mine, this tree is mine, there is a hole in the tree.’ He calls up to the bird, ‘What do you have up there?’ The bird says, ‘It’s just me and my two baby birds, living peacefully.’ And the fox says, ‘Nope, that is too many birds. Throw one down or I am going to go get my axe and cut down the tree.’ And the bird says, ‘I found this hill, on this hill I found this tree, in this tree I made a nest, and laid three eggs. I’ll give you one if you let the rest of us be.’ So she threw down a baby bird and the fox left. The mother bird starts crying and a crow hears and flies to the tree. The crow asks the mother bird why she is crying and she recounts the story. And the crow goes, ‘Don’t be naïve, this hill is everyone’s, it does not belong to a single person. Besides, where would a fox get an axe?’ The next time he comes back, don’t listen to him and he will go away. So the mother bird thanks the crow and the crow flies away. A few seasons later the fox returns. The fox comes to the tree and says, ‘This hill is mine, this tree is mine, there is a hole in the tree.’ He calls up to the bird, ‘Throw down a bird or I will cut the tree down.’ The mother bird sticks her head out and says, ‘No this is everybody’s hill, it does not belong to you. And you don’t even have an axe.’ And the fox goes, ‘Is that so? Who told you that?’ And the mother bird says, ‘The crow told me that. Go away you’re not getting anything.’ And the fox goes away and walks around for a bit thinking. He decides to get back at the crow for what he did, so he goes and he plays dead in a field. The crow flies overhead and sees the seemingly dead fox in the field. The crow swoops down to harvest his eyes. Right as the crow reaches the fox, the fox jumps up and bites the crow’s neck, trapping it. He asks, ‘Why did you tell the mother bird that I don’t have an axe, what’s it to you?’ And the crow says, ‘I’m sorry, but if you let me go I’ll make it up to you by giving you my hidden stash of treasure, if you want it it’s all yours. So the fox lets the crow go, and the crow goes to show the fox where the treasure is hidden. From above he notices that there is a farmer’s dog taking a nap under a bush. He tells the fox that my treasure is in the bush. The fox dives into the bush looking for treasure, and the dog wakes up delighted in the fact that he now has lunch. The fox then laments about his life and his past evils. The fox gets eaten by the dog. Everyone else lived happily ever after. The end.”

Analyzation:

This tale is very unique. And yet, at the same time, there are many things that are recognizable and that carry past the Armenian culture itself and into more global and mixed cultures, such as that of the United States. For example, within the story, the mother Cuckoo has their chicks. That is no coincidence. Within folklore, some cultures tend to favor the number three, while other cultures favor the number four and so on. With western countries, it appears to be the number three. That is not the only time three appears in the folktale. Within the tale, the wolf comes to the tree three times, and as in modern western jokes, the change happens the third time around. That is when the mother Cuckoo tells the fox to go away, and finally stands up for herself. Also, this story has a huge overarching sense of freeing yourself from people telling you what to do, and from people claiming that things are theirs.

Tags: Armenian, Folktale, Evil