Author Archives: Jeff Newman

Internet Popular Culture

Chuck Norris Facts:

If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars, Chuck Norris has more money than you.

Chuck Norris can sneeze with his eyes open.

Chuck Norris can eat just one Lay’s potato chip.

Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.

Chuck Norris CAN believe it’s not butter.

When taking the SAT, write “Chuck Norris” for every answer. You will score over 8000.

Ross Chris Newman – Chuck Norris popular culture.

Chuck Norris is a famous martial arts movie star who has been in dozens of different films and a couple television shows. He is most famous for starring in his TV sitcom, “Walker, Texas Ranger.” While he was a normal karate actor throughout his long career, in 2005 Conan O’Brien began a new fad of “Chuck Norris facts,” that took hold of a small internet community and eventually grew into a world-wide internet phenomenon. The jokes were originally centered on his television show “Walker, Texas Ranger,” but they gradually moved to other facets of daily life and eventually were composed of anything that any person could think of.

Chuck Norris has earned the title of being known as a tough, rugged, and strong man. This is most likely because of the roles he played in his acting career and all the “bad guy butt” he has kicked over the last few decades. He has earned the reputation of not being messed around with. Resultantly, people try and find a way to diminish a person’s standing with such a well-known and extensive history. A normal person probably would never have came up with these jokes because they perceive Chuck Norris in such high esteem, but because Conan O’Brien decided to begin the trend, others around the internet community received this as an “OK,” to continue the verbal bash on Chuck Norris.

The facts that people come up for Chuck are quite clever. The facts are normally absurd claims about Norris’s hardiness, attitude, virility, “alpha-male” status,” superiority, and masculinity such as “If you can see Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris can see you. If you can’t see Chuck Norris, you only have seconds to live.” Chuck Norris has been asked in interviews what he thinks about all these “facts” about him. He normally chuckles and responds to the interviewer that he thinks they are cute and funny. He does not take them seriously and realizes that the people who create these and the people who end up reading them have a great time doing so. So why ruin something that easily manufactures such happiness.

Chuck Norris facts are a perfect example of what the internet/digital age is capable of. Creating an internet phenomenon that is readily known throughout society from nothing. It is amazing to see how something so simple can become so important to a lot of people. Chuck Norris facts are a great way to get a quick laugh if someone is bored or is looking to cheer themselves up. I believe that is the main purpose for the advances in internet popular culture. Many people in the world are not happy with their lives, so the internet is great way to escape and experience the wonders that other people around the world have to offer.


Wikipedia Article.

Official Chuck Norris Facts

More Chuck Norris Facts can be found in this book.

The Truth about Chuck Norris. By Ian Spector. 2007.

Folk Belief – Japan

Justin Dove – Seniority

In the same way American’s will say someone’s title before their name (i.e. Mr. or Mrs. Smith). The Japanese have a specific tradition they perform. Similar to Spanish in how there are formal and casual ways of saying the same word depending on whom you are talking to, the Japanese will add a word signifying that they are speaking with someone older than they are. Even if that person is a good friend and only six months older, the proper and polite thing to do in Japanese culture is to say sen-pai after their name. While I find this a commonality around the world to show respect to ones elders, the Japanese take it a whole new level. Children in class will call their instructors by sen-pai. Children will also show this respect to their parents. But the fact that a 13 year old must say this to his 14 year old friend blows my mind. I have friends who are a year younger than I am, but I would never expect them to call me anything other than my name. Justin on the other hand is used to this tradition. I asked him whether it ever was a big deal to him growing up in Japan, but he just said it was second nature. He never thought twice about it.

This tradition of seniority and respecting ones elder can be seen in other ways as well in The younger person must always bow lower than the elder at all times. This is considered common courtesy and shows respect to the elder. These acts of courtesy and politeness only occur between two people of Japanese origin. The Japanese do not expect other cultures to understand theirs and are thus not offended when others do not abide by the same rules they do. The Japanese are a very structured people. They abide by many rules and have many long-lasting traditions that they perform. I believe that all of these factors are main reasons to why their race has survived over the ages. Rules and regulations keep a nation under control. Chaos and anarchy never have the chance to erupt if there is no reason for them to do so. The Japanese are a noble and honorable race who I believe more countries should try to emulate. The traditions they perform and the culture they try to preserve is of utmost importance to them. I think this is why there is still so much folklore buried within the Japanese culture in the 21st century.

Folk Games

Patricia Newman – Halloween in Tijuana

Halloween in Tijuana is similar to Halloween in America; full of mischief and games. Trick or treating, dancing, and dressing up in costumes are only of few of things they do similar to America. While vandalism in America is common on Halloween, the teenagers in Tijuana play a game that consists of throwing eggs at each other.

There is no actual name for the game but it happens every year at the same time in the same place. The kids would save up their allowances for weeks and then spend all their money to stock up on cartons of eggs. Prior to midnight on Halloween night, the kids would organize and form up into groups of 4 or 5 so they all can fit into separate cars. There is an infamous road in downtown Tijuana known as Avenida Revolucion. This road is where all the action took place. The kids would drive up and down Avenida Revolucion identifying other kids’ cars who were there playing the game as well and then preceded to throw eggs at each other trying to make a mess. My Mom remembers one time when she was with some friends at midnight and they were in a convertible. All she remembers from the experience is the hours she spent afterwards cleaning the egg yolk and shells out of her hair as well as the many hours it took to clean the car. Retrospectively, it probably was not the best choice to go out and play this game in an open-topped car.

I asked her the reason why they played this game. She said it was to recognize the fact that they were still young and had the ability to have fun. I was surprised there was no intrinsic value to this game because normally there are religious or cultural meanings to games such as this at other times of the year. Even at Halloween there are cultural events that occur in Mexico. The Day of the Dead is a perfect example of this. However, in my Mother’s case, she played this game from the time she was old enough to be out on her own with friends until she left for college. These are the events from her childhood that identifies who she is as a Hispanic and a member of specific group of kids in Tijuana. She also uses memories such as this egg throwing game as a way to remember the good times she had with her friends as a mischievous kid growing up in Tijuana.

Folk Game – Japan

(Original Kanji)

(Japanese in English)

(English Translation)

Seiko Takeshita – Punishment Game

The Japanese are notorious for being hardcore when they play games. From Seiko’s point of view, Japanese people love to play games. And they don’t just play any game and leave it at that. On top of their already being a winner and loser, the Japanese people add a catch. They call it the “Batsu Game,” or punishment game. The loser of whatever game they are playing is at the mercy of the winner. Be it any card game, Rock-Paper-Scissors, Monopoly, or traditional Japanese game, the loser has to perform any deed that they are asked to do by the winner. The punishments can vary between very easy and simple tasks, to extremely embarrassing ones. Seiko remembers two occasions where she lost and had to perform a very embarrassing punishment. The first was she when had to run around Tokyo with very heavy eye shadow all over her face for 15 minutes by herself. The second was a time when she was forced to do a Billy’s Boot camp skit in the middle of a crowded plaza in the city of Shibuya. Billy’s Boot camp is a television workout routine that does aerobics. I asked her what would have happened if she chose not to do what she was told. She said there was no other punishment other than a hit to your reputation and the possibility that others will not want to play anymore games with you. To her, there was no other choice but to endure the embarrassment.

This addition of the punishment game can be most closely related to adding a game of truth or dare at the conclusion of any game previously played. However the catch is that it always has to be a dare. Seiko mentioned that the only reason they played the punishment game was to make the games they are playing more interesting and competitive. She said that the adrenaline rush of not wanting to lose made the experience ten times greater than just playing for no reward. This is true among many other facets of life. Where there are rewards or lack of punishment, the incentive to do your best is much greater than if you are just playing for fun. Seiko much rather prefers when the “Batsu game” is played than when it is left out.

It is clear from history that the Japanese like to play and make up games. They are known by gamers to create the best video games. They have the craziest game shows on television such as “MXC or Human Tetris,” among others. They are just a lively and energetic nation. Tokyo is known as a fun and vigorous locale to visit because of all the things there are to do at all times of the day and night. No wonder they came up with the “Batsu Game.” The Japanese have been around for a long time which has allowed them to have a long history from which they can pick and choose different traditions to perform and which are not as important. This tradition has won the test of time and will probably be carried on for many more generations to come.

Folk Ritual

Jeff Newman – Family Prayer

Gracias Diosito, por un dia mas de vida, un dia mas de alegrias (Original)

Thank you God, for one day more of living, one day more of happiness (Literal Translation)

Thank you God, for another day of life and another day of happiness (Actual Translation)

Gracias por mi casa, mi alimenta, mi abrigo.

Thank you for my house, my health, my coat

Thank you for my shelter, my health, and my clothing.

Gracias por todo lo que me has dado.

Thank you for everything that you me has given

Thank you for everything that you have given me.

Te pido por mi Papi, Mami, Jeppy y Ross Chris;

To you I ask for my Father, Mother, Jeppy, and Ross Chris;

I ask for your protection for my Father, Mother, Jeppy, and Ross Chris;

Turtle, Oreo y Sky; toda mi familia, todo el

Turtle, Oreo, and Sky; all my family, all the

Turtle, Oreo, and Sky; my family, all of the

Mundo entero, y para que nunca nos falte el

World entire, and so we never are without

World, and so we are never without any

Agua ni la luz. Amen

Water or the light. Amen

Water or the light. Amen

Shema Yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai ehad (Literal Translation)

Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One (Actual Translation)

Jeff Newman – Bedtime Prayer

My Mom and Dad came up with this prayer when I was born. They wanted to make sure that I had a strong religious background and that I appreciated my Mexican and Jewish heritage. My father met my mother in medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico in the late 1970’s. My Mother was not Jewish then. However, she did convert when they married so that I would be raised under one religion. Because of my Mother’s strong religious background, she made sure that I understood where I came from and what I was, A Mexican Jew.

I have been reciting this prayer with my family every night for my entire life. I asked my Mom if it was common for Mexican families to do this. She said it was not. She wanted to create something unique and special for our family. She created something that will live on for generations and remind our lineage of what it means to be considered part of the Newman family.

Growing up, I never really took this prayer that seriously. I was young, and no matter how many times my Mother told me to focus and actually listen to the words I was saying, I rarely did. Because we would recite the prayer at night right before bedtime I would be so exhausted that I would accidentally mumble the words. Sometimes, they would be so funny that whatever I said would stick for a few weeks and the whole family would take part in saying it. The prayer would also change whenever we got a new pet or a pet would sadly pass away. It was not uncommon to have a new variation of a portion of the prayer every couple of months.

Another important aspect is the fact that we mixed two heritages into one prayer. We begin with the Spanish portion which is followed immediately with a Hebrew prayer. My Mom made it this way on purpose to make sure that we remember our ancestry as well as our religion because they are both of equal importance. Whenever I am having a hard time and I feel like nothing will make me feel better I always say this prayer to remember my blessings and realized how fortunate I am. I am greatly looking forward to the day when I can pass this bedtime ritual onto my children and my family.