JK: “So there’s this story of a guy who was working on the foley for the ‘Titanic’ movie with James Cameron that’s become this like legendary story in the audio world. Not sure how exact it is, but I’ll tell it how I remember.” Me: “That’s perfect.” JK: “Okay, so, supposedly the [foley] guy had been working on creating the sound for this sequence for a while and was going into a review with James. And obviously being near completion, weeks of work have gone into this.” Me: “Right” JK: “And James walked in to check out the scene, the dude presses play in ProTools. They’re sitting there, watching the scene, there’s all the sound- he’s watching it. James leans over, and he hits Command+A on the keyboard, then the delete key… and then Command+S. Closes the project, and walks out.” Me: “Did he say anything?!” JK: “I’ve heard some people say he did, but most say he walked out silent. [Again] not sure but it seems like it would be, and everyone I know believes it.”
The informant works in the audio industry for voice over, sound mixing, mastering, etc. This story was told amongst co-workers at a larger audio company he was working for at the time and moved quickly from shock-gossip to legend status.
While I was receiving a recounting of it over the phone, it was most commonly exchanged as a recognition of the maltreatment of people in their industry by the big shots. Knowledge of the story provides a certain wisdom and a sense of community with the other audio engineers on your level.
Stories like these in an industry that can be very cut throat because of certain unsavory individuals seem to serve as a reminder that everyone is there to make good art, but also to work and interact with others as human beings. Obviously, it is a stab at James Cameron’s character but also between the lines almost mocks his performative seriousness. Finally, having done work myself in audio and with music, losing project data is always the worst possible thing to happen. You will never really be able to re-create what you’ve done exactly how you had it before, and it can be extremely discouraging. This legend also serves as a lesson to always keep backups of your work. Because if it’s not a crash or a weird glitch that comes for your data, it’s a self-righteous director.
JK (50s, american-polish, father): “It’s like buying a wolf and then freaking out when it attacks your kids!”
The informant is my dad remarking over the phone in response to me explaining how I was upset about not being able to finish working on a multitude of projects outside of school. When asked about where he heard the phrase, he pointed to Catholic school and the sort of lamb/wolf proverbs that he was exposed to there. He also claimed it to have similarity to the saying “bringing a knife to a gunfight.”
The phrase was said in an effort to make me laugh and bring light to the worry I’d been expressing (and it did get me to do so). It’s as if to say “well, what were you expecting to happen?”
The proverb itself is innately very dark in nature, and yet hits that sort of shock humor coupled with a simple realization. The idea of having your children eaten is a terrible concept, but the ignorance/gullibility of the person who would do such is. An added factor to the proverb is the in the word choice of “buying” said wolf. There is a certain action in paying for the beast that ends up screwing you over, which bolsters and reveals the main lesson of the saying. It asks the recipient of said advice to be more pragmatically present in the day to day; to not hyperextend their own capabilities.
“So basically, my Russian great grandmother would spit in her daughter- my grandmother’s hair, for good luck. My grandmother then went and did it to my mom, which passed down the tradition to her. And then my mom would do it to me. It’s a little tiny spit in your hair, and she’d do it to me before I’d go in for any audition or big sports game. That sorta thing. I don’t know how far back it goes beyond my great grandma, but it’s always been present in my family.”
The informant, CR, is an ashkenazi jew/russian-american college student who is pursuing acting. He often has performances and big events like this where, if he’s with his mom, she will spit on him for a little extra luck. He believes in the power of this superstition and thinks it to provide that boost of confidence that can make all the difference.
CR had brought up this ritual superstition and I inquired what the full picture was. Specifically asking where this practice emerged from and what he knows about it.
Having noted how this was a practice on his Russian side of the family, I dug into the archives to see if there was any other occurrence of this strange little ritual and found that there was! In a post called “Spitting on the Devil,” a folklorist describes a tradition spitting over/on your shoulder three times to prevent the Devil from interfering with your good intentions. In this case, it’s a practice that follows the common superstition of “knocking on wood” when you say out loud a belief of good fortune so as to not “jinx it.” While CR’s example has deviated from the religious affiliation of this luck practice and anti-jinx, the lucky spit seems to be correlated.
To read more on the spitting practice, check out the archive post linked below.
The informant, SE, and I were discussing a fight that broke out at a concert.
Me: “…and then she spat in her face.”
SE: “After it was broken up?”
Me: “No, while they were hitting each other.”
SE: “Honestly based.”
The informant is a twenty-one year old, white, college student who is very active on online platforms like reddit and twitter. He originally picked it up from his friend, an indian-american college student, and then SE passed it on to our friend group. The phrase is all over online blog posting, comment threads, and in colloquial vernacular.
“Based” as a word is practically synonymous with “good” or “cool.” But the performance and inflection of how it’s used can greatly change the meaning behind it. The use of the word “based” itself has become a bit of a meme, and thus, it has taken on a post-ironic, humorous quality as well.
In the example above, SE said it very sharply with an overly genuine tone. Here, what he’s really implying is saying that the action of the girl was the OPPOSITE of “good” or “cool” and is calling it such ironically to get a laugh. Calling something “based” is a more niche way to describe something as being good, and although it isn’t said as much as words like “sick” or “dope,” it holds a very specific purpose which makes it popular in our friend group’s humor.
Just a quick google search and you will find it in memes like the following.
SE: “When I was a kid, every Christmas, we’d have the Christmas tree set out and all decorated. But instead of having a normal angel on the top, we have an angel with the head of an airedale terrier.”
Me: “A dog?”
SE: “Yeah, it was the first kind of dog we had. The star actually has a name that my sister gave it. We call it the ‘Guinness’ angel named after our first dog. And we have a rotation between us kids of who gets to put Guinness up each year.”
The informant, SE, was raised Catholic and grew up in Pasadena. He’s been celebrating Christmas his whole life, and the dog angel has always been a part of the holiday for him.
We were exchanging Christmas traditions amongst our friends and SE explained his family’s unique ornament ritual. Important to note, their dog Guinness has since passed away, but they still put up this star topper as their angel.
My family also has a tradition around who gets to put up certain ornaments on the tree, and a rotating system for how that is decided… but I’ve never heard of the dog star topper. The style of object significance is much alike how tourismus can garner a much greater value despite being of such cheap materials. Having the knowledge that Guinness is no longer alive almost makes the star have even more spiritual value, as the family’s own animal watches over their home when the holidays come around.