Author Archives: Zoe Warganz

The Cup Game


Alex: “The game itself is easy; two or more people sit around eachother, each with a plastic solo cup in front of them (DON’T use glass cups). The players then proceed to simultaneously perform a series of claps and cup flips, (I have no idea how to describe exactly what you do in words) with this motion ending in passing your cup to the player on the right. After each pass, the tempo of the game increases, until the player eventually messes up the cup flipping pattern, gets angry and throws their cup in frustration. The winner of the game is the person that can go the longest without messing the pattern up.”

Me: “So what does it mean to you?”

Alex: “I played this game for the first time on Search 1 (11/22/2008). I was taught it by Stephanie, during our first long break, in that little cafeteria room. I from there proceeded to pretend I knew what I was doing and challenge everybody in sight. This gives the game added significance to me because whenever I think of it I associate it with that time and place. Playing it makes me remember Search and everyone that was on it with us. When playing with non-search people, it’s not the same because I feel they do not appreciate it as much as I do. As with the Search in general, it’s just one of those things that outsiders can’t really understand without being there.”

The Cup Game is a tradition on religious retreats, like SEARCH, which are aimed at religious youth. Part of the experience of a Search retreat is the lack of traditional entertainment, like TV, cell phones, and computers, meant to encourage the candidates (those teens experiencing the retreat for the first time) to socialize with each other. The plastic Cup Game has evolved and been passed around groups of high school students, because those cups were some of the only materials available. The game is a bonding experience that a lot of candidates enjoy, because it’s competitive and fun.

Guido Hunting

This game is only played at the Jersey shore, particularly Seaside Heights, NJ. Essentially, players are on the look-out for “guidos.” Every time one is spotted, the person who spots it gains a point. Whoever has the most points by the end of the day, wins. Extra points may be awarded for seeing a guido engaging in stereotypical guido behavior, like fist-pumping, or if they are seen with the female counter-part, a guidette.

A guido is a The Guido is an entirely American phenomena, with its epicenter in the New York/ New Jersey metropolitan area. Although most of its examples are of Italian-American descent, many times other non-descript Caucasians will follow suit in an attempt to achieve an identity- in fact any identity. The Guido is highly recognizable by his attention to muscular development, status symbols, and regional dialect. Guidos are fortunate in that they usually tend to be loyal to their heritage and cultures.

Kaity cannot specifically recall when or where she first encountered this game, but it has become a tradition to play every time she goes to the shore. I have played the game myself, and it is a great way to simultaneously celebrate and make fun of the “Jersey Shore” subculture. At once acknowledging the way the rest of the country sees New Jersey, and making it a part of our identity.

Beijing Rotten Tofu

Beijing rotted tofu
Manchurian traditional food. Partially fermented.

Summer before freshman year of high school in Beijing, at a very fancy restaurant, Eddie’s father convinced him to try this delicacy. Eddie tried it and gagged. Apparently he needed to wash out the taste with alcohol.

Eddie’s father really loved the rotten tofu, he genuinely though Eddie would enjoy it as much as he did. Because Eddie is American, he could not fully appreciate the rotten tofu. For him the symbolic value was not enough to cover up the fact that it really is just rotten food. His father has a stronger tie to the area, and may have even grown up eating this kind of delicacy, so to him, it tastes good.

Godiva-SPD Frat song

Sigma Phi Delta (engineering frat) song

Sung to the rhythm of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Verse 1
Godiva was a lady, who through Coventry did ride,
To show to all the villagers her lovely bare white hide.
The most observant man around, an engineer of course
Was the only man to notice that Godiva rode a horse.

Chorus (after each verse)
We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the engineers.
We can, we can, we can, we can demolish forty beers.
Drink rum, drink rum, drink rum, drink rum, and come along with us
For we don’t give a damn for any old man who don’t give a damn for us.

Verse 2
She said I’ve come a long, long way, no man has come so far
So get me off this goddamn horse and lead me to a bar.
The man who took her from her horse and stood her for a beer
Was a slurry-eyed surveyor and a drunken engineer.

Verse 3
Venus was a statue made entirely as stone
‘Twas not a fig leaf on her she was naked as a bone.
After careful observation an old engineer discourse,
“Of course the damn thing’s broken concrete should be reinforced!”

Verse 4
A beauty and an engineer were sitting in a park.
The engineer was busy doing research in the dark.
His scientific methods were a marvel to observe,
His left hand took the readings while his right hand traced the curves.

Verse 5
My father was a trapper in the wilds of Malibu,
My mother was a hostess in a house of ill repute,
At the age of five they sent me out to pimp for my own beers.
I told them all to go to hell and joined the engineers.

Verse 6
Said the beauty to the engineer, “My beer is getting warm,
Unless some more is brought to me I’ll retire to the dorm.”
The engineer said, “Go to hell I’m not a money tree,
If you’re so goddamn thirsty you can buy a beer for me.”
Verse 7
Sir Francis Drake and all his ships set out for Callus bay.
They heard the Spanish rum fleet was a’ headed out that way.
But the engineers had beaten them by a night and half a day,
And though all drunk and staggering you still could hear them say:

Shout Chorus

Verse 8
When I was young, I knew a maid, whose heart was full of fire,
Her physical endowments would have made your hands perspire.
But she surprised me when she said she never had been kissed.
Her boyfriend was a tired engineering physicist.

Verse 9
An artsy and an engineer once found a gallon can.
Said the artsy to the engineer, “Drink up if you’re a man.”
They drank three drinks, the artsy died, his body turned bright green.
The engineer drank on and said, “It’s only gasoline!”

Verse 10
My father peddles opium, my mother’s on the dole,
My sister used to walk the streets but now she’s on parole,
My brother owns a restaurant with bedrooms in the rear,
But I’m the black sheep of the family ‘cause I’m an engineer.

Verse 11
The army and the navy boys set out to have some fun,
So they went down to the taverns where the fiery liquors run.
But all they found were empties ‘cause the engineers had come,
And traded in their instruments for gallon jugs of rum.


This SPD brother had to memorize this song as part of pledging the Sigma Phi Delta fraternity. For him, and his brothers, the song is symbolic of the weeks of initiation into the organization.

Songs have long been utilized by fraternities and other groups to initiate new members, and build a sense of community. Memorizing the song is generally part of the new member’s joining process; knowing the song is a mark of belonging to the group. Furthermore, the song itself emphasizes how great it is to belong to this group (engineers) over other groups (like military or “artsy” types) and also promotes behavior associated with being a fraternity brother, including excessive drinking and getting women.

Chinese High-Rises

In chinese culture, the number four is unlucky. Therefore, high-rises in China will not have the fourth, fourteenth or forty fourth floor. These buttons are often missing in elevators. If a building has that floor, then the apartments are extremely discounted. Eddie saw this in his family’s apartment building in Jilian, China.

? sì 4
? s? death
In Chinese, the words for “four” and “death” are homophonous. Therefore the number is often associated with bad luck. The superstition associating death with bad luck is common.