Tag Archives: online forums

“死鱼正口,收杆就走” —Chinese Angler’s Superstition

Translation: Grab the rod and go if you got a dead fish.

This is a superstition that Chinese anglers believe in. The informant is an angler, and he learned this saying on the Chinese online forum of fishers. The dead fish is believed to be attached to the fishing rod by the water monsters(水鬼). If the angler keeps fishing, he will be the next water monster. To protect oneself, the angler must burn the paper money and prepare meat for the water monster, a ritual to appease the water monster. Although the informant does not believe in monsters, he still respects and shares this term with others. The informant is also sure that all anglers in China know this term as it’s a general term.

As a well-known term, the saying has some practical meaning, while the ritual is a common way Chinese people deal with creatures that are not human beings. The saying itself, which warns anglers about dead fish, might be a cautionary saying. When one catches a dead fish, it might mean the water is contaminated, which causes the death of the fish. Thus one should stop fishing at that location and avoid eating the fish. The ritual of appeasing the water monster involves the Chinese superstition of offering food and money to things in another world. Burning paper money is a way to provide money to the dead, and it is believed that supernatural creatures can consume the food humans provide them. By “worshiping” the water monster, anglers can avoid being harmed by the water monsters.

What comes at the end of a rainbow?

Background: The informant is a 22 year old college student. They have a silly personality and love to tell jokes, and this is one that they have been telling their entire life. 

Informant: Let me tell you a joke. What comes at the end of a rainbow? What you ask? A “W”. Ahahahaha. 

Me: Where did you hear this joke first? Who told you it?

Informant: It is from, um, the internet. I looked up: “great jokes” and I found this one and nobody laughed at this joke so it’s been my life mission to make someone chuckle. 

Me: Who do you usually tell this joke to?

Informant: I tell this joke to all audiences because it’s very friendly. You can tell it to 5-year-olds, you can tell it to 85-year-olds. So I tell it to my grandpa, I tell it to my best friend, my grandma who has passed, unfortunately. So, I tell everyone these jokes because no one laughs and it puts a smile on their face because it makes them feel awkward. 

Reflection: Beyond hearing the joke itself, I think this interaction with the informant shows how jokes are used by people to determine who is in their ingroup. The informant said that when they tell this joke they are trying to make others laugh, and that most don’t find it funny. However, if someone does find this joke funny then the informant feels they can be close to that person. 

SCP: Containment Breach

SCP: Containment Breach is a horror computer game that is based on user-generated stories on the wiki/website SCP Foundation. SCP stands for “Secure, Contain, Protect”. The game takes place in a facility that hunts, tracks down, and categorizes supernatural objects, or SCPs, that are either safe, euclid, or keter. You can come into contact with safe SCPs without getting harmed. SCPs that are euclid are unpredictable, and keter SCPs will kill you.

The main types of characters in the game are scientists with code names, the SCPs, and finally the D-class personnel. There is a seemingly infinite amount of D-class personnel, and you play as one of them. They are prisoners sent to the facility for experimentation purposes, and they die off very easily because they’re always dealing with the SCPs.

The first SCP you meet is this giant baby that’s facing the wall. You have a blink meter, and every time you are forced to blink, the baby moves closer to you. When it’s right in front of you, it kills you. [Informant’s] favorite is the butler. It can do anything you want it to do, as long as it is reasonable. He would ask,” What can I do for you?” in a very butler-like manner. You can ask him to kill a D-class personnel in the neighboring room, and he would point at a surveillance camera, saying, “Is that camera on? I can’t do it if it’s on.” And once you turn it off, he would disappear and then come back, having accomplished the goal. If you ask him to get a bar of gold of, say, 99.99% purity, he would say no, but ask if a a lower purity were okay. There are also inanimate SCPs like a train ticket SCP, which would affect the train that the ticket-holder takes.

Anyone who passes the test to be a writer on the website can create an SCP. The SCP Foundation website is a wiki that is open for comment. If people see a bad SCP, they’ll mark it down, and if enough people dislike it, they’ll remove it. There are rules, like no using clichés, and no SCPs that can be described in two words (like “basically Wolverine”). The game developers then take these user-created SCPs and put them into the game.

I found it very innovative for a video game to be based on user-generated content. It throws into question the idea of authorship but it is also somewhat reminiscent of the way folklore was spread / the way people told stories before the institutionalization of writing/publishing/etc.