Tag Archives: strategy

Boots & Cats in Beat-Boxing

Main Piece:

Informant: “So, a friend of mine told me the way to start beat-boxing is to go “boots and cats” and speed it up, so: “Boots and cats and boots and cats.” But, uh, I can’t do it, but you get the idea.”


Taken from a voice memo sent in a group chat with two of my classmates in my Forms of Folklore class at USC.


I had heard this piece of folklore before and am always impressed with how surprisingly well it works. It’s perfect for the average passer-by for recreational use, and serves as a really vital gateway for those getting into professional beat-boxing. By simplifying an entire art form into a short saying, it really widens the range of people this folklore can reach. It allows outsiders to be integrated into the ‘inside’ of the industry and helps them be less self-conscious, now that they have an actual strategy. I wish my classmate would have delved into it more; it would surely make for a hilarious transcription. But, go ahead and try it! Mix it up a little, and you’ll see how fun it is!

Beer Pong Blowing

“I watched my upperclassmen doing this at my first college parties.  After they dip their ping pong balls into the water before their turn, they would blow on it, and have nearby spectators blow on it too… apparently it’s supposed to coat your ball with good luck.  More like germs, but I don’t know… It’s pretty much counterintuitive to the part where you dip it in the water in the first place.”

Background: The informant is a college student who has witnessed others performing the gesture of blowing on one’s ping pong ball prior to taking a shot in the game.

Context: This superstition was shared with me over FaceTime.

These rituals are reminiscent of the arbitrary “strategies” that schoolchildren come up with that they swear will help secure victory in a meaningless game.  The informant goes to school in a different region of California, yet this strategy is still consistent with what I’ve seen people do at USC; I don’t know how such a custom of blowing on a ping pong ball was spread across college communities.  There also isn’t any kind of online information that confirms this as a phenomenon in the general college community, so it is also unclear whether this strategy even exists outside of a certain geographical radius.

“Fives/Fists”–Folk Game

This game is played between four or more people. Everyone stands in a circle  and starts with their fists extended towards to the center. One person takes the first turn and indicates by making a throwing motion with their fist. When this happens, the person whose turn it is tries to guess how many fingers will be extended. During this turn, every other player has the choice of either keeping their fist closed or extending five fingers. This makes the number of fingers in the circle somewhat random. If the person whose turn took the turn is right, they are out of the game. So, the last one in the game loses. An extra rule that is occasionally instated involves celebrating after getting out. If you high five someone else or obviously celebrate in any other way, you are back in the game. This can lead to loud, intense games where people go from very happy about getting out to very upset about getting put back in.