January 29, 2008

State Flowers

For Reasons I’m not going to get into for the moment, I decided to rank the 50 State Flowers in order. I had just over five hours for the project, which I thought would be plenty of time, but it turned out to be MUCH tougher than I thought. To pick the representative pictures below I mostly used Google Images, sifting through dozens and sometimes hundreds of photos to find the best one. I mentioned this because there is an incredible variety of what one flower can look like, and I haven’t come close to capturing them. I strongly encourage anyone interested to spend some time on Google Images looking for themselves.

I did not spend any time learning about the flowers. With my time frame I just could not, so my rankings do not reflect any cool physical properties like scent, taste or, “the ability to swallow a small child whole.” Nor did I give preference to states I like or have lived in or states that I hate (like Nebraska). Once I had pictures of all of them I looked at the 50 flowers without labels and went with what I thought was the best. Beauty was obviously a huge standard, as was uniqueness and a cool look, but sometimes a flower just struck me for reasons I can’t explain. I would love to someday look at them all in person and judge them that way, and I never thought I would say that about something as dumb as flowers.

There are not quite 50, which comes because some of the states are too sissy to have their own flower and have to share. (I did not count THAT against them either, although now I wish I had.) Some states had more than one (like a wildflower), but I generally used their regular flower except for one case where I was blown away.

Again, let me iterate: I picked these flowers “blind” of knowing their states or even their names, so any snarky comments were added after my order was chosen. Again, I recommend using Google Images to see all the different kinds. With that, I give you….

The State Flowers, ranked in order of Awesome

#45 WHITE PINE CONE AND TASSEL (Maine) – Leave it to Maine to not even be able to come up with a flower. I checked several times, and that pinecone IS their flower. This explains so much about this state.

#44 BLACK-EYED SUSAN (Maryland) – Just looking at these things give me the creeps

#43 GOLDENROD (Kentucky and Nebraska) – Why not just name your flower the dandelion? Sheesh.

#42 SAGUARO CACTUS BLOSSOM (Arizona) – I tried to like this thing, I really did, but it’s just so ugly!

#41 SUNFLOWER (Kansas) – I’m sorry, I know some of you are big fans, but I do not trust sunflowers. They always seem like they are planning something.

#40 MAYFLOWER (Massachusetts) – I couldn’t get past the fact that these flowers looked like squid

#35 (tie) AMERICAN DOGWOOD (North Carolina and Virginia) – These states touch each other! They couldn’t Ro-Sham-Bo it?

#35 (tie) ORANGE BLOSSOM (Florida) – I’m a much bigger fan of the fruit

#35 (tie) MOCK ORANGE BLOSSOM (Idaho) – Just ‘cause you’re mocking doesn’t make you less boring

#35 (tie) SCARLET CARNATION (Ohio) – I’d almost rather have the cactus one; at least it wasn’t boring

#35 (tie) HAWTHORN (Missouri) – I named my stick Hawthorn, but it was after the cool tree, not the boring flower.

(By the way, the above flowers all tied because they had one thing in common: YAWN!)

#31(tie) PEACH BLOSSOM (Delaware) – less boring but still boring

#31(tie) APPLE BLOSSOM (Arkansas and Michigan) - Ditto

#31(tie) CHEROKEE ROSE (Georgia) – I knew an exotic dancer named Cherokee Rose once….

#31(tie) WILD PRAIRIE ROSE (Iowa and North Dakota) – And she had a sister…..

#30 PURPLE LILAC (New Hampshire) - I am morally opposed to lilac (as it is evil), and it disheartened me that I ranked it so high. I almost put it lower, but that would have meant violating my system, and lilac is not worth my principles

#29 RHODODENDRON (West Virginia) – This flower looks vaguely smutty

#28 COAST RHODODENDRON (Washington) – I just realized that I ranked these two next to each other, just as I did with Orange and Mock Orange and the blossoms. It’s a coincidence..that and they are vaguely dissatisfactory to me in the same way.

#27 TICKSEED (Mississippi) – Mississippi is actually the magnolia, but they share that, so I used their wildflower instead

#26 YELLOW JESSAMINE (South Carolina) – You know, Jessamine is a pretty cool word. I’m surprised there aren’t more girls with this name. Black women of the world: you’re slipping!

#25 VIOLET (Illinois and Rhode Island) – I’m surprised this didn’t rank higher. There’s a real demarcation point right around here. From now on, the flowers aren’t boring, but are really cool.

#24 HAWAIIAN HIBISCUS (Hawaii) – Why don’t they use these for leis?

#23 COMMON BLUE VIOLET (Wisconsin and New Jersey) – Hey, the “common” violet scored higher than the non-common violet. That’s weird

#22 BLUE BONNET (Texas) – How is their flower not the yellow rose?

#21 FORGET-ME-NOT (Alaska) – These are just so cool. I found myself sad they couldn’t make the Top 20. I think five hours is way too long to spend with flowers. I’m starting to care about their feelings!

#20 INDIAN PAINTBRUSH (Wyoming) – Some of them do almost look like paintbrushes. This is a good one to browse Google Images.

#19 PASQUE (South Dakota) – First of all, how cool a name is that? They have kind of a hunted look I like too.

#18 CAMELLIA (Alabama) – I originally had this flower much lower, but I was spelling it wrong, and when I got the right spelling, there were some great looking flowers.

(By the way, not for nothing, but this is a real problem with Google. When you type in the wrong spelling of a word, there are so many thousands of websites with that wrong spelling that you might think you had the word right, and sometimes they don’t offer other spellings. Google should work on this. Okay, back to the flowies.)

#17 IRIS (Tennessee) – Some of the irises look like Swiffer feather mops, but some are just gorgeous.

#16 YUCCA (New Mexico) – The name might be a tad gross, but the flower has a great beauty

#15 CALIFORNIA POPPY (California) – There is something very clean and classic about the look of this flower

#14 MOUNTAIN LAUREL (Connecticut and Pennsylvania) – I had this one lower because of the frilliness, but then I realized that when you look closely the mountain laurel looks just like a parasol! How cool is that?

#13 COLUMBINE (Colorado) – What drew me to the flower was the translucent part of the white petals, but when I found it, they were called Columbines I got a little shiver.

#12 SAGEBRUSH (Nevada) – They usually refer to the entire plant, which is pretty enough, but then I found out that some of those plants flower late, and I liked it.

#11 RED CLOVER (Vermont) – This is one of those flowers that I didn’t think worked but somehow the whole thing just comes together.

#10 SEGO LILY (Utah) – The subtle red etchings in the middle just fascinate me

#9 PINK AND WHITE LADY’S SLIPPER (Minnesota) – Okay, this one took me a minute. The flower is called a lady’s slipper. Just stare at it a second until you see it.

#8 OREGON GRAPE (Oregon) – This flower just seems bursting with possibilities. I can’t explain it, but it made me feel hopeful.

#7 BITTERROOT (Montana) – When I just had the white ones I had this flower much lower, but the iridescent colors sort of blew me away. Some of the places this thing can grow are really amazing too. (That shouldn’t enter into the ranking, but I couldn’t help but notice that many of the pictures were in very desolate soil and rock.)

#6 DWARF LAKE IRIS (Michigan) – I don’t care what the rumors say, I DID NOT pick this flower because it reminded me of a certain female body part.

#5 PEONY (Indiana) – Speaking of women, this flower reminds me of a woman more than almost any other. It’s full of life and yet delicate, multi-layered and complex. Who knew?

#4 ROSE (New York) – How come New York gets the rose? Oh well. There’s a reason why guys have been getting laid of this flower for centuries.

#3 INDIAN BLANKET (Oklahoma) – It even looks like an Indian blanket. How do you think the colors get that way? I love this flower.

#2 MAGNOLIA (Louisiana and Mississippi) – I don’t think I had ever seen a magnolia before this (or the movie), and I cannot for the life of you explain why I knew as soon as I saw it the magnolia would be a top flower. There’s just something about it. Speaking of which….

the number one State flower is

#1 OKLAHOMA ROSE (Oklahoma) – the moment I saw it I knew. Just knew. No other flower came close. Don’t mistake the black for rot; that’s part of the color scheme. Somehow, there is both black and red in the flower. Check this one out. It’s incredible. I didn’t think they could do this, but they did, and good for Oklahoma. Coming up with two of feat, but they deserved it.

January 8, 2008

Words that don't Rhyme

I was looking for words that are oft mispronounced and instead found my way to words that have no rhyme. (Well, none without cheating.) So I decided to do a list on those words instead. As any would-be poet or song-writer knows, rhyming is hard! Here is a list of words to stay away from. (Unfortunately, as is the nature of the list, these words are hella-great, meaning you're more likely to WANT to use them, but you can't have everything.)

Honorable Mention - width; sixth; transfer; sanction; pedant; pint; ninth; month; luggage; justice; hostage; glimpsed; fugue; empty; elbow; different; depth; anxious; angst; breadth; citrus; caveat; bulb; neutron; office; cannabis; citizen; engine;


#20 Plankton - This has to be one of the most underused words of our day. How there isn't a software company or a line of eco-toys with the Plankton brand is beyond me.

#19 Chimney - How come Chimney never became a sexual metaphor? (And to what would it refer?)

#18 Angry - I'm pretty sure Angry is also one of only three words that end in "gry." (The other two words are in this parenthetical.)

#17 Aspirin - This only makes it because both of my ankles are currently the size of Valencia oranges. (Foreshadowing!)

#16 Bachelor - Remember when "Bachelor" used to mean something other than "show where 20 women make all women look horrible"? (Do you think those gals are just concerned for themselves, or for the plight of all women? 'Cuz, recently it has been brought to my attention that women put their gender above their own needs.)

#15 Penguin - I find myself shocked penguins have not become nouveau riche pets yet. This will absolutely happen: trust me.

#14 Reptile - Why aren't more kids named Reptile? That just sounds like a tough name, right?

#13 Silver - Not only is there one Silver. There was only one David Silver. Has there ever been a more talented white hip-hop musician? (BTW: wouldn't it have been cool if Brian Austin-Green played the Silver Surfer?)

#12 Circus - Backstage at a Circus would make a really great sitcom, n'est pas? You have the clown, the animal trainer, the freaks, the ring master. I need to work on this.

#11 Chaos - I have a theory about this word....but by the time you read it the whole thing might be different.

#10 Film - I always wonder if we should make new words when technology changes their medium. For example, I spent five years trying to popularize "Dij phones" when phones went from cellular to digital before giving up.

#9 Galaxy - This is another word that would make a great girl's name. Also, any band would be better with "galaxy" in their name. or "monkey." Or "wizard." In fact, "Galaxy Monkey Wizards" would be such a great band name, I bet their entire audience would die diddling themselves over the name. (Yeah: I went there.)

#8 Orange - An essential part of the best knock-knock joke EVER! Also the best present you can get a one-year old. Trust me. They'll care not for Fisher-Price. They'll love the orange.

#7 Iron - With all seriousness, I would vote for ANY presidential candidate if he gave himself the nickname "iron." Tell me you wouldn't vote for "Iron Duncan Hunter" or "Iron Bill Richardson." You would!

#6 Purple - This is why purple is so awesome: If ever there is a choice of flavors and you're not sure what to select: ALWAYS go with purple! Can't go wrong.

#5 Olive - I'm leaning toward declaring it nature's perfect food. (Which makes the fact that Popeye's GF shares the name all the more galling.)

#4 Wolf - Another great nickname. Barack "the Wolf" Obama? Fred "the Wolf" Thompson? Yeah, baby!

#3 Pizza - I think Pizza's anti-rhyming status actually gives it great powers. Who's with me?

#2 Shadow - True confession time: how many of you have ever stopped to try to remember whether it's "shadow of the valley of death" or "valley of the shadow of death"? 'Fess up!

and the number one word that has no rhyme is............

#1 Monster - There are all kinds of monsters in this world: and I love every one of 'em.

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