Well, I’ll be!

Years ago while living in Indiana we encountered a good deal of country humor, the likes of which we haven’t enjoyed in such quantity since.

Off Highway 32, for example, a pair of full-sized pink concrete hippopotami grazed a farmhouse lawn. The sign in front said, “Well, I’ll be!”

Ten or 15 miles down that road to the west, a small official looking green informational sign pointed down a side road. It took me probably a dozen times passing that little sign at 60mph before I finally sounded out the seemingly Indian name on it: Camp Nothingmuchere.

Then there was our favorite catfish place up by Lake Freeman reservoir at Monticello. All manner of old stuff hung from the ceiling over the bar including a plow, an ancient outboard motor, and a large bucket − occasionally activated to tip water upon some unsuspecting customer occupying the stool beneath it. Oh yeah, and then there was the place’s motto, painted on a billboard visible from the highway: “The Oakdale Inn – Best catfish by a dam site.” (The motto was well-deserved.)

My wife and I didn’t live in Indiana long enough to consider ourselves natives − no one does who isn’t born there − but some of that Hoosier humor must have rubbed off on me. So here is my first occasional installment of visual or verbal humor – some intentional and some not – as I find or rediscover it.

To kick off this new “Well I’ll Be!” category, I’m featuring a past column, “Festival Flying: Tales of the Emerald Chevy,” that definitely fills the bill. (I’ve also tagged some previous posts that fit this category.)

Photo: “Mr. Dwarf Car,” Ernie Adams, poses with his ’39 Chevy at the Route 66 Fun Run in Seligman, Arizona, 2005. Visit my “Well I’ll Be,” photo gallery-in-progress here.

©2010 Gregory N. Brown


If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!

Developers’ Lexicon

bacchus-w-paperplane-blmirrorcr“Honey! Hit the brakes!”

“What? Why?!”

“Didn’t you see the sign? ‘Mirage Crossing.’ Who knows what damage might be done to our car if we hit one.”

“Give me a break — that’s just a subdivision sign…”

“‘Mirage Crossing…’ Where do developers get those names, anyway?

“You’re always nitpicking. What difference does it make?”

“Another one that bugs me is, ‘Chaparral Pines,’ up at Payson. Everyone knows that a chaparral wouldn’t be a chaparral if it had pines.”

“Nobody knows what a chaparral is, or cares.”

“Sure they do. I think a little more honesty would be in order when naming these places… you know, no more ‘Thunder Ridge’ stuff, on the flats next to the grocery store.”

“So what do you expect? If they really wanted to be honest they’d have to use names like ‘Neighborview Court,’ or ‘Barking Dog Estates.’ Who’d want to live in those places?”

“Even those are euphemistic; should be ‘Neighbor-Viewed-in Court,’ and ‘Barking Dogs Estate.’ After all, it takes more than one barking dog to make a neighborhood.”

“That’s my point. Nobody wants to face the grim reality of living in a subdivision. They want to live on some mountain peak just far enough from the neighbors to feign isolation. Not being able to afford it, they have to settle for just the name. At best, all most people can afford is a place that used to be beautiful.”

“Well then, at least they could use names reflecting the past beauty of the place.”

“Fine. You buy a house at ‘Desecrated Meadow.’ Even ‘Mirage Crossing’ is better than that.”

“I suppose you’re right. Maybe naming subdivisions is all about mirages after all. But at least they could be fun, or smart. Look at this dumb name, ‘Pine Oaks Subdivision,’ what the heck does that mean?”

“Graft?”

“No, just misleading the public.”

“I mean the trees; maybe they graft the trees.”

“Yeah, right… Actually, the names for all these subdivisions are so common I’ve always wondered if developers use one of those little books to dream them up — you know, like the ones for naming babies. Sort of a ‘developers’ lexicon.’”

“Gotcha… has a list of names to choose from, like ‘forest, carriage, crossing, lamp, brook, eagle, estate,’ and so on.”

“Right, just pick two or three like from a Chinese menu and glue ‘em together so they sound good, like ‘Eagle Carriage Estates,’ or ‘Lamp Brook Crossing.’ That way they don’t have to waste valuable development time researching local history, flora, or fauna in search of appropriate names.”

“You never give people enough credit. I’ll bet developers put together focus groups looking for just the right names to attract consumers to their projects.”

“I see, multi-disciplinary brainstorm sessions using linguistics experts and humorists to educate the public through the vehicle of parody… I can think of only a few names that clever, and they’re businesses, not subdivisions.”

“Like what?”

“Like the ‘Tyler Too Carwash.’ Remember? Right across the street from Tippecanoe Mall in Lafayette, Indiana, just a few miles from where Harrison fought the battle of Tippecanoe. That one’s pretty clever, playing off the famous Presidential campaign slogan of 1836…”

“You’re getting into some pretty obscure stuff, there. Do you really think the average passer-by appreciates the humor?”

“Well I appreciate it, anyway. And how about Grant’s Body Shop?”

“In Richmond?”

“Yeah. That’s a good one too, at least when you see the picture of the dead general’s corpse on the sign; and it could only work in the capital of the Confederacy. But I’m telling you, clever names like that are most certainly on a higher plane than ‘Canyon Crest.’”

“Huh?”

“‘Canyon Crest.’ We just passed it. How can a canyon have a crest, much less here in the desert flats? It insults the intelligence. No focus group would ever come up with a name like that, experts or not.”

“So what are you saying — there’s a ‘conspiracy’ to come up with these names? You always think everything is a conspiracy!”

“Obviously, these subdivision names are part of the media-industrial conspiracy to dumb down America.”

“Well I think you give them way too much credit. So far as I can tell they’re just a bunch of oxymorons.”

“What? The developments or the developers?”

“Both.”

©2009, 2013, 2019 Gregory N. Brown

Featured FLYING CARPET column: “Goodbye, Don”

Home of Willie the Walleye, Baudette, MN.
Home of Willie the Walleye, Baudette, MN.

Periodically I feature Flying Carpet columns from the past. Read this month’s featured column, “Goodbye, Don,” here.

It’s the story of a “long journey North,” Jean and I made in the Flying Carpet one 4th of July weekend, from Arizona all the way to the Canadian border to attend a funeral — and while there, we experienced our best “airport car” ever! The story first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine in October, 2004. I think you’ll get a kick out of it!

Photo: “Welcome to Baudette, Minnesota, Home of Willie Walleye. Walleye Capital of the World” See more photos HERE!

2/18/09 Here’s the info for your new ftp account:
If you upload a file named articlename.pdf to this folder, the link will be:

Greg

PS: Keep in mind that mid-calf white socks were still sort-of okay back then…

©2009 Gregory N. Brown


If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!

Leonardo da Vinci interviews for a job

“Hello, My name is Leonardo da Vinci, and I’m here to apply for the ‘corporate innovator’ position posted at the Job Center.”

“How do you do, Mr. da Vinci. What can you tell me about your professional experience?”

“I have a great deal of experience as an innovator. I conceived the helicopter, you know, along with the catapult and the…”

“Very interesting, I’m sure. Can you provide any references to back up your claims?”

“Any good-quality encyclopedia…”

“Actually, I meant employer references, Mr. Da Vinci. Did you read the ‘Position Announcement?’ We’re looking for someone with at least ten years of experience in a defined ‘corporate innovator’ position.”

“This would be my first corporate job, but my experience as an innovator is well documented. I painted Mona Lisa, you know.”

“You’re a painter? As in ‘artist?’”

“Why yes, Madam. My work is in the great museums of the world.”

“Helicopters and paintings? I’m sure you’re very talented, but this is a technology company. I do know that the community center is looking for an artist to paint a wall mural… for free of course, but you’d get public recognition at the opening. Could lead to opportunities in the future…”

“Your suggestion is appreciated, Madam, but in the past I have been well-compensated for my murals. For example, Duke Sforza paid me handsomely to paint The Last Supper.”

“In any case, Mr. da Vinci, it appears that you’re not exactly qualified for our ‘corporate innovator’ position; er, ah, what exactly do you do, anyway?”

“Well, in the past many people called me ‘The Renaissance Man.’”

“Did you work at Renaissance Cleaners, downtown? I’ve always liked their slogan, ‘we bring new life to your clothes.’”

“No, in my case, Renaissance man refers to someone who knows a great deal about many things.”

“You mean like ‘jack of all trades, but master of…’”

“Excuse me, madam, but I prefer to think of myself as ‘Master of all Trades.’”

“Clearly, Mr. da Vinci you’re not qualified for our corporate innovator position, but you might be ideal for… ah, um… let’s see, researcher. No, you need a Ph.D. for that. I know… generalist positions; management uses generalists. Here, this might work — ‘New Product Development Manager.’ Oops, but they want seven years of related experience. Oh, and an MBA. Have you ever considered teaching? You know the saying, ‘those who can, do, but those who can’t…’”

“Actually, I did speak with several people at the university. They were interested at first, but it seems that my many published works did not appear in juried journals. ‘Good breadth,’ they said, ‘but not enough recognition in field.’”

“What about high school?”

“No teaching certificate.”

“Well, I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for a position appropriate for someone of your skills, Mr. Da Vinci. Have you ever considered starting your own business? Good day, Mr. da Vinci.”

“Thank you for your time, madam. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Good day.”

“Next candidate, please, Martha… Say, how did that da Vinci guy get in here without filling out an application?”

“Sorry, ma’am, but did you see the sketches on his resumé? He definitely looked like an innovator to me.”

“I appreciate the thought, Martha, but from now on I don’t want to see anyone who doesn’t have ‘corporate innovator’ experience specifically listed on his or her resumé. Reprogram our computer’s key-word search function, if necessary.”

©2009, 2013 Gregory N. Brown