Signifying Nothing

Flags, calendars have our fact-checker in fits

Published November 1, 2023

Citation needed

Some U-Haul trailers salute Vermont with a picture of “Champ,” the monster allegedly chilling in what lake? Lake Champlain

U-Haul caters to trivia nerds well – and you can learn from them without going through all that moving nonsense. We’re talking about the vivid art on truck and trailer rentals that highlight some historical trinket specific to a state or territory. The U-Haul website has a complete inventory of each work, which they dub “SuperGraphics,” which range from the “botanical lost world” of Alabama to the origins of camels in the Canadian territory of Yukon.

Most entries in the modern “Venture Across America” and “Venture Across Canada” series come complete with an encyclopedic article, high-res wallpapers, and even a coloring page. Aesthetically, I’d get partial to the eroded canyons of Utah, the “humongous fungus” of Michigan, and the unhinged sci-fi neons of Nevada’s Area 51 and Roswell, New Mexico. But my favorite is the goofiest: The Mississippi Sandhill Crane.

Rabbit holes

In 2020, a committee formed that might remove a Spanish ship from the flag of what Midwest state capital? Columbus

Beyond the flag’s tacit endorsement of the city’s genocidal namesake, when they don’t even celebrate Columbus Day anymore, it’s just… not a very well-designed flag. Look, this is a very “I just learned what vexillology was five minutes ago” take, but with a few tasteful exceptions like Colorado and New Mexico (and whatever the hell Maryland is on about), most U.S. state flags are unmemorable at best. And city flags are worse – nearly all ugly monstrosities, plastered with seals that belong on City Hall letterheads, not fluttering in the wind for all to see. We deserve better symbols, America! Let’s learn from the U-Hauls!

About a year from now, Taylor Swift will play a concert at Hard Rock Stadium, which happens to be where Travis Kelce scored his first pro touchdown. That was in what southernmost NFL city? Miami (or Miami Gardens)

It’s Too Many Miamis all over again!!! Cards on the table: This isn’t the version of the question that made it to the actual quiz. We claimed that Taylor played this concert “last week,” as in October 2023. We had the date right… but the wrong year. Mea culpa, and apologies to Florida Swifties. But also, good news! You didn’t miss it!

Pedantic predicaments

I’ll give you the subtitle of an upcoming sequel, you name the film series. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”? “And the Lost Kingdom”? “Dead Reckoning Part Two”? The Hunger Games, Aquaman, Mission: Impossible

This question led to perhaps one of the most pedantic corrections I’ve ever made, and that is a high bar. The initial version described the M:I film as Dead Reckoning Part II, with a rational and elegant Roman numeral, emulating other esteemed franchises such as The Godfather, Star Wars, and The Nutty Professor. But no – in an unfathomable and unspeakable move, Dead Reckoning spells out “Part One” and “Part Two.” I could never have insight into the machinations of Tom Cruise.

It makes me wonder – do more movie sequels have Roman numerals or good old Arabic ones? Is there any other movie on the planet that spells out “Two” in its title? And for the love of God, will we ever get The Nutty Professor III?

We’ll do our best to answer two of those questions in next week’s column. As for Nutty Professor, that’s between Eddie Murphy and God.

Mark Gartsbeyn is a resident fact-checker at Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. He writes a weekly column on the idiosyncrasies of his work, which appears on Questionist each Wednesday.

One thought on “Signifying Nothing

  1. ChrisG says:

    The TED Talk behind the `ugly monstrosities` link is great! Now I get to mock my husband about Milwaukee 🙂

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