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Pictures From Our Readers: Their "Pants"

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Last week, we asked our ever-growing army of reader-photographers to send us pictures of their "pants," which was our in-jokey way of referring to some funny, absurd or incongruous thing in their neighborhood. (Why "pants"? This post explains.) So this past weekend, flossers from all over the country scoured their 'hoods, cameras in hand, and now the frequently-hilarious fruits of their labor are in! So without further ado ... these are your pants. Many of the submissions fell into a few categories, which is how I'll organize them here.

Pictures Relating to Psychics and Religion

Reader Ellen spotted this graffiti on the outside of a bar in Towson, Maryland. I'll be up all night trying to figure out what it means.

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Reader Kate thought there was something incongruous about this elaborate Nativity scene on a psychic's front lawn. (I think Ellen's picture makes it obvious, Kate: this psychic was a Catholic until she developed psychic abilities.)

Creepy Visual Jokes on the Side of the Road
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Beth Layton writes: "With just some simple white boards, someone turned two boring holes in a hill into the feeling you're being watched. This adds a little something to the desolate drive to my nearest gambling town, Wendover Nevada, two hours from my home."

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Reader Daniel snapped this photo from his car. "Apparently someone wanted to accommodate travelers along this stretch of rural road in upstate NY. Bless their hearts for thinking of others. This discarded toilet has been there for well over a year, and some kind soul added the sign, should anyone need to 'rest.'" (Great find, Daniel! Though it would be a little more fun if you'd caught someone taking advantage of this "rest area.")

Signs That Don't Make Sense
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Left: "I Fought the Claw," found by Juliet in Seattle. Right: "We Need A Hovercraft," bafflingly posted in front of Elizabeth McDowell's workplace in Charlotte, NC.

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Found by Njdu while visiting his family in Utah. (I called the number, it appears to be some kind of phone sex hotline? If so, this has got to be the world's weirdest ad for porn.)

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... and speaking of porn, this photo was snapped by a reader (who prefers to remain anonymous) who says this sign is "somewhere along Interstate 10," though the gas station it advertises is long-gone. Too bad -- looks like that place had everything!

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Chicken Soup for the Sole: Swapna Gupta found this sign in Hoover, Alabama, next door to a church. Seems like the shoe-repair guy is trying to steal some of the church's business!

Continue reading...

Cars That Make A Statement
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Reader Pete sent this in, and writes "One man's philosophy, carefully stenciled onto his truck. Near New Hope, PA."

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It's log! From Hamilton Carter in Boulder, CO.

The Topiary That Should Not Be
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... just in case they couldn't read it on your mailbox. Found in San Diego by Lebetho.

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The gigantic, buttocks-shaped topiary of Van Nuys, CA. (Thanks, Joe Maz!)

Really Bad Art
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This painting of Tom Selleck hangs in the Midwest Museum of Art in Elkhart, Indiana. Thanks to Jennifer for sending it in. (By the way, Jennifer, I'm dying to know: what does the museum call this masterpiece?)

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Keri Woodward says this scrap metal bird is known as St. Paul, MN's "Stop Chicken" (although it looks more like a seagull to me). Maybe the Stop Chicken is saying "Stop making horrible public art!"

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This happy-go-lucky cousin to Easter Island's menacing heads is the work of Wichita-based chainsaw sculptor Gino Salerno. (Thanks to Danielle Kelly for sending it in.)

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"This most decidedly ugly fish is the pride and joy of the Muskie Bar and Grill in my hometown of Ventura, IA. It is about the length of a full-size pickup truck, and the tackiness is completed by the "No Trespassing" sign nailed to its back fin. The giant muskie sits right on the busiest road in town, which runs along the lake shore. I consider this tree-turned-muskie my "pants" because every time I drive past it I say out loud, "there's that ugly fish!" (Thanks, Mindy!)

Graffiti

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Andre writes: "I'm a student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga, and I came across this (what i assume to be commissioned...it was too intricate to not be) graffiti on a wall in a back alley we call 'sketchy alley.'" (Cool pic, Andre! But what were you doing hanging out in a sketchy alley?)

Continue reading...

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"This is spray painted by my home in Layton, UT, on a small retainer wall next to the road. Behind 'Live and Let Live,' it says 'Live in the now.' I think both are good advice for anyone. It makes me happy!" Thanks, Zerra! (By the way, it occurs to me we've got a lot of flossers in Utah! Must be an intellectual state.)

Unusual Houses
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Reader Lorena lives near this colorful house in Eugene, Oregon. Damn hippies!

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This house outside Philadelphia was voted Most Likely to Give Children Nightmares by the local neighborhood association. (We especially love the happy plastic deer in the foreground. Shudder ...) Thanks, Pete!

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This worn-out mailbox comes with instructions, so you'll be sure to get your mail no matter how stupid your mailperson is. Pic courtesy Adam in Echo Park, LA, CA. (We love you too, Adam!)

The Saddest Christmas Tree (Both of Them)
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Kellie writes: "Every year my neighbor trims her Christmas tree and then takes one of the branches she cut off and puts it in my yard - with one decoration. Therefore, I have my very own Charlie Brown Christmas tree every year. I would take it down as it's almost February, but when she plants it in my yard, she "waters" it ... freezing it to the bottom of the snow bank. I should also note that I live in Duluth, MN, where it's winter 9 months out of the year, so by the time I am able to take it down, it'll be time for her to put a new one up!"

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Kath Oltsher in Edmonton, Alberta "found this tree caught by security bars against the window in an underused building. There it was, off an alley, to the side of an empty lot, in an area that could be called the "inner city," where the poorest live and where many of the people that used to be in mental health facilities were "mainstreamed into society" ended up. Who hung the Christmas balls, tinsel and ribbon on it?" (Some poor, mentally ill Charlie Brown, we'd imagine.)

Unsettling Juxtapositions in the Workplace

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Adrienne writes: "I work as an R&D supervisor in a cosmetics manufacturing plant in southwest Oklahoma. The factory is your typical industrial warehouse-type operation. In an effort to boost employee morale, upper management decided to put out a box where we could place suggestions for fun and great ideas like "have holidays off with pay," or "how about a raise, that sounds fun." Occasionally there are a few good ideas, but the suggestions, in general, are sarcastic and a little depressing. I included pictures of the Fun Suggestion Box as well as the factory. It is sadly out of place."

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From reader Karen: "I work in the Chattanooga State Office Building (in TN), which is a very ugly government building. We have a fountain in the side lobby. Sometime last year, a lone rubber ducky appeared in that fountain. Then friends started to show up. Soon we had a whole flock of ducks. (Plus one blue whale.) Every so often, some will go missing, and a ransom note will get posted to the wall, usually demanding chocolate or coffee. We all like the ducks a lot."

And Finally ... Unclassifiable, from Liza!
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"Though perhaps not as random as the example in the assignment, these
bank time/temp signs are the figurative "pants" I pass on my daily
walk to work in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. (2 views, the closer one
has one of the signs partially blocked by a street sign.) What's so
pants-y about them? 2 things:

(1) Their sheer redundancy. There's nowhere that you can stand to
see the leftmost/furthest sign that you can't also see the middle one.
Moreover, the two perpendicular signs on the corner (the middle and
right ones) could easily be replaced by a single sign extending
diagonally from the corner of the building. And yes, they all display
the same logo and time/temp on both sides, for a total of six displays
on a single building.

(2) Though you can't tell from the photos, all of the signs always
read exactly 10 degrees F higher than the actual outside temperature,
as confirmed by the other two bank time/temp signs within a two-block
radius and the weather.com report. They've read high since installed
last summer. It's beyond me how a professional sign installing
company can post 6--six! displays and not calibrate the thermometer (I
suspect a central feed, as all always read the same time/temp). At
least the time is correct."

Thanks to everyone who participated (and apologies if your photos weren't included in this challenge -- we'll getcha next time!) Anyone interested in participating in our next photo challenge, leave a comment here and let me know!

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Lists
11 Popular Quotes Commonly Misattributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a lot of famous lines, from musings on failure in Tender is the Night to “so we beat on, boats against the current” from The Great Gatsby. Yet even with a seemingly never-ending well of words and beautiful quotations, many popular idioms and phrases are wrongly attributed to the famous Jazz Age author, who was born on this day in 1896. Here are 11 popular phrases that are often misattributed to Fitzgerald. (You may need to update your Pinterest boards.)

1. “WRITE DRUNK, EDIT SOBER.”

This quote is often attributed to either Fitzgerald or his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway, who died in 1961. There is no evidence in the collected works of either writer to support that attribution; the idea was first associated with Fitzgerald in a 1996 Associated Press story, and later in Stephen Fry’s memoir More Fool Me. In actuality, humorist Peter De Vries coined an early version of the phrase in a 1964 novel titled Reuben, Reuben.

2. “FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR, IN MY CASE, TOO EARLY TO BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE.”

It’s easy to see where the mistake could be made regarding this quote: Fitzgerald wrote the short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 1922 for Collier's Magazine, and it was adapted into a movie of the same name, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, in 2008. Eric Roth wrote the screenplay, in which that quotation appears.

3. “OUR LIVES ARE DEFINED BY OPPORTUNITIES, EVEN THE ONES WE MISS.”

This is a similar case to the previous quotation; this quote is attributed to Benjamin Button’s character in the film adaptation. It’s found in the script, but not in the original short story.

4. “YOU’LL UNDERSTAND WHY STORMS ARE NAMED AFTER PEOPLE.”

There is no evidence that Fitzgerald penned this line in any of his known works. In this Pinterest pin, it is attributed to his novel The Beautiful and Damned. However, nothing like that appears in the book; additionally, according to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association, although there were a few storms named after saints, and an Australian meteorologist was giving storms names in the 19th century, the practice didn’t become widespread until after 1941. Fitzgerald died in 1940.

5. “A SENTIMENTAL PERSON THINKS THINGS WILL LAST. A ROMANTIC PERSON HAS A DESPERATE CONFIDENCE THAT THEY WON’T.”

This exact quote does not appear in Fitzgerald’s work—though a version of it does, in his 1920 novel This Side of Paradise:

“No, I’m romantic—a sentimental person thinks things will last—a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t. Sentiment is emotional.” The incorrect version is widely circulated and requoted.

6. “IT’S A FUNNY THING ABOUT COMING HOME. NOTHING CHANGES. EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME, FEELS THE SAME, EVEN SMELLS THE SAME. YOU REALIZE WHAT’S CHANGED IS YOU.”

This quote also appears in the 2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button script, but not in the original short story.

7. “GREAT BOOKS WRITE THEMSELVES; ONLY BAD BOOKS HAVE TO BE WRITTEN.”

There is no evidence of this quote in any of Fitzgerald’s writings; it mostly seems to circulate on websites like qotd.org, quotefancy.com and azquotes.com with no clarification as to where it originated.

8. “SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, BUT NOT LIKE THOSE GIRLS IN THE MAGAZINES. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE WAY SHE THOUGHT. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE SPARKLE IN HER EYES WHEN SHE TALKED ABOUT SOMETHING SHE LOVED. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR HER ABILITY TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE SMILE, EVEN IF SHE WAS SAD. NO, SHE WASN’T BEAUTIFUL FOR SOMETHING AS TEMPORARY AS HER LOOKS. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, DEEP DOWN TO HER SOUL.”

This quote may have originated in a memoir/advice book published in 2011 by Natalie Newman titled Butterflies and Bullshit, where it appears in its entirety. It was attributed to Fitzgerald in a January 2015 Thought Catalog article, and was quoted as written by an unknown source in Hello, Beauty Full: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You by Elisa Morgan, published in September 2015. However, there’s no evidence that Fitzgerald said or wrote anything like it.

9. “AND IN THE END, WE WERE ALL JUST HUMANS, DRUNK ON THE IDEA THAT LOVE, ONLY LOVE, COULD HEAL OUR BROKENNESS.”

Christopher Poindexter, the successful Instagram poet, wrote this as part of a cycle of poems called “the blooming of madness” in 2013. After a Twitter account called @SirJayGatsby tweeted the phrase with no attribution, it went viral as being attributed to Fitzgerald. Poindexter has addressed its origin on several occasions.

10. “YOU NEED CHAOS IN YOUR SOUL TO GIVE BIRTH TO A DANCING STAR.”

This poetic phrase is actually derived from the work of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who died in 1900, just four years after Fitzgerald was born in 1896. In his book Thus Spake ZarathustraNietzsche wrote the phrase, “One must have chaos within to enable one to give birth to a dancing star.” Over time, it’s been truncated and modernized into the currently popular version, which was included in the 2009 book You Majored in What?: Designing Your Path from College to Career by Katharine Brooks.

11. “FOR THE GIRLS WITH MESSY HAIR AND THIRSTY HEARTS.”

This quote is the dedication in Jodi Lynn Anderson’s book Tiger Lily, a reimagining of the classic story of Peter Pan. While it is often attributed to Anderson, many Tumblr pages and online posts cite Fitzgerald as its author.

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Pop Culture
Fumbled: The Story of the United States Football League
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davi_deste via eBay

There were supposed to be 44 players marching to the field when the visiting Los Angeles Express played their final regular season game against the Orlando Renegades in June 1985.

Thirty-six of them showed up. The team couldn’t afford more.

“We didn’t even have money for tape,” Express quarterback Steve Young said in 1986. “Or ice.” The squad was so poor that Young played fullback during the game. They only had one, and he was injured.

Other teams had ridden school buses to practice, driven three hours for “home games,” or shared dressing room space with the local rodeo. In August 1986, the cash-strapped United States Football League called off the coming season. The league itself would soon vaporize entirely after gambling its future on an antitrust lawsuit against the National Football League. The USFL argued the NFL was monopolizing television time; the NFL countered that the USFL—once seen as a promising upstart—was being victimized by its own reckless expansion and the wild spending of team owners like Donald Trump.

They were both right.

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Spring football. That was David Dixon’s pitch. The New Orleans businessman and football advocate—he helped get the Saints in his state—was a fan of college ball and noticed that spring scrimmages at Tulane University led to a little more excitement in the air. With a fiscally responsible salary cap in place and a 12-team roster, he figured his idea could be profitable. Market research agreed: a hired broadcast research firm asserted 76 percent of fans would watch what Dixon had planned.

He had no intention of grappling with the NFL for viewers. That league’s season aired from September through January, leaving a football drought March through July. And in 1982, a players’ strike led to a shortened NFL season, making the idea of an alternative even more appealing to networks. Along with investors for each team region, Dixon got ABC and the recently-formed ESPN signed to broadcast deals worth a combined $35 million over two years.

When the Chicago Blitz faced the Washington Federals on the USFL’s opening day March 6, 1983, over 39,000 fans braved rain at RFK Stadium in Washington to see it. The Federals lost 28-7, foreshadowing their overall performance as one of the league’s worst. Owner Berl Bernhard would later complain the team played like “untrained gerbils.”

Anything more coordinated might have been too expensive. The USFL had instituted a strict $1.8 million salary cap that first year to avoid franchise overspending, but there were allowances made so each team could grab one or two standout rookies. In 1983, the big acquisition was Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, who opted out of his senior year at Georgia to turn pro. Walker signed with the New Jersey Generals in a three-year, $5 million deal.

Jim Kelly and Steve Young followed. Stan White left the Detroit Lions. Marcus Dupree left college. The rosters were built up from scratch using NFL cast-offs or prospects from nearby colleges, where teams had rights to “territorial” drafts.

To draw a line in the sand, the USFL had advertising play up the differences between the NFL’s product and their own. Their slogan, “When Football Was Fun,” was a swipe at the NFL’s increasingly draconian rules regarding players having any personality. They also advised teams to run a series of marketable halftime attractions. The Denver Gold once offered a money-back guarantee for attendees who weren’t satisfied. During one Houston Gamblers game, boxer George Foreman officiated a wedding. Cars were given away at Tampa Bay Bandits games. The NFL, the upstart argued, stood for the No Fun League.

For a while, it appeared to be working. The Panthers, which had invaded the city occupied by the Detroit Lions, averaged 60,000 fans per game, higher than their NFL counterparts. ABC was pleased with steady ratings. The league was still conservative in their spending.

That would change—many would argue for the worse—with the arrival of Donald Trump.

Despite Walker’s abilities on the field, his New Jersey Generals ended the inaugural 1983 season at 6-12, one of the worst records in the league. The excitement having worn off, owner J. Walter Duncan decided to sell the team to real estate investor Trump for a reported $5-9 million.

A fixture of New York media who was putting the finishing touches on Trump Tower, Trump introduced two extremes to the USFL. His presence gave the league far more press attention than it had ever received, but his bombastic approach to business guaranteed he wouldn’t be satisfied with an informal salary cap. Trump spent and spent some more, recruiting players to improve the Generals. Another Heisman winner, quarterback Doug Flutie, was signed to a five-year, $7 million contract, the largest in pro football at the time. Trump even pursued Lawrence Taylor, then a player for the New York Giants, who signed a contract saying that, after his Giants contract expired, he’d join Trump’s team. The Giants wound up buying out the Taylor/Trump contract for $750,000 and quadrupled Taylor’s salary, and Trump wound up with pages of publicity.

Trump’s approach was effective: the Generals improved to 14-4 in their sophomore season. But it also had a domino effect. In order to compete with the elevated bar of talent, other team owners began spending more, too. In a race to defray costs, the USFL approved six expansion teams that paid a buy-in of $6 million each to the league.

It did little to patch the seams. Teams were so cash-strapped that simple amenities became luxuries. The Michigan Panthers dined on burnt spaghetti and took yellow school buses to training camp; players would race to cash checks knowing the last in line stood a chance of having one bounce. When losses became too great, teams began to merge with one another: The Washington Federals became the Orlando Renegades. By the 1985 season, the USFL was down to 14 teams. And because the ABC contract required the league to have teams in certain top TV markets, ABC started withholding checks.

Trump was unmoved. Since taking over the Generals, he had been petitioning behind the scenes for the other owners to pursue a shift to a fall season, where they would compete with the NFL head on. A few owners countered that fans had already voiced their preference for a spring schedule. Some thought it would be tantamount to league suicide.

Trump continued to push. By the end of the 1984 season, he had swayed opinion enough for the USFL to plan on one final spring block in 1985 before making the move to fall in 1986.

In order to make that transition, they would have to win a massive lawsuit against the NFL.

In the mid-1980s, three major networks meant that three major broadcast contracts would be up for grabs—and the NFL owned all three. To Trump and the USFL, this constituted a monopoly. They filed suit in October 1984. By the time it went to trial in May 1986, the league had shrunk from 18 teams to 14, hadn’t hosted a game since July 1985, kept only threadbare rosters, and was losing what existing television deals it had by migrating to smaller markets (a major part of the NFL’s case was that the real reason for the lawsuit, and the moves to smaller markets, was to make the league an attractive takeover prospect for the NFL). The ruling—which could have forced the NFL to drop one of the three network deals—would effectively become the deciding factor of whether the USFL would continue operations.

They came close. A New York jury deliberated for 31 hours over five days. After the verdict, jurors told press that half believed the NFL was guilty of being a monopoly and were prepared to offer the USFL up to $300 million in damages; the other half thought the USFL had been crippled by its own irresponsible expansion efforts. Neither side would budge.

To avoid a hung jury, it was decided they would find in favor of the USFL but only award damages in the amount of $1. One juror told the Los Angeles Times that she thought it would be an indication for the judge to calculate proper damages.

He didn’t. The USFL was awarded treble damages for $3 in total, an amount that grew slightly with interest after time for appeal. The NFL sent them a payment of $3.76. (Less famously, the NFL was also ordered to pay $5.5 million in legal fees.)

Rudy Shiffer, vice-president of the Memphis Showboats, summed up the USFL's fate shortly after the ruling was handed down. “We’re dead,” he said.

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