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Pictures From Our Readers: Ill-Advised Business Names

The response to our second reader photo challenge was great, and we got a ton of hilarious submissions! We're posting most of them here, and all of them on our Flickr page. Enjoy!

Anatomically-inclined business names
We had so many submissions in this category, we were actually able to organize them by body part:

We received two pictures of Massachusetts liquor stores named "Bunghole," from Cody (above, in Peabody) and Sabrina (below, in Salem). According to Wikipedia, "a bunghole is a hole bored in a liquid-tight barrel," though it's been used as naughty slang since at least the 13th century (famously making an appearance in Dante's Inferno).

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We also got two pictures of the same business, from readers Kati and Laura -- the unfortunately-named Analtech in Newark, Delaware. (I'm sure it's pronounced an-AL-tech, guys. Jeez, grow up!)
analtech.jpg

Jocelyn sent us a snap of Oregon's own T&A Supply Co., which judging from their name, keeps Nevada well-stocked with pasties and stripper poles.
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This package store is just outside of Atlanta. (Thanks, Lucy!)
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Furniture guaranteed to keep you up at night. (Heh. Sorry.)
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Puntastic business names
The hair weaves in Pine Bluff, Arkansas are beyond belief. (Thanks to Darcie!)
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This had to be intentional. Right? (From Josh and Joanna Burress, taken near Kokomo, Indiana.)
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Caroline Hanke sent in this picture of a really full-service gas station.
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Unfortunate business names
From reader Katherine: tanning for the truly pale.
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Kelly found this sign in southern Indiana. (Just because you own the place doesn't mean you have to name it after yourself.)
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From Mindy, the least popular furniture store in Mason City, Iowa.
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Joe Warner writes that this business in Acworth, Georgia was torn down a few years ago. I guess the formula just wasn't working.
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Asian restaurants

There could've been thousands of pictures in this column, but we liked these three the best. From J.J. in Poughkeepsie:
Poughkeepsie_NY_Yeung_Ho_II.jpg

In Bath, Maine (thanks, Austin):
YumMee.jpg

Reader Christine pointed out this photo of San Diego's own Pho King (it's pronounced fuh), taken by the gourmands at mmm-yoso!
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There are lots of these places in Los Angeles, but apparently people in other parts of the world (like reader Tori) think that donuts and Chinese food make strange platefellows:
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Just plain odd
There's really no other way to classify these. What were they thinking?

More weirdness from Darcie in Pine Bluff, Arkansas:
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Discount caskets? (I hope they're not used.) Thanks, Alyssa!
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Sarah sent us this shot from Shreveport, Louisiana. She hoped this was a sign for an exterminator business, but needless to say, didn't go inside to investigate.
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Laura found this on vacation in Phoenix about 15 years ago. Cute!
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Georgetown's own Moby Dick Kabob. (Say that five times fast.) Thanks to Luz.
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On-purpose weird business names
When you have no marketing budget, sometimes the best way to get the word out about your business is by giving it a ridiculous name. We're pretty sure that's what happened to these fine establishments.

From Kevin:
stupidprices.jpg

A Phillipsburg, Kansas restaurant found by Alyssa:
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A guy who got tired of answering the question "what kind of stuff do you sell?" From Jocelyn:
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More peculiarity from Pine Bluff:
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A frozen yogurt place in Salt Lake (thanks Devora), whose motto appears to be "no spooning on Sundays!"
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Bars
There seems to be a long-standing tradition of giving bizarre names to drinking establishments. Here are a few.

Nothing special about this Lancaster, Ohio saloon (thanks, Sheya):
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Live nude cattle in Star Valley, Arizona. (Thanks, Susan.)
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Both the name and logo of this business seem to celebrate drunk driving:
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Just around the corner from the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City (thanks, Jessica):
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
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entertainment
13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter. She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: no team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

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Big Questions
How Are Balloons Chosen for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
Getty Images
Getty Images

The balloons for this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade range from the classics like Charlie Brown to more modern characters who have debuted in the past few years, including The Elf On The Shelf. New to the parade this year are Olaf from Disney's Frozen and Chase from Paw Patrol. does the retail giant choose which characters will appear in the lineup?

Balloon characters are chosen in different ways. For example, in 2011, Macy’s requested B. Boy after parade organizers saw the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (The company had been adding a series of art balloons to the parade lineup since 2005, which it called the Blue Sky Gallery.) When it comes to commercial balloons, though, it appears to be all about the Benjamins.

First-time balloons cost at least $190,000—this covers admission into the parade and the cost of balloon construction. After the initial year, companies can expect to pay Macy’s about $90,000 to get a character into the parade lineup. If you consider that the balloons are out for only an hour or so, that’s about $1500 a minute.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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