Vs. States with Boring Shapes

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Odds and Ends
Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s the deal.

Remember when the Millennium Falcon is trying to escape from Imperial forces and Han Solo recklessly heads into the asteroid field?  And then he navigates his ship into that giant cavern on one of the larger asteroids?  And then they all get out and walk around and shoot at some flying thing and, when they shoot, the whole cave shakes?  And then they shoot again and the cave shakes again and Han tells everyone to get back into the ship?  And then they fly out and someone says that the opening to the cave is collapsing?  And Han says that it’s no cave and he flies out just in time?  And we see that the cave was actually this gigantic worm-like creature?  And the wormy thing tries to bite the Millennium Falcon as they fly away?

Remember that?

Well, have you ever looked at a map of Michigan by itself (removed from the other states)?  Here it is –


It looks just like that scene from the movie.  And that makes it an awesomely shaped state.

We have a lot of states with cool shapes.  There’s Oklahoma, the “We’re #1” foam finger of territories.  There’s Alaska, which is just one giant, frozen Rorschach Test.  There’s California, which looks like an alligator’s mouth as it opens extra wide in an ill-advised attempt to consume Nevada.  And there’s the state of Washington – which would have a boring shape were in not for the fact that, apparently, its northwest corner is being invaded by Dig Dug.


And then there’s the state with the best shape.  When you were a kid, did you have that wooden puzzle of the Unites States, where each of the fifty puzzle pieces was a state?  Remember how much fun it was putting Texas in?  Admit it, you always put in Texas first.  It was easiest because it has the most unique shape of all.

Interesting fact – it is impossible to draw the outline of the state of Texas. 

Go ahead try. 

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Seriously, get out a piece of paper and a pen and try to draw Texas…it looks terrible, right? 

Even if you are looking at a map of Texas as you’re drawing it – you’re hand drawn version will always look like a sub-par kindergarten art project. 

But this isn’t about the states with great shapes.  This is about the states with boring shapes.  Our nation is overrun with rectangular blobs with no personality.  Can anyone really tell North and South Dakota apart?  I don’t want to sound statist, but all Dakotas look alike to me.

Which state, for example, do you think this is?


If you guessed Georgia, you’re right.  If you guessed Alabama, you’re also right.  If you guessed Missouri, then you’re actually right…but come on, this could be any number of states that essentially all look the same.  Who knows?  And who cares?  If you can’t be bothered to make you’re state aesthetically pleasing, then why should we be bothered to remember what it looks like? 

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I convince these dull clumps of geography to alter their borders?  Simple.  It’s time for the states that look boring to shape up or ship out.  Forget gerrymandering, I think we should redraw the US map to make it more attractive.  In a time when Americans need something positive to unite us, this national mural project could be just the thing.  Let the artist within you out and submit your unique shape suggestions for your state to your local representative.  A continental collage is just what we need to get back on track.  America may no longer be the smartest country.  We may no longer be the richest country.  But, gosh darned it, we can still be the prettiest.

  1. Joanne says:

    I live in Michigan. One of the most awesome things about life in Michigan? You can use your right hand as a state map.

  2. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    You ought to be a writer for How the States Got Their Shapes, ha ha. Love the Star Wars reference!

  3. heathersnyder1 says:

    I am loving the Star Wars reference as well. When I saw Star Wars for the first time, first thing I thought, yep, wormy creature=shape of Michigan. I do agree we need to shape things up a bit. Although I will have to say that mapping in Utah and Oklahoma is totally awesome because of the shape. But, that’s just from a cartographers point of view. Just pretend I didn’t say that.

  4. Lokyra Stone says:

    Perhaps you should rewrite the state mottoes as well! Something snazzy to go with the new shapes and new pretty.

  5. ted says:

    You are only looking at states in two dimensions. Colorado, for example, is very dull when looked at in two dimensions. Not so different from Kansas. But when you add in the third dimension, then it is much more exciting. You can ask the Donner party how much that third dimension changes the Colorado experience from the Kansas Experience. Our TV’s are now 3-D, so too can be your reality.

  6. Maybe instead of each state changing its shape, we should just combine some states – that would give us some better shapes. For example…
    Combine Kentucky and West Virginia and presto; really cool mustache shape. or how about…
    Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida. That gives us the shape of one of those flying things inside the Michigan worm. We’d have less states to worry about and our kids would have more fun in pre-school coloring a map of the U.S.

  7. JP Feed says:

    Alright if it weren’t for relatively boring shaped states like Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona we would not have the Four Corners Monument. Now some of you may be saying “Who cares?” But think about it! How many places in the world can you stand in four different states at the same time? Yeah none. That’s pretty damn cool. You can imagine that your in a futuristic space dimension alteration device that takes you to four different places at the same time. Heh? Heh?

    • Makya McBee says:

      Joanne – I thank you for reading…but wonder if ease of being able to trace your state’s outline is a real tourism draw…

      Axl – I keep tellling people I should be a writer for a lot of things…I’m glad you agree.

      Heather – Utah is pretty good, like one really difficult stairmaster.

      Lokyra – Not surprisingly, I have a list of my favorite state mottos – perhaps I will adress that in a future post.

      Ted – I don’t think I can ask the Donner party (but I guess that’s the point). You’re right, I am looking at state shapes with two dimensions, along with 99.83% or everybody else. When 3D US maps become the norm, I’ll update my opinions…until then, Colorado is just so square.

      Fourth Brother – I’ve spoken with the other three brothers and we’re all behind your idea – and you’re absolutely correct regarding Kentucky and West Virginia, that does make the perfect mustache.

      JP – I agree with you completely…when you say “Who cares?” – the four corners is interesting in theory, but standing there is exactly as exciting as standing anywhere else – proof of this is in the fact that, say, the monument were off by a few hundred feet, who would know? Nonetheless, I appreciate your enthusiasm for strange, unimportant things.

      • heathersnyder1 says:

        @ Makya, Likewise some of the Utah terrain is like one really difficult stairmaster. It is so beautiful there, though.

    • Maybe if we made all the states boring squares, we would have a lot of Four Corners, and that wouldn’t be very fun, would it. I like to be at Four Corners and know I am the only person in the world (probably) standing in 4 places at once. Then again “Who cares?”

  8. Lokyra Stone says:

    State mottoes have so many delightful possibilities.
    Also, don’t underestimate the awesomeness of being able to trace the shape of your state that happens to be shaped like a freaking monster.

  9. Laura4NYC says:

    Wow, how stupid I was to not consider that Star Wars was based on an aversion towards Michigan (symbolised in the wormy thing trying to get the good guys!). Are the makers trying to get even with some underlying hate towards this state? Did Michiganers not bring in enough theater quotes for the movie? Mhmm, might be something to look into…
    No matter how hard you will try to change your border lines and state shapes, you will never top Italy: The one and only boot! The one that will kick your a$$.

  10. I had the wooden state puzzle when I was little. I did put Texas in first, next Florida. Florida being the second uniquely shaped state.

    Nice story, love it.

    • Makya McBee says:

      Laura – No argument when it comes to Italy. I should definitely do an international version of this in the future.

      Washington – I’m glad you identified with the puzzle and enjoyed the post, Dig-Dug-state-inspired-last-name reader.

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