The nation in maps, on a blog in Red River Land

For some reason, online maps depicting things other than geographic features have become a popular online subject over the past few months.

Let’s start with the mother of all dialect maps:

The author of this monster divides Wisconsin into three dialectical groups — The North, North Inland and North Central. Click here for a selection of YouTube videos to bring sound to what we Wisconsinites supposedly sound like.

That may be a little dense for some readers. It’s easier to explain differences in language not only by how people pronounce words, but the words people use. That’s the idea behind these maps from North Carolina State University.

Our state’s most famous vocabulary divide is over water …

… followed closely by …

… pop vs. soda. However …

… would you believe this state is divided over pecan pie?

Here’s Steve Lovelace‘s map of the 50 states by their most prominent (according to him) corporation:

If you think about iconic brands, you could do much worse than Harley–Davidson.

Speaking of wheels, Jalopnik provides this map of the most-sold new car model:

If you think you see a lot of Ford F-150s, it’s not your imagination. (People who buy new cars often discover a lot of their own new car around. F-150 owners must be used to this by now.)

This map of Declan Cashin claims to pick a movie for each the 50 states:

Some of these are obvious — “The Blues Brothers” for Illinois, “Hoosiers” for Indiana, “The Wizard of Oz” for Kansas, “Forrest Gump” for Alabama, “Groundhog Day” for Pennsylvania, “Casino” for Nevada, and so on. (Washington’s “First Blood” was better than the other Rambo movies by an order of magnitude.) “Fargo,” despite its name, is a movie mostly set in Minnesota, not North Dakota.

What, however, is “American Movie”? The Internet Movie Database calls it a …

Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker’s attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.

This rings a bell in that I may have seen part of this on PBS. The movie’s website says (capital letters theirs):

It takes a village to make a movie, but when that village is Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin and not Hollywood, CA, the results are at times bizarre, comical, and very American.  With  the help of his mother, his 82-year old uncle, and local cast of hilarious and lovable characters, filmmaker Mark Borchardt fights his way through internal and external roadblocks to achieve his goal-to make his movie, his way.

Mark’s vision for his dream film is unlike most in independent filmmaking today.  His inspiration comes from films as desarate as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Seventh Seal, as well as his experiences growing up amidst the grey skies, rusty cars, and ranch houses of Milwaukee’s Northwest side.

AMERICAN MOVIE is the story of filmmaker Mark Borchardt, his mission, and his dream.  Spanning over two years of intense struggle with his film, his family, financial decline, and spiritual crisis, AMERICAN MOVIE is a portrayal of ambition, obsession, excess, and one man’s quest for the American Dream.

My first thought is that I’m not sure why someone would want to chronicle his own “intense struggle” with “financial decline, and spiritual crisis.” My second thought is: This represents Wisconsin? Really? Pick one of these movies filmed in Wisconsin (yes, “American Movie” is on this list), or these movies set in Wisconsin.

Finally, here’s an interesting map, the Atlas of True Names, which has the English translations for our stew of American Indian, French and other place names.

It is ironic to be a native of Son of Combat Strength given Madison’s history of opposing “combat strength.” Fond du Lac likes to call itself “First on the Lake” instead of its more correct translation. As for Red River Land’s largest city, “Good Land” has, as you know, bad water every time the city spits out millions of “partially treated” storm water that the Deep Tunnel cannot handle. On the other hand, no more appropriate name has ever been created for Chicago.

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