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Most Awsome State Quarter – Swayze Regional Round 1

January 31st, 2008 by Kevin Murphy · 36 Comments

Welcome coinfans, here we go with more tails-to-tails first-round competition on the road to the title of America’s Most Awesome State Quarter! You can catch up with all the action at Quarter Central, but the Swayze Region boasts such juggernauts of jing, I’ll go out on a limb and say that whoever survives this numismatic brawl will dominate from here on in! Here we go:

Swayze Regional

CA winner vs WV winner

California comes ready to play some coin with a three-pronged attack, and proves the adage that if you’re gonna boast about your state, first have something to boast about, and second have a backup. Boom! John Muir, the hoary misanthropic envirophile is hard to top, but then – Boom! we’ve got Half Dome, one of the crown jewels of Yosemite, daring coin-thumbers to climb, for a better view of – Boom! The California Condor, the Randy Johnson of state birds, ugly as a custard apple but unbeatable in straight-up competition. But now what does West Virginia bring? A bridge?! You have got to be kidding me! Every state in the union has a bridge – hell, Arizona has London Bridge but they’re not crazy enough to put it on their quarter! West Virginia, stumbling out of the gate with a weak boast, and a confusing one at that. What’s supposed to catch our eye, the gorge or the bridge? I hate to see a state stumble like this, but what are ya gonna do.

Winner: California, walking away.

CT winner vs MA winner

On to a classic New England matchup. Our fifth state, Connecticut, makes an unusual move – A Tree? But wait, this is no prissy Vermont Sugar Maple, my friends, this is the legendary Charter Oak, the only tree to take part in the founding of our nation, concealing as it did the precious Connecticut Charter from the clutches of the British. Don’t know about it? Jeeminee, crack a book, people! Now Massachusetts, State Number Six, brings it to it with the iconic Minuteman – Wow! You gotta be impressed! Not only do they hold back their star power – Your Paul Reveres, your Sam Adamses – but they lead with the icon, the legend, the first American foot soldier. Folks, this bench has depth, this is a quarter with confidence, and it’s the only quarter to carry a gun. Yeah, I’m going back, to Massachusetts!

Winner: Massachusetts, by a rifle-length.

NH winner vs OK winner

One of the most unlikely pairings you’ll see in this round, and not surprisingly, it’s a real letdown on both ends. New Hampshire pretty much blows it with its depiction of their traditional tourist trap The Old Man in the Mountain. It’s a natural formation that’s supposed to look like an old man – me, I say it looks like an old lady. I once bought a potato that looked like Walter Cronkite, but did I run to put it on a coin? NH wastes its strongest card, the undisputed Most Awesome State Motto: “Live Free or Die.” But just when you think it can’t get worse, along comes Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s a dream-team of images – the great displaced Indian nations, massive cattle drives, Conestoga wagons, the land run, and above all, America’s favorite beverage – oil! So does this big brawny state choose? A bird. But not an eagle or a hawk, it’s the Scissortail Flycathcher. And what bold motto do they bring in to save themselves? “1907.” It’s enough to want to send this quarter-back down to the dimes.

Winner: New Hampshire. Enjoy it, Old Man, it’s your last victory.

MT winner vs NC winner

Now here’s a match worth seeing! David and Goliath slug it out in a battle that pits boasting, natural beauty and actual accomplishment against one another. North Carolina, the Barbecue State, is one of the teams to beat in this entire competition, and they walk it like they talk it with the Wright Brothers’ first flight, a claim that no other state can step up to. First car? who cares? First balloon? that was in France. The first airplane speaks for itself, takes on all comers, steps up on the mountain and says “knock me down!” But young Montana’s no slouch, and this big lumbering state might move slow but it moves with grace and dignity – cattle skull hovering over the Bridger Mountains puts me to mind of beef and skiing, two of my favorite pastimes. It’s a strong showing, but is it enough? Montana’s youth and inexperience as a state pose a liability, and no matter what your resources in this competition, going up against the first airplane is gonna cause injuries early in the rounds. Montana shows dignity, rising above its Hannah’s and fast-food sandwich brand namesakes.

Winner: North Carolina, but a tip of the coin to Montana. Maybe next century, Big Fella.

Wow. Some true titans of coinage today, and the weak cheese has been blasted out of the arena. Watch your back, Indiana and Nebraska, best you come ready to play.

Swayze Regional Round 1

Tags: RiffTrax · bracketology · currency · state quarters

36 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michael on Jan 31, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Um Kevin, that’s actually Half Dome on the California quarter, but it’s ok a lot of people take it for granite.

  • 2 wurwolf on Jan 31, 2008 at 11:21 am

    The Barbecue State — now that’s something worth bragging about! Truly, North Carolina’s coin is a beauty, but if they had some real balls they would have put The Barbecue State and a tasty rack of ribs on their quarter.

    Mmmmm…. pulled pork…

  • 3 Rude on Jan 31, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Shenanigans! Montana’s state quarter is clearly the winner in that match-up.

    Who’s paying you off, Murphy?


  • 4 Barry on Jan 31, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Actually, the bridge on the WV quarter is the New River Gorge bridge. It’s the highest automobile traffic bridge and the longest steel arch bridge in the Americas (was the highest auto traffic bridge in the world until 2004 and the longest steel arch bridge in the world until 2003). It’s also one of the few bridges in the US National Park system where BASE jumping (i.e., parachuting off the bridge) is permitted, and the bridge is closed for one day every year in a festival (”Bridge Day”) dedicated to the bridge.

    I expect that kind of uninformedness from Conor, but Kevin? You disappoint me! :(

  • 5 Kei on Jan 31, 2008 at 11:54 am

    It’s what I feared. The two states I call home both made it past round 1. For whom do I cheer or weep? The anticipation is too much for me.

    How can people pay any attention to the Superbowl when history is being written right here?

  • 6 Veronica on Jan 31, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Alright Massachusetts! Kids with guns!

    You have to love the adorable ruff-n-tumble 13 year old boy with a musket :)

  • 7 Kevin Murphy on Jan 31, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Not at all, my friend. It’s the bridge that disappoints in this competition! Just because it’s got the stats doesn’t mean it can bring it to the game. Just ask Brett Favre.


  • 8 Kevin Murphy on Jan 31, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Correction noted, my friend. But it doesn’t take away from the Cal Quarter’s walk-away victory!


  • 9 Barry on Jan 31, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Well, John Madden says that you could chop off Brett Favre’s arms and legs and he’d still be the best torso in football.

    Or maybe that was Frank Caliendo who said that. Either way, it’s frickin’ hilarious.

  • 10 Kevin Murphy on Jan 31, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I get paid in satisfaction, amigo. Soon as Montana invents something as cool as the airplane and sticks it on a quarter, I’ll listen to your gripes.


  • 11 ern2150 on Jan 31, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    KEVIN! Come on, “it’s” incorrect more than once? Tiawana Girl ads on the side?

    It’s a damned good thing this competition is hilarious, because these detractions might ruin it otherwise!

  • 12 Conor Lastowka on Jan 31, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Or better yet, DONT invent the airplane, but make up some sort of ridiculous claim about having played a minor role in its invention and slap THAT on your quarter!

    Nah, people would never buy it…

  • 13 jsg on Jan 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    NH gets irony points for the Old Man’s collapse into the New Pile of Rubble of the Mountain last year. Perhaps it couldn’t handle the pressure of its numismatic celebrity.

  • 14 Garrett Burke on Jan 31, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Greetings Kevin,

    Hmm…round 2…California vs Indiana…a John Wooden vs. Bobby Knight coaching-style smackdown. Whose state quarter will strike victorious?

    Being from LA, (and also being the guy whose idea became the California State Quarter) I give a thin edge to CA. Here’s how it could go down… Tie score, 25 seconds left, Coach Knight calls a time out, decides against throwing a folding chair, instead opting for the heavy metal power play. He hops in and revs the Indy race car directly towards naturalist John Muir. Muir, atop Yosemite’s Pyramid of Success, (18 seconds on the clock) digs deep for competitive greatness…Muir pivots, tosses his walking stick at the windshield to throw Knight of his game (12 seconds)…Muir looks around…he sticks his finger in the air to gauge the wind direction…HE JUMPS (5 seconds)…GRABS ONTO THE CLAWS OF A PASSING CONDOR…WHAT A HEAD’S-UP PLAY!!! KNIGHT PASSES UNDERNEATH…OVER THE CLIFF AND INTO OBLIVION!!!

    Good trumping evil? Not always, but in this case a slam dunk.

    OK, I’m calling it. Tough competition ahead with a couple of Cinderella coins, but I gotta go strong with my man / geological landmark / gymnogyps californianus. California vs. Wisconsin in the finals with Wisconsin committing another mint error (like the inexplicable extra-leafed corn stalks) in the final seconds. California rolls to victory!

    - Garrett Burke, concept designer of the California State Quarter

  • 15 Shawn on Jan 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    BOO-yah! My two home states – New Hampshire and Massachusetts – take their rounds! New England has really come into its own, competition-wise, over the past decade. The Super Bowls and World Serieses are jusifiably bragworthy, but if we can take the Most Awesome State Quarter, well, that’ll be for the history books.

  • 16 Steve-O on Jan 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Who did New Hampshire blow to eke out a win over Oklahoma?

    Not only does the “Old Man of the Mountain” amount to one of the dippiest of all state symbols — second only to Arizona’s “Jesus of the Tortilla” — but the formation itself crumbled to dust shortly after the quarter was minted, presumably out of a rightful sense of shame.

    Contrast that with the scissor-tailed flycatcher which, last I checked, had not only not crumbled to dust, but is also the one item depicted on all of the state quarters that is most likely to poop on you. That’s got to be good for something.

  • 17 Michael on Jan 31, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Yeah but New Hampshire’s state motto is 4/5th of a Bruce Willis movie title. That has to count for something.

  • 18 Dallas on Jan 31, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Good round, but I still like the alternate idea for the CA quarter: the four seasons of California (Fire, Flood, Earthquake and Riot). Now THAT would be some unstoppable coinage.

  • 19 dignan on Jan 31, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I actually had to travel all the way up to the site of the Old Man of the Mountain’s remains to film his “memorial” for the news.

    Seriously. Thousands of people were there as state officials eulogized a rock formation. They had people in kilts playing bagpipes. They had an honor guard firing off guns. One of the speakers wept openly. It was the singularly dumbest thing I have ever seen.

  • 20 Bill Corbett on Jan 31, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    (Confidential to Rude:

    Kevin is a severe agoraphobic. The thought of “Big Sky Country” terrifies him no end. So please have mercy.

    Also, it’s rumored that he once had a “cow skull” belt buckle that punctured his femoral artery.

    Montana just ran into some bad luck today.)

  • 21 Mr. Slick on Jan 31, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    When the quarter controversy is over can we get on to the more important issues, like the Euro: Eurocash or Eurotrash?

  • 22 Yanni on Jan 31, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    What if they had put a guy base jumping off the bridge on their quarter?

  • 23 Tv Miller on Jan 31, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    A mere image of the 5 torn asunder in a heaping pile would be a well rounded example of that. “California, Lucky To Still Be Here”

  • 24 Michael on Jan 31, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    You haven’t seen a Uwe Boll flick then have you?

  • 25 Adam Electric on Jan 31, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Is there anything we DON’T win here in Boston?

    See ya Sunday

  • 26 Kevin Murphy on Jan 31, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Okay, mi amico, I found one, point out the other (he says, smiling, while mumbling “pissy bitch” under his breath).

  • 27 Kevin Murphy on Jan 31, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Okay! Okay! Quit shouting at me, paco! I found the other error, replaced same. But I’ll still claim no responsibility for T-Girl.

  • 28 Kevin Murphy on Jan 31, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Then they’d have a lead-pipe cinch, mon ami.


  • 29 Kevin Murphy on Jan 31, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Brilliant analysis from one of the architects of this competition, The G-Man himself! This is a coin that’s survived three re-designs and two governors, and it’s got the find-it guts that make a champion, in or out of the vending machine.

    Thanks for joining us, Garrett, and a big tip of Johnny Muir’s hat to Michelle!

  • 30 Steve-O on Jan 31, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Is there anything we DON’T win here in Boston?

    Ask your junior Senator.

  • 31 dignan on Feb 1, 2008 at 4:33 am


    However, has any Uwe Boll film featured the 5th grade chorus of New Hampshire’s school (I assume they have just the one) singing an altered version of “This Land Is Your Land” as “tribute” to a pile of rocks? Has anyone in a Uwe Boll film at any time sung the following lyrics:

    He was an Old Man
    A very Old Man
    Up on a mountain
    And people saw him ???

    Until that time comes to pass, I’m going to stand by my statement.

  • 32 Barry on Feb 1, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Oh, he’s there. You just have to look reeeeal close. (Microscope not included.)

  • 33 Dim of the Yard on Feb 2, 2008 at 8:58 am

    1. I thought Conor covered the quarter competition? Not that I’m saying this post wasn’t as good as te rest, but are you usurping his territory, Mr. Murphy?

    2. In regards to New Hampshire’s quarter, I never saw an old man on the side of a mountain. I always thought it was a busty amputee. Must be why I don’t name curious-looking mountains.

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