Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Episode 58: Records

Not surprisingly, the Guinness Book of World Records has its roots in beer and guns, which may explain all of the crazy things people do to get a Guinness World Record. What might be surprising is that the bear and guns were in Ireland instead of Wisconsin. In any case, as the story goes, some executive at the Guinness Brewery got into an argument at a shooting party about what was the fastest game bird. Back then (which is to say 1951) people were far more polite, so a bunch of guys with guns arguing about birds would not lead to a shootout like it would today. It was probably a good day for the birds, what with the hunters spending their time arguing and searching the library rather than shooting at birds, but it was not such a good day for the guy wondering what bird was the fastest. He could not find anything in his library, so he decided someone should write a book where people could find out what were the fastest, strongest, slowest, tallest, shortest, newest, oldest, hairiest, etc., creatures and things out there. So he did.

What started as a quest for the fastest game bird in Europe led to the fastest 100 meter hurdles sprint while wearing swim fins (22.35 seconds). What, why would someone want to run on land while wearing swim fins? The answer to that, of course, is the same reason someone would want to ride a bike 214 feet under water. If you want a world record, you can try to be faster or stronger than everyone else in the world (good luck on that one), or you can just try to do something so ridiculous no one else would want to do it. The latter seems to be the strategy most world record holders have employed.

  • Largest pocket knife – 12 feet 8 inches tall when open (Is that really still a pocket knife?)
  • Tightest frying pan roll in 30 seconds – 17.46 centimeters (Some guy actually rolled up an aluminum frying pan with his bare hands the way the rest of us might roll up a newspaper, but probably with more grunting and straining. )
  • Longest distance pulled by a horse – full-body burn – 1551 feet 2 inches (Picture a guy on fire being pulled around by a horse. Before that, picture that same guy with a few of his friends drinking way too much Hungarian beer and daring each other to do ridiculous things and you might be close to how this idea was conceived.)
  • Heaviest weight pulled with eye sockets – 907 pounds (Uh, my guess is Hungarian beer was involved in this one too.)
  • Farthest milk squirting from eye – 9 feet 2 inches (I would say this involved Hungarian beer too, but I am leaning more towards something a little stronger in this case.)
So, if you want to get your name immortalized in the Guinness World Records, gather a group of your most creative and least responsible friends, drink a lot of Hungarian beer, and have a brainstorming session. Odds are pretty good what comes out of that session is likely to be something that will immortalize you in the hallowed halls of Guinness World Records. I mean, anyone can try to run really fast, but how many people will put on a tutu and lumber jack boots, and then try to run really fast backwards through four feet of slurry composed of lemon pudding, Dijon mustard, Tabasco sauce, and rotting fish heads while reciting the Bill of Rights? What would you rather watch?