I saw this morning that Evan Turner of the Sixers briefly entered the annals of Guinness by making 14 shots from behind the backboard in 60 seconds. Apparently there is a record for such a thing, and the NBA is getting all wild and crazy by kicking off All-Star weekend with such festivities. There’s buzz, and then there’s NBA All-Star buzz. Unfortunately for Turner, minutes after his heroic performance, the Spanish Jason Williams (white chocolate version) shattered the record with 18 baskets. As I write this, Turner could be going for 19. I don’t know, and I don’t care. That’s the point. The Guinness Book of World Records has to be one of the five dumbest things in print. If I was a big Guinness drinker, I’d be upset with the association.
My new stance on the Guinness Book would come as a horrifying surprise to my elementary school self. When I was in the 8-year old range, the Guinness Book of World Records was about the only book I’d crack that wasn’t about the Berenstain Bears or the kid with no arm in left field. I have vague memories of having a copy of this book in my classroom one year. During SSR (sustained silent reading) there would be a mad dash to snag the Guinness Book. It was a damn treasure. The thing was probably 500 pages long, but you’d never explore past the first section which was chock full of human anomalies. The fat motorcycle twins, fingernail lady, the tall guy, the woman with the crazy-long neck–that could exhaust any SSR period, no problem.
I eventually got a Guinness Book of my own. I’m going to say approximately 1991 and I got a lot of mileage out of it, even if some things, like Nolan Ryan’s record fastball seemed dubious at best. I don’t remember ever having any desire to be, “in the book,” it was just like dropping a quarter to see the “freak show,” at the old carnival. I guess that doesn’t sound very PC, or tolerant, but that’s what it was, a kid getting excited about seeing a guy who was 8-feet tall.
And, back in the day, the book seemed to have some standards. You couldn’t just do any old thing. Breaking a Guinness record, or setting a new record wasn’t some PR stunt, it was just something that happened. What I’m saying is, most of the people in the book to start with didn’t set out to be in the book. It’s the Funniest Home Video phenomenon. The first videos they got were organic and then for the next 20 years they air staged stunts. It’s embarrassing. Saget knew. He got out. The Guinness Book is all about the staged stunt now. Oh, let’s get the most guys with a mustache in one building, or have the most simultaneous games of checkers. Well excuse me if I think that is horsebleep. Not in the spirit of the Book.
There should be tallest, fattest and oldest person. That’s the holy Guinness trinity. Anything else is just weakening the brand.
Here are some recent Guinness Records:
1. Largest Online 1st-Person Shooter Battle
2. Most People in an Easter Egg Hunt
3. Largest Pong Tournament
4. Fastest 100K (Team Treadmill Division)
5. Longest Handshake Chain
6. Most Facebook Comments
7. Most Pizzas Made in 1-hr
8. World’s Largest Video Game Controller
9. Largest Coffee Bean Mosaic
10. World’s Largest Sock