Well it's been a hell of a few weeks. Interviews, public appearances, photo calls, even a visit to the Huffington Post offices (salud Buck!). In the space of 10 days I've met the woman with the longest fingernails (19 ft 9 in), the man with the longest beard (7 ft 9 in), watched a woman stomp her way through 8.6 liters of grape juice (the most ever in a minute), a man lift the equivalent of 20 female African elephants (127,245 lb) and said hello in the wee hours of the morning to the shortest non-mobile woman in the world (lovely Madge Bester at 24.8 hailing from South Africa). One of those would suffice for a single episode; to have encountered all of them in such a condensed period of time is positively mind-blowing. And then there are the random unexpected moments; congratulating both Novak Djokovic and Samantha Stosur on their US Open wins after running into them at Live! With Regis & Kelly, giving Glee's Jane Lynch a copy of our book in the NBC green room, seeing in person how thin Jonah Hill is now (yowzah).
One afternoon we crossed paths with Curb Your Enthusiasm's Susie Essman before putting The Dutchess on camera to talk about her long fingernails. "How long did it take you to grow them?" she asked. "18 years" said The Dutchess. "You're $@#%# joking!" responded Susie. Brilliant. But back to the record-breakers. Indeed, it is truly a natural wonder to see how and why the record-breaking world manifests itself in such wide-ranging shapes and sizes. Fingernails can help you stand out in a crowd and support a music career, a long beard is not only a prolific human endeavor but also a manifestation of your spirituality, lifting thousands of pounds over the course of an hour proves age is just a number. Now that the dust has settled a little and we dig in to the trenches it gives me a chance to actually look around what this hullaballoo is all about -- the Guinness World Records 2012 book.
The 288-page tome is our latest production and dare I say it, it's a joy to go through. Every year internally there's always a great deal of thought given to wondering how we will top the previous year. Two things that remain a constant and that do a great deal to calm our nerves are 1) our record-breakers and the phenomenal engine that drives their ambition and 2) the truly superlative job our editorial team does putting the book together. Neither ever disappoints. It is hard to pick favorites from the midst of 4,000 records in the book but here are a few personal stand-outs:
Tallest Married Couple (page 8)
I first met Wayne and Laurie Hallquist last year in San Francisco when we did a photo shoot around the Bay area and they are two of the nicest (and tallest) people. At 6 ft 10 in and 6 ft 6 in respectively, it was quite something to walk around and turn heads with these veritable titans of auxology!
Farthest Object in the Universe (page 22)
One of my best memories growing up was watching Carl Sagan on TV and being amazed as he deconstructed the universe and brought it into our living room. In January 2011 the Hubble Space Telescope photographed a galaxy the light of which would take 13.2 billion light years to reach us. Humbling and incomprehensible.
Most Dangerous Tree (page 65)
I love this. A tree. Dangerous. A dangerous tree. What, it's very tall and slippery so you fall out of it easily? Not exactly. The manchineel (Hippomane mancinella) of the Florida Everglades possesses a sap that can blister human skin and blind you. Not only this but eating its fruit can kill you. Right. No, you don't wanna climb this tree.
Oldest Bungee Jumper (page 87)
The best I've done is a 14,000 ft sky dive and even that had me packing an extra pair of underpants. Bungee? Just can't do it. I really want to, but just can't do it. Step up Mohr Keet (South Africa) who at 96 stepped off the edge and dropped 708 ft making me feel even more embarrassed than ever. Mr. Keet, I am not worthy.
Most Underpants Worn at Once (page 107)
I often say Guinness World Records covers everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. I leave it for you to decide which this is. Oh, and it's 231 pairs of underpants worn by Taro Yabe from Japan. AT THE SAME TIME.
Fastest 100m Joggling (page 112)
Dude. Let's do some joggling. Come on, let's go. Tell you what Owen Morse (USA), let's each take five balls and last one to the juice bar... HEY WHERE YOU GOING?! WAIT!! OK, you get the idea, Morse 'The Horse' did it in 13.8 seconds.
Highest Cable Walk (page 116)
$#@^&-out, one of the most impressive things in this year's book and filmed by one of our own cameramen. 10,836 ft from the ground in 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only risking life and limb but freezing as well. Freddy Nock (Switzerland) covered 1,876 ft of cable. Astonishing.
Most Conquests of Mount Everest (page 119)
Apparently you have to drop $60k to climb Everest these days but it's probably worth it, wouldn't you say? I mean I can't believe anyone's gotten to the top and thought "Yeah it's OK" And you'll definitely need the help of someone like Apa Sherpa (Nepal) to guide you, especially as he's been to the top of Chomolungma 20 times, more than any human being alive or dead.
Largest Toast Mosaic (page 145)
Just for the sheer genius. 9,852 slices of toast. And who did they make the picture of? The Mona Lisa? The Venus de Milo? Marilyn Monroe? No, the mother-in-law of Laura Hadland, the artist responsible. Really??
Most Expensive Dog/Cat (page 147 & 149)
Dog and cat people, check this out. $1,513,417's worth of dog (a red Tibetan mastiff) and $24,000's worth of cat (a Californian spangled cat). Why is the dog worth more than the cat? I HAVE NO IDEA.
Largest Collection of Clowns (page 153)
Beautiful and amazingly creepy. 1,610 clowns owned by Ortrud Kastaun (Germany). All frozen. All staring at you, forever.
Most people playing chess simultaneously (page 154)
I've judged this twice, both times in Mexico with the honor of meeting both 10th World Champion Boris Spasky and 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov. There's nothing more impressive than a world champion chess player. Apart from 20,017 people playing chess simultaneously of course.
Smallest Map of Earth (page 167)
Yep. The smallest in the world. 22 x 11 µm (micrometers). So small 1,000 could fit on a grain of rice. And it's 3D. Here's mud in your eye Google Earth!
Longest Bridge Over Water (page 190)
Eat your heart out Simon & Garfunkel. Spanning Jiaozhou Bay in China's Shangdong province. 26.4 miles of bridge. Not a drop of troubled water.
Largest Ball of Plastic Wrap (page 196)
281 lb 8 oz of plastic wrap shaped as a ball, big enough to stand on. And who put this work of art together? Jake Lonsway of Bay City, Michigan, USA. HE'S ELEVEN YEARS OLD!
Largest Pop-up Book (page 208)
I haven't grown up. I still love pop-up books. And this one really got my attention. It's 13 ft 1 in long by 9 ft 10 in ft wide, was made in Belgium and requires two people to turn its pages. The pop-ups are 7 ft 9 in tall. Awesome!
Farthest Cell Phone Throw by an Individual (page 265)
Who hasn't wanted to do this? I mean, to do it AND win a prize? Genius. Oh, but you have to throw it more than 314 ft 5 in which is how far Chris Hughff (UK) threw his. Muscle milk anyone?
Deepest Freedive (page 267)
Ever since I read Pipin's autobiography I've been mesmerized by the sport of free diving. Majestic, aquatic human beings with lungs the size of oranges. I can't imagine what peace there must be under 702 ft of water which is the current record held by Herbert Nitsch (Austria). Zen. Very zen.
So there you go. That's a few of my favorites from this year's edition but there are literally thousands more. So go ahead and check it out. Who knows, maybe you'll be on this list next year!