- The Washington Times - Friday, September 28, 2007

What election? Hillary who?

Few can dwell on politics, perhaps, when the real news of the day beckons: The fastest sofa on the planet can go 92 mph. The tallest man in the world stands over 8 feet. And some guy in Ireland can eat 21 Brussels sprouts in 60 seconds.

The Guinness World Records 2008 arrives on bookshelves today with glow-in-the-dark pages, celebrity interviews and revelations about ketchup drinkers and crime scenes, police cars and planets.

Indeed, one Marek Turowski of Britain drove a souped-up, tricked-out love seat at a very high speed in May. Leonid Stadnyk of the Ukraine towers over everybody while Liam McCormick can toss back multiple green veggies in a minute.

“People tell us that getting in the book is a dream they”ve had since childhood,” said Craig Glenday, editor of the 53rd edition.

“It”s a fundamental thing about the human condition. People want to push themselves further,” he said. “It also allows you to position yourself in the world. Without knowing the extremities, it”s impossible to know where you stand.”

Mick Jagger knows where he stands. Only yesterday, the Rolling Stones “Bigger Bang” global tour was deemed “the world”s most successful music tour” by Guinness, accruing $437 million for the aging rockers. Young ladies in scanty bathing attire have a place too: 1,010 Australian women lay claim to the “world”s biggest swimsuit shoot” on Wednesday when they stood on a Sydney beach and mugged for the camera.

Then there”s the world”s hairiest man — Victor “Larry” Ramos Gomez of Mexico — seriously furry on 98 percent of his body, and a Guinness star.

Such things might not be what Sir Beaver had in mind. Sir Hugh Beaver, that is — the one-time managing director of the Guinness Brewery who originally dreamed up the idea of a book charting the world”s records over five decades ago. While hunting with friends, he wondered: Which flew faster, a plover or a grouse? Surely people needed to know the answers, Sir Beaver reasoned — and he was right.

Counting books, videos, television and merchandise, the trademarked Guinness dynamo is now described by parent company HIT Entertainment as “the highest-selling copyright book of all time,” with 100 million copies in 37 languages. It also seems to meld cultures with ease.

The record for spinning hula hoops — that classic symbol of Americana — is not held by some Yankee stalwart. The honor goes to Belorussian Alesya Goulevich, who whirled 101 during an exhibition in Madrid last year. And it stands to reason that the record number of break dancing head spins (89) is not held by a native of Brooklyn but by a Japanese man living in Germany.

The ever-enthusiastic Mr. Glenday, meanwhile, this week found the woman with the world”s smallest waist plus a lady contortionist who can fit into a suitcase.

We were thinking of loading her on to a carousel in an airport in London, but didn”t think they”d let us, he observed.

FOR THE RECORD

The Guinness World Records 2008 reveals the extremes of our existence. Here’s a selection from the new volume, and the year the record was achieved:

Heaviest eyelid pull: Dong Changsheng of China pulled a 3,300-pound Volkswagen 32 feet with cords attached to his lower eyelids with hooks (2007).

Fastest furniture: 92 mph sofa. Marek Turowski of Britain attained the speed piloting a custom-mobilized love seat (2007).

Fastest police car: Rome’s Lamborghini cruisers can reach 197 mph (2005).

Largest flea: Three tenths of an inch, found on a beaver in Puyallup, Wash. (1913).

Largest song and dance routine: 4,431 Canadians did the hokey pokey together in Toronto (2003).

Tallest champagne fountain: 61 stories, constructed by German chef Luuk Broos (2006).

Tallest living man: Leonid Stadnyk of Ukraine, who stands 8-feet-5.5 inches (2007).

Brussels sprout eating: Ireland’s Liam McCormick ate 21 in 60 seconds (2007).

Ketchup drinking: Dustin Phillips of the United States drank a 14 oz. bottle through a straw in 33 seconds (1999).

Watermelon crushing: John Allwood of Australia broke 40 watermelons in a row with his forehead (2007).

Longest word ever used in a crossword puzzle: The Welsh town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch featured in a British newspaper (1979).

Source: Guinness World Records

The Washington Times

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