TIME Bizarre

Why Smoke 110 Cigarettes at Once? Anything For a World Record

From the May 13, 1974, issue of TIME
From the May 13, 1974, issue of TIME TIME

The Guinness Book of World Records has inspired some dubious feats over the years

Guinness World Records releases its 2015 edition this week, featuring a Pomeranian that’s the fastest dog on two paws and Metallica, the first musical act to perform a concert on every continent.

The book is also the 60th anniversary edition, but things have changed since the first-ever Guinness records book arrived in 1955. Though early editions were full of miscellany and trivia, its records tended to be fairly basic: fastest, tallest, smallest, deepest. But, as TIME reported in a May 13, 1974, feature on an “oddball Olympics,” a group of 200 California students who gathered to beat previous world records and set new ones, the records have gotten weirder. This passage shows the great lengths people will go to achieve such an honor, something current record holders will be able to relate to:

During the week-long oddball Olympics, contestants in 75 events set eleven new world records. John Parker, 24, made himself a 1975 edition Guinness notable by downing 300 goldfish, 75 more than the previous oldie goldie. Rick Sumner, 14, polished off 20 doughnuts in 9 min. 59 sec., beating the old record of 20 in 15 min. John McKinney, 17, and Rick Sackett, 25, each crammed 52 cigars into their mouths and kept them alight for 30 sec. (v. the previous record of 28 lit for 30 sec.). Another titlist, Scott Case, managed to smoke 110 cigarettes simultaneously for 30 sec. without endangering his health. Kevin Farrell and Corey Fletcher each stood on one leg for 7½ hr., 60 min. longer than anyone ever has before.

Allan Littman, 17, consumed a pound of grapes, with seeds, in 52 sec. to crush the old mark of 65 sec. Allan Greenberg, 22, twirled a record album on his forefinger for 5 hr. Bruce Stewart and Robert Argust slapped each other’s faces for 31 hr. to top the old record by one hour. Frank Dolce blew 116 smoke rings on one drag to break the old high by 30.

And the weirdness has continued. Other fun records TIME highlighted over the years include:

The longest song title, mentioned in the People section in 1969: “I’m a Cranky Old Yank in a Clanky Old Tank on the Streets of Yokohama with my Honolulu Mama Doin’ Those Beat-o, Beat-o, Flat-on-My-Seat-o, Hirohito Blues” by composer Hogey Carmichael.

The world’s largest diary, reviewed in 1995: 20 million words spanning 67 years and roughly 35,000 pages, penned by New York World reporter Edward Robb Ellis. The quality of the writing lives up to the quantity, based on his description of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, the face of the Red Scare: “McCarthy has the slim hips of an athlete, a thick trunk and shoulders like a buffalo. Almost lacking a neck, his huge head seems perched on his shoulders. His mouth is long and thin, like a knife-gash in a melon.”

Fastest beer drinker, featured in a 1983 profile. Before Robert Hawke was known as Australia’s longest-serving Labor prime minister, he guzzled 2.5 pints of beer in 12 seconds at Oxford, earning a spot in the record book.

Read about the 1974 record-breakers here, in TIME’s archives: Oddball Olympics

TIME Bizarre

Florida Teen Arrested For Stealing From Sleeping Elderly People

19-year-old Florida man Eric Vanyo was arrested late Thursday in connection with thefts from two elderly people, a 93-year-old man and a 93-year-old woman, in the same night.

The Broward sheriff’s detectives assigned to the case said that Vanyo stole power tools, a television and a wedding ring from the man after prying open the door to his house. Vanyo then took “several pieces of jewelry” from the woman after having accessed her home through her laundry room; she woke to find him rummaging through her dresser. He then sold the items to a pawn shop, Local10 reports.

This is not the first time Vanyo has stolen from this 93-year-old man, detectives believe: In July, they say Vanyo stole a gold ring, a watch and two rolls of quarters.

Vanyo was arrested based on evidence obtained from the scene of the first burglary, where he cut himself; DNA from the blood was used to link Vanyo to the crime. He could be charged with “three counts of occupied burglary, fraud and possession of stolen property,” according to Local10.

[Local10]

TIME Crime

Shoplifting Suspect Guilty Beyond the Eyeshadow of a Doubt, Police Say

Brandy Allen
This Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2014 police booking photo provided by Washington County Sheriff's Office shows shoplifting suspect Brandy Allen in Fayetteville, Ark. AP

Crime seems to be written all over her face

If you had to guess from Brandy Allen’s mugshot what crime she was accused of, you probably wouldn’t be too far off.

The Arkansas woman—whose mugshot shows her in aqua and maroon eyeshadow from lashes to brow bone—was accused Monday of shoplifting $144 worth of eyeshadow, according to the Associated Press.

When Allen was confronted after stuffing the makeup into her bag, she unleashed a slew of profanity while attempting to damage the eyeshadow as she pulled it from her purse, so it’d seem the products were used, police said.

But the police didn’t buy it, and Allen was arrested shortly after. The Washington County jail said Wednesday that Allen was released on $830 bond on charges of shoplifting and disorderly conduct.

No word on what color eyeshadow she wore for her release.

TIME animals

43.5 Socks Removed from Dog’s Stomach During Surgery

Sock Eating Dog
This Feb. 2014 photo provided by DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital shows socks that were removed from a dogs stomach in Portland, Ore. DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital/Associated Press

The dog came in only second in a contest for the strangest objects eaten by pets

After owners rushed their dog to an animal hospital because their 3-year-old Great Dane was retching in pain, doctors noticed something unusual in his X-rays.

The dog’s stomach was full of “a large quantity of foreign material,” which after two hours of surgery—plus time spent carefully counting—turned out to be 43 and a half socks, according to the Associated Press.

A spokeswoman from the Portland, Oregon, animal hospital that treated the dog said the pet is alive and still kicking, and that it was perhaps the strangest case in the hospital’s history, according to The Oregonian.

But apparently it wasn’t strange enough to win the “They Ate WHAT?” contest sponsored by the Veterinary Practice News magazine, which solicits each year entries of the weirdest objects eaten by pets. The Great Dane’s case placed only in second.

The grand prize winner? An exotic frog that had eaten 30 ornamental marbles from its cage.

 

TIME Bizarre

5-Year-Old Girl Was Locked in Washing Machine on High Speed

Texas girl was hospitalized after spending several minutes inside machine

A Texas girl was hospitalized Tuesday after she was locked in a washing machine on high speed for several minutes.

Police in Pasadena, Tex. told local news outlet KHOU that a woman had tried to use the machine but told the manager it wasn’t working properly, then moved to a different machine. The girl was in the machine for several minutes before anyone noticed and opened the machine.

“She was tumbling pretty fast in there,” Vance Mitchell with Pasadena Police. “One person walked by and said they saw something flopping around in there. They thought it was just a dress or something because it was moving pretty fast.”

Police did not say where the girl’s parents or caregivers were, but some police on the scene told KHOU that the child was unsupervised. Paramedics expect her to survive.

[KHOU]

 

TIME animals

Giant Hippo Splashes Into River Thames

Giant Floating Hippo River Thames
Steve Stills

The artist's latest creation following his giant floating rubber duck

Along London’s River Thames are some notable landmarks: the London Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, and now, a giant floating hippo.

The nearly 70-foot-long replica of the water mammal—named “HippopoThames”—is the latest project of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, according to CNN. The work was commissioned by the Thames Festival Trust, which had approached Hofman earlier this year to design artwork for Totally Thames, an annual festival celebrating the river.

Hofman, who debuted the “world’s largest rubber duck” last month, is known for his humor, sensation and maximum impact, In line with his artistic vision, HippopoThames was inspired by everyday objects, especially those that time warp people to their childhoods. It’s also designed to force viewers to appreciate public spaces, even after the installations are removed.

“I wanted to use the hippo to get people out of their homes, away from the Internet and the TV, and to explore London with a new perspective,” Hofman told CNN.

HippopoThames will be on display until Sept. 28.

TIME Bizarre

A German Man Was Evicted Because His Sex Swing Was Too Squeaky

A new Swingers club,
Here's an example of one. Rick Madonik—Toronto Star via Getty Images

And you thought your neighbors were bad

It turns out that the only worse thing than having upstairs neighbors who tap dance or have a newborn is living in the same apartment as a man with a very squeaky sex swing (and a very active, um, social life).

A German court ruled Friday that a landlady had the right to evict a tenant who broke his rental agreement of keeping quiet between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. by using his “very old,” loud, chain sex swing, the Associated Press reports. Neighbors filed numerous complaints since the swing’s 2012 installation.

The court said that by using the swing late at night, it “would no longer correspond to normal rental use, and must therefore not be tolerated as socially acceptable,” AP reports.

[AP]

TIME Bizarre

Woman Finds 50,000 Bees Living in Her Ceiling Because Everything Is the Absolute Worst

501892189
Getty Images

As if NYC apartment living wasn't hard enough

New Yorkers are used to finding all kinds of, er, little critters living in their apartments, but pretty much nothing compares to this. A woman in Elmhurst, Queens, began noticing a few bees buzzing around her apartment over the past few weeks — and then eventually learned that there were 50,000 of them living in her ceiling, local ABC affiliate WABC-TV reports.

Fifty. Thousand. Bees. Living. In. Her. Ceiling. Everything. Is. Awful.

“How did they get there? Where did they come from?” the woman, Frieda Turkmenilli, told WABC. “I was shocked.”

Well, yeah. If this happened to us, we’d totally pull a Nic Cage and be all, “NOOOO, NOT THE BEES.”

Anyway, two beekeepers were recruited to come remove the bees and relocate them — along with the 17 (!!!) honeycombs they managed to build — to a bee farm.

So next time you see a roach scuttling beneath your door or a mouse darting behind your fridge, remember: it could be way worse.

TIME Bizarre

Brooklyn Bridge’s Missing American Flags Are Back on U.S. Soil

Brooklyn Bridge Flags
Members of the New York Police Department scale the Brooklyn Bridge after two high-flying American flags were swiped from atop the Brooklyn Bridge overnight and replaced with two white flags New York Daily News—NY Daily News via Getty Images

Flags being held at U.S. Embassy in Germany

The American flags that were taken from New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge in July are back in U.S. custody, NBC New York reports.

Two German artists who claimed they wanted to pay respect to the architect of the bridge, John Augustus Roebling, swapped the two flags for all-white banners last month. On Friday, the New York Police Department said the nabbed American flags were being held at the American Embassy in Germany.

The artists, identified as Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke, said earlier they would return the flags. When they pull stunts, they said, they “always face the consequences.”

[NBC]

TIME Crime

This Guy Posed for His Mugshot Wearing a T-Shirt Featuring His Previous Mugshot

Mug Shot T-Shirt
This Aug. 8, 2014 booking photo released by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department shows Robert Burt, of Pittsfield, Maine. Somerset County Sheriff’s Department—AP

Too meta, or just meta enough?

Back in June, 19-year-old Robert Burt was charged with driving under the influence. When the Pittsfield, Maine, resident showed up to begin his two-day jail sentence this month, he wore a shirt one of his co-workers had so generously made for him following the arrest. That shirt featured Burt’s original mugshot.

Upon arrival, Burt had to pose for a booking photo, resulting in one marvelously meta moment.

Sadly, the second mugshot does not show the entire shirt, which includes a second photo:

We thought Macaulay Culkin was the Meta T-Shirt King, but Mr. Burt here is really giving him a run for his money.

(h/t The Smoking Gun)

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