#3. The Biggest Treehouse in the World
Ever wonder what would happen if a kid continued working on his backyard treehouse for his entire life, rather than, you know, eventually hitting puberty and finding better things to do? It would probably look a little like this:
Wait until you see his parents' house.
Yep, that's a treehouse -- the sprawling, 97-foot-high structure is supported by an 80-foot-tall white oak and six other trees. There are 10 floors, with ceilings ranging from nine to 11 feet high, and it even includes a small basketball court. The hidden porn stash in this thing must be magnificent. Or not, because it was built by an ordained minister.
Horace Burgess of Crossville, Tennessee, has been building and expanding this massive treehouse since 1993, and it doesn't look like he's planning to stop any time soon.
Eventually the whole state will look like this.
Burgess says that the exact specifications of the treehouse were revealed to him in a four-second vision from God -- and yes, that includes the basketball court, which doubles as a sanctuary. The podium is positioned directly in front of the hoop, in case whoever is performing mass at 22 feet above the ground feels the need to punctuate a verse from the Bible by performing a dunk.
Which is odd, because Jesus was more of a lacrosse man.
According to Burgess, God's exact wording was, "If you build me a treehouse, I'll see you never run out of material" -- and he hasn't, but that's probably because the treehouse is made mostly from recycled materials scavenged from garages, barns and storage sheds. Burgess estimates that he has only put around $12,000 into the project, which is pretty good if you're looking for a new tree mansion and have 17 years to spare.
Also, unlike less tolerant treehouses with their oppressive anti-cooties stance, anyone is free to come hang out at "God's Treehouse" (as its creator calls it), as long as they don't act like dicks. One guy crashed for three years in this structure that will surely be a source of bafflement for future archeologists.
"Ah yes -- the habitat of the early 21st century Southeast monkey people."
And if this seems too much like a boy project, the ladies have their own version ...
#2. The Life-Sized Dollhouse
Imagine you're driving in the middle of nowhere and you run out of gas or are forced to stop for directions ... right in front of a house that looks like this:
Also you are a group of hot, oblivious teenagers who have just had copious amounts of sex.
Yeah, we'd shit our pants, too. However, all it takes is one look at the back of the house to realize that it's actually less Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more Barbie's Rural Dream House.
See? Just a perfectly normal giant dollhouse in the middle of a field!
Like most of our female readers and an important sector of our male ones, Canadian artist Heather Benning has fond memories of playing with dolls during her childhood. So when she came across an old abandoned farmhouse in a field in the Canadian province of Manitoba, her first instinct was to knock down the north-facing wall, replace it with plexiglass and transform the place into a human-sized version of a dollhouse.
Also known as "a house."
Benning spent 18 months painstakingly restoring the inside of the house to what it must have looked like in the '60s, when it was abandoned, complete with candy-colored walls and staged furniture dating from the period, while deliberately leaving the exterior in its decadent rotted-out condition to "show the passage of time" and "freak the holy hell out of stoners."
So from the highway, the house looks like just another one of the many abandoned farmhouses in the southwestern area of Manitoba near the Saskatchewan border; but step around to the back of the house and things take a sudden turn for the fabulous.
It looks like it was raided by the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Benning explains that her family used to have an abandoned farm and as a girl she liked to "play inside the house and set it up and stage it and things like that." So let this be a lesson to all you overcautious parents out there: Sometimes allowing your kids to play around in unsafe environments can result in something far more impressive than broken bones or tetanus. But usually just the broken bones or tetanus.
#1. Extreme Snowball Fights
"Yukigassen" means "snowball battle" in Japanese, and that's exactly what it is: an adult version of a snowball fight played as a professional sport across Asia, Europe and more recently North America.
Violence and balls? This sport was made for America.
And as the fact that it has a Japanese name probably made you guess, it can get pretty hardcore.
During a yukigassen game, snowballs are "launched hard enough to knock you off your feet," which might be explained by the fact that some players are off-season baseball pros. When a match gets, um, heated up, you can see players ganging up on rival team members or knocking the protective helmets right off their heads with well-placed snow projectiles.
At least we hope that's his helmet there.
And since the game is played exclusively in cold weather, the snowballs tend to freeze like ice and turn "hard as billiard balls," getting to the point where you can stand on them and they don't break. If one of those things hits you in the head, it's gonna hurt like hell even if you're wearing a helmet. At times yukigassen stops resembling a good-natured sport that you play for fun and turns into, well, hockey.
Cold brings out the worst in people.
The rules of yukigassen are pretty simple: Each team is given 90 snowballs (created with the game's official snowball-making apparatus), and whoever reaches the other side's flag without being hit or manages to eliminate all the members of the opposing team is the winner. So basically you're hitting the other guys with snowballs while doing your best not to get hit -- yeah, this is pretty much an after-school snowball brawl with a fancier name.
Oh, and while you can wear protective gear, the official rules somewhat irresponsibly encourage players to dress lightly. The English translation of the Japanese yukigassen website warns: "Only your shelter and the snowballs in your hand will protect you from the snowballs thrown by your opponents ... Unknown battles and dramas are waiting for you on the snow-covered court!"
Yukigassen Edmonton, via The Weather Network
"To die by a snowball is the greatest honor."
Yukigassen was created in Japan but has over the past two decades spread into a worldwide phenomenon. Today, teams from all over the world participate in tournaments in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Holland, Canada and Alaska (by "all over the world" we meant "places where the yeti might live"), culminating with a world championship tournament in Japan. At the 22nd annual international yukigassen championship, 128 teams participated in the general section and 25,000 visitors showed up to witness the snow-fueled carnage.
Soon we'll have a whole channel for this, won't we?
And stop by LinkSTORM to see which columnist still plays with his Barbies.
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