Boredom: We've all been there. From "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" to "The License Plate Game," people have sought out ways to pass the monotony when life slows down. Little did we realize that these pointless time wasters were, for some, the subject of a years-long pursuit of excellence. Which is why people started organizing things like ...
#5. Rock Paper Scissors World Championships
Rock Paper Scissors was something we all did as kids to decide everything from who got the last cookie to who had to sit next to the creepy old person when there were no more seats at the movies. Who knew that if you practiced enough, you could make it to the big leagues? Or that there even was such a thing?
Thank God that guy has a helmet.
Sure, you can't quit your day job to do this, but you can make 10 grand. That's thanks to the World RPS Society (which, to everyone's surprise, actually exists) and a sponsorship from Yahoo!, who turned this timeless and pointless alternative to coin-flipping into a major world competition with a $10,000 prize for the winner.
Well, this totally explains how Yahoo! stays relevant.
That picture is of 2008 winner Monica Martinez, who outlasted over 700 other competitors over the course of nearly 24 straight hours. Even as the competition kept stiffening and people began losing stamina (and, presumably, their sanity), Monica kept winning. By the end, she'd built up a following in the (surprisingly enthusiastic for 2 a.m.) crowd like Rocky at the end of Rocky IV, the crowd embracing the madness and cheering her on as she went into her final match. Which, despite her opponent's goofy hat, was pretty intense. Watch the clip of her final showdown, and you tell us how serious things were:
While Martinez claims she entered mostly for the hell of it, there is very much a science to the whole thing -- there are people who do legitimate studies on Rock Paper Scissors, and the World RPS Society has actually published a book on how to beat anyone at the game. And out of the kindness of the authors' hearts, they have published some free sample techniques on their website on how to psychologically read your opponent, such as "Rock is for rookies" and "When all else fails, go with paper." Both of which only work if your opponent hasn't also read those tips, in which case you'll both wind up endlessly throwing out paper for round after round, for days, until one of you collapses from exhaustion or suddenly grasps the inherent meaninglessness of human life.
That guy on the right just got it.
#4. Paper Airplane Throwing
Pretty much every kid can craft a paper airplane by age 10 or so, and by middle school we all knew at least one kid who could make an amazing one. Yours could sail across the classroom, but he'd have some intricate contraption with weird wings that could fly all the way across the gym. Sadly, that didn't even make him cool in middle school.
But, we've got good news for the master paper plane engineers of the world: The Red Bull Paper Wings competition.
STAND THE HELL BACK.
Yep, it's a worldwide paper airplane throwing contest with a variety of divisions competing for airtime, distance and aerobatics. It has qualifiers all over the world, and the finals are held in that huge hangar in Austria pictured above.
And like with any huge sport, the rules are both strict and exhaustive. Contests have to be held indoors; planes have to be made out of the official, provided paper; and if you cross the foul line at any point during the throw or the plane's flight, it constitutes a foul. For the longest airtime division, you aren't allowed to get a running start or use ramps or ramplike devices (presumably this means that in the distance division, you can use all the ramps you want).
Telekinesis is fine.
But don't let us disparage the talent of the people involved; here's a video from one of the previous competitions, and some of the stuff from the aerobatics division in particular is batshit crazy:
Aside from the fact that paper cuts probably run rampant, people have actually injured themselves training for this contest. Leonard Ang, one of the competitors from Brazil, put so much effort into doing what he refers to as "extensive training" that he injured his arm. It's no surprise when you see these guys in action:
His arm flew off and broke the world record.
Just how hard do you have to be throwing a piece of paper to injure yourself? Long enough to keep a plane in the air for 11.66 seconds, apparently, which is what won the airtime division for Ang. If that doesn't sound like a long time, make a paper airplane and see if you can get it to stay aloft for more than even five seconds -- we bet you can't. You need to leave that shit to the pros.
This guy apparently took an airplane to the eyeball at some point.
#3. StareMaster Staring Contests
We mocked Rock Paper Scissors a moment ago, but at least there is some element of skill and strategy there. But a staring contest? Getting good at staring at another person doesn't aid you in any other area of life, and we're frankly not even sure what skill it's testing. How long you can keep the liquid on your eyeballs from evaporating? So while the rules can vary, the result does not -- any time you see two people engaged in a staring contest, trust us, both of them lost.
But once again, there are hardcore staring masters out there who compete in high-level showdowns with the dedication of a disciplined Olympic athlete.
"Next is the Sideburns Distraction round."
Behold StareMaster, which quickly grew from a sarcastic bar joke into a real-deal traveling live action game show shortly after its inception in 2002. Before it closed up shop, it spawned an international tour across the U.S., Japan and the United Kingdom, drew the participation of Chloe Sevigny, Phantom Planet and Maroon 5, and was filmed for a full-on documentary.
Those rules were as follows: For the first two minutes, blinking was allowed, but laughing, crying, talking, smiling, showing teeth, making sudden movements, touching, coughing, calling time-out, sneezing, tongue-showing, snorting and fluttering were not. Survive for two minutes and you were suddenly thrust into the "dry-eye death phase" in which blinking was also banned and audience presence was amplified. And hopefully they had somebody blast the contestants' eyes with pressurized air, like they do at the eye doctor.
We're pretty sure this stare is illegal, both in StareMasters and real life.
Besides its booming soundtrack featuring tunes like "Eye of the Tiger" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," each StareMaster face-off also took place under dramatic mood lighting with two official referees monitoring the motionless mayhem and multiple oversized video screens broadcasting close-up camera views of the participants' eyes to the audience.
Thirty seconds of staring at a camera makes anyone look like the bad guy in a horror movie.
Many competitors admitted to practicing before their matches, including some who went so far as to stare at a camera flashbulb as part of their ridiculous pre-stare routine, while rumors of substantial cannabis use among participants, as if you didn't already secretly suspect it, were rampant.
"Can the Group B participants please stop staring at the buffet tables? They've won."
Look, get back to us in a million years or so, after humans have evolved to have heat vision like Superman. Get two people trying to set each other's faces on fire, each match ends with one contestant looking like Ghost Rider? We'd watch that.