6 Counterintuitive Pop Culture World Records
Thanks to organizations like Guinness World Records, half the people on the planet are now record holders. There's a record for everything, from piercing every square inch of skin on your body to surviving some kind of hyper specific near-death experience (which you set up yourself). But some records are more important than others, especially ones that wouldn't look bad on the awards shelf of most famous artists or athletes. It's quite surprising, then, that some of the biggest record-breaking achievements in pop culture are claimed by the last bunch of randos you'd ever expect. For example ...
The Longest Piece Of Fiction Ever Written Is A Super Smash Bros. Fanfic
Fan fiction is the Trader Joe's of the internet -- there's not as much variety as you'd expect, and you get introduced to a lot more gross things than you might want. But there sure is a lot of passion and dedication found in the fanfic community, and no one symbolizes that more than AuraChannelerChris, who has singlehandedly produced the world's longest fictional story, The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest. Spoiler Alert (not that you're going to read more than two sentences of it, probably): It's all about Super Smash Bros.
Chris' story follows an original character (also named Chris) and the Pokemon Lucario through their delightful adventures in and around various video game universes. But the biggest challenge for this team lies inward, as Lucario has to adapt to the "real world," where there aren't any Pokemon battles or anything. Chris, in turn, tries to help Lucario search for a purpose outside of glorified cockfighting. Of course, they also venture into other non-Nintendo universes and meet characters from all over kingdom come. Branching out is kind of required when your video game daydreaming is so elaborate that most Russian novelists would think it's going a bit overboard.
Currently, The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest comes in at a whopping 4,000,000 words, and that's just where we are at the end of chapter 219. This can/will go on forever. That's six Les Miserables, seven War And Peaces, or four All Of The Fucking Harry Potter Novels Combined. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that Author Chris speaks English as a second language. Anytime he finds himself bored, he busts out his laptop and starts writing, and it has improved his English immensely. Kind of makes that pretentious guy with a leather-bound notebook in a coffee shop who's "looking for inspiration" seem a bit silly. Well, sillier.
The Highest-Grossing Actor Ever Is Stan Lee
The charm of Clooney, the presence of Hepburn, the animal magnetism of Brando -- Stan Lee has none of these things. What he does have that none of those talented bums did is a filmography filled with so many blockbusters that it technically makes him the highest-grossing actor of all time.
What do Lee and Samuel L. Jackson have in common? They'll be in just about any movie you let them. The king of cameos has been popping up in Marvel movies since before they were watchable. That's a lot of blockbusters, almost all of them raking in so much money that Marvel is basically the fourth-richest state in the world. And because he wandered through all of them, it has made him an actor with a combined box office of over $8 billion.
In fact, most of the actors on this list aren't exactly leading man or woman material, either. That might be because character actors have the luxury of doing a lot more movies per year (as they don't need to be in every single shot, and get to leave early), and the key to accumulating box office returns is quantity over quality. Warwick Davis has been in almost every Star Wars and Harry Potter movie. Frank Welker has made the noises of any cartoon animal you can think of. Heck, while Stanley Tucci is an acclaimed actor with many masterpieces under his belt, even he has to pay the bills by doing the occasional Marvel and Transformers movies. So the secret to Hollywood success is apparently "Don't get too successful." Lead roles are for suckers.
The NFL's Longest Field Goal Was Kicked By A Guy With Half A Foot
The NFL nowadays scrutinizes every little measurement about incoming rookies. If it weren't against the law, the league would have developed fetal tests that focus on shoulder width. But in the 1960s and '70s, things were a little more flexible, which is how we get to the story of Tom Dempsey, a man who became the world's greatest kicker with only half a foot.
Dempsey was born without a right hand and no toes on his right foot, but at least he wasn't gay, so a career in football wasn't out of the question. Despite his disabilities, Dempsey proved himself to be a great defensive end and kicker. When on the field, he wore a modified shoe with a square surface -- which, because this was the '70s, led to his teammates affectionately calling him "Stumpy." Perhaps not the most compassionate nickname, but he's lucky his last name wasn't "Johnson," or the entirety of sports media would have had a field day.
Then, on a chilly November day in 1970, Dempsey and his foot made history. His team, the New Orleans Saints, were down by one point against the Detroit Lions. With only a few seconds left on the clock, everything seemed hopeless. All they could do was try for a field goal, which was considered impossible at 63 yards from the line -- 7 yards further than the league's record. But Dempsey was convinced he could kick it. Was it overconfidence? Was it blind faith? Nope, he simply hadn't paid enough attention to know how far away they were. "If I'd known it was 63 yards, I might have messed it up," he later admitted.
With no hope of succeeding and two seconds on the clock, they placed the ball for Ol' Stumpy, who went straight at it like a driver at a golf ball. Kickers today come at the ball from an angle, which allows them to kick farther and more accurately, but with no finesse and a foot shaped like a sledgehammer, Dempsey kicked the ball so far that it might as well have landed in the sun for how insane the crowd went. Dempsey didn't merely break the record for longest kick; he shattered it. It took 43 years to beat, when kicker Matt Prater finally drilled one for 64 yards -- with a whole foot. So when it comes to yards kicked per inch of foot, Dempsey remains the undisputed king.
The Longest Tennis Match Lasted Three Days And Was Between Two Nobodies
Tennis is one of those lovely sports which you're sure someone pays attention to, just not you. But even the most ardent fan of fuzzy balls must have had their morale tested during the longest match of all time, which lasted for literal days. And no, it wasn't some epic battle between two titans of the sport; it was a grueling war of attrition between two guys who were at the time so utterly unknown that even the umpire had to hesitate before pronouncing their names. They were John Isner, a low-seed from America who had barely squeaked in, and Nicolas Mahut, who had to fight his way through several qualifying rounds for the privilege to get to lose on the courts of Wimbledon. Neither of them had any chance of winning the cup. Instead they made Wimbledon history. Not a bad consolation prize.
Their match started on June 22nd, 2010 and only ended on the 24th, two full days later. Why did it last that long? In Grand Slam matches, men play for the best of five sets. However, in the case of a tie in the fifth set, a player must be winning by two games to end the match -- which, during the Isner-Mahut match, just wouldn't happen. Neither man could get the two-game advantage they needed to win, and so, because of the rules, they had to keep playing until one of them won twice or died, whichever happened first.
By the time Isner finally managed to win, over 183 games were played. To put that into perspective, they played so long that the official scoreboard malfunctioned because it had only been programmed to count up to 47. But that wasn't the only tennis record the two men had broken. Over the course of their "endless match," nearly a dozen other records had been smashed, including most points won in a match (502), most aces served (about 100 each), and the most a body has aged physically over only three days (42 years each).
As anyone would be after three straight days of chasing a small ball at top speed, Isner and Mahut were utterly depleted both physically and mentally. Mahut spiraled into depression after the loss, and dealt with a serious back injury. Isner had blisters that bled through his shoes. Furthermore, Mahut has no memory of the match or the immediate aftermath, which honestly is probably for the best.
The Longest Standing Ovation Ever Lasted 80 Minutes (For An Opera Singer Who Wanted To Go Home)
If your think which genres of music have the wildest crowds, you probably think heavy metal, or punk rock, or those Wiggles concerts where 1,000 five-year-olds go absolutely mental. But the crowd that showed its passion the hardest wasn't in a mosh pit or a muddy field, but in an opera house, applauding one opera singer so hard and so long he got bored halfway through.
Placido Domingo is one of the greatest opera singers to ever fill a cummerbund, and no performance was obviously greater than his rendition of Otello in 1991. For that, he received an 80-minute standing ovation. That might seem long, but it only accounted for 2 percent of the overall opera time. Only clips of the entire ovation remain, because we're pretty sure video camera batteries wouldn't have lasted 80 minutes in the early '90s.
Try recreating the experience yourself by clapping through this whole thing, seven times through.
The cheering went on for so long that even Domingo started getting confused by what was going on. In all fairness, if you'd get an applause for the length of the average Pixar movie, you too would start worrying people were doing it ironically. He's been quoted as saying: "You don't know anymore what to do, you know? You go out, and the public is still there. And you say, 'Well, what are we doing?' And you come out again, and you take a little longer to come next time. And you say, 'I hope they go.' No, they continue."
That's right, the standing ovation was so long that after a little while, he just wanted to freaking go home. And these opera snobs wouldn't stop clapping and let him. Typical rich folks, not considering he had a bus to catch.
The Most-Attended Musical Theater Show Is A German Production About Talking Trains
Thanks to Hamilton making history cool with the power of rap, musical theater is making a bit of a popular comeback. Disney is punting more of its intellectual property onto the stage than ever, and every star who's been told they have a nice voice has popped up in a Broadway these past few years. But there's nothing New York or London could ever put on that will ever be as popular as the greatest show ever performed ... in Bochum, Germany.
Bochum is the home to the most visitors to a single musical theater production, currently estimated at over 16 million visits and counting. And the musical? None other than Starlight Express. Starlight Express? For those of you not familiar with this lesser-known work of Andrew Lloyd Webber's, it's essentially Cinderella meets Thomas The Tank Engine performed on roller skates. If you told a six-year-old to write a love story about musical trains, it would be this. It's amazing.
But despite us giving it two thumbs up, a German rendition of Starlight Express wouldn't be the type of thing you'd expect 16 million people to flock to from all over the world. Four years after its opening in 1984, Webber's show branched out from its London home and found its way to a converted warehouse in the small city of Bochum. It couldn't be held in an established theater because Starlight Express, unlike any other show in the world, needs an entire roller skate track to be performed on. So naturally, you have to show for more than a few years to recoup the investment. And that's what the Starlight Express Theater has been doing. Non-stop. For nearly 30 years.
The theater in Bochum quickly realized what a phenomenon they had on their hands, and started modifying the space to effectively house the show permanently. Now more theme park than musical, the theater hosts "hydraulic bridges, lasers, a triple-level racetrack and seats on four levels including fully rotating swivel chairs for those audience members in the pit." You might think that's a bold ambition, but it's got them the attention of the German National Tourism Board and their own TripAdvisor page. What else are you going to do in Bochum, Germany?
People / theater geeks travel from all across the world to see the show -- several times over. It's become a pilgrimage of sorts, a musical theater Mecca. People who burnt through the soundtrack as kids show up as adults hoping to relive some of the magic of their youth, and they aren't disappointed. And really, when the show in question is a bunch of Germans rollerskating around a 1980s time capsule, "disappointment" is an impossible emotion to experience.
Isaac is a decidedly average person, but he's on Twitter.
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