The Guinness Book of World Records is the ultimate bar bet settler, bathroom reader and inspirer of really stupid stunts that end up on YouTube.
People attempting to set Guinness records will endure pain, permanent injury, public ridicule and financial devastation in the quest to get their names in the book, only to have some similarly obsessed competitor come along the next year to knock them out.
While categories like "fastest mile run" and "heaviest weight bench-pressed" truly mark athletic achievements, the meat of the Guinness records is the weird categories, the stuff that most likely occurred after someone shouted "Hey, y'all, watch this!" There's no proof, but it's a safe bet that alcohol was at least tangentially involved in many of them.
Here we've picked five of the strangest Guinness records. We assume no responsibility for bodily injury that may occur from stupid ideas this list gives you.
Longest full-body ice contact
Wim Hof, of the Netherlands, set a new Guinness record for the longest full-body ice contact, standing in a tube filled with ice cubes for 1 hour, 13 minutes and 48 seconds in 2008. He's since broken his own record three times, once in 2010 and twice in 2011, with it currently standing at 1 hour, 52 minutes and 42 seconds.
He claims to use a Tantric practice that allows him to control his body thermostat, and is also known for climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts.
His nickname, of course, is Iceman.
Maybe we've been reading the wrong websites. We didn't think Tantra had anything to do with standing in tubes full of ice. We'd do more research, but the filters on the computers here at work won't let us get to our, erm, research library.
World's largest chicken dance
Ah, Ohio! It's in the heartland of America, and has given us some of our greatest stars, politicians and authors. It's also apparently filled with lunatics who think that gathering 72,000 people together in Cincinnati to perform the world's largest chicken dance is a fun thing to do.
In 1996, at the Canfield County Fair, they did just that, and while many other attempts have been made to topple the record, none have yet been certified by Guinness.
This is the sort of thing you'd want to find out about your uncle after he passed away. "Yep, Uncle Ernie was a bricklayer, a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Rotarian and he once set a chicken dance record." We wouldn't mind having something like that on our tombstone, ourselves.
Most bricks balanced on head
Have you ever gotten up in the morning, realized you really had nothing pressing to do, and decided to just start stacking stuff on top of your head? If that's happened to you, then you need to make friends with Great Britain's John Evans.
This Londoner balanced 101 bricks, for a total weight of 416.7 pounds, on his head for a full 10 seconds.
He's pulled similar stunts with people, beer kegs and a car.
Can't you see John at a Hyundai dealership? The salesman is touting all the features of the new Elantra, showing him the built-in GPS system, the airbags, the stereo system ... and John gets a few friends to balance the sedan on his skull. Is "spot for my skull to fit" a dealer-installed option?
We'd love to see him moving into a new home sometime.
Biggest gathering of people dressed as Smurfs
Crowd records are sort of a league of their own. Getting a massive number of humans, who are known for their capriciousness, to get together and perform a single act in unison is a difficult, if not nearly impossible, endeavor. Anyone who's tried to get a conference table full of people to agree on where to go to lunch can tell you this.
So hat's off to the good people of Swansea, Wales, where 2,510 people gathered together dressed as Smurfs, complete with blue body paint and white hats, trousers and shoes, on June 8, 2009. The gathering broke the record set less than a year earlier by 1,253 people in Castleblayney, Ireland.
But even the new record didn't last for long. On June 25, 2011, which apparently is "Global Smurfs Day," a total of 4,891 people dressed as Smurfs in 11 locations simultaneously around the world, claiming a new title for "Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Smurfs within a 24-hour Period in Multiple Venues."
And, no, we're not Smurfing you. That really did happen. If that's enough to drive you to drink, you'll love our last selection.
World's largest glass of beer
Who doesn't love a properly pulled pint of beer or ale? Who is so soulless that they can't appreciate the way the beer fills the glass with a golden (or amber or brown) cascade. Most people watching this will suddenly become aware of an overpowering thirst.
Now imagine the beer glass being filled contains 396 gallons of Guinness. Imagine gallon after gallon of Ireland's finest being lovingly decanted into a glass large enough to drown a rhino. Can you see it?
Oh, dear. We've lost you, haven't we? You've gone off to happy beer land, where all the taps are full and the beer glasses are big enough to swan dive into.
While we're not sure what the folks at The Auld Dubliner Irish Pub, in Tustin, Calif., did to celebrate their massive achievement in November 2009, we're willing to bet it involved chicken dancing.