I’ve always been fascinated by the atypical and extraordinary. I'd pour through the Guinness Book of World Records (now known as Guinness World Records) when I was a kid, marveling at the black and white photos. You may have seen some of the classic images – the heavy twins on matching motorcycles, the fellow with the tangled mass of finger nails, the tallest man towering over a better-than-average size person. One of my prized books is a special hardcover edition of Guinness I’ve had since middle school.
In the 1980s, I enjoyed the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” TV series. It was shown every Sunday evening on WXYZ-7, the ABC affiliate in my hometown of Metro Detroit. The best part of the program? Jack Palance, the host. I found his on camera appearances creepy and captivating. I delighted in how, after telling a story of the strange and bizarre, he would pause and say, “Believe it… or not.” For this post, I watched one of his monologues about paper clips posted to YouTube. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly fascinating or suspenseful as I had remembered.
Speaking of TV shows, one of my favorite episodes of “The Brady Bunch” was “The Teeter-Totter Caper.” The premise: Bobby and Cindy were excluded from activities by their older siblings, and this included attending their aunt’s wedding. So, they decided to set out to do something important: break the world’s tetter-totter record. They came up short, but their efforts did land them a photo in a local newspaper. I admired their moxie.
I wonder: were resources like Guinness and Ripley's the Internet before there was “the Internet?” In this age of Facebook, YouTube, and the rest, we’re inundated with tales of the weird and wild. Extraordinary feats were much more impactful when they weren’t as accessible and compacted into a single format like a book or a TV show. I fear the information age has made us jaded and we're no longer as impressed as we once were – but not me. I marvel that the world's heaviest sweet potato weighed 81 pounds, 9 ounces, and it was grown by Manuel Pérez Pérez of Spain in 2004. Buen trabajo!
I'm Eli Natinsky and I'm a communication specialist. This blog explores my work and professional interests. I also delve into other topics, including media, marketing, pop culture, and technology.