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From a quadruple lutz, now, to the record for the most dogs jumping rope - 13. That's just one of the more than 50,000 feats chronicled in the latest print edition of "Guinness World Records," released last month. In addition to those skipping dogs, there's also a new record for the longest tongue and the fastest wedding chapel. That would be a wedding chapel on wheels. All this got NPR's Jinae West wondering, what isn't a world record?

JINAE WEST, BYLINE: Actually, there are guidelines. You can't just think of any record and try to break it, unless you're Homer Simpson.


DAN CASTANELLETA: (as Homer Simpson) I'm here to break a world record. What's the longest anyone's ever done this? (Makes noise)

WEST: (as Character) Three years.

CASTANELLETA: (as Homer Simpson) Oh, fine. I'll just play the banjo with this cobra.

WEST: For the rest of us, Guinness World Records does not accept claims for perfect attendance, silent reading, elbow licking.

MIKE JANELA: In reality, a lot of people can do it.

WEST: That's Mike Janela, head of the U.S. Records Management Team at Guinness. He says in general, the key to a potential new world record is that it must be...

JANELA: Measurable, breakable, verifiable - and also interesting.

WEST: According to the guidelines then, the organization won't accept massage marathon records because Guinness, quote, cannot visually judge style and form as to be correctly done for a long time. In other words...

JANELA: After two or three hours, what does a massage become, really, except maybe just keeping your hands on someone's back?

WEST: Here's another no-go from Guinness.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (as Evil Queen) Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?

WEST: Beauty - though that doesn't stop people from claiming to be the fairest. Truth be told, some of the alleged records rejected by Guinness are every bit as interesting as the ones they take. There was the man who claims to use mind control over sporting events, and another who swears he set the record for romantic brush-offs.

JANELA: And every time he keeps asking her to try and actually set a date and a time and a place to go, she says she's busy and that she can't make it. And he applied to us, saying it's been going on for more than a year, and he was wondering if that was a record for the longest time between asking someone out on a date and actually going on it.

WEST: On the flip side of all this is a guy like Ashrita Furman. He has the world record for - well, breaking the most world records. He currently holds more than a hundred titles. One of his favorites...

ASHRITA FURMAN: racing for the fastest mile in a sack. And I did that in about 16 minutes and change, but I raced in Mongolia against a yak. Of course, I was in the sack, not the yak.

WEST: But Furman says even some of his submissions to Guinness have been denied, including one...

FURMAN: ...for most salt shakers balanced on edge. So I submitted it, and they sent me back a notice saying no; it's not something we're interested in.

WEST: So whatever the record - whether it's the most, the fastest, the highest - and whether or not it's accepted, there is one, common thread. Again, here's Guinness World Records adjudicator Mike Janela.

JANELA: The number one thing that connects everyone together is that you want to say, I can do this better than anybody else on this planet.

WEST: Perhaps the hardest part? Figuring out exactly what that is.

Jinae West, NPR News.


ETHEL MERMAN: (Singing) Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you.

RAY MIDDLETON: (Singing) No, you can't.

MERMAN: (Singing) Yes, I can.

MIDDLETON: (Singing) No, you can't.

MERMAN: (Singing) Yes, I can.

MIDDLETON: (Singing) No, you can't.

MERMAN: (Singing) Yes, I can. Yes, I can.

MIDDLETON: (Singing) Anything you can be, I can be greater. Sooner or later, I'm greater than you.

MERMAN: (Singing) No, you're not.

MIDDLETON: (Singing) Yes, I am.

MERMAN: (Singing) No, you're not.

MIDDLETON: (Singing) Yes, I am.

MERMAN: (Singing) No, you're not.

MIDDLETON: (Singing) Yes, I am. Yes, I am. I can shoot a partridge with a single cartridge.

MERMAN: (Singing) I can get a sparrow with a bow and arrow.

MIDDLETON: (Singing) I can live on bread and cheese.

MERMAN: (Singing) And only on that?

MIDDLETON: (Singing) Yes.

MERMAN: (Singing) So can a rat.

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