Hay’s Daze: Worm charming or chess boxing?

Doesn’t it seem like everything is some sort of competition these days? Oh, I don’t mean regular competition stuff like hockey games and livestock judging at the Fair or seeing which neighbor can shovel the snow off their sidewalk first. I mean contests on TV where artists, for example, are challenged to paint something like, say, a Bob Ross mountain with happy little trees or somebody without clothes on and then they are “judged” by “experts” and prizes are given for the “best” painting. But what if one contestant is Picasso, another one is Rembrandt and the third one is Debbie the gal who hands you your drive-thru coffee? Who’s to say who is “better” that the others – I mean I’ve heard that Debbie is pretty darn good with a brush.

Take figure skating contests (please!). Remember the scandalous 2002 Olympic scandal in Salt Lake City, whereupon a scandalous French judge “fixed” the gold medal for the Russian Team when our own Jamie Sale and David Pelletier Canuks should have won? I believe Russian meathead oligarch Vlad Putin (who actual first name is Rass) was sitting on a horse with no shirt on (Putin, not the horse) when he said, “Of course my Mother Country it won! I myself can personally skate better than that tiny Jamie Canuk weakling female. And what means this ‘Canuk’ word?”

TV is full of shows where judges chow down and then rank croquembouches made with pate a choux pastry and a drizzle of strawberry coulis created in 20 minutes by 12-year-old kids. There’s a makeup show the Better Half watches where makeup artists create incredible fantasies on faces and then get eliminated on account one of the eyelashes was one one-hundredth of a micrometer shorter than the other one.

And it doesn’t end there. The website HowStuffWorks.com conveniently lists “The World’s Craziest Competitions That People Actually Sign Up For”. And what an impressive list it is.

How about the “Worm Charming Championship”? Contestants have 30 minutes to use anything from pitchforks to bongo drums in an attempt to raise as many worms to the surface of the grass as they can. It’s been worming its way into popularity (sorry) since the first Worm Charming Championship in 1980, and the current record was set in 2009 – an amazing 567 worms came up to party with the champion, a 10-year-old girl.

Highlighting the Throwing Stuff competitions has to be the “Tunarama Festival” in Australia. Yes, how far can a chucker chuck a frozen tuna? But aren’t tuna populations shrinking? Correct. So since 2007 competitors huck fake tunas especially made for the contest. Who knew there was a market for plastic tuna fishes?

Ever heard of “Chess Boxing”? Would you buy a ticket to see two opponents box in a ring for one round, then sit down and play a timed round of chess, then get back up a pound the living bejeepers out of each other? Then, DING!” – time for more chess. Once the blood is cleaned off the chessboard.

If physical violence paired with cerebral strategizing isn’t your cup of tea, how about combining a common household task with a treacherous environment? How about “Extreme Ironing”? Enthusiasts are tasked with taking photos of themselves ironing their laundry whilst hanging from the side of a mountain or while underwater or skiing or even parachuting. As the article says, maybe you’d love to “combine the thrill of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt”.

No? I would pass on all of those too. Maybe the best competition is with yourself. Make today a little better than yesterday, be happier this year than last year. And wear a wrinkled shirt once in a while.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him column ideas to harleyhay1@hotmail.com.

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