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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, June 2, 2010 • Posted June 2, 2010

Fifteen Minutes of Fame…

Four decades have passed since Andy Warhol said it: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." When a renowned artist whose "Eight Elvises" painting fetches $100 million makes such a statement, he has the world’s eye—and ear.

As to the colorful figure’s prediction, Warhol was wrong—by more than 15 minutes, it should be added—but his observation is not wasted.

Hordes of people are striving daily to slice their slivers of the spotlight, even if for a mere moment….

* * * * *

If you don’t believe it, ask the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records. They’re working as feverishly as PR flacks at British Petroleum. It’s not easy to stay current on records of highest/lowest, fastest/slowest, biggest/smallest—and thousands of other categories. Theirs is no minor task; consider recent feats that are likely to hold up under Guinness microscopes:

—In Minnesota, a man standing 7’8"—and a smidgen more—looms further skyward than any other American. Additional vignettes include:

—A 13-year-old Californian—the youngest to scale Mount Everest—informs his mother of the feat on a cell phone call from the top of the world;

—In Illinois, a driver coaxes his machine beyond 80 mph for a lawn mower racing record (No! No! No! Tell me there’s NOT an air record for this event.);

—Two Aussies shake hands constantly for 15.53 hours in Sydney, Australia;

—In Kansas, a 98-year-old great-grandmother receives a Master’s Degree; hours later she applies for a teaching assistant job at the university;

—Superintendent Jimmie Malone, a 33-year-veteran, applies all the "jots and tittles" mandated by the State of Texas to determine the 2010 valedictorian at Italy High School. He determines that grades of 98.87654733333 are posted by TWO graduates—Brandon Owens and Alexus Miller—thus, "co-valedictorians." When five "threes" end the grade point averages, infinity wins every time. (Doug Rogers, Executive Director of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, says he’s heard of "co-everything else," but never "co-valedictorians.")…

* * * * *

There was another record, of sorts, at the Texas Tree Climbing Championships in Plano. Maybe I should say "family record." When my 97-year-old Uncle Mort balked at entering, it may have marked his "first ever" time to pass up a contest that he thought he had a good chance to win.

He was all set to climb before finding out there was not a division for "90 and older," and he would not be allowed to wear his "good luck" combat boots—the ones bequeathed to him by his blessed mother.

"Maybe this was my first good decision ever," Mort laughed. "Whatever goes up doesn’t necessarily have to come down—at least not in the same shape it went up—and there’s a good chance that I would have been lumped in with the tree-huggers for life if I had shinnied up that big oak tree." (He also wasn’t all that enamored with the thought of winning a wooden trophy or riding his golf cart—his only mode of transportation—out of state for the nationals.)…

* * * * *

In all these vignettes, the first tip-of-the-hat goes to Superintendent Malone. The two honorees had competed academically, hammer and tong, throughout high school, and the "co" prefix takes nothing from the distinction. And, two sets of parents—as well as other adoring friends and relatives—got to hear TWO valedictory addresses. (Even Warhol would probably have granted them seven and a half minutes each!)

Coming to mind is the story of the scrawny plate umpire at a baseball game. "Strike one," he shrieked on the first pitch, and the brawny batter glared at him. On the second toss, "Ball one," he yelled, drawing the ire of an equally muscular pitcher.

On the third pitch, he yelled "Two!" "Two what?" asked the catcher and pitcher. "Too close to call," the ump replied, "Throw another pitch."…

* * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

FYI: Brandon plans to attend Navarro College; Alexus, Baylor University.

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