There's a fine line between an epic achievement and a pointless waste of time. Completing a marathon is an accomplishment, yet if we complete a marathon video game session, we're apparently "wasting our lives." In honor of that double standard, here are some deeds which no sane person would consider admirable, and yet here we are: Admiring them.
For those of you who didn't spend half your teenage years playing it, 1997's Final Fantasy VII is a classic RPG. Like most entries in its genre, winning battles earns you experience points, which allows you to level up, which lets you fight harder battles that offer you larger amounts of experience. It's a treadmill without all of that pesky running.
That brings us to 2012 and David Curry, a cashier from Southern California who came across a gaming forum post by the esteemed Dick Tree. Mr. Tree was attempting to level up the two starting characters in FFVII to the maximum of Level 99 without ever leaving the opening stage -- a section that normally takes like ten minutes.
Curry followed Dick Tree's progress with interest, but after two years of sporadic updates, it became clear that Tree had abandoned his quest. But instead of shrugging and moving on with his life, Curry decided to take up Dick Tree's mantle. "I got fed up with Dick Tree," he said to the New Yorker journalist who inexplicably wrote a feature on him, "So I declared that I would do it myself."
So on January 15, 2015, he got out his PlayStation, named the game's first two heroes Dick and Tree, and spent the next two years devoting much of his free time to role-playing as a digital Sisyphus. Curry began uploading videos to YouTube, and streaming live on Twitch, eventually developing a cult following. In the meantime, Tree reappeared and claimed he'd already completed the challenge, but with no proof to offer, no one believed him. Curry continued his mission, and in April 2017, fans were treated to the 56 minutes it took him for that final "level up" to appear.
Because you need 2,452,783 experience points to reach Level 99, and because the amount of experience you get from the game's opening enemies is a pitifully small 12-27, the whole process took him 500 hours. Oh, and you can beat the entire game at around Level 55. Why did he do it? To teach a person he'd never met (who went by "Dick Tree") "a lesson about finishing what you start." The accomplishment, such as it was, prompted philosophical debates in gaming communities about the meaning and the value of time, all while Curry went on to perform the same feat in other Final Fantasy games. Because while our lives may be fleeting, it's satisfying to complete a task you've set out for yourself, no matter how stupid it may seem.
In 2005, Saskatchewan farmer and RC hobbyist Joe Murray faced the bittersweet dilemma every master of his craft must eventually experience: He'd built the best RC machines and learned all their intricate inner workings, so what was left to do but wither up and die? Get a new hobby, you say? Don't be absurd.
Fortunately, an idea as crazy as it was pointless gave Murray hope. What if he were to excavate his entire basement using only his tiny RC machines? You've immediately thought of dozens of reasons not to bother doing that, but because there's nothing else to do in Saskatchewan, so Murray started digging in June, 2005. Over the past 13 years, he's accumulated a fleet of movers, excavators, and dump trucks, all built to play in a vast sandbox that also looks like a good place to get murdered in.
Murray manages to remove about nine cubic feet of dirt per year using his lil' industrial machines, and it's even more tedious than it sounds. Like a real-life mining operation, Murray transports the excavators on RC flatbeds (even though he could, you know, just pick them up), and after he digs up the frozen earth, he sends the clods through an itty-bitty rock crusher before the earthmovers transfer the dirt to his backyard along a series of RC-friendly steps and ramps. It's a painfully slow process that Murray has chronicled via YouTube, and also in an epic 75-page, ten-year mega thread on an RC hobbyist message board. A similar project on a shovel enthusiasts forum took two weeks.
Not much separates a professional poker player from a gambling addict. Just take the 2010 prop bet between Ted Forrest and Mike "The Mouth" Matusow. Prop bets are usually frivolous side games ("I'll bet you ten bucks that it takes more than five seconds for that raindrop to roll down the window"), but these two took it to the limit, then watched that limit fade away in the rear-view mirror.
It started innocently enough: Forrest bet the 250-pound Matusow $100,000 that he couldn't drop down to 181 within a year. That's neither impossible nor dangerous, so Matusow did it, and won.
But then Matusow counter-bet the 5'11 Forrest two million dollars that he couldn't go from a perfectly healthy 186 down to under 140 in only a few months. The bet seemed like a sure thing for Matusow, since losing weight that fast is both difficult and risky, but Forrest wasn't going to let a little thing like a threat to his health stop him.
Forrest shrunk to 163 within a month without too much trouble, but then, unsurprisingly, he plateaued. So he started walking and running 16 miles while spending six hours in the gym every day, all while drastically reducing his caloric intake. Then, between July 4 and the July 15 weigh-in, he fasted for ten days before finally treating himself to a tomato, a kiwi, and six raspberries. He weighed in at 138 pounds.
Matusow responded by declaring that he wouldn't pay, because the bet was a ridiculous one they'd made while they were drunk. Things got nasty from there, because it feels like that's something Matusow probably should have mentioned before his pal nearly died from not eating. Or, y'know, at any time during the following months.
The 1988 Baltimore Orioles were so bad at baseball that it's possible they didn't even know what it was. They kicked off their season by losing their first 11 games, and spirits were low. To improve morale, local rock station DJ Bob Rivers vowed to stay perpetually on the air until the Orioles won a game. He expected he'd have to last one or two days, maybe three tops. Even the worst baseball teams generally win around a third of their games. How bad could the Orioles really be?
The Orioles extended their losing streak to a record-setting 21 games. Rivers was on the air for 258 consecutive hours. His plight became a citywide cause. People started carrying signs reading "Free Bob Rivers," imploring their team to win a damn game. They did not, and as their losing streak increased, so too did Rivers' blood pressure. He was living off of pizza and junk food sent in by listeners, and sleep came only through infrequent naps during commercial breaks and longer songs. His health got so bad that an intensive care unit from the local hospital started monitoring his vitals. No one would have blamed Rivers for bailing on his ridiculous challenge in the face of the Orioles' sheer ineptitude, but he stuck to his guns and tried to find the happy moments in constant defeat.
Finally, on April 29, The O's (then known as the "Zer-O's") trounced the White Sox 9-0. Rivers was finally free from his self-imposed prison. He uncorked champagne and drank deep while blasting the Who's "I'm Free" before crawling home and sleeping for nearly 24 hours. When he woke up, the Orioles had already lost their next game.
When Dan Janssen was a teenager, he decided to give up meat for ethical reasons. There was only one problem: He hated vegetables. Yet shockingly, those comprise the vast majority of a vegetarian diet. So Janssen invented the anti-Atkins diet, which consists of at least one 14-inch pizza every day for 25 goddamn years. He generally sticks to a simple cheese, but sometimes he tolerates oregano or, once in a blue moon, a pesto base. One time Janssen even had mushrooms. Truly, that was a moment to remember.
In an interview, Janssen said he hopes to expand his diet one day, reflecting on the time, many years ago, when he "ate a peach and it was amazing." Dan, you're aware that you can go to the store and buy some peaches, right? You don't have to go to the county fair and hope that a caravan from an exotic land has brought them to your humble hamlet.
All of this has probably made you picture a dangerously obese greasy slob on the threshold of death, but Janssen looks less like a walking corpse, and more like a person who actually doesn't eat pizza every day. (Though if you cut him, we're pretty sure he'd bleed spicy marinara.)
Staring matches are great for everything from killing time to... killing time. There are only two rules in a staring contest: no blinking and no falling in love.
But what's fun and games for most people is taken very, very seriously in certain circles. Take 2011's So You Think You Can Stare competition, which was held in Australia's Northern Territory, and drew 45 hardcore competitors who would absolutely dominate a career as a bus pervert.
The Grand Finale saw two staring legends, each anointed with their own goofy alias, stare at each other for 40 minutes and 59 seconds. Can you feel your corneas hurting just thinking about it? By the end, both men were crying their eyes out, and not from emotion. Fergal "Eyesore" Fleming beat Steven "Stare Master" Stagg for the prize, which he could hopefully still see when it was all over. Fleming likened the experience to getting a tattoo on his eyeball.
Both are veterans of the competitive staring circuit, at least until their eyes melt out of their sockets. Sure, such excessive staring may make your eyes all dry and red, but at least it's worth it when ... uh ...
Patricia Basch is a high school teacher, a university instructor, and a writer in the suburbs of Chicago. She is also very dedicated to her family. Follow her on Twitter.
Support your favorite Cracked writers with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.
Also, we'd love to know more about you and your interesting lives, dear readers. If you spend your days doing cool stuff, drop us a line at iDoCoolStuff at Cracked dot com, and maybe we can share your story with the entire internet.
Follow us on Facebook. And we'll follow you everywhere.