Column Date 2007-04-22

The 2006 “Most Boring” Awards are announced

It’s been a banner year for boredom.

The number of entries for our 2006 “Most Boring” awards has skyrocketed.

America seems more bored than ever, in spite of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and the Middle spite of hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, and million-acre forest spite of massive budget deficits, a sinking dollar, and growing numbers of bankruptcies.

The reason for this apathy is unclear to psychologists, but the upward trend may indicate serious problems in our society.

Some have argued, in fact, that boredom is what finally led to the end of the Roman Empire. (Another war? Another orgy? Yawn.)

Some suggest that boredom can help us look at Darwinian evolution in a new light – that is, at some point, do all species become absolutely bored, say to hell with it all, and become extinct? Could that be what really happened to the dinosaurs?

2006 was a difficult year for our judges, as many new and creative approaches to boredom were introduced.

Still, TV led the way, as usual.

Millions of bored Americans, for example, watched a young man with bizarre, ever-changing hairdos sing badly off-key, week after week.

Millions more viewed a dance show which featured a woman with an artificial leg.

And TV “News” departments spent nearly a full week speculating on one of the most terminally boring questions of the year: who was the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby?

On to the awards:

The runner-up “Most Boring” Award  goes to the ‘magician’ who lived inside a water-filled sphere for a week, sucking air through a tube. He then attempted to break the world’s record (8 minutes, 58 seconds) for holding his breath underwater. He failed.

In a surprising development, however, an international entry walked away with our 2006 “Most Boring” Grand Prize.

Tom Calver, a cheesemaker in Westcombe, England, installed a webcam on his farm last December, so the world could watch his cheddar cheese aging via the internet.

He aimed his stationary webcam at a wheel of cheddar cheese and, as  his world-wide audience watched breathlessly...nothing happened.

Our panel of judges logged on and caught Tom’s cheddar aging at 119 days, 10 hours, 58 minutes 23 seconds and 135 milliseconds, according to a clock placed on his site, we suspect, for the anal compulsive. You can see it at (

Those impatient viewers on a tight schedule can also go to YouTube and watch the cheddar age from 0-3 months inside of a minute, using time-lapse photography.

And, adding a clever new twist, Tom included a bonus activity – he invited all viewers to send in suggestions for a name for his as-yet-unnamed cheddar.

So, congratulations, Tom Carver, for winning the 2006 “Most Boring” Award.

Your breakthrough has shown us that, using satellites and fiber-optic internet connections, dual-processor computers and LCD flat-panel, high-definition monitors, the whole world can at last watch cheese slowly, relentlessly, interminably age.

©2007 Peter Tannen