Created By: IridescentIndividual on February 12, 2012 Last Edited By: IridescentIndividual on August 28, 2012

Underwater Basket Weaving

An utterly useless talent.

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Wow...Alice can balance a chopstick on her nose. And Bob can wiggle his ears and move his eyebrows independently. And Charlie can recite the names of every Egyptian emperor ever backwards.

Which is basically the equivalent of saying that they are an expert at Underwater Basket Weaving. It may be cool, weird, fun, or completely astonishing, but either way, it'll never be good for anything useful.

Sub-trope of What Kindof Lame Poweris Heart Anyway?

[Films]

  • In The Breakfast Club, Claire demonstrates her ability to apply lip color by tucking the lipstick into her bra and rubbing her mouth against it. Allison claims (but does not demonstrate) that she can write, eat, and play "Heart And Soul" on the piano with her toes.

[Manga]

  • In Sket Dance, Bossun has the power to... concentrate really well. Granted, it's fairly useful in a school setting, but other characters mercilessly lampshade what a boring ability it is.

[Literature]

  • In The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, they meet a girl in a sanitarium who spends all day reciting letters and numbers. Her doctors have figured out that she's accurately reciting the New York Stock Exchange daily trades in chronological order. However, she does it 24 hours after it happens; the doctors there think it's useless (if she were doing it 24 hours in advance that'd be different), ergo they don't really care why she's doing it. They even suspect that she's really faking it by somehow getting her hands on the numbers and memorizing them to repeat the next day.

[Comic Book]

  • Fantastic Four Mailman Willie Lumpkin wants to join the FF with his special ability - he can wiggle his ears.

[Webcomic]

  • In DMFA, the SAIA (The Succubus And Incubus Academy) has several courses that seem to specifically BE this. They mainly serve as an excuse for 'Cubi (who are, after all, mostly immortal) to stay in school for as long as they want, putting off having to face the largely-hostile world outside. "Oh no, I'm not ready to graduate yet, I need to finish my Grass-Growing coursework first!" Abel is a prime example, and gets called out on it once, to which he replies, "Hey! I'll have you know that grass-growing is a rewarding and therapeutic activity!"

[Tabletop Game]

  • The 6th Edition Hero System rulebook specifically states that a GM should not ask a player to spend points on skills/abilities like this.

[Real Life]

  • Underwater Basket Weaving is a real skill - certain plant materials can be woven while held underwater to keep them soft and bendable, then allowed to dry into a rigid, solid basket. Note also that only the basket is underwater, not the whole person weaving it.
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • February 12, 2012
    Ryusui
    • Guybrush Threepwood's ability to hold his breath underwater for ten minutes is usually treated as this. It's actually come in handy when he was tied to a heavy gold idol and kicked into the ocean to drown, and later when he needed to explore the ocean floor without a diving suit.
  • February 12, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • Playfully subverted in the 1960s Batman series. The villains had tied Batman, Robin and Batgirl into some kind of human knot, and Batman's ability to wiggle his ears helped them escape it.
  • February 12, 2012
    SharleeD
    • In The Breakfast Club, Claire demonstrates her ability to apply lip color by tucking the lipstick into her bra and rubbing her mouth against it. Allison claims (but does not demonstrate) that she can write, eat, and play "Heart And Soul" on the piano with her toes.
  • February 12, 2012
    nitrokitty
    • In Sket Dance, Bossun has the power to... concentrate really well. Granted, it's fairly useful in a school setting, but other characters mercilessly lampshade what a boring ability it is.
  • February 14, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Before this gets out of hand: The laconic states that that is an utterly useless ability. So if the ability is actually useful later (like in the above Monkey Island and Batman examples), it shouldn't go here.
  • February 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Fantastic Four: Mailman Willie Lumpkin wants to join the FF with his special ability - he can wiggle his ears.
  • February 14, 2012
    Antigone3
    The 6th Edition Hero System rulebook specifically states that a GM should not ask a player to spend points on skills/abilities like this.
  • Bumping this.
  • May 5, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In one of the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy books (I forget which) they meet a girl in a sanatarium who spends all day reciting letters and numbers. Her doctors have figured out that she's accurately reciting the New York Stock Exchange daily trades in chronological order. However, she does it 24 hours after it happens; the doctors there think it's useless (if she were doing it 24 hours in advance that'd be different), ergo they don't really care why she's doing it. They even suspect that she's really faking it by somehow getting her hands on the numbers and memorizing them to repeat the next day.
  • May 6, 2012
    BlackDragon
    In DMFA, SAIA (The Succubus And Incubus Academy) have several courses that seem to specifically BE this. They mainly serve as an excuse for Cubi (who are, after all, mostly immortal) to stay in school for as long as they want, putting off having to face the largely-hostile world outside. "Oh no, I'm not ready to graduate yet, I need to finish my Grass-Growing coursework first!" Abel is a prime example, and gets called out on it once, to which he replies, "Hey! I'll have you know that grass-growing is a rewarding and therapeutic activity!"

    ...come to think of it, I believe one of the other pointless courses he was taking was actually basket-weaving.
  • June 22, 2012
    Noah1
  • August 23, 2012
    Damr1990
  • August 24, 2012
    KarjamP
  • August 24, 2012
    EdgeOfDreams
    In Real Life, Underwater Basket Weaving is a real skill - certain plant materials can be woven while held underwater to keep them soft and bendable, then allowed to dry into a rigid, solid basket. Note also that only the basket is underwater, not the whole person weaving it.
  • August 24, 2012
    sidereal
    In the very offensive card game Pimp: The Backhanding, one of the women, Jenni, is an art school dropout and can make clay pots. The card says: "This ability is totally useless on the street." You get no bonuses from that skill in the game.
  • August 24, 2012
    abk0100
    That Hitch Hikers Guide example, it's actually from The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul
  • August 27, 2012
    captainsandwich
    "never be good for anything useful" sounds like tempting fate.
  • August 27, 2012
    surgoshan
    Literature

    • In the Xanth novels by Piers Anthony, where everyone born in Xanth has a single magic talent, some are known as "spot on the wall" talents, weak and useless. Except then a clever fan informed Mr. Anthony that someone with good control of his spots could create beautiful art... even a "useless" talent can be useful with some creativity.
  • August 27, 2012
    SharleeD
    • Dr. Horrible's flatmate in Dr Horribles Singalong Blog has the "superpower" of being ... moist. Which is his villain alias, poor guy.
  • August 28, 2012
    abk0100
  • August 28, 2012
    acrobox
    The Power Puff Girls: Bubbles is an Omniglot that can even commnicate with animals, Blossom has Ice Breath, and Buttercup is....the only person in Townsville who can curl her tongue.
  • August 28, 2012
    KarjamP
    ^^ The difference being this trope is about skills, while What Kind Of Lame Power Is Heart Anyway is about powers.
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