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MARK McCARTHY: An apology and some randomness

MARK McCARTHY: An apology and some randomness

Before delving into the random thoughts in my head this week, I feel that I owe you all an apology.

You see, a few weeks back, I lamented in this column the fact that we hadn’t seen winter here this season.

I don’t think God would truly say, “Hold my beer,” but I’m imagining more along the lines of, “Really? Watch this.”

With that, we’ve had a couple of weeks of miserable cold and snow. Now, it’s not that my words in this space are important enough for God to blast the Midwest with record cold temperatures, but if what was said had anything to do with it ... yeesh!

Record temperatures lead me to where my original thought was for this week - world records - specifically the strange ones.

When I was a kid, I looked forward to the day the Guiness Book of World Records would come out every year. In its pages, you would find the standard records such as the world’s tallest man, 8-foot-11 Robert Wadlow. There was always the world’s oldest person, currently held by Jeanne Calment of France, who was 122 years, 164 days old when she died in 1997. The current oldest is Kane Tanaka of Japan at 118 years of age.

Those are the standards, achieved by natural selection. Then there are the weird ones.

The record that always fascinated me was that of Roy Sullivan, a park ranger in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Our man Roy was struck by lightning seven times between 1942 and 1977. Roy died in 1983, fittingly in a town called Dooms, so his record stands at seven.

Roy said people began to avoid him later in life whenever storms came up. My question is this: Is there someone trying to break this record? Perhaps a guy standing out on a golf course holding a shovel in the air thinking, “Today’s the day!”

Some records indicate an odd talent. Brittany Walsh of the United States holds the record for farthest arrow shot using your feet at 40 feet, 4.64 inches. When I heard of this record, I pictured someone sitting, awkwardly holding a bow and pulling the string with their feet.

Nope, Brittany, known as Acrobritt, apparently does a handstand, twisting her legs and arching her back so her feet and the bow and arrow are in front of her head. Just looking at the photo I think I pulled a hamstring.

Then there are the people who apparently have too much time on their hands and not enough to do. Enter Joel Strasser.

In July 2018, in Lacey, Washington, Joel managed to put 3,500 standard toothpicks in his beard. His beard is kind of a Duck Dynasty length rather than ZZ Top length. Joel has also managed to get 542 mini Christmas tree balls in his beard, but I wasn’t able to find this acknowledged as an official record.

Getting the 3,500 toothpicks in place was a process that took 3 hours and 15 minutes.

It’s not a pretty thing, and to me doesn’t sound like a tasty thing, but the folks at Wild Woody’s Chill and Grill in Roseville, Michigan, put together a sandwich weighing 5,440 pounds back in 2005. This 12-foot by 12-foot sandwich was 17.5 inches thick and included 150 pounds of mustard, 260 pounds of cheese, 530 pounds of lettuce, 1,032 pounds of corned beef and 3,568 pounds of bread.

There is no truth to the rumor that some kid took it to school for lunch and traded it for an ice cream dessert that measured in at 4,549 feet, 3.36 inches in College Station, Texas.

Logging in with 500 gallons of ice cream, 300 gallons of chocolate and strawberry syrup, 2,000 cans of whipped cream, 25 pounds of sprinkles and 20,000 cherries, the dessert was made and consumed within 30 minutes by 4,000 attendees at the Spirit of Texas Festival.

Now, if only we had made the dessert here, we wouldn’t have had to have been so quick about it.

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald and oversees the Gering Courier as editor. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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