United States Of Ranch

Chuck Shepherd Thursday, August 3, 2017 Comments Off on United States Of Ranch
United States Of Ranch

The Twisted Ranch restaurant in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis saw crowds swell in March after it revamped its menu with more than two dozen items made with ranch dressing. These included a ranch-infused Bloody Mary. As one satisfied visitor put it, “Ranch is everyone’s guilty pleasure.”

Lemonade, Cookies And An AK-47

In April, Tennessee state rep. Mike Stewart tried to make a point about the state’s lax gun-sales laws by piggybacking onto the cuddly feeling people have about children’s curbside lemonade stands. Stewart set up a stand on Nashville’s Capitol Hill, where he offered for sale lemonade, cookies and an AK-47 assault rifle. He put up a sign reading “No Background Check” to distinguish the private-sale of the AK-47 from one purchased from a federally licensed dealer.

Hover Dentist

In the course of pursuing claims against Alaskan dentist Seth Lookhart for Medicaid fraud, government investigators found a video on his phone of him extracting a sedated patient’s tooth while riding on a hover board. Lookhart had apparently sent the video to his office manager under the title “New Standard of Care.” Lookhart had been indicted in 2016 for billing Medicaid $1.8 million for patient sedations unnecessary for the procedures they received.

I’ll Have A Dirt Salad With Rock On The Side

Le Plat Sal (The Dirty Plate) restaurant in Paris features specialties that contain dirt. Chef Solange Gregoire describes the ingredients as “the mud of the earth that caresses our toes, the sand kissed by the sun and rocks.” A Food Network host mused, “What’s left? People are already eating snout-to-tail, leaves-to-roots ….” Gregoire extolled her four-star dishes, including pastry crust a la Mont Lachat rock and a Boue Ragout stew simmered with silt from the River Seine. (NPR noted that the founder of The Shake Shack was quietly planning a new American chain, Rock in Roll.)

He Just Doesn’t Like Bathrooms

In March, an electrician on a service call at a public restroom in Usuki, Japan, discovered a crawlspace above the urinal area. It had apparently been used as a man’s home, with a space heater, gas stove and clothing. Investigators learned that Takashi Yamanouchi, 54, a homeless wanderer, had been living there for three years. He had arranged everything very tidily. His possessions included 300-plus plastic two-liter bottles of his urine. It was unclear why he was storing his urine when he resided above a public restroom.

Bright Ideas

— Compared to busy coastal metropolises, Indiana may evoke repose. Entrepreneur Tom Battista is suggesting the state’s largest city capitalize on the sentiment by reserving a destination site on a low-lying hill overlooking the chaotic merge lanes of two interstate highways. This, he thinks, will afford visitors leisurely moments as they watch the frantic motorists scrambling below. He plans on installing three rows of seats and a sunshade for the relaxed gawkers to take in the “ocean”-like roar and calm themselves by imagining overwrought drivers’ rising blood pressure.

— There are several treatments for the heart arrhythmia “atrial fibrillation.” But all require medical supervision. John Griffin, 69, said he tried to get just such a treatment at the emergency room at New Zealand’s Waikato Hospital in April, only to be met with delay and frustration. Griffin went home that day, took notice of his neighbor’s 8,000-volt electric security fence and, in a fit of desperation, nudged it with his arm. He got quite a jolt, he said. But his heart returned to its natural rhythm. The medical director of the Heart Foundation of New Zealand said that Griffin was lucky and sternly warned against the “procedure.”

Loss Of Respect For The Pinky Swear

Sean Clemens, now awaiting trial in Liberty, Ohio, in the death of an 84-year-old woman, allegedly confessed his guilt to a co-worker after telling the man that something was bothering him. He wanted to talk about it, but only if the co-worker would pinkie-swear not to tell anyone else. The co-worker broke the code.


In responding to a citizen petition to cut societal “waste,” the parliament of Australia’s New South Wales admitted that the petition’s 107,000 signatures, which were on a USB stick, would have to be submitted in hard copy, which would amount to 4,000 pages. The parliament said that the 4,000 pages would immediately be electronically scanned into a format for data storage.

Least Competent Criminals

— In March, WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C., broadcast surveillance video of an armed robbery of a 7-Eleven, since some footage offered a clear picture of the suspect’s face. Moments into the robbery, the man peered upward; caught sight of the camera; and, shocked, reached the ski mask on top of his head, which he pulled into place.

— Three teenagers were arrested after stealing superfast Dodge cars in the middle of the night from a dealership in St. Peters, Mo. After driving less than a mile, police said, the three lost control of the cars, crashing them. The vehicles totaled included two 700-horsepower Challenger Hellcats.

Slowing Down Pedestrians

Officials in charge of a Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal heritage site recently installed speed bumps similar to those familiar to Americans who drive down residential streets. However, these speed bumps were installed on a pedestrian walkway. They were topped with row upon row of risers that caused them to resemble a giant washboard. Editors of People’s Daily China suggested that officials were irked that “disorderly” tourists had been walking past the ancient grounds too rapidly to appreciate their beauty.

A News Of The Weird Classic

Land developers for the iconic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., (the inspiration for the hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining) announced in 2013 that they needed more space and would dig up and move the hotel’s 12-gravesite pet cemetery. Neighbors told the Fort Collins Coloradoan that they feared the construction noise more than the potential release of dog spirits. An Animal Planet “dog psychic” who lives in Estes Park volunteered her services to calm the pets’ souls. Apparently, it worked.

Breaking Fetish News

Jordan Haskins, 26, was sentenced to probation and sex counseling in May after pleading guilty to eight charges arising from two auto accidents in Saginaw, Mich. Prosecutors said Haskins described his practice of “cranking,” in which he removed a vehicle’s spark-plug wires to make it “run rough” on the grounds that a rough ride gives him sexual pleasure. Haskins’ lawyer said, “(Cranking) is something I don’t think we understand as attorneys.”

Asteroid Mining

Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak’s 98-page paper (leaked to Business Insider in April) touted the wealth one could obtain by capturing the platinum reputed to be in asteroids. The costs to mine the stone (rockets, launch expenses, etc.) has dropped to $3 billion. That, says Poponak, is a trifle compared to the $50 billion worth of platinum a single asteroid might contain. On the other hand, said experts, such an abundance of platinum might crash the worldwide price.

Smooth Reactions

— Police in Cleveland are searching for the woman whose patience ran out while she was waiting for her young son’s long haircut at Allstate Barber College to come to an end. She pulled out a pistol; took aim at the barber; and warned: “I got two clips! I’ll pop you.” She allowed him to finish the haircut, which he did quickly, and left without further incident.

— Barbara Lowery, 24, was arrested for disorderly conduct in Cullman, Ala., after police spotted her standing on a car, stomping out the windshield and smashing the sun roof. She said it was a boyfriend’s car. She thought he was cheating on her. She said she had spent the previous night “thinking” about what to do, “praying about it and stuff.” Still, she said, “I did it anyway.”

New World Order 

— Researcher Eijiro Miyako announced in the journal Chem that he had created a drone that pollinates flowers. Miyako uses an adhesive gel that lightly brushes pollen grains, collecting just enough to touch down successfully onto another flower to pollinate it.

— Futurists suggest that the next great market for computerization will be the selling of “human improvement.” Some sports teams are experimenting with “transcranial direct current stimulation” as a way to keep athletes’ brains on constant alert. And KQED Radio reported in May that a third of the San Francisco Giants players wear weak-current headsets that cover the motor cortex at the top of the head. The team’s “sports scientist” said players performed slightly better on some drills after the stimulation. On the other hand, at press time, the Giants were still next-to-last in the National League West.

Recent Alarming Headlines 

“UK woman who urinated on Trump golf course loses case” (London). “Fish thief on unicycle busted by Dept. of Natural Resources” (Battle Creek, Mich.). And, from the Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach), all on the same day (May 16): (1) “Man throws fork at woman in fight over dog poop.” (2) “Senior citizen punches husband for taking Lord’s name in vain.” (3) “Two people busted for creating fake football league, lawmen say.” (4) “Man denies defecating in parking lot despite officer witnessing deed.”


A game warden in Titus County, Texas, arrested a man for possessing a shotgun. It was the man’s third arrest as a convicted felon with a firearm. The warden had spotted the weapon only because the man had approached him “out of the blue” and asked if he wanted to inspect his hunting license (which, it turns out, was in order).

Cargo Cult Update

The impending retirement from public life of Britain’s Prince Philip has likely quashed any slight chance he will visit the Imanourane people on Tanna in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. Tanna’s Chief Jack and his followers continue to believe Philip descended from their spiritual ancestors and has thus dominated their thoughts for the last seven decades. In fact, when Tanna was in the path of Cyclone Donna in May, the Imanourane were quickly reminded of Philip’s continuing powers. Philip has never visited, but Tannans have long prayed over an autographed photograph he sent years ago.

A News Of The Weird Classic 

The story of Kopi Luwak coffee began in 1993 with the first reports that there was a super-premium market for coffee beans digested and excreted by certain Asian civet cats. In June, 2013, as news broke that civets were captured and caged just so they could produce coffee beans, the American Chemical Society was called on for ideas about ways to ensure that the $227-a-pound coffee beans had indeed been expelled from Asian civets. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry tests were finally developed to assure drinkers, who were paying $80 a cup in California, that they were sipping the real thing.

No Longer Weird

This is news that was formerly weird but is now reported so often that the stories deserve respectful retirement. (1) On May 5, an elderly woman in Plymouth, England, became the most recent to drive wildly afield by blindly obeying her car’s satellite navigation system. Turning left, as ordered, only to confront a solid railing, she nonetheless spotted a narrow pedestrian gap and squeezed through. This led to her descending the large concrete stairway at the Mayflower House Court parking garage until her undercarriage got stuck. (2) Police in East Palestine, Ohio, said the 8-year-old boy who commandeered the family car and drove his sister, 4, to the local McDonald’s for a cheeseburger was different from the usual underaged drivers in that he caused no problems. Witnesses said he followed traffic signals en route. The boy attributed this to learning how to drive from YouTube videos.

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