1998 Bum Steer Awards

January 1998By Comments

The Escapees Are the Ones Who Are Jogging Fast
Nacogdoches County changed its prisoners’ work-crew uniforms from ultra-bright orange to old-fashioned black-and-white stripes after alarmed citizens reported sighting escapees who turned out to be joggers.

Try Our Famous Vanilla Waivers, Coffee With Chicanery, Subpoena Noir, Hot Tea With a Twist of Lemon Appeal, Pot de Criminal, Chocolate Judge Cake, Fruit Supreme Court, Tirami-sue, Gideon’s Crumpet, Eclair and Present Danger, Parfait Accompli, Fish Roe v. Wade On Writs Crackers, Pecan Praliens, Espresso Authority, Old Bailey’s Irish Coffee,V&E’s Coffee, Café au Layman, Brandeis Tea, Roscoe Poundcake, Baby Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and All Kinds Of Torts. Or Just Say, “Give Mea Culpa Coffee!”
Attorney David Musslewhite of Dallas opened a combination law office and coffee bar dubbed Legal Grounds.

It Could Have Been Worse
In a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks set an NBA record by scoring only two points in a quarter.

“Breathe! Breathe!”
Steven Sera of Irving was arrested for rape and kidnapping after his ex-wife played a videotape of what she thought was her second child’s birth but, according to law enforcement authorities, showed Sera engaging in sex with unconscious women.

“Sorry—We Were Looking for Drew Nixon”
Two Abilene prostitutes were arrested for leaving a message about availability and price when they tried to page a customer but mistakenly dialed the number of a local narcotics officer.

Cedar Fever Will Do That to a Man
Jerry Wayne Adams of Lubbock was sentenced to ten years’ probation in Lubbock County on six counts of shrub arson three days after accepting ten years’ probation in Hale County for setting fire to junipers.

Suspicions Confirmed
The Austin Independent School District mailed report cards for 35,000 secondary school students to the wrong home addresses.

But “Heaven-o” Contains The Word “Heave”
Kleberg County commissioners unanimously adopted “heaven-o” as the county’s official greeting after a Kingsville man pointed out that “hello” contains the word “hell.”

That’s I as in Idiots
After comedian Rodney Dangerfield decided to premiere his latest movie in Daingerfield, the city council officially dropped the first i from its name for a week.

Drop Those Panties or I’ll Clog Your Arteries
A thief in Denison who disguised himself with pink panties pulled over his head was foiled by a convenience-store clerk who scared him away by throwing cans of Spam.

101 Damnations
U.S. senator Kay Bailey Hutchison donned spotted earmuffs to attend the inauguration of President Clinton.

The ‘63 Connery Is Fantastic, But Avoid The ’69 Lazenby
At a Napa Valley charity wine auction, the trio of restaurateurs who own Del Frisco’s Double Eagle and two other Texas steakhouses paid $360,000 for a motorized wine table that plays various James Bond musical themes and contains eighteen magnums hand-painted with scenes from the 007 films.

Speed Limits Howitzer Enforced
Smith County sheriff J. B. Smith acquired two 13-ton military-surplus armored personnel carriers identified as Bubba 1 and Bubba 2.

Look for Him in Area 51
Representatives of Austin’s Calvary Chapel told a gathering of University of Texas students that religion is the answer to alien abduction. “To get rid of the pesky aliens,” said layman Frank Dorian, “you need to find Jesus Christ.”

Confess Everything, My Son—Your Sins, Your Sorrows, Your Modus Operandi
Arlington police officers arrested John E. Shelton, a onetime minister to inmates at the Tarrant County jail, and charged him with four counts of armed robbery.

We’ll Give It to Him the Minute He Shows Up
French officials notified the U.S. government that France claims ownership of La Belle, the ship used by the explorer La Salle that has been excavated from Matagorda Bay by the State of Texas, because the ship belonged to Louis XIV.

Skillet Stealing— But Not Skill at Stealing
After assaulting a Conroe convenience-store clerk with an iron frying pan and stealing cash from the register, Michael Morrison and his wife, Lisa Wasson, were apprehended because they left Wasson’s driver’s license behind.

I’ve Seen Kilometers and Kilometers of Texas
After numerous drivers complained, Amarillo officials canceled a plan to install metric speed-limit signs.

They Identified Him From the Spam Stains
Charles Walter Hill of Fort Worth was convicted of aggravated robbery despite the fact that he wore boxer shorts over his head during a carjacking.

Repent! It’s Lather Than You Think
A meteorite hit the house of Howard Cameron, a Beaumont minister, while he was shaving.

Da ‘Boys Will Be Boys
On their final night of training camp at Austin’s St. Edward’s University, unidentified players for the Dallas Cowboys trashed a dormitory, ripping panels from the ceiling, knocking down a surveillance camera, and urinating in the hall.

Let Sleeping Dogs Rot
Outraged alumni flooded Texas A&M University with protests after learning that a plan to increase seating at Kyle Field would require relocating the graves of four Reveilles, the Aggies’ collie mascot, to a site without a direct view of the stadium scoreboard.

Few Americans Subscribe to the Durham Herald-Sun, and Fewer Still Have Any Ambition to Read It
During the Republic of Texas standoff in the Trans-Pecos, the Durham, North Carolina, Herald-Sun wrote of the area around Fort Davis, “Few Americans have seen the barren Davis Mountains in western Texas, and fewer still have any ambition to live there.”

Don’t Bogart That Finger
Four teenagers received probated sentences after they broke into a funeral home in Sanger to steal embalming fluid so they could smoke cigarettes dipped in it to get high. When they could find none, two of the teens cut a finger off a corpse and tried to squeeze out some fluid.

Better Warn the Football Team Not to Get a Delay-of-Game Penalty
Citing additional operating costs, Texas Stadium officials in Irving threatened to fine Abilene Cooper High School $1,200 after the marching band’s halftime show ran two minutes longer than planned.

“Hey, We Can Use One of These Cop Cars for Our Getaway”
Two men attempting to rob an armored truck parked outside the Greater Houston Credit Union were thwarted by dozens of law enforcement officers who were inside the building taking a special training class.

It’s Not the Environment, Stupid
After receiving a letter from a Dallas couple urging federal action to save the Texas Eagle, which is an Amtrak passenger train running from Chicago to San Antonio, Vice President Al Gore responded: “I share your view that the urgent problem of species extinction and conservation of biological diversity should be addressed. . . . All animals and plants help make our natural surroundings more diverse and should be protected to ensure preservation of a healthy environment.”

Leave, Steve
After defeating incumbent Steve Stockman in a race for Congress, Nick Lampson of Beaumont inherited Stockman’s office. When Lampson’s aides used the fax machine, they discovered that it had been programmed to print a notation at the top that read “Sent By Slick Nick Lampson.”

How About “We’re Not Texas Tech?”
The University of Texas announced that its slogan for a $1 billion fundraising campaign, which was developed by GSD&M of Austin, was “We’re Texas”—only to discover that five months earlier, Texas Tech University had adopted “We’re Texas Tech.”

Make That the Austin Ice Baths
Referees had to halt games of the Austin Ice Bats hockey team on several occasions because the city’s heat and high humidity and the players’ profuse sweating created a dense indoor fog.

Next Thing You Know, They’ll Make Us Give Up the Swan Dive
Maryland-based United Poultry Concerns, a self-described animal rights group for domestic fowl, protested Quitaque’s annual “guinea drop,” in which live guinea fowl with prize tags attached to their legs are tossed from an airplane and chased by townsfolk.

Historically, Lots of Governors Have Raised Money on the Strength of Their Convictions
When Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmate Biswajeet Mishra wrote George W. Bush seeking a pardon for his burglary conviction, the governor responded with a “Dear Friend” letter soliciting a reelection donation.

Let’s Drop ‘Em From an Airplane Over Quitaque
After the price of emus fell from $45,000 a pair to $40, some East Texas ranchers released their emus into the wild, resulting in car wrecks and unprovoked attacks on the large, flightless birds.

Now That’s a Pissing Contest
The American Enuresis Foundation of Tulsa sued the rival Bed Wetting Revolution of Houston over the rights to fees and client lists of bed wetters seeking treatment.

It Was a Loose Ball Foul
A TV cameraman at a Houston Rockets–Dallas Mavericks game wore a strategically placed “No Kicking” sign after Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman was suspended for kicking a sports photographer in the groin.

Read My Fingertips
During a ceremony with former presidents and first ladies at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, George Bush enhanced a photo session by giving his wife, Barbara, bunny ears.

“I Wish I Were an Oscar Meyer Tofu Dog”
A protester in a pink pig suit picketed an appearance of the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile at an Austin HEB store by carrying a sign that read, “Did your food have a face? Go vegetarian.”

Only If You First Give Cuba Back to Spain
Cuban president Fidel Castro called upon the United States to return to Mexico millions of square miles of land, including Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

He’s Been in a Terrible Pickle, But Now He’s Ready to Ketchup For Lost Time.
The Scoreboard Sports Bar in Houston offered the Marv Albert Hamburger on its menu, served with double meat and double cheese and which “takes lots of bites to finish.”

The Suspects Are Armed And Hammered and Considered Dangerous
The FBI called off a nationwide search for two terrorists after discovering that the suspected containers of diesel fuel and fertilizer the men had loaded on a truck in Haltom City actually contained diesel fuel and baking soda.

Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Especially Not Snow . . .
Letter carrier Juan Middaugh of El Paso was arrested after federal agents discovered he was delivering not only mail but also cocaine on his regular route.

All Applications Are Due By December 31, 1919
The Insider’s Book of Law School Lists, published by New York–based Kaplan Educational Center, includes Texas Christian University’s law school, which closed in 1920.

Chew First, Ask Questions Later
The Dallas Police Department suspended Officer Raymond Dethloff, Jr., for fifteen days because he ate a chicken sandwich he found in an accident victim’s car.

Hold That Hemline!
Burleson High School cheerleaders can no longer wear their uniforms to class on game days because the short skirts violate a newly adopted dress code.

Don’t Even Ask How He Plays Boomer Sooner
Russell Slaton of Malakoff, a University of Texas graduate, can perform the “Aggie War Hymn” with his armpit.

The Murder Weapon Contained Traces Of Blood, Tissue, and Chlorophyll
A Webb County assistant district attorney revealed that the ax used to commit a brutal triple murder there was subsequently used by a courthouse employee to trim branches off a Christmas tree.

It’s “Stakeout,” Not “Steak Out,” You Fools
The Texas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies was investigated by the Travis County District Attorney’s office following auditors’ reports that the panel improperly spent $17,470 on hotels and food.

Thou Shalt Not Cover
Calvary Church of Pampa attempted to circumvent restrictions on the display or posting of religious material in public schools by distributing paper bookcovers on which were printed the Ten Commandments.

Little Cat Feat
Cat Fancy magazine named Granpa Rex Allen Baldwin as America’s oldest feline, crediting the Austin resident’s advanced age of 32 in part to his regular consumption of broccoli.

Did I Say “Jackpot”? I Meant to Say “Crackpot”
A Houston man who appeared on a taping of Sally Jessy Raphaël’s show, saying that he wanted to help out a troubled teenager with part of his Texas lottery jackpot, later confessed that he was an unemployed store clerk who had lied about winning $10 million.

The Bloods and the Lambs
The New Caney Independent School District prohibited students from wearing rosary beads and crucifixes outside their clothing, saying that the religious jewelry could be used as gang symbols.

Where Are the Bolsheviks When You Need Them?
Nick Nicholson, a visiting curator at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C., who designed the “Jewels of the Romanovs” exhibit, altered the labels for the show’s Houston tour, replacing explanations about political intrigues with information about the number of carats in particular gems. “Texans want to know how big it is,” Nicholson told The New Yorker, adding, “The courtiers of St. Petersburg were the rich Texans of their day, coming into money and society late, then making up for lost time by building and buying big.”

Q. Describe the Proper Treatment for Mass Trauma
After making the highest scores ever recorded on a national nursing exam, 47 students at Prairie View A&M University learned they would have to be retested because a computer disk supplied to help them prepare for the exam inadvertently contained many of the questions and correct answers for the actual test.

There’s Good News and Bad News, Amado. The Good News Is, It Worked!
Drug kingpin and fugitive Amado Carrillo Fuentes of Ciuadad Juárez, Mexico, died of heart failure after undergoing cosmetic surgery and liposuction to alter his appearance.

Vomit-Stained T-Shirts, Though, Are Encouraged
The resort town of South Padre Island outlawed the wearing of ties.

Where Are the Bolsheviks When You Need Them?
Nick Nicholson, a visiting curator at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C., who designed the “Jewels of the Romanovs” exhibit, altered the labels for the show’s Houston tour, replacing explanations about political intrigues with information about the number of carats in particular gems. “Texans want to know how big it is,” Nicholson told The New Yorker, adding, “The courtiers of St. Petersburg were the rich Texans of their day, coming into money and society late, then making up for lost time by building and buying big.”

The Stoned Wheat Bread Works So Much Better
Continental Airlines fired a pilot who failed a random drug test but rehired him after learning that his ex-wife had given him homemade rye bread, into which she had baked marijuana.

Does the Pilot Like Rye Bread?
A Continental Airlines flight from Houston with 54 passengers on board landed at a World War II landing strip four and a half miles from its destination of Corpus Christi International Airport.

The Bucket Brigade Couldn’t Stretch That Far
The city of Kilgore’s main fire station burned during National Fire Prevention Week while firefighters were across town battling another blaze.

Bum Deer Award
After being honored for shooting a champion whitetail deer in 1996, B. W. Morrow of Dallas is being investigated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Travis County District Attorney’s office about whether he embellished the trophy buck with a purchased set of ten-point antlers.

They Got the Big Bird Instead
A San Antonio Wal-Mart fired two employees for hiding Tickle Me Elmo dolls from customers so that they could purchase the popular Sesame Street toys themselves.

We Know Where You Can Get $125,000 for a Handsome Plaque
At the same time the federal Environmental Protection Agency was considering a fine of $125,000 against the town of Frisco for violating the Clean Water Act at its water treatment plant, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission was nominating the water plant for an EPA excellence award.

Vincent van Gone
Inmate Steven Russell walked away from Huntsville’s Estelle Unit after using a green marking pen to color his white prison uniform to resemble the hospital scrubs of a prison-infirmary employee.

It Was a Clear Case of Fallacious Journalism
After KENS-TV of San Antonio aired an explicit clip of two men in a public park restroom engaging in oral sex, news director Jerry Ridling explained that the video was mistakenly shown without sufficient distortion and expressed concern over “the great perception that we put these pictures on the air purposely” to improve ratings.

Naked Came the Strangers
The Live Oak resort near Brenham hosted two thousand men and women attending a national nudists’ convention.

Stop Me Before I Reenact Again!
Since Jeral Foreman of Houston has been portraying thieves and killers in almost one hundred televised episodes of Houston’s Crime Stoppers, he has been physically restrained and reported to the police by citizens who thought they recognized him as a criminal, and he was once prevented from seeing his fiancee at night by her relatives because they thought he was a rapist.

And Yet He Continues To Elude Extinction
Producers halted a rehearsal for Barney and Friends, the Richardson-based children’s television show, after the purple dinosaur’s suit filled with smoke when the cooling fan inside the sixty-pound costume shorted.

It Was Closer Than the Score Indicated
Setting a record for the most lopsided game in Texas high school basketball, Goodrich crushed Chester 144–6.

Attention, You Imperialist Dogs! There’s Something Especial in the Air
The Austin office of American Airlines used a Fidel Castro look-alike to greet passengers preparing to board the inaugural flight from Austin to Miami.

They’re Thinking of Calling It El Bypasso
In a national study of obesity El Paso was rated the fattest Texas city, with 33 percent of its population overweight.

Sounds Like Justice to Us
Lyons Partnership, the owners of Barney, filed suit against Ted Giannoulas, the “Famous Chicken” of San Diego, California, after the chicken performed repeated skits in which he assaulted a character dressed to resemble the purple dinosaur.

And at Worst?
After Congressman Ron Paul, a Surfside Republican, stated on a cable news show that he feared being “bombed by the federal government at another Waco,” fellow representative Chet Edwards, a Waco Democrat, said on the House floor that Paul’s comment was “sheer lunacy at best.”

That’s Fine as Long As He Doesn’t Get Caught Holding
In a photo caption accompanying a story about a disc injury suffered by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders, the Greenville Herald Banner said that Sanders “does not expect a bulging dick in his back to slow him down on the football field.”

One Riot, One Rager
Chuck Norris look-alike Bill Cavenaugh appeared as the Walker, Texas Ranger character in ads for a Wisconsin car dealer, causing Norris to attempt to block future impersonations. In response, Cavenaugh erected a huge billboard in downtown Dallas that read “Thanks to Chuck Norris, I Am an Unemployed Commercial Actor.”

File Schedule FU-2
Carol Ward of Denver, Colorado, won $325,000 in damages plus attorney’s fees against the Internal Revenue Service for raiding her son’s business and releasing confidential information about her returns after she told an IRS auditor, “You know, I think the citizens of this great country would be better served if you were slinging hash and flipping chicken-fried steak at a truckstop somewhere in West Texas with your big hair and big earrings.”

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