The 2014 Bum Steer Awards

It was a year of awful Astros, brazen breastaurateurs, confused congressmen, drunk district attorneys, equine endangerment, fantasy feces, greasy good-for-nothin’s, harebrained homophobes, inelegantly inked infielders, jackass juries, klutzy kettles, leaked loquaciousness by the lieutenant governor, misplaced machinery, nettlesome North Koreans, Orangeblood odors, prison/pigpen problems, questionable quacks, ravioli-revering Red Raiders, sloppy social media, tenaciously terrible Texans, unfair ultimatums, vengeful vipers, waitresses without wardrobes, excoriated ex-executives, yechy yearbooks, and zesty zombie zwieback zigzagging through the zodiac. (Okay, actually, there is no zombie zwieback. We just couldn’t think of any z’s.)

Leader Kim Jong Un in his war room showed a map in the background labeled “U.S. mainland strike plan,” on which one of the few marked target cities was Austin.

“Sir, I Said Slide Out of the Car, Now!”

Following a lengthy car chase in Williamson County, Scott MacFarland refused officers’ commands to exit his vehicle, forcing them to physically remove him, a difficult task since he was naked and covered in a “greasy substance.”

“You Say It’s a Large Yellow Thing With Huge Tires and a Big Metal Scoop in Front? Gee, I’m Not Seeing It on My Desk”

Workers sent by Safeguard Properties to clean out a Coupland house in foreclosure went to an unrelated property nearby instead, where they forced open and emptied a barn used for storage. Efforts by the property owner to recover his belongings, which included irreplaceable family keepsakes and a backhoe, were unsuccessful.

“Fine—Round It Down to Infinity Billion Dollars an Hour and We’ll Put It Behind Us”

In a hearing over a long-standing property-line dispute, a Williamson County justice of the peace ruled that property owner Dan Saturn, in spite of his assertions to the contrary, could not charge his next-door neighbor a trespassing fine of $1,000 per second.

Would They Have Treated Those Pigs Like Common Criminals?

Advocates for convicts expressed outrage that as inmates were contending with sweltering conditions in the state’s 79 unair-conditioned prisons, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice issued a $750,000 contract for pig barns with sophisticated climate-control systems. 

He Sawed Incorrectly

A man threatened Jose Avila with an ax outside a Fort Worth gas station and then hit Avila’s father in the head with an electric saw before saying, “I’m sorry, I thought you were somebody else,” and driving off.

Please Be Patient While We Work Out the Bugs

When Aziz Gilani, a regular customer at Shipley Do-Nuts in Houston, brought back a doughnut that had a large cockroach in the middle, the manager insisted the store could not have been at fault, even when Gilani pointed out that the insect, like the rest of the doughnut, was covered in chocolate icing.

The Kids Are Grown, So He Doesn’t Need It for Halloween

Dr. Sam Axelrad, of Houston, traveled to Vietnam to meet Nguyen Quang Hung, a former North Vietnamese soldier whose injured arm Axelrad had amputated while serving as a U.S. military doctor in 1966. The surgeon arranged the meeting so he could return to Hung the preserved bones of the amputated arm, which Axelrad had kept at his home for more than forty years.

His Tactics Went Beyond the Pale

Perennial candidate Dave Wilson, who is white, outpolled 24-year incumbent Bruce Austin, who is black, for a seat on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees after distributing campaign materials that left voters with the impression he was black. 

Because There’s No Point in Running Up the Totally Arbitrary and Bitterly Partisan Score

By the order of what he referred to as “House officials,” Republican congressman Steve Stockman, from southeast Texas, removed an “Obama Failometer” he had recently erected outside his office. The sign already had the president at 1,194 on a failure scale with a numerical fail limit of 1,000.

For a Super Bowl Win, He’d Drink Matt Schaub’s

Fulfilling a promise he said he made to “the football gods” if they would let the Houston Texans stage a comeback victory against the San Diego Chargers, a rabid Texans fan named Adam Blanca posted a YouTube video in which he appeared to drink his own urine.

Even the Fake Truth Hurts

Satirical news publication the Onion ran a story headlined “Dying Kid in Houston Holding On Until Astros Develop Player Worth Meeting.”

There Was No Suess Talking Him Out of It

During a 21-hour talkathon on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Republican senator Ted Cruz, from Houston, read aloud the entire children’s book Green Eggs and Ham. 


The Harris County attorney’s office filed a civil suit against a Houston Burger King, alleging that the management tolerated prostitutes who loitered in the restaurant and trolled for customers in the parking lot. 


In an October home game against the St. Louis Rams, a sizable contingent of Texans fans cheered when beleaguered Houston quarterback Matt Schaub had to leave the game with an ankle injury.

“Gives Your Skin That Buttery Leather Feel” Is Still Okay, Though

In an agreement with the Texas attorney general’s office, Houston-based tanning-parlor chain Darque Tan consented to pay a nearly $142,000 fine and refrain from running any more ads claiming that indoor tanning helps prevent cancer. 

To Be Fair, It Was Up Against A Block of Special Programming On the Paint-Drying Channel 

A televised broadcast of an Astros road game against the Cleveland Indians in September drew a 0.00 Nielsen rating in the Houston market. 


Harris County voters rejected a proposal to turn the Astrodome into a convention and events center, all but ensuring its demolition.


In an incident filmed by an Astros fan, aired on local news, and seen by thousands on the Internet, a vendor at a home game entered a men’s room stall and used the toilet, having first placed his tray of snow cones on the floor next to it.


In Dallas, former Channel 5 news anchor Mike Snyder, whose PR firm had been hired by Museum Tower condos to manage the controversy over the massive glare the building cast on the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center, resigned from his firm after it was revealed that he had posted online attacks against dispute mediator Tom Luce and Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings using phony social media accounts. 

Silver Lining: They Found an Orange Jumpsuit He Could Wear

While attempting to steal items from a clothing donation bin, Dallas resident

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