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.)
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According to the astonishing new results of an exhaustive twelve-month study published for the first time in Bum Steer News and jointly conducted by NASA, the Centers for Disease Control, the West Abilene Psychic Certification Center, and the Corpus Christi Metal Detecting Club, last year was the fourth-bum-steeriest year in Texas history. The only steerier years have been 1982 (#3), 1845 (#2), and 1957 (#1 on the basis of the Amarillo Zombie Outbreak and subsequent alien invasion that installed Price Daniel as governor). Causes of the 2013 steer surge are still unknown but may include contamination of the drinking water in certain parts of the state by a mutant steer virus, as well as the curse of an ancient bum steer mummy.
NASA steertistician Dr. Elwin Harlock, lead researcher on the project, noted a preponderance of bad behavior in the Dallas area, explaining, “Historically, we have found that an individual known as Jerry Jones is likely to boost the results for the Metroplex. But 2013 was a relatively quiet year for him, and Dallas still exceeded our expectations.”
However, the epicenter of the steerpocalypse, as many are calling it, appears to have been Houston. In 2013 the metro area produced an unfathomably horrible baseball team, a phenomenally bad football team, a lieutenant governor prone to embarrassing moments on the telephone, and a U.S. senator prone to shutting down the federal government while reading nursery rhymes from the dais. Then, to top it all off, the city’s voters declined to save the Eighth Wonder of the World. In fact, the three largest sources of steerishness identified by Dr. Harlock are all located in the Bayou City. That would be the Houston Astros, the Houston Texans, and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Research shows a steertistical dead heat among these contenders, making them our joint Bum Steers of the Year!
“No, Timmy, You’re Not on the Horny Housewives 6 Bus, You’re on the Naughty Nurses 3 Bus”
Parents of elementary school students in the Birdville ISD sued charter bus company Executive Coach Inc., alleging that as their children were boarding a charter for a class field trip, a pornographic film was playing on the bus’s TV monitors.
The Times Regrets the Era
During the special session for SB 5, a New York Times correction said, “The proposed legislation that State Senator Wendy Davis helped to block in the Texas Legislature would restrict abortion after 20 weeks, not 20 years.”
They’re a Formidable Team With A Lot of Weapons
Little Leaguers sold $10 raffle tickets to raise money for the Jim Ned Baseball Association, near Buffalo Gap. First prize was an AR-15 assault rifle. Second prize was a 9mm handgun.
At Least the Snake Died Laughing!
A northeast Texas woman and her son were doing yard work when they encountered a snake. They decided to kill the snake by dousing it with gasoline and setting it on fire, but the burning serpent slithered into a nearby brush pile, igniting it, and the fire then spread to the woman’s home, which was completely destroyed.
They’ll Get His Paddle When They Pry It From His Cold, Dead, Wicked Backhand
Pledging to oppose any gun-control legislation, freshman state representative Kyle Kacal, a Republican from Bryan–College Station, asserted, “I’ve heard of people being killed playing Ping-Pong. Ping-Pongs are more dangerous than guns.”
He Won’t Touch the Stuff No Mow
Oliver James McCracken admitted to Ector County deputies that he had been smoking “potpourri” shortly before they stopped him as he drove a riding lawn mower through a city intersection.
Next Up: A Chain of French-Style Asseries®
Following its successful trademark application, Bikinis, an Austin-based restaurant chain staffed by scantily clad servers, announced that it was now billing itself as “America’s ONLY Breastaurant®.”
Thanks to This Jury, He Did Eventually Get Off
A Bexar County jury acquitted Ezekiel Gilbert of murder in a shooting that eventually caused the death of Lenora Ivie Frago. The jury accepted Gilbert’s argument that because Frago—a Craigslist-advertised “escort”—took Gilbert’s $150 payment but didn’t have sex with him, he was justified by Texas law “to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft.”
“Oshiffer, I Drank the Fifth . . . HIC! . . . I Mean, I Take the Fifth”
Travis County district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was pulled over for driving erratically by sheriff’s deputies, who found an open bottle of vodka next to the driver’s seat and arrested her for DWI. Despite her relentless denial, dash-cam and jailhouse videos from the incident revealed that Lehmberg was thoroughly sozzled.
Like a Rock
Carlos Sergio Valdes drove a new Chevrolet Tahoe off the lot of an Austin car dealership, then called police two hours later, claiming the vehicle had been stolen from him during his unauthorized test drive. Police recovered the truck a short time later from a woman who said Valdes had sold it to her for a small amount of crack cocaine.
Sieve Free or Die!
Texas Tech student Eddie Castillo spent months trying to get permission from the DPS to wear a colander on his head while posing for his state ID photo, arguing that doing so was a protected expression of his belief in Pastafarianism, a satirical faith whose adherents disdain organized religion and revere a deity known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The ID card he ultimately received did not feature his sacred headgear.
Dude, No One Got in to See Kanye at South-By. Get Over It.
A widely circulated photo of North Korean Supreme 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.
HAVE HER YOUR WAY
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.
2, 4, 6, 8, WHAT DON’T WE APPRECIATE? GOOOOOOD SPORTSMANSHIP, YAY!
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.
THE NINTH WONDER OF THE WORLD: WHAT TOOK SO LONG?
Harris County voters rejected a proposal to turn the Astrodome into a convention and events center, all but ensuring its demolition.
“ICE-COLD PEE-in-yA COLADAS! GETCHA PEE-in-yA COLADAS RIGHT HERE!”
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.
UPON REFLECTION, IT WAS A GLARING ERROR
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 Abel Garcia dropped the wad of flaming paper he was using as a torch to see inside the darkened receptacle, setting the clothes on fire.
HE INKED HIMSELF OUT OF THE LINEUP
The day after he got a large tattoo honoring his late father, Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was scratched from a spring-training game because of arm soreness.
“AS A MATTER OF FACT, I USED ONE THIS MORNING ON MY MIND”
During the debate on SB 5, legislation that would ban most abortions twenty weeks after conception, Republican state representative Jodie Laubenberg, from Collin County, said exemptions in cases of rape were unnecessary, because “in the emergency room, they have what’s called rape kits that the woman can get cleaned out.”
You Have the Right to Remain Silent, but the Cream Filling On Your Chin Says Plenty
Anthony Thompson tried to steal a Little Debbie delivery truck parked outside a Kroger, but police quickly recovered the vehicle, and ninety of the one hundred boxes it had been carrying.
TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE, CITY PRODUCE MARKETS WENT ON LOCKDOWN
Someone playing a game on an iPhone that the Dallas Police Department used to post to its official Twitter account accidentally sent the message “I just sliced 38 fruit in Classic Mode on Fruit Ninja for iPhone!” to the department’s four thousand followers.
THEY DIDN’T RESPECT HIS DEEP FAITH IN HIMSELF
Though he is passionately reviled by a large, vocal segment of sports fans, football personality and failed Texas Senate candidate Craig James was hired by Fox Sports Southwest as a college football analyst. After one broadcast, James was fired by national executives at Fox, who claimed they weren’t aware of the hire and that “the decision to use him was not properly vetted.” James responded by alleging that he had been discriminated against because of his religious beliefs.
NOT IDEAL, BUT HER PUBLICIST WILL TAKE IT
Closed-captioning on KDFW misidentified Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as actress Zooey Deschanel.
AT LEAST THEIR EXTINCTS WERE GOOD
To raise money for a program that helps protect the endangered black rhinos of Namibia, the Dallas Safari Club announced that it was auctioning the right to hunt one of Namibia’s few remaining black rhinos.
Norquist, santa claus—she’s On To allah them guys
Texas Eagle Forum president Cathie Adams gave a presentation to the Far North Dallas Tea Party in which she claimed that prominent right-wing antitax activist Grover Norquist was a covert supporter of radical Islam. “As you see, he has a beard,” Adams said. “He’s showing signs of converting to Islam himself. He’s married to a Muslim woman.”
AND ON SKATES TOO!
Responding to a snarky (and supposedly accidental) tweet from the Dallas Cowboys’ official account that read, “Similarly in the category of nobody-cares . . . the NHL is back!” the Dallas Stars tweeted this reply from their official Twitter account: “At least our #9 got the job done.”
THOUGH WHY THEY WOULD VOTE THAT WAY IS A MYSTERY
Addressing a crowd at a Dallas County Republican Party event, tea party leader Ken Emanuelson said, “I’m going to be real honest with you. The Republican party doesn’t want black people to vote if they are going to vote nine to one for Democrats.”
LIKELY SUSPECTS INCLUDE IMMATURE DWEEB, DUMPED LOSER, AND MEAN JERK
Irving ISD officials were forced to recall the entire print run of the Irving High School yearbook because a student in a cheerleader group photo was identified as “Ugly Hoe.”
YES, BUT A FORTY-YEAR-OLD WHO SPENT FIFTEEN SEASONS AS AN NFL LINEMAN
Septuagenarian Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones claimed his doctors told him he had the brain of a forty-year-old.
Never Forget . . . The Horror of Ron’s Quarterly Sales Quotas
During a group session meant to help J. C. Penney employees deal with their emotions following the firing of controversial CEO Ron Johnson, an organizational therapist screened a documentary about 9/11, suggesting the trauma inflicted by both events was equivalent.
“WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? WE HAVE A STRICT ‘EMPLOYEES MUST WASH GLANDS’ POLICY”
Prior to the city council’s ordinance banning the practice, the Lewisville restaurant/bar Redneck Heaven promoted special “ABC Nights” (Anything But Clothes), when waitresses sported pasties and body paint.
IS THAT AS PAINFUL AS PUNITIVE DAMAGES DISEASE?
After LA Fitness refused to refund her membership dues, a Dallas woman sued the company over creepy comments allegedly made on separate occasions by two trainers at the chain’s Plano gym. One trainer told the woman he knew she’d had a good workout because her “nipples are getting hard.” When she told a second trainer what the first had said, he texted her later asking, “do u suffer from hard nipple syndrome?”
The Visit Was A Little Longer Than He’d Planned
After officers refused to let Rolando Hernandez, whom they believed to be drunk, visit his incarcerated son, Hernandez left the Denton County jail and, in full view of the officers, who had followed him outside, drove his pickup into a fence and backed into two cars before finally jumping a curb and smashing into the building.
No One Suspected He Possessed Weapons of Xmas Destruction
Highland Park High School football player Kace Coyle was detained by police when he tried to retrieve two machetes he had hidden on campus. During questioning, Coyle confessed that he’d stashed the weapons the previous evening after using them to decapitate several Santa Claus lawn figures in the front yards of homes near the school.
SHE WAS HERE ONE MINUTE, THEN PUFF! SHE WAS IN JAIL
Police in Hood County arrested 48-year-old Linda White for 911 abuse after she called the emergency line and asked for someone to bring her cigarettes.
HOPEFULLY HER WARRANTY COVERS LOOSE NUTS BEHIND THE WHEEL
A car driven by Hipolito Rebollar ran off the road, hit the base of a lamppost near a car dealership, went airborne, and cartwheeled across a row of new cars, landing upside down on two of them. Eighteen of the Austin dealership’s cars were damaged, with twelve of them totaled. Rebollar fled the scene but was later turned in by his sister, whose new car he’d been driving without permission.
FOR IT IS WRITTEN THAT THE LORD GIVETH AND THE LAND COMMISSIONER TAKETH AWAY
Speaking at a debate hosted by the Ronald Reagan Republican Women’s Club, land commissioner Jerry Patterson lambasted the federal Endangered Species Act, wondering aloud, “I mean, the blind salamander? How long are we gonna let that little bugger last?” He also opined that the act protects “critters that ought to die anyway.”
“DO YOU KNOW WHO I THINK I AM?”
A report by U.S. Park Police in Washington, D.C., said U.S. congressman Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Tyler, was “rude and irate” and “ranting” over a $25 ticket he received for improperly parking near the Lincoln Memorial.
“BUT IF WE DOO FIND IT, URINE A LOT OF TROUBLE”
During the highly charged special session over abortion legislation, a DPS news release claimed that troopers at the Capitol entrance had confiscated jars of pee and bags of feces from protesters, who planned to hurl them from the gallery to the House floor. Several weeks later DPS officials admitted they could find no first-hand reports or evidence to support the claim.
WHERE’S SHE BEEN SINCE 16 PRETTY IN PINK CANDLES, ANYWAY?
Former teen star Molly Ringwald tweeted a picture from a Wendy Davis fundraiser with the line “Support this woman. The next governor of Houston, Texas.”
HE WAS CLEARED OF TESTICULAR HOMICIDE
During a traffic stop in Millsap, Ricky Lee Crawford told deputies he was in severe pain from a vasectomy, then fled on foot. After a brief chase, Crawford was arrested on an outstanding warrant—and charged with giving false information to a peace officer.
THE EVIDENCE WAS SELFIE-INCRIMINATING
Julio Lundez-Olmedo was arrested and charged with improper photography after an employee at the plant nursery where he worked found an iPod hidden in the women’s restroom with the video camera turned on. When detectives with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office watched the video, they saw a clear shot of Lundez-Olmedo as he hid the camera.
IT WAS EASY TO REMOVE BUT LEFT A SLIMY, SEXIST RESIDUE
In an advertising stunt that generated widespread outrage, Hornet Signs, of Waco, covered an employee’s truck tailgate with an illustrated, photo-realistic decal of a woman lying bound with ropes in the truck’s bed.
THEY MIGHT GO BLIND BEFORE THEIR EYES HAVE EVEN DEVELOPED
During a committee hearing on a controversial bill that aimed to ban abortions twenty weeks after conception, U.S. congressman Michael Burgess, a Republican from Denton County, noted that some sonograms have shown fifteen-week-old male fetuses with their hands positioned between their legs and suggested this meant they could “feel pleasure.”
HE’S ON TRACK FOR HORSE RAPING’S TRIPLE CROWN
Hidalgo County man Cirilo Castillo was arrested and charged with trespassing and animal cruelty for performing carnal acts on a horse after he was identified on footage from security cameras that had been installed last year after Castillo’s previous tryst with the exact same horse, a mare named Nadia. This is Castillo’s second consecutive Bum Steer for inappropriate behavior with an equine, also known as sexual horseassment.
HAD HE BEEN SOBER, HE WOULD’VE REMEMBERED HIS UNITARD
Hector Sanchez was arrested when a woman reported returning to her El Paso home to find Sanchez, a stranger, drunk and dancing naked in her bathroom.
THEIR HOUSE WHINE WAS MADE WITH THE FINEST SOUR GRAPES
A note posted inside the glass of the door of the just-shuttered Sava Italiano restaurant, in Amarillo, blamed its failure on unsophisticated local diners who could not appreciate its fine cuisine. The owner, who blamed the note on disgruntled employees, is now opening a restaurant in Lubbock.
“CUT! RANDY, THIS TIME GIVE ME MORE HYPOCRISY”
Republican U.S. congressman Randy Neuge-bauer, from Lubbock, staged a media-ready confronta-tion with a park ranger at Washington, D.C.’s World War II Memorial. With news cameras rolling, he browbeat the ranger for preventing veterans from entering the memorial, which was closed as a result of the federal shutdown instigated by Neugebauer and his congressional tea party allies.
“WHERE MY THREE FAVORITE CITIES ARE MIAMI, BATON ROUGE, AND, UH . . .”
Speaking to a crowd in Louisiana, Governor Rick Perry said, “There are many other states that embrace those conservative values. . . . I’m in one today: Florida.”
Though a photo caption in the Fort Bliss Bugle read, “A soldier from 4th Bn., 27th FA Regt., 2nd BCT, 1st AD, grabs a rebound during a basketball game,” the man pictured was actually playing beach volleyball.
IT’S HARD BEING WHITE ALL THE TIME
Viewers of the 24-hour live video stream from CBS’s reality show Big Brother saw cast member Aaryn Gries, a model and Texas State University student, make bluntly racist, xenophobic, and homophobic remarks about, and to, her fellow cast members. Soon after, she was voted off the show and fired by her Austin modeling agency.
THE REAL ISSUE WAS THAT HIS BODY LINER WAS BROWN
As he drove from Austin to his home in Edinburg, former state legislator and Republican political consultant Aaron Peña was detained and aggressively interrogated by officers from the Robstown Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who, among other things, demanded to know why his truck’s bed liner was tan.
COME AND TAKE IT, YOU BIG HOSER
Press materials for the Syfy channel movie Chupacabra vs. the Alamo revealed that the film was shot in Vancouver.
HIS DRIVING REALLY COST HIM THAT DAY
Michael Dane Mitchell was arrested for DWI in Amarillo after crashing through a golf course fence. When police responded, they found that Mitchell had continued steering his 2004 Pontiac around the course but quickly got the car stuck in a fifth-hole sand trap.
SHE LATER CLARIFIED, “BUT SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE DISGUSTING”
Unaware that she was being recorded, San Antonio councilwoman Elisa Chan made ardently homophobic comments—such as “I think it’s just disgusting to even think about”—while strategizing with aides about how to oppose the city’s proposed antidiscrimination ordinance without seeming homophobic.
FIFTY SHADES OF GRADE SCHOOL
A Judson ISD teacher and a teacher’s aide resigned after admitting to district officials that they had punished a rambunctious second grader by duct-taping his ankles and wrists together and lashing tape around his belly to strap him to his chair.
“BUDDY, YOU WANNA SPECIFY THE HOUSES, IT’S GONNA COST YOU MORE”
A demolition contractor hired by the city of Fort Worth to tear down condemned buildings demolished the wrong house on two separate occasions.
LEAVE CIRILO CASTILLO OUT OF THIS!
Discussing a gun-control measure that would have limited the capacity of rifle magazines, Congressman Louie Gohmert, who opposed the measure unconditionally, said, “Once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit. It’s kind of like marriage—when you say it’s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?”