If 'tis the season to be jolly (and I have it on the very best of authority that 'tis), then what better way to obtain said jollies than to be treated to my Seventh Annual Sammy Awards?
Well, OK, you can probably think of all kinds of better ways, but since I've been making a list and checking it twice all year, the least you can do is show some holiday charity and help me recognize these worthy recipients.
"The Inquiring Minds Want to Know" Sammy goes to:
21-year-old Robert Michelson of Farmington, Conn.
According to the New York Daily News, back in February, Mr. Michelson called 911.
"I was just growing some marijuana and I was just wondering what, how much, you know, trouble you can get into for one plant?" Michelson asked.
After a dispatcher asked the young man if there was an active crime in progress, Michelson answered: "Possibly."
After the call was traced, police found drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana at Michelson's home, where he admitted buying seeds and equipment online.
He was released on $5,000 bail. As he left the police station, he gave dispatchers a double middle-finger salute.
"Presumably," police said, "for doing such a good job."
"The Urine Trouble Now" Sammy goes to:
Tihomir Petrov, a math professor at California State University, Northridge.
Professor Petrov, 43, co-author of "Algebraic Curves and One-Dimensional Fields," was reportedly a bit peeved with a colleague at the college, and was caught on videotape in January urinating on the other professor's office door.
Petrov was fired by the university in April, and when last heard from ... wasn't heard from. In June, he skipped out on a pretrial hearing for two misdemeanor charges of urinating in a public place, and a judge issued a $35,000 bench warrant for his arrest.
"The 'Guess Which One Died?'" Sammy goes to:
Israeli model Orit Fox.
In her native country, they would call Ms. Fox, who is at best a minor celebrity, "zaftig," or buxom, thanks to her huge implants. Hoping to also enhance her "career," she posed in March with a massive boa constrictor.
Not the best idea.
The snake bit one of her surgically enhanced breasts, according to ABC of Spain, and held on for several seconds before someone pulled it off. Ms. Fox was rushed to a hospital, where she was given a tetanus shot.
According to several published reports, including in the New York Daily News, the snake died. Other sources cast doubt that the snake actually perished, but if it isn't true, it certainly should be.
"The Worst Politician of the Year (Runner-up)" Sammy goes to:
Florida state Rep. Ritch Workman.
Workman, a Republican from Melbourne, came up with an idea to deal with the tough economy, introducing a bill to bring back "dwarf tossing."
The tavern practice, in which dwarfs wearing padded clothing or Velcro outfits are thrown onto mattresses or at Velcro-coated walls to see which denizen of the bar can throw them farthest, has been outlawed in Florida since 1989.
"The possibility of getting paralyzed is high, and then to be used as an object for people's amusement is very degrading," David Dodge, 43, an advocate for the Little People of America, told the Palm Beach Post.
But Workman, while calling dwarf tossing "repulsive and stupid," railed against the prohibition.
"This is an example of Big Brother government," Workman told the newspaper. "... In this economy, or any economy, why would we want to prevent people from getting gainful employment?"
Workman's bill, fortunately, languishes in the Florida House's Business & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee.
"The Worst Politician of the Year Championship" Sammy goes to:
Former Wisconsin state Sen. Randy Hopper.
Hopper, a Republican from Fond du Lac, faced a recall election in great part thanks to supporting Gov. Scott Walker's union-unfriendly legislation.
When union-supporting protesters urging voters to sign a recall petition came to his home in March, they were met by Hopper's wife, Alysia.
According to RawStory.com, Mrs. Hopper informed them that her husband "was no longer in residence at this address, but now lives in Madison, Wisc., with his 25-year-old mistress."
Mrs. Hopper, according to Blogging Blue, said she _ and her maid _ would gladly sign the recall petition. Mr. Hopper lost the recall election in July, and must have taken it hard. He was arrested on a charge of drunken driving in October.
"Worst Excuse of the Year" Sammy goes to:
Ryan James Stephens of Mason, Ohio.
In March, Officer Bradley Walker heard his police dog barking ferociously inside their patrol car outside of a pub, according to The Associated Press. The dog was apparently perturbed at the actions of Mr. Stephens, 25, who was barking and hissing at the dog.
Mr. Stephens, who, according to the officer appeared to be inebriated, was charged with a misdemeanor for barking at a police dog. In his defense, Stephens offered this statement:
"The dog started it."
"The Dumbest Criminal of the Year" Sammy goes to:
Dexter White of North Charleston, S.C.
Mr. White, 41, was arrested in May for calling 911 and telling officers that he was not given the correct change by the drug dealer who sold him crack cocaine.
White was charged with disorderly conduct, according to WCSC, after he told police that he had paid $60 to a drug dealer but was only given $20 worth of crack.
White smoked the 20 bucks' worth of the drug, then called 911 and demanded justice. He was locked up at the Charleston County Detention Center.
"The Truth in Advertising" Sammy goes to:
A cannibal in Slovakia.
The SUN of Great Britain reported that a guy from Switzerland answered an Internet advertisement from a 43-year-old man for someone who would agree to be killed, cooked and eaten.
The Swiss man said he thought the ad was for a "macabre fantasy game," but well .... no. After talking to the gentleman on the phone, he alerted Swiss police, who passed the information along to Slovakian authorities.
A sting operation was attempted in the village of Kysak, and a gunfight broke out, wounding the alleged cannibal and a police officer.
"His advert said he wanted someone who would agree to be put to sleep then killed, cut up, cooked and eaten," said a Kysak police spokesman. "It appears this man was genuinely seeking to eat someone."
"The Firearms Safety (2nd Runner Up)" Sammy goes to:
Sean Murphy of Doncaster, England.
Mr. Doncaster, 38, told The Star of England that he had been trying for five years to get rid of a pesky dime-sized wart on one of his fingers.
"It was hurting a lot and causing my finger to bend," Murphy said. "I'd been to the doctors and tried all sorts of things, but it wouldn't go."
So, Mr. Murphy took a shotgun and ... cheerio ... shot the wart off. Unfortunately (and who could see this coming?), he also shot off most of his middle finger.
"The best thing is that the wart has gone," Mr. Murphy said. "It was giving me lot of trouble."
"The Firearms Safety (1st Runner Up)" Sammy goes to:
Joshua Seto of Chandler, Ariz.
Everyone, it seems, carries a gun in Arizona. So it was in August when Mr. Seto and his fiancee, Cara Christopher, were walking down the street and Mr. Seto offered to carry Ms. Christopher's gun for her.
However, when he put the weapon into the waistband of his pants, (and who could see this coming?) the darned thing went off and shot him right in the penis, with the bullet continuing through his left thigh.
Chandler Police Detective Seth Tyler said he wasn't sure of the type of gun, or whether it had a safety that was off, but warned warned residents to use holsters, not waistbands, if they're going to carry a handgun.
"The Firearms Safety Championship" Sammy goes to:
The late Russell Little of Indiana.
According to the South Bend Tribune, Mr. Little played a game of Russian roulette with his dog ... and lost.
Little's wife said her husband was in their backyard on that June day. He had been depressed, she said, and was drinking moonshine. He decided to put his gun to his dog's head and pull the trigger, which he did several times to no effect.
"She said he got tired of that," Capt. Jim Andrews of the South Bend Police Department told the newspaper, "then put the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger."
"The Where Else Would I Put It?" Sammy goes to:
An unidentified woman in Amherst, Va.
The woman entered an Amherst County Courthouse office, where she started filling out some court-related paperwork, according to an account in the News & Advance of Lynchburg.
When the woman mentioned a daughter, an official asked her where she was, and the woman pulled a tiny monkey out of her bra. The woman said the marmoset was her daughter, and her name was "Cara."
Cara was smartly attired in diapers and a pink-and-white dress.
"You couldn't make up something like this," said the commonwealth's attorney, Stephanie Maddox.
Asked why Cara was in her bra, the woman said: "Well, would you leave your child at home? She has to be close to me."
When someone asked a deputy who had let the monkey get through the courthouse metal detector, he had a ready reply.
"It wasn't armed."
Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (607) 432-100, ext. 208. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/sampollak