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January 1, 2011

Sammies celebrate the odd and the inexplicable

Daily Star

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It's got to be terribly annoying. It's the end of the old year and the beginning of another, and you've just been inundated with preposterous Top 10 lists, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Sooooo … one more won't kill ya.

It is in that noble spirit that we humbly offer the coveted _ not to mention eponymous _ Sixth Annual Sammy Awards.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Bark" Sammy goes to:

A dog named Nudge.

In March, an Australian restaurant was forced to apologize and pay compensation to a blind man who wasn't allowed to enter the place because workers thought his dog was gay.

No, really, folks, I don't make these things up.

In May 2009, Ian Jolly, 57, wanted to dine at the Thai Spice restaurant in Adelaide, but staff misunderstood his female companion, and thought Jolly's "guide dog," Nudge, was a "gay dog."

"The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog," the owners said in a statement to South Australia's Equal Opportunity Tribunal.

Jolly got a written apology and $1,400.

The "That's Why I Got Them In The First Place" Sammy goes to:

Lydia Carranza of Simi Valley, Calif.

Ms. Carranza was working in a dental office in July when her life was apparently saved by her size-D breast implants. A gunman who killed his wife, Carranza's co-worker, also shot Carranza in the chest, deflating her implant.

"She's just one lucky woman," cosmetic surgeon Dr. Ashkan Ghavami told the Los Angeles Times. "I saw the CT scan. The bullet fragments were millimeters from her heart and her vital organs. Had she not had the implant, she might not be alive today."

"I don't want to say a boob job is the equivalent of a bulletproof vest," Los Angeles Police Department firearms instructor Scott Reitz told the Times. "So don't go getting breast enhancements as a means to deflect a possible incoming bullet."

The "This Kind of Thinking Is Why We Don't Want These Characters To Get The Bomb" Sammy goes to:

A senior Iranian cleric and a police chief.

Cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi had this earthshaking remark in April:

"Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."

Seismologists have been saying for years that the Iranian capital of Tehran is going to get a major quake sometime soon. Women in Iran by law must be covered in public from head to toe.

Later that month it was announced by the capital city police chief that women with suntans would be arrested.

"The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social misbehavior by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values," Brigadier Hossien Sajedinia was quoted in The Daily Telegraph.

"We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them."

The "Next Time, Call The Better Business Bureau" Sammy goes to:

19-year-old Ryan McNames of Columbia, Mo.

In November, according to The Smoking Gun website, Mr. McNames called police to report that he did not get his money's worth from two prostitutes.

Claiming to be a larceny victim, McNames wanted the police to contact one of the prostitutes and get back $40 of the $60 he had paid the two women.

McNames was arrested for patronizing prostitution and was bonded out of jail after posting $500.

The "Honey, You Shouldn't Have. I Mean You Really Shouldn't Have" Sammy goes to:

Dick Kleis of Zwingle, Iowa.

Way back in January, Mr. Kleis was looking for the perfect birthday gift for his wife, Carole.

So, the farmer decided to write "Happy Birthday, Love You" using 120,000 pounds of manure.

It took the devoted husband only about three hours.

"It's not hard," Kleis said. "Any manure will work, but the good, soft, gushy, warm stuff works the best. It kind of melts the snow."

Kleis did his message in shorthand, of course. Sure, spelling it out would have been silly.

The "Finally, Something Interesting Happens At A Soccer Game" Sammy goes to:

Amateur player Joseph Rimmer.

Mr. Rimmer found himself not in total agreement with a referee's refusal to award a free kick during a February game between Lonsdale and Harrington in northwest England.

Thinking that the ref, David Harkness, would penalize him, Rimmer told him: "If you book me or send me off, you know what will happen."

Well, actually, he probably didn't.

Rimmer went off the field and got his Range Rover vehicle and tried to run Harkness down.

The Associated Press reported that witnesses' statements read in court said people reacted with "panic and fear" and some had to run to get out of Rimmer's way.

Rimmer was sentenced to 24 months in jail, but the ref's career is over.

"After 35 years, I now fear I cannot continue as a referee," he said in a statement. "I have not slept through fear that the defendant will find out where I live and carry out his threat to shoot me."

The "I Thought He Was Just Playing 'Possum'" Sammy goes to:

A guy who must have been very, very drunk.

Pennsylvania state police in Punxsutawney (where the groundhog does or does not see its shadow every winter) charged 55-year-old Donald Wolfe with public drunkenness after he allegedly gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dead opossum along a highway.

Trooper Jamie Levier says several witnesses saw Wolfe kneeling before the opossum at 3 p.m., and Wolfe was "extremely intoxicated."

The "Why Don't You Guys Pick On Someone Else For A Change?" Sammy goes to:

Radivoje Lajic of Bosnia.

Poor Mr. Lajic seems convinced he is being targeted by E.T. just because his house has been hit by meteorites six times in the last few years.

According to the website in England, Lajic, 50, became somewhat famous in 2008 when the fifth meteorite since 2007 crashed into the roof of his house in the village of Gornji Lajici.

Then, wouldn't you know it, in July, it was reported that his place got smacked for the sixth time. Experts at Belgrade University say all the rocks he has handed over are meteorites.

"I am obviously being targeted by extraterrestrials," Lajic said. "I don't know what I have done to annoy them, but there is no other explanation that makes sense."

Lajic now has a steel-girder-reinforced roof that he paid for by selling one of the meteorites to a university in the Netherlands.

'I have no doubt I am being targeted by aliens,' he said. 'They are playing games with me. I don't know why they are doing this."

The "What Makes You Think Nobody Cares About You?" Sammy goes to:

A Swedish pastor.

OK, you find yourself in Sweden, and you're having thoughts of suicide. You call a Samaritans-style help line and are connected with a priest.

You spill your guts, talking about your life and your troubles and wondering if you should just end it all. Instead of hearing reassuring advice, you hear … snoring.

According to the Barometern daily newspaper, it was about 2 a.m. one April morning when a troubled 44-year-old man who said he was "psychologically unstable" was connected with a Church of Sweden pastor.

After about five minutes, the poor guy suspected he didn't have the priest's full attention.

"I thought maybe he was taking notes, so I asked: 'Are you taking notes?'" he told the newspaper. "I could hear his heavy breathing before he woke up."

Wait, it gets better.

A few more minutes passed, and … yup, the pastor falls asleep again.

The good news is that the suicidal man was so ticked off that he forgot all about bumping himself off.

"It's not acceptable for a priest to fall asleep in the middle of a call," he told another newspaper. "This should not happen when you call up in search of help. I felt bad and wanted to kill myself, but I pulled myself together and made the call. I am very disappointed."

This is apparently old stuff for Monica Eckerdal Kjellstroem, responsible for Church of Sweden duty pastors.

"This sort of thing should really not occur," she said, "but it does sometimes happen that people call and report that the pastors have fallen asleep."

The "Of Course, I Couldn't See Him In My Rearview Mirror" Sammy goes to:

A vampire in Colorado.

It was a dark night in June, and a woman driving an SUV near Fruita, Colo., saw a vampire in the middle of a dirt road.

We don't exactly know how she determined it was a vampire, but when you're dealing with the undead, you don't stop to ask questions.

According to KDVR in Denver, she later told Colorado state troopers that she threw her SUV into reverse and crashed into a canal.

Fortunately, she avoided injuries from the crash or, for that matter, fangs, and her husband arrived to take her home.

Wanna know the really spooky thing about the whole incident?

Troopers do not suspect drugs or alcohol to be factors in the crash.

Sleep well, my friends, and have a joyous and healthy 2011.

Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208.