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December 28, 2013

Celebrate 2013 with the annual 'Sammy Awards'

By Sam Pollak
The Daily Star

---- — OK, now I’m good and angry. After eight glorious years of pounding the keys until my fingerprints wear off while producing my coveted Sammy Awards, I discover that something called Security Sales and Integration (SSI) Magazine is attempting to horn in on my good name with its own Sammy Awards.

This rank bit of thievery was done in a slick, duplicitous manner that has known no bounds, which included the magazine beginning its Sammy Awards in 1994, more than a decade before I started mine.

“Acknowledging Security Installing Contractors for their Superior Sales and Marketing Efforts Since 1994” goes the magazine’s motto.

Rest assured the scoundrels will soon be hearing from my attorneys, but meanwhile, feast your eyes on the real deal, the ninth-annual, genuine, rootin’-tootin’ Sammys.

The “What Are You Complaining About? You Got Your Two Seats” Sammy goes to:

An airline company that “didn’t have a clue.”

The United Kingdom’s Telegraph reported that a 43-year-old British man named Les Price needed to book a flight back home from Ireland in October. Realizing that at 518 pounds he was well over the unnamed airline’s 280-pound limit for a single seat, he booked two seats well in advance.

Mr. Price boarded the plane only to find that one seat was in row 17, and the other in row 19.

On his flight to Ireland, the airline hadn’t done much better.

“They didn’t have a clue,” he said. “When I finally got on the plane one was an aisle seat and the other was by the window — in a three-seat row.”

Fortunately, thanks to the seat-switching cooperation of some other passengers, Price managed to get home.

The “What Are The Odds of That Happening” Sammy goes to:

Two star-crossed lovers in China.

The premise has appeared often on film, from “The Shop Around the Corner” to “In the Good Old Summertime” to “You’ve Got Mail.” Two people who know each other secretly communicate without being aware of the other’s identity. Then, it all turns out well in the end.

Well … not so much in October for a man and woman in China, according to the Chinese news blog ChinaSMACK.

A 57-year-old man referred to by the blog as Old Wang (really, you can’t make this stuff up), met a woman named Lili in an Internet chatroom. As it appears to be the custom worldwide, both parties lied about themselves to seem more attractive to the other.

Wang said his wife had died recently. Lili said her husband was in jail. They exchanged pictures. Lili’s was of one of her friends. Wang sent one of a friend taken back in his days in the military. Lili wants to chat naked online, but Wang says his web camera is broken. They agree to rendezvous in a hotel.

This is where things get really interesting.

After Lili leaves for the hotel, her husband, Da Jun, comes home three days early from a business trip, reads from her computer and heads off to the hotel to catch the prospective lovers. Lili arrives at the hotel only to discover that Wang is … wait for it … her father-in-law! Yes, Da Jun’s father.

Wang is not happy. After all, with about 750 million women in China, what are the odds that the anonymous paramour you’ve been lying to is your son’s wife?

Da Jun was even less happy. He beats up his father and his wife, who called the police, and Da Jun gets thrown into jail.

There’s a moral in there somewhere. Whatever it might be, it’s certainly worthy of a Sammy.

The “No, You Go Ahead and Answer It” Sammy” goes to:

A prisoner whose “cell” phone had no call-waiting.

In February, AFP reports, a prisoner in a high-security Sri Lankan jail had hidden a mobile phone, and during a search of his cell by guards, received a phone call. 

The guards heard ring tones coming from the 58-year-old prisoner’s rear end ... and got suspicious.

The prisoner, serving a 10-year term for theft, was admitted to the national hospital in Colombo, where doctors retrieved the handset from his rectum.

“Unfortunately for him,” a hospital official said, “the phone rang at the wrong time and guards knew he had a phone at the wrong end.”

The “It Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time” Sammy goes to:

A gentleman who probably should have known better.

According to the Nature World News, in April, a 39-year-old man in China needed intensive, all-night surgery to remove a live 20-inch eel that chewed its way through his digestive tract after he inserted the creature into his anus.

The man rushed himself to a hospital in China’s southeastern Guangdong province. He had tried, he said, to recreate something he had watched in a porno film.

The medical team spokesman said the one-pound eel was “still alive when we got it out, but it died soon afterwards, which was probably a mercy,” according to The Sun newspaper. “This was a particularly idiotic stunt and could have caused him a serious injury. Eels have small but very sharp teeth.”

Police were considering charging the man with animal cruelty.

The “Go Ahead and Drink and Drive” Sammy goes to:

The residents of Kilgarvan, Ireland.

Last winter, according to a New York Times story in March, the Irish town of Kilgarvan passed a law allowing members of the community to drink as much alcohol as they want and then drive as much as they want.

Proposed by local pub owner and politician Danny Healy-Rae, the law allows people in country areas to have a few or more beers before they drive home. Healy-Rae said the legislation will help preserve pub culture, lower the risk of suicide and help deal with loneliness.

“What is the alternative for them where no public or other transport is available?” he told The Times. “Staying at home lonely, staring at the four walls?”

The “OK, Lady, Where’s the Fire?” Sammy goes to:

A woman in way too much of a hurry.

According to WCCO in Minneapolis, in January, Loretta Lacy, 49, was driving from Sioux Falls, S.D., to Racine, Wisc., and wanted to get there in time for her granddaughter’s formal dance that night.

At 2:25 p.m. she was stopped by police after they received multiple complaints of her speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. She was ticketed for speeding (she passed the trooper at 112 mph), no insurance and possession of marijuana.

Only 20 miles later, she was stopped again, ticketed for speeding (only 99 mph this time) and no proof of insurance.

About 70 minutes later, Lacy gets caught going 88 mph, and was ticketed for speeding and no insurance.

Just before she entered Wisconsin, the police stopped her yet again and gave her a ticket for going 88 mph in a 70 mph zone.

Sadly, perhaps because of all the traffic stops, Lacy, who faced more than $500 in fines … didn’t make it to her granddaughter’s dance on time.

The “Who Wants a Gay Bulldog?” Sammy goes to:

A bigot in Tennessee.

Things didn’t look good in January for a bulldog sent to an animal kill shelter in Jackson, Tenn., according to The Tennessean newspaper.

And all because his former owner thought he was gay.

A Facebook image of the mutt showed him forlornly looking through a fence in a closed-off area wet with rain.

“This guy was signed over to [Jackson Rabies Control], not [because] he’s mean or [because] he tears things up, but because … [h]is owner says he’s gay!” the caption under the photo said. “He hunched [sic] another male dog so his owner threw him away [because] he refuses to have a ‘gay’ dog!”

Fortunately, more-rational attitudes prevailed, and the pooch was saved.

“I have had about 10 million calls this morning. It has been adopted already. It is gone,” an employee at the shelter told the newspaper. “He’s in good hands.”

The “Criminal Mastermind” Sammy goes to:

A man with a bucket list.

In January, the New York Daily News reported that 23-year-old Richard Boudreaux dressed up in camouflage attire, wore gloves and was all set to rob Kenney’s Seafood in Slidell, La. Except for one little thing.

Mr. Boudreaux forgot his mask. But rather than postpone his plans, he improvised.

Surveillance video captured him stumbling around the restaurant with a bucket over his head, barely able to see. He lifted the bucket every once in a while to peek, and that allowed the police to identify and arrest him after he got away with $350.

Boudreaux said he also intended to break into a pawn shop to steal a gun because he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to get one if gun-control laws were passed in the future. He was looking at up to 12 years in prison on charges of burglary and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The “Never Underestimate the Value of a Newspaper” (Part 1) Sammy goes to:

A “massive freaking creature.”

In August, a terrified Forest Grove, Ore., teenager called 911 because a “massive freaking creature” had invaded her home, according to KPTV.

“I’m home alone and there is a giant spider on the back of my couch, and I’m talking giant,” she told 911. “I’ve never seen a spider this big and I have no idea what to do.”

Even though it wasn’t standard procedure, the teen was so distraught that the operator sent a police officer to the residence. The spider turned out to be about two inches in diameter.

The officer killed it with a newspaper.

The “Never Underestimate the Value of a Newspaper” (Part 2) Sammy goes to:

“Poop machines.”

Say what you will about the Internet, online news, radio or television, when San Francisco’s animal control agency was in a crisis, it took newspapers to solve the problem.

Back in January, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Animal Care & Control had almost run out of paper donations to line the cages of shelter puppies that needed potty training.

The San Francisco Public Library, which had been recycling all of the roughly 2,000 newspapers it went through every month, answered the call, and began donating them to the agency. According to animal care supervisor Eric Zuercher, that solved the problem, and the puppies should be grateful.

“They are,” he said, “poop machines.”

The “Never Underestimate the Value of a Newspaper” (Part 3) Sammy goes to:

A very, very good customer.

In March, according to CNA/EWTN News, Daniel Del Regno, son of the owner of a kiosk in Buenos Aires, Argentina, got a call from a local customer, asking him to halt the daily delivery of his morning paper because he was in Rome.

Daniel’s father, Luis Del Regno, said they had delivered the paper to the customer’s residence every day. On Sundays, he “would come by the kiosk at 5:30 a.m. and buy La Nacion. He would chat with us for a few minutes and then take the bus to Lugano.”

The elder Del Regno said he would put a rubber band on each newspaper he delivered to the customer to keep them from being blown away.

“At the end of the month,” Luis Del Regno said, “he always brought them back to me. All 30 of them!”

Pretty impressive. Even more impressive when we consider that the customer’s name was Jorge Bergoglio, and the reason he was in Rome was because his colleagues were selecting him for a new job and a new name … Pope Francis.

Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at spollak@thedailystar.com or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/sampollak.