10 Most Bizarre Awards

Thanks to our reader Cucumber, for the idea.

1Stinky Shoe Award: Worst Odor in a Pair of Sneakers

The "Sneaker Contest" began in 1975 as a way to help a local sporting goods store sell shoes, and grew into a national event in 1988, when Odor-Eaters assumed sponsorship of the event. Now it has fermented into the ultimate test of just how offensive sneakers belonging to children between the ages of 5 and 15 can get. Sneakers were judged on the conditions of the sole, tongue, heel, toe, laces or Velcro, eyelets/grommets, overall condition and, most important, odor, by a panel. Fifteen-year-old Ben Russell, from Alaska, and his decrepit and odorous size 7 Nike's won the 33rd annual National Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker Contest, March 19 2008 in Montpelier, Vt. He beat out seven other contestants, from Michigan, Utah, Georgia, California, New Jersey, Vermont and New Mexico to bring home the grand prize of $2,500.

2Bad Sex in Fiction Award: Worst Sex Scene in a Book

Each year since 1993, Literary Review presents the annual "Bad Sex in Fiction Award" to the author who produces the worst description of a sex scene in a novel. The award itself is in the form of a "semi-abstract trophy representing sex in the 1950s" which depicts a naked woman draped over an open book. The award was originally established by Rhoda Koenig, a literary critic, and Auberon Waugh, then editor of the Literary Review.

Jonathan Littell has won the seventeenth annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award, for The Kindly Ones (Chatto & Windus). The prize (a plaster foot) was presented by award-winning actor Charles Dance. It was accepted on Littell's behalf by his editor at Chatto & Windus, Alison Samuel. The judges - who called the book "in part, a work of a genius" - highlighted a passage likening orgasm to the scraping out of a hard-boiled egg by a spoon and another one in which Aue likens a vagina to "a Gorgon's head ... a motionless Cyclops whose single eye never blinks".

3Stella Award: Dumbest Lawsuits

The "Stella Awards" are given to people who file outrageous and frivolous lawsuits, named after Stella Liebeck who, in 1992, spilled a cup of McDonalds' coffee onto her lap, causing third degree burns. She sued McDonalds for delivering extremely hot (undrinkable/ burning) coffee and was awarded USD$2.9 million in damages, subsequently reduced by the judge to $640,000, though a later secret settlement was reached between Liebeck and McDonalds.

The winner of the 2007 True Stella Award was Roy L. Pearson Jr., a 57-year-old Administrative Law Judge from Washington DC, who claims that a dry cleaner lost a pair of his pants, so he sued the mom-and-pop business for $65,462,500. That's right: more than $65 million for one pair of pants. Representing himself, Judge Pearson cried in court over the loss of his pants, whining that there certainly isn't a more compelling case in the District archives. But the Superior Court judge wasn't moved: he called the case "vexatious litigation", scolded Judge Pearson for his "bad faith", and awarded damages to the dry cleaners. But Pearson didn't take no for an answer: he's appealing the decision. And he has plenty of time on his hands, since he was dismissed from his job. Last we heard, Pearson's appeal is still pending.

4Darwin Award: Dumbest Accidental Deaths

A "Darwin Award" is an honor named after evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin, given for people who "do a service to humanity by accidentally removing themselves from the gene pool" (i.e. lose the ability to reproduce either by death or sterilization in a stupid fashion). According to Wendy Northcutt, author of the Darwin Award books: "The Awards honor people who ensure the long-term survival of the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion." Example of Darwin award winners include:
Jumping out of a plane to film skydivers without wearing a parachute (U.S., 1987); Trying to get enough light to look down the barrel of a loaded muzzleloader gun using a cigarette lighter (U.S., 1996); Attempting to play Russian roulette with a semi-automatic pistol that automatically loads the next round into the chamber.

Each year, one award is selected as being much more "honorable" than the rest, and it is crowned as the "Darwin Award of the Year". In 2007, the winner was "The Enema Within", in which a man died of alcohol poisoning after having two 1.5 litre bottles (over 100 fluid ounces) of sherry inserted anally.

5Shorty Awards: Best Twitter Lines

Hollywood has the Oscars. Broadway has the Tonys. Now Twitter has the... "Shorty Awards", the year's best producers of short* weird content. By short they mean 140 characters or less, on Twitter. Award winners were recognized in 26 official categories and over 1,000 user generated categories for 2008. The first award ceremony took place on February 11, 2008. The event was hosted by CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, and special guests MC Hammer and Gary Vaynerchuk.

6The Ernie Awards: Most Sexist Comment

An Australian Award, the "Ernies" are awarded to individuals and companies who make sexist remarks or do something sexist. It is named after former Australian Workers Union secretary Ernie Ecob, who was known for his sexist remarks. One of his best-known remarks was "Women aren't welcome in the shearing sheds. They're only after the sex," which is why there is a sheep on top of the Gold Ernie. 400 women attend a dinner each year and the remark that receives the loudest booing from the audience is deemed the winner. Past winners include these gems:

1996: Magistrate Ron Gething, Magistrates Court of Western Australia: (upon finding a man not guilty of stalking a woman for seven years), “I don't think he was intimidating her, he was just being persistent. He was like a little puppy dog wagging its tail.”
2005: Sheikh Feiz Mohammad, Islamic cleric: “A victim of rape every minute somewhere in the world. Why? No one to blame but herself. She displayed her beauty to the entire world…strapless, backless, sleeveless, nothing but satanic skirts, slit skirts, translucent blouses, miniskirts, tight jeans…to tease men and appeal to their carnal nature.”
2003: Stellar Call Centre: for docking the pay of a pregnant woman for taking too many toilet breaks.

Pastor Danny Nalliah, pictured above, received the 2009 award for blaming the Black Saturday bushfires on Victoria's abortion laws. His exactly words were: "God's conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb.''

7Ig Nobel Prize: Nobel Parody for the Dumbest Scientific Achievements

The "Ig Nobel Prizes" are a parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October for ten achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think". Organized by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), they are presented by a group that includes genuine Nobel Laureates at a ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theater. In that ceremony, awardees have the opportunity to explain their achievements to the public. If such explanations become too longwinded, they are interrupted by the cries of a little girl named Miss Sweety Poo, who repeatedly cries out “Please stop! I'm bored” in a high pitched voice.

Some recent winners are:
In Medicine: Brian Witcombe from Gloucester, for his research on “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects” and his results include “sore throats”;
In Linguistics: Juan Manuel Toro, Josp B Tobalon and Nuria Sebastian-Galles of the University of Barcelona, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards;
In Peace: Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, for its research on a gay bomb which could cause enemy soldiers to become irresistible to one another and lose the will to fight. The Laboratory spent $7.5 million in the U.S. for this research.

8Golden Raspberry Award: Oscar Parody for Worst Movie

The "Golden Raspberry Awards," frequently called the Razzies, is an awards ceremony to recognize the worst in film. The term raspberry is used in its irreverent sense, as in "blowing a raspberry." The awards themselves typically cost US$4.79 each, in the form of a "golfball-sized raspberry" which sits atop a Super 8 mm film reel; the whole of which is spray-painted gold. Starting with an Oscar Night ceremony so small it was actually staged in a living room alcove, The Golden Raspberry (RAZZIE®) Awards have since grown into what E! On-Line recently called "the foremost authority on all things that suck on the big screen." Annually presenting Dis-Honors for Worst Achievements in Film since 1980 in categories ranging from the obvious (Worst Picture, Actor and Actress) to the obtuse (Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel and Worst Screen Couple) The RAZZIES® today receive television, radio and newspaper coverage around the world. Their yearly bestowing of Tinsel Town's Tackiest Trophies is regularly covered by all three major worldwide newswire services (AP, UPI and Reuters) CNN and major market TV network affiliates across the U.S.

Worst Picture Dis-Honorees to date have included such Big Budget B.O. Bombs as Catwoman, The Love Guru and Howard The Duck, as well as such Certified Camp Classics as Mommie Dearest, Showgirls, Battlefield Earth and I Know Who Killed Me.

9The Foot In Mouth Award: Dumbest Comment by a Public Figure

The Foot in Mouth Award is awarded each year by the British Plain English Campaign for "a baffling comment by a public figure". This is given, appropriately, to a public figure who has said something completely stupid. It's awarded every year by the British Plain English Campaign. Previous winners include: “I know who I am. No one else knows who I am. If I was a giraffe and somebody said I was a snake, I'd think ‘No, actually I am a giraffe.'” (Richard Gere) and “I love England, especially the food. There's nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta.” (Naomi Campbell).

In 2008 George W. Bush received a Lifetime Achievement Award for "his services to gobbledygook", including: "I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe – I believe what I believe is right."

10Weird-Ass Picture Book Awards: Weirdest Stories, Cover and Illustrations on a Book

The "Weird-Ass Picture Book Awards," or WAPBAs, are given to the books that make you go “Huhhh?”... Awards are given for story, illustration, and cover art. The highest award goes to the picture book achieving outstanding weirdness in both illustration and text. The WAPBAs were created in 2006 by kid-lit blogger MotherReader. The winners of 2008 were:

Cover Art: New Socks by Bob Shea
Illustration: Bow Wow Bugs a Bug by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash
Story: Five Little Gefiltes by Dave Horowitz
Best Weird-Ass Picture Book: Cowboy and Octopus by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith