Last night, for the first time, I worked the Bingo hall with some other volunteers from my church, including my father. The first time, after listening to pleas for help for years. My church, through a corrupt previous rector erected a new building next to the cathedral. We've been stuck with trying to pay for it for 6 years. Working Bingo for St. Mary's helps out lots of people. I'm supposed to feel good when I walk out of there, knowing I've done the right thing.

I'm not sure if I have the moral fortitude to go back and help again.

Bingo people are a bizarre breed of humanity. To throw around a few generalities, they are often middle class or below, and don't look as though they have the cash spare to be throwing around. They're more often than not smokers (though there is a glass-enclosed room at the corner of this hall for those who do not puff their lives away, it is never filled to the walls, and the men and women inside look just as destitute as the poor sods on the other side of the class, but without the chemical stimulation), and each eyeball glimmers with a faint hope that no one can take away.

I saw one woman, in stained and torn sweats, toss away $500 on instant-win/lose $1 ``pickles.'' Some were winners, but I can't imagine she even broke even. I thought to myself, watching this poor woman gamble against statistics (I had already sold off the big winner from the bucket that night), ``How Christian is it to let the poor become poorer, and not do anything about it? Worse, how Christian is it to profit from that venture?'' My church will pull in a fairly decent amount of money on her losses. And who knows what she will eat the next day? Did I watch her auction off a winter coat for her youngest? Did I help her lose a bus pass to get to and from work? How much is this new building worth to us?

``Ten more? Sure thing, Shirley. Best of luck to you.''

* * *

Regular visitors to my scarred body will know that I've taken more than my fair share of injuries whilst on my bicycle. I've been torn up, thrown into pavement-based meat grinders, chipped open a chin or two, split rims, and thrown obscenities at passersby. I've bled for my protest against Texas oil company supremacy. I know the roads inside and out, here in Denver, Colorado, and I am not ashamed to admit I enjoy pointing out my scars to strangers.

Today, going straight through an intersection, I'm forced to make a sudden left turn--the car next to me decided to turn, and I, being much smaller and more squishy than the auto, leapt out from underneath its foul tires. While attempting to right myself after such an unexpected action, I took a telephone pole to my left shoulder. A fine way to start the day.

I kept my left shirtsleeve pulled up, not only to show off the newest battle wound, but also to keep the abraded skin free from further irritation. I carried the wound proudly all through work, and then onto the Light Rail for presentation in my first class of the semester: Rome and the Caesars.

First classes are always a bit strange to me. It feels surreal, all these total strangers getting together, for the first time, in utter silence in a room with which they're unfamiliar, awaiting the appearance of a professor none of them have seen before. In the room in question, the air conditioning unit creates a negative pressure zone inside the class, which causes the doors to not shut on their own will, forcing a constant howl to accompany the silence. Some people pass the time by heading a blank piece of paper, in case an unexpected exam is tossed out, others stare blankly ahead, listening to music or reading a book. Still others plan. I plan.

When I say plan, I don't mean anything in regards to the class itself. Not to the subject matter, not to the school. I plan for where I'm going to find myself socially accepted. I glance around, never meeting anyone's eyes, picking apart how the person sits, how he/she carries school bags, how his/her desk is arranged. This person is a jock, doesn't really want to be here but for the requirement for graduation. This one is an English major who is branching out because she loves reading Latin epochs. That one is a history buff who's gonna question everything the professor says. He's safe. He likely won't even realize I'm sitting next to him, de facto group partner for any such activities. He doesn't realize we're both outcasts.

I have my headphones on while doing all this examination. Alice in Chains is screaming Down in a Hole. I feel almost like someone tossing away hard-earned cash on hope. If I don't end up connecting with this other outcast, I'm likely to find myself very uncomfortable for the rest of the semester, looking up at everyone else, doing well on the tests, but never making a connection with any other person in that room.

* * *

My hands are a bit torn up from picking through pickles last night. Picture a bucket of 1,000 baseball cards. The old kind--sturdy cardboard, sharp corners. I've bled for Bingo now, too. I always seem to accept the injuries with a smile, though. I know what I'm getting into when I get on my bike or plunge my hand into a bucket of corners.

The Unnecessarily Scandalous Daily Herald

August 23, 2005

Making news out of very little since 2005

Black Man sold into slavery

by Chad Major

An office party gone mad??!?.

Yesterday a black man was auctioned off into slavery at the annual Corporation inc. office party in Winnipeg, Wyoming. John White, a 34-year old accountant for the firm, was sold for 80 dollars to a white woman. The slave auction was called a "bachelor sale", and several bachelors in the firm were auctioned off to be "personal slaves" to the highest bidder.

The woman who bought John said she preferred to remain nameless. When asked what she was going to do with her new bought slave, Karen Douglas replied, "Oh, I don't know. I'm just going to have some fun with him." When asked if she was going to make him pick cotton for her, she replied, "What the hell are you talking about?" Her answers to further questions about her intentions and her slave-trading history cannot be printed here for reasons of modesty.

Entire village wiped out in brutal attack

by Larry Judge

A ship landed at the small English village of Hocksleydale and the passengers disembarked. They were all rather large men, probably Danish. They immediately began massacaring the residents of the village. After killing all the men and children, they proceeded to rape the women of the village. Brutal acts of such violence have not been seen since in england for many centuries. The attackers were ruthless and vicious, and left no male alive. Neither the Danish or the British government chose to comment on the story. No villagers were left to comment as they are all long dead.

It should be noted that this was the last recorded viking attack, and it happened in August, 1023.

David Beckham may never play football again

by Justice Longley

David Beckham, the famous Real Madrid and England international football star may never play football again. Beckham is probably the most famous football player in the world and recently returned to Spain after a pre-season tour of the Far East. Although he has no current injuries, it is possible that his football playing days are over.

Real Madrid's physician was quoted as saying "I don't know what you are talking about," when asked if it's true that Beckham may never play again. When asked if he was sure Beckham would be fit for Saturday's friendly again Saragosa, the doctor said, "He's fit, yes, he should play." When asked if he can rule out the possibility that something might happen to Beckham between now and Saturday, he said, "What are you talking about?"

He then refused to rule out the possibility that Beckham might have a debilitating car accident, or that Beckham might have a bottle thrown at his head by a crazy fan, sending him into a coma. For example. The doctor further commented, "What are you, a fuck*ng idiot?" and said "This interview is over."

David Beckham was unavailable for comment.

Reporters needed!! If you want to write for The Unnecessarily Scandalous Daily Herald, please message the editor, or at least check out his homenode for guidelines.

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Good God, y'all!

I write from Denton, Texas, where my beloved Sam and I are slowly baking to death in some of the HOTTEST ever-lovin' heat I've ever experienced.

We're here because Sam was accepted to University of North Texas' doctoral program for mathematics a couple of weeks ago, and he has to go through orientation and we have to find an apartment and all manner of other things.

Of course, Sam's funding has yet to come through, and UNT requires payment up front for tuition and all that fun stuff. And registration is over on Friday, and we've yet to see the loan be approved or disapproved.

Sam was offered a teaching fellowship at the same time that he was accepted to UNT. It would have paid about $10K a year, and he would have been required to work twenty hours a week in the math lab, as well as having to grade two math courses each semester. He accepted the offer.

Then over this past weekend, UNT made him a better offer. He will be a 'doctoral fellow', which apparently carries more prestige, no math tutoring or class grading at all, just a twelve hour course load and excellent grades. And for doing what he already does so well, they'll pay him $20,000 a year in twelve monthly increments of about $1,600 each. Combined with our Social Security income of $840 a month and with three bedroom apartments to be found at less than $800 a month with all utilities included, we'll be sitting pretty for the first time in a year. Hell, we might even be able to afford to gas up the van!

Obviously he said "Thanks but no thanks!" to the original offer and gladly accepted the second offer.

Downside is that I have had to quit my brand new shiny job as it is in San Antonio and I am not. Ah well.

According to the University of Texas at San Antonio website, Sam isn't being allowed to graduate with his master's degree because he had to apply for graduation by end of May. How the hell does one apply for graduation by May 31 when one is still attending classes through the summer? There shall be bitching and moaning on the phone today, I tell you.

If we don't hear back from the student loan people by tomorrow, Sam's dickhead of a father will be lending Sam the money needed to register. This gives that old bastard another club to swing over Sam's head. Joy. But the loan is pretty much a given, so we can pay the old fuck back fairly quick.

In other news, I'm back. Did you miss me?

Today I had a psychological exam as part of the NY Fire Department application process. This is like my fourth appearance, first I had a physical agility test, ie. running up stairs with a heavy backpack on nonstop for a few minutes. Second, I came back with a full application extensively detailing education, job, and military history, and ending with me being fingerprinted and had a background check run on me. This was the next step, and I got a letter saying to arrive at 8:30AM in Brooklyn. My mother gave me a stern warning, don't joke around with them. My reply was, do you see those trees over there? I control them. :)

I had to get up and leave before 6:30 AM, and then boarded a train to NYC. Even though I got to the station at 6:40 AM, the entire parking lot was completely full. It's the most bizarre thing, the place is empty at midnight, but on a weekday, it is full at 6:30AM. I wound up parking in an overflow lot fairly far away, and even that had a surprising amount of cars for 6:40 AM.

Tired from less than 4 hours of sleep, I show up at the building at 8:00 AM, and of course I forgot my entrance letter. This was the really locked-down Fire Department building. The cop chastises me, checks my driver's license and says don't let it happen again. Inwardly grumbling at how this is the fourth time I had to arrive this early 50 miles from my home, it hits me; I forgot my two #2 pencils as well. Oh well, I think to myself, they have a gift shop, either I'll buy one or ask the proctor. I go inside the FDNY gift shop, which is a small sort of nook with pastries, coffee, T-shirts, Mugs, and really tacky calendars of shirtless firefighters in front of NYC monuments. There's this older woman behind the counter jabbering gleefully on the phone. I stand there, and she sees me but continues uninterrupted. I stand there. Still jabbering in Chinese. I ask her, do you sell pencils? "Pencil cases only" is her reply, then back to her engrossing call which obviously is far more imporant than me looking at her.

Ok, I think. "How about a pen?" "No, we are all out of pens," and continues with her merry call. I look on the wall, and there are a half dozen scotch-taped pens affixed in a random pattern, simply stuck there. "What about those?" I ask, but she doesn't react. "What about those?" I repeat again, probably frowning because I see the sign-in line to the examination across the hallway thinning. She had to have been ignoring me. I glance around hoping to see a pencil just lying in front of me, but all I see are those stupid calendars. All I could think of was that conversation I had last night with a guy who's convinced firefighters are so masculine that they're gay, and this calendar was like evidence. I started to feel like Steve Martin in the movie "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" when he's fuming at the counter while the bubbly woman jabbers on the company phone.

I turned on my heel and walked out (lightly stormed out) of the shop, calling the woman a nasty ethnic slur in my head as I leave. That action startled me, what got into me? I think it was that really aggravating weekend I had, where a close friend scolded me, I had a breakdown at work the week before, I called my supervisor and told him what I really thought of his abilities, and of course I'm only running on 3 hours of sleep. I go inside, and the proctor disdainfully tells me "you're unprepared" in front of the room.

Naturally, that doesn't put you in a good frame of mind, nor did anything of the morning. Of course, this is a psychological test, the MMPI*. The first part consisted of a 560-question true-false test, where they ask you very leading questions to spot God knows what. They asked me questions on whether I hated my mother, whether I drink too much, how my sex life is, how social I am, if I'm scared of mice, if I'm afraid of the dark, if I hear voices, if I get the urge to hurt people I love, if I get irritated by others, if I feel hot or cold flashes, if I secretly want to kill myself, if I ever feel the room is spining, if someone's out to get me, if I wish I was dead, if people are controlling my mind, if I believe in law enforcement, if I sleepwalk, if I get drunk too much, if I think my father was a good man, if I like being alone, if I get headaches frequently, if I wish I was a girl, if I hear buzzing in my head, if people can read my thoughts, if I ever beat people up, if people want to beat me up, if I think I'm important, do I get indigestion frequently, if I believe in an afterlife, if I panic under stress, if I'm shy, if I can make decisions, if it's ok to steal if you can get away with it, if people are honest only because they fear getting caught, if I think most people cheat on their spouses, if I have doubts on my life, if I keep changing my life, if I think I'm usually right, if I'm worthless, if I thought it's ok to tease animals, if I'm political, if I talk too much, if I take medication my doctor didn't prescribe, if I hunt, if I like fire, etc. It took me nearly 3 hours, and I was foundering in agony at the questions, the difficulty in answering some of them, the sheer number of them (560+), and the strong urge to sleep on the desk. That lousy morning made me feel like I was going to screw up all the questions on my temper and disposition.

Part 2 was a series of simple yes/no questions. Do you wet the bed? Do you feel heart palpatations? Do you get stomachaches? Do you try drugs? Do you drink a lot? "Do you have an uncontrollable urge to continue your disturbing actions?" Have you ever been committed to a mental institution? Pretty easy, but dang, what a weird question.

Next, three blank sheets of paper. Page 1. The instructions are, draw a house. On the back, describe who lives in the house, and what they're doing. I drew a nice ideal 2-story aluminum sided, slanted roof home with picture window and dining room. Nobody was visible, but I said it's my house, and my wife and 2 kids are cozy around the fireplace; my wife and I reading on the couch while the two kids play a board game on the carpet.

Page 2, draw a person. On the back, who is this person and why did you draw him or her doing whatever in the picture? I really didn't like this part, drawing living things is haram, or at least bothers my conscience. In the end, I relented and drew myself, with a loud hawiian shirt, trimmed beard, glasses, long khakis, black socks, and hush-puppies. I was standing and smiling, with my arm behind my head in a Naruto-style cool person pose. I said this is me, described myself, and said I'm checking my reflection before I go out to a restaurant with my friends.

Page 3, draw a tree. On the back, say what's going on in the picture. I drew a thick tree with branches, only I kept making them too thick or wiggly so I had to keep erasing (I'm so lousy at drawing). On the back, I was tempted to say "It's a friggin tree! It just stays there all day." Instead, I drew a lake next to it with ripples and said it's a tree across the street from my house next to the lake, it has no edible fruit but nice flowers. I wonder what they're going to gleam from that.

I handed it all in, along with a complete education history from 7th grade to present, and employment history, and arrest record (left blank). Now that's complete, I just have to wait for the next stage, the Medical evaluation.

* For more MMPI background info and simplified explanation of what the questions are looking for, check out

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