Crime and Courts, des moines, humor, life, Movies, People

Emancipation by identity theft

Of course I don’t own this image. If you’re really sore about it, don’t sue. I’ll take it down. But you’re a real sorehead.

A colleague had his identity stolen. The thief ran up a $500 bill on one of his department store credit cards. He reported the charge. The bank fixed it.

I might do things differently.

My credit is so bad, if someone stole my identity, my credit score would go up.

I pity the thief. I’ve had this identity for most of 45 years. It’s been OK, but I’m no Kardashian. I’m not even a Jenner.

I’m a lumpy middle-aged white guy in the Midwest who spent 27 years in journalism and is collecting student loan debt in hopes of entering the lucrative field of public education.

If you steal my identity, I’m going to let you keep it.

I wish they sold identity insurance the way they sold car insurance. Somebody jacks your car, the insurance company writes you a check and you go get a new ride.

I would go down to Identity Emporium and pick out something new.

Do you have anything in a Tom Selleck, “Magnum, P.I.” era?

I’m sorry, sir, but with the payout from your previous identity, you’d be lucky to get into a Tom Selleck, “Blue Bloods” era.

How about Brad Pitt after Jennifer Aniston, but before he left Angelina Jolie?

Sir, there is the question of size.

Size? What size? Are you telling my my identity is big and tall? What if a short guy stole my identity? He’s going to look silly.

I don’t make the rules, sir.

It sounds like we’re making it up as we go.

Fine. What do you have for me in celebrity?

We could just get you into a John Goodman, “Roseanne” first series era?

Couldn’t I at least get John Goodman from “The Big Lebowski?”

I’m sorry, sir. Our last of those identities was stolen last week.

Daniel P. Finney covers board games and bird watching for is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. The new semester starts soon. All donations are greatly appreciated. Visit

Crime and Courts, des moines, Faith and Values, humor, mental health, News, People, Pop Culture, Taylor Swift

After the Capitol siege, I’ll believe anything

Well, we sure solved that one, didn’t we?

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, friendly neighborhood paragraph stacker, Des Moines, Iowa.

So, this is 2021.
One week of 52 in the books.
Do you really feel better off than you did eight days ago?
So far, 2021 feels like a tray of relishes and finger sandwiches left out in the office for a week. After what happened Wednesday in Washington, D.C., I’m open to the possibility that any news headline is real no matter how absurd.

DALLAS COUNTY, Iowa — A giant pit of fire opened near Adel on Thursday night. The gaping maw devoured land, buildings, humans, animals and vegetation as it drifted south-southwest, growing larger with each object consumed and leaving only a black void that witnesses said seemed to stare back.

Well, you know how unpredictable Iowa weather is.

MOUNT SAINT HELENS, Washington — Giant robots that transform into automobiles and aircraft are apparently doing battle around an offshore drilling facility here. The robot monstrosities seem impervious to their own weaponry, but the crossfire collapsed the drilling facility, pitching the human crew into the icy waters below. Despite an unprecedented hostile extraterrestrial incursion that destroyed millions in energy infrastructure, no local first responders, law enforcement nor state nor national law enforcement have as at yet to respond to the catastrophe.

This story is more than meets the eye.

TOKYO — A giant lizard similar to a muscular Tyrannosaurus Rex rose from the waters from the Sea of Japan and smashed its way through the streets as tens of thousands fled amid shrieks of terror. The beast’s breath appeared to be some sort of flame that leveled skyscrapers. Its footfalls rocked the city like an earthquake. A Japanese philosophy professor proffered the theory that the creature was Mother Nature’s revenge for humanity’s poor stewardship of the planet.

That was bound to happen.

WATCH HILL, Rhode Island — Top musical artists Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and the Haley sisters merged into a single 50-foot woman at Swift’s mansion here. Their combined voice blasted a sonic cry so alluring and catchy it lured scores of ships to their doom on the rocky shoreline despite warnings from authorities of unsafe waters ahead.

Taylor Swift is always up to something.

NEW YORK, New York — A giant ape kidnapped a plumber’s girlfriend and climbed atop a construction site in downtown Manhattan on Friday. The plumber made multiple efforts to rescue his betrothed, scampering up ladders and using hammers to smash obstacles. However, the ape rolled flaming barrels down the inclined site structure that landed and crushed the skull of the plumber. The rescue attempt lasted less than a minute.

Those wild apes in New York have been a problem forever.

SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA — A broken-hearted man turned off the TV, picked up a novel and read until he fell asleep with his bedroom light on. A widowed woman watched the news late into the night, horrified by the country she’d known for 66 years and wondered if she ever really knew it all. A woman sat on a white couch and deleted videos of her estranged husband from her phone and tried to blunt the sadness of the world by preparing for an upcoming move. A woman left work early, walked her dog, ate a sensible salad and went to bed about 5 p.m. local time. She turned off her phone. An accountant traded jokes with his best friend about events too big for either of them to change. A man had the day off and went to the comic store to pick up his weekly books. A store manager asked him what he thought about all this as a newsman. The newsman paused. He said it was sad. He felt as if there wasn’t a single thing he could write or say or publish that would make anyone feel better. He said he was glad he had the day off. He paid for his books and went to the bar for a beer and cheeseburger.

Actually, that one surprises me.

Daniel P. Finney is just as sad and angry and depressed as many of you. He just doesn’t know what good it does to keep yelling at a wall of ignorance that shows no sign of buckling. So he’s not going to do it. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. The new semester starts soon. All donations are greatly appreciated. Visit

comics, Crime and Courts, des moines, Iowa, mental health, News

HOT SHEET: Help Drake student severely injured in crash

Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: Drake University student Morgan Carroll suffered severe injuries in a collision between her car and a semi on Monday evening. The crash occurred on Interstate 80/35 west/southbound lanes between Hickman Road and University Avenue.

Carroll underwent surgery at Methodist Medical Center for a broken leg and “made several signs of improvement such as responding to commands from nurses to move her fingers and her toes” and opening one eye before surgery, per an update by Carroll’s friend Angie Mcmains.

Carroll’s family have started a GoFundMe page to help raise at least $25,000 to assist with Carroll’s medical bills and recovery. For more information, visit:

Please support Carroll if you can.

ITEM TWO: Grim economic news continues to flow like sewage from a broken pipe. “Nearly 900,000 people filed unemployment claims last week and public debt is set to hit a record high,” reports Tyler Blint-Welsh of the Wall Street Journal.

President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi play chicken with the American economy. CNN reported Trump and Pelosi have not spoken in more than a year. Very mature.

Millions of people, through no fault of their own, find themselves without work and struggling to get by in the middle of a pandemic. Their country is failing them.

The nation’s leaders adopted the “hold your breath until you turn purple” approach to compromise and meaningful stimulus. Unfortunately, Trump and Pelosi are breathing easy while millions strangle.

ITEM THREE: The kitchy Dogs Playing Poker paintings were part of a series of 16 oil paintings used to sell cigars in 1903. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker owns a copy of the painting titled “A Friend in Need,” which features a bulldog holding an ace under the table.

ITEM FOUR: From the Florida Man blog: A naked man spent 24 hours vandalizing a high school in Miramar. The man wore only a hat and headphones while causing about $100,000 in damage.

The typist wonders how the suspect’s life might have turned out if he had spent 24 hours in school, clothed and when he was supposed to be.

ITEM LAST: The typist is tired from midterms and the ongoing stress of looking for a job in the middle of an apocalypse. He lives with depression and anxiety. The mood disorders are mostly corrected by medicine and behavioral therapy. But these times stress us all.

He tries to be kind. He falls short.

He tries to laugh. It can be hard to laugh especially when things are sad.

He tries to show love. And he tries to accept love when its shown.

These are simple sentences, but that is the only thing simple about them.

Daniel P. Finney will get a tattoo of your face if you pay his rent through 2022.
Crime and Courts, Media, Movies, News, Podcasts, Pop Culture, sports, TV

TALKING PARAGRAPHS: Memphis Paul returns after brush with terror

Talking Paragraphs: The occasional podcast returns Talking Paragraphs

Southern cold, high-end candy, IBM Watson for sale, OnlyFans doc by ABC, Netflix: Bridgerton and drink-of-the-week. — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
  1. Talking Paragraphs: The occasional podcast returns
  2. Tips for recovering your password to your multi-million dollar Bitcoin account
  3. Talking Paragraphs: Dan’s first week in TV; Memphis Paul goes on a rum bender around the world
  4. If you play this podcast backwards, it says ‘Memphis Paul’ is dead
  5. Episode 9: Got the COVID-cancelled holiday blues, sports takes and adventures in dental surgery
Crime and Courts, des moines, humor, Podcasts, Pop Culture, sports

HOT SHEETS: Podcast cancelled, but there’s a new podcast and some guy in Florida stole cat blood

Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: The Exile podcast is cancelled as part of a cost-cutting move at The service the typist used to host his podcast charged a monthly fee. The typist has focused all financial resources on basic needs and graduate school.

ITEM TWO: and the typist’s almost daily updates are not going anywhere. The costs for a personalized URL are relatively cheap on an annual basis and, to be honest, the typist enjoys writing without corporate masters constantly steering his words toward the gross trickery and pandering of the algorithm-driven society that’s devouring itself in tribalism.

ITEM THREE: The Exile is dead. Long live Talking Paragraphs with Dan and Paul. The typist will continue podcasting through the hosting service They host for free. They place some ads and other branding on the material the typist creates, but it’s a worthy trade for reduction in expenses. Most podcasts will be cohosted with the ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s college buddy, Memphis Paul, known to millions of adoring fans as the Sultan of Spreadsheets, joining us via the miracle of modern technology.

ITEM FOUR: Item Four remains under COVID-19 quarantine.

ITEM FIVE: Item Five has voluntarily entered a rehab facility and due to employee confidentiality rules, the typist has no comment.

ITEM SIX: Sheriff’s deputies in St. Augustine, Florida, (where else) seek a man caught on video stealing cat’s blood from a veterinary clinic, per the Associated Press. In other news, the Florida legislature officially applied to have the meaning of the common abbreviation WTF to be changed from “what the fuck” to “what the Florida.”

ITEM LAST: A kind reader from Story City wrote a letter of support and asked that the typist not be so hard on President Donald Trump. “We may not like him, but I respect the office,” she wrote. The reader and the typist agree in principle, but in practice, the typist will start respecting the office again when the person who occupies it acts in a way that deserves it.

OK, let’s close the book on this one. Go forth and watch football. Donate if you can and thanks to those who have. Look for a new podcast later today.

Behave and be kind.

Someday the mountain may get Daniel P. Finney, but the law never will.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit

Crime and Courts, des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, News, Pop Culture

HOT SHEET: Grassley’s pidgin dragnet; Bears’ terrible 2-0; ‘Stumptown’ tragedy; Iowa State students sell used underwear

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: Sen. Chuck Grassley, the most popular politician in the history of Iowa, tweeted about a dead pidgin found on his farm. At one point, he apparently assumed it was a deer. It wasn’t. It was a pidgin. If anyone is looking for their pet pidgin, it’s dead in the senator’s yard. The typist has questions, but they’re all about stuff like the Republican party’s blatant hypocrisy on approving Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year. This homespun nonsense is about what the ol’ Paragraph Stacker has come to expect from platinum Trump back-up singer Grassley: pidgin shit.

ITEM TWO: The Chicago Bears are 2-0, but they feel 0-2. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky led a come-from-behind victory in the season opener against the Lions. This week he nearly fell from the front at home against the lowly New York Giants. The Bears built a 17-0 lead at halftime and let the New York Giants chip away in the second half. New York had a chance to win on the final play, but a Giants’ receiver committed offensive pass interference at the goal line. Trubisky threw for two touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back David Montgomery, a former Iowa State Cyclone, produced 127 yards total offense including 82 rushing yards and three pass catches with a touchdown. I texted a fellow Bears fan about this anxiety-inducing mediocrity. She wrote back, “I’m sitting outside. It’s relaxing. I like the sound of the wind in the tree tops.” One of us has the right idea on how to spend a Sunday afternoon.

ITEM THREE: Terrible news from Tinseltown: The rat bastards at ABC cancelled the typist’s favorite private eye series, “Stumptown” — after renewing the series at the end of last season. The Mouse House plans to shop it to other networks. “Stumptown” and “Emergence” were two of Hot Sheet’s true pleasures from last season. ABC execs snubbed out “Emergence” like a cheap cigarette at the end of its terrific first season with lead Allison Tolman. Now ABC reneges on the promise of a second season of “Stumptown” starring Colbie Smulders. Know this, ABC, fists of rage are shaken in your general direction. Fists. Of. Rage. Shaken.

ITEM FOUR: Unavailable due to coronavirus quarantine protocols.

ITEM FIVE: Some Iowa State University students are apparently selling their used underwear, leggings, stockings and socks online to make extra money, per a report by the Iowa State Daily. “For women, especially, there is still a stigma attached to using your body to earn money. Though sex work, like many other jobs,” the newspaper reports, “requires you to be a smart and skilled individual.” The Hot Sheet has nothing to add.

ITEM SIX: It appears there’s more bad news for law enforcement nationwide. Sources tell Hot Sheet Mayor McCheese is considering firing longtime McDonaldland top cop Officer Mac. Insiders cite Officer Mac’s failure to bring the Hamburglar to justice since being sworn in 1971.

ITEM LAST: Businesses, please be mindful of how terrible your hold music is. The typist recently called the local cable company for an internet problem and, as per usual, the volume of calls was high. The hold music was a shrill version of Muzak, the kind of noise the CIA would use to torture suspected terrorists. By the time the ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s hold ended, he was barely able to form a complete sentence. The company’s agent explained that the typist was in the wrong department and asked if it was OK if she placed me on a brief hold while she connected me with the proper person. The typist replied: “Can’t you just kill me instead?”

Daniel P. Finney covers Canadian tuxedos for

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit

Crime and Courts, des moines, humor, Iowa, mental health, People, sports

HOT SHEET: Typist begs Congress to pass COVID stimulus; an ice cream thief named Fudge; suspect slathered in Crisco; and spider vs. Spider-Man

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg brings anxiety to the typist for more reasons than the potential future ideological makeup of the court. The demagoguery and hypocrisy certain to mark the decision to replace Ginsberg before the presidential election will dominate the Senate and further hamper efforts to pass a stimulus bill before the pre-election October recess. The typist is one of 96,500 unemployed Iowans and 13.6 million Americans unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Donald Trump’s use of Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to provide a $300 boost lasted six weeks, but those funds ran out Sept. 14. Congress battled to a standstill before Labor Day recess on a stimulus package. One would hope that even the most brazenly extremist of Congressional leaders would want to brag about passing a stimulus to help struggling Americans during the pandemic. Alas, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker has lost all faith that his elected representatives have anything but petty bickering in their ineffectual repertoires.

ITEM TWO: Seriously Congress, especially Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and Reps. Cindy Axne, Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack and Steve King from Iowa, pass a goddamn stimulus. People are hurting out here. The typist is one of them. Get it together and make something happen. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker has never felt so hopeless or helpless in his life – and he lives with chronic depression and acute anxiety. The election is coming. Representatives will be held accountable. The typist regularly refers to Sen. Ernst as “Dollar Store Sarah Palin.” But if she played a role in getting a stimulus passed, the typist could be persuaded to vote her way even if he disagrees with most of her positions. Similarly, Rep. Axne could lose a vote if she isn’t seen to be doing all she can to make the stimulus happen. The typist believes this Congress the most useless assemblage of lawmakers in American history. Prove me wrong.

ITEM THREE: Saturday’s absence of college football games with local or personal interest resulted in viewing experimentation by the typist. To wit, the typist attempted to use YouTube TV’s “Catch Up with Key Plays” option when he tuned in late to the University of Central Florida at Georgia Tech contest. The typist expected a version of the Major League Baseball “condensed game,” which appears on the sport’s app and website soon after completion of a ballgame. Instead, YouTube TV delivered an opening kickoff return by Georgia Tech followed by six consecutive commercials. The commercial wave finally broke only to return to inconsequential plays. The typist gave up on the condensed game and relegated it to the “good idea, bad execution” file.

ITEM FOUR: From 2014. Iowa City police arrested a man stealing $501 worth of cakes, cash and containers of ice cream after hours at a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream store, reports the Cedar Rapids Gazette. The suspect’s name? Conor P. Fudge.

ITEM FIVE: From 2014: Rock Island, Illinois, police arrested a slippery suspect Monday. Officers found the naked man carrying a pair of shorts and covered in Crisco, reports the Quad City Times. The suspect told officers he took off his shorts because they were too big and would not fit. He slathered on the Crisco because “he was looking for a place to party.” A search of the suspect’s shorts produced five grams of what officers believed was methamphetamine.

ITEM LAST: A wolf spider the approximate size of a half dollar made the fatal error of squatting in the basin of the typist’s tub. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker reacted swiftly and smooshed the life out of the creature with a facial tissue and flushed it to oblivion. The typist noted some irony, however, that when he sat down to answer nature’s call, he picked up a Spider-Man comic to read.

Let’s close the book on this one. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and donate if you can. It really helps ease the pain of lost expanded unemployment benefits.

Daniel P. Finney covers confectionary crime for

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit

Crime and Courts, des moines, Des moines police, humor, Iowa, Media, News, People, Pop Culture, sports, Uncategorized

HOT SHEET: #OldManStudent update, NFL notes, Iowa celebrates small COVID-19 gain, absentee ballot confusion and police success stories

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Precinct Station.

ITEM ONE: Update on #OldManStudent. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker takes all his classes online via Zoom meetings at Drake University. This format works better than anticipated, but there are pitfalls. Example: Your typist’s bathroom is about 12 feet from his computer. Always remember to mute your microphone when you answer nature’s call because mics will pick up certain sounds one would just as soon remain private.

ITEM TWO: Other Zoom meeting notes: No one looks good eating a sub sandwich on camera. If you happen to have the NFL season opener on in the background, mute the TV and make sure the TV is not in direct line of the camera.

ITEM THREE: The NFL season began Thursday. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs beat the Houston Texans. It still feels odd to say “defending champion Kansas City Chiefs,” perhaps the only good thing to occur in 2020. Then again, I’m old enough that it feels weird not to say Houston Oilers. The Bears also did well Thursday evening. The team owes this mostly to not having played.

ITEM FOUR: The typist turns almost all his sporting attention to pro football. His beloved New York Yankees cling to the eighth seed in the American League playoffs. This spot only exists because baseball executives expanded the playoffs to make up for the coronavirus-shortened 60-game regular season. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker questions the wisdom of Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman’s “protect all prospects” approach. The typist grimly notes the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals have won more World Series in the last decade than the Yankees. The Yankee batters may be “savages in the box,” but they’re sad sacks in the standings.

ITEM FIVE: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference to celebrate Iowa dropping from No. 1 in coronavirus spread to No. 3. Wow. What an accomplishment. What did Reynolds do, bus some people to Missouri?

ITEM SIX: Just a day after Hot Sheet warned of absentee ballot confusion from well-meaning non-profits, two Iowa judges ruled absentee request forms that were pre-filled with the voter’s name and address were improper, per the Associated Press. The county auditors in Woodbury and Johnson counties sent the request forms to make it easier for people to seek absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, the typist supports efforts to increase voter turnout. However, at some point people must take responsibility for themselves — especially in challenging circumstances. To quote retired Drake University professor Herb Strentz, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.”

ITEM SEVEN: Recommended viewing for the weekend:

  • Louisiana at Iowa State, noon, Saturday, ESPN. The Cyclones are playing without fans in the stands and the Hawkeyes aren’t playing until spring. Regardless of your allegiance in the Cy-Hawk rivalry, you might as well give ISU your eyeballs.
  • Philadelphia Eagles at the Washington Football Team, noon, Sunday, regional coverage. Hot Sheet knows no teams of regional interest play in this game, but we want to see how many times the announcers accidentally say “Redskins” and then fall all over themselves to apologize.
  • The Boys, Season 2, streaming on Amazon Prime: Superheroes with sex, blood and breast milk reheated with heat vision. I’m not making this up.

ITEM LAST: Lest we be cajoled into thinking the local constabulary only makes news in officer-involved shootings or amid racial tensions, Hot Sheet turns your attention to three items of note in the most recent Des Moines city news letter.

  • Chief Dana Wingert promoted Lillie Miller to captain, naming her the first Black female captain in the department’s history. Miller, an officer since 1999, was also the department’s first Black female lieutenant under former chief Judy Bradshaw.
  • Jeff Edwards, a former public information officer and DMPD Medal of Valor recipient also attained his captaincy.
  • Wingert recognized Senior Police Officer Scott Newman, a 21-year veteran and a member of the department’s tactical unit, with the DMPD Lifesaving Award. Newman rescued five people from a burning car wreck on his way home from work early July 5.

The typist takes a lot of heat from liberal extremists for his support of police. That’s fine. Honorable people disagree. And who gives a damn what dishonorable people think? The ol’ Paragraph Stacker recognizes every police department has problems. No one lives in a utopia. But the typist notes that no matter how bad things get, no matter how many people hate them — when the shit breaks bad and the citizenry cries out for help, the police come running.

OK. That’s it. Listen to our podcast. Be careful out there and, as always, donations welcome and appreciated.

Behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney hopes Rick will finally return him to Earth C-137.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit

Crime and Courts, des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, News, People, sports

HOT SHEET: Theresa Greenfield’s ads stink; State courts put schools in their place; the Bears are doomed this year; And why I’d rather die than pass away

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Station.

ITEM ONE: Someone should tell Theresa Greenfield, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Iowa, that her commercials stink. In one spot, her critique of Sen. Joni Ernst suggests the incumbent gave Iowans “the short end of the stick.” This beyond cliche barb bites with the ferocity of a broken spork. Another Greenfield spot shows the candidate giggling with her twin sister, because a bifurcated zygote obviously qualifies one for high office. A third Greenfield ad claims Washington politicians call Iowa “fly-over country.” Greenfield notes her father flew crop dusters. The latter may be factual but patriarchal agricultural airworthiness is beyond irrelevant. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker has only ever heard Iowans grouse about being “flyover country” a pitiful complaint by an insecure populace. Do you know what other states airplanes fly over? All of them. Why are Iowans taking it so personally? Regardless, the Greenfield campaign attack ads crash and burn under the heavy weight of bad writing — a sin your typist might forgive at the ballot box, but never on the Hot Sheet.

ITEM TWO: To misquote Rod Stewart, it’s early September and Iowa students really ought to be getting back to school. Actually, they must. In separate rulings, a Polk County judge ruled Iowa law grants state control over the time schools must hold in-person instruction. A Johnson County judge ruled the governor has emergency powers under the Iowa Constitution that local school boards don’t. Bottom line: Get the kids back in the classroom at least half of the time or risk being forced to make up virtual days at the end of the school year. Des Moines school leaders plan to stay online as their legal challenge of the Gov. Kim Reynolds’ powers continues. Leaders in several districts wanted all online learning to start the year because of the explosion of COVID-19 cases that limits school officials’ abilities to properly socially distance students, faculty and staff. The typist reminds loyal readers that parents still have ultimate local control: Reynolds’ order allows for parents to request online instruction on an individual basis. Individual action is likely the best and safest way to sidestep the legal wrangling.

ITEM THREE: Fall sports — including football, cross country and volleyball — became the first casualty of this battle between school districts and the state. If you don’t have in-person instruction, you can’t play sports, state authorities ordered. That ruling likely ended sports at Des Moines’ five high schools, two in Iowa City and Ames High School. Student athletes marched to get their ballgames and track meets restored, a move that baffles the typist. The districts fight to keep schools online to avoid coronavirus spread. The students march to swap sweat and spit on the fields and courts of play. The typist throws his hands up in the air and shouts, “ARE THERE ANY ADULTS IN THE ROOM?”

ITEM FOUR: Hot Sheet roots for the Chicago Bears during the pro football season. Alas, all signs indicate another abysmal season for the Mediocre of the Midway. To distract ourselves from the misery, the typist plans to cheer for Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski at their new abode with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker choose Brady and Gronk as Bucks to buck the fashionable trend of hating Brady. The desk recognizes the history of shifty stuff surrounding the New England Patriots, but Brady remains the best quarterback of two generations. He ought to be enjoyed more and hated less. Here’s hoping he wins a trophy in a Creamsicle throwback jersey.

ITEM FIVE: On the matter of the upcoming NFL season, the typist ranks his five favorite teams by uniform and logo design:

  1. Miami Dolphins with the helmet of the cartoon dolphin.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the Creamsicle orange and the pirate with a knife in his teeth.
  3. Arizona Cardinals with their angry bird — cardinal red jerseys preferred.
  4. Los Angeles Chargers powder blue ensemble with lightning bolt.
  5. Throwback Buffalo Bills with the red buffalo on royal blue.

Thus the true and terrible tragedy of Bears fandom revealed: One becomes a bigger fan of good graphic design than actual football.

ITEM SIX: Speaking of passing, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker wonders how “passing away” became preferable to “died” in the parlance of obituaries and language. If the Grim Reaper arrives by pass, one hopes said airborne assault is incomplete for as long as possible or even intercepted. Our Christian friends may rely on the Hail Mary of a different stripe. Hot Sheet friend Melissa Myers, a longtime obit writer for the local corporate news outlet store, kept a lengthy list of euphemisms for death — a list Hot Sheet would love to publish. We argue it’s time to euthanize this euphemism. Be advised: Should the typist shuffle off this mortal coil, remember he did not pass away; he died.

ITEM LAST: When he stacked paragraphs for a living (as opposed to those much-appreciated at-will donations) the typist loathed writing weather stories for the newspaper. Could anything be more pointless? The post-Labor Day shift from seasonal high temperatures in the middle 70s on Monday to a decidedly chiller low 50s the next day almost certainly would have inspired an editor to demand sentences be slung in the matter of it being colder one day than the previous. Here at, we practice more sensible craftsmanship and promote the 3-Step Finney Forecast System. Tools needed are a window and a calendar.

  1. Look out the window.
  2. Look at the calendar.
  3. Decide what to wear.

Note: Clear days trip up the uninitiated, but, again, merely need check the calendar. Clear day in July? Skip the coat. But September clearly moves toward regular jacket toting territory.

Daniel P. Finney is not John, but he parked in his space anyway. Take that, John.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit

Crime and Courts, des moines, Des moines police, humor, Iowa, News, People, Pop Culture, sports

Roll Call: Des Moines schools’ fall sports doomed, Iowa State in dire straits, Des Moines cop retires with internal affairs on his tail

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Station:

ITEM ONE: Des Moines school administration’s decision to start the school year online-only placed fall sports in jeopardy. The state associations for girls’ and boys’ athletics ruled if you’re not physically in school, you can’t play football, volleyball or other fall sports. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker remains baffled by Iowa public policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Des Moines school leaders believe it too dangerous to pack 30 kids into a classroom, but somehow finds football games less intimate affairs. The desk concedes it’s easier to socially distance for coaches and those on the sideline, but it’s tough to mount a useful defensive or offensive line when players are six feet apart. The push to both play ball and have students distance learn earns a penalty flag from this typist.

ITEM TWO: Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard warns of a budget shortfall of more than $30 million after pulling the plug on fans at games. Some sports teams could be cut and CY Stephens auditorium could be closed. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker wonders how much money Stephens was losing after Wells Fargo opened in Des Moines. A lot of great concerts and events that once went to Ames now play in Des Moines or at the even bigger CI Health Center in Omaha. The desk would hate to lose Stephens — especially for the support staff who work there — but it may be a facility due for retirement.

ITEM THREE: The Valley and Dowling football game had a shot to be on ESPN, but they couldn’t broker a deal. There’s a lot of bad rumors about why this collapsed. The desk urges everyone to stop assuming bad intentions. Instead, marvel at a time when a high school football game could make it on big cable TV due to the pandemic handicapping an already ailing ESPN’s program schedule. For the record, this typist is an East High Alumni Hall of Famer and has no flips to give for the Valley-Dowling game other than a wish that both teams could somehow lose.

ITEM FOUR: The desk’s beloved New York Yankees made no moves at the trade deadline, proving once again what a dull boy Hal Steinbrenner is. His pop, the late George “The Boss” Steinbrenner, knew how to throw around prospects and cash to bring in free agents and make a winner. Hal acts like an accountant in love with his spreadsheet rather than a baseball owner. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker concedes this frugal attitude has developed fine prospects, but no Yankees fan ever thought they would be envious of the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline. This Yankee inaction proves this typist’s long-held belief that it is better to work for a megalomaniac down the hall than absentee bean counters.

ITEM FIVE: Polly Carver-Kim says she got sacked from her job as spokesman for the Iowa Department of Health because she responded to routine public records requests. She’s suing the state. This surely couldn’t have anything to do with the state government’s epic mishandling of the back-to-school debacle that’s left Iowa with one of the fastest growing per-capita rates of coronavirus infection in the world.

ITEM SIX: Longtime Des Moines cop Stew Barnes hit the retirement parachute just as an internal affairs investigation into his behavior started to simmer. Without official documentation, Roll Call declines to speculate on the rumors other that to note it was not a use-of-force or race-related foul. Barnes had a long career and was a union leader. He was pugnacious and willing to duke it out with administration on behalf of his fellow officers. He once sued former Chief Judy Bradshaw. Based on what the desk has heard, his conduct was unbecoming in extremis, but not duty related. Roll Call issues a general reminder that anyone with a badge needs to be on their best behavior both on duty and off. The political tides are against you and every cop pays full price for not only their mistakes but also for atrocities of officers across the land. This certainly fits with Chief Dana Wingert’s philosophy. Bottom line: Don’t be a dummy.

ITEM SEVEN: An update: Since the last Roll Call, Iowa Workforce Development announced its plans to start paying the extra $300 per week in unemployment insurance for those dejobbed by the coronavirus pandemic. The desk criticized Gov. Kim Reynolds and her buddy in Republican blood red, President Donald Trump. The strike is officially removed. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker grudgingly recognizes that Trump acted when Congress failed to do so. This does not change the desk’s general opinion that the president is just the worst.

ITEM LAST: The pandemic and politics have dialed up social stress way past 11 to the point of breaking the knob off and blowing out the speakers. Let’s all remember a few things as we head into the Labor Day Weekend. 1. Sports are not as important as we think they are. 2. You don’t owe anyone an argument. And, finally, no time is a good time to take and send pictures of particular portions of your personage.

The desk is clear.

Be careful out there.

And behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney has never successfully completed the KXNO Eat The Mic Challenge.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit