Podcast: Lucky Charms poisoning allegations; new MLB rules; things middle-aged men can’t eat

Vincent Van Gogh plays Graceland and other bizarre adventures from the life of Paul Talking Paragraphs

Let's be honest: I forgot what we talked about for most of this podcast. It seemed interesting at the time, at least to us. I know there's something about Paul and his mom going to see a traveling Vincent Van Gogh exhibit at Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley. After that, there's talk of an African restaurant nearby. The rest is hazy to me. So, we can listen and discover together. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/talkingparagraphs/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/talkingparagraphs/support
  1. Vincent Van Gogh plays Graceland and other bizarre adventures from the life of Paul
  2. Crypto tanks; Don't mess with the swim-up bar; and Dan is mumbling again in a medication haze
  3. Tragic and bloody true crime! Weird animal stories! Shocking superhero secrets! Everything the almighty algorithm says you wanted and more!
  4. Bears use house as Airbnb without owners knowing; Elon Musk buys Twitter and its still horrible; Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly blood-drinking habits; and 'fictosexuality'
  5. 3,500 pounds of cheese stolen in Netherlands; Iowa Democrats can't count; Fox News hosts are horrible people; and tackling in junior college baseball

The Oscars just keep getting easier to ignore

They held the Oscars on Sunday.

I didn’t watch.

I played Van Morrison’s greatest hits while I made lesson plans for school.

The Academy nominated Morrison for “Best Original Song.” He didn’t win; that was as close as I came to the Oscars.

I used to watch the Oscars as a boy. I grew up in Winterset in the days before the rehab of the Iowa Theater. My parents and I seldom went to movies in Des Moines.

The kinds of movies I wanted to see weren’t the kinds of movies that won Oscars.

But I liked movies a lot.

I watched the Oscars to see clips of the movies.

I watched “At the Movies” with Chicago movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert when it was on PBS for the same reason.

These clips proved cultural crib notes. My friends seemed to see more movies than me, so I would memorize the scenes I saw on Siskel and Ebert or the Oscars and pretend I’d seen the films.

I wanted to fit in more in my younger days.

The watched the Oscars in 1998. I rooted for “As Good as It Gets,” one of my favorite films with Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear.

The three actors took the top awards, but the movie lost to “Titanic,” which I hadn’t seen and still have not seen.

The media, as it often does, beat me senseless with stories about how much people loved “Titanic,” how girls swooned as Leonardo DiCaprio slid off the door and died. The radio lambasted me with that tortuous Celine Dion song, “My Heart Will Go On.”

I hated “Titanic” having not watched a frame. That’s terribly unfair, but when it comes to entertainment, I reserve the right to be irrational.

This leads me to the 2022 edition of the Oscars.

I saw two of the Best Picture nominees, “Nightmare Alley” and “Licorice Pizza,” especially the latter. I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age movie.

The movie that won, “CODA,” I knew nothing about and had heard nothing about before the Oscars.

I probably won’t watch it. It streams on Apple+; I have more pressing financial needs.

I saw Andrew Garfield and Benedict Cumberbatch were up for Best Actor, but it turns out not for the film I saw them in: “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

The biggest problem with the Oscars is that it’s boring. I don’t care about what the actors wear on the red carpet nor do I care about their thoughts on Russia’s war against Ukraine or even the evening’s event.

Therein lies the Oscar’s’ other biggest problem: Somebody is always selling their worldview and labeling anyone who disagrees as some kind of hate monger.

Actors are artists and, as such, often passionate. I am a writer, a kind of artist, and I am often passionate.

Actors have aired their political beliefs at the Oscars for decades.

Marlon Brando famously sent a Sacheen Littlefeather to the 1973 awards ceremony to refuse his Oscar for playing crime boss Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.”

Littlefeather spoke against the stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans in film and chastised the United States government for its violation of treaties.

This sort of thing started before I was born and continues.

I don’t know what political drumbeats were struck Sunday.

I do know Will Smith punched Chris Rock over Rock’s joke about his wife, which is either a new low or a new high for the Oscars. I really don’t know how to tell the difference.

Before the show, I know Sean Penn threatened to smelt both of his Oscars if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy were not allowed to speak.

I would think Zelenskyy would have better things to do than talk to the swells of Hollywood. My understanding is the Russians are murdering civilians, blowing up hospitals, and waging war against Ukraine.

I fail to see what an appearance on the Oscars does for Ukrainians, other than make a collection of America’s richest and most detached from reality people feel slightly more important.

Russia’s actions in the Ukraine are abhorrent. They make me sad for people displaced and killed for seemingly no reason.

The atrocities scare me. If the U.S. gets directly involved, that raises the threat of nuclear war to its highest point since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

That’s the endgame.

These kind of world events reminds us how small we are. I can empathize, cry, protest, and shake my fist at the sky about what Russia is doing all I want.

But it will do nothing other than shake up my already jangled nerves and blood pressure.

This must be hard for celebrities. People look up to them. They see them as leaders and heroes, even though they really are not.

It must be especially hard for celebrities to face a crisis like the war in Ukraine.

Their outsized fame misleads them into thinking their speechifying can change the world the way their characters do on screen.

They can’t.

They, like the rest of us, can do other things: Donate to the Red Cross, the world’s greatest humanitarian organization or support other groups that help refugees.

Nothing said on the Oscars by celebrities will matter either.

There was a political dust-up at the 1978 Oscars. You can look up the details online, but presenter Paddy Chayefsky, the writer of the excellent movie “Network,” said, in part, “winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation, and a simple ‘thank you’ would have sufficed.’”

Former journalist and future teacher Daniel P. Finney writes columns for the Marion County Express.


Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
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Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Rooting for the Bengals is the artistic choice in NFL playoffs

The pro football season ended Sunday.

That’s technically incorrect.

I am a Chicago Bears fan. The pro football season ended in early October for me.

After that, I shift my attention to teams with the best graphic design in their helmet logos.

I rooted for the Arizona Cardinals for a while. I think that angry red bird in profile is one of the best logos in sports.

Arizona backslid into the playoffs and lost to Los Angeles Rams.

The only reason I would consider rooting for the Rams is if I was in the friend circle of Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” who is Rams fan.

This seems unlikely, so the Rams are out.

The Philadelphia Eagles have a nice angry bird on the side of their helmet, but I can only stand green jerseys on the Boston Celtics.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent the Eagles home for the offseason.

Now the Buccaneers? That’s a team who has logo game. The current blood red flag with a Jolly Roger on a steel gray helmet is real cracker.

I’m even found of the old Creamsicle orange with the Buccaneer with long, flowing hair, a feather on his helmet, and a knife in his teeth.

If I’m about to be pillaged or plundered, the guy in that logo is the man I want to do it.

I also root for the Buccaneers because of Tom Brady.

I am a contrarian.

There was a time when everybody seemed to hate Brady, especially when he was with the New England Patriots.

There was some sketchy stuff about a deflated football and illegal video recordings.

Also, people tire of winners if they’re not on their team.

The Bears are seldom winners, so I must study winning elsewhere so I will recognize it if it ever shows up in Chicago.

I believe another reason people didn’t like Brady was the Patriots’ logo game is weak.

The knock off Paul Revere in profile decked in red, white, and blue looks like it belongs on an insurance company website, not an NFL helmet.

Surely people would love Brady more during his Boston years if he wore their old logo — a muscular Revolutionary War soldier in a tri-corner hat standing ready to snap the ball and push to freedom from tyranny of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It matters not, however. Brady and the Buccaneers lost Sunday. I find it hard to be inspired by the remaining teams’ designs.

Locals will argue I should root for the Kansas City Chiefs because of their proximity and, perhaps, because of their excellent quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes is certainly an excellent QB, but I hold a grudge against him.

Mahomes is one of endless number of athletes who star in commercials for State Farm.

I am a State Farm customer. I have an excellent agent and my price is manageable as my penchant for crashes has waned as my age advanced.

But I can’t help but wonder if my insurance would be even cheaper if all these athletes weren’t on State Farm’s payroll for the endless stream of insurance commercials on TV during football games.

I bet a full 1% of my premium helps pay for the appearances Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers of the NFL and Chris Paul of the NBA.

So, the Chiefs are out for me.

That leaves the San Francisco 49’ers, Los Angeles Rams, and the Cincinnati Bengals.

I struggle to believe there isn’t one designer in all the fancy-schmancy Bay Area who can’t come up with something better than an “SF” in an oval.

That’s a “no” for the ‘Niners.

I liked the old white, and later yellow, ram horn on the side of the Rams helmet, whether they were in Los Angeles or St. Louis.

This swirly thing with the “LA” in the middle of it feels overdesigned. Pass.

I like the Bengals colors — orange and black. The tiger stripes are nice, I suppose.

I’m fond of Cincinnati. An old newspaper colleague introduced me to Cincinnati chili, which is a kind of gravy-like chili served on spaghetti. I liked it a lot.

I’m also found of Cincinnati because I enjoyed the old TV series “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

Cincinnati is technically in the Midwest despite being on the Eastern time zone.

This is good.

If they were in California, some crazed activist might throw fake blood on the Bengals, mistaking their uniforms for real fur.

If the Bengals were in Washington, D.C., some jerks might think “Let’s go, Bengals!” was a crude insult to President Joe Biden.

So, I’ll root for the Bengals.

But I’m not rooting enough to wear their hat.


Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.