The Paragraph Stacker

Uncensored columns from an exiled newsmane

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa. ITEM ONE: A faint knock on the door shook the typist out of a nap inspired by the late afternoon football game. ITEM TWO: The typist found a blue-eyed boy with tousled brown hair …

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Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa. ITEM ONE: Remember when everyone thought COVID-19 could be defeated by hoarding toilet paper? The typist just cracked the plastic on the first roll of TP he bought in the hoarding phase in March.  ITEM …

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ITEM ONE: Behold the power of reverse psychology: Hot Sheet predicted doom for the Chicago Bears vs. the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford’s Field. Hark! T’was but a ruse! They typist’s faux bad juju produced a dramatic come-from-behind win for the Monsters of the Midway led by none other than the much-maligned Mitchell Trubisky. …

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From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Station: ITEM ONE: Monday marks Labor Day, a day when most Americans are released from work to honor the successes of the labor movement. Unions’ hardscrabble battles against power brokers in the 19th and 20th centuries won more than niceties such as paid …

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From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake University Station: ITEM ONE: Iowa State University reversed it’s dunderheaded plan to have 25,000 fans at the Cyclone’s opening football game next Saturday in Ames during the COVID-19 pandemic. ISU President Wendy Wintersteen punted after “receiving feedback from the community.” No word on …

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My friend Mandy Stadtmiller suggested I watch an episode of the British TV series “Black Mirror.” She told me the show is an “anthology of dystopias.” Mandy is an author. That’s the kind of thing authors say. She explained it was kind of like “The Twilight Zone,” only more depressing. I avoid depressing things for …

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My friend Ken Fuson, the greatest writer in the history of the Des Moines Register, died in January. I wrote the news obituary about his death. My first paragraph: “Ken Fuson would have written this better.” I feel the same way as I explore my thoughts about writing and teaching writing as I study at …

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I popped out of bed and hustled to get dressed. The first day of school had finally arrived. I rushed to the kitchen and poured my cereal and milk. I scraped the last scoop and drank the milk. Every schoolchild knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I hustled to brush my …

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I used to ask retired Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy if the times we’re living in were as divided and troubled as when he was a young man. McCarthy served as a Marine in Vietnam. He came up as a Des Moines police officer in a time when the city had as many as 30 …

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I shall teach. I am 45 years old. I’m out of work. There’s a global pandemic. Nothing seems right with the world. And the only trade that seems more troubled, more affected by society’s idolatry and hedonism than journalism is education. Well, reporters, teachers and cops. They’re all tough jobs in any era. I’m too …

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