des moines, Faith and Values, humor, Iowa, People

HOT SHEET: The joy of mother’s cooking when we can’t be together

Seconds, please.

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, 24th Street bureau, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONLY: I ate my mother’s food on Thanksgiving Day.

This simple declarative sentence would be unimpressive in any other year.

But we know damn well this is not any other year.

This is the year of COVID, social distancing and lockdowns.

Parents 2.0, the kindly east Des Moines couple who raised me after my parents died, delivered turkey with all the fixings to my apartment at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

I greeted them in my robe, slippers and, of course, a mask.

They wore masks, too.

Mom 2.0 gave instructions on reheating.

I took the box lid full of food in my arms.

My parents drove off to make similar deliveries to others in the family.

We didn’t hug.

We didn’t bump elbows.

That’s not really our family style.

The love was in the box.

Mom 2.0 called about a week before Thanksgiving. She discovered a frozen turkey in the basement deep freeze of their stately east Des Moines manor.

She decided she would cook a big dinner with all the fixings. She and Dad 2.0 would eat at home together and then go delivering meals to the family.

Thanksgiving is fellowship and family. COVID stole that from many of us this year.

Our family is old-fashioned. We like turkey on Thanksgiving and we listen to doctors when they tell us to social distance and wear masks in a pandemic.

I have not tasted my mother’s cooking in nearly a year. We gathered for Christmas. I got pneumonia in February. COVID and social distancing came in March.

My parents are healthy, but they are both 71. I am 45, obese with occasional asthma.

The desire to get together grew with each passing week of the pandemic. It just seemed like a bad idea.

I couldn’t live with the idea that I brought potentially life-threatening sickness to Parents 2.0, these beautiful souls who rescued me in my mid-teens when I was so vulnerable and alone.

In the strictest sense of the word, I was alone Thanksgiving Day.

But if I closed my eyes, I could see my mom as she streaked through the kitchen, checked the turkey, chopped the veggies for the salad, mixed the stuffing, stirred the gravy and yanked the scalloped corn out of the oven just as the top layer got crispy.

I could see my dad, too. There aren’t many roles for others in my mom’s kitchen. She is both maestro and orchestra.

But there are a thousand honey-dos. Set the table. Bring the cook a glass of water with ice. Run the beaters through the mashed potatoes to knock out the last of the lumps.

And, of course, cut the turkey with the fancy double-bladed electric knife. Dad 2.0 is a wiz on that thing.

I ignored my mom’s admonition to reheat. The food was still warm enough and my desire outpaced the time it would take to put it on a sturdier plate for the microwave.

The first bite of gravy-soaked dressing answered a prayer I did not know I had whispered.

I tried to pace myself, but I cleared the plate of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, scalloped corn, gravy and tossed salad in Italian dressing faster than I wanted.

I spent time with my slice of rhubarb pie.

The only thing I made myself was the cranberry jelly. All that took was a can opener and a spoon.

I texted my folks a picture of my empty plate with the caption, “Seconds?”

True to parental form, they answered, “You’d be sorry if you did.”

My belly full, I drifted asleep during the dull football games.

On Wednesday, I sat down at this computer to type an upbeat holiday column. I struggled. My life is rich and full in many ways, but I am greedy. I miss my family and friends.

So, I wrote a few Thanksgiving jokes and went on with the day.

But by the holiday’s end and after that lovely meal, I had no trouble counting the things I was thankful for.

Believe it or not, he’s walking on air. He never thought he could feel so free. Flyin’ away on a wing and a prayer, who could it be? Believe it or not, it’s Daniel P. Finney.

ParagraphStacker.com 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. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

des moines, mental health, Music, News, People, Pop Culture, sports

HOT SHEET: Hawkeyes, Cyclones win, pierce the gloom of the coming winter of COVID-19

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, hot seat editor, 24th Street bureau, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM FIRST: Most Iowans interested in football found happiness Saturday. The Iowa State Cyclones bludgeoned Kansas State. The Iowa Hawkeyes mauled Penn State. All was right with the world for a few hours on a late autumn afternoon.

ITEM TWO: Sunday promises to be another excellent day for this pro football fan. His favorite team, the Chicago Bears, will not play, but he fears the Bears are so bad they may find a way to lose without taking the field.

ITEM THREE: The Age of COVID-19 feels like a woolen sweater too tight in all the wrong places. It itches and stifles and never seems to let us breathe no matter how hard we tug and pull. The naturally shortened days of autumn get even shorter when the restaurants lock their doors at 10 p.m. Efforts to curb the virus’ potentially deadly spread curb our abilities to gather in fellowship whether it be to root for a favorite football team, celebrate a holiday or worship our gods. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker called one of his best friends Saturday. She was overwhelmed by the emptiness of it all and despite his silly jokes and empathy, he could not shake even a giggle loose. The miles between us seemed doubled or tripled despite the intimacy of a phone call. He felt the depression from his end of the phone. He had no choice but to let go and hoped her planned passivity would bring what Pink Floyd called comfortable numbness. The typist fared no better on his Saturday. He could have done laundry, but a psychological immobility paralyzed him whenever he gave leaving the house a serious thought. He attempted to watch football games, but the he fell into fitful sleep early in the games. Most of his friends hunkered with their family and the weight of a lifetime of bad choices and failures to grow left the Paragraph Stacker alone in a little apartment surrounded by nothing but entertainment but overwhelmed by the urge to have a beer with a buddy in public. So, he slept, for this is the season of hibernation. And he slept some more because he knew more of this malaise was to come. As the poet songwriter Bob Dylan once sang, “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.”

ITEM FOUR: This blog will become private in a few weeks, which means you’ll have to request access to read the posts. It’ll still be free, but there will be an extra step to reading posts. The easiest way to avoid all that is go to https://paragraphstacker.com/ now and look for the follow button on the left side of the page. Enter your email address and confirm it. You’ll get every post delivered to your inbox.

ITEM LAST: The ol’ Paragraph Stacker makes no secret of his love for classic “Doctor Who.” He relaxes to the infinite stream of 200 episodes on the free streaming service Pluto TV. Saturday evening found him watching the very first “Doctor Who” story he ever watched many moons ago on Iowa PBS: “The Armageddon Factor.” He found a gem of an exchange between the Doctor, as played by Tom Baker, and his companions, Romana, played by Mary Tamm, and his robot dog, K-9, as voiced by John Leeson. It’s as true today as it was in 1979.
THE DOCTOR: Where’s your joy in life? Where’s your optimism?
ROMANA: It opted out.
K-9: Optimism: belief that everything will work out well. Irrational, bordering on insane.
Perhaps that’s a little too dark to end a Hot Sheet. So if it’s insane to be optimistic, perhaps the typist shall lean on a quote from another favorite childhood classic, the 1989 “Batman” film.
BRUCE WAYNE: You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!

Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Daniel P. Finney stepped into the quantum accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time who appears in the form of a hologram that only Daniel can see and hear. And so Daniel finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.
des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, People, Pop Culture

HOT SHEET: A redesigned website, a job interview, a plea for Twitter followers and suggested new Arby’s-Buffalo Wild Wings-Dunkin’ flavor mashups

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, 24th Street bureau, Des Moines, Iowa.

Been doing the place up a bit.

ITEM FIRST: The Hot Sheet looks different to those who call us up on the web or on mobile. The journalism jargon for this is a “refresh.” The psychological reason for this is the ol’ Paragraph Stacker gets bored sometimes and tinkers with things. Anyway, it looks different now. If you like it, please drop the typist a note. If you don’t like it, be a good person and lie.

Experts say I need to “build my brand” by begging strangers to follow me on social media.

ITEM SECOND: The ol’ Paragraph Stacker is losing followers on Twitter. The reason for this isn’t exactly clear. Maybe he melted some ice chips by writing something that triggered their peculiar sensitivities. I have been more openly critical of President Donald Trump lately. I know that makes some people mad. And I’ve also referred to Sen. Joni Ernst as “Dollar Store Sarah Palin” on more than one occasion. What can I tell you? Sometimes I’m grumpy. Sometimes I say mean things. Anyway, if you’re on Twitter and not following the typist, swing by @newsmanone and gives us a follow. There’s content there that you don’t see here. I admit it. I only want the followers back because I’m insecure and need to be loved by strangers on a social media website.

ITEM THIRD: The typist doesn’t want to jinx anything, but he had a job interview — the first in months — and he thought it went pretty well. He would not be surprised not to get the gig. It’s in a different medium in which he’s never worked. Still, it’s almost too good to be true: Weekend hours and a flexible weekday schedule that would work around his graduate school commitments. Here’s hoping.

ITEM FOUR: The Ivy League — those are the schools for the very smart or very rich and well-connected — canceled their winter sports schedule Thursday. They punted on fall sports and have pushed back spring sports until at least April. The Ivy League could be the canary in the cavern for winter sports. The league was the first to go belly up on fall sports. COVID-19 cases are spiking and experts warning of a brutal winter. Could it be long before other leagues crash and burn in pandemic hell?

Harrison Ford is attached to the part of Daniel Finney in Daniel Finney: The Movie.

ITEM FIVE: The magazine Vanity Fair posts excellent YouTube videos of actors discussing their work in a series called “Timeline of My Career.” They are long watches, in the 20-minute range, but the typist was enraptured by the entry from Harrison Ford, the hero of so many of his favorite films. He suggests giving them a view.

ITEM SIX: Inspire Brands recently announced a deal to purchase Dunkin’, the store that sells coffee and donuts but refuses to acknowledge its delicious donut heritage. Inspire also owns Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, among others. We thought it would be fun for Inspire to consider donut flavors based on the tasty recipes of their sister brands. Here’s 10 we came up with that we’re sure you can’t wait to gobble up.

  1. Salt, Vinegar and Cinnamon Donut
  2. Vanilla Frosted Bismark with Teriyaki Filling
  3. Sweet Barbeque Glazed Old Fashioned
  4. Parmesan Garlic Bearclaw
  5. Smoky Adobo Corned Beef Double Chocolate Donut
  6. Market Fresh Cranberry Deep Fried Turkey Vanilla Frosted Donut with Sprinkles
  7. Jammin’ Jalapeno Blueberry Glazed Donut Holes
  8. Beef ‘n Cheddar French Cruller
  9. Chocolate Frosted French Dip
  10. Caribbean Jerk Glazed Dunkin’ Stick
When naked, Daniel P. Finney looks like a melting clock from Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory.”

ParagraphStacker.com 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. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

comics, des moines, humor, Media, People, politics, Unemployment

HOT SHEET: 3 unsettling thoughts in the age of unease post #election2020 plus new comics recommendations

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, 24th Street Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM FIRST: The major news organizations seem to agree Joe Biden won the presidency in the general election earlier this month.

But do you trust it?

The typist does not.

No, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker does not subscribe to the unfounded claims the election was rigged or interfered with.

He just doesn’t think getting Donald Trump out of the White House will be as easy as voting him out.

Trump demonstrates no respect for norms or even basic human decency. This is a guy who threw paper towels at Puerto Rican survivors of a deadly hurricane.

This is a guy who essentially ordered border patrol to kidnap the children of refugees and then failed to reunite them with their families.

Why would anyone expect him to follow something as beautiful and profound as the peaceful transfer of power?

The typist keeps asking his buddy, a former Army CID man, if Trump can just lob a nuke at some country he has disdain for to bring the whole house down.

The friend of Hot Sheet says the armed services only obey lawful orders.

Are there some Trump loyalists who will try to keep him in power even after all the recounts are done and the lawsuits settle and the Electoral College is certified?

No, the typist does not trust it at all. And he won’t trust it until Biden’s hand is on the Bible and Trump is either going out on Marine One or being dragged away by federal agents.

ITEM TWO: A buddy asked the ol’ Paragraph Stacker if he truly thought Biden will make a great president.

Great? Whose to say? Biden faces a historical clusterfuck. COVID-19. Economic woes. Racial unrest. A world that wonders if America is truly as awful as it has behaved.

The typist looks at like this: For the past four years, the country has been a bus driving down the Rockies in the middle of a blizzard with a guy whose never driven before drunk on whisky and far gone on cocaine at the wheel.

Biden will be a guy with a clean driving record, who keeps his hands at 10 and 2, wears his seatbelt and won’t tolerate any horsing around in the aisles or in the back of the bus.

That’s the minimum one would expect from a bus driver, but compared to the last guy, it’s a dramatic improvement.

His presidency could still be a historic disaster given the issues he faces. But at least he had a concept of how to govern and a plan that doesn’t include cheap red hats and dog whistles to racists.

ITEM THREE: The most pressing issue that faces the lame duck president and Congress is an economic stimulus.

The country is slathered in coronavirus and the winter is expected to be worse yet. States across the country are expecting another shut down.

Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell took turns trying to best one another in a grandstanding contest over the stimulus since the first expired in July.

The result is the only person who made a move to help the unemployed since the stimulus was Trump. His assistance wasn’t enough by half and didn’t last long enough, but credit where it’s do, it was something.

That our national legislative bodies are so impotent and callous to the struggles of millions of Americans is almost as shameful as the Trump presidency.

Of course this issue is personal to the ol’ Paragraph Stacker, who lost his job in May in the midst of the pandemic.

To quote Hannibal Smith from an episode of “The A-Team:” “It’s always darkest before it goes completely black.”

ITEM FOUR: Belated new comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Star Wars Vol 1: The Destiny Path — Marvel Comics are great at telling “Star Wars” stories. They are better at it than Disney is making “Star Wars” movies. Disney owns Marvel. Maybe they should consult. Anyway, “Star Wars” comics have been delightful since the brand returned to Marvel from Dark Horse in 2014. This volume picks up the story of the heroes of the original trilogy moments after the end of events in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Luke is traumatized at losing his hand and learning Darth Vader is his father. Han is gone. Lando is still a mystery. The Rebellion is at a low point. This is rich storytelling ground and Charles Soule is the kind of writer to mine it to maximum potential.
  • Jack Kirby: The Forever People — Jack Kirby is the greatest artist in the history of comics and one of the greatest writers. He co-created with Stan Lee almost every character that eventually became a box office blockbuster. He left Marvel for DC Comics there and told some of the greatest stories of his career, creating a mythos called the Fourth World, home to the New Gods and the DC Universe’s greatest villain, Darkseid. The Forever People shows Kirby tapping into the youth movement of the area, with a group of traveling heroes fighting Darkseid’s effort to expand his tyranny from Apokplipse to Earth. The heroes fall somewhere between the Scooby-Doo gang and the rebels from “Easy Rider.” They can combine their powers to form Infinity Man. The dialogue is dated, but it’s like catching a crazy genre flick at the bottom of one of your Netflix queue. You’ll be surprised by how entertaining it really is.
Major League Wiffle Ball

ITEM LAST: There’s a lot of horrible stuff in the world right now, but the Hot Sheet wants to leave you with a bit of the bright side of life. Few places bring as much instant joy as the short video platform TikTok. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker discovered the account for Major League Wiffle Ball (@mlw_wiffle). Who knew there was such a thing? The highlights are fantastic, heavy on pitchers with crazy arm angles spinning Wiffle Balls in physics-defying arcs that either baffle batters or end up smashed for home runs. The whole thing is delightful and recalls the glory days of childhoods past when the bikes filled driveways and kids batted-in ghost runners and argued balls and strikes until the street lights flickered on and mother’s voices called them home.

There are a million stories in Daniel P. Finney’s baggy khaki slacks. This has been one of them.

ParagraphStacker.com 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. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

des moines, humor, News, People, Pop Culture

HOT SHEET: 10 funny jokes that you won’t be able to remember when you want to tell them to someone else

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, 24th Street Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM FIRST: Anthropologists say Inuits have 50 words for snow. I’d print them here, but 49 of them are profanities.

ITEM TWO: Shoveling snow sucks, but at least you don’t have to mow the lawn.

ITEM THREE: If you find a grammatical error on the internet and point it out in the comments section, your life goals are complete and you may ascend to heaven.

ITEM FOUR: [Insert inspirational quote here.]

ITEM FIVE: Sometimes I taunt my married friends by setting the thermostat to whatever the hell I want with no debate.

ITEM SIX: Man caves are for losers. I want a man castle complete with guard towers and unlimited place backs in the best chair.

ITEM SEVEN: In newsrooms all across America, editors and reporters debate the essential news question of the day: “Is it too early to publish the annual list of best/worst Thanksgiving side dishes?”

ITEM EIGHT: I’m not saying I’m bad with money, but if someone stole my identity, my credit score would go up.

ITEM NINE: A recent investigative report by Hot Sheet reveals football referees are paid by the flag throw. Bonuses are given for use of instant replay.

ITEM LAST: I would rather listen to Fran Drescher sing the national anthem on a continuous loop that hear one more person use the word “adulting.”

Daniel P. Finney wrote a check for 69 cents for half and half at Ralph’s in 1991.

ParagraphStacker.com 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. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

humor, mental health, People, Pop Culture, Uncategorized

HOT SHEET: 2020 Sadness Machine cranks out two more blows; more jokes to learn and say; and trick-or-treat rules

Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Two dozen of us stood under and around a tent spiked to a hilly expanse at Highland Memorial Gardens to say goodbye to our beloved Lois Newcomb, mother, grandmother and great-great grandmother.

The pastor reminded us Jesus shared our grief. When Jesus went to the tomb of his old friend Lazarus, he saw the sadness in the faces of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus knew he was about to perform the miracle of raising Lazarus. And yet he sanctified grief, expressed in perhaps the greatest sentence ever written: “Jesus wept.”

Family recalled Lois’ open heart, empathy and ability to forgive. Others remember her teaching grandchildren how to drive in the wide lanes of the same cemetery where Lois was laid to rest.

We prayed. A grandson played one of Lois’s favorite songs. We hugged. We shook hands. We cried.

The typist was silent. He saw Grandma Lois as the linchpin that kept a big family together. He hoped her death reminded us we are stronger together than apart and that periodically renewing our shared connection would be the greatest tribute we could pay her.

ITEM TWO: The typist learned late Friday that one of his closest friends has cancer. His wife, a respiratory therapist, contracted COVID-19 earlier this year. It passed to the typist’s friend. His symptoms lingered. Doctors eventually found a mass the size of an orange on one of his kidneys. Treatment includes the loss of a kidney. The prognosis is uncertain.

Again the typist is reminded of how precious life is. We live never really knowing how much time is left on the clock. The typist doesn’t believe in living every day as if it were your last. That would be exhausting.

Instead, look for a moment each day that you can be kind, extend grace and friendship or remind someone they are worthy of dignity and respect. Forgive. Love.

ITEM THREE: Left blank for you to allow readers a moment of peaceful reflection.

ITEM FOUR: Four more jokes to learn and say for Beggars’ Night in Des Moines:

Q: What is a tree’s favorite drink? 

A: Root beer.

Q: What do you call a broken window?

A: A plain in the glass.

Q: Why don’t ducks tell jokes while they are flying? 

A: Because they would quack up.

Q: When does it rain money?

A: When there is a change in the weather.

ITEM FIVE: The maximum age for trick-or-treating is 13 or eighth grade, whichever comes first. High school kids are close enough to jobs and driving that they can get their own candy. Stop begging off the neighbor.

ITEM SIX: Your trick-or-treat mask should be worn over your pandemic mask this year, but you still have to wear your coat over your costume if it’s below freezing.

ITEM LAST: Say thank you. This also applies for anytime someone gives you something or shows kindness.

One day, Daniel P. Finney held aloft his magic sword and said, “By the power of Greyskull …” and after a long pause realized everyone was staring at him, so he put the sword away and went back to eating lunch.

ParagraphStacker.com 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. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

comics, des moines, Faith and Values, humor, Media, Movies, Music, Newspapers, People, politics, Pop Culture, TV

HOT SHEET: The strange occurrence on 24th Street

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 clad in faded blue jeans, high-top basketball shoes and a faded replica Walter Payton jersey with a set of headphones with orange foam covering the speakers and a portable cassette player hanging from his belt.

ITEM THREE: The typist recognized the boy immediately: It was his younger self at about age 10.

ITEM FOUR: The child had become unstuck in time.

ITEM FIVE: Author Kurt Vonnegut made up the phrase “unstuck in time” for his famous novel “Slaughterhouse-Five.”

ITEM SIX: Dan-10, as the typist would call him, had not yet read that book, nor had he known the loss of his parents by age 14, understood the true weight of his struggle to survive while they lived and the profound sadnesses of the many failures and regrets carried by the typist, Dan-45 as he would call himself.

ITEM SEVEN: Dan-45 invited his younger self in for milk and cookies, except he had no cookies to offer the boy as Dan-45 is diabetic and such things were bad for him.

ITEM EIGHT: Dan-10 settled for a can of Cherry Pepsi, which he declared almost as good as the fountain cherry Cokes at Montross Pharmacy on the Winterset square.

ITEM NINE: The boy sipped the pop and walked around Dan-45’s apartment; He marveled at the collection of pop culture ephemera.

ITEM TEN: Dan-10 peppered his older self with questions. Many exchanges went like this:

Dan-10: “Who’s the lady in the poster?”

Dan-45: “Taylor Swift. She’s a singer. I like her.”

Dan-10: “Is she like Madonna?”

Dan-45: “Yes and no. She’s her own artist.”

Dan-10: “I have a crush on Madonna.”

Dan-45: “So do I.”

ITEM NINE: Dan-10 noted Dan-45 had a lot of toys. The boy asked his older self if he still played with them. Dan-45 said he did, but not as much as he used to. Dan-10 retrieved a few Transformers from a box by Dan-45’s desk and they had an adventure on the coffee table. The good guys won.

ITEM TEN: Dan-10 was curious about Dan-45’s TV. The middle-aged man turned on the TV and tried to explain how streaming services worked.

Dan-10: “You mean you can watch anything you want any time you want?”

Dan-45: “Well, almost.”

Dan-10: “Can we watch ‘Doctor Who’ with Tom Baker? Iowa Public Television is showing the Colin Baker ones right now and I don’t like them as much.”

Dan-45: “You bet we can, buddy.”

And so we watched “City of Death.”

Dan-10: “I have a crush on Romana.”

Dan-45: “I do, too.”

ITEM ELEVEN: The two Dans spent some time reading comic books and eating lunch meat sandwiches with cheddar cheese and yellow mustard on a Hawaiian bun. The afternoon faded to evening and the sun set. The streetlights started to flicker on.

ITEM TWELVE: Dan-10 said he better be getting back home again. Dan-45 walked him to the door. The middle-aged man felt sad for the boy. He knew the next half-dozen years would be really hard on him and there would be many rough patches after that, like now. Dan-45 had told Dan-10 little of the future, but mentioned the virus and how people aren’t very nice to each other.

ITEM THIRTEEN: Dan-10 opened the door. Dan-45 felt like he should give his younger self some sort of wisdom, but the boy spoke first.

ITEM FOURTEEN: “You seem kind of sad, but you showed me your phone that can play video games, watch movies and TV and listen to any song you ever heard whenever you want,” Dan-10 said. “You said you wrote for a newspaper just like Clark Kent. You can drive a car, buy beer and vote. I bet nobody ever said ‘Adults need to be seen and not heard.’ You have friends that you can call long-distance for free. When I grow up, I hope I’m just like you.”

“You will be,” Dan-45 replied, “for better and worse.”

ITEM LAST: Dan-10 walked through the apartment door and seemed to fade in the bright hallway lights. He must have restuck in time. Dan-45 closed and locked the door, sat down in his big recliner and put on some more Tom Baker “Doctor Who.” Maybe the virus, the economy, politics and so many other things were just terrible. But through the eyes of his 10-year-old self, Dan-45 realized the simple pleasures of life were worth their weight in comfort.

Daniel P. Finney smells vaguely like a 1979 Strawberry Shortcake doll.

ParagraphStacker.com 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. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, News, Newspapers, People, politics, Pop Culture

HOT SHEET: If you can figure out what this Hot Sheet is about, you could work for the CIA

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 TWO: Vice President Mike Pence and challenger Kamala Harris will be separated by plexiglass for their debate Wednesday. This is the only way Pence is comfortable being in the same room with a woman who’s not his wife

ITEM THREE: The typist recently ate a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks. It made him rethink his maxim that the worst meal he ever had was wonderful. 

ITEM 4: Has been suspended for 81 games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was found curled up in tech support with a former Mets clubhouse boy and a Hy-Vee sack of Adderall. 

ITEM FIVE: The typist is amused when local radio stations proudly state they are “terrestrial” stations as opposed to those bastards in satellite radio. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker wants true extra-terrestrial radio. He, for one, wants to receive messages from the Vogons when they show up to destroy Earth to make way for another hyperspace throughway. 

ITEM SIX: The previous joke included a reference to Douglas Adams’ sci-fi comedy masterpiece “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” If you have not read it, stop reading the Hot Sheet, acquire a copy of the book and read it at once. The typist takes no responsibility if you laugh so much you pee your pants.

ITEM SEVEN: Two trains leave stations 60 miles apart at the same time heading toward one another on parallel tracks. Train A is traveling 30 miles per hour, while Train B is going 50 miles per hour. When do they pass each other?

ITEM EIGHT: The Hot Sheet has joked. The Hot Sheet has scolded. The Hot Sheet has begged. Now the typist is on the verge of giving in to despair. Congress and the White House have failed to act on a stimulus bill to help America’s unemployed and struggling, numbering at about 21 million nationwide. That number includes me, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker. He has faithfully searched for employment as he started graduate school to become a high school teacher, hoping that our political leaders could put aside their pettiness for the good of the American people and produce a package that enhanced unemployment benefits and gave a stimulus check. The latest news from CNBC quotes Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, as saying both sides remain far apart. The typist foolishly held to the notion that political leaders would act in the best interest of people, if not with everyday legislation, at least in crisis. The typist was wrong. The typist now firmly believes both Democrats and Republicans would rather let this matter fall apart, make Americans suffer and go home to their voters and say, “See, it’s those other jerks who are screwing this up. Vote in more people from my tribe.” Americans don’t trust their government and have grown weary of its impotence. This failure to negotiate in good faith and to reach compromise is a betrayal of the people our Congress serves at a core level. Our government does not have our backs. The typist doesn’t wish to encourage cynicism in advance of an election, but forgive the ol’ Paragraph Stacker if he feels like it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference who occupies those high offices, because in the end, we’re all screwed.

ITEM LAST: The typist is profoundly humbled by the many cards and letters he’s received by postal mail in support of this site and those who have donated money to support it. That money supports not only fees to keep this website independent, but also helps a middle-aged graduate student turn his life around and become a teacher. It embarrasses the typist to solicit money — and he would remind everyone that he thinks no less of those who can’t or choose not to — but if you wish to contribute, the information on how to send money can be found at this link: https://paragraphstacker.com/donations/. In addition, Daniel P. Finney can be found on Venmo and Zelle. The typist thanks all of you for your eyeballs and your kindness. When he lost his job at the local corporate news outlet store, he thought the time of people reading his words were over. You have given the typist new life. He remains humbled and honored.

Daniel P. Finney sleeps ion bedsheets with a pattern of buck-toothed red and blue sharks.

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.

ParagraphStacker.com 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 paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, News, People, Pop Culture, TV

HOT SHEET: The tragedy of Item Four

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: The New York Yankees defeated the baseball team from Cleveland to advance into the second round of the Major League Baseball playoffs that are working very hard to be like the NBA Playoffs. They must defeat approximately 204 other teams in contests of extreme cooking and singing while in costumes to win the World Series.

ITEM TWO: Fox released a second episode of “L.A.’s Finest.” It did not improve. The typist will give it this much: Networks used to be obsessed with “must-see” TV, the kind of shows that would keep you watching a network for an entire night. “L.A.’s Finest” is “easy-to-ignore” TV. This actually may be the perfect kind of show for those of us with smartphones glued to our hands. It provides a nice background as we check TikTok videos or trending tweets.

ITEM THREE: Memphis Paul, the typist’s dear friend and sometimes podcast partner, has entered a treatment facility for addiction to TikTok. The treatment was ordered when he was found on the floor of his Memphis home, drooling into the carpet with his hand furiously swiping up on the app.

ITEM FOUR: Item Four has died of complications from COVID-19. Item Four is believed to be the only numbered list item casualty of the pandemic in Iowa and perhaps worldwide. Item Four was recycled. A private memorial will be held at a later date.

ITEM FIVE: To fill the roster spot created by the death of Item Four, the Hot Sheet optioned the semicolon and the ampersand to Class A Staten Island, New York, in exchange for the numeral 4 and a punctuation mark to be named later.

ITEM SIX: The typist really misses “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV show. His friend, Megan Gogerty, wrote a whole song about missing that TV show. She also has a movie debuting through Theatre Cedar Rapids shown via the internet 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The show comes with the Hot Sheet’s highest recommendation.

ITEM SEVEN: The Hot Sheet reminds the public that whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.

ITEM LAST: A condo in Lake Worth, Florida, sparked nationwide interest when the realtor revealed the inner decor included wallpaper made of Budweiser beer cans — every wall, ceiling and crown molding is covered in Bud cans, United Press International reports. Iowans, however, scoffed at the tasteless display. If you’re going to cover your home in beer cans, at least let it be something classy like Busch Light.

Daniel P. Finney covers 5 o’clock shadow for ParagraphStacker.com.

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.

ParagraphStacker.com 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 paypal.me/paragraphstacker.