The Paragraph Stacker

Uncensored columns from an exiled newsmane

It's the Great Halloween Candy Podcast and other topics Talking Paragraphs

Memphis Paul and the Ol' Paragraph Stack mash through 10 topics of moderate interest including TikTok of the week and the great Halloween Candy debate. All that and more in Talking Paragraphs. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/talkingparagraphs/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/talkingparagraphs/support
  1. It's the Great Halloween Candy Podcast and other topics
  2. Talking Paragraphs Podcast: Karens take over TikTok and roleplaying the final days of Tab Cola
  3. Talking Paragraphs: The solution to pandemic uneasiness and other topics
  4. Grizzly crime visits Memphis Paul at night
  5. Talking Paragraphs: Rod from Rodman comics talks 10th anniversary
RIP, Tab. Fucking 2020, man.

Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Coca-Cola Co. announced the discontinuation of diet pop pioneer and 1970s phenomena Tab Cola.

The typist pictures a Coke exec going into a wood-paneled room with a sunken seating area and wall-to-wall shag carpet.

The Tab president sits open legged in brown corduroy bell bottoms, a star-shaped belt buckle poking into his noticeable pot belly.

His yellow paisley shirt with collars so wide you could land helicopters on is unbutton three buttons past too low. The hair on his chest flutters freely like a nature preserve of body hair.

He takes a hit off a glass bong and there’s cocaine in his mustache. He notices the exec and offers them fondue from the pot on the table since 1972.

“Carl,” the exec says in a tone I indistinguishable from the harsh electronic tones of a Speak & Spell, “we have some bad news.”

“Oh, shit man,” Carl stammers. “Look, she said she was 19, man …”

The Coke exec holds up his hand. “Now, now, Carl. You know we took care of that.”

Carl shakes off the haze of the last of the greenies he imbibed with a shot of whiskey and Coke.

“Yeah, yeah,” Carl says. “Right. You pulled one out of the old Chappaquiddick playbook. Really saved old Carl’s bacon.”

The exec, clad in a black suit with a black shirt and a long, skinny tie stares blankly at Carl.

“This is not why we are here,” he said.

Carl drops three chunks of ice into a rocks glass and pours bourbon in with a splash of Coke.

“Well, old Carl made it worth it, didn’t he?” Carl says, swishing his glass in the air as if it were the point of Zorro’s sword. “Carl made Tab. Convinced all those tubby gals in capri pants to suck down that gasoline as a diet plan.”

Carl swallows his drink in two gulps and slams his glass in the drink caddy so hard all the other liquor bottles clang together in a cacophony of broken church bells.

“These people were eating salads under 40 gallons of thousand island and polishing off five of those square burgers from Wendy’s and the sipping Tab like it made a damn bit of difference …” Carl’s voice trails off as he stares out the slats of horizontal blinds to his view of the employee parking lot.

The exec stays still. “Carl —“

“You know this used to be peach trees as far as the eye could see,” Carl interrupts. He turns away from the blinds and looks at the nameless, faceless exec.

“Carl, the organization has decided to discontinue Tab,” the exec says. “You are the lone remaining employee in the division. I think you know what this means.”

Carl sighs. “Fucking Diet Coke, man.”

Carl opens the top drawer of his desk and stares in. He does not look back at the exec.

“Yeah, I know what is happing, you greedy son of bitch!” Carl yells. “Can you you have somebody bring me a box?”

The executive nods and turns to leave. Carl slumps into his high-backed vinyl-covered chair.

The executive closes the Carl’s door behind him. He pulls his smartphone from a jacket pocket and makes a call.

“Yes,” the executive says as he presses the elevator button, “send some boxes to the Tab office — “

BLAM!

The sound came from Carl’s office followed by a thud.

The executive glances back at Carl’s door.

“Cancel their boxes,” the executive says. “Send up a cleaning crew. Bill it to the Chappaquiddick account. No, no. Jerry will know what it means.”

The elevator dings and the door opens.

“That’s right the Tab office,” the exec says as he steps aboard the empty elevator. “I know, right? Who knew we even made Tab anymore?”

The elevator door closes as the exec says, “Somebody get me a Diet Coke.”

ITEM LAST: The Sunday Hot Sheet is now 7.8% warmer than the weekday Hot Sheet due to climate change.

It takes three licks and one bite to get to the center of 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.

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: https://www.gofundme.com/f/n53sg-morgans-medical-bills.

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.

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie gleefully announced Des Moines will celebrate Beggars’ Night on Oct. 30 with masks (not just the costume kind) required and social distancing protocols active.

Mr. Mayor, can you give the public some idea of what your plan is to contain COVID-19 in the capital? You didn’t issue a mandatory mask order until late August, long after the businesses shuttered and reopened and people started working from home.

Now cases are on the rise in Polk County and you tell everyone, “Hey, take the kids out and collect candy from homes of strangers during the pandemic.”

The typist agrees that the loss of Halloween celebrations would be sad. Children only get so many Halloweens before they graduate from cute kids to just drunk fools in slutty costumes on Court Avenue. Still, having trick-or-treat in the pandemic with cases on the rise seems outright stupid and a little bit mean.

How many of our seniors who would normally welcome children to their doorsteps will have to keep their lights off because they are more at-risk for death from coronavirus?

How many cases of coronavirus will this public-pleasing move create because we all know despite the best efforts of parents, kids don’t always wash their hands well?

ITEM TWO: The Hot Sheet wouldn’t mind a year moratorium on Beggars’ Night because of the pathetic state of riddle and joke telling by our community’s children.

The typist has heard all the whimpering about how children get nervous and the tell a joke to get candy tradition is dumb or that they didn’t do it in the awesome city they used to live in before they moved here to be boring white people.

Bugger off, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker says.

It is not too much to ask a child age 5 or older to memorize two sentences of a G-rated riddle or pun in exchange for candy.

Instead of going out this year, go buy a couple bags of Laffy Taffy and just learn one of the jokes on the wrappers for next year.

ITEM THREE: The typist admits when he’s wrong and he was wrong about ESPN Sports Center super host Scott Van Pelt. When the sports network named him their lead host a few years back, I thought it was foolhardy. I probably tweeted something rude. But you know what? The ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s night isn’t quite the same without a visit from SVP. Thanks for making the pandemic brighter, sir.

ITEM FOUR: I’m just throwing this out there: Bring back Max Headroom. He’d be instantly better than all the current late-night babblers. Think about it.

ITEM FIVE: If not Max Headroom, what about Space Ghost? His Coast to Coast show was a winner for [adult swim]?

ITEM LAST: The typist is too tired to come up with a joke here.

Daniel P. Finney fell asleep three times writing this caption.

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.

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Terrible news from the bar at Jethro’s on Forest Avenue near Drake University: The restaurant is closing on Mondays and Tuesdays for at least six weeks. Insiders tell the typist the restaurant has a steady flow of regulars — including this ol’ Paragraph Stacker — but has struggled to lure students from the nearby campus during the pandemic. With reduced capacity due to COVID-19 social distancing protocols, all restaurants and public gathering spaces are feeling the pinch. Jethro’s owner Bruce Gerleman, a Des Moines businessman and restauranteur, considers the Drake Jethro’s, his first in a chain of seven barbecue joints around the metro, his personal favorite. He’s spoken to the typist of his loyalty to the neighborhood. Of course, all businesses, no matter how altruistic, face the reality of the bottom line. Jethro’s will keep regular hours Wednesday through Sunday. Let’s hope the shortened week is a temporary taking of the knee during exceptional circumstances and not the beginning of the end at Drake Jethro’s.

ITEM TWO: Whenever possible, drink cold beverages over lots of ice in a glass. Pause before you sip to recall our not-too-distant ancestors lapped water from streams. Now we have uncounted flavors of water and ice on demand. What a time to be alive.

ITEM THREE: President Donald Trump plans to award Dan Gable, perhaps the greatest wrestler of all time, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed upon citizens, writes Cody Goodwin, the Des Moines Register’s superstar wrestling writer. Whatever one thinks of Trump, it’s a tremendous honor for arguably the finest athlete and coach Iowa ever produced. As a campaign strategy, it isn’t shabby either. Polls have shown Trump dead even or slightly leading in Iowa. Showing some love to a living Iowa legend can’t hurt.

ITEM FOUR: Dedicated to the great state of Florida in all its weirdness: The UPI reports Florida officials seized a package from Hungary containing a full horse skeleton. So for those of you planning on getting a Hungarian horse skeleton for Halloween, remember you need a special agricultural permit.

ITEM FIVE: New Comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Iron Man 2020: Robot Revolution TPB — The idea of a future with a morally ambiguous Iron Man mercenary first came to be in 1984 created by Tom DeFalco and Herb Trimpe. Now it really is 2020 and things are far worse than Iron Man 2020’s creators envisioned.
  • Rorschach No. 1 — in another case of what’s old is new again, Rorschach, the most interesting characters of the magnificent 1986 Watchman series gets a three-issue DC Black Series run by comics’ best current writer, Tom King.

ITEM LAST: The stress mounts and continues to build as we approach holidays reduced and fall celebrations cancelled by the coronavirus, the most uncivil election in modern memory, an economy on the verge of collapse, joblessness, an impotent Congress and a harmful executive branch. Just remember: You can’t fix it all. All you can do is your best and even then, sometimes you’ll stumble. Take a moment to remind yourself that you are the only one of you in the whole world, a child of God worthy of love, dignity and respect. Then take 10 deep breaths and find one person you love and remind them, too.

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. Daniel P. Finney is controlling transmission.

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.

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.

ITEM ONE: I had typed a list of six or seven items, most of them political in nature and almost all of them serious.

ITEM TWO: Alas, I somehow managed to lose the Microsoft Word document in which I wrote them.

ITEM THREE: I recall one mildly amusing suggestion about the NFL, but you didn’t miss much.

ITEM FOUR: The storyline about Item Four has completed and no developments occurred in the lost document.

ITEM FIVE: I’m so discombobulated by the lost document that I’m not bothering to use the “typist” and “ol’ Paragraph Stacker” language endemic to Hot Sheet.

ITEM SIX: I could work very hard to reconstruct the thoughtful political takes, but I won’t.

ITEM SEVEN: I believe this is God’s way of telling me nobody gives a shit about what I think about politics.

ITEM LAST: This may also be God’s way of telling me to stop this silly blog.

Daniel P. Finney once had an editor who called his writing “ordinary and bureaucratic.”

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.

Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: The Senate race between incumbent Republican Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield could decide the balance of power in the Senate, per CNBC. The campaign packed in the usual cartoonish bitterness. Ads for Greenfield showed alleged Republicans who believe Ernst is a liar. Ernst ads displayed Democrats who believe Greenfield wants to burn down small businesses and end law enforcement testimonies. Both candidates made use of grief porn. Ernst is a domestic abuse survivor, thus she cares about domestic abuse laws. Greenfield’s first husband died in an industrial accident, thus she cares about Social Security. One might argue that a candidate for office could have enough empathy for their fellow humans that they would care about Social Security and domestic abuse without personal experience. One can certainly argue that personal experience with said issues does not necessarily qualify either to be a good lawmaker. That said, in a race that has so much importance, it’s a shame that regardless of who wins, any Iowan with a TV is already sick of both of them.

ITEM TWO: Worth a click: The Omaha World-Herald points out that both Nebraska and Iowa have Republican governors soft on mask orders and restrictions during the pandemic, yet Iowa deaths are 72% higher per capita than Nebraska’s. Give Henry Cordes’ deliciously titled piece “What’s the matter with Iowa? Why COVID-19 deaths east of Missouri River are so much higher” a read.

ITEM THREE: Dark money — political spending by not-for-profit organizations such as special-interest activists — already dominates our state and national politics. The cash now swamps President Donald Trump’s selection for the U.S. Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. Big money has been spent by groups that support Trump, groups who wish abortion to be abolished and groups who fear Barrett’s ascension to the high court will result in abortion’s abolishment. This is gross, but not unexpected. If anything proves true in American politics, it’s that anybody can be bought.

ITEM IV: The reign of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV ended after its assault on the cubicle of Item Six failed. Four teenagers and their anthropomorphic dog thwarted Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV with a half-hour onslaught of frightened running, pratfalls, eating of special snacks and a complex exposition by a girl in an orange sweater. The kid named Fred pulled a rubber mask from the face of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV revealing him to be Item Four, who had faked his death by COVID-19 in a grand real estate heist meant to take over the entire Hot Sheet and replace it with a new social media site controlled by the same cabal of algorithms that outlawed bunts and stolen bases in baseball. Item Five, located after a police dragnet, testified as an unindicted co-conspirator to Item Four’s culpability in the scheme. Item Four and Item Five were returned to their regular spots in the Hot Sheet and reprimanded for excessive silliness.

ITEM FIVE: The typist loves free streaming service Pluto TV. It hosts a dedicated channel to classic James Bond movies. The current Bond flick, “No Time To Die,” is mired in pandemic hell with theaters unable to gather the crowds necessary to support true blockbuster franchises. Classic Bond on a loop gives fans a chance to appreciate all the unrealized potential of wristwatches (lasers, grappling hooks, etc.) and the aesthetic masterpieces of underground lairs with great brutalist architecture style combined with the best in mid-century furniture and fur rugs.

ITEM SIX: Congratulations to the Iowa State Cyclones on another victory in the college football season. The typist has no rooting interest in the endless patter about the Cyclones and Iowa Hawkeyes, however he recants his earlier prediction of misery in Ames.

ITEM SEVEN: They’re playing pro football this Sunday. It should be enjoyable because the Chicago Bears are not playing. The Bears, though 4-1, play the losingest winning football possible.

ITEM EIGHT: The NBA Finals continue today. This is not a misprint. The end of the pro basketball season is in October, but teams in the Big Ten have yet to play a college football game.

ITEM NINE: The Hot Sheet mourns the end of another baseball season, even one as disjointed and bizarre as the 2020 season. The eagle-eyed retired English teachers might point out that the Major League Baseball playoffs continue. This is irrelevant. The typist believes the words of the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Frank Miller, who often said a World Series was only official if the Yankees played in it.

ITEM LAST: A former newsman himself, the typist respects the need for news websites to sell advertisements and have them viewed by visitors. However, even when he stacked paragraphs for a local corporate news outlet store, the typist used an adblocker on his browser because news sites were practically unnavigable with the advertisements interrupting text every few sentences. The typist would like to make a deal with news organizations: He will unblock their ads when they find a way to present the news in a way that doesn’t look like a 1996 GeoCities page assembled by a Doctor Who fan who figured out how to get their cartoon TARDIS to spin and play a MIDI file.

Daniel P. Finney fights for your rights in his satin tights.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help Daniel P. Finney cover expenses as he studies to earn his master’s degree and teacher certification. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Friday, Oct. 9, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: The age of robocalls makes the typist nostalgic for old Bell hard plastic telephones that could be smashed into the cradle with a frightening level of aggression. Somehow even the most fervent tap of the red phone button fails to convey the ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s level of disdain for unwanted phone calls.

ITEM TWO: The Chicago Bears failed to lose a football game for the fourth time in five valiant tries Thursday. The latest accidental victory came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady, likely the greatest quarterback of all time, appeared not to know how many downs remained on the Buccaneers’ final series late in the 1-point win for Chicago. The Bears appear to have some sort of virus that makes other teams play as poorly as they do.

ITEM THREE: The New York Yankees forced a deciding fifth game in the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees hit a lot of home runs and their bullpen stopped the Rays’ offense. The typist roots for the Yankees but believes their starting pitching is soft and the homer-or-nothing offense is vulnerable to good pitching, which the Rays have aplenty. However, since the Atlanta Braves defeated the Miami Marlins in the National League playoffs, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s dreams of an all-Florida, all-aquatic-mascot World Series have been dashed. So, what the hell. Go Yankees.

ITEM IV: Item IV now demands to be addressed as Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV, the emperor of the New Rome. A memo sent to the entire company during lunchtime promised victories to rival the Gallic Wars and the battles of Arar and Bibracate.

ITEM IV: Item Five is unavailable and is considered missing. The staff returned from its usual three-Busch Light lunch to find Item Five’s cubicle walls slashed by what police described as gladius cuts and a spear through the lumbar support of Item Five’s chair and a considerable amount of black ink in the seat and on the office carpet. A crude Aquila scratched into the window glass with the words, “I claim this land in the name of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV.” Hot Sheet has no comment pending a full police investigation.

ITEM SIX: Item Six, who sits adjacent to the growing empire of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV, requisitioned materials to build a moat and fortify cubicle walls with concrete blocks and rebar. A further requisition was put in to hire three archers for long-range territorial support. All requests were denied due to budget constraints, but Item Six was told to use some of the broken office chairs on the third floor to create a makeshift defense. Archers would have to wait until second quarter 2021 at the earliest. Item Six requested to take the rest of the week citing undue workplace stress. Its FMLA paperwork is pending.

ITEM SEVEN: The typist received nine pieces of mail Thursday. One was from his insurance agent. Eight were from the campaigns of Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and her challenger, Theresa Greenfield, three identical fliers supporting the Ernst campaign with claims that a vote for Greenfield would destroy life on Earth as we know it. One piece of mail was from Greenfield, who said she was a nice person and that Ernst was a big meanie. The final piece of mail was the latest edition of Mad Magazine. It was the only thing that made sense.

ITEM EIGHT: The typist removes his Yankees cap and bows his head to honor the late Whitey Ford, who died Thursday. The Hall of Fame pitcher holds the World Series records for wins (10), scoreless innings (33) and strikeouts (94). He provided the center spoke to the second era of Yankees dominance. Ford pitched in 11 World Series, won six of them and was MVP of the 1961 series. Ford served two years in the Army during the Korean War.

ITEM LAST: Attention fellow comic book aficionados in the greater Des Moines metro area, Rodman Comics at 318 S. Ankeny Blvd. in Ankeny celebrates its 10th year in business. The store started shortly after the Great Recession and has survived the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Rod Lamberti grew up buying comic books off the magazine racks in grocery stores. He eventually realized his dream of owning his own store. Due to rules required by the pandemic, Rodman Comics is holding a low-key celebration. There are online auctions instead of door prizes and they’ll carefully monitor the number of people in the store to assure proper social distancing. Deals include 20% off everything in the store that isn’t already discounted. But as with any proper anniversary, there will be cake.

Daniel P. Finney is believed to be dead and must let the world believe his death until he can cure the raging beast within.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help Daniel P. Finney cover personal expenses as he studies to earn his master’s degree and teacher certification. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Watching the New York Yankees this season and in the playoffs has provided about as much joy as chewing aluminum foil. Where have you gone, Mariano Rivera? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

ITEM TWO: I filled out my absentee ballot in the front seat of my battered Dodge Charger. I mailed the ballot about 11 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. I voted. I decline to say who I voted for, but incumbents did well at least on the soil and water commission and county hospital board of trustees.

ITEM THREE: Anyone who calls me, sends me mail or otherwise shows up in my feed jibber-jabbering about their favorite candidate or how their opponent will destroy America like Godzilla far gone on cocaine and Guinness, please see Item Two and fuck right off.

ITEM IV: Please welcome Item IV, who replaces Item 4 who had replaced the late Item Four. Anything you’d like to say to the Hot Sheet audience, Item IV? “Yes. Thank you. We’ve got to play them one day at a time. I’m happy to be here and hope I can help with the ball club. … Hey, Item Five? Is that … is that a Caesar salad you’re eating? Is this some kind of ethnic joke you’re making because of my Roman heritage? I say unto thee, I shall not let such a slight pass. CRY HAVOC AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR!”

ITEM FIVE: Shit. What is it with these guys in the four slot?

ITEM SIX: Hawkeyes. Cyclones. Murder. Busch Light. Best tenderloin. Ranch dressing. The typist doesn’t have anything to say about these topics. He simply includes them because he’s trying to pander to the people who can only talk about these things by tricking search engines to get said audience to click on this website by accident.

ITEM SEVEN: The preceding item was a joke, but I guarantee you pandering and trickery are the primary drivers of news judgment in most corporate news outlets today.

ITEM EIGHT: It’s probably too late to mention this, but aren’t the challengers who spit out the words “politician” and “Washington insider” seeking to become exactly the same thing?

ITEM NINE: Belated new comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Batman: The Three Jokers concludes its excellent three-issue run on Oct. 28. Pick up the first two issues at your local funny book shop. The exploration of the fractured relationship between Batman and Jason Todd, the second Robin, engages fresh character development in the Bat Family. It also challenges the wisdom of Batman bringing his surrogate children into a war with super psychopaths capable of such villainy as paralyzing Batgirl and murdering the second Robin. (He got better. It’s comics.)
  • Marvel Fanfare No. 10 Facsimile Edition features one of the best Black Widow stories in the character’s history from 1982. These facsimile editions are fun to both read a comic with its original advertising and have to display. This one is an especially good value because the artwork is by master craftsman George Perez.
  • Wonder Woman No. 1 Facsimile Edition (1987) reprints the late 1980s reboot for Wonder Woman. And how lucky are we to get two reprints of George Perez’s artwork in the same month. Both the Wonder Woman and the Black Widow reprints were meant to hype movies — “WW84” and “Black Widow” — whose release dates were delayed due to the pandemic.

ITEM LAST: The Chicago Bears play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a pro football game Thursday night. The typist has night class and will miss the first part of the game. He will periodically punch himself in the face to simulate the experience of rooting for the Bears.

Daniel P. Finney is a middle-aged loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the semicolon, the emdash, the pilcrow in a world where criminals operate above the paragraphs.

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.