HOT SHEET: Joyful Saturdays for Hawkeyes, Cyclones; ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ is a great movie; The taking of Baby Yoda

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

ITEM FIRST: Saturday proved to be about as pleasant a day as one can expect to coerce from early December. Both Iowa and Iowa State won their respective football games. The temperature reached 47 degrees, allowing for walks, pick-up basketball or naps based on personal preference. It should come as no surprise to regular readers that the ol’ Paragraph Stacker chose naps.

ITEM TWO: I usually remain neutral in the rivalry between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones with a slight shade to black and gold because of my late father’s loyalty. But this season’s Cyclones can count me as a fair-weather fan. I’ve often joked that Iowa City is the statewide distributor of arrogance and Ames is the statewide distributor of insecurity. This year’s Cyclones, however, earned their swagger. They’re on the way to the Big 12 Championship for the first time and ranked No. 9 in the nation. They no longer feel like a team that barely wins six games. They’re a legitimate contender for one of the top teams in the land. I tip my Drake Bulldogs cap to you, Cyclones. Long may your run be.

ITEM THREE: “Hillbilly Elegy” is the best movie I’ve seen this year. Professional critics don’t like it. The movie has a low 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Professional critics like to smell their own farts. Amy Adams is outstanding as Bev, a drug-addled, mentally ill mother in a story set in the hills of Kentucky and Ohio. Bev’s addictions threaten to derail the career of her son, J.D., who’s at a critical point at Yale Law School. Glenn Close plays a domestic battle-hardened maternal grandmother to J.D., who steps in to keep the boy away from drugs and crime. I cried several times watching this movie. Adams rendered Bev so well it evoked the best and worst of my own late mother, who struggled with opioid addiction and undiagnosed mental illness. Both Adams and Close deserve serious consideration for Academy Awards, as does the film. I don’t know why critics didn’t like it. I feel like if it was a story about someone in New York City or Los Angeles, the praise would be lavish. But since the story is set in the hills of Kentucky and Ohio, this is the place the media tends to ignore or broadly stereotype. I’m not from those places, but I saw a lot of people I know reflected in that film. Entertainment is split between the East and West coasts. This is a story from a place where the rest of us live. I am glad it was told. I hope people watch it.

ITEM FOUR: An October Hot Sheet noted a YouTube video by a group of scientists who created a cannon that fired a baseball more than 1,000 mph. The people behind the video call themselves SmarterEveryDay and they are back at the park shooting baseballs. The latest episode seeks to discover what it takes to catch a baseball fired faster than the speed of sound. The results: No one should ever squat behind the plate with a mitt with a ball going that fast.

ITEM FIVE: The latest episode of “The Mandalorian” did for “Star Wars” fan favorite character Boba Fett what the last 2 minutes of “Rogue One” did for Darth Vader. Children of my generation knew Boba Fett from two brief appearances on screen, first as the guy who tracked down Han Solo and crew in “The Empire Strikes Back.” He didn’t do anything spectacular, but he looked cool and we played with his action figure like he was one of the premium bad guys of all time. Boba Fett died sudden and silly in “Return of the Jedi,” which was fine because we were 8 years old and “Star Wars” was always for children. Still, that action figure was cool; purple in color with a jetpack, wrist rockets, a gladiator’s helmet and red missile we imagined he fired at his enemies. Writers added to Fett’s story over the years in prequel movies, comics, books and cartoons. But it wasn’t until “The Tragedy,” the sixth episode of the second season of “The Mandalorian,” that we finally saw a Boba Fett realized — and even exceeded — in the way the character played in our imaginations in countless battles against the forces of evil on the living room carpet. The only comparable moment in “Star Wars” lore came in 2016’s “Rogue One,” when a 2-minute cameo of Darth Vader bifurcating Rebel soldiers in an ultimately failed attempt to recover the Death Star plans brought the best on-screen moments for one of movies’ greatest villains. The good news is Boba Fett is honor-bound to the help Mandalorian recover the kidnapped Grogu, formerly known as Baby Yoda or the Child. That means more Boba Fett, which feels like Christmas.

ITEM SIX: The FX anthology series “Fargo” wrapped last Sunday. The cast put in a lot of admirable turns, especially by E’myri Crutchfield as a sharp-minded schoolgirl intimidated by no one, Chris Rock as head of the Black mob in Kansas City, and Jessie Buckley, a creepy nurse with a penchant for poisoning people. I never felt fully invested in this series and I’m not sure I can explain why. Perhaps because a piece of the “Fargo” story felt more like a traditional mob story, albeit with a rare look at Black organized crime. With the exception of Crutchfield’s character, the story lacked any strongly moral characters and I couldn’t root for Rock’s mob patriarch. Maybe the series just hit at the time of maximum pandemic-inspired anhedonia and the grim story just wasn’t the entertainment I needed.

ITEM SEVEN: “Bob’s Burgers” is always the entertainment I need.

ITEM NINE: The Chicago Bears led by double digits against the Detroit Lions. I was not to be fooled. The Lions had just four victories and had fired their head coach this week. I drew not a scintilla of hope. The Bears are losers. They lose in all the traditional ways. They lose in unusual ways. Sunday was the usual way, choking up a lead at the end of the game and then failing to mount anything resembling an offense, especially with less than 2 minutes remaining. I am not angry. The Bears have been losers most of my life. They won the Super Bowl when I was in fifth grade. I only follow them because of nostalgia for those lazy Sundays watching games with my dad. Dad died in 1988, which is about the last time I had any confidence in the Bears.

ITEM LAST: The new job starts Monday. It’s been a long time since I’ve done journalism and I’ve never done TV journalism. I know I have to shave and probably wear a belt. Oh, and I’ll put on deodorant. After that, I’m making things up as I go.

Daniel P. Finney is kind and rewinds.

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.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is a superspreader clown and she makes our state look stupider than the failed Democratic caucuses did in January

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

ITEM FIRST: Iowans of all political stripes should thank Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, for putting the state in the national spotlight again. At her daily word-salad tossing in front of cameras, she boldly declared “there’s science on both sides” of wearing masks in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Iowa hasn’t looked this stupid since the Democratic first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses imploded in real time to launch the Forever Election back in January. Since then, COVID Kim has taken the lead with pure, unfiltered idiocy. Highlights include her dramatic slow response to the derecho disaster and her ongoing no response to the global pandemic.

ITEM TWO: Folks, I don’t know about you, but if COVID Kim is right about this “both sides” of wearing masks to preventing the spread of viruses things, I’m firmly on the side that doctors performing surgery should wear masks and politicians who think people who think there’s a valid excuse for not wearing a mask during a global pandemic should have to wear clown makeup.

ITEM THREE: This just in, beloved Iowa State Fair promoter and all-around host du jour Bill Riley has risen from the grave to crown Madison County’s Kim Reynolds Superspreader Queen of Iowa for Life. Riley immediately contracted COVID-19 and died again.

ITEM FOUR: The Chicago Bears are what the Hot Sheet thought they were: a really terrible pro football team. The Bears fell to 5-5, which left people who follow football regularly wondering how a team without an offense won five games at all. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker is not Catholic, but he considers watching the team to be penance for enjoying all those New York Yankees championships in the late 1990s.

The typist is such a fan of Taylor Swift he once paid a photo agency a small amount of money so that he could use this photo on his blog.

ITEM LAST: On the bright side, Hot Sheet favorite and music superstar Taylor Swift gave the middle finger to the greedy hustlers that run the music industry. In short, a sleazy suit named Scooter Braun bought the recording company Swift signed with when she was 15. The company owned Swift’s recording catalogue. Swift claims Scooter tried to bully her into resigning. She walked and went on to remain the princess of all pop music. Another group of moneybags came along and bought Swift’s master recordings from Scooter — seriously, moms, don’t ever let your children be called “Scooter” — and asked Swift to come into the fold. But the new contract would have still shuffled money to Scooter. So she told them all to get bent and she would rerecord her entire catalog on masters she owns and they could all pound sand. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker admires anyone who bets on their art. He wishes he had done it years ago in his long and twisted career in journalism. As it stands, he doesn’t own a single word he’s ever written. Then again, who wants to buy a collection of his old weather stories? Still, Swift is betting on her art, her talent and the loyalty of her fans. And she will win. Because the typist is telling you right now if Swift said, “Go buy a re-recorded copy of ‘1989,’” he would do it and wait to be told what to buy next by Swifty.

Daniel P. Finney wonders what CapitalOne put in Jennifer Garner’s wallet to get her to sell out a decent acting career to pimp for a succubus credit card company.

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.

HOT SHEET: How does that Mormon marshal on ‘Fargo’ keep his carrot sticks so crispy?

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

ITEM ONE: The following Hot Sheet contains language. Reader discretion is advised.

ITEM TWO: This Hot Sheet may be recorded for training and assurance purposes.

ITEM THREE: Watch “Fargo.” It’s the best thing on TV. Also, after you catch up on “Fargo,” can somebody tell me how U.S. Marshal Dick “Deafy” Wickware keeps the carrot sticks he carries around so crisp?

ITEM FOUR: Four more jokes to learn and say on Beggars’ Night:

Q: What do cats eat for breakfast?
A: Mice Krispies!

Q: Why do fish always sing off key?
A: Because you can’t tuna fish.

Q: What kind of horses go out after dusk?
A: Nightmares!

Q: Did you hear about the fire at the circus?
A: It was in tents!

ITEM FIVE: Something you will never hear the ol’ Paragraph Stacker say: “I could go for some more Red Hot Chili Peppers.” That’s true both of the band and in food.

ITEM SIX: The ESPN sports shout show “Pardon The Interruption” recently celebrated 20 years on the air. The show, which stars former Washington Post columnists Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, is the best of its kind. There are many imitators. Almost all of them are terrible. But Kornheiser and Wilbon have stood the test of time. The typist expects ESPN to fire them at any moment in budget cuts.

ITEM SEVEN: The FieldTurf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, is the ugliest in the NFL. It looks like shag carpet from the 1970s, the kind you raked instead of swept.

ITEM LAST: The ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s beloved Chicago Bears play a pro football contest at the Los Angeles Rams tonight. The Bears are inexplicably 5-1, despite an aggressively mediocre offense. The Rams are 4-2 with flashes of excessive mediocrity as well. It should be a perfect game for a nap.

Daniel P. Finney helped her out of a jam one night but guesses he used a little too much force.

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.