humor

You think you’ve got it bad during the pandemic? Imagine being a bank teller

If you don’t enjoy a root beer Dum Dum lollipop, I’m not sure we can be friends.

Typed by friendly neighborhood paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney in Des Moines, Iowa.

Do you know who must be especially freaked out these days?
I mean besides everyone.
Bank tellers.
Bank tellers have to be on edge unlike anyone else in the middle of the pandemic.

You spend your whole career thinking that if someone comes into the bank wearing a mask, there’s probably going to be trouble.

Hit the alarm.

Call the cops.

Get the ink bomb ready for the getaway bag.

But in the pandemic?

Somebody comes into the bank without a mask and that’s trouble.

You’ve got to ask them to put a mask on.

Then you’ve got to tell them to put a mask on.

Pretty soon you’re yelling at them to put a mask on.

Sir? Sir! Masks are required in the bank!

And you know what?

Getting a guy to put a mask on could go either way.

It’s not like a bank robbery.

Most bank robberies are boring.

Guy walks up to the teller, hands them a note and they run out with as much cash as they can get from a drawer.

The other customers don’t even know what happened.

But today, a guy not wearing a mask could go either way.

The sensible people, of which there are precious few, will be like, “Oh, of course. My bad. I took it off in the car to eat a delicious burger and fries from that new place downtown. I’ll just slide the mask right on up. Sorry.”

But there seems to be an equal chance, perhaps greater than equal, that the teller asks a guy to wear a mask and they start screaming like William Wallace in “Braveheart.”

COVID-19 may take our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM!”

As an aside, when you think of it, what a stupid thing to say.

Once they’ve taken your life, you have no freedom.

You’re dead.

Dead people have no rights.

They can’t even move.

They’re just decomposing in a box, crypt or urn somewhere.

They can’t vote.

They can’t engage in policy discussion.

They can’t even tweet.

Anyway, the anti-mask guy at the back of the bank starts shouting about FREEDOM and TYRANNY and HOAX.

And the clerk is like, “Look, I’ve got asthma, all right? COVID-19 would hit me pretty hard. Could you just wear a mask, sir?”

And this guy starts going off about he’s got a medical condition that prevents him from breathing with a mask on.

He can’t name the condition.

He has no medical documentation.

It can’t be anything with the lungs, because he can yell like a snowplow mom after her kid gets an A- in art.

Anyway, there’s cries of freedom.

Cops get involved.

There’s a lot of drama.

People record it on their mobile phones for their TikTok and Instagram.

And the teller probably has to fill out more paperwork.

They thought this would be a good job.

Count out money for customers.

Take deposits.

Traveler’s checks, back in the day.

Give a Dum Dum lollipop to kids who come in with their parents.

You saw a guy with a mask, you hit the silent alarm.

Now, you see a guy with a mask, you end up in a political debate.

Everything’s a big damn hassle.

It’s why four out of five bank tellers use the ATM.

Daniel P. Finney believes his country must come to a compromise. There has to be room for both the “Tastes Great” and “Less Filling” factions.

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. The new semester starts soon. All donations are greatly appreciated. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

life, mental health, People, Unemployment

2020: The year of the grunt

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

I’ve developed a nervous tic: I grunt.

I mean to hum, but it comes out a grunt. It’s anxiety, I think.

I don’t know how long I’ve been doing it. I’ve hum lyrics to songs. I’ve whistled movie themes.

These days I grunt.

Why? I can’t say.

I’ll blame 2020.

There’s 15 minutes left to the year, so it’s just another thing to attribute to the calendar.

It seems fair. I think I took to grunting during the pandemic while I was unemployed for seven months.

I worried a lot. I perfected my already strong self-loathing skills.

But I also endured.

I persevered.

I demonstrated resilience.

That’s what my therapist says.

2020 was the year of resilience, I think.

A lot of terrible things happened this year: the pandemic, the presidential election and social unrest.

The sadness stacked upon misery and grief.

2020 was a lot.

Getting through every day took more effort than usual.

I used to go to a gym when my mind and body were healthier. I may go again when the pandemic passes.

My trainer, Nate Yoho, used to encourage grunts — even shouts — when exerting energy to accomplish a cardio challenge or set a personal record in weightlifting.

I did not set many personal records in 2020.

But I maintained. I held the line.

I almost cracked.

But I was blessed. Friends and family propped me up. They would not let me fall even when I was ready to collapse.

I won’t try to name them all here. I’ll just say that without all of them, I wouldn’t have made it. They showed faith in me when mine was gone.

I survived pneumonia, unemployment, depression, going back to school and starting a new career. I didn’t do it alone.

It was hard. Damn hard.

Hard enough that I needed to grunt sometimes.

I grunt because my arthritic knees and back hurt.

I grunt as a nervous habit. (I’m trying to stop that so as not to become a greater annoyance to my new coworkers.)

I started grunting in 2020. It was a hard year and it required exertion.

I’ll probably grunt plenty in 2021.

Life is work. Damn hard work.

It requires a little grunting.

Daniel P. Finney once watched “The Big Lebowski” 136 days in a row.

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, Iowa, Media, Movies, politics, Pop Culture

COVID Kim Reynolds cracks, issues mask order but not before making Iowans look like a bunch of dummies

ITEM FIRST: COVID Kim cracked. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds finally issued a statewide mask order. The long-overdue order came 9 months into a pandemic that has killed more than 2,000 Iowans. It came a day after COVID Kim made national headlines babbling about science on “both sides” of masks for preventive measures against the spread. After all that, COVID Kim bent her knee and issued the order. Who knows what prevented her from doing so earlier? Pride? After yesterday’s laughable assertion that there is science that suggests masks might not help the spread, was she playing to her base — the big dummies who shout “I have a right to breath O2 and not CO2” at Starbucks clerks? Then again, who knows how many lives could have been saved if she’d ordered it back in March when things started to get bad. Even one would have been worth it. Reynolds doesn’t face reelection for another three years. One hopes Iowa voters remember her haplessness and foolishness in times of crisis. She is unfit for office and has made Iowa look like a state governed by morons.

ITEM TWO: Former U.S. Sen. Roger Jepsen died Nov. 13 at 90. The Cedar Falls native had a colorful single term before being ousted by Tom Harkin in 1984. Law enforcement caught Jepsen using the commuter lane in Washington, D.C. Such lanes are meant for carpoolers, but Jepsen didn’t think such things applied to a member of Congress. Jepsen also admitted to using kinky massage parlors while serving as senator. His constituents were not pleased and moderate voters dispensed with Jepsen in favor of liberal street fighter Harkin. Thirty-five years ago, some bad driving and a trip to a “massage parlor” was enough that Iowans sent a politician into the private sector. Today’s Iowa voter gave An 8-point victory to a known philanderer who never knew a rule that applied to him and likes to “grab (women) by the pussy.” Growing up, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker read story after story about the “brain drain” — young, college educated people leaving Iowa for the bright lights and big city. The typist never thought much of it, but between COVID Kim and now living in Trumpistan, maybe this is what happens when most of the smart people leave.

ITEM THREE: The ol’ Paragraph Stacker slurped ice tea over lunch at the bar of a local restaurant when the manager rushed out into the hall and asked everyone to leave the bar area. The word on the street was a restaurant had been fined $500 for not obeying the governor’s new COVID restrictions, which included not having people sitting at bars. What agency levied the fine or where it was laid down, the typist didn’t know. It’s good there’s an effort to put some enforcement teeth in these regulations. Restaurants probably should be closed as should all other non-essential businesses. The typist doesn’t want businesses to suffer any more than they already have, but hard choices need to be made if this pandemic is ever to lift. Of course this would be a lot easier if those greedy, grandstanding hustlers had passed a meaningful stimulus package that would have provided money to soften the blow for businesses and extended unemployment for people displaced by COVID. But of course those fuckers aren’t going to do anything except pound their chests in tribal grunts and nobody wants to interrupt Trump’s golf schedule.

ITEM FOUR: Let’s get to something fun, namely new comics Wednesday recommendations.

  • Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious: Defender of the Daleks — The Doctor has been absent from our TV screens for a long time and the hero’s return is welcome in this multimedia event that ponders what would happen if the Doctor turned evil in the Time War.
  • Rick and Morty Presents Vol. 2 — The “Rick and Morty” cartoon on Adult Swim is the best thing ever, but it suffers massive gaps between releases of new episodes. The comics really help with that. These side trips involving ancillary characters such as Unity and Mr. Meeseeks salve the burn for more animated adventures.

ITEM LAST: Rumors suggest Warner Bros. might release potential blockbuster “Wonder Woman ‘84” in hybrid form to theaters and on HBOMax. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker loves the idea of not having to leave the house to see new movies, but he hates the idea that it might drive a stake into what was once a staple of American entertainment. Regardless of what happens, when it comes to “WW84,” take my money and let me see it.

Daniel P. Finney is calm like a bomb.

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, politics, sports

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.

des moines, Iowa, News, politics

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds continues to embarrass herself with her non-handling of COVID-19 pandemic

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

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds sure seems sweet enough when she goes before cameras to announce that’s she’s effectively doing not one single goddamn thing to stop the spread of coronavirus in her state.

She has the voice of a kindergarten teacher, welcoming all the students and urging us to sit on our placemats and not piss ourselves as she uses none of her constitutional authority to quell the spread.

In dulcet tones, COVID Kim, Iowa’s very own Hanoi Jane, tells us this is not about mandates.

It is.

Mandate the fucking masks already. It slows the spread. It’s provably true.

Instead, she has another mealy-mouthed, half-assed measure about gathering sizes and masks for people indoors longer than 15 minutes under a full moon with winds from the south, southwest.

Reynolds says there’s not enough law enforcement in the state to enforce such a mandate.

My friend Grant Jordan tweeted: “We don’t have enough law enforcement to enforce fucking speeding but we still have a damn speed limit don’t we?”

Reynolds ordered elective surgeries limited. Most of the hospitals quit booking elective surgeries months ago. Hospitals in Des Moines have kicked doctors and other medical professionals out of their offices to make room for emergency beds.

Elective surgeries were low on their list.

I will give COVID Kim exactly this much slack: Her Republican compatriots in Congress managed to convince half the country that COVID is a hoax or, at a minimum, it only killed people who were going to die anyway.

Well, we’re all going to die, I suppose. But there’s dying because you reached the end of your natural life cycle and there’s dying because you played Russian roulette with an AR-15.

COVID Kim shut down all youth sports except for high school. College and pros march on.

Somebody tell me how in the hell we’re going to have wrestling season in this state with every county slathered in COVID?

Basketball is hardly better unless we turn it into games of social-distanced HORSE.

COVID Kim could have stopped crowds at college games. She didn’t.

Thank God we’ve preserved the potential for crowds at the NBA D-League and minor league hockey games that hardly anyone attends. Those were socially distanced by lack of interest.

COVID Kim’s do-nothing approach to the pandemic officially pushes her past Chet Culver as the worst governor in my lifetime.

She’s still two-stepping to lame duck President Donald Trump’s kazoo orchestra.

Who knows what Trump will do after he leaves the White House — and he will leave — but if he starts a band, he should hire COVID Kim as a back-up singer.

Daniel P. Finney covers rage and anguish for ParagraphStacker.com.

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, Iowa, mental health, News, Pop Culture

HOT SHEET: Connery dead, mask misery, and Christmas cancelled

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

The torsion on this costume is said to have taken seven years off of Sean Connery’s life.

ITEM FIRST: Breaking news bummer: Sean Connery has died. The Scottish actor was best known for playing the Zed in science fiction masterpiece “Xardox,” which popularized underwear with suspenders.

Spider-Man knows his mask isn’t impeding his oxygen levels, but he sure feels that way.

ITEM TWO: After eight months in the pandemic, the typist still can’t get comfortable wearing a mask. He finally understands why Batman left his chin exposed.

ITEM THREE: The ol’ Paragraph Stacker understands wanting to steal the Lincoln head from Mount Rushmore while riding flying bicycles that shoot red lightening bolts. Really, who hasn’t dreamed of that? But the funny book raises another crime quandary — where would the crooks fence it?

The typist was in his late 30s before someone pointed out how gross this photo is.

ITEM FOUR: Rock band the Who offered sage advice in the lyrics of their 1971 hit “Behind Blue Eyes” that can easily be applied to the 2020:

When my fist clenches, crack it open
Before I use it and lose my cool
When I smile, tell me some bad news
Before I laugh and act like a fool.

Tom is the good guy in “Tom and Jerry” cartoons. You have a cat to kill the mice. These are the rules.

ITEM FIVE: It’s Saturday. Remember to take a nap.

Well, this sucks.

ITEM LAST: Mom 2.0 announced the official cancellation of family Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings due to COVID-19.

This is the right thing to do. Parents 2.0 are both 71. Family gatherings are large and crowded. We lost Grandma Lois this year. An uncle struggles with an unknown ailment. We don’t want to have a mini-spreader event.

But when the typist heard the words come out of Mom 2.0’s mouth, he was speechless. It wasn’t the loss of delicious meals or presents that made the ol’ Paragraph Stacker so sad.

No, it was that he know how much those celebrations mean to Parents 2.0. They love nothing more than to be surrounded by family and extended family.

And this goddamn virus robbed them of that. The typist thought this broke his heart. But then Mom 2.0 said: “There’s talk this might go on another year.”

And that was too much to contemplate.

Daniel P. Finney wants you to know he’s a mirrorball.

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, Iowa, Media, mental health, Movies, News, Pop Culture, TV

HOT SHEET: Let people have their pineapple on pizza and pumpkin spiced everything; More ways to avoid Election Day blather; and new comics Wednesday recommendations

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

ITEM FIRST: Let’s stop fussing about things that some people enjoy but don’t affect our ability to enjoy similar things. The typist refers to, of course, the great debates of our time: pineapple on pizza and pumpkin spice flavors. This is America. There is room for people who love pineapple on pizza and people who hate pineapple on pizza. Pumpkin spice flavors may seem ubiquitous during the fall, but that is only because lots of people enjoy it and corporate America is not very creative. The only time you have to worry is if somebody tries to require pineapple on every pizza or pumpkin spice in every latte. In other words, friends, live and let live.

ITEM TWO: Today in COVID-19/Election Day survival tips: Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, recommends careful consideration of the comedic stylings of Jerry Van Dyke in “Coach” reruns available in the Des Moines metro on WHO-TV’s digital subchannel 13.3.

The ol’ Paragraph Stacker chips in with his traditional favorites: classic “Doctor Who” and old school James Bond movies, both found on the free streaming service PlutoTV.

At no point should you turn on or read the news. It will only depress you.

ITEM THREE: Unavailable due to the typist’s need for self-care.

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

Q: What building has the most stories?
A:
A Library!

Q: What do you call a grandmother who tells jokes?
A: A gram cracker!

Q: Where should you go if your dog is missing?
A:
The lost and hound.

Q: What has no legs but can do a split?
A: A banana.

ITEM FIVE: New comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • SUPERMAN’S PAL JIMMY OLSEN: WHO KILLED JIMMY OLSON — This trade paperback collects all 12 issues of Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber’s Silver Age romp with comics’ most famous newspaper photographer. Need more? There are giant turtles. Giant. Turtles.
  • RED SONJA AND VAMPIRELLA MEET BETTY AND VERONICA, VOL. 1 — These Archie Comics crossovers are always fun. Crossing two of comics’ great sexpots, Vampirella and Red Sonja, with the seemingly sugar-sweet Betty and Veronica might seem like an odd juxtaposition, but remember Archie once hung out with the Punisher.
  • VAMPIRELLA VOL. 1: SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT — The ol’ Paragraph Stacker makes no apologies for his appreciation of Vampirella comics, but the title “Seduction of the Innocent,” a reference to a debunked book that tried to get Congress to censor comics, makes him want this one all the more.

ITEM LAST: At the risk of adding more worry to these anxiety-riddled times, the typist notes the Florida Man website, home to stories of the most bizarre behavior in our wacked-out nation, has not updated with any Florida man fuckery since Sept. 29. Could it be Florida has settled down to be just average? One shudders at the thought.

Daniel P. Finney is the best there is at what he does. What he does is nap.

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.

Pop Culture, sports, TV

HOT SHEET: Calamity for Hawkeyes, Cyclones; World Series Dad 2.0 jokes; and more jokes to learn and say for trick-or-treat

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: The typist slumped into his over-stuffed recliner shortly after 2:30 p.m. Saturday with the idea of flipping between the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State game and the Iowa vs. Purdue game.

The memorial service for Grandma Lois earlier that day and the heavy brunch of blueberry pancakes, eggs and bacon at Jethro’s exacted their toll and a deep nap soon swept him away.

The Hawkeyes and Cyclones both lost in his deep slumber and he awoke content, having missed nothing important.

ITEM TWO: The typist and Dad 2.0 used to watch the World Series together in the fall when he was a boy. Many years have passed since the pair last met to do so in person.

The recent deaths of family members and illnesses of friends left the typist in an atavistic mood. He did not wish to risk an in-home visit in the pandemic, so on a whim he texted his father.

Dad 2.0, a retired printer, is a quiet man, but he occasionally unleashes a savagely funny one-liner when the mood strikes him, which it did during the fourth game of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays.

On the Dodgers’ shaking their hands after a soft base hit, something they call “barrels are overrated,” which means hard-hit balls are overrated:
What’s with the monkey imitations?

On the Aflac duck commercial with Nick Saban:
It’s the beginning of the end when you see the ducks clapping.

On the great baseball name of the Dodgers’ Max Muncy:
That must be his stage name.

On a broken-bat single by one of the Rays:
That bat is coming out of his paycheck.

On Verizon Wireless’ incessant 5G commercials:
That’s too much “G.”

ITEM THREE: Game Four of the World Series provided one of the finest unofficial Fall Classic games the typist had ever witnessed.*
*As every Iowan of a certain age knows from Frank Miller editorial cartoons, an official World Series must include the New York Yankees.

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

Q: Why was the broom late?
A: It over swept.

Q: Where do hamsters go on vacation?
A: Hamsterdam.

Q: How do you communicate with a fish?
A: You drop it a line.

Q: What did the music teacher say when her students asked if they could sing their favorite song?
A: “Of chorus”

ITEM FIVE: The typist can’t stop listening to Taylor Swift’s latest album, “Folklore,” which two readers gifted to the Hot Sheet when it was released.

The album is melancholy and goes places Swift’s previous albums didn’t. Her work enthralls the typist. She’s a good writer and her presentation is perfect.

Swift seems to be genuinely interested in her fans having a good time and communal experience at her concerts. And she shows kindnesses big and small to fans, especially young girls.

The typist is an admitted grouch. Swift’s generally upbeat work would not seem to fit with his daily dourness.

Well, people can surprise you whether they be singers or paragraph stackers.

ITEM LAST: Try to get a nap in today.

Every breath Daniel P. Finney takes without your permission raises his self-esteem.

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.

des moines, Faith and Values, humor, Iowa, politics, Pop Culture, Unemployment

HOT SHEET: Apple buys Charlie Brown and drives another nail in network TV

Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: The typist doesn’t like to brag, but when he called his insurance company the other day, he was specially selected to participate in a survey after his business was concluded. Things are looking up.

ITEM TWO: The holiday classics “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will not be on ABC-TV this year. Instead, they will be on streaming service AppleTV+.

A couple of thoughts: First, fuck you, Apple. You greedy hustlers didn’t need to shake down parents and kids for $5 a month just so they can see holiday staples. Your company may make pretty things, but you’re still pretentious assholes.

Second, if network TV can’t afford the rights to cartoons that are both more than 40 years old, what the hell is left? There’s only so many rehashed game shows and garbage soft-core porn reality shows — we’re looking at you, “The Bachelor” — humans can take.

At this point, the networks are a football delivery service with a few sitcoms between games.

ITEM THREE: Mark Twain said: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

Millions of us lost our jobs in the pandemic. Our government failed us. They lied to us about compromise and they played us all as pawns in their political power game.

But if these assholes maintain control after the election, our country failed itself and gets the government it deserves.

ITEM FOUR: As a service to the Des Moines metro youths who will brave the COVID-19 wilds of Beggars’ Night, Item Four will publish four jokes for them to memorize and recite in order to receive candy:

Q: What did the egg say to the frying pan?

A: You crack me up.

Q: How do bulls write?

A: With a bullpen.

Q: How do you get an alien baby to sleep?

A: You rocket.

Q: What did the hurricane say to the island?

A: I’ve got my eye on you!

ITEM FIVE: No, it is not too much to ask children ages 5 to 13 to memorize and recite a silly joke like those above. We’re not asking for a tight 5 for the Funny Bone. Tell a riddle. Get some candy. It’s a nice, innocent tradition.

ITEM SIX: New comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • STRANGER THINGS HALLOWEEN SPECIAL — With the pandemic, it may be a while before we see the series again. Enjoy a spooky one-shot for the season that spawned a show with two great seasons and one “meh” outing.
  • SILVER SURFER: BLACK TPB — One of artist Jack Kirby’s trippiest heroes gets a fresh, poppy book that looks like it needs to be read under a blacklight.
  • ARCHIE AND KATY KEENE TPB — Archie Comics committed to fresh takes on their classic characters about the time the CW series “Riverdale” launched. Katy Keene isn’t the brand name that Archie, Jughead, Veronica and Betty are, but their revised predecessors were good enough to give this a look.

ITEM LAST: This week marked the first days of the reduced schedule at Jethro’s Drake. The restaurant is now closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Monday was, of course, Monday Night Football. It would’ve been nice to have a beer and watch the game.

Tuesday was the first game of the World Series. Again, a nice barbecue pork sandwich and green beans would have been a fine accompaniment to the Fall Classic.

Alas, yet more dreams snuffed by the pandemic.

The typist is worried. Hot Sheet is told this move is temporary. But not all Jethro’s survive.

The company tried a pizza and Italian joint in Altoona. It crashed and burned. The first sign of trouble was closing on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The idea that replaced it, Bigfoot, similarly struggled and took Mondays and Tuesdays off before actually crashing and burning.

The biggest problem Jethro’s Drake faces is Drake University. COVID-19 put off fall sports at the school. Winter sports are undecided.

People come to Jethro’s Drake because of all the things at the Knapp Center, Harmon Fine Arts Center and so on.

The survival of Jethro’s Drake is symbiotically related to life at and around Drake. With the students going home for good at Thanksgiving, the near future is bleak.

Daniel P. Finney is a bad boy for breaking her heart. He’s free, free falling.

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