des moines, humor, Media, mental health, Pop Culture, TV

HOT SHEET: The joys of Carson repeats, pining for Letterman and the reruns that numb the age of COVID

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

ITEM FIRST: PlutoTV has added a channel with classic episodes of “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.” Carson also airs at 9 p.m. weeknights on the over-the-air digital-plus network Antenna TV, which is channel 13.3 in Des Moines. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker lived in a house without strict bedtimes, so he watched a lot of late-night TV as a boy. The typist is happy to see the late Corning, Iowa, native on TV and streaming again.

ITEM TWO: The typist enjoyed Carson, but always felt he was a warm-up for “Late Night with David Letterman.” Watching Letterman, especially in his “Late Night” years, felt like you were really getting away with something. He was the guy throwing pencils out the window and invisible glass. He was harassing NBC’s new owners, General Electric. In the early days, he wore jeans and wrestling shoes. The sketches were rickety and bizarre, almost as if they were designed to fail and that failure generated all the fun. Letterman was always there as the too-cool-for-school guy who flippantly thumbed his nose at convention, mocked TV tropes even as he created them and even dared to make both the guests, the audience and certainly himself uncomfortable.

ITEM THREE: The Hot Sheet notes all of this because our burning desire is to relive those memories again. In the early 2000s, NBCUniversal slated “Late Night with David Letterman” episodes on the short-lived cable network Trio. Since then, we’ve been left to grainy VHS clips posted on YouTube. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if NBCUniversal dusted off those masters and started spinning them on one of the digital plus or streaming services again? The ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s eyeballs would be glued there several hours a day.

ITEM FOUR: The Hot Sheet ran this idea by his buddy and podcast partner Memphis Paul. His response: “We are spoiled for choice these days.”

ITEM FIVE: The typist found the reply someone deflating, but still valued the perspective. Seeing Carson on PlutoTV is like learning someone brought home the best ice cream in town and then complaining that you don’t have hot fudge topping with whipped cream and a cherry.

ITEM SIX: So, in the spirit of enjoying what is rather than wishing for more, the Stacker notes PlutoTV has apparently added a few new stories to its “Doctor Who” channel including at least two Dalek stories. This could be to pump up Dalek excitement for the upcoming “festive season” episode of the revived “Doctor Who” series titled “Revolution of the Daleks.” Streaming Dalek stories is often troubled by rights issues with estate of Terry Nation, the writer who created the creatures. Britain has different copyright laws that give creators much greater ownership than in the United States, where everything a person creates for a company is owned by the company that pays them. Nation’s estate has sometimes been prickly about allowing certain stories, such as the masterpiece, “Genesis of the Daleks,” from streaming. Twitch managed to get rights sorted out when it did a multi-week marathon of every remaining classic “Who” story a few years ago. PlutoTV’s offering has been light on Dalek stories, so it’s a boon to see the tin-plated pepper pots menacing the universe on a free streaming service.

ITEM SEVEN: If this edition seems a bit less newsy than previous Hot Sheets, well, that’s part circumstance and part design. The circumstance is COVID cases are spiking. The typist wants no part of COVID. He survived pneumonia in February and has asthma. So, that means he’s spending a lot of time at home with the TV on. He chooses comforting old series, such as “M*A*S*H,” “Doctor Who” and Carson or live sports rather than news-heavy programing. Besides, do you really need another voice complaining about how divided our politics are, canceled Thanksgivings and other sad-sack stuff of the era? The typist thinks not. The other reason there isn’t a lot of news commentary in these stacks relates to that big announcement that the typist regrets to inform you is still pending. Be patient. He’s anxious to tell you the news nugget, but only when things are final.

ITEM LAST: As a reminder, this blog will be made private sometime in the next few weeks. That means you’ll have to request access to it. To avoid the hassle, go over to and find the big “FOLLOW” button. On a desktop, it will be to the right near the top. On a mobile device, such as smartphone or tablet, it will be at the bottom of the page. Enter your email. Respond to confirm and every post lands in your inbox.

Try this for a deep, dark secret: the great detective, Daniel P. Finney? He doesn’t exist. I invented him. Follow. I always loved excitement, so I studied, and apprenticed, and put my name on an office. But absolutely nobody knocked down my door. A female private investigator seemed so… feminine. So I invented a superior. A decidedly MASCULINE superior. Suddenly there were cases around the block. It was working like a charm… until the day HE walked in, with his blue eyes and mysterious past. And before I knew it, he assumed Daniel P. Finney’s identity. Now I do the work, and he takes the bows. It’s a dangerous way to live, but as long as people buy it, I can get the job done. We never mix business with pleasure. Well, almost never. I don’t even know his real name! 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

des moines, humor, Iowa, Movies, News, Pop Culture, sports, TV

HOT SHEET: This David Letterman may actually need an introduction; more silly jokes to learn and say; and the Big Ten is back

Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Netflix released the third season of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman” earlier this week — and goodness, it is good to see Dave again, even if this series is the most serious to date.

Letterman post-“Letterman” provides a remarkable view of a man confronting the meaning of his life and pushing himself to be more than a retired late night talk show host. This is not to denigrate the unassailable accomplishments of Letterman as a broadcaster, comedian and host. It does, however, suggest that Letterman has seen more to life than the next zippy one-liner for the Top Ten.

He essentially apologized to former President Barack Obama for his ignorance of racial justice issues in the first season of the series in 2018. He travelled to India to illuminate the potential for renewable energy and the challenge faced by the scattershot power grid for a 2016 National Geographic series “Years of Living Dangerously.”

Now, Letterman meets with Kim Kardashian West, where the retired host says he underestimated her intelligence and talents — the kind of thing a man might do as he wrestled with issues of sexism and gender inequity in society. He discusses comedian David Chappell’s raw, powerful special after the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police and delves into the history of the small Ohio town where Chappell lives.

Perhaps Letterman is an avatar for America at the end of another long, punishing election cycle. We’ve been forced to confront a lot of terrible and sad things about our nation’s history and present while the pandemic disrupted nearly every aspect of daily life.

One hopes Letterman represents a generation of Americans who find their country needful of thoughtful consideration and meaningful conversation instead of more rage, anguish and bad craziness in the age of outrage.

Whether that metaphor holds is a matter to be determined, but at any rate, the series is first rate and worth the investment of eyeball time.

ITEM TWO: The New York Times published a thoughtful look into Iowa’s economic struggles in the pandemic despite the lack of a lockdown seen in states with liberal governors. The typist expressed his fears about his beloved neighborhood Jethro’s in previous columns. The pandemic crushed small-concert venue Vaudeville Mews, even though it is allowed open with social distancing protocols.

Hot Sheets belabors the point that an impotent Congress and incompetent White House’s failure to pass a stimulus harms not just the typist and his fellow unemployed Americans, but the economy as a whole. America’s economy is 70% consumption — buying stuff. The pandemic has put a squeeze on discretionary money and with the biggest buying season of the year — Christmas — already underway, a mild or poor holiday shopping season could multiple the business closures exponentially.

Remember this as you vote, friends. Your government failed you. But, in the end, we the people are the government. With the power fo the vote, we can make sure our country does not fail.

ITEM THREE: Purists will always argue the best James Bond was the original, Sean Connery. The typist concedes Connery’s Bond defined the character, but the typist favors Pierce Brosnan’s “Goldeneye” as the best movie in the series if for no other reason than Brosnan’s Bond chased rogue Russian villains with a tank through Red Square.

However, perhaps the most Bond, James Bond film of them all is “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” with the highly criticized George Lazenby in the lead. But the villain’s lair in the Swiss Alps combined with the fantastic ski chase and the tragic death of Diana Rigg’s Contessa make it the typist’s No. 2 despite Lazenby being only slightly off as Bond.

These are the kind things a man considers watching round-the-clock Bond movies on Pluto TV.

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

Q: Why don’t lobsters share?

A: Because they are shellfish.

Q: What did the horse say when he tripped?

A: Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t giddy-up.

Q: What prize do you get for putting your phone on vibrate?

A: The no bell prize.

Q: Who took the frog’s car?

A: It was toad.

ITEM FIVE: The National Weather Service predicts snow Sunday into Sunday evening with totals up to 6 inches in some areas. One to two inches of snow are expected in the metro. Or, as it will be reported on local television, “THOUSANDS FLEE AS WHITE DEATH FALLS FROM SKY!”

ITEM LAST: The Big Ten makes its return to football competition this weekend. They planned to play in the spring because of the pandemic. Then the schools realized their entire athletic budgets depended on football. So they decided to play a shortened season and at least get some money. The Pac-12, which also cancelled its own cancellation, returns next week.

The typist would just like to point out that of the five power conference involved in the college football playoff system, three of them have numbers in their name: The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12. Of those, only one of those conferences accurately infers the number of teams in the conference. The Big Ten has 14 teams. The Big 12 has 10 teams. Only the Pac-12 actually has 12 teams, though one of them is Colorado and no one is sure if that counts.

It’s a sad state of affairs in American when so many associations of institutions of higher learning can’t fucking count.

Daniel P. Finney was a roadie for Metallica on the Speed of Sound Tour. Buncha assholes. 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