This could be the last post on this blog ever

I believe writer’s block is an affectation experienced by successful authors who have made enough money to let their egos be picky.

I am not a successful author. I’m a former journalist, maybe even a failed one.

But I have found it hard to write of late.

I am tired. The fall semester drained me. The classes were hard. They shook my confidence. I went from knowing I could teach to thinking I could teach.

Maybe that swing is good. A person needs to earn swagger. I earned a little in paragraph stacking, but I have none in teaching.

I begin student teaching in January.

I have some decisions to make about my public writing before then.

I have lived a partially public life in the age of social media.

I have accounts on all the major platform and about 11,000 combined followers.

That’s not much if you’re Beyonce.

It’s decent if you’re some random fat guy in the Midwest who typed up police reports and weather stories for the local newspaper.

The decision: Do I delete all those accounts?

The easiest answer is “yes.”

The problem is I sometimes say things on these platforms that people find objectionable.

I try to stay out of politics and religion, although I’ve dipped into both over time.

Mom 2.0, the kindly east Des Moines hairdresser who raised me after my parents died, always tried to keep those topics out of her beauty shop. I keep them out of my feed as best I can.

But everything is an argument these days.

I’ll give you an example: I have not been very excited about the most recent actor to play the lead in “Doctor Who.”

I don’t blame the actor, not really. I just don’t think the stories are very good.
I voiced this opinion in the comic shop. One of the employees sighed heavily and said, “The world was not ready for its first female Doctor.”

The implication in that comment is that the reason I don’t like the show is because I don’t like women.

I said nothing. I paid for my comics and left.

I wanted to reply and make my point more clearly, but any protest would have led to politics, which the shop owner tries to avoid for the same reason Mom 2.0 did.

I’m sure if I kept talking, I would be accused of sexism or misogyny. It’s not a conversation worth having.

This was a real-world conversation, where you can read body language and tone.

Now take that conversation online, remove context and any sense of sanity.

The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Victimhood rules the internet.

If I were to make such a comment about disliking “Doctor Who” stories in recent seasons online, one of them might find me and decide I was the worst person in the world.

Then they might go on quest to wreck my life.

A person with whom you disagree about “Doctor Who” must not be able to have a job or get a cup of coffee. They must be shunned and forced to the edges of society.

Employers hate controversy. They have a business to run. Bosses don’t need their employees drumming up problems for them by what say on the internet.

First Amendment free speech protections only prevent the government from muzzling you. Your employer can absolutely tell you to shut up about your opinions on “Doctor Who” or clean out your desk.

I plan to work in public schools.

If all goes as planned — and, please, God, let me get what I want this time — I will be ending my first semester as a fully licensed teacher by this time next year.

I have no intention of rocking the boat with mean tweets about “Doctor Who” episodes — or anything else for that matter.

So, do I just spike the whole thing?

Do I kill the blog? Should I delete Facebook, Twitter, and the rest?

I think maybe I should.

However, I also think I enjoy writing for an audience and the people who read this blog have been very kind and loyal to me for the past couple years, some of the worst in my adult life.

There are other options.

I could make the blog, Facebook page, and Twitter private. I could control who is in and who is out.

I know some people who do that just so they can complain about the terrible play of the Chicago Bears with a wider range of vocabulary than is allowed at the Methodist Sunday night potluck.

I don’t know how successful making accounts private is. I figure if you put it out there, eventually someone who is serious about getting to it will get to it.

What am I going to do?

I don’t know.

I don’t have to decide today.

Maybe over a couple glasses of eggnog and some holiday cheer, I’ll have an epiphany.

Until then, save me a snowman cookie and keep telling your story.


Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Been doing the place up a bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.