des moines, Faith and Values, obesity, People

Meet the guardian angel of my parking lot

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

The acrid smell of hot tires filled the air, accompanied by the futile roar of my car’s engine and the squeal.

Once-white snow sullied by exhaust fumes and tire rubber sprayed the vehicles behind me in my apartment parking lot.

I rocked my body in the driver’s seat and the car joined my rhythms, but still the rear wheels failed to climb the pile of plowed snow that entombed my car in the space.

Nine inches of snow fell on the city overnight. I knew this trouble well. I bought my car, a 2012 Dodge Charger, because it looks cool.

And it does.

But it handles poorly on snow and ice, especially in the apartment parking lot where the plows clear the main paths but leave small mountains of snow behind the occupied spaces.

I was stuck.

I would be late to my new job that I still struggled to learn. Panic bubbled in my gut.

Then a young woman knocked on my door. She offered to push while I pounded the gas.

She appeared fit, but even the strongest of CrossFit athletes would be at a disadvantage pushing my two-ton car with my girth in the driver’s side.

I suggested she drive while I push. I leaned into the car with my hip, one of the few times my obesity helped. We freed the car in about three hard tries.

I thanked her.

“No problem,” she said.

I went on to work.

The snow melted and refroze over the next few days. A light snow fell one Sunday morning as I made mincing steps to my car.

A voice behind me said, “Did we need more of this?”

I didn’t look up, but grumbled, “No, definitely not.”

I biffed it on a patch of ice hidden by the light snow cover and crashed hard on my right side.

I stayed down for a minute. I wanted to assess if I had broken anything. I had not.

The ground was very slippery in a wide swath around me.

I managed to twist myself around to sit on my butt, but efforts to stand might have reminded observers of a Donald Duck cartoon.

Except one onlooker. I heard a familiar voice in my ear. It was the person who had walked out ahead of me toward the parking lot.

“Are you all right?” she said.

I looked up. It was the same young woman who helped get my car out of the snow a few days before.

She’s apparently been appointed my guardian angel.

“I’ve been better,” I said.

She offered a hand. I worried that my girth would pull her down. I slid over to my car.

I took her hand and used the car to steady myself. I was upright. I thanked her again.

“No problem,” she said.

“I never asked your name,” I said.

“Maddie,” she said.

Maddie, it turns out, is Maddie Smith, a rower on the Drake University Women’s Crew team.

I don’t know how many people would stop to help an obese man who fell on the ice or to push someone out of snow.

But Maddie Smith was there for me twice.

She is from Des Moines and a graduate of Dowling Catholic High School. She is a credit to her faith, family and herself.

We talk a lot about how terrible everything is in the world. This story doesn’t make those things any less true.

But this story does contain one of the few proven remedies for things to improve: unselfish kindness.

Daniel P. Finney apologizes to neighbors for any tremors caused by his recent fall.

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.

des moines, Iowa, Media, News, People, TV

HOT SHEET: Hey, Finney finally got a job!

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, Paragraph Stacker-at-large, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONLY: I got a job.

The last of the “onboarding” paperwork went through this morning. I start as assignment editor for Local 5 We Are Iowa at 9:15 a.m., Monday, Dec. 7, 2020.

This ends an employment drought that dates to May 1 when the local paragraph factory eliminated my job amidst corporate cutbacks during the coronavirus pandemic.

That WOI-TV wooed me back to daily journalism surprises me only slightly more than they convinced me to try a new medium.

I started stacking paragraphs for pay when I was 17. I thought that part of my life was over for good.

But the people at Local 5 seemed to want me at their shop even after I explained that all I know about TV is how to turn one on.

I don’t know what “assignment editor” means yet. I know it means I will be behind-the-camera, which is exactly my preference. I know it involves writing, story idea generating and working with reporters and anchors.

Hell, I’ll get people coffee if the pay deposits on the regular and I can afford to get cortisone shots for my arthritic knees.

I plan to continue my graduate studies at Drake University. I’ve laid out money for next semester already. I will teach someday. As my old friend Don Adams, the retired Drake vice president, always says: “Preserve your options.”

This week, I’m finishing up the semester work. I’m off school until Feb. 1, which means I’ve got two full months to learn my job, get to know people and immerse myself into the new gig’s culture.

Family, friends and readers, I thank each and every one of you for your support of this blog and me personally. This year tested all our souls.

I am blessed to know so many people who showed the love for me even as they carried their own burdens.

I promise to reward your faith in me by being the very best journalist I can be for Local 5. You may not see my byline, but know that I’m there trying my hardest to make sure you know what’s going on in your hometown.

As for this blog, the future is uncertain. I may keep writing. Some topics will be verboten, especially media criticism and politics.

That’s OK. There’s lots of good stuff to type about.

For now, though, I’m going to take a break to finish up the semester and get ready for my new adventure in journalism.

With love and hope,

dpf

Daniel P. Finney works in TV news now is a sentence he never thought he’d type.

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.

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, mental health, News, politics, sports

HOT SHEET: Drake Jethro’s trims hours, Trump honors Dan Gable, and horse skeleton chicanery

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.

comics, des moines, humor, Iowa, Pop Culture

HOT SHEET: This post affirms all your confirmation biases and also talks about Busch Light and ranch dressing

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.

des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, Movies, News, People, Pop Culture

HOT SHEET: Stop badgering people to vote, ‘L.A.’s Finest’ is TV’s worst, the typist’s COVID-19 test and new comics recommendations

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Every group who sent the typist mail urging him — almost begging him to register to vote — can fucking relax. He’s been registered since age 18. Also, as it comes to more pleading about voting by mail, when, how and whether I vote is my own goddamn business.

ITEM TWO: The Hot Sheet sampled Fox’s fall new show, “L.A.’s Finest.” The show stars Jessica Alba as a woke super mom who can spit out Dumpster-diver “Gilmore Girls” dialogue while shooting to wound in a firefight who harbors a dark secret. Gabrielle Union plays a cop who loves sex with at least two genders, hates relationships, smokes weed and … also harbors a dark secret. Despite amped SFX for the pilot, the show offices little more than a standard police procedural with a soapy twist in the background. The show is a victory of sorts for the representation of Black and brown people on prime time TV. It definitively proves Fox can make mediocre shows starring people of any race, color or creed. What a time to be alive.

ITEM THREE: The typist took his first COVID-19 test Wednesday. Drake University requires random sampling of students — even those who live off campus and study remotely. He spit into a cup until it covered the bottom. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker doesn’t know yet if he has coronavirus, but he finally found a use for all the spitting technique he learned playing Little League.

ITEM FOUR: Unavailable due to COVID-19 quarantine.

ITEM FIVE: Hot Sheet has learned that Item Five was at a party that was improperly socially distanced with Item Four on or about Sept. 7. Item Five is now quarantined in location outside the Drake station. This behavior undermines our ability to keep the station and surrounding community safe, and puts the continuation of in-person paragraph stacking at risk. It also violates the Hot Sheet Together Compact and is subject to disciplinary action under our Code of Typist Conduct.

ITEM SIX: Hot Sheet notes the wedding of typist favorite actress Emma Stone to some dude who will clearly not worship her as much as he would.

ITEM SEVEN: New comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Vampronica: New Blood — Archie Comics’ reimagining their core characters as horror icons continues as Veronica becomes a vampire who stalks the night for blood, vengeance and opulent handbags.
  • Acts of Vengeance: Marvel Universe — The great villains of the Marvel Universe form a cabal and decide to put new foes against the heroes that have defeated them time and again. The result is a late 1980s classic.

ITEM LAST: If it’s true that every person must make an accounting of their time on Earth at the end of their life, the typist is concerned about how much time he spent looking for the goddamn remote.

OK, let’s close the book on this one. Please donate if you can. It supports the creativity and keeps up the typist’s grad school efforts.

Daniel P. Finney covers widescreen photos for ParagraphStacker.com.

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.

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

HOT SHEET: Football, Busch Light, ranch dressing and other pointless s***

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

ITEM ONE: The Iowa Beef Industry Council selected selected its best burger Iowa. It’s the Who Gives A Shit Just Eat Wherever You Like And Stop Being Such A Goddamn Follower served everywhere. It’s served with Busch Light and ranch dressing because Iowans really like these exceptionally dull things with a pointless fanaticism.

ITEM TWO: The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was pen pals with the director of the Des Moines Metro Opera, reports WHO-TV. As a nation mourns a pioneer for gender equity under the law and one of the most respected jurists of her time, we must also mourn the loss of the loss of the last active pen pals in the nation. Toast their special friendship with a Busch Light and dip something in ranch.

ITEM THREE: Hot Sheet predicts a 4-4 Big Ten season for the Iowa Hawkeyes with losses to Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin. The typist also predicts Hawkeye fans will drink lots of Busch Light and dip lots of things in ranch dressing.

ITEM FOUR: Unavailable due to coronavirus quarantine.

ITEM FIVE: Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos moaned about the tough draw the Cornhuskers received in the Big Ten schedule, reports the Omaha World-Herald. The Bugeaters play five preseason AP Top 25 teams. Ohio State plays one. Nebraska’s schedule is undeniably tough, but if they it can’t all be Busch Light and ranch dressing.

ITEM LAST: Players at 71 courts in Estonia made 114,357 free throws in 8 hours to set a Guinness Book of World Records mark and honor basketball’s 100th anniversary in the nation, the UPI reports. No word on how much Busch Light and ranch dressing was consumed in celebration.

OK. Let’s close the book on this one. Please donate if you can and, as always, behave and be kind. Especially be kind.

Daniel P. Finney shaved Monday and nobody noticed.

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.

des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, News, Pop Culture, sports

HOT SHEET: Cyclones’ brutal bummer, Democrats caught eating meat, Pizza Hutt woes and COVID playlist

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

ITEM ONE: Iowa State fans should thank their higher power of choice for unanswered prayers. Some 25,000 were to be admitted to Saturday’s debacle in Ames before officials came to their senses and remembered the pandemic. The Cyclones stunk up the joint with dropped passes on offense and a poor showing on special teams and defense. Running back Breece Hall provided the lone bright spot with 103 yards rushing including a touchdown. A reader recently suggested the Cyclones could contend for the Big 12 Championship Game. That’s true in the sense that there are only so many teams in the conference and since they are a member of the conference they are competing for the championship. But based on Saturday’s play, the typist considers that a technicality.

ITEM TWO: Polk County Democrats held their annual steak fry fundraiser in social distance fashion. The event drew no interest from Hot Sheet except for mild surprise there are any Democrats who still eat meat. The typist figured it would all be vegan couscous by now.

ITEM THREE: Hot Sheet admits we make fun of Democrats more often than Republicans. There’s one reason for this: Republicans have lots of guns.

ITEM FOUR: Pizza Hutt closed 15 of its 100 locations Iowa last week, reports KKWL-TV. Hot Sheet fondly recalls birthday parties and after-football gatherings at the Winterset Pizza Hutt as a boy. Corporate owners spared that restaurant, but the typist thinks the Grim Reaper stalks the Hutt. Domino’s nearly doubles the Hutt’s market share, per the consumer tech company Edison. Plus, the last time the ol’ Paragraph Stacker ordered from the local Hutt, he wished he’d just made a salad like a Democrat.

ITEM FIVE: A full 25% of Iowans now take medication to control anxiety, per a recent Iowa Department of Health report. Hot Sheet blames 2020 being leap year. The typist always believed it was unfair that years with a presidential election had an extra day. Throw in the pandemic and delete almost everything fun and suddenly everyone gnashes their teeth and chews their fingernails. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker recommends self care, sleep hygiene and writing to your state lawmakers to urge them to legalize weed.

ITEM SIX: This wretched pandemic finds ways to make even good turns bad. Example: Since losing his job and taking grad school classes online, the typist seldom drives more than once or twice a week. That’s a savings on gas. Alas, his Hy-Vee fuel saver rewards are expiring before he can use them. The COVID gives, the COVID takes. Mostly it takes.

ITEM LAST: Five songs to help you kick the COVID-19 funk:

  1. “Keep On Rockin’ in the Free World,” Neil Young
  2. “Land of Confusion,” Genesis
  3. “All Along the Watchtower,” Jimi Hendrix
  4. “Hound Dog,” Elvis Presley
  5. “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga.

Well, I guess we can close the book on this one.

Remember to listen to our podcasts and contribute if you can through PayPal or you can find me on Venmo and through the mail listed here. The money goes to keep the site running and keep the lights on while the ol’ Paragraph Stacker studies are Drake.

Behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney has a cat on his hat and you don’t.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade.

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.

Crime and Courts, des moines, Des moines police, humor, Iowa, Media, News, People, Pop Culture, sports, Uncategorized

HOT SHEET: #OldManStudent update, NFL notes, Iowa celebrates small COVID-19 gain, absentee ballot confusion and police success stories

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

ITEM ONE: Update on #OldManStudent. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker takes all his classes online via Zoom meetings at Drake University. This format works better than anticipated, but there are pitfalls. Example: Your typist’s bathroom is about 12 feet from his computer. Always remember to mute your microphone when you answer nature’s call because mics will pick up certain sounds one would just as soon remain private.

ITEM TWO: Other Zoom meeting notes: No one looks good eating a sub sandwich on camera. If you happen to have the NFL season opener on in the background, mute the TV and make sure the TV is not in direct line of the camera.

ITEM THREE: The NFL season began Thursday. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs beat the Houston Texans. It still feels odd to say “defending champion Kansas City Chiefs,” perhaps the only good thing to occur in 2020. Then again, I’m old enough that it feels weird not to say Houston Oilers. The Bears also did well Thursday evening. The team owes this mostly to not having played.

ITEM FOUR: The typist turns almost all his sporting attention to pro football. His beloved New York Yankees cling to the eighth seed in the American League playoffs. This spot only exists because baseball executives expanded the playoffs to make up for the coronavirus-shortened 60-game regular season. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker questions the wisdom of Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman’s “protect all prospects” approach. The typist grimly notes the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals have won more World Series in the last decade than the Yankees. The Yankee batters may be “savages in the box,” but they’re sad sacks in the standings.

ITEM FIVE: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference to celebrate Iowa dropping from No. 1 in coronavirus spread to No. 3. Wow. What an accomplishment. What did Reynolds do, bus some people to Missouri?

ITEM SIX: Just a day after Hot Sheet warned of absentee ballot confusion from well-meaning non-profits, two Iowa judges ruled absentee request forms that were pre-filled with the voter’s name and address were improper, per the Associated Press. The county auditors in Woodbury and Johnson counties sent the request forms to make it easier for people to seek absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, the typist supports efforts to increase voter turnout. However, at some point people must take responsibility for themselves — especially in challenging circumstances. To quote retired Drake University professor Herb Strentz, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.”

ITEM SEVEN: Recommended viewing for the weekend:

  • Louisiana at Iowa State, noon, Saturday, ESPN. The Cyclones are playing without fans in the stands and the Hawkeyes aren’t playing until spring. Regardless of your allegiance in the Cy-Hawk rivalry, you might as well give ISU your eyeballs.
  • Philadelphia Eagles at the Washington Football Team, noon, Sunday, regional coverage. Hot Sheet knows no teams of regional interest play in this game, but we want to see how many times the announcers accidentally say “Redskins” and then fall all over themselves to apologize.
  • The Boys, Season 2, streaming on Amazon Prime: Superheroes with sex, blood and breast milk reheated with heat vision. I’m not making this up.

ITEM LAST: Lest we be cajoled into thinking the local constabulary only makes news in officer-involved shootings or amid racial tensions, Hot Sheet turns your attention to three items of note in the most recent Des Moines city news letter.

  • Chief Dana Wingert promoted Lillie Miller to captain, naming her the first Black female captain in the department’s history. Miller, an officer since 1999, was also the department’s first Black female lieutenant under former chief Judy Bradshaw.
  • Jeff Edwards, a former public information officer and DMPD Medal of Valor recipient also attained his captaincy.
  • Wingert recognized Senior Police Officer Scott Newman, a 21-year veteran and a member of the department’s tactical unit, with the DMPD Lifesaving Award. Newman rescued five people from a burning car wreck on his way home from work early July 5.

The typist takes a lot of heat from liberal extremists for his support of police. That’s fine. Honorable people disagree. And who gives a damn what dishonorable people think? The ol’ Paragraph Stacker recognizes every police department has problems. No one lives in a utopia. But the typist notes that no matter how bad things get, no matter how many people hate them — when the shit breaks bad and the citizenry cries out for help, the police come running.

OK. That’s it. Listen to our podcast. Be careful out there and, as always, donations welcome and appreciated.

Behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney hopes Rick will finally return him to Earth C-137.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade.

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.

des moines, Faith and Values, humor, Iowa

#OldManStudent: Lessons from the first week of class in the pandemic

The first week of graduate school is in the bag. It went well. I worry I’m on track to being one of those irritating non-traditional students who talks too much in class.

Those people burned me up as an undergraduate. They always did the reading and they were so damn enthusiastic about it.

Maybe they were more acutely aware of how much they were paying per credit hour than undergraduates. I know that’s my motivation for being a blabbermouth.

I really feel sorry for the 2020 undergraduate in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic. They lost their rites of spring. At Drake University, that means the Drake Relays and sundry parties and events surrounding that.

Now they’re back on campus (sort of) slathered in Purell and muffled by masks. There’s no fall sports at many schools, including Drake. No cheerleaders. No marching bands. No guy in the Spike the Bulldog costume.

It doesn’t look too good for basketball, which is a damn shame because with my student ID, I could go see my beloved Drake women’s basketball team for free on most home games.

There are probably other things going on across campus, but I’m too old to rush a frat or join a social club. The only club I ever joined at Drake when I was an undergraduate was the Times-Delphic, the student newspaper.

I suppose I could get a beat over there, but I feel like student newspapers are for the up-and-coming journalists who need to get their reps in. I’ve had my 10,000 hours of practice.

And since much of my career was marked by heartbreak and sadness, especially in the end, I feel like I would spend most of my time encouraging the T-D staffers to consider seeing a therapist to discover why they hate themselves enough to enter the trade.

Some, like me, take all their courses online. There goes all the fun of walking across campus with classmates or hanging out in the residence halls having bull sessions over the topics of the day.

The best part of college is the fellowship. I learned a lot in the classroom, but I learned far more from the people I met.

My best friend, Memphis Paul, taught me about the mentality of Southerners. My roommate Anthony, who grew up in Milwaukee, taught me about growing up Black in America.

Another buddy, Brent, included me in scores of events with his family from Hamburg, a quirky small town in southwest Iowa.

I fell in love a few times. Nothing came of it. I’m difficult to get along with, but many of my classmates met their spouses in college.

I felt a profound sense of sadness that today’s college student is robbed of the true college experience.

The week many students arrived on college campuses in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds closed bars and nightclubs because of increased coronavirus cases.

Think of all those poor undergraduate students who won’t get to test out their fake IDs.

I imagine it won’t be long until schools go all online. I already opted for that. I’m not looking to make friends as much this time around as I am focused on learning a new profession.

That said, I don’t mind online classes, but it has some weird quirks. Some professors require you to have your camera on throughout the class period. Others don’t.

A professor in one of my classes described being on camera for hours at a time “exhausting.”

I see her point, but we are learning to be teachers. Assuming the pandemic eventually ends, we are learning jobs that will require us to be in front of students, fellow teachers, parents and administrators every day.

If I were teaching, I don’t know if I would trust my middle school or high school students with their cameras off.

But that’s life in the pandemic, isn’t it?

We’re all asked to trust each other and act in accordance to our consciences.

The only option left us is to make the best of a shitty situation.

And pick up a six pack at the store, because we’ll not be meeting at Peggy’s on Thursday night for a while.

Daniel P. Finney does not have this much hair anymore.

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.