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.

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.

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.