des moines, life, News, People, politics, Unemployment

IRS refund delays put school plans at risk

The time: 12:39 a.m. The place: My cluttered 635 square-foot apartment a fart and armpit noise away from Drake University. I’m hunched over my elegantly aging laptop with Warren Zevon’s “Poor, Poor Pitful Me” blasting in my eardrums at top volume and my Oska Tigers ballcap screwed on my bald head.

My body shakes with anxiety. It’s been that kind of day. Or yesterday was that kind of day. These wee, small hours of the morning posts are tricky bastards when it comes to the timing of things.

I checked my credit union balance this afternoon. I needed to get some allergy pills.

I wanted to save back a few bills for when my buddy, Memphis Paul, hits town next week. We don’t close the bars anymore, but I was thinking of a nice trip to the Amana and the Ox Yoke Inn restaurant with a stop in Iowa City at Prairie Lights Books and Cafe.

To my surprise, my online tax preparer had deducted about $240 from my account, leaving me in the all-too familiar position of being flat-ass broke.

Bad balance juju

What fuckery was this?

I indeed used the company’s software to prepare and file my taxes. But they were to take the money out of my refund, not my bank account.

My refund was big enough to cover the prep fees and take care of a couple months’ worth of rent with change left over.

Said refund has yet to arrive in my account. Apparently, the previous president of the United States was not fond of the IRS, particularly their auditors, and gutted the staffing for the agency.

The pandemic forced federal employees out of their enclaves and taxes filed by paper form piled up for the 2019 tax year and the beginning of the 2020 filing season.

IRS hell

My refund has been tied up in IRS hell since my return was filed and accepted on April 15. Normally it takes 21 days to process. We are at 68 days and counting.

I’ve tried to get the IRS on the phone. This usually meant hours on hold with a recording bleating the woes of the understaffed agency. A few times I got to a point where even the recording gave up on the charade and said, “Call back tomorrow or send us an email.”

Only the federal government can stick its middle finger so squarely in your eye without fear of reprisal.

I tried to make my elected officials work for me, which on face value seems as foolhardy as chewing tinfoil to improve your car radio reception.

The futility of representative democracy

Calling your elected representative: The last refuge of the desperate.

I dialed up the offices of Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley and Rep. Cindy Axne.

Ernst’s office didn’t return the call. Maybe she takes personally all those columns where I called her “Dollar Store Sarah Palin.” That’s fair. Ernst seems exactly the kind of person who is only interested in helping the people who scratch her back.

Grassley’s office called and sent me a privacy form to fill out. I did so. I’ve not yet heard back from his people.

Axne’s office emailed me the form. I sent it back the same way. The next day someone called back and said they would assign it to a caseworker who deals with IRS problems.

They warned me this is an ongoing problem and they’ve dealt with a lot of calls about it. I’m supposed to hear something back this Friday.

Companies inside of companies

So, back to the online tax preparer, whom I’ve done business with since 2001. I paid the company the extra dough for 24-7 support because if there was a year shit was going to go sideways on my taxes, it would be the year I lost two jobs and lived off unemployment.

I dialed the tax prep company up and got a man on the phone within minutes.

The reason they hit my bank account: It’s the fine print, the man said. In the fine print, I agreed to pay the online tax preparer even if my refund never shows up.

We did send you three emails, the man said.

I searched my mail. I found nothing.

He read my email address to me. It was an address I hadn’t used for years and it isn’t the one I log into the tax prep site with.

Ah, well there was the rub, the tax prep man said. I changed my email with that part of the company, but there’s this other company that handles the money transaction side of things.

That part of the company sent emails to an address I no longer use warning me of the pending transaction. If I had replied to one of those messages, they would have extended my grace period.

But I don’t check that email. So, I’m out that cash. It’s legit. But it still sucks.

Hopeless against the merciless

I don’t know what a citizen is supposed to do. You can’t fight the IRS. You can’t get them on the phone. The government works about as well as going uphill in roller skates in an ice storm.
I’m unemployed. I need that money, which the law says is my money and should be returned to me.

This wouldn’t hit so hard if Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds hadn’t cut off the pandemic assistance unemployment, which tacked an extra $300 to unemployment insurance.

Reynolds seems primarily concerned that restaurant servers get back to work for substandard wages and earn their tips rather than make a living wage.

I’ll remind you that the $300 unemployment booster came from federal money and didn’t take a cent from Reynold’s budget. And the money ended in September anyway.

If Disney keeps up with this “Cruella” franchise, they might consider Reynolds for the lead role.

Job market is great for servers

Some jerk already has their pity “Get a job!” response keyed up. Yeah. I’m trying.

Funny thing about that, though. I had a job for 23 years. I worked at different shops. But I did well until one day I made too much money for the greedy Wall Street hustlers and the put me on the bricks.

By then, I hated my job and what it had become so much, it was almost a relief to be cut loose from the toxic trade.

What I quickly learned is the skill set I have may have value to other careers, but I have zero skill in translating what I can do to what people need done. I’ve paid companies to help me with it.

The closest I got was a short engagement with a TV station that was an absolute disaster because I was totally out of my element.

Trying to be a better person

But what I’m really trying to do is get a new career. I’m studying to be a teacher, to give back to the institutions that gave so much to me and maybe pass along what I’ve learned.

I’m am trying to be a better person. I’m trying to grow out of this miserable experience. And, yeah, I wanted to go for a nice meal with my buddy whom I haven’t seen in three years.

The time is 1:43 a.m. Zevon’s “Mr. Bad Example” blasts. Boy, that man knew how to sling a savage lyric.

I get it. This is America. There are winners and losers. And if you’re a loser, it’s your fault. Nobody gives a shit about the runners-up let alone the last guy to cross the line. And if you don’t make it? Hey, you might as well not exist.

Reminds me of another Zevon tune: “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.”

Somehow, I got stuck between a rock and a hard place

And I’m down on my luck

I’m down on my luck.

Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. 
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311. 
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life, People, politics, Unemployment

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds earns another gold star for cruelty

“Bad? Son, the fan didn’t just get hit this time, it got smothered!” — G.I. Joe No. 1, 1982

Gov. Kim Reynolds is an inspiration.
This week she inspired me to have a panic attack.

Reynolds announced Iowa would no longer participate in the federal pandemic assistance program. That program paid unemployed people $300 a week in addition to their state benefits. The money came from the feds rather than the state budget. The program was set to end in September.

Why Reynolds wanted to get out of a program that helped some of her vulnerable citizens that came at no cost to her is beyond me.

Maybe she wanted another gold star for cruelest move by a chief executive.

But that’s the way it is with Reynolds. She’s the governor.

If you don’t like it, it’s your problem, not hers.

She’s right. Losing $300 a week of income was, in fact, my problem.

I was using that money to help get through graduate school at Drake University. I plan to become a journalism and language arts teacher.

If all goes well, and I have no reason to expect that it will, I’ll be signing a contract with a metro district by this time next year and beginning the second half of my working life as a teacher.

Reynolds said she quit the pandemic assistance program because the state had more job openings than unemployed people. People were using the money to stay home instead of going back to work.

That’s a fun fantasy based on a dangerous fallacy.

Reynolds seems to believe all jobs are the same.

They’re not.

There are a lot of fast food restaurants around town offering $14, $15 and even $16 per hour for help. Maybe I could get one of those jobs.

Except I can’t. I have arthritis in my knees and back. I can’t stand for an 8-hour shift. I’d be fired by the end of the second day if I lasted that long.

Arthritis, obesity, depression and anxiety are all health issues. I need physical therapy and medication.

I bought the cheapest insurance available off the exchange. It’s not really health insurance as much as it is catastrophe insurance. If I have a heart attack or get hit by a car, I’ll be able to go to the hospital.

But in terms of wellness, it’s garbage.

But, as our inspiring governor would say, citizens’ health barriers to employment are their problem.

I don’t understand politics. I never have. I had a great political science professor as an undergrad at Drake, Dennis Goldford.

He said politics was “the only process we have, peacefully, for enabling us to live together with people with whom we have significant differences.”

We’re not seeing a lot of this art of compromise anymore.

We’re seeing “you’re with us or against us” mentality stoked by a mass media that targets its messages at partisan purists and leaves the rest of the country behind.

This leads to politics without compromise, which means no matter who gets elected, a lot of people are screwed.

I think that’s how someone like Reynolds gets elected governor. She doesn’t compromise. If it’s not a problem for her, her party or her donors, then it’s not a problem.

The rest of us are on our own. We, as Iowans and Americans, have become hardened in our hearts to others. We want what’s ours. Everyone else can fend for themselves. Anyone who struggles is a loser. It’s not my problem, pal, it’s yours.

That’s Reynolds’ thinking. That’s a big swath of Iowa and American thinking. Never compromise.

Fine.

The income hit hurts.

I’ll survive.

Why?

I’ve got a lot of help. I’ve got family. I’ve got friends.

I’ve got the federal government happy to loan me money to go to graduate school.

I will probably die in student loan debt.

I don’t care.

Because I am going to be a teacher. I think I’ll be a good teacher, maybe even a great one. Maybe I’ll be a better teacher than I was a journalist.

I don’t know.

But I have been fighting for survival since I became a ward of the state on my first moment out of the womb.

I got adopted.

I lost my folks before I was 14.

I lived with another family and thrived.

I struggled with mental health. I spent myself into bankruptcy and considered suicide many times.

I got therapy and medicine.

I worked in newspapers.

Newspapers kicked me out.

And in the dead middle of my life, I’m learning a whole new trade and getting by each week by the skin of my teeth.

Hit me, life.

Beat me to my knees, bad luck.

Ignore me with your vast indifference, Gov. Reynolds.

I stand. I keep moving forward with the tenacity of a cockroach.

I am resilient.

I will overcome my problems.

And one day, when I see someone struggling that I can help, I’m going to remember the legacy of Reynolds and do the opposite:

I’ll help.

Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. 
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311. 
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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.

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

HOT SHEET: Mystery of Grandma Margaret solved, we know when Reynolds will endorse masks, and the singularity looms in new Netflix doc

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

ITEM ONE: In a Hot Sheet Investigative Report Exclusive, the mystery of Grandma Margaret is solved. Earlier this week, the typist’s grandmother, Lois Newcomb, died at 92. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker was surprised to learn from her obituary that Lois’ first name was really Margaret. The typist has been a part of Lois’ family for nearly 30 years and this never came up. Mom 2.0, the kindly east Des Moines hairdresser who raised the typist after his parents died, broke the story: Lois Newcomb was born the daughter of Clarence and Marjorie Tyrrel in November 1927. Clarence declared that his daughter would be called Lois because, “If we call her Margaret, somebody is going to start calling her ‘Maggie’ and I don’t want a daughter named ‘Maggie.’”

ITEM TWO: Many of us sing in the shower, but how many of us practice choir in the pool? COVID-19 put the kibosh on indoor choir practice for teacher Mark Potvin and his Luther College vocalists at one of the nation’s largest vocal music colleges. Potvin spotted the city pool being drained for the winter, secured permission from city offical’s and KCRG-TV reports Luther’s five choirs now rehearse off the deep end.

ITEM THREE: Gov. Kim Reynolds refuses to issue a statewide mask order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 despite recommendations from the White House, where her pal President Donald Trump lives, reports WOI-TV. Nearly half of the more than 1,200 Iowans who have died from COVID-19 lived in nursing homes. A public mask mandate could help slow the outbreak, but about the only time Reynolds will be willing to order mask wearing is on Beggars’ Night and Halloween — which will likely be cancelled because of the virus.

ITEM FOUR: Hot Sheet recommends they Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma.” The feature includes voices from a slew of former engineers and executives from Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all with a paranoia-inducing message: Social media “uses your own psychology against you,” as one engineer put it, and has the power to shred not only the American democracy, but the fabric of society. “Fake news” makes money and there’s no market for the truth. Nobody trusts anybody. It’s as bleak a movie I’ve seen since “The Road” with the added terror that it is happening in real-time before our eyes. The most horrifying stat: Computing power doubles every two two years, but the human brain has not evolved at all.”

ITEM FIVE: Krause Group, owners of the $2.8-billion Kum & Go gas and convenience store chain, added the controlling interest of an Italian soccer team, Forbes reports. Iowa’s soccer super fan Kyle Krause, CEO of the company that bears his name, bought 90% interest in Parma Calcio 1913, a lower division Italian team valued at about $100 million. Krause owns the Des Moines Menace soccer team and has backed soccer for youth and adults in Iowa and beyond for decades. He promoted a USL Championship team to Des Moines and build a stadium downtown. Krause, who of Italian decent on his mother’s side of the family, owns a home in Italy about two hours away from Parma. The typist is not a big soccer fan, but his bemused by the idea of Parma players running about the pitch with Kum & Go emblazoned on their chest in maroon and white.

ITEM LAST: The typist is no longer a gambling man, but if he were, he wouldn’t take Iowa State this Saturday. For one thing, they’re not playing and for another, they’ll probably find a way to screw that up, too.

OK. We can close the book on this one. Donate if you can. It really helps. As always, behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney shops at Thornton Melon’s Tall and Fat Store.

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, People, Pop Culture, sports, Unemployment

HOT SHEET: Big Ten to play football in the pandemic and, you know what, who really gives a damn anymore?

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

ITEM ONE: The Big Ten Conference reversed itself Wednesday and decided to play football this fall after previously punting the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first decision was made based on public health policy. The second decision was made based on money. The Hot Sheet, honestly, just doesn’t give a damn. Play football. Don’t play football. Whatever. The players want to play. Those who don’t can opt out. The players’ parents marched in Big Ten states across the land in favor of their sons’ playing football. They’re not having fans in the stands, which seems to be the biggest risk. Iowa and Iowa State athletic departments are going broke without football money. Iowa cut programs and jobs and instituted pay cuts and furloughs. Iowa State faces a $30-million shortfall. America is a bottom-line country and football is a big part of the bottom line at some of America’s most prestigious institutions … and whatever the University of Nebraska is. Society has bigger mackerels to microwave than whether young, healthy men play football in the pandemic. So, by all means, play ball you brave and bold young men. Wash your hands after every play and try to keep the spit out of your eye.

ITEM TWO: Black Lives Matter activists wish the public held social justice in as high regard as football. If institutional racism garnered the same attention as instant reply, we might actually achieve equity in America.

ITEM THREE: If you live in Polk, Dallas, Black Hawk or Linn counties, you can now belly up to the bar until a 2 a.m. closing time again. Gov. Kim Reynolds lifted restrictions that bars stop serving by 10 p.m. She kept the restrictions in COVID-19-slathered Story and Johnson counties, home to the Iowa State University and the University of Iowa respectively. The typist suggests the governor lift the ban in Story and Johnson counties, too. If the college kids are packing the bars too tightly, enforce the order with fines on the bars. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker believes bartenders, servers and others who make their living at bars and taverns deserve to survive this hellish period. Besides, the sporadic closure of bars felt like “make it up as you go” policy that didn’t stand up to scrutiny. Does COVID-19 magically awaken at 10:01 p.m. and become more infectious?

ITEM FOUR: Unavailable due to COVID-19 pandemic.

ITEM FIVE: Congress remains incapable of even a granule of compromise and thus remains deadlocked in eternal brinksmanship on the matter of a second stimulus. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, promises to get a deal in place before they break for the November election. Forgive the typist his skepticism. Election years are godawful affairs that pander to the worst common denominator. No politician up for election is appealing to the best and brightest of our fractured culture. But know this: Hot Sheet will monitor the action or inaction of Iowa representatives on the matter of unemployment and second stimulus and vote accordingly, regardless of party affiliation.

ITEM LAST: Wednesday brings new comics to the shelves at the local pop culture emporiums. Hot Sheet offers these recommendations to followers of funny books:

  • Batman: Curse of the White Knight, hardcover, DC Comics, $30. In a world where the Joker (Jack Napier) is sane and Batman is viewed as a public menace, what kind of dirt will smilin’ Jack dig up on the Wayne family history?
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Black Cat Strikes, trade paperback, Marvel Comics, $16. The typist enjoys the Gamerverse comics even though he isn’t a gamer. He would prefer a regular ongoing to flesh out the characters than these shorter offerings. Still, it’s better than trying to crack the code on the ongoing mainstream titles, which are usually terrible.
  • X-Men/Fantastic Four: 4X, trade paperback, Marvel Comics, $16. The X-Men have created a mutant paradise. Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four, is one of the most powerful mutants in the world. The mutants want Franklin to join them in paradise. There may be some disagreements.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five or the Children’s Crusade: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, hardcover, Arcane, $25. The Hot Sheet adores the late Kurt Vonnegut’s prose, but has never been able to make sense of his most highly regarded novel. The early pages of the graphic novel adaptation prove promising that the typist will finally uptake and understand at least some form of this literary classic.

Let’s close the book on this one. Donate if you can. It helps your poor, unemployed grad student typist more than you can know.

Be kind and behave.

Dismissed.

What, did you think Daniel P. Finney was going to take a different photo every time he posted a Hot Sheet? He’s got a lot going on you know.

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.

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