des moines, mental health, Music, News, People, Pop Culture, sports

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.
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.

Crime and Courts, des moines, humor, Iowa, mental health, People, sports

HOT SHEET: Typist begs Congress to pass COVID stimulus; an ice cream thief named Fudge; suspect slathered in Crisco; and spider vs. Spider-Man

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

ITEM ONE: The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg brings anxiety to the typist for more reasons than the potential future ideological makeup of the court. The demagoguery and hypocrisy certain to mark the decision to replace Ginsberg before the presidential election will dominate the Senate and further hamper efforts to pass a stimulus bill before the pre-election October recess. The typist is one of 96,500 unemployed Iowans and 13.6 million Americans unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Donald Trump’s use of Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to provide a $300 boost lasted six weeks, but those funds ran out Sept. 14. Congress battled to a standstill before Labor Day recess on a stimulus package. One would hope that even the most brazenly extremist of Congressional leaders would want to brag about passing a stimulus to help struggling Americans during the pandemic. Alas, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker has lost all faith that his elected representatives have anything but petty bickering in their ineffectual repertoires.

ITEM TWO: Seriously Congress, especially Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and Reps. Cindy Axne, Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack and Steve King from Iowa, pass a goddamn stimulus. People are hurting out here. The typist is one of them. Get it together and make something happen. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker has never felt so hopeless or helpless in his life – and he lives with chronic depression and acute anxiety. The election is coming. Representatives will be held accountable. The typist regularly refers to Sen. Ernst as “Dollar Store Sarah Palin.” But if she played a role in getting a stimulus passed, the typist could be persuaded to vote her way even if he disagrees with most of her positions. Similarly, Rep. Axne could lose a vote if she isn’t seen to be doing all she can to make the stimulus happen. The typist believes this Congress the most useless assemblage of lawmakers in American history. Prove me wrong.

ITEM THREE: Saturday’s absence of college football games with local or personal interest resulted in viewing experimentation by the typist. To wit, the typist attempted to use YouTube TV’s “Catch Up with Key Plays” option when he tuned in late to the University of Central Florida at Georgia Tech contest. The typist expected a version of the Major League Baseball “condensed game,” which appears on the sport’s app and website soon after completion of a ballgame. Instead, YouTube TV delivered an opening kickoff return by Georgia Tech followed by six consecutive commercials. The commercial wave finally broke only to return to inconsequential plays. The typist gave up on the condensed game and relegated it to the “good idea, bad execution” file.

ITEM FOUR: From 2014. Iowa City police arrested a man stealing $501 worth of cakes, cash and containers of ice cream after hours at a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream store, reports the Cedar Rapids Gazette. The suspect’s name? Conor P. Fudge.

ITEM FIVE: From 2014: Rock Island, Illinois, police arrested a slippery suspect Monday. Officers found the naked man carrying a pair of shorts and covered in Crisco, reports the Quad City Times. The suspect told officers he took off his shorts because they were too big and would not fit. He slathered on the Crisco because “he was looking for a place to party.” A search of the suspect’s shorts produced five grams of what officers believed was methamphetamine.

ITEM LAST: A wolf spider the approximate size of a half dollar made the fatal error of squatting in the basin of the typist’s tub. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker reacted swiftly and smooshed the life out of the creature with a facial tissue and flushed it to oblivion. The typist noted some irony, however, that when he sat down to answer nature’s call, he picked up a Spider-Man comic to read.

Let’s close the book on this one. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and donate if you can. It really helps ease the pain of lost expanded unemployment benefits.

Daniel P. Finney covers confectionary crime 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, 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.

Iowa, News, sports

25,000 maniacs: Cyclones go all in with COVID-19 for the glory of football

Iowa State plans to allow 25,000 people at its home football games this season.

This is great for Cyclone football fans.

This is terrible public health policy.

I want it to work.

I don’t think it will.

Coronavirus cases are spiking in populated counties with big universities — including Story County, home to ISU.

Iowa has the highest per-capita instances of positive tests for COVID-19 in the country, per the New York Times.

Only three other countries in the world have a higher per capita rate than Iowa. Story County has the highest spike in new cases.

Football always makes money. COVID-19 is only fatal sometimes.

I picture ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard grinning ear-to-ear with his palms up like Alfred E. Neuman: What, me worry?

Iowa used to be No. 1 in education, or at least that’s what the told people in the 1970s.

Now we’re No. 1 in coronavirus. It’s not a national championship, but it’s something.

Gov. Kim Reynolds shut down bars and nightclubs. No booze. No music. No strippers.

But the restaurants are still open.

So you can sit at the bar in a restaurant and drink. You just can’t drink at a bar.

ISU struggles with COVID-19 on campus. But at Jack Trice Stadium, some 25,000 are going to practice social distancing.

If that sounds silly to you, I think you might be right.

I’m sure this makes sense to somebody. I’m not that person.

But so what?

America, the richest country in the world, has the most COVID-19 deaths.

The “masks are tyranny” crowd don’t help. But neither do the people yelling at other people to wear a mask.

Everybody is an extremist these days. It’s like living in a country full of suicide bombers.

Americans are not good at patience. We want what we want and we want it now.

We want a COVID-19 vaccine. We want it now.

Alas, science and the law does not work on consumer demand. You have to do the work and meet the standards.

So we take risks we shouldn’t. We play football. That’s a terrible idea in the pandemic.

But, damnit, it’s been a tough year and we need this, football lovers say.

We don’t actually need football. We want it and we want it now.

Thus, we shall have it and the masses may attend their cathedrals.

I’m not going. This doesn’t measure much. I lost my taste for crowds years ago.

But even if I had the desire, I wouldn’t go. I have my parents, both 71, and my grandma, 93, to think of.

At this point, I’m willing to treat football and public events like smoking.

Everyone knows smoking is bad for you.

With all the information available to the public on how to contain COVID-19, if you decide to go to a football game with 25,000 people, well, that’s on you.

If you get sick, you knew the risk.

Except … that’s the bitch of this hideous virus. It isn’t just about you. It’s about everyone around you.

Setting aside second-hand smoke, the person playing Russian roulette with their lungs is the smoker.

The football fan takes a power dive into the deep end of the COVID-19 pool.

If they get sick and get others sick, the pandemic drags on and gets worse.

The economy is already choking. A massive shut down like we saw earlier this year could crush a lot of businesses, wipe out scores of jobs and lead to foreclosures and evictions at rates never seen before.

That doesn’t factory in the potential body count.

But, again, I defer to individual choice.

If you wanna risk your health and the health of everyone around you to watch a game that is better on TV, be my guest.

You just can’t be a guest in my home.

Daniel P. Finney covers ear and nose hair 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.

News, sports

Why a depressed football player and an anxious baseball player should give us all hope

Photo by Owen Lystrup via Unsplash

Two sports stories popped up Saturday that I thought were important beyond the ongoing and exasperating discussions of pandemic preparedness and social justice.

The University of Texas cornerback Kobe Boyce announced he was “taking a step away from football” to focus on mental health. Boyce cited depression.

Boyce is a junior who played in 19 games for Texas, including six starts.

I commend this young man for being so open about something that society still has a hard time talking about — mental health.

I know how hard it is to live with depression. I have lived with it most of my life. I control it with medication and talk therapy.

I have been open about this for years. I’ve talked about it. I’ve written about it. I’ve podcasted about it. I’ve tweeted about it. I will continue to do so.

I have my own kind of recognition from my time as a paid paragraph stacker for the local corporate news outlet store.

But I am not a player for the Texas Longhorns, one of the premier programs in college football.

Boyce openly said he was depressed. That is tough.

Sports comes with a culture that despises weakness or the perception of weakness.

Some of that, I suppose, is necessary. To compete at the top levels of amateur and pro sports, one must meet the highest physical and mental demands of the game.

If you cannot reach those levels, you cannot contribute in the way that your coach, your team and your sport demands.

Sports accepts injuries of the physical kind. Broken bones and ligament tears of all kinds are understood.

There was a time when this wasn’t true. I know older sports fans — and older retired players — who glorify playing with injuries that left players crippled after their careers.

Today, people expect top quality medical treatment for all sport-related injuries. Even an obese wobbler like me goes to a sports medicine doctor for pain in his knees and back.

What Boyce has done is say he is injured in another kind of way. He’s hurting in a way that you can’t see.

There’s no limp with depression. His body may look shredded, but his mind is not right.

I am sorry he is dealing with depression. It’s hard to describe the disorder to people who have not walked that path. It’s like looking directly into the sun and not being able to see light. It’s like taking a deep breath and feeling like a tank is parked on your chest.

And, if it goes on long enough, it’s a numbness. You can see joy. You can recognize fun. But all you feel is the dull desire to sleep and shut out all stimuli.

I don’t know Boyce, of course. I don’t know what he’s been through or how he came to recognize he was in pain.

But he has done the most important thing any of us with mental health issues can do: Admit that it’s a problem and take steps to take care of it.

I pray for Boyce. I hope his care is top-flight. And I hope he saw the other sports story that caught my interest Saturday.

That is the story of Daniel Bard, a right-handed pitcher. Bard made the roster for the Colorado Rockies after a seven-year absence from baseball.

Bard came up with the Boston Red Sox but developed control problems, a condition baseball fans colloquially refer to as “the yips” or “hiccups.”

The issue is a legitimate mental health problem. Something goes wrong and an athlete starts to overthink motions that were once routine. Pretty soon they can’t find the strike zone or can’t make a throw to first base.

Baseball people are sympathetic to it, but they also fear it. The idea that one day you suddenly can’t do what you’ve always done — and done at such a high level — is absolutely terrifying.

Bard developed anxiety disorder. He remade his life. He got treatment. He got back into baseball as a pitching coach.

The guys he played catch with told him he still had good stuff. He should try to make camp.

He did. And he made it — from out of the game to all the way back.

Now, sometime in this bizarre, 60-game season, he’ll toe the mound again as a Major League Baseball player and whip the ball to the catcher.

I hope Bard has a terrific year, but even if his ERA or win-loss record isn’t great, he’s already an MVP.

The weight of mental health issues is one of the most difficult burdens for humans to bear. That Bard was able to regroup after all those years and earn a second chance in an unforgiving sport that casts aside people for far less faulty performance is a testament to his mental toughness.

“Mental toughness” is to sports what “resilience” is to psychology. All it means is you refuse to let your troubles define you.

I hope Texas’ Boyce reads about Colorado’s Bard and sees a path forward.

And I hope soon both men are enjoying the sunlight again.

Daniel P. Finney, independent journalist

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.