HOT SHEET: Will the endless parade of ads for Joni Ernst and Theresa Greenfield end before we all lose our damn minds?

Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: The Senate race between incumbent Republican Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield could decide the balance of power in the Senate, per CNBC. The campaign packed in the usual cartoonish bitterness. Ads for Greenfield showed alleged Republicans who believe Ernst is a liar. Ernst ads displayed Democrats who believe Greenfield wants to burn down small businesses and end law enforcement testimonies. Both candidates made use of grief porn. Ernst is a domestic abuse survivor, thus she cares about domestic abuse laws. Greenfield’s first husband died in an industrial accident, thus she cares about Social Security. One might argue that a candidate for office could have enough empathy for their fellow humans that they would care about Social Security and domestic abuse without personal experience. One can certainly argue that personal experience with said issues does not necessarily qualify either to be a good lawmaker. That said, in a race that has so much importance, it’s a shame that regardless of who wins, any Iowan with a TV is already sick of both of them.

ITEM TWO: Worth a click: The Omaha World-Herald points out that both Nebraska and Iowa have Republican governors soft on mask orders and restrictions during the pandemic, yet Iowa deaths are 72% higher per capita than Nebraska’s. Give Henry Cordes’ deliciously titled piece “What’s the matter with Iowa? Why COVID-19 deaths east of Missouri River are so much higher” a read.

ITEM THREE: Dark money — political spending by not-for-profit organizations such as special-interest activists — already dominates our state and national politics. The cash now swamps President Donald Trump’s selection for the U.S. Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. Big money has been spent by groups that support Trump, groups who wish abortion to be abolished and groups who fear Barrett’s ascension to the high court will result in abortion’s abolishment. This is gross, but not unexpected. If anything proves true in American politics, it’s that anybody can be bought.

ITEM IV: The reign of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV ended after its assault on the cubicle of Item Six failed. Four teenagers and their anthropomorphic dog thwarted Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV with a half-hour onslaught of frightened running, pratfalls, eating of special snacks and a complex exposition by a girl in an orange sweater. The kid named Fred pulled a rubber mask from the face of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV revealing him to be Item Four, who had faked his death by COVID-19 in a grand real estate heist meant to take over the entire Hot Sheet and replace it with a new social media site controlled by the same cabal of algorithms that outlawed bunts and stolen bases in baseball. Item Five, located after a police dragnet, testified as an unindicted co-conspirator to Item Four’s culpability in the scheme. Item Four and Item Five were returned to their regular spots in the Hot Sheet and reprimanded for excessive silliness.

ITEM FIVE: The typist loves free streaming service Pluto TV. It hosts a dedicated channel to classic James Bond movies. The current Bond flick, “No Time To Die,” is mired in pandemic hell with theaters unable to gather the crowds necessary to support true blockbuster franchises. Classic Bond on a loop gives fans a chance to appreciate all the unrealized potential of wristwatches (lasers, grappling hooks, etc.) and the aesthetic masterpieces of underground lairs with great brutalist architecture style combined with the best in mid-century furniture and fur rugs.

ITEM SIX: Congratulations to the Iowa State Cyclones on another victory in the college football season. The typist has no rooting interest in the endless patter about the Cyclones and Iowa Hawkeyes, however he recants his earlier prediction of misery in Ames.

ITEM SEVEN: They’re playing pro football this Sunday. It should be enjoyable because the Chicago Bears are not playing. The Bears, though 4-1, play the losingest winning football possible.

ITEM EIGHT: The NBA Finals continue today. This is not a misprint. The end of the pro basketball season is in October, but teams in the Big Ten have yet to play a college football game.

ITEM NINE: The Hot Sheet mourns the end of another baseball season, even one as disjointed and bizarre as the 2020 season. The eagle-eyed retired English teachers might point out that the Major League Baseball playoffs continue. This is irrelevant. The typist believes the words of the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Frank Miller, who often said a World Series was only official if the Yankees played in it.

ITEM LAST: A former newsman himself, the typist respects the need for news websites to sell advertisements and have them viewed by visitors. However, even when he stacked paragraphs for a local corporate news outlet store, the typist used an adblocker on his browser because news sites were practically unnavigable with the advertisements interrupting text every few sentences. The typist would like to make a deal with news organizations: He will unblock their ads when they find a way to present the news in a way that doesn’t look like a 1996 GeoCities page assembled by a Doctor Who fan who figured out how to get their cartoon TARDIS to spin and play a MIDI file.

Daniel P. Finney fights for your rights in his satin tights.

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HOT SHEET: This headline is not search engine optimized because the author just doesn’t give a damn

Friday, Oct. 9, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: The age of robocalls makes the typist nostalgic for old Bell hard plastic telephones that could be smashed into the cradle with a frightening level of aggression. Somehow even the most fervent tap of the red phone button fails to convey the ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s level of disdain for unwanted phone calls.

ITEM TWO: The Chicago Bears failed to lose a football game for the fourth time in five valiant tries Thursday. The latest accidental victory came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady, likely the greatest quarterback of all time, appeared not to know how many downs remained on the Buccaneers’ final series late in the 1-point win for Chicago. The Bears appear to have some sort of virus that makes other teams play as poorly as they do.

ITEM THREE: The New York Yankees forced a deciding fifth game in the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees hit a lot of home runs and their bullpen stopped the Rays’ offense. The typist roots for the Yankees but believes their starting pitching is soft and the homer-or-nothing offense is vulnerable to good pitching, which the Rays have aplenty. However, since the Atlanta Braves defeated the Miami Marlins in the National League playoffs, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s dreams of an all-Florida, all-aquatic-mascot World Series have been dashed. So, what the hell. Go Yankees.

ITEM IV: Item IV now demands to be addressed as Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV, the emperor of the New Rome. A memo sent to the entire company during lunchtime promised victories to rival the Gallic Wars and the battles of Arar and Bibracate.

ITEM IV: Item Five is unavailable and is considered missing. The staff returned from its usual three-Busch Light lunch to find Item Five’s cubicle walls slashed by what police described as gladius cuts and a spear through the lumbar support of Item Five’s chair and a considerable amount of black ink in the seat and on the office carpet. A crude Aquila scratched into the window glass with the words, “I claim this land in the name of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV.” Hot Sheet has no comment pending a full police investigation.

ITEM SIX: Item Six, who sits adjacent to the growing empire of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV, requisitioned materials to build a moat and fortify cubicle walls with concrete blocks and rebar. A further requisition was put in to hire three archers for long-range territorial support. All requests were denied due to budget constraints, but Item Six was told to use some of the broken office chairs on the third floor to create a makeshift defense. Archers would have to wait until second quarter 2021 at the earliest. Item Six requested to take the rest of the week citing undue workplace stress. Its FMLA paperwork is pending.

ITEM SEVEN: The typist received nine pieces of mail Thursday. One was from his insurance agent. Eight were from the campaigns of Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and her challenger, Theresa Greenfield, three identical fliers supporting the Ernst campaign with claims that a vote for Greenfield would destroy life on Earth as we know it. One piece of mail was from Greenfield, who said she was a nice person and that Ernst was a big meanie. The final piece of mail was the latest edition of Mad Magazine. It was the only thing that made sense.

ITEM EIGHT: The typist removes his Yankees cap and bows his head to honor the late Whitey Ford, who died Thursday. The Hall of Fame pitcher holds the World Series records for wins (10), scoreless innings (33) and strikeouts (94). He provided the center spoke to the second era of Yankees dominance. Ford pitched in 11 World Series, won six of them and was MVP of the 1961 series. Ford served two years in the Army during the Korean War.

ITEM LAST: Attention fellow comic book aficionados in the greater Des Moines metro area, Rodman Comics at 318 S. Ankeny Blvd. in Ankeny celebrates its 10th year in business. The store started shortly after the Great Recession and has survived the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Rod Lamberti grew up buying comic books off the magazine racks in grocery stores. He eventually realized his dream of owning his own store. Due to rules required by the pandemic, Rodman Comics is holding a low-key celebration. There are online auctions instead of door prizes and they’ll carefully monitor the number of people in the store to assure proper social distancing. Deals include 20% off everything in the store that isn’t already discounted. But as with any proper anniversary, there will be cake.

Daniel P. Finney is believed to be dead and must let the world believe his death until he can cure the raging beast within.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help Daniel P. Finney cover personal expenses as he studies to earn his 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.