comics, des moines, humor, Media, People, politics, Unemployment

HOT SHEET: 3 unsettling thoughts in the age of unease post #election2020 plus new comics recommendations

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, 24th Street Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM FIRST: The major news organizations seem to agree Joe Biden won the presidency in the general election earlier this month.

But do you trust it?

The typist does not.

No, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker does not subscribe to the unfounded claims the election was rigged or interfered with.

He just doesn’t think getting Donald Trump out of the White House will be as easy as voting him out.

Trump demonstrates no respect for norms or even basic human decency. This is a guy who threw paper towels at Puerto Rican survivors of a deadly hurricane.

This is a guy who essentially ordered border patrol to kidnap the children of refugees and then failed to reunite them with their families.

Why would anyone expect him to follow something as beautiful and profound as the peaceful transfer of power?

The typist keeps asking his buddy, a former Army CID man, if Trump can just lob a nuke at some country he has disdain for to bring the whole house down.

The friend of Hot Sheet says the armed services only obey lawful orders.

Are there some Trump loyalists who will try to keep him in power even after all the recounts are done and the lawsuits settle and the Electoral College is certified?

No, the typist does not trust it at all. And he won’t trust it until Biden’s hand is on the Bible and Trump is either going out on Marine One or being dragged away by federal agents.

ITEM TWO: A buddy asked the ol’ Paragraph Stacker if he truly thought Biden will make a great president.

Great? Whose to say? Biden faces a historical clusterfuck. COVID-19. Economic woes. Racial unrest. A world that wonders if America is truly as awful as it has behaved.

The typist looks at like this: For the past four years, the country has been a bus driving down the Rockies in the middle of a blizzard with a guy whose never driven before drunk on whisky and far gone on cocaine at the wheel.

Biden will be a guy with a clean driving record, who keeps his hands at 10 and 2, wears his seatbelt and won’t tolerate any horsing around in the aisles or in the back of the bus.

That’s the minimum one would expect from a bus driver, but compared to the last guy, it’s a dramatic improvement.

His presidency could still be a historic disaster given the issues he faces. But at least he had a concept of how to govern and a plan that doesn’t include cheap red hats and dog whistles to racists.

ITEM THREE: The most pressing issue that faces the lame duck president and Congress is an economic stimulus.

The country is slathered in coronavirus and the winter is expected to be worse yet. States across the country are expecting another shut down.

Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell took turns trying to best one another in a grandstanding contest over the stimulus since the first expired in July.

The result is the only person who made a move to help the unemployed since the stimulus was Trump. His assistance wasn’t enough by half and didn’t last long enough, but credit where it’s do, it was something.

That our national legislative bodies are so impotent and callous to the struggles of millions of Americans is almost as shameful as the Trump presidency.

Of course this issue is personal to the ol’ Paragraph Stacker, who lost his job in May in the midst of the pandemic.

To quote Hannibal Smith from an episode of “The A-Team:” “It’s always darkest before it goes completely black.”

ITEM FOUR: Belated new comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Star Wars Vol 1: The Destiny Path — Marvel Comics are great at telling “Star Wars” stories. They are better at it than Disney is making “Star Wars” movies. Disney owns Marvel. Maybe they should consult. Anyway, “Star Wars” comics have been delightful since the brand returned to Marvel from Dark Horse in 2014. This volume picks up the story of the heroes of the original trilogy moments after the end of events in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Luke is traumatized at losing his hand and learning Darth Vader is his father. Han is gone. Lando is still a mystery. The Rebellion is at a low point. This is rich storytelling ground and Charles Soule is the kind of writer to mine it to maximum potential.
  • Jack Kirby: The Forever People — Jack Kirby is the greatest artist in the history of comics and one of the greatest writers. He co-created with Stan Lee almost every character that eventually became a box office blockbuster. He left Marvel for DC Comics there and told some of the greatest stories of his career, creating a mythos called the Fourth World, home to the New Gods and the DC Universe’s greatest villain, Darkseid. The Forever People shows Kirby tapping into the youth movement of the area, with a group of traveling heroes fighting Darkseid’s effort to expand his tyranny from Apokplipse to Earth. The heroes fall somewhere between the Scooby-Doo gang and the rebels from “Easy Rider.” They can combine their powers to form Infinity Man. The dialogue is dated, but it’s like catching a crazy genre flick at the bottom of one of your Netflix queue. You’ll be surprised by how entertaining it really is.
Major League Wiffle Ball

ITEM LAST: There’s a lot of horrible stuff in the world right now, but the Hot Sheet wants to leave you with a bit of the bright side of life. Few places bring as much instant joy as the short video platform TikTok. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker discovered the account for Major League Wiffle Ball (@mlw_wiffle). Who knew there was such a thing? The highlights are fantastic, heavy on pitchers with crazy arm angles spinning Wiffle Balls in physics-defying arcs that either baffle batters or end up smashed for home runs. The whole thing is delightful and recalls the glory days of childhoods past when the bikes filled driveways and kids batted-in ghost runners and argued balls and strikes until the street lights flickered on and mother’s voices called them home.

There are a million stories in Daniel P. Finney’s baggy khaki slacks. This has been one of them.

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.

Uncategorized

How’s it going, Dude? Not too good, man. Not too good.

Down, down, down, down, select … no, it’s just down.

I’m exhausted.

This year feels like a rolling fistfight and every day feels like I’m going to go down for the count for good.

I started the year by writing the obituaries for the best teacher I ever had, Drake University’s Bob Woodward, and the best writer anyone ever knew, Ken Fuson.

Then came pneumonia. COVID-19 arrived. The world shut down. The greedy corporate hustlers took away my job and ended my journalism career of 23 years.

That was all by May 1.

It all blends into a fetid soup after that. I continue to look for a job in the pandemic. I failed to find one.

I returned to graduate school at Drake with the idea of becoming a teacher. The classes gave me purpose early on, but the Zoom meetings drain personality out of everyone.

I am surrounded by bright, sharp minds, but the whatever sliver of the brain that craves face-to-face interaction is powerful.

I feel disconnected and estranged from people who are learning the same lessons as me at the same time because of the distance required by COVID.

And then there is the struggle to manage my longtime issues with mood disorders of depression and anxiety.

I take my meds. I meet with my therapist. And I lean, oh how I lean, on my friends.

I call some of them every day. I exhaust some of their patience with my incessant calling.

The impotent Congress, overrun by soulless grandstanders such as Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, let any effort for a stimulus fail and let people like me and 22 million other Americans twist in the wind.

“Get another job,” the occasional wiseass says to me.

I’d love to. I spent nearly a quarter century doing a thing that is on the verge of being extinct. Since 2001, half of all the journalist in the country have lost their jobs.

I have applied for jobs every week since I lost my job, sometimes multiple jobs a day. I got two callbacks and one interview.

All I do is worry. It eats up my days and keeps me up at night. Will the new Congress get off its fucking ass and pass a stimulus? Will I sell everything I own and end up living in YMCA housing? What if I get the COVID?

And I can’t fight the feeling that I failed.

They tell you it isn’t personal when they lay you off. It’s not about performance.

And I know this. I know it’s about money. I made too much. I worked for 23 years and made a decent living, but my experience would have been worth at least a third more 25 years ago. I was born at the wrong time.

It sure as hell feels personal when they take your job away.

I’m insecure, probably more than most.

I never felt good enough. I always felt like a second-stringer who got a cup of coffee with the big leaguers.

Sometimes I let myself think I was halfway worth a damn, but in the end, I was trashed like a used coffee filter.

And I feel like a failure because I’m still unemployed, living off unemployment.

I know how society looks at people like me. I’m sucking off the government teat. I’m a drain on society. I’m a loser.

And you know what? That’s how I feel, deep down inside. I’m feel like a loser. A broke, 45-year-old loser.

That’s harsh.

And maybe it’s more than a little whiny.

But I’m not a person who does well putting a cork in his feelings. Right now, I feel pretty bad.

I hurt. I’m sad. I’m scared. And I need to get it out. I just want to acknowledge it. This sucks.

Am I gonna be OK?

Sort of.

I’ll get up Monday and go to school. I’ll write my papers. I’ll apply for jobs. I’ll do the best I can to survive and hope one day I’ll be able to relax enough to live.

I’ll be back with the jokes tomorrow.

Daniel P. Finney once wore a kilt to a friend’s wedding. He’s not been the same since.

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.