comics, des moines, humor, Iowa, News, People, politics, Pop Culture, sports

HOT SHEET: How I’m getting ready to start my career in local television news

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, Paragraph Stacker, 24th Street bureau, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM FIRST: I start my new job as an assignment editor for WOI-DT on Monday. The only thing I know about television is how to watch one. I decided to turn to the best possible source to prepare myself for joining broadcast media: movies. Here are five flicks I’m watching to get ready for my new TV job:

  1. “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”
  2. “Network”
  3. “Broadcast News”
  4. “The China Syndrome”
  5. “Good Night and Good Luck”

ITEM TWO: Today is new comics Wednesday. Let’s talk shop:

  1. Darth Vader: The Heart of the Sith Vol. 1— The story picks up in the hours after Vader cuts off Luke Skywalker’s hand and lets the young Jedi know who his daddy is. Vader vows revenge on the Rebellion and the people who made Luke such a wimp, but first he has some questions of his own he wants answered. First, how did Padme survive the force choke fallen Jedi Anakin Skywalker put on her, and who delivered baby Luke into this world? To find the answer, Vader traces Padme’s final days and crosses paths with Padme’s old pals from Naboo. Again, Marvel proves it knows how to handle “Star Wars” characters better than the people who make the movies. This is Vader as we all dreamed of seeing him: pissed off, cutting people in half with lightsabers and just too much of a force to be reckoned with — even for giant sea monsters. The first trade paperback of the latest Vader series is on sale now.
  • Star Wars: Bounty Hunters Vol. 1 — What Vader gives to “Star Wars” comics, Bounty Hunters takes away. That’s not quite fair. The story centers on a comics character resurrected from the original Marvel comics of the 1970s and 80s, which were often mediocre to terrible. There’s Boba Fett, the most overrated character in “Star Wars” lore, and Bossk, a reptilian bounty hunter who makes for a better action figure than character in a story. The story deals with a protection job gone wrong, some mafia clans and other jibber jabber that just doesn’t entice more reading. The art isn’t for me. I’m always hesitant to criticize art because even the worst comic book creators make things more beautiful than I could ever create. Still, this artwork feels like posed shots that belong in pin-up galleries or sold as paintings at conventions rather than pages of a comic. It lacks action and sense of motion. But I know Boba Fett and bounty hunters as a concept sell, so a lot of “Star Wars” fans might want to give this trade paperback a look.
  • Green Lantern Season Two Vol. 1 — Writer Grant Morrison and artist Liam Sharp team for some of the best Green Lantern stories in decades. Morrison is one of modern comics’ geniuses. His stories are trippy, fun and balance badassery with a hint of Silver Age fun. Sharp’s artwork is so tremendous one might be convinced this is why God invented pencils.
  • Batwoman/Catwoman No. 1 — Writer Tom King shaped the love story between Batman and Catwoman like no other creator before him. That story propelled through his entire 85-issue run on “Batman.” This issue begins a special year-long story about Batman and Catwoman set after the events of “City of Bane,” during which Catwoman nursed a broken Batman back to health in order to defeat Bane and an alternate version of his father, Thomas Wayne. I’m looking forward to this comic more than any other on the schedule. I usually wait for trade paperbacks for stories, but I’m buying this in single issues.

ITEM THREE: A recent study found that when people preface a statement with the phrase “with all due respect” the thing that followed was in no way respectful in 100% of cases.

ITEM FOUR: A joke from a Johnny Carson “Tonight Show” from the 1970s: “A new record is out that teaches people how to have better sex. It encourages couples to play the record in the act. There’s already been a tragedy. One couple put the record on at 78 instead of 33. Services are this week.”

ITEM FIVE: This is the best #2020 thing ever and of course it comes from a collaboration between Taylor Swift and Ryan Reynolds:

ITEM SIX: One of the few things I know about English soccer leagues is the concept of relegation. The poorest performing teams are sent down to a lower league and the better performing teams are brought up to play at the highest level. Such a thing would have been a mercy to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who posted 20 consecutive losing seasons from 1993 to 2012. It similarly would be a mercy to Chicago Bears fans to see the Bears sent down to the Big 12 or the Pac-12 for a couple of seasons. Let Ohio State or Alabama have a go at the pros. Their college programs are damn near that good anyway. Anything to ease the suffering of Bears fans who have to watch a team without an offense, a quarterback, a competent coach and general manager play pro football games against bonafide NFL winners such as the Green Bay Packers.

ITEM LAST: I was overwhelmed with the kind notes, messages and well-wishes after the announcement of my new job. I plan to continue to write for this blog. There will be no more politics talk and the profanity will be scaled back to PG-13 levels. As for what I’m going to be doing at WOI, well, I don’t know yet. I do know I won’t be on camera and that’s a blessing to everyone including me. I will be working with our team of reporters, anchors and producers. And I’ll be doing some reporting and writing for the WeAreIowa.com website. Frankly, it’s good to have something to look forward to each day besides more worry. Unemployment is a crushing mishmash of depression and anxiety. You’re depressed because your old shop sent you packing and even though they tell you it’s not personal, it sure as hell feels that way. It’s anxious because the money goes fast and when you start to wonder if you’re going to be living at the YMCA by this time next month, your guts churn. So at the risk of one more political comment, having been through what I’ve been through and knowing millions of Americans are still going through, I hope Congress and the new president figure out a stimulus bill as soon as possible to help everyone who wasn’t as lucky as I was to find a job in the middle of a pandemic.

Daniel P. Finney is getting down to this sick beat.

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, Media, News, People, TV

HOT SHEET: Hey, Finney finally got a job!

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, Paragraph Stacker-at-large, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONLY: I got a job.

The last of the “onboarding” paperwork went through this morning. I start as assignment editor for Local 5 We Are Iowa at 9:15 a.m., Monday, Dec. 7, 2020.

This ends an employment drought that dates to May 1 when the local paragraph factory eliminated my job amidst corporate cutbacks during the coronavirus pandemic.

That WOI-TV wooed me back to daily journalism surprises me only slightly more than they convinced me to try a new medium.

I started stacking paragraphs for pay when I was 17. I thought that part of my life was over for good.

But the people at Local 5 seemed to want me at their shop even after I explained that all I know about TV is how to turn one on.

I don’t know what “assignment editor” means yet. I know it means I will be behind-the-camera, which is exactly my preference. I know it involves writing, story idea generating and working with reporters and anchors.

Hell, I’ll get people coffee if the pay deposits on the regular and I can afford to get cortisone shots for my arthritic knees.

I plan to continue my graduate studies at Drake University. I’ve laid out money for next semester already. I will teach someday. As my old friend Don Adams, the retired Drake vice president, always says: “Preserve your options.”

This week, I’m finishing up the semester work. I’m off school until Feb. 1, which means I’ve got two full months to learn my job, get to know people and immerse myself into the new gig’s culture.

Family, friends and readers, I thank each and every one of you for your support of this blog and me personally. This year tested all our souls.

I am blessed to know so many people who showed the love for me even as they carried their own burdens.

I promise to reward your faith in me by being the very best journalist I can be for Local 5. You may not see my byline, but know that I’m there trying my hardest to make sure you know what’s going on in your hometown.

As for this blog, the future is uncertain. I may keep writing. Some topics will be verboten, especially media criticism and politics.

That’s OK. There’s lots of good stuff to type about.

For now, though, I’m going to take a break to finish up the semester and get ready for my new adventure in journalism.

With love and hope,

dpf

Daniel P. Finney works in TV news now is a sentence he never thought he’d type.

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.

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.

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.

comics, des moines, mental health, News, politics, sports

HOT SHEET: Drake Jethro’s trims hours, Trump honors Dan Gable, and horse skeleton chicanery

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Terrible news from the bar at Jethro’s on Forest Avenue near Drake University: The restaurant is closing on Mondays and Tuesdays for at least six weeks. Insiders tell the typist the restaurant has a steady flow of regulars — including this ol’ Paragraph Stacker — but has struggled to lure students from the nearby campus during the pandemic. With reduced capacity due to COVID-19 social distancing protocols, all restaurants and public gathering spaces are feeling the pinch. Jethro’s owner Bruce Gerleman, a Des Moines businessman and restauranteur, considers the Drake Jethro’s, his first in a chain of seven barbecue joints around the metro, his personal favorite. He’s spoken to the typist of his loyalty to the neighborhood. Of course, all businesses, no matter how altruistic, face the reality of the bottom line. Jethro’s will keep regular hours Wednesday through Sunday. Let’s hope the shortened week is a temporary taking of the knee during exceptional circumstances and not the beginning of the end at Drake Jethro’s.

ITEM TWO: Whenever possible, drink cold beverages over lots of ice in a glass. Pause before you sip to recall our not-too-distant ancestors lapped water from streams. Now we have uncounted flavors of water and ice on demand. What a time to be alive.

ITEM THREE: President Donald Trump plans to award Dan Gable, perhaps the greatest wrestler of all time, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed upon citizens, writes Cody Goodwin, the Des Moines Register’s superstar wrestling writer. Whatever one thinks of Trump, it’s a tremendous honor for arguably the finest athlete and coach Iowa ever produced. As a campaign strategy, it isn’t shabby either. Polls have shown Trump dead even or slightly leading in Iowa. Showing some love to a living Iowa legend can’t hurt.

ITEM FOUR: Dedicated to the great state of Florida in all its weirdness: The UPI reports Florida officials seized a package from Hungary containing a full horse skeleton. So for those of you planning on getting a Hungarian horse skeleton for Halloween, remember you need a special agricultural permit.

ITEM FIVE: New Comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Iron Man 2020: Robot Revolution TPB — The idea of a future with a morally ambiguous Iron Man mercenary first came to be in 1984 created by Tom DeFalco and Herb Trimpe. Now it really is 2020 and things are far worse than Iron Man 2020’s creators envisioned.
  • Rorschach No. 1 — in another case of what’s old is new again, Rorschach, the most interesting characters of the magnificent 1986 Watchman series gets a three-issue DC Black Series run by comics’ best current writer, Tom King.

ITEM LAST: The stress mounts and continues to build as we approach holidays reduced and fall celebrations cancelled by the coronavirus, the most uncivil election in modern memory, an economy on the verge of collapse, joblessness, an impotent Congress and a harmful executive branch. Just remember: You can’t fix it all. All you can do is your best and even then, sometimes you’ll stumble. Take a moment to remind yourself that you are the only one of you in the whole world, a child of God worthy of love, dignity and respect. Then take 10 deep breaths and find one person you love and remind them, too.

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. Daniel P. Finney is controlling transmission.

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, Media, News, Newspapers, People, politics, Pop Culture

HOT SHEET: If you can figure out what this Hot Sheet is about, you could work for the CIA

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Remember when everyone thought COVID-19 could be defeated by hoarding toilet paper? The typist just cracked the plastic on the first roll of TP he bought in the hoarding phase in March. 

ITEM TWO: Vice President Mike Pence and challenger Kamala Harris will be separated by plexiglass for their debate Wednesday. This is the only way Pence is comfortable being in the same room with a woman who’s not his wife

ITEM THREE: The typist recently ate a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks. It made him rethink his maxim that the worst meal he ever had was wonderful. 

ITEM 4: Has been suspended for 81 games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was found curled up in tech support with a former Mets clubhouse boy and a Hy-Vee sack of Adderall. 

ITEM FIVE: The typist is amused when local radio stations proudly state they are “terrestrial” stations as opposed to those bastards in satellite radio. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker wants true extra-terrestrial radio. He, for one, wants to receive messages from the Vogons when they show up to destroy Earth to make way for another hyperspace throughway. 

ITEM SIX: The previous joke included a reference to Douglas Adams’ sci-fi comedy masterpiece “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” If you have not read it, stop reading the Hot Sheet, acquire a copy of the book and read it at once. The typist takes no responsibility if you laugh so much you pee your pants.

ITEM SEVEN: Two trains leave stations 60 miles apart at the same time heading toward one another on parallel tracks. Train A is traveling 30 miles per hour, while Train B is going 50 miles per hour. When do they pass each other?

ITEM EIGHT: The Hot Sheet has joked. The Hot Sheet has scolded. The Hot Sheet has begged. Now the typist is on the verge of giving in to despair. Congress and the White House have failed to act on a stimulus bill to help America’s unemployed and struggling, numbering at about 21 million nationwide. That number includes me, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker. He has faithfully searched for employment as he started graduate school to become a high school teacher, hoping that our political leaders could put aside their pettiness for the good of the American people and produce a package that enhanced unemployment benefits and gave a stimulus check. The latest news from CNBC quotes Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, as saying both sides remain far apart. The typist foolishly held to the notion that political leaders would act in the best interest of people, if not with everyday legislation, at least in crisis. The typist was wrong. The typist now firmly believes both Democrats and Republicans would rather let this matter fall apart, make Americans suffer and go home to their voters and say, “See, it’s those other jerks who are screwing this up. Vote in more people from my tribe.” Americans don’t trust their government and have grown weary of its impotence. This failure to negotiate in good faith and to reach compromise is a betrayal of the people our Congress serves at a core level. Our government does not have our backs. The typist doesn’t wish to encourage cynicism in advance of an election, but forgive the ol’ Paragraph Stacker if he feels like it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference who occupies those high offices, because in the end, we’re all screwed.

ITEM LAST: The typist is profoundly humbled by the many cards and letters he’s received by postal mail in support of this site and those who have donated money to support it. That money supports not only fees to keep this website independent, but also helps a middle-aged graduate student turn his life around and become a teacher. It embarrasses the typist to solicit money — and he would remind everyone that he thinks no less of those who can’t or choose not to — but if you wish to contribute, the information on how to send money can be found at this link: https://paragraphstacker.com/donations/. In addition, Daniel P. Finney can be found on Venmo and Zelle. The typist thanks all of you for your eyeballs and your kindness. When he lost his job at the local corporate news outlet store, he thought the time of people reading his words were over. You have given the typist new life. He remains humbled and honored.

Daniel P. Finney sleeps ion bedsheets with a pattern of buck-toothed red and blue sharks.

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, Movies, News, People, Pop Culture

HOT SHEET: Stop badgering people to vote, ‘L.A.’s Finest’ is TV’s worst, the typist’s COVID-19 test and new comics recommendations

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: Every group who sent the typist mail urging him — almost begging him to register to vote — can fucking relax. He’s been registered since age 18. Also, as it comes to more pleading about voting by mail, when, how and whether I vote is my own goddamn business.

ITEM TWO: The Hot Sheet sampled Fox’s fall new show, “L.A.’s Finest.” The show stars Jessica Alba as a woke super mom who can spit out Dumpster-diver “Gilmore Girls” dialogue while shooting to wound in a firefight who harbors a dark secret. Gabrielle Union plays a cop who loves sex with at least two genders, hates relationships, smokes weed and … also harbors a dark secret. Despite amped SFX for the pilot, the show offices little more than a standard police procedural with a soapy twist in the background. The show is a victory of sorts for the representation of Black and brown people on prime time TV. It definitively proves Fox can make mediocre shows starring people of any race, color or creed. What a time to be alive.

ITEM THREE: The typist took his first COVID-19 test Wednesday. Drake University requires random sampling of students — even those who live off campus and study remotely. He spit into a cup until it covered the bottom. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker doesn’t know yet if he has coronavirus, but he finally found a use for all the spitting technique he learned playing Little League.

ITEM FOUR: Unavailable due to COVID-19 quarantine.

ITEM FIVE: Hot Sheet has learned that Item Five was at a party that was improperly socially distanced with Item Four on or about Sept. 7. Item Five is now quarantined in location outside the Drake station. This behavior undermines our ability to keep the station and surrounding community safe, and puts the continuation of in-person paragraph stacking at risk. It also violates the Hot Sheet Together Compact and is subject to disciplinary action under our Code of Typist Conduct.

ITEM SIX: Hot Sheet notes the wedding of typist favorite actress Emma Stone to some dude who will clearly not worship her as much as he would.

ITEM SEVEN: New comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Vampronica: New Blood — Archie Comics’ reimagining their core characters as horror icons continues as Veronica becomes a vampire who stalks the night for blood, vengeance and opulent handbags.
  • Acts of Vengeance: Marvel Universe — The great villains of the Marvel Universe form a cabal and decide to put new foes against the heroes that have defeated them time and again. The result is a late 1980s classic.

ITEM LAST: If it’s true that every person must make an accounting of their time on Earth at the end of their life, the typist is concerned about how much time he spent looking for the goddamn remote.

OK, let’s close the book on this one. Please donate if you can. It supports the creativity and keeps up the typist’s grad school efforts.

Daniel P. Finney covers widescreen photos 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, mental health, News

HOT SHEET: Constipated Congress, Moleskine anxiety, CDC gaffes and in praise of profanity

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

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020

ITEM ONE: The typist made the mistake of reading the news Monday. He recommends against it — especially if you are prone to anxiety and depression. The stories he perused related to the possibility of a new stimulus package and enhanced unemployment. Both national issues relate directly to the typist, who is unemployed after COVID-19 and corporate hustlers killed his 23-year career in journalism. The news remained grim and stupid. Hot Sheet says “grim” because Congressional leaders and the White House have not even begun resuming talks on the issue despite assurances from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that a deal could happen by the end of September. We write “stupid” because typist finds little hope that our constipated Congress can do anything in the interest of the American people as a whole. An optimist might think both Republicans and Democrats would like to finish their campaigns by pretending they acted swiftly in the midst of a national emergency to help the people they serve. But the typist is not an optimist. He is a romantic who has been exposed to too much reality. Thus, he believes Congress would rather go into the home stretch waggling their fingers against opponents of the opposite party than accomplishing anything.

ITEM TWO: Two lines from “The Big Lebowski,” the typist’s favorite movie:

THE BIG LEBOWSKI: You don’t go out looking for a job looking like that? On a weekday?

THE DUDE: Is this a … what day is this?

ITEM THREE: The last bloom of American innocence fell today when the two people who actually believed Republicans would avoid brazen hypocrisy in the nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice during a presidential election year fainted. Pity the poor, isolated souls who must now realize that the only thing politicians care about is more power for their team. To rehash, President Barack Obama, a Democrat, nominated Merrick Garland for an opening on the Supreme Court with nine months remaining on his second term. GOP senators refused to hold hearings on the matter because the presidential election loomed. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, led the charge saying such filibuster-esque behavior had been the practice of the Senate for 80 years. So, with about nine weeks left before the 2020 presidential election, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. The same Republicans now say they will fast-track any nominee from Republican President Donald Trump. The angry fist-shaking has dominated the social media sphere since it become clear fairness and scruples — even adherence to one’s own bullshit — is not a mark of Republican leaders. Just for local point of reference, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa’s Dollar Store Sarah Palin, is also on Team Fast-Track. The typist wishes we could get either Iowa senator to show as much interest in fast-tracking a stimulus.

ITEM FOUR: Unavailable due to COVID-19 quarantine. Item Four wants the public to know it is asymptomatic and resting comfortably at home.

ITEM FIVE: Hot Sheet’s Reno, Nevada, bureau chief recently sent the typist some school supplies. The package included a Moleskine notebook. Though he joyously received the gracious gift, Moleskine notebooks generate a certain anxiety in the ol’ Paragraph Stacker. Moleskine products rank as the finest stationery stock one can buy. Their books possess such elegance, the typist feels nothing he has to say at that moment is worthy of marring the perfection of the creation. This is why most of the notes he takes in his post-journalism career are on the backs of envelopes.

ITEM SIX: On the matter of office supplies, the typist notes that the box of 50 letter-size envelopes he bought when he was in college has finally been extinguished. If he buys another box of 50, he believes it will last him until the grave.

ITEM SEVEN: The Centers for Disease Control said COVID-19 could be transmitted through the air. The next day officials said it couldn’t. Judas H. Priest on a palomino pony! We are seven months into this pandemic. It would be nice if the one agency who is supposed to know what the fuck is going on actually did. This kind of low-rent bullshit is why some people are running around Wal-Marts screaming about having to wear masks. Get it together, CDC.

ITEM LAST: If it seems like the typist is cursing a lot, it’s true. He is. The typist is angry and profanity is the language of anger. To the typist’s mind, it’s also the language of comedy. Yes, retired English teachers, the typist is smart enough to know other ways in which to express himself. He chooses profanity because he likes it. He is also unemployed. If someone hires him, even part time, he’ll happily use only Sunday school words. But for now? Fuck it.

Daniel P. Finney plays air keyboard to “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams.

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, Des moines police, humor, Iowa, News, People, Pop Culture, sports

Roll Call: Des Moines schools’ fall sports doomed, Iowa State in dire straits, Des Moines cop retires with internal affairs on his tail

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Station:

ITEM ONE: Des Moines school administration’s decision to start the school year online-only placed fall sports in jeopardy. The state associations for girls’ and boys’ athletics ruled if you’re not physically in school, you can’t play football, volleyball or other fall sports. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker remains baffled by Iowa public policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Des Moines school leaders believe it too dangerous to pack 30 kids into a classroom, but somehow finds football games less intimate affairs. The desk concedes it’s easier to socially distance for coaches and those on the sideline, but it’s tough to mount a useful defensive or offensive line when players are six feet apart. The push to both play ball and have students distance learn earns a penalty flag from this typist.

ITEM TWO: Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard warns of a budget shortfall of more than $30 million after pulling the plug on fans at games. Some sports teams could be cut and CY Stephens auditorium could be closed. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker wonders how much money Stephens was losing after Wells Fargo opened in Des Moines. A lot of great concerts and events that once went to Ames now play in Des Moines or at the even bigger CI Health Center in Omaha. The desk would hate to lose Stephens — especially for the support staff who work there — but it may be a facility due for retirement.

ITEM THREE: The Valley and Dowling football game had a shot to be on ESPN, but they couldn’t broker a deal. There’s a lot of bad rumors about why this collapsed. The desk urges everyone to stop assuming bad intentions. Instead, marvel at a time when a high school football game could make it on big cable TV due to the pandemic handicapping an already ailing ESPN’s program schedule. For the record, this typist is an East High Alumni Hall of Famer and has no flips to give for the Valley-Dowling game other than a wish that both teams could somehow lose.

ITEM FOUR: The desk’s beloved New York Yankees made no moves at the trade deadline, proving once again what a dull boy Hal Steinbrenner is. His pop, the late George “The Boss” Steinbrenner, knew how to throw around prospects and cash to bring in free agents and make a winner. Hal acts like an accountant in love with his spreadsheet rather than a baseball owner. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker concedes this frugal attitude has developed fine prospects, but no Yankees fan ever thought they would be envious of the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline. This Yankee inaction proves this typist’s long-held belief that it is better to work for a megalomaniac down the hall than absentee bean counters.

ITEM FIVE: Polly Carver-Kim says she got sacked from her job as spokesman for the Iowa Department of Health because she responded to routine public records requests. She’s suing the state. This surely couldn’t have anything to do with the state government’s epic mishandling of the back-to-school debacle that’s left Iowa with one of the fastest growing per-capita rates of coronavirus infection in the world.

ITEM SIX: Longtime Des Moines cop Stew Barnes hit the retirement parachute just as an internal affairs investigation into his behavior started to simmer. Without official documentation, Roll Call declines to speculate on the rumors other that to note it was not a use-of-force or race-related foul. Barnes had a long career and was a union leader. He was pugnacious and willing to duke it out with administration on behalf of his fellow officers. He once sued former Chief Judy Bradshaw. Based on what the desk has heard, his conduct was unbecoming in extremis, but not duty related. Roll Call issues a general reminder that anyone with a badge needs to be on their best behavior both on duty and off. The political tides are against you and every cop pays full price for not only their mistakes but also for atrocities of officers across the land. This certainly fits with Chief Dana Wingert’s philosophy. Bottom line: Don’t be a dummy.

ITEM SEVEN: An update: Since the last Roll Call, Iowa Workforce Development announced its plans to start paying the extra $300 per week in unemployment insurance for those dejobbed by the coronavirus pandemic. The desk criticized Gov. Kim Reynolds and her buddy in Republican blood red, President Donald Trump. The strike is officially removed. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker grudgingly recognizes that Trump acted when Congress failed to do so. This does not change the desk’s general opinion that the president is just the worst.

ITEM LAST: The pandemic and politics have dialed up social stress way past 11 to the point of breaking the knob off and blowing out the speakers. Let’s all remember a few things as we head into the Labor Day Weekend. 1. Sports are not as important as we think they are. 2. You don’t owe anyone an argument. And, finally, no time is a good time to take and send pictures of particular portions of your personage.

The desk is clear.

Be careful out there.

And behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney has never successfully completed the KXNO Eat The Mic Challenge.

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.