Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Michelle Shocked Releases Album Filled With Silent Songs

Remember alt-folk singer Michelle Shocked? Back in March 2013, she surprised her typically progressive fans at a gig in San Francisco when she went on a "the world will be destroyed if gays are allowed to marry" rant followed by as assertion that "God hates faggots." Not surprisingly, her audience reacted poorly to this. Word spread and she refused to respond outside of a series of cryptic tweets about "truth vs. reality." She eventually lost a series of gigs, leading to a bizarre protest at the site of one cancellation by Shocked herself. Shocked eventually went on CNN's Piers Morgan Show and clarified that she is "not homophobic." She also was probably the most direct with her stated beliefs during this interview, but the damage had already been caused. More recently, she performed at an anti-gay "family values" event with professional anti-gay activist/gay erotica writer/bi dad Robert Oscar Lopez.

Michelle Shocked is in the news this week after announcing that she has released an album consisting of silent songs named after a variety of music industry professionals:
The 11-track album, titled Inaudible Women, is available for purchase on cdbaby.com, with silent tunes — most clocking in at less than a minute — named after such high-ranking digital music execs as SiriusXM executive VP/general counsel Patrick Donnelly and Clear Channel executive VP/general counsel Robert Walls. 

“Inaudible Women” also features a song named after journalist Chris Willman, a contributor to Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter who wrote about Shocked’s anti-gay comments at a San Francisco concert in 2013. Willman proudly announced the inclusion through a Facebook post on July 25.
Shocked has indicated that the silent songs at the "Inaudible Women" album contain high-pitched frequencies that can be heard by dogs. She plans to use the money raised from this album to fund her upcoming fall music tour.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Archie Comics Bringing Back Original Stories to Their Digest Titles!!

Vegas returns!!
I noticed a trend last month among all of Archie Comics' September 2014 digest titles. I then noticed a similar trend when it came to all of their October 2014 digest titles. It was a very exciting trend and one that I sincerely hope continues for a long, long time: Original Content!!!

Back in early 2013, I wrote up my pledge to Archie Comics. I made a pledge back then to support all of Archie Comics' comic books that contained original content. For too long, most of Archie Comics' digest books have been filled with nothing but reprint materials. That's great if you are a new or returning reader. But longer term readers eventually find themselves reading the same stories over and over and over. Comic books ain't cheap, so that's why I decided to dedicate myself (mainly) to their comic books that feature original content.

Since I posted my pledge, Archie Comics has published a handful of digests featuring original content (here and here, for example). But mostly it has been reprints, so I have focused mainly on their non-digest titles. Until now!

Check out these September 2014 solicits:

ARCHIE JUMBO COMICS DIGEST #255: A night at the museum turns into a nightmare of historic proportions! Archie and Jughead are taking their Adventure Scout troupe on a trip to the Riverdale Museum—where an anonymous donor has gifted the museum with two Egyptian Sarcophagi (or is it Sarcophaguses?). But what‘s hidden inside is sure to surprise everyone! Find out what happens in “Mummy Mayhem!” the spook-tastic NEW lead story kicking off this JUMBO Comics Digest!

ARCHIE'S FUNHOUSE COMICS DIGEST #9: Welcome to the year 2037, where Archie’s your tour guide of futuristic Riverdale, U.S.A! Meet “rob”—he’s not a new student at Riverdale High, “rob” is actually a kind of humanoid robot that has completely changed the world as we know it. “The Robot Millennium” is a BRAND NEW sci-fi story that kicks off this comics digest!

Who indeed?
BETTY & VERONICA COMICS DIGEST #227: Halloween’s not just for kids anymore—now even pets are getting in on all the fun! When Betty and Veronica notice a sign for a costume contest for pets they find it silly—but everyone knows the girls can’t avoid a friendly competition! Who will win best in spooky show: will it be Veronica’s pampered pooch or Betty’s feline friend? Find out in “Costume Drama,” the fun, NEW lead story to this comics digest!

JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE COMICS ANNUAL #6: The Riverdale Fall Festival is here, and Jughead’s unable to partake in the one activity he loves most—enjoying his food! Falling leaves provide a scenic backdrop and who doesn’t love jumping into piles of them—but there’s one disadvantage—getting them in your food! Will autumn finally leave Jughead alone and let him eat in peace? Find out in “The Fall of Jughead and Archie,” the hilarious, NEW first story to this fall-flavored Comics Annual!

WORLD OF ARCHIE COMICS DIGEST #43: Veronica’s throwing the Halloween bash of the year and everyone’s invited—human and animal alike! But when an unwelcome intruder tries to crash the party, the pets spring into action! Will they catch the evil villain, or will it ruin their monster bash? See what happens in the BRAND NEW story, “A Haunting We Will Go!”

And then there are the October 2014 solicits:

ARCHIE'S FUNHOUSE COMICS DIGEST #10: ‘Tis the season to be jolly—and Reggie intends to be just that! He’s plotting to date five of the new female students at Riverdale High, and he’s even found a cheap, but expensive looking, gift he can use to impress them all. …Or at least he thinks it’s cheap! See the merry mix-up unfold in “It’s the Thought That Counts!” a brand new lead story to this fun-filled comics digest!

BETTY & VERONICA JUMBO COMICS DIGEST #228: The holiday season is upon us, and that means it’s time to shop! Of course for shopaholic Veronica, that’s not a problem! When Mr. Lodge gets fed up with Veronica’s out of control spending habits, he demands that she get a job at the local mall. Of course, not one to do menial work, Veronica immediately takes over management of the mall. Will she transform the shopping center into a Winter Wonderland, or is she in over her head? Find out “Are You Being Served?” Then, in “It’s in the Cards,” Veronica’s got quite a collection of cards—no, not Christmas cards, credit cards! But who knew they could provide more than just a form of payment? Find out the other use of credit in this fun story! It’s two brand new stories in this jolly JUMBO comics digest!

JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE COMICS DIGEST #7: The gang gifts Jughead with a very special holiday treat—a brand new hat! He doesn’t have much in terms of money to gift his friends with in return, so he makes a list of the ultimate presents he wants to create for each of his friends. See what he wishes to buy his closest pals in “Fantasy Time,” a fun new story kicking of this comics digest!

SONIC SUPER DIGEST #9: Get ready for a SUPER SPECIAL EDITION of the Sonic Super Digest! Featuring an ALL-NEW STORY continuing the hit SONIC COMIC ORIGINS mini-feature blasts into your hands as that boisterous southern belle, Bunnie Rabbot, takes center stage! Learn how everyone’s favorite bunny bomber overcame her tragic disability to grow into the freedom fighting powerhouse she is today! Then, continue the fun with more classic adventures from the Sonic comic library as well as special features focusing on the brand new Sonic Comic Universe only Archie Comics and Sonic Super Digest can bring! 

WORLD OF ARCHIE COMICS DIGEST #44: The holidays are in full swing at Riverdale High, and Archie is determined to be Veronica’s Secret Santa. When he pulls someone else’s name, he has no choice but to find out who has Veronica so he can switch with them. This leads him on a wild goose chase around school—it turns out a lot of people wish they had picked someone else, and it sets off a chain-reaction of switching names! Will he ever find out who is the mystery person who picked Veronica’s name? Find out in “Secret Santa Secret Swap,” the brand new lead story to this Christmas comics digest!

If you haven't guessed, I'm very excited about this. I mean, it's sad that LIFE WITH ARCHIE got canceled and we get to see the cancellation soon of KEVIN KELLER. On the other hand, there's a lot of material coming out soon featuring Sabrina the Teenage Witch and several of the old Dark Circle/Red Circle heroes. But those books are going to be marketed towards teens and adult readers.

These new digest tales continue to reach out to Archie Comics' younger audience. Plus it provides new content for us longer-term readers who want to get our Archie fix every week, but who stopped buying the digests because there was nothing new. Now there is and I'm very grateful to Archie Comics!!

Iowa City Teen Arrested // Accused of Reckless Discharge of a Firearm

(Originally written on 07/27/14): I totally slept through some excitement last night. Last night at 1:36 AM Iowa City Police foot patrol officers heard the sounds of gunfire on the Pedestrian Mall near the Union Bar. They spoke with witnesses, who described the suspects as two black men.

The police located one of the suspects two blocks south of the incident. A loaded pistol was found on the suspect (a 17-year-old who has not yet been identified by the media). The Iowa City Police report that he "admitted to firing multiple shots in the air while in the Pedestrian Mall."

This 17-year-old male suspect has been charged with Reckless Use of a Firearm, Carrying Weapons, Going Armed with Intent, and Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon. He faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted of all these charges.

The Iowa City Police are still looking for the second suspect. He has been described as a black male wearing dark clothing, so that narrows things down a bit.

If you know anything, you should contact the Iowa City Area Crime Stoppers at 319-358-8477. If your tip leads to the arrest of this suspect, you could receive a cash reward of up to $1000.

Updated on 07/28/14: The Iowa City Police have identified their 17-year-old suspect in the media. I'm choosing not to identify him here on this blog, but you can read about it here.

They also announced today via a press release that they now believe that the 17-year-old suspect who was arrested early yesterday morning acted alone when he allegedly fired a gunshot into the air several times while on the Ped Mall.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Meet Sabrina the Teenage Bride in AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #6

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE is the breakout comic book title for Archie Comics. It started out viewed by many as a farce but has turned out to be a great horror comic book.

I should note before I get too far into this discussion...

This blog entry contains spoilers. If you don't want to know what happens in AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #6, then stop reading now. You have been warned.

Back to the show...

For the unfamiliar, here is the nutshell. Reggie killed Jughead's dog Hot Dog in a vehicular hit-and-run. Riverdale's grieving woman-hater turned to his magical friend Sabrina the Teenage Witch to heal his dead dog. She secretly used dark magic to bring back Hot Dog, whose resurrection ended up heralding an apocalyptic invasion of the undead. By the end of the first story arc, a handful of survivors have fled Riverdale to seek refuge from untold zombie cannibals.

But where is Sabrina? After casting the spell Hot Dog's resurrection spell, her aunts had her banished to some witch-hell dimension to ponder her mistake. We readers finally catch up with our favorite teenage witch in AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #6.

Sabrina is being treated in an old fashioned mental health asylum, participating in therapies and participating in group therapy. Her counselors are working to convince her that her aunts died in a fire and that her magical heritage is a fictional story created by her mind. Meanwhile, the people around her continue to shift from people to demonic entities -- always just out of sight. But it's enough to convince her that something is up.

Anyway, it become abundantly clear in this story that we are dealing with H.P. Lovecraft's Elder Gods. Sabrina's being treated by Dr. Lovecraft and Dr. Machen (obviously designed to be H.P. Lovecraft and Arthur Machen). All of the demonic images are Lovecraftian. The two other kids in Sabrina's group (Erich Zann and Richard Pickman) are patterned after characters within Lovecraft's stories.

And then there is this:

That's right. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is now the Bride of Cthulhu.

Let's get this out of the way. I have never read anything by H.P. Lovecraft. I am only vaguely aware of his work or his history. On the other hand, Husband Mark spent a good chunk of 2013 reading a collection of his work. Also, my online friend Jimmy is a huge fan of the horror genre. So I turned to both men to see what this means for our new teen bride.

The general consensus is that Sabrina is now destined for a horrible fate. Cthulhu will use her as breeding stock for his offspring. Kind of like the Duggars, except we're dealing with Elder Gods and teenage witches! So that's pleasant.

It was interesting to note that Sabrina's aunts were present at the wedding. One could argue that they were not really there, but instead demonic shades wearing their faces. But I actually believe that her aunts are part of this cult. Which is kind of sad and scary.

Dr. Lovecraft told Sabrina that the people of Riverdale were lucky, because they are now all dead. If the zombie carnage that took place in AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #1-5 is lucky, I cannot imagine what kind of new horrors we readers get to look forward to as this series progresses!

"Witch In The Dream House" was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, drawn by Francesco Francavilla, and lettered by Jack Morelli.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Mega Man/Mega Man X Crossover Continues in MEGA MAN #39

It took me a while to get my copy of MEGA MAN #39 -- basically my iTunes account was nearly empty and it took me a while to remember to plug in some more coins! But I finally got my digital comic and promptly read the third chapter of the four-part "Dawn of X" crossover storyline between Mega Man and Mega Man X.

I have spent parts of the past two reviews (here and here) complaining that Rock and X haven't met yet. Here is the deal. They aren't going to meet. It just took me a long time to understand this point. This is the type of story where elements of each character's world's cross over into the world of the other character, but otherwise the two main characters never actually connect with each other. It kind of sucks, but I can deal with it.

There are two crossover elements:

First, Mega Man (along with Pharaoh Man and Bright Man) was sent into one of the supposedly reformed Dr. Wily's laboratory to look for a group of evil Robot Masters who had stolen some powerful tech. With a little "help" from Dr. Wily, Mega Man inadvertently woke a powerful Wily Walker. This is a nasty spider-like tank loaded with all sorts of weapons -- both conventional and chemical! Mega Man and his two friends manage to prevent the Wily Walker from escaping into the world, but only by trapping themselves inside the lab with the robotic juggernaut!

Fastforward 100 years: Dr. Cain and X accidentally awaken the dormant Wily Walker. Unfortunately, the Wily Walker escapes from the old lab and threatens nearby Arcadia City. It's only through X's quick intervention that the Maverick Hunters are stopped from accidentally unleashing the chemical weapons. Sort of. Vile seems less concerned about those chemical weapons than he should be! How will they save Arcadia City?

Then there is the second crossover element. In the first chapter of this storyline, X found himself under attack by a group of anti-robot terrorists called the Emerald Spear. And then back in Mega Man's time, Emerald Spear leader Xander Payne accessed time-traveling technology to travel back in time and stop of "robot revolution" before it begins. Unfortunately, he accidentally gets whacked from the past and tossed into the future, which leads to him meeting X!

Payne is saved from a perilous situation by X, but all he can focus on is the explosive battle between the Maverick Hunters and the Wily Walker. His time-traveling energies send him back to the present, but not before renewing his opposition to robots everywhere!

Will the Wily Walker finally be stopped? And when??? And when will Mega Man and Dr. Light discover that Dr. Wily is still a lunatic? The answer to at least one of these questions will be answered in part four of "Dawn of X!"

"Out of Time" is written by Ian Flynn, drawn by Ryan Jampole and Jamal Peppers, and inked by Gary Martin.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Archie Meets Sharknado???

Dan Parent posted the following image on Facebook today. It was a commissioned piece of artwork coming out of the San Diego Comic Con. Check this out:

Archie Comics has published crossovers featuring KISS, the cast from "Glee," President Barack Obama, and Governor Sarah Palin. They have written about zombies and predicted Archie's future death. It would be criminal for them not to publish an "Archie Meets Sharknado" comic book!

Mock Election Held at Johnson County Fair in Iowa: Braley, Hatch, and Pop are the Winners!

The Johnson County Fair just ended yesterday. I was away attending a family funeral for most of the week and couldn't bear the heat for the rest of it, so I didn't make it. It looks like the Johnson County Auditor's Office held a Mock Election this week in order to help people learn how to operate our election equipment, as well as to have a little fun. 1118 people voted in this Mock Election. These were the results:

Keep in mind that Johnson County leans heavily towards the Democratic Party when you consider these results:

U.S. Senate:
Bruce Braley (D) 593 votes (55%)
Joni Ernst (R) 400 votes (37%)
Dout Butzier (Libertarian) 78 votes (7%)

Jack Hatch (D) 528 votes (49%)
Terry Branstad (R) 475 votes (44%)
Lee Hieb (L) 77 votes (7%)

Public Measure: Name for Carbonated Beverage:
Soda 340 votes (32%)
Coke 74 votes (7%)
Pop 617 votes (57%)
Tonic 47 votes (4%)

It isn't looking very good for those of us who do not favor Gov. Branstad when he barely loses in Johnson County. I'm just sayin'!

Register early and don't forget to vote in November!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Woman Blames God After Running Over Motorcyclist With Her Car

25-year-old Prionda Hill took the phrase "God is my co-pilot" a bit too seriously earlier this month in Fort Wayne, IN. According to news reports, she was driving in town when "God told her he would take it from here." So she let go of the steering wheel and nearly killed a motorcyclist:
Lying helplessly in the street and watching the car that just knocked him off his motorcycle bearing down on him, Anthony Oliveri was resigned to his fate. “When I looked at that bumper and looked at that tire, I told myself, today is the day you die,” he said Thursday of the July 11 crash. He closed his eyes and the car ran over his midsection, breaking all the ribs on his left side, cutting his spleen, bruising a kidney and leaving him with road rash and severe injuries to the muscles in his left arm and leg.
Oliveri's mother later reported that his back looked like "raw meat" because of the accident.

Hill's car also hit a pickup twice and eventually crashed into a traffic island between two fast food restaurants several blocks from the accident. She later told the police that she had a prescription of Vicodin, but it was unclear whether she was taking the pills or not.

Hill was arrested and charged with failure to stop after an accident and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Archie's Life is Celebrated "One Year Later" in LIFE WITH ARCHIE #37

LIFE WITH ARCHIE, the comic book title that got me back into reading Archie Comics as an adult, ended today with issue #37. Issue #36 was published last Wednesday and grabbed tons of attention for it's "Death of Archie" ending. One week later, the haters have moved on for something else to rage against and this final episode -- set one year after the shooting death of Archie Andrew -- proved to be a bittersweet recollection of Archie's life in Riverdale.

Much of LIFE WITH ARCHIE #37 focused on Senator Kevin Keller's quest for remembrances of Archie anticipation of a community dedication of his remarkable life. What followed are several stories of Archie (told by Mr. Weatherbee, by Mr. Lodge, by Jughead, and by Cheryl Blossom) that highlighted his sense of sacrifice, ingenuity, friendship, and heart.

These stories highlight what we have grown to love about Archie over the years. It's easy to get caught up in the ebb and flow of his romantic life, but there is another element to Archie Andrews that is often portrayed. He is always there for his friends -- especially in time of need. In this way, he exemplifies the spirit of Riverdale. It's only fitting that the life of Archie lives on long after his death. Not in the form of a memorial statue, but in the renaming of Riverdale High School. Long live Archie Andrews High School!

* Life With Little Archie?? -- There was a familiar trio wandering the streets of Riverdale throughout this issue. Could they be shades of the past AND a hint towards the future? Or am I reading too much into their appearance?

LIFE WITH ARCHIE was a great series and I'm really sorry to see it go away. "One Year Later" was written by Paul Kupperberg, Penciled by Fernando Ruiz and Pat & Tim Kennedy, and Inked by Bob Smith and Gary Martin.

Iowa Editor Fired for Blogging about the "Gaystapo" // Files Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Former Employer

Back in May 2014, a Newton, IA, newspaper editor was fired from the Newton Daily News after writing an April 2014 blog post against the "Queen James Bible." Bob Eschliman not only complained about the two-year-old book, but he accused "'the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo' of trying 'to make their sinful nature right with God.'" The blog went viral and within a couple weeks his employer, Shaw Media, placed Eschliman on paid suspension and eventually fired him.

Now Eschliman has teamed with the Liberty Institute and filed an EEOC complaint against his former employer, arguing that he is the victim of religious discrimination:
"No one should be fired for simply expressing his religious beliefs," said Matthew Whitaker, a former United States Attorney, partner of a Des Moines law firm, and a volunteer Liberty Institute attorney. "In America, it is against the law to fire an employee for expressing a religious belief in public. This kind of religious intolerance by an employer has no place in today's welcoming workforce."
I remember this case when it originally erupted. Frankly, I'm surprised today that I didn't write about it back then. This is one of those cases that just makes me cringe. Of all the things to fire a man over, this was not one of them. I mean, the guy complains about the power of the all-powerful "Gaystapo" and then his message gets reinforced by him getting fired. Over a stupid blog criticizing a two-year-old book.

That said, hopefully Eschliman has spent at least a portion of the past three months pondering the expression of his religious beliefs. Maybe his outdated criticism of the Queen James Bible wouldn't have gotten him fired if he hadn't spouted off about homos and the Gaystapo. I mean, there is some merit to communicating an idea without having to depend on inflammatory terminology.

I am interested to see how this all plays out.