Sunday, November 29, 2015

#LipstickIncident Explained in ARCHIE #4!

One of the biggest mysteries of the Archie Relaunch has been the super-secret "lipstick incident" that led to the break-up of Riverdale High's power couple, Archie and Betty. Everyone knew about it, but nobody actually knew anything about it. They just knew that the Archie and Betty were no longer a couple and that it was because of the #LipstickIncident. Judging from the reactions, it was very traumatic for everyone in Riverdale!

ARCHIE #4 was published this week and we finally learned the story behind the #LipstickIncident. I feared that it had everything to do about Archie and other girls. I just read the story and learned that I was both completely right and completely wrong at the same time!

But first...

This blog entry contains spoilers. If you don't want to know what happens in ARCHIE #4 or about the #LipstickIncident, then stop reading now. You have been warned.

Back to the show...

#LipstickIncident was all about Betty and Archie struggling with the idea of change. They have known each other for all of their lives. They are very comfortable with each other. They want everything to stay as it's always been. But they are both high school students now. They aren't kids. They aren't even junior high kids. They are growing and maturing and turning into adults. How will they adjust when one of them steps out of the familiar and tries something new?

That's what Betty does -- and that's where Archie fails. Betty is a tomboy. I mean, she's a very pretty tomboy. But she's always been a tomboy. Until her new friends get all excited about a movie date and talk her into getting a makeover.

She is uncomfortable with her new look. Archie is also. To top things off, he makes things worse by saying that she looks weird and wonders where the old Betty is. Which is obviously the wrong thing to say. But he's a dumb kid and doesn't know any better. She storms off and doesn't return any of his texts. And Archie slowly realizes that it's over.

And that is the #LipstickIncident. Given time (and Jughead's secret string-pulling), Archie and Betty probably would have eventually kissed and made up. But then Veronica Lodge arrived and now it might be too late.

Except that Archie still misses Betty -- even while panting after Veronica!

But wait! There was one element of this story that seemed off to me. Everyone was freaking in ARCHIE #1 when Archie and Betty broke up. The biggest fretters in that issue were Kevin Keller, Sheila Wu, and Maria Rodriguez. Except in this issue -- which arguably closely leads into issue #1 -- Sheila and Maria viewed Betty with a fair amount of contempt. I have a hard time imagining that this pair cared too much about the break-up.

ARCHIE #4 was written by Mark Waid, with art by Annie Wu, colors by Andre Szymanowicz & Jen Vaughn, and letters by Jack Morelli.

Latest Anti-Gay Argument: Gay Marriage --> Everyone Going Gay --> No More Babies --> Death of Humanity

I was on the Gay Christian Network yesterday afternoon and noticed that a new GCN member had posted something in the "Ask Me Anything" thread for GCN's founder/executive director, Justin Lee. It was clear that the person wasn't using the thread as a serious effort at asking Justin anything. He was just trolling GCN with a lengthy anti-gay post. Basically, the guy was upset because Justin Lee hasn't told GCN's membership that "Man should not sleep with man." A few people responded and I eventually encouraged them to ignore the post, flag the post, and to stop feeding the troll.

Fast forward to this morning: "Dclark" returned to GCN expressing further dismay that there are homosexuals who believe that you can be both gay and Christian. He said that this is why people (apparently) don't trust gays -- because some of us believe that you can be both gay and Christian. He also asserted that you cannot be a homosexual if you are celibate. Which shows you how much of a disconnect that we had from the beginning with this guy.

But then he got weird. He began equating homosexuality with murder. Here's why:
Worse case scenario: If everyone on earth became homosexual, then, men would not reproduce with women AND therefore, without any births of new human beings on earth, that would end all humanity and YES, that is a form of killing

Therefore YES, believe it, homosexuality has the potential to disobey the commandment: Thou shall NOT kill. 

Homosexuals deny it because they don’t want to admit just how corrupted and bad homosexuality is really about. They pretend as if they have extensive knowledge about love and they pretend as if they believe that killing is wrong but yet they don’t admit that homosexuality on a wider scale would end humanity and in doing so, they don’t admit that that’s a form of disobeying “Thou shall not kill”. 

God gave men and women the power to reproduce and create more people. In the old testament, God commanded that man was to reproduce and subdue the entire earth...

God would not had created humans at all if in the long run God’s plan had been to not have them reproduce at all. 
Can I state the obvious? Humanity is not going to go all gay on us.

I like my marriage. I support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. But I've never been so vain to imagine that the quality of my marriage will result in a societal ripple effect that will cause anyone -- much less everyone -- to go completely gay who isn't already gay. And even then, my marriage did not cause them to go gay.

I only wish I had that much power!!

On the other hand, I have been encouraged to become celibate by right-leaning Christians as a result of my homosexuality. Even Paul from the Bible encouraged everyone to give up on sex and to prepare for the end of the world. If my same-sex marriage will lead to everyone becoming gay and ceasing to populate this planet, why won't my celibacy lead to everyone giving up sex and ceasing to populate this planet??

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade to Black Co-Worker: "Do You Make Kool-Aid?"

Here is a story coming out of Fox News from Wednesday's "Fox & Friends" program. Fox News host Harris Faulkner was on the program demonstrating how to prepare a peach cobbler for her holiday guests when host Brian Kilmeade came at her with a bit of a race-tinged aside:
“Do you make Kool-Aid?” he asked. 

“Uh, do I do what?” she replied. 

“Make Kool-Aid,” Kilmeade repeated. 

“Uh, no,” Faulkner stuttered. “I – I don’t make Kool-Aid.”
Faulkner quickly recovered and noted out that she "an adult beverage" for everyone to share

I had never head of the "Kool-Aid as the Black person's drink" stereotype until I took in and adopted my own black son. Now I see that reference a lot. The idea is that Black people = poverty = need for cheap drink = Kool-Aid. (Jon's Note: It seems silly to spell it all out, but I've already had people ask me how Kool-Aid is part of a racist stereotype.)

You can watch the whole segment here. The Kool-Aid comment comes at the 33 second marker. It is worth watching everyone's reactions, including Faulkner's daughter, who was assisting her mother with the segment.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Size Matters When It Comes to Christmas Trees! Find Out How in JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE COMICS ANNUAL #17!

I've been taking advantage of my extra-long holiday weekend to catch up with my stockpiled comic books. Case in point: JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE COMICS ANNUAL #17! It features an all-new lead story featuring Archie, Jughead, and Vegas. It's titled "Trees Are The Times" and it's written & drawn by Fernando Ruiz, inked by Bob Smith, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Digikore Studios.

The story is pretty simple, but a lot of fun! Archie and Juggie find themselves in trouble yet again with Mr. Weatherbee after one of their schemes backfired (yet again!!). To make it up to the 'Bee, Archie has tracked down the biggest Christmas Tree in Riverdale and plans to sneak it into the school as a surprise for the principal.

Of course, Archie's schemes rarely turn out the way that he would prefer. I mean, how are two teen boys going to transport the biggest Christmas Tree across town and get it into the school and set up without anyone noticing?? (Hint: They can't!!) They'll be lucky if they can even it get it through the front doors!

As always, Ruiz delivers a solid story with beautiful cartooning. This comic book digest is definitely worth picking up, not only for this Ruiz story, but also for a variety of classic stories featuring Archie, Jughead, and the rest of the Riverdale Gang!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Squirrel Girls VS The 1960s in THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #2!

I have a ton of comic books that I need to read right now, but I pulled out my current favorite comic book first: THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #2! This issue is a mix of time traveling and mystery. The time travel occurs on the first page when Doreen Green (AKA Squirrel Girl) and her ever-present partner (AKA Tippy-Toe) get transported fifty years into the past (AKA the 1960s)!! The mystery also occurs on the first page, as Doreen has no clue how she managed to get sucked fifty years into the past!

Unfortunately, not only has Squirrel Girl traveled backwards in time, but nobody seems to remember her except for her best friend, Nancy Whitehead! Not her parents, nor the Avengers, nor the school. This places her with the impossible burden of figuring out how to bring back her BFF. That's difficult enough to accomplish when you're a D-list superhero. Try being a D-list superhero's civilian sidekick!!

Meanwhile back in the 1960s, Doreen manages to plant a letter for Nancy to find in 50 years before stumbling across another involuntary time-traveler from ESU named Mary:

This realization leads Doreen to seek out other involuntary time-travelers from 2015 -- but not before realizing that somebody appears to be "inventing" present-day technology (like the iPod) in the past and making a mint off of it! Is it a super-villain? Is it another involuntary time-traveler who has decided to cash in on his/her new home in the 60s? I guess we'll have to find out next issue!

(By the way, Nancy manages to stumble across an avid time-traveler in 2015 -- but may live to regret it!!)

"The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2" is written by Ryan North, penciled and inked by Erica Henderson, colored by Rico Renzi, and lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles. Plus, the "Trading Card" art is by Matt Digges, David Robbins, and Chip Zdarsky!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chelsea Man Who Clubbed Gay Men With Chair Now Suing Victims & Witnesses for Assault, Battery, & Defamation

Do you remember this incident from last summer? A video was posted involving a guy smashing a pair of gay men over the head with a chair at a BBQ restaurant in Chelsea, NY. The video went viral and soon everyone was looking for the large black man who assaulted the gay guys. The guy with the chair was eventually identified as a gay man who works as an HIV-counselor. It turns out that this was the end result of a larger argument between the two parties. The guy with the chair (Bayna-Lehkiem El-Amin) was eventually charged with assault and attempted assault.

El-Amin has now filed a civil lawsuit against the guys that he clubbed with the chair, as well as some of the witnesses:
An HIV counselor's night out in New York City went off the rails when he was labeled a homophobic racist for wielding a chair to fend off a gay couple attacking him, he claims in court. The May 5, 2015, altercation at a Dallas BBQ in Chelsea hit major news outlets across the globe, and had politicians and civil rights groups rushing to judgment. "Cops hunt thug who beat gay couple with a chair," proclaimed the New York Daily News. New York City Councilman Corey Johnson meanwhile renounced "the senseless act of anti-LGBT hate violence that was perpetrated last night at a restaurant in my district." Bayna-Lehkiem El-Amin, the Bronx man who was the target of these headlines, contends in a Nov. 19 lawsuit that there was only one problem: he was actually the victim. 

El-Amin, 41, says he arrived at the boisterous barbeque joint with friends at about 11 p.m. on the night in question after attending a charity event. He says 32-year-old Jonathan Snipes was at a table nearby, arguing with his boyfriend, Ethan York-Adams, 25. Claiming that the couple nearly fell onto some women sitting nearby, El-Amin says he interceded, saying "guys, come on, there are ladies here." He says Snipes then "viciously struck" him on the head with a "heavy, blunt weapon" that cut open El-Amin's head. The attack was "so sudden and completely unprovoked that plaintiff, who was ordering his meal, did not even raise his arms, duck or otherwise defend himself," the complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court states. "Dazed and bleeding," El-Amin allegedly pushed Snipes to the ground and then tried to walk away. Snipes nevertheless "continued his attack by grabbing at plaintiff's legs and attempting to claw at plaintiff's genitals," according to the complaint. York-Adams allegedly "joined in the attack by pushing plaintiff onto his injured back." With York-Adams blocking, Snipes then grabbed a knife from a table, the complaint states. El-Amin says no one came to his help, and that the manager even walked away. Fearing for his life, and "left with no choice, plaintiff grabbed a chair and threw it at his attackers, knocking them to the ground and giving plaintiff time safely to retreat from his attackers by walking out of the restaurant," the complaint continues. 

Snipes filed a criminal complaint with the police that night, while Isaam Sharef, another patron of Dallas BBQ, uploaded video of incident to the Internet, according to the complaint. El-Amin says one of Snipes' friends, Matt Friedlander, then sent Sharef's edited video to CBS News, calling it footage of "a vicious hate crime." Another friend of Snipes, Sarah Meyers, told DNAinfo "we want this to go viral," according to the complaint. "Snipes's lies did, in fact, go viral," the complaint states. "Within twenty-four hours of Snipes's CBS interview, millions of people all over the country and around the world were being shown Sharef's edited video and/or plaintiff's photo and told that plaintiff was a violent homophobe."
I have seen the video. Nobody behaved well. But Snipes and York-Adams had clearly disengaged from El-Amin towards the end of the fight and weren't even looking at him when he clubbed them with the chair.

El-Amin is seeking unspecified damages for assault and battery from Snipes and York-Adams, for negligence from Dallas BBQ, and for defamation against pretty much everyone include Sharef, Friedlander, and Meyers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crowdfund Recommendation: DIE KITTY DIE! by Fernando Ruiz & Dan Parent // Updated on 11/24/15: Kickstarter Goal Achieved!!!

(Originally Written on 11/16/15): I wrote a couple weeks ago about a top-secret mystery project by comic book creators Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz. Late yesterday, the project launched! It's a creator-owned project called DIE KITTY DIE! -- and it sounds like a lot of fun!

Here is the concept:
Kitty Ravencraft, a beautiful and magical young witch, is the star of her own popular comic book. When her greedy, publicity-starved publisher wants to increase interest in her comic book, he does what many comic book publishers do nowadays... he sets out to kill his main character, Kitty! Even worse, he decides to REALLY spike sales by killing the REAL Kitty in REAL life! The question is though... how do you kill a witch? "DIE, KITTY! DIE!" is a funny, exciting, and often sexy story about a girl caught in both the supernatural world of witches, and the super-crazy world of comics!
Basically, she's a cross between "Here's Josie" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," with inspired characters like "Casper the Friendly Ghost" and "Richie Rich" thrown in for fun! And -- looking at some of the promotional pages -- it's a funny book that's fun and friendly for adults! My kind of book!

The fundraising goal is $25,000 by Friday, December 18, 2015. As of this writing, they have raised $10,697! Check out the Kickstarter page to find all sorts of pledging levels and associated incentives!

Updated on 11/24/15: Exciting news!!! DIE KITTY DIE! met its fundraising goal today! Here is part of the message that Dan and Fernando put out tonight:
Hey everybody!  We did it!  "DIE KITTY DIE!" has been funded! In just a little over a week, you have all made this dream come true! And the best thing is you're all a part of it!  You're in on the ground floor of this whole crazy new universe!  We promise you it will be a fun ride!  

And things don't stop here. With almost 3 weeks to go, we will be adding stretch goals, add ons and other incentives to make this project even bigger and better! 

Time to hit the drawing board!  Tomorrow we should have our first stretch goal posted...and those Christmas Kittys we promised!
As of this moment, they have raised $25,169 towards this project.

Shelter House Finds Location for Temporary Homeless Shelter in Iowa City During Coming Winter Months

Last winter, Iowa City's Shelter House opened a temporary secondary homeless shelter that was capable of housing 20-25 people per night during the months of January and February 2015. This was created in order to alleviate some of the overcrowding that happens during the winter months at the Shelter House, but is was also used as a "wet shelter" (i.e., allowed individuals who had been drinking alcohol). Those individuals are turned away from the Shelter House. The temporary homeless shelter was a huge success. Iowa City Police reported a 95% decrease in vagrancy calls in the shelter's first month of operation. Basically, people weren't seeking protection from the cold in the hallways of local apartment buildings.

Shelter House wanted to open temporary shelter again this winter in Iowa City, but struggled to secure a location. The old Aldi grocery story building is no longer available and other places were not open to the idea.

Until now. Shelter House announced earlier today that they have located a new location for the temporary homeless shelter:
SouthGate will allow Shelter House to set up the temporary shelter — rent free from December through March, with Shelter House responsible for utilities — at the former TMone building, at 1925 Boyrum St. on the corner of Boyrum Street and Southgate Avenue, just across the street from Shelter House, 429 Southgate Ave.

“We’ve been looking and we’ve been talking with people, but property owners outright said no or the rent that we were going to need to come up with made the project unfeasible,” Canganelli said. “We have finally worked through the details and are going to be partnering with SouthGate this year ... it’s only because of that that we’re going to be able to proceed with the project.”

Joe Hughes, director of real estate operations for SouthGate, said the agreement with Shelter House worked out perfectly.

“We’ve had this property in mind for the Shelter House overflow for months. Our goal was to provide a much needed solution for people who are struggling in our community and do it as soon as possible,” he said in an email. “When we learned that the building will be available for this winter, we jumped on the opportunity to create a warm home for those most in need.”
It's unfortunate that a secondary homeless shelter is needed in Iowa City, but this was a great service last winter. It paid for itself by reducing calls to the police on vagrancy calls, plus people weren't forced to camp out in the city admin building/police department.

Local Clergy Plan to Issue "Interfaith Statement on the Raising of the Minimum Wage" Tomorrow

I group of local clergy will be issuing an "Interfaith Statement on the Raising of the Minimum Wage" tomorrow morning at 10:30 AM in front of St. Mary's Church in Iowa City. This statement has been endorsed and signed by 30 separate faith leaders within Johnson County:
Clergy members have hosted several Interfaith Economic Justice forums with the Center for Worker Justice over the past two months to hear from low-wage workers and to discuss how the issue of low-wages relates to their congregations, their faith traditions and their service to the community. As cities continued to debate whether to allow the county’s full minimum wage increase to take effect, the group decided to develop a statement reflecting their shared views.
This conversation has been occurring for years, but it came to a head earlier this year when the Johnson County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an incremental increase in the minimum wage within the county. Check out the milestones from the attached graphic. But there are plans to increase the wage to $10.10 per hour starting in January 2017 and then the minimum wage will be adjusted annually to reflect increases in the Consumer Price Index.

A few communities within the county -- notably Oxford, Solon, Swisher, and Shueyville have all rejected this wage increase and have lowered their city-wide minimum wage to $7.25 per hour.

Updated: It is worth noted that my own pastor, Rev. Bob Loffer of Faith United Church of Christ, is one of the signers though cannot attend tomorrow's press conference. He noted via email that he "will be present in prayer and will continue to support the work of the Consultation on Religious Communities actions to support the raising of the minimum wage."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pat Robertson: R&B Music's Pretty Good!

It's been a while since I've checked in on CBN's "The 700 Club." I looked at this morning's Bring It On segment and found an interesting question about whether or not it's wrong to listen to R&B music. Co-host Terry Meeuwsen shared the following question by a woman named Erin: "Do you think it's wrong to listen to R&B music -- even though they lyrics are positive?"

Here is Pat's answer:
Pat Robertson: R&B means "Rhythm & Blues." Is that what it means?

Terry Meeuwsen: Yup! Mmm-hmm.

Pat Robertson: Well, what's wrong with Rhythm & Blues?

Terry Meeuwsen: I dunno.

Pat Robertson: It's out of the African-American context and there's some pretty good stuff!

Terry Meeuwsen: I think... Lots of people enjoy R&B music, so... 

Pat Robertson: You're not a sinner? 

Terry Meeuwsen: You're good, Erin! You're good!

Pat Robertson: Especially if the lyrics are positive, because some of the other lyrics are pretty horrible... Let me tell you, "Kill your mother" and all that stuff. They're not too swift.
You can watch the whole segment here.