Thursday, May 5, 2016

Salvation Army Promotes Trans-Inclusive Homeless Outreach Program

I've written a bit about the Salvation Army in the past along with its conflicting history with the LGBT communities. I was on YouTube tonight and noticed a more recent video on Salvation Army USA's page featuring a trans woman named Dooley who has struggled with family abuse and abandonment, homelessness, prostitution, and rape. "I've been through Hell. Terrible Hell."

She eventually learned of a unique Salvation Army program in Las Vegas that has a fairly unique program for transgender people, including a safety dorm that protects them from other participants who might victimize them. She eventually transitioned to a transitional apartment unit for up to one year while they helped her work towards the goal of obtaining long-term affordable housing.

I'm still wary about the Salvation Army and its reputation, but I'm heartened by their very public outreach to LGBT people in need. I hope that this outreach continues.

You can watch the entire video here.

Oskaloosa, IA: Cat Taped in Plastic Box and Left for Dead in City Dump

The Stephen Memorial Animal Shelter in Oskaloosa, IA, reported that they were called out yesterday to rescue a cat that had been taped inside a plastic tote and left at the city's dump.

From their Facebook page:
HELP US FIND CECILIA'S ABUSER! Last night our Animal Control Officer responded to an after hours emergency call to the city brush dump. When he arrived, he found a plastic tote box, taped shut on all sides with a couple of small holes poked in the sides. Inside the tote was this sweet girl, who we named Cecilia. It was clear that poor Cecilia had been in the tote for a while, as she was sitting in about 1/2 inch of her own urine and feces that had accumulated in the tote. Cecilia was filthy, and terrified. Fortunately, a good samaritan noticed the tote at the dump, investigated, and contacted the police department, who then contacted us. Considering that Cecelia was left at the brush dump, and the tote she was in was so tightly taped shut, it's very clear that whoever dumped her intended for her to die in that tote. They didn't even give her a chance. It's very hard to come up with the right words to describe how saddened and angry we are that somebody here in our own community could be so blatantly cruel towards a living creature. Whoever did this should be ashamed of themselves. What this person did was a crime, and should be held accountable. We did get one clue as to who may have done this to Cecilia: the tape that was used to tape the tote shut is called StegoTape, and is used in construction to seal gaps and prevent water from penetrating a given surface. While this clue doesn't do much to help us figure out who did this on it's own, it does narrow down the suspect pool a little bit and we are hoping that someone out there might have some additional pieces to the puzzle to help bring this cruel individual to justice. If you think you have information that might help us please let us know!!!
They are asking for assitsnace to find the person who left Cecilia to die. People can contact the Oskaloosa Police Department at 641-672-2557 or the Stephen Memorial Animal Shelter at 641-673-3991.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Team-Members Revealed for Upcoming "New Mutants" Film?

There are plans for a "New Mutants" movie. Director Josh Boone began posting comic book images of various New Muties on his Instagram page, implying that these were his team members.

If his Instagram images are to be believed, the movie will feature Mirage, Cannonball, Magik, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, and Warlock! Which would be a pretty wicked team!

What do you think of this team-up?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Iowa Selected Its First Transgender Presidential Elector!

Humanity continues to freak out over trans people using public restrooms. In fact, it's hard to go online these days without reading a story about trans people and bathrooms. So here's a good one coming from Iowa:

A Des Moines-based trans man just became the first openly transgender presidential elector from Iowa. It's even possible that he's the first openly transgender presidential elector in the USA. His name is Jack Schuler and he's a high school teacher and he got selected as an elector this past weekend during the 3rd District Democratic Convention in Creston, IA:
“There were a few people who wanted to be elector, and we each got a minute to speak,” Schuler said during a break from class Monday. “I spoke from the heart. I mentioned that I was trans and that it is only because people are committed to the democratic process that I can exist openly in this country.”

An elector is different than national delegates, who were also selected at all four of Iowa's Democratic district conventions. A delegate attends the nominating convention and casts a vote to determine the party’s nominee. As an elector, Schuler will cast a vote in the Electoral College to determine the president.

The Democratic Party has had transgender delegates previously. "In 2012, we had a record number of transgender delegates (14)," (DNC spokesman TJ) Helmstetter said in a statement.

"We are committed as a party to welcoming transgender Americans at all levels of participation," he said.
For the record, he appears to be a Sanders Clinton supporter.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Paramount & CBS Suing Trek Fan-Filmers // Claiming Copyright Ownership of the Klingon Language

Late last year, Paramount and CBS filed a lawsuit against the makers of a "Star Trek"-themed fan-film called "Axanar." Axanar's creators raised over $1 million in crowdfund money for their movie and Paramount -- normally quite permissive when it comes to encouraging fans -- decided that enough was enough:
Paramount and CBS, represented by attorneys at Loeb & Loeb, are now demanding an injunction as well as damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Although the plaintiffs have allowed ample cosplaying over the years and even permitted other derivatives like amateur Star Trek shows to circulate, the lawsuit illustrates that there is a place where no man has gone before, where the entertainment studios are not willing to let be occupied: crowdfunded, professional-quality films that use copyrighted "elements" like Vulcans and Klingons, Federation starships, phasers and stuff like the "look and feel of the planet, the characters’ costumes, their pointy ears and their distinctive hairstyle."
Here is one of the more interesting elements of the lawsuit: Paramount and CBS are claiming copyright ownership of the Klingon language:
Paramount and CBS listed many, but what drew most attention was claimed entitlement to the Klingon language. The defendant then reached back to a 19th century Supreme Court opinion for the proposition that Klingon is not copyrightable as a useful system.

On April 11, that drew an entertaining response from the flummoxed plaintiffs.

"This argument is absurd since a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate," stated a plaintiffs' brief authored by David Grossman at Loeb & Loeb. "The Klingon language is wholly fictitious, original and copyrightable, and Defendants' incorporation of that language in their works will be part of the Court's eventual substantial similarity analysis. Defendants' use of the Klingon language in their works is simply further evidence of their infringement of Plaintiffs' characters, since speaking this fictitious language is an aspect of their characters."
Axanar's creators are pushing back:
Before U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner gets a chance to rule on a motion to dismiss, he's now being asked permission to review a friend-of-the-court brief from the Language Creation Society.
The brief, authored by Marc Randazza, begins by noting that the Klingon language was invented in 1984 by Marc Okrand for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

"Before that, when actors played Klingons in Star Trek television programs or movies, they simply uttered guttural sounds or spoke in English (Federation Standard)," writes Randazza. "Given that Paramount Pictures commissioned the creation of some of the language, it is understandable that Paramount might feel some sense of ownership over the creation. But, feeling ownership and having ownership are not the same thing. The language has taken on a life of its own. Thousands of people began studying it, building upon it, and using it to communicate among themselves."
The article notes that 250,000 copies of a Klingon dictionary have been sold, there are Klingon language certification programs, and there are English-to-Klingon translation programs. There was even a couple who wrote their wedding vows in the Klingon language!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

This Weekend's Riverdale Podcast: Who Are Your Top 5 Character Picks??

You all know that I'm a fan of "The Riverdale Podcast." This is a weekly fan podcast by Jonathan Merrifield that dedicates each episode to Archie Comics. I've been listening for years and have had the pleasure of appearing on the program on a few occasions. Last week, Jonathan asked his listeners to share their top 5 favorite Archie Comics characters outside of the core five characters. He posted this request on the Archie Comics Fan Forum and then shared the results over everyone's top 5 list on this week's program.

For the record, here is Jonathan's top 5 list:

1. Li'l Jinx
2. Sheila Wu
3. Josie
4. Pepper
5. Ethel

All great choices, by the way. And I agree 1000% with his assessment of Sheila Wu, particularly how she's being portrayed in the "New Riverdale" relaunch!

Here is my list:

1. Kevin Keller -- Hands down. He is my favorite character. I know that it's cliche for the gay fan to love Archie Comics' gay character. But I'll own it. I love it when he appears in a comic book and I really can't wait to read the upcoming KEVIN IN THE CITY digital series this summer!

2. Cosmo the Merry Martian -- I've had the joy of reading his entire comic book run from the 1950s. I actually didn't like the guy visually when I first discovered him. But then I read the stories -- which featured his explorations of the Solar System -- and acquired a deep appreciation for this classic character!

3. Dotty & Ditto: Keep in mind that I love reading old comic books online from MLJ, Archie, Charlton and a few other Golden Age publishers. If I were to write up my top 5 list today, I don't know that Dotty & Ditto would make it there. But they were on my mind, so they made it to my list. Dotty is a young cowgirl who goes on adventures with her pet parrot, Ditto.

Incidentally, I have a story in my head (what fan doesn't?) featuring Dotty, Super Duck, Wilbur, Archie, the Twiddles, and a few other characters! If you're from Archie Comics and reading this, send me a note and I'll pitch it to you!

4. Jinx -- I'm talking about the teen version of this character, as opposed to the Li'l Jinx version of the character. Back when I first got back into Archie Comics (about five years ago), the company revamped Li'l Jinx as a high school freshman. There were two graphic novels featuring the character and her friends. These were great comics. Really great comics. I'm assuming that they didn't sell very well because we haven't seen any other books in this series of titles. But if you haven't read it and you're looking for something good to read from Archie Comics' vault, you owe it to yourself to snag these books!

5. Sam Hill -- Here is another classic character who recently went through an uneventful return! Sam Hill is a private detective with an eye for the ladies and a taste for whole milk! He had his own comic book back in the early 1950s and then disappeared until 2013 when he was hired by Mr. Lodge in LIFE WITH ARCHIE to locate a missing person and to save Riverdale! Sam Hill later had a graphic novel of his own, but it languished in the solicits until Archie Comics finally published it as a digital exclusive on their app. I'm very slowly reading through it, but it's pretty good stuff!

So those are my top 5 Archie Comics characters. There are three other characters who are jumping around in my head right now who could easily knock one of these five folks off of my list, but I'm sticking with this for now!

Who are your top 5 picks for secondary Archie Comics characters? Share your choices in the comments section below!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Honey Boo Boo To Be Featured on OWN's "Where Are They Now"

I was online today and noticed that Oprah Winfrey is set to air an episode of "Where Are They Now" tonight and that part of the show will feature Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and her family. You might recall that "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" got canceled in late 2014 after the tabloids ran with a story that Mama June Shannon was dating a convicted sex offender -- not to mention the man who sexually molested her oldest daughter.

Looking back, it seems like TLC cut and ran from the family before getting enough of the details. I have heard conflicting stories of what went down, but it seems like June's involvement with this man had more to do with her middle child seeking an interaction with her birth father and less about her dating him. But the family was uncharacteristically evasive early on when it came to explaining this story and, as a result, both they and the network let the tabloids and the media define this situation.

On the other hand, it was probably a good thing for the family (and the children, in particular) to separate from the reality TV show. Alana spent half of her life in front of cameras and it was clear from several of her media events that she really didn't want to be there much of the time.

So the family has been out of the public eye for most of the past 1 1/2 years (with the exception of her music video "Movin Up!" and her parents' appearance on the most recent "Marriage Boot Camp" season).

My son is hosting a sleep-over at our home tonight, which means that I won't be able to watch this episode of "Where Are They Now." But I really want to see it!

My family thinks I'm odd for my fascination with Honey Boo Boo, her family, and her program. But I really found them fun to watch and have continued to find them accessible to fans -- particularly her uncle, Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson and his fiance Alan. I bristle when people make fun of her weight and her antics and I really want to see what she's like when she's not performing -- at least, not performing like she needed to do for the reality TV shows that she was on before as opposed to sitting through a simple interview.

Hopefully I won't have too long to wait to see this program. My plan is to check in again after watching this episode of "Where Are They Now" and offer my reaction.

You can watch the promo video here.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bathroom Cops Now Accosting Androgynous Women in Women's Restrooms

It's been a couple of years since America began its latest freak-out over LGBT people. The current freak-out is over the idea of trans-inclusive bathroom policies. The meme is that communities and businesses cannot have LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies or else sex predators will have free reign over public restrooms, which will leave women and children vulnerable to sexual assaults, and there will be nothing that the police will be able to do to protect those women or children.

Which has led us to the latest fall-out from the freak-out: Self-appointed bathroom cops who come into women's restrooms to protect women from other women. For example, there was this lesbian who was kicked out of the women's bathroom last December because of her gender-ambiguous style and because she didn't have photo ID proving that she's a woman. Of course, she told the cops that she is a woman and her friends all told the cops that she is a woman and I could tell that she is a woman from looking at her.

But the cops called her "Sir" and kicked her out of the restroom and presumably sent her to the men's restroom to pee with a bunch of guys. Because it's not about actually allowing women to pee with other women. I's about control and about enforcing gender norm. You can watch the video here.

Now there's a new story coming out of Dallas involving another self-appointed bathroom cop who recently chased a woman named Jessica Rush into the women's restroom at a hospital:
She was, for the record, and her situation isn't particularly complicated. Rush was born and identifies as female and has no plans to change that. "I look very much like a girl," she says. "I'm not trying to transition, nothing like that." 

But Rush wears her hair in a bleached blond fauxhawk and dresses androgynously. On Thursday, she was wearing a T-shirt from her alma mater, Texas Tech, with basketball shorts. As the man at Baylor explained after walking into the restroom behind her, it's all very confusing... 

"When I saw you enter I thought you was..." the man says. 

"A boy?" Rush offers. 

"Yeah, it was kind of confusing." Certainly she can see why. "You dress like a man," he says several times as he walks away. 

Later, in the doctor's office lobby where Rush was waiting to have a pair of broken fingers looked at, the man elaborated that he was concerned that a man had entered the same bathroom his mother was going to use. 
According to the article, Rush has been confronted several other times by people who don't think that she should use the women's restroom.

This is the new normal. Religious and social conservatives have gotten our country all freaked out over sex predators in women's restrooms and now men are harassing women in the women's restrooms.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Celebrate National Superhero Day... With Squirrel Girl!

Did you know that it's National Superhero Day? No doubt! Which made me think of my current favorite superhero: Squirrel Girl! Did you know that she's unbeatable? It's true!

Here's an example of her unbreakability:

Simple solutions! Wonderful superhero!

(By the way, check out THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #7! It features Koi Boi, Swarm, and Galactus in a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style story!)

Iowa City Man Charged With Animal Neglect After Leaving 62 Ducks in an Abandoned U-Haul Van

A 69-year old Iowa City man has been charged with animal neglect after police officers discovered 62 ducks in an abandoned U-Haul van in the old Hy-Vee parking lot on North Dodge Street. The were alerted to the U-Haul due to a strong, foul-smelling odor. The ducks were in stacked cages and were covered in feces.

19 of the ducks were dead before authorities arrived. The surviving ducks were taken to the Iowa City Animal Shelter, where they are being cared for. One of the remaining ducks has died since arriving at the shelter:
"It was probably some of the most horrible conditions I've ever seen and you know, even though they're just ducks and they're livestock, they're still living beings," (Iowa City Animal Services Supervisor Liz Ford) says. A veterinarian examined each one. Now the survivors are divided into six dog kennels by how well they're recovering.
According to the news, the U-Haul van was towed by the police and the man responsible for it went to the police department seeking information about its whereabouts, as well as the location of the ducks.