Friday, January 30, 2015

Riverdale's Shrill Gets Hooked on Candy Craze in B&V FRIENDS COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #242

Sometime last summer, I was bored and was searching through the app store on my cell phone for something that I could download for free. I saw Candy Crush and decided to get it. I'd heard others talking about it and just wanted to check it out. The game quickly got added to my iPad and I've wasted way too many hours on that stupid game ever since.

(Interestingly, my own household Luddite Husband Mark somehow got hooked on the game, which would be comical if he didn't spend so much time stealing my iPad from me!)

It's with this in mind that I began reading the lead story in B&V FRIENDS COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #242! It's a great little story that starts out with Betty and Veronica, but actually features one of the Riverdale "New Kids," a goth girl named Shrill.

Shrill runs across our title characters playing an online game called Candy Craze. Veronica is fuming because she's stuck on Level 362. She's just about to plunk some money into the game in order to move onto the next level (something my son would disparagingly call a "Pay to Play Move"), when Shrill shows some curiosity about their joint preoccupation.

It only took her moments to become addicted to this game. That's how true to life this story is!

What happens when one of Riverdale's darkest girls gets hooked on one of America's most colorful, saccharine-laced video games?? What will it take for Shrill to hit rock bottom??

I've been a big fan of these new lead stories in the digests. Not only does it give me motivation to pick up the digests, which are otherwise filled with reprint stories. But they have done a really good job of spotlighting various minor characters who've otherwise faded into the background in recent years, like Shrill and the other "New Kids." Now if we could only get slightly longer short stories!! *hint hint*

"Candy Craze" is written by Tana Del Rio, penciled by Dan Parent, inked by Jim Amash, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Colortek, Inc.

J & M Motor Lodge Closing Soon in Coralville

I wrote a little over a year ago about a battle between the nearby community of Coralville, IA, and J & M Motor Lodge (AKA Capri Lodge). The city was accusing the motel of operating as an apartment complex:
This became an issue after police officers responding to various calls at J & M Motor Lodge noticed several of the same motel residents living there for months and years at a time. The city investigated more and found that the motel wasn't collecting a hotel/motel tax at times for a variety of their residents. Lastly, Coralville officials noted that some of the residents were being removed from their room through court eviction processes.

The owners of J & M Motor Lodge are fighting this decision. They addressed the hotel/motel tax issue by referencing the Iowa code, which exempts occupants who rent a room for 31 consecutive days or more from paying the tax. There have been times when the motel has been filled with extended-stay occupants.

Additionally, J & M Motor Lodge residents don't sign leases. They don't pay deposits. There are no background checks. You can't say the same about apartments or other rental properties.
I commented that it would be a terrible thing, in my opinion, if J & M Motor Lodge got closed by the city or banned from permitting extended-stay guests:
I deal occasionally with the owners of J & M, as well as a neighboring motel that also offers extended-stay lodging. It's cheap housing. It gives people a chance to live somewhere while they search for other sources of long-term affordable housing -- which there isn't a lot of in this area!

This Press-Citizen article interviews a woman who's lived at J & M Motor Lodge since the 2008 floods. She asks a pertinent question. Where can she live for $550 per month (utilities included)? There aren't many options. And there are other extended-stay hotels and motels in the area.
I ended up doing an adult education hour at my church about the subject of the lack of affordable housing options in this community as a direct result of this blog post. It seems only fair that I provide an update to this story.

J & M Motor Lodge will be closing on July 1st:
The J&M Motor Lodge, located at 705 Second St. and formerly known as the Capri Lodge, dismissed its court appeal against the city in November. Its owner says he will voluntarily close the 18-room motel, as well as the small apartment building behind it, by July 1.

In return, the city has agreed to drop its action against the motel and allow it to remain open through the end of the fiscal year, giving the property owners time to find a buyer and longtime occupants time to move out.
There were no interviews with any of the motel residents in this latest article.

I will credit the Press-Citizen for interviewing Johnson County Social Services Director Lynette Jacoby about this development:
Jacoby said places such as the motor lodge offer fewer barriers to housing for those who might not qualify to rent elsewhere because of credit checks, background checks, long-term leases or the area's low vacancy rates.
"It provides an affordable option, and for some of the consumers we see, it may be the only option for them to avoid homelessness," Jacoby said. "From my standpoint, it's a concern to lose that type of flexible housing."
It's obviously the right of these business owners to quit, but I keep going back to my question from October 2013: Where can someone live in this community for $550 per month (utilities included)?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Peter Davidson: Doctor Who Should Always be a Male

Here's a little known fact: My favorite "Doctor Who" was portrayed by Peter Davidson back in early 1980s. He was just asked if the next person picked to play the role of "Doctor Who" should be a woman.

He answered, "No:"
"I have trouble with the idea of a female Doctor, only because I reckon if you're born on Gallifrey a man, you're probably a male Time Lord."

Davison said the key to the success of the modern Doctor Who series was the dynamic between a troubled Doctor and strong female companion. 

"It seems to me if you reverse that, if you have an uncertain, fallible female Doctor with a really strong male companion, you've got more of a stereotype than anything else."
This question has been bandied about for decades, but the program's current producer has openly contemplated the concept of a female Doctor for several months.

As for the idea that a Time Lord cannot switch his or her gender? Well, there's already a precedent for that.

Joanna Lumley once played the role of "Doctor Who" in a 1999 charity sketch called "Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death." Granted, this story really doesn't fall within the program's continuity. So I understand if others might not consider this to be a true example of a male-to-female Time Lord.

But the most recent season of "Doctor Who" just ended with a story arc involving a woman named Missy, who it later turned out was a female regeneration of the Master! So there's definitely precedent for a female Doctor.

What do you all think? Is there room in this world for a female actor to play the role of "Doctor Who?" Why or why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

House Republicans Submit Bill to Prevent County Recorders from Granting Any More Gay Marriage Licenses in Iowa

Remember yesterday when I shared information about House Joint Resolution 4, which would amend Iowa's constitution to ban legal recognition of gay marriage. This was co-sponsored by 12 GOP House members. Because Iowa has really been struggling after nearly six years of marriage equality.

I learned today that eight of those same GOP House members have filed a bill that would force Iowa's county registers from processing marriage licenses for same-sex couples until gay marriage itself is constitutionally banned. Whenever that may be:
House File 101 was offered Tuesday by Reps. Greg Heartsill (R-Melcher-Dallas), Steven Holt (R-Denison), Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville), Tedd Gassman (R-Scarville), Dean Fisher (R-Garwin), Larry Sheets (R-Moulton), John Kooiker (R-Boyden), and Ralph Watts (R-Adel). It would effectively end gay marriage in Iowa until a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman is put to a vote and the results are certified.
Not only would new marriage licenses not be granted for same-sex couples in Iowa if House File 101 got passed into law, but it would also bar the supreme court from considering whether or not it was actually constitutional.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

House Republicans Submit Resolution to Ban Gay Marriage in Iowa

It's been nearly six years since Iowa became a marriage equality state. There have been a few hiccups along the way, but things have largely gone smoothly. But that didn't stop a group of Iowa House Republicans from filing a constitutional amendment that would ban the recognition of gay marriage:
This afternoon, a small group of Republican Representatives in the Iowa House submitted a resolution that would ban marriage for thousands of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples in Iowa. House Joint Resolution 4 would seek to amend Iowa’s Constitution so that “marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state.”

House Joint Resolution 4 was introduced by Representatives Greg Heartsill, Steven Holt, John Wills, Clel Baudler, Sandy Salmon, Tedd Gassman, Dean Fisher, Larry Sheets, Matt Windschitl, Terry Baxter, John Kooiker and Ralph Watts. Click here for copy of House Joint Resolution 4.
It's been noted elsewhere that 56 GOP House members co-sponsored a similar anti-marriage amendment back in 2011, as compared to only 12 House Republicans this year. It's also interesting to note that most of this batch of co-sponsors are relatively new House members.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Riverdale is Overrun by Motorcycle Gangs in ARCHIE #663!

ARCHIE #663 was released a couple weeks ago, but I've been struggling a bit with my busy schedules, illness, and motivation. I decided that I needed to write something about the title or just move on. This comic was was apparently inspired by the "Sons of Anarchy" television program. I will need to take their word for it because I've never seen that program.

Here is the story: Archie loses control of his car and crashes it into a lake. This ordinarily would be problematic enough, but he has a date tomorrow night with Veronica to attend a concert by an opera singer. His dad refuses to pay for the repairs, so Archie goes to see his grandfather -- who looks very familiar...

Grandpa Andrews is busy working on Archie's old jalopy, but he has another idea to help out with Archie's transportation needs: an economical scooter! Archie spends much of the rest of this issue trying to talk himself into telling Veronica that she'll have to go to the concert on the back of a scooter. It's not until towards the end that Veronica agrees to ride on the scooter in order to catch up with Enrico Fabulosa -- who is stuck in the middle of a traffic jam.

This is an Archie Comics comic book. Do I really need to tell you that things won't work out the way it should??

There was another subplot that I found interesting. It seems that all of the Riverdale Gang decided to go shopping for scooters after seeing Archie's new wheels -- including Reggie! Too bad the local scooter dealer is a scammer. But Reggie learns the hard way that his scooter doesn't give him a lot of street cred -- with the local motorcycle gang! Who knew that Riverdale had a motorcycle gang?? Or that two of them are a pair of lesbians??

Reggie looks as shocked as I was!

"Sons of Anarchie" is written by Chuck Dixon, penciled by Pat & Tim Kennedy, inked by Rick Koslowski, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

Gov. Terry Branstad Hospitalized with Flu-Like Symptoms

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad was speaking at an event at DuPont Pioneer in Johnston, IA earlier today when he began struggling with medical symptoms during a speech. An ambulance was called and he was taken to Iowa Methodist Medical Center to be treated for flu-like symptoms. He was admitted to the hospital and reportedly is doing better.

It seems that he was coughing a lot during the event and then began struggling with his balance. That's when a nurse -- who was in the audience -- advised him to lie down until an ambulance arrived.

Ben Carson: Gay Couples Should Be Careful Or Else Conservatives Will Poison Their Wedding Cakes!

GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson was in Des Moines this weekend at the Iowa Freedom Summit. He did his speech and then met with journalists to discuss same-sex couples, anti-discrimination laws that address sexual orientation, and wedding cakes:
Carson also criticized political correctness as he answered a question about gay marriage — and followed up by flaunting decorum with the type of comment that endears him with the base but could hurt his cross-party appeal.

"What I have a problem with is when people try to force people to act against their beliefs because they say 'they're discriminating against me.' So they can go right down the street and buy a cake, but no, let's bring a suit against this person because I want them to make my cake even though they don't believe in it. Which is really not all that smart because they might put poison in that cake," he said to chuckles from some of his staff and dead silence from the journalists in the room.
Because social conservatives aren't against poisoning gay people?

It sounds like his handlers need to do less chuckling and more handling.

Alabama's Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down // Updated on 01/26/15: 2 Week Stay Ordered

(Originally written on 01/23/15): Alabama just became the 37th marriage equality state this afternoon:
A federal judge in Alabama has become the latest to strike down a state ban on same-sex marriage, ruling against the Yellowhammer State’s prohibition on gay nuptials on the basis that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment. 

In a 10-page decision on Friday, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, an appointee of George W. Bush, issued summary judgement in favor of a plaintiff same-sex couple, finding Alabama marriage laws violate the couple’s right to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. 

“There has been no evidence presented that these marriage laws have any effect on the choices of couples to have or raise children, whether they are same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples,” Granade writes. “In sum, the laws in question are an irrational way of promoting biological relationships in Alabama.” 

Granade continues Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional for the same reason the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. 

“If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children,” Granade writes. “Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents. Yet Alabama’s Sanctity laws harms the children of same-sex couples for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act harmed the children of same-sex couples.” 

No stay is included with the decision, which enjoins the state from enforcing Alabama’s marriage laws in their entirety. It seems that same-sex couples can begin to wed in the state as soon as clerk’s office are open for business. The decision makes Alabama the 37th state in the country to have same-sex marriage.
Alabama's attorney general has vowed to fight on!

I'll post more as I learn more...

Updated on 01/26/15US District Judge Callie "Ginny" Granade approved a 14-day stay on her earlier order. So we're technically back to 36 marriage equality states.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Faithful and Welcoming Churches" Board Members Bond with National UCC Leaders // Seek Larger Role in the Denomination

The United Church of Christ has a reputation for being spiritually and socially progressive, but elements of that reputation aren't shared by all members of the denomination. In the past, a conservative group called Biblical Witness Fellowship operated within the UCC and actively sought to get rid of liberal leaders and members -- particularly GLBTs and feminists.

The BWF is largely gone by this point (as far as I can tell), but many BWF leaders and churches founded a new organization about a decade ago called UCC Faithful and Welcoming Churches. It was founded back around 2005 or 2006, not long after the denomination's 25 General Synod voted in favor of equal marriage rights & rites. There are roughly 70 FWC churches and their goal is to provide support and resources for Evangelical, Conservative, Orthodox, and Traditional (ECOT) UCC churches. Basically, they are trying to offer an alternative for these folks outside of quitting the denomination.

A group of 10 FWC board members went to the United Church of Christ's main office in Cleveland a couple Fridays ago to discuss common concerns with national UCC staff members and to plan for this summer's General Synod. It was noted here that the FWC plans to host a formal luncheon at the Synod in order to gain more visibility.

The FWC wants more "self-identified" ECOTs working on the UCC's national office and serving on different boards. Which is interesting when you consider the next two paragraphs of this report:
As the conversation shifted to human sexuality and same-sex marriage, (Rev. Bob Thompson, president of the Faithful and Welcoming Church,) helped break a momentary tension by acknowledging "the elephant in the room." But in the respectful dialogue that followed, FWC members voiced past guilt surrounding the treatment of LGBT individuals, though they still believe the Bible affirms marriage as only between a man and a woman. National staff agreed that many UCC members hold that view, and that the church’s welcome extends across a range of the theological spectrum.

"This was not a meeting in which all problems were solved and all divisions erased," Thompson said. "There are still many issues ahead, and many perspectives on each. However, the meeting was one peaceful, Christ-centered step on a journey of shared purpose. It was a moment when the UCC was all that it was designed to be—everyone was welcome at the table."
Which is always the sticky point when it comes to integrating diverse religious leaders. How do you integrate two groups of people when ultimately the one group is deeply opposed to the other group?

Honestly, I'm glad that the National UCC leaders continue to meet with the FWC leaders and I hope that they continue to stick with the denomination even though they disagree with pervasive progressive denominational beliefs.

I must also admit that I have to fight my own trigger reactions when it comes to the FWC. Different members may have a gentler disposition to LGBT Christians and leaders than the BWF, but it's hard for me to forget that this group appears to have been founded in direct reaction to the UCC General Synod's support for equal marriage rights. The FWC might believe that only a marriage between a man and a woman is actually a family; but my husband and our sons are every bit as precious, blessed, and real to me. My family is fully integrated within our home UCC church. It's a shame that I couldn't say that if we tried attending one of these 70 churches.

Hopefully, they'll have a good showing this summer at General Synod.