Tuesday, October 25, 2016

British Fest 2017's Main Guest Announced: Actor Terry Molloy!

I've shared my enjoyable experiences at British Fest over that past three years (here, here, and here). I even put together two panels on "Survivors" and "Midsomer Murders" this past summer. The fourth British Fest has been scheduled for the weekend of June 2-4, 2017, and will take place yet again in Omaha, NE. You can learn more about the convention here.

British Fest's organizers announced their celebrity guest for 2017: British actor Terry Molloy!

Molloy appeared several times on "Doctor Who" back in the mid/late 1980s playing Davros, the mad creator of the Daleks. But I've seen him in other programs over the years, including "Tales of Sherwood Forest" and "P.R.O.B.E.: The Devil of Winterborne."

But he's been is much more than those shows. Check out his filmography on IMDb!

Incidentally, what panel do you think I should develop for Summer 2017? I'm toying with doing a panel about the "Morse"/"Inspector Lewis"/"Endeavor" programs, but maybe not. Other thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cheryl Blossom Makes Her New Riverdale Debut!

I read my copy of ARCHIE #13 and I have to say that I really like the new artist!! It's Joe Eisma and he does a great job of transitioning to this new phase in the book!

Veronica got shipped off to a private boarding school following Hiram Lodge's electoral loss in Riverdale USA. Now she finds herself cut off from Archie, Betty, and the rest of the Riverdale Gang and forced to re-establish her life with a new batch of teens.

ARCHIE #13 also introduces Cheryl Blossom to New Riverdale. Or New Switzerland... You know what I mean...

Cheryl immediately befriends Veronica and manages to pry a confessional out of our favorite Riverdale debutante. Which felt awful good at the time, but I'm sure that Veronica will soon come to regret this bit of bonding time!

After all, this is Cheryl Blossom. She's always been awful. And her reputation as a horrid girl quickly becomes actualized in this story, much to Veronica's dismay. I won't ruin the details, but it's clear that Veronica's time in public school has rubbed off on her for the better.

Incidentally, we gained a bit more insight into Veronica's reality TV past. It seems that the show has moved on without her, and Cheryl joined the cast post-Lodge -- with fiery results!

ARCHIE #13 features story by Mark Waid (with Lori Matsumoto), art by Joe Eisma, lettering by Jack Morelli, and coloring by Andre Szymanowicz.

Iowa City Earns 100 out of 100 on the 2016 Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index!

I have written more than once about Iowa City's Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index scores (90/100 in 2013, 100/100 in 2014, and 100/100 in 2015). This year, the HRC looked at 506 cities from across the nation (up from 408 cities last year) exploring a variety of factors -- including Non-Discrimination Laws, Municipality as an Employer, Municipal Services, Law Enforcement, and Relationship with the LGBT Community -- and established scores for each of these communities.

Turns out that Iowa City's 2016 rating was a perfect score of 100 for the third year in a row:

Iowa City scored perfect scores when it came to Non-Discrimination Laws, Municipal Services, and Law Enforcement. Under Municipal Services. We earned additional points when it comes to the bonus headings of "Municipality is a Welcoming Place to Work," "Enforcement mechanism in Human Right Commission," "City provides services to LGBTQ youth," "City provides services to LGBTQ elderly," "City provides services to people living with HIV/AIDS," and "City provides services to the transgender community,"

Iowa City scored 18 out of 24 when it came to Municipality as Employer because we fall behind under the category of "Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Benefits." But we earned additional points under the bonus heading when it comes to "Municipality is a Welcoming Place to Work."

Iowa City scored 4 out of 8 when it came to Relationship with the LGBT Community because we fall behind under the category of "Leadership's Pro-Equality Legislative or Policy Efforts." And we lost points this year under the bonus heading of "Openly LGBT elected or appointed municipal leaders" -- one of our bonus achievements last year. Which doesn't make sense since we have at least one lesbian legislator on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors. But I guess they're only looking at the City Council.

In contrast, nearby Cedar Rapids earned a score of 100 (up from 99 last year), Ames earned a score of 68 (down from 70 last year), Davenport earned a score of 100, Des Moines earned a score of 97 (up from 82 last year), Dubuque earned a score of 82, Sioux City earned a score of 81 (down from 83 last year), Waterloo earned a score of 67 (down from 68 last year), and West Des Moines earned a score of 42.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Birth of a BFF! Veronica & Betty Finally Bond in ARCHIE #12!

It's no secret that I'm chronically behind on many of my comics. I just sat down and read ARCHIE #12 from start to finish. The election is over. Hiram Lodge isn't the mayor of Riverdale -- much to his outrage. Last issue ended with Archie and Betty making up over their recent feud with a hug. Unfortunately, Veronica and Sayid both saw this private huge and neither is happy to see the person that they're dating is getting close with the person that they were recently dating!

So this is the issue where Archie tries to get back in Veronica's good graces -- with a little help from his ex!

But it's also the issue where Betty and Veronica finally seem to set aside their animosity is put their cards out on the table -- and plant real seeds for their close friendship for the first time since the New Riverdale continuity got launched.

Betty admits to Veronica in this story that she's still into Archie -- but not really. That they share a long history of friendship that predates their dating relationship and that she really misses her friendship with Betty. And if she's a true friend to Archie and if he really loves Veronica, then Betty would be a horrible friend to Archie if she sabotaged that relationship.

Of course, Veronica ends up getting shipped away from Riverdale at the end of the story. Mr. Lodge is too vain to remain in the small town that just voted against the riches and most powerful man in the state. And ARCHIE #13 -- which is currently on my living room table, waiting for me to pick up -- promises to introduce Cheryl Blossom to New Riverdale.

But it's good to finally see the birth of Betty & Veronica. BFFs 4-Ever!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Anti-Gay Bully Trolls Dan Parent's "Spirit Day" Message

It's Spirit Day today. (Actually, it was yesterday). But I was reminded of it today. Spirit Day is an annual bullying awareness day, with it's emphasis on LGBTQ teens. People are encouraged to wear purple on Spirit Day.

Earlier today, Dan Parent updated his Facebook image with this "Spirit Day" post of Kevin Keller from 2013. The image is accompanied by the following message: "It's SPIRIT DAY! Stand up to and say NO to bullying!"

Then about four hours ago, some guys named Jack Samson posted "I don't believe in bullying gays. I believe in getting them psychiatric help."

Dan Parent pushed back a bit with, "Jack, you're not saying homosexuality is some sort of mental illness are you? Because if you are, there's a storm a comin' your way..."

Undaunted, Jack Samson replied, "Send it. NPR has broadcast that there is a large correlation between gay sex abuse in childhood and adult homosexuality." He then wrote, "Yes they have. It was on Fresh Air about a year ago. It was a black, gay writer who said that he did the research into it and the data was there, and then the read fun started. You should have heard the rationalization that he made to deny it. He claimed that there was some bizarre magical signal that only gays are aware of that he has seen, that allowed the abuser to recognize a gay kid before he abused him. That preposterous argument was a glaring violation of Occam's Razor, and it wouldn't last ten seconds in a science journal."

He went on to repeat the assertion that all gay people adults were sexually abused as children, "The Laws of Science are absolute. They are not open to opinion and feelings. The data resolves the argument. Period. End of story."

Jack Samson began a series of posts to Dan Parent and another commenter that consisted of "Are you gay?" and "How old were you when you were abused?" and "Did you fall in love with your molester?" Repeatedly.

This is the comment that got Jack Samson blocked from Dan Parent's Facebook page: "I'm not obsessed with child molesting. I'm obsessed with psychiatry. And BTW, I appreciate your honesty. I'm asking you questions that I already know the answer to, to gauge your honesty. Victims ALWAYS become attached to their abuser. It's called the Stockholm Syndrome."

I get it that there are people who disagree with homosexuality. But you're not winning any battles by raging against gay people and slandering our life experiences. Anyway, Jack Samson did more in two hours to highlighting anti-gay bullying and harassment than an entire purple wardrobe!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cyclops Declares War on the Inhumans in DEATH OF X #2! (I've Got a Theory About That)

I'm two issues into DEATH OF X. This is the 4-issue mini-series that took us readers back to the day that the X-Men realized that the Terrigan Mists are toxic to mutants. Jamie Madrox was supposedly killed on that day (along with countless other mutant researchers who shall forever remain nameless) and others like Goldballs became very ill very quickly. This is also the story that will tell us readers what Cyclops did to become the most hated mutant alive. He supposedly did something so terrible that humanity's fear of mutants went through the roof and Inhumanity declared war against anyone with an x-gene. Pretty much.

Turns out -- unless something really awful happens in DEATH OF X #3 -- that Cyclops mentally projected a warning into the minds of everyone on the planet, with help from Emma Frost and the Stepford Cuckoos. He told everyone that the Inhumans dropped a Terrigan bomb on the planet that is toxic to mutants -- and probably toxic to humanity as well!

The result of this warning resulted in horrible riots and mass panic. It resulted on attacks against the Inhumans. DEATH OF X #2 ended with a new Inhuman named Daisuke using his powers to put hundreds of mutants to sleep -- along with several unsuspecting X-Men. It appears that Cyclops, Emma, and their forces will use footage of that defensive attack to spread more fear and to promote further retaliation by meaner mutants like Magento.

Anyway, I have a theory about Cyclops in this mini-series and I'm going to put it out there. But let me lay out some scenes first.

In DOX #1, Cyclops went to answer a distress call along with several other X-Men, including Emma Frost, Iceman, Magik, the Stepford Cuckoos, and Goldballs. They found the island enveloped by a cloud of Terrigan Mists and everyone on the island was dead, including Jamie Madrox. Goldballs got sick and was evacuated to a hospital -- though he apparently got better, because he's become a supporting character in the SPIDER-MAN book -- unless the editorial staff forgot about this. Cyclops, Beast, and Emma confirmed that the Terrigan Mists are toxic to mutants -- and then Cyclops gets sick and collapses on the floor!

Fortunately for his fans, Cyclops recovers and manages to greet Iceman and Magik with Emma upon their return to Muir Island. He might not be feeling very well, but he is pissed...

... at the Inhumans for their purposeful attack on mutantkind!

Then in DOX #2, Cyclops -- with some telepathic assistance from Emma Frost and the Stepford Cuckoos -- warns the world about the dangers of the Inhumans and their Terrigenic death-clouds: "The Terrigan Cloud is toxic to mutants. And it is likely just as fatal to humans. We can no longer trust the Inhumans. And we can no longer allow this danger to us all to exist. For too long you have all feared and hatred mutants... All the while, Inhumans were releasing the real threat into the very air we breathe. The Inhumans lied to you. The X-Men will save you."

This is where my theory becomes really obvious. Maybe you've already caught a whiff of where I'm going with this. The Stepford Cuckoos are responding to something odd here, but Emma Frost hushes them before they can articulate their own concerns for the readers:

Magik tries to figure out where Cyclops is taking all of this, but he and Emma rush off alone into the research facility:

Fast forward several pages and Emma is fretting in her new office, trying to draw strength from Cyclops. "There's no turning back!!"

Cyclops then steps forward and reveals Magik and Colossus that he's pulling in Earth's most powerful mutants to push back against the threat of the Inhumans. "You can fight with us, or you can sit back and die!" (I'm paraphrasing.)

And here is the first of Cyclops' powerful new allies, who doesn't seem to be chatting it up with Scott, but someone else...

I know what you're thinking. Cyclops is delegating responsibilities to Emma Frost. Rights?


Here's my theory. Cyclops is dead. He was killed in DEATH OF X #1 in the panel way up above towards the beginning of this post. At the very least, he's comatose. Emma Frost -- whacked from grief and anger -- has made Cyclops into a meat-puppet. Essentially, she's animating his body and speaking through him.

Emma has launched this revenge-filled war against the Inhumans using Cyclops' body as the public figurehead. And things will never be the same again -- at least, until Marvel Comics rehabs Scott Summers' image at some point in the future!

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it!

Marvel Comics to Publish New GENERATION X Series in Spring 2017!

Marvel Comics has been announcing several new x-titles for Spring 2017 as part of this new "ResurrXion" label, including ICEMAN, WEAPON-X, and JEAN GREY. I was pretty excited (and a bit curious) about a relaunched GENERATION X comic book title!

Keep in mind that most of the original Generation X team is dead. Or transformed into a stupid vampire. But the images associated with this new GENERATION X #1 includes all sorts of characters and teams who were never associated with the team, including the New Mutants, the Young X-Men, and Generation Hope.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ryan Buell of "Paranormal State" Arrested // Charged with Felony Theft & Receiving Stolen Property // UPDATED ON 10/02/16: Ryan Buell Issues First Official Statement Since His Arrest // More Updates Below!

(Originally written on 09/21/16): It's been a while since I've written anything about Ryan Buell, formerly of "Paranormal State." (Here, here, and here) I follow him on Facebook, but haven't been interested in his gaming activities on Twitch.

He's back in the news today -- but not for good reasons. Ryan was arrested on September 18th and charged with "two felony charges related to theft and stolen property", as well as misdemeanor charges of theft of services. He was arrested and charged in Centre County, PA, and remains in jail at the moment.

I'm assuming that it's connected to ongoing reports of Buell organizing tours and speaking engagements, only to cancel at the last minute and then not refund many who purchased tickets or other services.

There is a lot of discussion on his fan Facebook page about this arrest and the surrounding scuttlebutt. His PRS Bureau supporters posted a response about his arrest:

Meanwhile, Buell's mother has been posting on his public Facebook page a plea to Buell's fans:

In a nutshell, Buell's mother told her fans to stop enabling him by buying tickets to events, buying merchandise, paying to see him on Twitch, etc.

I will post more as I learn more.

Updated on 10/02/16: Ryan Buell posted an official statement on his Facebook fan page via one of his supporters earlier today:
Dear Friends, 

I know there is a lot of speculation concerning my well-being as well as my state of affairs. For the time being, I will not comment or go into specifics, nor will my representatives, staff, family or friends; nor will we respond to any rumors. 

However, I will say that I am safe and I am taking some time to heal and handle some urgent matters. My family and I appreciate your understanding and for respecting our privacy. 

I've been told that I have received an outpouring of letters from supporters, old clients and friends. My mother has personally received numerous messages and she has read some of them to me. I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion. Many have stated they wish to see me return to doing what I have done for so many years – helping people. Many of you have shared your stories with my mom, recounting how PRS personally helped you. These stories impacted me the most. Right now, positive support is welcome. It's been great to hear from old friends and colleagues. 

I hope to return to work soon, but first I need to take care of myself. Members of PRS will resume catching up with Twitch raffles, and other pertinent issues. Please be patient with them and show your support. I can assure you they are doing their best. 

If you would like to write to me please feel free to e-mail me at ryan@the-prs.org. My staff and family will make sure I get it. Some have asked about sending gifts, cards, etc... I feel now is an inappropriate time for it, but if you feel compelled to send something, please e-mail us first, or wait until some of this storm has come to pass. I also encourage supporters to write to the PRS general mailbox, by sending an e-mail to society@the-prs.org. I will be focusing on sending out personal thank you notes to those who have shown support in these times. I am very grateful. 

I would like to thank everyone for your continued support & concern. I also know I have some wrongs I need to right, and once I am well, I look forward to doing just that. 

Thank you, all of you. God bless - and Further without Fear!
Updated on 10/19/16: Ryan Buell's public Facebook page announced that he is now out of jail, presumably while awaiting trial:
Ryan was released yesterday. He will speak to you all soon, after he is reunited with his family and friends.
Various commenters are curious why he was let out of jail so soon. Others wish he was still in jail so that he could receive treatment. Others think that he needs at least 60 days of intense substance abuse treatment. And many more are still upset because he stole their money.

I don't know the answers to any of those thoughts, but... 1. He probably bonded out while awaiting trial. 2. There aren't many SA treatment options in your average jail. Prison, sometimes. But jail is usually just a holding place for people while they wait for trial. And 3. It's pretty rare that insurance will pay for more than 30 days of treatment. And I doubt that Ryan has the resources to pay for long-term residential treatment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Oelwein, IA: Facebook Post of Off-Duty Cop Mooning a "Clinton/Kaine" Sign While Holding a Gun Goes Viral, Spawning Anti-BLM Debates

There's this debate happening online and in parts of Iowa involving a reserve police officer and a crude Facebook post involving a Hillary Clinton campaign sign, a gun, and a full moon.

Oelwein Reserve Officer Jay Perkins posted a picture of himself online with his pants pulled down while he points a sign at a Clinton / Kaine campaign sign.

Apparently, the people of Oelwein, IA, are split on the subject. For example:
"But I think it's kind of funny," said Oelwein resident Dustin Staley. "But I also think, if I would've done it, I would've been arrested for it. And probably charged as a sex offender because of the guidelines in this town."
"He is a public official," said Vickie Wendel. "He shouldn't be doing stuff like that. And actually a normal person shouldn't be doing stuff like that either."
I learned about this story last night from this article, where various entities weighed in on whether or not this Facebook post was legally protected free expression or if it was a form a misconduct meriting disciplinary action. (Spoiler: Opinions were mixed!!)

I sadly made the mistake of reading the comments section, which quickly became a series of pro-cops/anti-blacks comments.

One guy from Ames, IA, wrote:
The police have to live in the dangerous environment Obama and Hillary have created. Blacks lives matter is killing cops all across the country, behind their absolute lie of a cause.

If anybody should be able to do this it's a cop! Thank you for your service officer! We know the kind of scumbags you have to deal with!
Which brought out my snarky side, as evidenced by this follow-up comment:
... on the mean streets of Oelwein, IA.
Which brought out accusations that I'm clueless. And racist. See?
Jon Trouten wow that is just clueless... police set ups and attacks are happening everywhere.. not just in the neighborhoods your racist mind thought of.
Which prompted this response by me:
"Racist mind." Menawhile, Oelwein hasn't had more than one murder since 2002.
Which is true. It might even be longer than 2002, as google didn't quickly provide me with data for 2001 or before.

Which prompted this response by another guy:
Jon Trouten according to their demo according to wiki, they have a pop of around 6,000 and are 96.1% white. I'm gonna take a leap of faith and say they don't have much of a BLM problem lol.
Which brought me back to this important point. This story isn't about #BlackLivesMatter. See?
This isn't a news story about BLM.
Here's the deal. Oelwein, IA, is a small community about two hours north of here. I don't live there, but I have clients up there and I often drive through when traveling to see family. I challenge anyone to stop in Oelwein for lunch. You might not find many black people (though I personally know of at least one or two), but there is indeed racial and cultural diversity in that community. For example, I recently stopped for lunch at the Pizza Ranch restaurant. I found myself surrounded by typical white folks. But there were Hispanic workers and family. There were Amish laborers. Heck, there was even one gay social worker in the restaurant that day. Diversity exists, even in small-town Iowa. You just have to keep your eyes open.

But this isn't (or shouldn't be) a cops vs. blacks story.

This is a news article about a local cop who wisely or unwisely tweeted a pic of himself exposing parts of his body that shouldn't ordinarily be exposed in public on a sign (that presumably belongs to someone else) while messing around with a weapon while he's off-duty (judging from his outfit). This is also about whether or not that conduct violates the standards of his workplace even if he's off-duty.

In other words, I find it fascinating how people take one story a very quickly run down several other explosive rabbit-holes!

Gay Christian Network Speaks Out Against the InterVarsity USA's Anti-Gay Purge

(Originally written on 10/13/16): I've got one more post in me this week about InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA's purge of staff for having private gay-affirming beliefs. No more this week after this. (I promise!!)

The Gay Christian Network is currently offline while they go through much needed forums upgrades. But that didn't stop Justin Lee and the GCN from issuing a statement condemning IVCF's anti-gay purge.

You can read it here:
The Gay Christian Network has a 15-year history of collaborating with LGBT and Christian communities across areas of theological disagreement. We are not in the habit of telling other Christian organizations how to run their own business, but in this case, we feel compelled to speak out against the wrong and hurtful actions of our friends at InterVarsity. 

InterVarsity’s announcement that all staff must resign if they do not privately agree with its specific theological view on marriage is absolutely unprecedented for an interdenominational organization that has previously prided itself on uniting Christians with widely divergent views on other doctrinal matters. This decision sends a clear message to LGBT students that they are not wanted in InterVarsity—and many will surmise that they are not wanted in the church, either. 

InterVarsity has argued that this large-scale firing should not be seen as anti-LGBT because some LGBT Christians don’t support same-sex marriage themselves. We do not see it that way. Our own membership does, indeed, include LGBT Christians who share InterVarsity’s theological view, but as LGBT Christians, we know firsthand that people like us desperately need the freedom to wrestle with difficult biblical texts on marriage and sexuality without being afraid that such wrestling could cost us our Christian fellowship or even our jobs. InterVarsity already has a poor track record of supporting LGBT students—even those who share its theology of marriage—and this makes matters far worse. 

Current InterVarsity staff members tell us they are confused and afraid. Many have been loyally serving their campuses their entire adult lives, never having publicly disagreed with the organization’s stance, but they are now being told that if they privately have any doubts about this one specific belief, they must resign. Staff members fear that to even question this new policy will instantly out them as dissidents, costing them their livelihood. 

While we sympathize with the need for religious organizations to be able to take theological positions, we do not believe witch hunts based on privately held personal beliefs are the right way to handle a sensitive issue where many Christians are evolving and where those most affected are a minority community with a history of feeling unwanted in the church. 

We call upon InterVarsity to rescind this damaging policy. In addition, as a global organization of LGBT Christians across theological divides, we ask for an opportunity to privately meet with InterVarsity decision-makers on an ongoing basis, and, working together, to improve InterVarsity’s support for LGBT students and staff while respecting the organization’s ability to take its own positions on matters of theological dispute.
Frankly, I'm not sure that IVCF values GCN's thoughts on this matter. I mean, that was the point of their anti-gay purge. To get rid of the gay-affirming perspective, right?

Updated on 10/18/16: GCN founder Justin Lee posted a 20-minute video response to IVCF's anti-gay purge earlier today.

In it, Lee calls out IVCF for being deceptive with their initial response to the TIME Magazine article that broke this article. He reveals that IVCF's hostile response to him as a young adult during his coming out process led to him becoming suicidal. And he wrote why it is wrong that IVCF began this anti-gay purge.

You can watch that video here.

Personally, I think people like Justin Lee and other gay Christians need to stop expecting anything remotely like support or affirmation from groups like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA and actively seek out and support other faith groups and churches.