Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dubuque, IA: Racist Heckler Disrupts MLK Birthday Celebration: "I'm Really Glad That He Died!"

The Dubuque Multicultural Family Center hosted its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration this past Monday in Dubuque, IA. Just over 400 people attended the event -- including one racist heckler and expressed gratitude that Dr. King is no longer alive.

The Center's director, Farris Muhammad, was in the midst of his keynote speech when a woman walked to the front of the room and shared her thoughts on Dr. King:
"Excuse me, I'm really glad that he did die. Because you've created a lot of racial discrimination in our country. We've got our children who are going with black and white people and we don't need that. We have homes that are all the same, but we are not the same... And you have ruined our children's lives."
You can hear her rant at the nine minute mark on this video. It's difficult to hear what she has to say after a while because the audience begins shouting her down and others escort her out of the room. But not before calling Dubuque a "shitty town."

Muhammad then uses this rant to point out that Dr. King's dream of racial equality isn't fully realized:
"Please don't let that kill anyone's spirit this morning... We'll use that as an example, as a testimony to the work that still has to be done."
It's not clear from what little media attention that I've found on this story who this woman is or why she decided to disrupt this event.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Archie Comics to Publish New DICK TRACY Comic Book Series in 2018 // UPDATED: Or Not... DICK TRACY Scrapped by Tribune Due to "Preexisting Licensing Deal"

(Originally written on 12/12/17): Here is the comic book news that I didn't expect to read today: Archie Comics plans to publish a DICK TRACY ongoing comic book series starting in April 2018. DICK TRACY will feature writing by Alex Segura & Michael Moreci and artwork by Thomas Pitilli.

Dick Tracy is a tough police detective who was created back in 1931. He was featured in a long-running comic strip for decades. He's also appeared in radio dramas and comic books, not to mention a really great movie from 1990 starring Warren Beatty and Madonna.

Alex Segura -- who not only writes, but does a day job as Archie Comics' co-president -- apparently inquired about the possibility of obtaining the publishing rights to the Dick Tracy character several months back and Tribune said that they wanted to get the character back out into comic book adventures again. One thing led to another and here we are!

Updated on 01/16/18: ... Or not. Archie Comics will not be publishing a DICK TRACY comic book series after all. Tribune apologized via tweet today and said that there is already a "preexisting licensing deal" in the works that prevents Archie Comics from publishing this title.

Archie Comics co-president and would-be DICK TRACY writer communicated on Twitter that he is "bummed" and that writing for DICK TRACY was a dream come true for him.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Bourbon, MO: Parents Freaking Out Following Statewide Mental Health School Survey that Included Two LGBTQ-Inclusive Questions

I woke to a news article out of Bourbon, MO, where parents were freaking out over a survey for the local middle school's sixth grade students. This survey is an optional survey by Missouri's Department of Mental Health that's completed every other year and it helps the state learn more about teen behavior and to update its prevention programs.

The survey addresses things like drug and alcohol abuse, as well as questions about depression, bullying, and sexual behavior. But the parents in Bourbon, MO, are freaking out this year because the survey includes two questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. As one outraged parent said, "The most inappropriate one was if they were transgender or thought about changing genders. My daughter, I mean, she just doesn't understand that."

Both the state and the school are doing backflips to get as far away from this LGBTQ-inclusive survey. The Department of Mental Health is telling everyone that the survey is completely optional and that the school could have excluded LGBTQ-inclusive questions. And officials at Bourbon Middle School have assured parents that their kids will never be asked LGBTQ-inclusive survey question ever again.

I find it interesting that the news stations couldn't find one single parent or official who could support an LGBT-inclusive survey for teens. Apparently, even the students themselves found those questions inappropriate:
The survey has even raised concerns for some sixth graders. “He thought it was incredibly inappropriate," Shane Burns said. "He was actually worried about some of the kids had no idea what the stuff was, and now they know. It's kind of a parent's choice to introduce that kind of subject matter."
My experience as a parent is that most kids have a basic knowledge of sexual orientation and gender identity by the time that they're in sixth grade -- even if such conversations make some of them uncomfortable. Most kids who think they may be LGBTQ are generally aware that there's something different about them by sixth grade. So it might be good for the state to have a general idea of how many LGBTQ teens are out there in their school.

I do have to wonder though how traumatic it was for most sixth graders to check "no" when they were asked if they are transgender?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Small Talk of Iowa #1: What Brand-New Festival Would You Create in Iowa?

I'm going to try something new tonight. Back in 2016 when I was trying to create a community radio station for Iowa City, I came up with an idea for a show called "Small Talk of Iowa." It was a riff on IPR's "Talk of Radio" program and would feature loose discussions picked from my Iowa Chat Pack. That never materialized, but I thought that I'd give it a try here on Jon's Blog and see where it takes me:
In Iowa, we have hundreds of fairs and festivals celebrating everything from tulips to sheep & wool to Glenn Miller. If you could add a brand-new festival to our statewide list, what would it be?
I would like to create something called Amish Fest somewhere in the state. Possibly in Washington or Riverside, but possibly also in the Northeast Iowa. The nice thing about Washington County is that it has a local Amish and Mennonite population. Plus, it's just off of Interstate 380 and relatively close to an airport in case anyone flew in from far away.

We would feature plenty of vendors, including several vendors from the local Amish population. I would fly in Amish celebrities, from such programs such as "Breaking Amish"/"Return to Amish," "Amish: Out of Order," and "Amish Mafia." I understand that these are reality TV shows that stretch the bounds of reality, but people know these people and they're likely to attract visitors from other communities. I would also try to bring in some writers and speakers for more down-to-earth programming. And then I would see how things unfold.

What brand-new festival would you create in Iowa if you had the power? Please share in the comments section!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Maynard, Iowa, Gets a Shout-Out on Netflix's "Disjointed" Part Two -- Though I'm Not Sure That It's Appreciated!

A few months ago, I wrote about Netflix's new marijuana-themed sitcom called "Disjointed." It stars Ruth Whitefeather Feldman (played by Kathy Bates), a sixtysomething cannabis activist who runs a pot dispensary with her son and several twentysomething budtenders. I stumbled upon the show back in September and quickly became addicted to its mix of juvenile-yet-insightful humor.

One of the show's main characters is Olivia (played by Elizabeth Alderer). We learned last season that she comes from some unidentified town in rural Iowa that's largely overrun by meth, crack cocaine, and crime. Which is a problem in Small-Town Iowa. As much as people given places like Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo craps for experiencing crime associated with cities, Small-Town Iowa is a great place to set up secret meth labs without a lot of interference.

We later learned that Olivia's parents and brother have been ruined by their meth addictions. So she's conflicted with her family history of drug abuse and her current work at the pot dispensary.

Anyway, "Disjointed" Part Two dropped on Netflix and we finally learned which lovely little town in Iowa that Olivia comes from: Maynard! Now I'm really sure that Maynard is pleased to be known as a community where everyone is hooked on meth and crack. And it wouldn't surprise me to learn that there are people there who are. But it doesn't have the reputation of being the Meth capitol of Iowa. Though they're close together!

In this episode, we learned that Olivia became an "Internet sensation" a few years back as the "Whatnot Girl." She was interviewed for a television segment and repeatedly said "whatnot" on camera. The funny interview went viral and Olivia hoped that she had finally escaped its shadow -- only to have it come up again in "Disjointed" Part 2, Episode 3.

We've heard from Olivia about Maynard's overground drug society. Here's what else we learned about Maynard in this episode:

Keep in mind that I've been driving through Maynard 3-4 times annually over the past 25 years to visit my own hometown. Maynard doesn't have a Dairy Queen. Certainly not during Olivia's lifetime. But nearby Olwein does. Maybe Maynard's teens like to travel south about 11 miles to hang at Oelwein's Dairy Queen. It's possible.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Shocked Fans React to Roseanne Barr's Pro-Trump Leanings // Guess They Don't Follow Her on Twitter...

A lot of people have been reacting negatively to news that Roseanne Barr is a very conservative celebrity who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Not only that, but her character (Roseanne Connor) in the "Roseanne" update series will also be a Trump voter:
Speaking Monday evening at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Los Angeles, Barr said the decision to bring Trump into the show reflects the vision she always had for the program. "I've always tried to have it be a true reflection of the society we live in," Barr told reporters. "So I feel like half the people voted for Trump and half didn't, so it's just realistic."
This story has been percolating for about two weeks. They cannot believe that she supports Trump or that she's a conservative. I followed Barr on Twitter a few years back. This isn't a surprise to me. I'm sure that a lot of her conservative beliefs center around her wealth, but it also centers on her extreme pro-Israel/anti-Palestine beliefs. The kind of belief that never seems to recognize the abuses from one's own side of the debate. But she also seemed to propagate a lot of the crazy anti-Obama conspiracies on Twitter. Which is something that people like to do, but it got too much for me to watch. So I stopped following her on Twitter about two years ago.

Regarding Roseanne Connor's pro-Trump beliefs, this clip from her old show seems to be one of the reasons why a lot of fans from her old show keep scratching their heads:
Representative Mike Summers: Hi! I'm Mike Summers, your state representative. How you doing?

Roseanne Connor: Great.

Representative Mike Summers: Good! I'm going door to door trying to get to know my constituents. 

Roseanne Connor: Oh... Door to door, huh? That takes a lot of time. Why don't you just go down to the unemployment office and see everyone at once?

Representative Mike Summers: I hear you. And you're right. We can't let this area's workforce lay idle. That's why bringing in new business is my number one priority. 

Roseanne Connor: How?

Representative Mike Summers: Through tax incentives! See, we're going to make it cheaper for out of state businesses to set up shop here in Lanford.

Roseanne Connor: So they get a tax break? 

Representative Mike Summers: Yeah! That's why they come here.

Roseanne Connor: Well, who's gonna pay the taxes that they ain't paying?

Representative Mike Summers: Well... You will. But(!)... you'll be working! Good steady employment!

Roseanne Connor: Union wages?

Representative Mike Summers: Well now, part of the reason these businesses are finding it so expensive to operate in other locations...

Roseanne Connor: So... they're gonna dump the unions so they can come here and pay us scab wages and then for that privilege we get to pay their taxes?

Representative Mike Summers: *Pause*.... Is your husband home?
Of course, people forget that people change -- even fictional characters like Roseanne Connor. Years of Fox News and hostile Twitter exchanges have transformed an entire generation of aging centrists into right-wing voters who now for politicians who want to blow up our public resources (education, environmental protections, scientific resources, consumer protections, retirement and disability safety nets, etc.) in order to protect us from illegal immigrants, abortion providers, married gay people, and peeing trans women.

Seriously, why wouldn't Roseanne Connor be a Trump voter?

My Twitter exposure to Roseanne Barr showed me that the best part of social media is getting to know your favorite celebrities. It also taught me that the worst part of social medial is getting to know your favorite celebrities.

"Roseanne" returns to ABC in March. Have no doubt that I will probably watch it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Iowa City Neighborhood Leafleted with Racist Fliers

I read a news article from Little Village Magazine that reported that fliers advertising a white supremacy group called the National Alliance were found early today outside houses near Wetherby Park in Iowa City.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Alliance is a neo-Nazi organization that has spoken out for the eradication of Jewish people, as well as people of other races. They have also advocated for the creation of an all-white homeland.

Local resident shared that the NA fliers were wrapped around an unaffiliated newspaper and then protected from the wet ground within clear plastic bags.

Wetherby Park is on Taylor Drive in Iowa City. It's one of the more racially and culturally diverse areas of Iowa City, which is probably why this neighborhood was leafleted over others -- to create trouble.

The fliers were reported to the police.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Will Jazz Jennings' Weight Prevent Her from Undergoing Gender Reassignment Surgery?

I was running around town all day and began lamenting that I was going to miss tonight's episode of "I Am Jazz" on TLC. And then I realized that the show was on and I'd only missed about twenty minutes of the program! So Robert (my cat) and I snuggled downstairs and caught up with my favorite transgender teen!

"People" has an article about tonight's episode in which Jazz and her parents learn that her BMI is too high and that she needs to lose 30 pounds before she can undergo gender reassignment surgery (or gender confirmation surgery, as they refer to it on the program).

If you watch the episode, you learn that Jazz's eating habits have gotten out of control recently. She's privately binge-eating large quantities of really unhealthy food. I can completely relate to binge-eating. But the quantities of food discussed was huge even by my own standards.

It sounds like much of this season will center on her developing better exercise habits, as well as trying to curb her eating. For example, she will be seeing a hypnotherapist in next week's episode.

In addition to reducing her BMI, Jazz also learned about several new surgical hoops that she needs to jump through in her effort to get approved for gender reassignment surgery. I won't go into it all, but she's gonna need to travel all over the country to meet with this specialist or that specialist. I cannot imagine the amount of money that it costs her family to surgically transition -- not just the medical expense of hormone treatments, ongoing consultations, and surgery, but also transportation and hotel expenses!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Marvel to Launch New EXILES Series, featuring Blink, Nick Fury, Wolvie & Valkyrie!

Marvel Comics announced a new EXILES comic book series that will be launching in April. The team would be directed by the original Nick Fury, who now operates from the Moon. He now goes by the Unseen since killing off the Watcher and is forced to act as an omniscient observer of life on Earth. Fury will use his cosmic awareness to recruit a team of interdimentional adventurers to go on missions and save the multiverse.

I generally love the Exiles. But I'm Still warming to this team of Exiles. They consist of Blink (the teleporting X-Man from the Age of Apocalypse), Iron Lad (the former Young Avenger and heroic younger version of Kang the Conqueror), Kamala Khan (an older version of Ms. Marvel), and Wolvie (a baby version of Wolverine).

It turns out that Wolvie is a member of Xavier's Playtime Fun School for Gifted Youngsters, which was created by one of Mojo's rivals back in the X-BABIES mini-series nearly fifteen years ago.

Earlier today, we learned the identity of the mysterious fifth Exile: a new Valkyrie character whose patterned after Tessa Thompson's character from the recent "Thor: Ragnarok" movie! She's known as the Lone Defender of Asgard in her native alternate reality.

EXILES will be written by Saladin Ahmed and will feature artwork by Javier Rodriguez.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Archie Comics' COSMO Comic Book Series Launches With New Space Adventures!

As mentioned earlier this week, Archie Comics' new ongoing COSMO comic book series (featuring an updated version of the 1950s space adventure series COSMO THE MERRY MARTIAN). I sat down to read the first issue of the new COSMO book Thursday evening -- and I actually thought it was a lot of fun!

Let's get this out of the way. This isn't your grandfather's Cosmo the Merry Martian. The Cosmo looks somewhat different. His mission is somewhat different. And his friends are somewhat different. Plus, these adventures are not tied in with any previous adventures associated with Cosmo the Merry Martian. Not exactly, anyway...

Here's the gist: Cosmo leads a team of Martian adventurers on a spaceship called the UFO (Not "U.F.O.," but "You-Foh.") His crew consists of UFO's navigator Astra (who's very possessive of the ship's cockpit), UFO's science officer Medulla (who's a nerdy scientist who cannot be bothered watch where she's walking when focused on her research tools), UFO's junior officer Orbi (who doesn't seem to have a purpose on the crew), and JoJo (Orbi's space-dog).

Medulla, Orbi, Cosmo, JoJo, Astra
COSMO #1 begins with the UFO discovering a damaged shuttle from Earth. It's piloted by a bumbling astronaut Max Strongjaw. They tow Max onto the UFO and, after a bit of shower-time bonding between the two captains, Max joins the crew -- at least long enough to get transported back home to Earth.

They take a pit stop on some abandoned Martian theme park that's located on the dark side of the Earth's Moon. We're not quite sure what's happening on the moon, just that there was some sort of distress call. They soon find themselves in dire circumstances due to a pack of feral Moonlings!

Not only do we get to meet the Moonlings in COSMO #1 (you'll have to read the book to see them in all their glory), but also get to meet some sane Moonling named Oog Gullywhumpus -- who appears to be an amalgamated update of the old Gillywump character and the Moonlings (Jon's Note: You can read more about them here).

I really hope that people pick up this title. It's definitely family-friendly and the artwork is crisp and clear. The characters are fun and their interactions are humorous. It's a great option for fans of Archie Comics who miss the company's SONIC THE HEDGEHOG and MEGA MAN comic book series and who dislike the company's more adult oriented horror titles.

COSMO #1 features writing by Ian Flynn, art by Tracy Yardley, lettering by Jack Morelli, and coloring by Matt Herms.