Monday, February 20, 2017

Iowa City: Groomer Charged with Animal Neglect after Being Accused of Kicking Dog & Causing Serious Injuries // UPDATED Below

(Originally written on 07/29/16): There's a sad story circulating online and in the local news involving a dog who went to a local veterinary clinic for grooming and who left with multiple fractured ribs and bruising in the lungs.

According to the Press-Citizen, a 22-year-old groomer at Creature Comfort Veterinary Center was charged with animal neglect after he reportedly admitted to Iowa City Police that he kicked this poor dog while grooming it earlier this month.

The dog's injuries were severe enough that he was kept under medical observation for several nights at a local pet emergency center during his initial recover period.

Creature Comfort Veterinary Center has issued the following statement:
The owners and management of Creature Comfort Veterinary Center are aware of an animal injury during grooming and subsequent citation for animal neglect issued by the city of Iowa City against the groomer. Any animal injury is of paramount concern and is not tolerated in any respect. Immediately upon learning of this incident, the groomer was discharged from his employment. We will have no further comment while the legal issues are being resolved.
On the positive side, the dog is recovering.

Updated on 08/26/16: 22-year-old Lucas Van Orden -- the groomer referenced above -- recently pleaded not guilty on this charge of aggravated animal abuse. His court case has been scheduled for 11/01/16. He had previously been charged with animal neglect (as reported last month), but that charge eventually got dismissed and he was charged instead with the animal abuse charge. If convicted, Van Orden faces up to two years in prison.

Updated on 02/20/17: There has been resolution with this case. 22-year-old Lucan Van Orden V pleaded guilty to the animal abuse charge last month. He has been sentenced to two years of probation and will not face any time in prison. He will need to meet regularly with a probation officer and avoid further criminal charges. He is to make financial restitution to the owners of the injured dog and he is to complete 40 hours of community service.

Jasper, the injured dog, suffered multiple rib fractures and bruised lungs because of Van Orden. The cost of his medical treatment was $1468.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

New Iowa City-Based Comic Con Creating Waves Due to Sexist Posts

Earlier this month, for a very brief time, it looked like Iowa City might get its own comic book convention again. I am still not 100% sure what happened, but something called the Iowa City Mega Comic Con was supposed to be debuting sometime in September 2017. I think. I heard about vendors who were contacted by the ICMCC's organizers.

But this is how I first learned about Iowa City Mega Comic Con. From Cedar Rapids Comic Con:
We have been messaged by a large number of people (from all over the country) concerning a convention being organized in Iowa City (just 30 minutes south of us). Because the convention world is very tight knit, people are reaching out to us to voice their concerns. 
A Facebook representing that convention is posting and promoting things that are the exact opposite of the type of convention we run. Examples include (and we're copy-pasting here), "hot girls in bikini cosplay get in free" and telling people to skip other shows because they are "for chumps this show will be so much bigger." 
Despite being so close to us geographically, the Iowa City show has nothing to do with us. We are a very inclusive, and a family-friendly convention. More than 10,000 people attended CRCC this year and we are proud to put on the type of convention we do. 
Leading up to and during our convention each year, we make our zero tolerance policy for harassment and inappropriate behavior very clear... people who behave this way are not welcome at our convention. That policy continues year-round. 
Anyone involved with this Iowa City convention is not welcome at Cedar Rapids Comic Con.
Which of course made me want to seek out information about Iowa City Mega Comic Con. I found a Facebook page and liked it, but that page seems to have disappeared. But the Internet has a long memory and people managed to screen-grab elements of that page, including:


The ICMCC folks later claimed that their Facebook page was hacked, keeping in mind that their FB pape was hacked about as soon as it was created. But the damage (self-inflected or not) was done and the Iowa City Mega Comic Con FB page has completed disappeared.

Then again, somebody has been trying to salvage the ICMCC's reputation -- or maybe they're just trying to salvage the idea of an Iowa City-based comic con. As recently as yesterday:
To all who seen this crap ...and are still supporting a con in iowa city,and to those vendors who i still have on my list who saw through all this crap.. thank u..and to those who cant see what happened your still invited to our con..we have picked up a few shops who know it was a bunch of crap..for those who beleave this.. sorry ..but if your going to put on a con and want it to be a great con ..your not going to advertise hot girls knowing it will be mostly kids..come on think about it..and why would we bash other comic cons knowing they could send ppl this way. Again think about what u saw and if u still choose to beleave thats ok..the support we had and the messages we have gotten telling us how much of a ass they are..they could have came up with something better to get us shut down..but anyways..we have some great things coming to cr wait and see..and if u dont..well hope u have a great time at all the other cons.and to the ppl who are runnng the cons..the ppl who was going to fund this project , they are waiting to talk with u...
Actually, I can't tell if he wants to start something in Iowa City, or if he's all about Cedar Rapids now.

Did ICMCC doom Iowa City's convention hopes for the foreseeable future??

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Riverdale" Episode 4 Recap: Grundy's Secret Revealed!

The fourth episode of "Riverdale" aired Thursday night on the The CW. The show continues to get better and better with each episode! I thought that I would do a quick run-down of the program. With that in mind...

SPOILERS! It's too difficult for me to avoid spoilers, so be mindful of that fact before you read the rest of this blog post!

Last week's episode ended with Betty learning that Ms. Grundy had been out at the site of Jason Blossom's disappearance back on July 4th. She already knew that Archie had been out there. After some initial sleuthing, she realizes that the two are dating each other -- and that's not a good thing considering that Ms. Grundy is a teacher!

She does some more digging and discovers that Ms. Grundy didn't appear to exist until a year ago. No Facebook account. No LinkedIn account. Nothing. The only reference that she can find to Geraldine Grundy is an old lady to passed away a few years ago!

Betty and Veronica end up breaking into Ms. Grundy's car to find evidence of foul play -- and they do! They discover a driver's license that indicates that Ms. Grundy is actually somebody named Jennifer Gibson. They also find a gun in her car! The spill the beans to Archie who eventually learns that "Ms. Grundy" was in an abusive marriage, which led to her going into hiding and assuming a new name. Archie forgives Jennifer/Ms. Grundy for the deception, but begins wondering if there's much of a future to this relationship.

Meanwhile, Jughead is trying to rally his friends to help save the Twilight Drive-In. This is a city-owned drive-in theater that has fallen into disrepair. We learn that Jughead works there and that he has fond memories of going to the drive-in with his family when he was younger. Mayor McCoy has been offered a huge buy-out from an anonymous backer and she's all to ready to cut ties with the gang-ridden drive-in theater. That said, Jughead manages to draw in a huge crowd to the drive-in for its final night.

Meanwhile, Veronica realizes that something is up with her mother. First, Cheryl notices that Mrs. Lodge was interacting with one of the Southside Serpents -- Riverdale's local motorcycle gang. She later sees her mom with the Serpent at the drive-in, exchanging a bag-full of money. We later learn that the Lodges are the anonymous buyers of the Twilight Drive-In. They've been paying the Southside Serpents to cause trouble there and to bring down the property values. They have plans for that chunk of land -- we just don't what yet!

Meanwhile, Kevin finds a kindred spirit with Joaquin, one of the Southside Serpents. Which is awkward because Kevin's dad is the local sheriff!! I always thought that Kevin should go after the bad boys in his own comic book. This match-up is everything I ever wanted for Riverdale's gay boy!

Lastly, Betty's mom stumbles across Betty's diary (and Grundy's gun) and learns about the affair. She grabs Fred Andrews and confronts Archie and Grundy -- mid-break-up -- and threatens Grundy with jail time. Turns out that she's less concerned about saving Riverdale's youth than dashing Archie's golden boy reputation. Betty threatens to reveal that she broke into Grundy's car. Mrs. Cooper backs down and Grundy promises to leave town first thing in the morning -- leaving behind a broken-hearted Archie. (But I'm pretty sure that we haven't seen the end of Grundy!)

Lastly, we learn at the end of the episode that the head of the Southside Serpents is Jughead's father. We also learn that Juggy is essentially homeless and has been sleeping on a cot inside the Twilight Drive-In. He wanders off at the end of the episode in search of a new place to lay his head.

Jellybean Jones got two mentions in this episode. She played a key role in his fond memories of going to the drive-in as a child. We later saw a picture of Little Jughead and sister Jellybean amongst his possessions. What cute kids! Sadly, I'm sure that their back-story isn't as cute.

Lastly, I noticed in Betty's father is being playing by actor Lochlyn Munro. I've had a crush on this actor since first seeing him in "Dead Man on Campus back in the 90s. So handsome...

Check out this episode on the CW website and watch this program. It is so good! As always, new episodes of "Riverdale" air every Thursday night at 8:00 PM CST.

Alabama: Bill Allowing Church to Establish Its Own Police Force Moving through the House

I just learned that there is a bill moving through the Alabama legislature that would allow a church to establish its own police force. The church in question is Briarwood Presbyterian Church and it's in Vestavia Hills, AL. The bill has passed through the House Public Safety Committee and will now move to the full House for consideration.

According to this article, Republican legislators are open to other churches who want to establish their own internal police departments. Why?:
“They will conduct their own investigations,” explained (Rep. Connie) Rowe. “They will conduct their own security. They will make their own arrests and instead of calling on the local law enforcement agency to take over the particular situation they're trying to control, they will do that themselves. All they will utilize from their other law enforcement agencies is their lock up facilities.”
The church police will be directly answerable to church leadership.

It makes you wonder how safe an individual church is that they actually feel the need to call on the police for security or internal investigations. I understand that stuff happens. There were two church-based arrests in Iowa last month involving mentally disturbed individuals who were out of control. But those incidents are actually very rare. I cannot imagine why any church would need its own police force.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Muscatine City Council Begins Impeachment Effort Against City's Mayor // Updated Report: $100,000 in City Legal Fees May Be Used to Justify Impeachment Effort // More Updates...

(Originally written on 01/13/17): This is interesting. Last night, the mostly Republican City Council in Muscatine, IA, unanimously approved impeachment proceedings against the city's Democratic mayor, accusing her of unspecified incidents of misconduct and neglect, as well as making disparaging comments towards city employees.

I've been reading the sordid conflict between Mayor Diana Broderson and the Muscatine City Council with interest. She unexpectedly won an election against the incumbent mayor back in 2015 and has since struggled for achieve any of her limited mayoral duties, which pretty much consist of making appointments to city commissions, as well as appointing the Police and Fire Chief. In fact, the City Council voted last summer on an ordinance that stripped the mayor of those duties. Mayor Broderson challenged this new ordinance and received a decision from the state Attorney General's Office back in October 2016 indicating that the City Council lacked the authority to make these changes and that it was potentially criminal. However, the Muscatine County Attorney declined to act on the state Attorney General's opinion last month.

Which leads us to this week. The Muscatine City Council announced that it would vote on a request to impeach the city's mayor at its 01/12/17 city council meeting. According to the Muscatine Journal, none of the Council members wouldn't offer any explanation for this move and instead referred the reporter to the city attorney, who conveniently couldn't be reached for comment.

Last night, Councilman Michael Rehwaldt read the following motion:
An elected City official may be removed from office for, among other reasons, misconduct or maladministration in office, and willful or habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of the office; and

Willful misconduct or maladministration in office and include, but is not limited to, conduct such as repeated public criticism of the City or staff; repeatedly engaging in defamatory attacks against the City, staff or public; breach of fiduciary duties; or other conduct which tends to erode public confidence in the City or staff.

Habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of office an include, but is not limited to, such conduct as repeated breaches of the public official's fiduciary duties and/or repeated failure to follow established city ordinances or policies;

It appears the Mayor may have engaged in some of the foregoing conduct to the detriment of the City and in contravention of her established duties and, as such, written charges for removal should be filed to determine if the Mayor should be removed from office as a result of such conduct.

Therefore, the City Council of the City of Muscatine, Iowa, hereby motions to instruct the City Attorney to draft and file written charges for the removal of the Mayor as provided for by Iowa Code Chapter 66 and City Code section 1-7-6.
The Council members continued to avoid any specific accusations. Hopefully, they have evidence of willful misconduct or maladministration. Certainly something more substantial than vague suggestions that she "may have engaged" in detrimental conduct.

About 60 citizens attended the meeting and all appeared to denounce this impeachment effort.

I'm not a citizen of Muscatine, but this really doesn't pass the smell test. The Muscatine City Council better watch out or they might engage the citizens enough to vote out its incumbents -- particularly those like Councilmen Rehwaldt, Bynum, and Natvig -- all of whom are up for re-election later this year.

Updated on 01/19/17: We're beginning to get an idea about what the Muscatine City Council plans to use to support their impeachment effort against Mayor Diana Broderson:
The Muscatine city attorney said in an email to City Administrator Gregg Mandsager Wednesday that the city has incurred more than $100,000 in unbudgeted expenses in fighting what he says are "unproven claims and allegations" made by Mayor Broderson...

City officials said the official charges could be released as early as Friday.

City Attorney Matthew Brick detailed the 2016 attorney fees in an email to Mandsager. That email was in response to an inquiry Mandsager received from Broderson requesting more information about costs and attorney fees. Brick's email stated that complaints filed by Broderson against city officials, staff, contractors, and citizens resulted in about $64,000 in unbudgeted legal fees and $43,600 in staff time during the 2016 calendar year.

Mandsager had forwarded the email to the mayor and city council members early Wednesday morning. The email was also forwarded to the Muscatine Journal and Quad City Times.

As to the allegations that she caused funds to be spent by filing complaints, Broderson said she was just doing as the citizens asked...

Her reaction to the amount of costs paid to the city attorney was to wonder how much had been spent changing the city's appointment process. The council passed an amendment earlier in 2016 that created a nominating committee made up of the mayor, the city administrator or his appointee, and two council members to review candidates for city appointments.

"My take would be most of the money has been spent trying to reduce the office of mayor," she said.
By the way, I was listening to this Muscatine-based podcast earlier tonight and was shocked to learn that City Administrator Gregg Mandsager has apparently banned the city's employees from speaking or interacting with Mayor Broderson, outside of basic greetings. It's apparently been this way since shortly after Broderson's election in 2015.

Updated on 01/25/17: I'm not even sure that the Muscatine City Council actually has a clue about Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachable offense. Check this out:
Muscatine City Attorney Matthew Brick says charges for removal of Mayor Diana Broderson may not be filed for weeks, and the nature of the charges has yet to be determined. Brick said he will continue to investigate, and "slow equals fair. I want to make sure if there are relevant issues that they get looked at," he said. 
The Muscatine City Council two weeks ago voted to take the first steps toward ousting the mayor. Councilman Michael Rehwaldt cited "habitual neglect" and "willful misconduct or maladministration in office" as two possible reasons. State law says elected officials can be removed by two-thirds vote of the council. 
"It would be nice for not only me but for the people of Muscatine to know sooner rather than later so both sides could work to prepare," Broderson said. 
If evidence for removing the mayor under state law is not found, Brick said at the end of the investigation he would report back to council.
It sounds to me like the City Council members are just biding their time until after the next election cycle. Pretty shady, Muscatine...

Updated on 02/17/17: Muscatine City Attorney Matthew Brick filed a list of complaints early this morning, which are being used as the basis for Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachment:
Broderson is accused of ignoring Brick's legal advice when he told her that she was stepping outside of the boundaries of her power as mayor, listed in the document as "willful misconduct or maladministration … habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of her office..."

In the document, Broderson is accused of "making baseless complaints” that cost the city as much as $100,000 in legal fees and staff time to investigate, including asking for an investigation into whether she had been discriminated against on the basis of her gender and requesting investigation into actions of the city that were later determined to be unfounded.

Also outlined is an alleged breach of fiduciary duties, failure to comply with city code, defamation and/or false allegations and misuse of power and/or abuse of discretion.
These charges have been filed with the city and could appear on the agenda for the next Muscatine City Countil meeting. That is scheduled for 03/01/17.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Love Has No Labels" Kiss-Cam Campaign Features Gay, Lesbian, Interracial, & Disabled Kiss-Cammers!

I learned today about this video, which was produced at the NFL Pro Bowl game this past January by the Ad Council. It was part of the "Love Has No Labels" campaign, and it features all sorts of couples on a kiss-came -- friends, families, and romancers of all ages and genders:
For years, kiss cams have been a big part of American sports culture. This year, Love Has No Labels puts a twist on the kiss cam by turning it into a symbol for unbiased love. In the stadium, fans cheered for love in all its forms - regardless of race, gender, disability, age or religion. 
Love Has No Labels is a movement to open our eyes to unconscious bias. While the vast majority of Americans consider themselves unprejudiced, many of us unintentionally make snap judgments about people based on what we see - whether it’s race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. By becoming aware of our own biases, we can work to end bias in ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities. Rethink bias at
Among those featured are a male couple, an older black couple, a pair of lesbians who survived the Orlando massacre, and a pair of friends with Down Syndrome.

Check these out:

You can watch the entire video -- including several other wonderful couples and families -- at this link.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Archie Comics Announces Development Deal With Warner Bros // PLUS: My Favorite Five Archie Comics Television Spin-Off Ideas!!

Archie Comics announced yesterday that the company has signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. Television to develop new television projects, now that "Riverdale" is nearly halfway through its first season run. This deal could include the traditional Archie Comics characters (i.e., Archie & the Riverdale Gang, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Josie & the Pussycats), but it could also include lesser known characters from the publisher's archives.

Which got me thinking about potential media projects that I would to see come out of this development deal so...

Welcome to Jon's Blog's Favorite Five Archie Comics Television Spin-Off Ideas!!:

5. Sam Hill: Sam Hill is a private detective who appeared in his own comic book back in 1950 and 1951. He appears to have been inspired by those old private detective shows, such as "Sam Spade" and "Let George Do It."

Sam Hill is an interesting mix of contradictions. He's an Ivy League college graduate who lives the gritty life of a private dick. He's not above seducing (or slugging) an attractive woman, but refrains from any drink with more kick than a glass of whole milk. He punches villains. He gets into gunfights with the police. And he's a lot of fun!

He disappeared for many years after starring in his own comic book. Then he appeared in the "Night at the Comic Book Shop" storyline in ARCHIE & FRIENDS, followed by an appearance in LIFE WITH ARCHIE back in 2013. He had his straight-to-digital one-shot comic book that's also pretty good.

There's nothing new about Sam Hill, but everyone loves a good murder mystery show. A private eye show starring a compelling character actor starring as Sam Hill could really be great. They could run this as a vintage show set back in the 1950s or update the character with some modern adventures. Either way, I would love to see a program featuring Sam Hill!

4. Hangman: Archie Comics has several superheroes that they like to update every so often. I have one favorite and he is the Hangman! He has no powers. He just strangles people really quickly with the different ropes that he carries! His most recent adventures in the Dark Circle imprint have largely stalled, but the character was essentially made into an agent of the Devil or something like that. A flawed character seeking to redeem his soul by hanging countless other villains and sending them to Hell. I'm actually not as big a fan with this modern take on the character. But I do enjoy the simplicity of the Hangman and his weapon.

I would love to see the Hangman show up in some adventure stories featuring heroes and villains. Maybe the other Mighty Crusaders could show up from time to time to help out -- or cause trouble. But it would be great if Hangman (the human Hangman, not the avenging spirit Hangman) ran around fighting back against villains -- both powered and non-powered!

3. Jinx: Archie Comics revamped one of it's classic kid characters a few years back and it was a really great experiment that never really took off. I'm talking about the time that they took Li'l Jinx and revamped her and her friends as high school freshmen. They ended up publishing two graphic novels featuring Jinx before everything faded away. But they were so very good!

As you know, I'm a huge fan of anything "Degrassi!" When I think of Jinx, I think of "Degrassi." And yes, it goes there! High school crushes! Strained friendships! Former tomboys trying to figure out how to stay true to their roots while embracing their feminine side! Lesbian parents! And so much more!

2. New Crusaders: I was a big fan of the New Crusaders. These were the children and trainees of the Mighty Crusaders, who managed to defeat all of their videos and settle down into lives of simple suburbia. Then one day, their greatest enemy, the Brain Emperor, returned and killed all of the Mighty Crusaders except for the first hero. The Shield gathered the teens and helped activate all of their new powers. These kids became the New Crusaders: Comet, Fireball, Fly-Girl, Jaguar, Steel Sterling, and the Web. They were assisted in their adventures by a space monkey named Dusty.

Here is what I would do: I would create an animated series featuring the New Crusaders. I would pattern the artwork on properties like "Teen Titans" or something similar. Personally, I would get rid of the Shield and focus on Dusty and the teen heroes, whom I affectionately refer to as the New Cru! And I would go big on the villains. Brain Emperor! Eraser! Lodestone! Dragonfly! Brontosaurus! Elasto! Roxr, Ruler of the Vegetable Planet! Need I go on?? Animated New Cru!!

1. Sabrina: I actually wrote about this idea last year. Revamped 90s sitcoms like "Full House" and "Boy Meets World" were new hits and Melissa Joan Hart hinted that she was open to returning to an updated series based off her 90s sitcom of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." Which resulted in huge cheers from the audience of the minor talk show that she was appearing on!

Here is my show concept again: Sabrina will be a single mom with 2-3 witchy kids. Each kid will have his/her unique quirks. Salem will be the household's manny, as well as the perpetual chaos-maker of the family. Sabrina will be torn romantically between her old high school flame Harvey and some handsome warlock. Sabrina's two aunts will make periodic appearance, as will her gay cousin Ambrose.

I can't wait to binge-watch this updated sitcom featuring Sabrina on Netflix!

How about you? Which of Archie Comics' properties would you like to see on TV?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Christians Upset Over Fleeting Images of Gay & Lesbian Parents in "Storks"

(Originally written on 09/27/16): I don't go to the movie theater as much as I used to. There are multiple reasons for that. Long story made short, I haven't seen Storks. I'm vaguely aware that it deals with storks and some corporation that delivers babies to people. One baby gets lost in the process, leading one stork to attempt delivery of the baby in defiance of his corporate overlords. Or something like that. (Jon's Note: I'm sure that the baby eventually makes it to his family and everything works out in the end.)

Turns out that Christian movie reviewers are upset because there's a lesbian couple and a gay male couple in this movie towards the end. Like for less than a second. But you really need to know this so that you can decide if you want your money to go to anything even hinting at gay families.

From the Christian Examiner:
The Bad... The creators of Storks did tip their hat to the LGBT community, although the scene is even more brief than the alleged lesbian scene in Finding Dory. The Storks scene takes place in the film's final minutes, as we watch a rapid sequence involving babies in the arms of different parents. Most of the couples include a man and a woman, but we also see two women, and moments later two men. It's so quick that it's easy to miss (it might last a fifth of a second – if that). The scene was not a deal-breaker to me, although it might bother some conservative families.
In fact, the Christian Examiner decided to post a second article highlighting Storks' gay parenting controversy yesterday:
But there is no question about a just-as-brief (if not briefer) scene in the new animated movie Storks (PG), which has been widely applauded for some of its general themes but which also includes a rapid sequence at the film's end that shows a baby in the arms of different couples – including a lesbian couple and a gay couple. The film grossed $21 million over the weekend and finished No. 2. 

Adam Holz of Focus on the Family's Plugged In department said Christian families who know about the controversy will reach different conclusions as to whether they should watch the film. 

"The scene in question here is very, very short. It may be a quarter of a second or less," Holz told Christian Examiner. "It's truly a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. If viewers aren't paying close attention, they may very well miss it entirely. Because of that, I think there's room for Christian families to make a variety of decisions on whether they want to navigate this scene or not. That said, I suspect that for many Christian families, the fact that the film includes a scene with at least two same-sex couples (two women and two men shown in a fast-moving montage) receiving babies from storks will push it out of bounds on principle, no matter how fleeting the scene is

"By including those images, the filmmakers are promoting a worldview and an understanding of family that's consistent with mainstream secular values with regard to sexuality and marriage, but one that's at odds with a biblical understanding of those important subjects. I suspect that will be enough for many Christian families to take a pass on this film."
Seriously, there are people who will refuse to see Storks because it includes a passing image of two men holding a baby and two women holding a baby for less than one second. And Christians continue to ask me why gay people don't think that there's room for us within the Church...

Updated on 02/14/17: I have been meaning to update this post for a while. It garners much traffic and people from both sides are commenting, which is nice. But I still haven't seen "Storks." It's not on Netflix and there is a huge wait list for it at my local library. And I refuse to buy a DVD copy of this movie for a fleeting glimpse of same-sex couples.

Then I stumbled across images of these same-sex couples late last night, so...
 So these are the fleeting images that have upset so many Christian viewers.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ryan Buell of "Paranormal State" Planning to Return to Conventions & Paranormal Twitch

Ryan Buell, formerly of "Paranormal State," has had a challenging six months since his felony arrests related to theft and stolen property. He has a long history of accepting money for speaking or ghost hunting events and then not showing up and not refunding much of the money. It got bad enough back in September that his mother pleaded fan to stop sending money to Buell and implying that he is struggling with addiction.

Right before Christmas, Buell appeared to acknowledge that his life is out of control and that he has become a liability to the Paranormal Research Society, the organization that he created many, many years ago. Long story short, he stepped down and let somebody else run things.

The earlier this month, Buell announced that he is working on a webinar. Then yesterday, he made a long announcement about other projects that he wants to get involved with, seemingly planning to step back into the spotlight and asking for permission from his fans:
Dear friends, 

I have a slight dilemma. For quite a few months now, I've taken a step back from public life entirely. Prior to that, I was around in a limited capacity. It's no secret that I've had some personal struggles over the past few years, and although I am not yet ready to discuss them, I will be shortly.

This message, for example, deals with one issue. It's about me returning to the fold, so to speak. But therein lies the problem. I have been afraid to do any work as a result of my own disappointment in my actions. Many of my friends, decent people, have encouraged me to return to work in order to not only do what I was meant to do, but also as a means to right some wrongs. To clean up our house, so to speak.

For example, I promised Webinar students of my PRS 126 History and Intro To Demonology class that I would re teach it. That was a promise made two years ago. Maybe longer. I'm proud to say I'm nearly finished in preparing the course and have pre-taped all the webinars. It's going to happen. Those who signed up for the course before will be able to attend for free. This is thanks largely to PRS’ interim Director and her administration.

With that said, I'm going to try to return to doing a few things I've been resistant or hesitant to do. I've accepted two speaking appearance requests. One is a convention in NYC. I think it's important to show that postponement of events and appearances is a thing of the past. And the only way to do that is to take on a few. We are planning to address the postponed 2014 Canada and US tours shortly. The team is doing their best to help me on all fronts.

When it comes to Twitch, a pet project of mine, something I did as a hobby while recovering from surgery and saw grow into a weekly gig, I plan to return to it. Now, as Director for one of the worlds major paranormal societies, you'd think Twitch would be a low priority. True, we aren't saving the world but it allows me to get to know some of the fans and I truly have fun. Last year I lost my drive and stumbled with keeping Paranormal Twitch up and running. We got behind in sending out prize raffles and for that I’m sorry. None of these outstanding raffles were purchased by fans.. They are simply giveaways. We bought the dvds and books and offered them up every show as a way to say thank you to those tuning in. With Paranormal Twitch, what we offer is content. It's fair to say it's entertainment. We offer a good time where we interact with fans and play some spooky games. I certainly hope people don't watch Paranormal Twitch solely for the chance to win giveaways, but we are in the process of making good on those past promises, too.

I bring this up because, as I stated above, I'd like to return to Paranormal Twitch. The fears I've had in my head are people shouting, “what about my raffle?” and “why are you doing this when you should be focusing on X?” Maybe these fears are unfounded, but I care about Twitch. I remember looking forward to Twitch nights every week. And as a bonus, I got to bring my friends on. It's not an official PRS project ( it does operate under The PRS Bureau, which is owned by PRS). That's probably why it's fun. It's a side gig where I get to be me. Not investigator Ryan. Just me playing games and having a good time.

Income-wise, the goal for Paranormal Twitch was to help fund PRS projects. Because of Paranormal Twitch we were able to fund a few web projects and even offer an exclusive event (Camp Paranormal 3) where we only wanted a handful of attendees to come to make it more intimate. We will accept “donations” on Twitch, which is a way of showing your support.

A few months ago, as some of you may know, my mother asked my fans not to financially support some of my endeavors. My mother’s heart is in the right place. She, concerned for her son, took matters into her own hands and put it out into the public. I was physically unable to respond during that time period, and I do not believe negative actions should result in positive rewards. But I do believe in teamwork to achieve progress and to achieve that goal we all need to be a part of this conversation. That said, I believe in my heart that I need to step back out and try. Because I believe in PRS as many of you do. I say to my mother and to all of you that I plan to tread carefully when it comes to launching projects, events or anything that brings in money. I know a lot of you will be watching closely. As will my mother. It is there where I am most confident you will all see the heart that I am placing behind my actions. If I am disingenuous, then time will reveal that very quickly. I suspect some of you do not feel I/we are deserving of any chances. I respect that. I am still going to try to get back out there and do my best. I hope, if I am successful, it will make all of you proud.

Right now, these are just words. But I want to at least address some of this as I move forward. Because when I sit down to do Paranormal Twitch, I want to give it my all. It will take a bit of time to show our clean-up efforts. If you don't want to support us right now, I understand. I hope in time we can earn some of that faith back.

Yeah, I'm aware that many people are putting me down right now. Even old friends. It hurts. I recognize many of you are hurt. I hope I can help heal the hurt that I have caused and feel myself. It will be tough and I think reluctantly about my future stumbles. I have focused too much on the possibility of failure. But over the months, the overwhelming letters of encouragement to get back up and move forward has given me the strength to do just that. Your perseverance in showing me you still have faith has moved me in ways I cannot express just yet. Thank you for encouraging me to get back up.
What do you think, folks? Should Ryan Buell step back into the spotlight? Or should he wait at least until his criminal case is resolved?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Initial Reactions to Malvern Manor's Appearance on TLC's "Paranormal Lockdown"

I learned yesterday that one of Iowa's haunted houses was featured on another reality TV show. Malvern Manor, located way on the other side of the state in Malvern, IA, appeared Friday evening on TLC's "Paranormal Lockdown." I've not seen the program before, but it features two investigators, Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman, who travel the country and spend time in various haunted locations.

Malvern Manor originally started out as a hotel and boarding house back in the late 1800s. It eventually became the site of a large group home for the mentally ill from the mid-50s until 2005. (Jon's Note: Unlike Edinburgh Manor, I never visited any clients at Malvern Manor when it was in operation.) The property is currently co-owned by paranormal investigator named John Heard. He rents the property out at a rate of $10 per hour or $300 per night. (Jon's Note: Not judging, but thinking about secondary income sources!!)

I missed the show when it aired on TLC Friday night, but that didn't stop me from splurging on iTunes and downloading the episode onto my computer!

First things first: I like "Paranormal Lockdown" much better than "Ghost Adventures," which investigated Edinburgh Manor back in 2015. But the reactions from the "Paranormal Lockdown" crew appeared more genuine and they seemed more respectful/less antagonistic towards the building's spiritual residents than the other bunch was.

Here is how the show works. Groff and Weidman travel the country and investigate haunted locations. They receive an initial walk-through and then shut themselves in for 72 hours and see what happens. There's also this cameraman with them, but I didn't catch his name. They use all sorts of cameras. Some are conventional and others record different types of energy readings. They also have different sound recordings, as well as voice boxes.

There were three main ghosts that the pair sought out. First, there was the Captain. He was the first owner of the hotel. He apparently speaks to guests and creates a lot of excitement for those who visit. Then there is Inez, a 12-year-old girl who hung herself or was hung in one of the closets back in 1901. And then there was Gracie, a troubled woman with schizophrenia who lived in the house when it was a group home. All three interacted with the investigators -- including a part-time investigator named Johnny Hausser, who informed the show about the house and who reports that he was once attacked there by a hostile shadow-person.

One thing troubled me. The condition of the rooms in the house is horrible. I've noticed this with Edinburgh Manor and other popular ghost hunting locations. I could understand if this was a house that had very little foot traffic and it was falling apart from neglect. But people come and go from this house all of the time. I can only assume that they roughed it up for the TV show or else they keep it looking like it does to make an impression with people who want to see an haunted house and who assume that it can only be haunted if it's in a state of disrepair.

Overall, I enjoyed the program and look forward to learning more about Malvern Manor and TLC's "Paranormal Lockdown."