Saturday, October 30, 2010

Faith UCC Pastor Brian on TV; Promoting "Rally to Restore Civility" Service

Pastor Brian Brandsmeier of Faith United Church of Christ was on television early yesterday morning promoting tomorrow morning's "Rally to Restore Civility" church service (or, as it was described on the news cast, church service plus). Here is a partial description of tomorrow's service:
(T)he event is supposed to rally people around ideas like civility, dialogue, and a more sane approach to real issues. Because of that, some people are calling it the Million Moderate March.

Faith UCC is going to host an Iowa City chapter of the Rally to Restore Sanity. But we're going to call it the Rally to Restore Civility. The purpose is the same: rally people around radical ideas like civility and respect.

We're going to explore Galatians 3:23-29 and its message for us today. Apostle Paul provides us with an excellent example of how to bring different "sides" together.
Here is the news segment featuring Pastor Brandsmeier and the "Rally to Restore Civility":


Faith United Church of Christ is located at 1609 Deforest Avenue in Iowa City.  Services begin at 9:30 AM each Sunday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Judge Bus: Catching Up Finale

NOM's Judge Bus finished its anti-gay mission of revenge against Iowa's three Supreme Court justices who participated in a unanimous court ruling back in 2009 that ruled the state's DOMA law unconstitutional.  These three justices are up for a retention vote next week and the people of New Jersey (where NOM originates) want to make sure that Iowa's Supreme Court lives to regret that court ruling.

Tour Tracker posted yesterday's tour totals earlier this morning.  Here's how things ended up at Judge Bus' various stops:

Davenport: Attended by 24 NOM supporters and 27 protesters.

Burlington: Attended by 72 attendees, presumably all NOM supporters.

Ottumwa: Attended by four NOM supporters and one vicious dog.

Pella: Attended by 23 attendees.

Des Moines: 65 NOM supporters.

Iowa City Democratic activist John Deeth shared some interesting comments today on his blog about Judge Bus visitor/gay mafia opponent Randy Crawford.  I'd never heard of Crawford before (surprising, considering I'm part of a secret society of sodomites that's out to get the guy), but he's apparently a local gadfly of sorts.

Anyway, Deeth implored Iowans to resist people like thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, Rep. Steve King, gay-caveman-proponent Randy Crawford, and NJ-based activist Brian Brown:
Iowans, we need to keep what we have. Three of our Supreme Court justices who bravely and unanimously ruled that equality under the law means equality in marriage are up for a retention vote. Vote yes to keep them. A decennial constitutional convention question is on the ballot and equality opponents want to use that as a way to end same-sex marriage Vote no to block that. A Democratic governor and legislature will protect equality; support them.
And after you vote, check out this link to witness one of Crawford's more remarkable online diatribes.

And speaking of BVP, he was in the Gazette again today assuring Iowa that the three justices are going to be given pink slips by the voters (like he'd say otherwise).  BVP's ultimate plan by helping to organize this current anti-retention campaign is to pressure GOP candidate Terry Branstad to issue an executive order to halt the issuance of any more marriage licenses to same-sex couples pending a vote on a constitutional amendment once he (presumably) gets elected as governor.  Fortunately, Branstad has previously refused to support such an executive order:
During the GOP primary, Branstad, a rural Boone lawyer seeking a fifth term as governor after serving from 1983 to 1999, rejected using the executive order in that manner.

“The only thing you do is discredit the governor if you try to do something that’s not legal. I disagree with what the court did but the answer to that is to do what 31 other states have done and that is to pass a constitutional amendment. Then, that takes it out of the hands of the court,” Branstad said last May. “If the governor tries to do something that’s found to be illegal, it certainly doesn’t bring respect for the office. You need to do things that are legal, not promise that you’re going to do something that won’t work.”

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said Friday it remains Branstad’s position that the governor does not have that authority.
Lastly, after all this focus on NOM's Judge Bus, it's easy to forget another out-of-state bus that visits Iowa once monthly from St. Louis.  Unlike NOM, this bus isn't out to toss out judges or break up families.  This bus has one agenda: to legally join couples in loving matrimony.  It's the Marriage Equality Bus!  Check out the link to see 13 families who were joined in marriage at our church this past August.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NOM's Judge Bus: Day Four

The National Organization for Marriage has by now wrapped up its "Judge Bus" tour across Iowa with its goal of fighting against the retention of three Supreme Court justices.  I'm starting to get lost with all the days.  Most of the stuff I'll share in this post actually occurred on Days Two and Three.  Such is life.  We'll catch up tomorrow or Saturday.

Here are some of the highlights.  Looks like I was overly generous with the numbers from Cedar Rapids' Judge Bus visit.  I reported roughly 50 supporters.  Turns out there were actually 18 NOM supporters in Cedar Rapids and 11 marriage equality supporters/NOM protesters.  I also reported roughly 100 people at the "Homegrown Justice" bus tour, which seeks to counter NOM's message.  Looks like I was off there, too.  There apparently were "at least" 150 Homegrown Justice supporters at that Cedar Rapids event.

One of the more colorful characters at either of the events was an Iowa City man named Randy Crawford, who believes that evolution created gay cavemen in order to protect cavewomen when the other cavemen were off hunting.  I'm not kidding:
“My primary reason for being here is because I believe the Supreme Court should not be legislating from the bench. But I also believe that homosexuality is bad thing,” he said. “It used to be useful when we were cavemen and we needed people to guard the caves full of women and children. If I’m a guy out hunting, I want to leave someone back at the cave tending to my wife and kids, and I don’t want a normal guy having that kind of access to my wife and kids. So, in our evolution, you can see that there use to be a utility for homosexuality, but that was when we were cavemen and we aren’t cavemen anymore. So, homosexuality is obsolete.”
Here are some of the other Judge Bus numbers from this week:

Mason City: 45 assorted NOM supporters; protesters; and media folks.  On the other hand, 47 retention supporters showed up to attend a counter-protest elsewhere in Mason City.

Waterloo: NOM ran into some permit problems here and weren't allowed to play music for their fans.  23 NOM supporters attended versus 57 protesters.

Marshalltown: 36 NOM supporters showed up.  It doesn't look like there were any protesters.

Dubuque: 14 NOM supporters vs. 4 protesters.

Clinton: 30 NOM supporters vs. 0 protesters (none were mentioned, anyway).

I'm curious what kinds of numbers NOM pulled for today's events and how those events went.  One things certain, the pro-retention vote seems to be holding a slight lead over those "no no no" voters.  There's still a large chunk of undecided voters who could vote against retention.  Then again, there's a chunk of folks who likely won't vote either for or against retention.

Until tomorrow's update, I will leave you with the following profound thoughts from one of NOM's supporters:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NOM's Judge Bus Day Three: "Families Unhealthy" and "Men Can't Nurture Kids"

New Jersey-based NOM's "Judge Bus" continues to travel across Iowa with its mission to influence Iowa's Supreme Court judicial retention vote.  I haven't yet read much about today's bus tour from the usual sources.  I had a staff meeting over in Fayette early this afternoon.  One thing I did note was a large number of political signs throughout small town Iowa for Democratic candidates (for what it's worth).  I also saw NO signs urging Iowa voters to vote against retention, though I did see one sign just south of Independence urging Iowa voters to retain the three Supreme Court justices.

Iowa Independent reports that Iowa-based professional anti-gay activist Chuck Hurley spoke to a crowd of 15 supporters outside the Judge Bus yesterday in Carroll about the retention vote.  Of course, he's not just interested in voting out the three court justices and opposing marriage equality.  Hurley wants to establish new laws that criminally penalize gay people:
Gay marriage is tearing society asunder, and the decision to allow it runs afoul of the Constitution, said Chuck Hurley, president of the highly influential Christian organization Iowa Family Policy Center, which is a local affiliate of the Family Research Council. “It’s a degradation of God’s best design for the family,” said Hurley, who was on the tour representing the center’s political action arm.

Hurley said gay activity degrades and alters the family structure, concluding that the debate is about stable homes. “An intact father-and- mother marriage is by far more important than a good education, by far more important than their physical health in the well-being of a child.” Hurley goes further than opposition to gay marriage, though. “For millennia every sane culture has had restraints on behavior,” Hurley said. Stable societies have always had restraints on incest and pedophilia... and that should extend to homosexual acts as well. “Every culture should have safe and sane laws regarding sexuality.”
The anti-gay parenting meme is all the rage today.  NOM's president Brian Brown came out with the following assertion during an interview yesterday: "A mother can nurture and take care of a baby. A man can’t do that."



And, of course, Gazette readers were treated to this wonderful letter to the editor from Dolores Underwood of Vinton, IA, that painstakingly explains why gay families are unhealthy families (at least she didn't put quotes around the word "gay families" like others of her opinion do too often):
Will someone explain in what way the homosexuals are being protected by the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling about them marrying? From AIDS? From other maladies related with that lifestyle? Shorter life span?
Marriage is an institution wherein a man and a woman are joined together in wedlock to establish a home and raise a family. A healthy family is a father and a mother and children.
Explain how a deviation from those specifics constitutes marriage? Only in the mind of the individual seeking justification for his/her actions.
The three Iowa justices expounded that homosexuals need to be given the same rights and thereby protected. Protected from what? The wrath of God?
No human can give them that latitude of protection. In fact, legalism “soothes” homosexuals’ conscience right down the road to hell.
Since you asked, Dolores:  Allowing (and encouraging) gay couples to marry encourages monogamy.  Marriage helps reduce incidents of AIDS and other STIs.  Marriage also statistically reduces factors that lead to shortened life cycles, not the least of which is loneliness.  Gay families can and do have children and those children deserve the benefit of married parents, just like the children of het couples.  Just like you can assert that a healthy family consists of a mom, dad, and kids, I can (and do) assert that healthy families can (and do) consist of moms and kids as well as dads and kids.  And that is born out in studies over and over and over again.  Gay couples don't require protection from God's wrath.  We require legal protection from religious moralists that go out of their way to damage the integrity of our families.

Anyway, I did read about one of today's Judge Bus stops.  This one was in Cedar Rapids and attended by roughly 50 supporters.  Congressman Steve King headlined this stop and urged his supporters to vote out the judges, the governor, and the president.

Cedar Rapids also featured the "Homegrown Justice" bus tour, which urged its crowd of roughly 100 supporters to retain Iowa's Supreme Court justices.
The group eventually moved inside because of the harsh, chilly winds and crowded the main floor lobby as the group chanted “Yes, Yes, Yes” to retention and tour members spoke.

Bob Rush, an Cedar Rapids attorney, said a “no” vote is bad for the state and “will send the wrong message.” The system in place for the last 50 years has been independent and free of politics.

Bob Vander Plaats (Iowa for Freedom sponsor) is encouraging a “no” vote on every judge, ” Rush said. “If that would happen, we might as well open open up all the jails in the state because the courts wouldn’t be able to continue without judges.”

Ruth Harkin, attorney, wife of Sen. Tom Harkin and member on the tour, said this was the last place partisan views need to be interjected.

“Our state is the envy of others because of our independent courts,” Harkin said. “Our system in our state works and we need to protect it.”


The Judge Bus finishes its four-day tour of Iowa tomorrow.  You can cheer or jeer them on at the following locations: Davenport, Burlington, Ottumwa, Pella, and Des Moines.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NOM's Judge Bus through Iowa: Day Two

NOM began its across-the-state "Judge Bus" tour of Iowa yesterday.  According to the NOM Tour-Tracker folks, NOM's bus tour finished up yesterday with similar numbers in Council Bluffs to what they started out with in Des Moines: 43 supporters of New Jersey-based NOM's agenda to oust Iowa's Supreme Court justices and ultimately to forcibly annul hundreds of marriages like mine vs. 92 marriage equality supporters/NOM protesters.  Their first stop today in Sioux City boasted 25 supporters and their tour attracted 8 supporters in Carroll.  I'm not sure yet how things turned out in either Fort Dodge or Mason City.

NOM's head Brian Brown excused the larger crowds of marriage equality supporters today by asserting that gay groups are busing folks in from out of state.  He was actually serious about this, even though his group is from outside Iowa and it's funded largely from outside Iowa and propped up by out-of-state politicians like Rick Santorum and Louie Gohmert.  There were indeed a small-handful of Nebraska-based marriage equality supporters at Council Bluffs (which sits right along Iowa's western boundary), but NOM has a lot of nerve to bring up that type of criticism.

Here are some interviews of NOM supporters from yesterday:







Tomorrow's "Judge Bus" tour is scheduled to visit the following Iowa communities: Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids (I've read in different places that this is a tentative stop), Dubuque, and Clinton. Feel free to cheer on or jeer on NOM's bus tour if you have a free moment tomorrow.

It Gets Better: AR School Board Member Clint McCance

I've been writing about "It Gets Better" and anti-gay bullying along with a bunch of other folks for the past month plus.  Here is the opposing perspective from Midland (AR) School District Board Member Clint McCance.  It's more of a response to the repeated requests last week for people to wear purple to demonstrate their opposition to anti-gay bullying than "It Gets Better".  I will let him speak for himself:

Monday, October 25, 2010

NOM's "Judge Bus" Begins Tour of Iowa

The National Organization for Marriage began its four day "Judge Bus" tour today.  They plan to travel across the state of Iowa with their mission of voting out three of Iowa's Supreme Court justice because they ruled the state's DOMA law to be unconstitutional back in 2009.  The Judge Bus started out in Des Moines, where NOM was cheered on by 42 supporters and outnumbered by 98 protesters.

There were some interesting quotes coming from the Judge Bus supporters, which really highlights the absurdity that some people exhibit when considering the legality of marriages like mine:
We also had the privilege to speak to several interesting NOM supporters, including one man who suggested that if same-sex marriage is allowed people might try to marry goats or other inanimate objects.

“I love my camera, should I be able to marry it?”
The Judge Bus is set to visit most areas of the state, except for liberal Iowa City or Johnson County.  I guess we're a lost cause to them.  I'm traveling to Fayette on Wednesday, but they don't seem to be there then, so I guess I'll be missing NOM's big purple bus once again.

Bleeding Heartland has an interesting piece questioning the effectiveness of NOM's Judge Bus.  It offers up three reasons why the Judge Bus will backfire on NOM:
1. The tour calls attention to the out-of-state groups bankrolling the campaign against (Iowa's) judges.
This is a good point. New Jersey-based NOM has already spent $500,000 during the past month in its campaign to oust Iowa's Supreme Court justices. Gary Bauer has spent $100,000 here. Washington DC-based Family Research Council has spent $20,000. Missouri-based American Family Association has spent $80,000.

Additionally, Bleeding Heartland points out that Iowa's Supreme Court isn't known for its judicial activism.  NOM's Judge Bus website declares: "(i)f the Iowa Supreme Court will do this to marriage, every one of our freedoms, including gun rights and private property, is in danger of being usurped by activist judges who are unelected officials."  Bleeding Heartland rightly points out "Ternus has been on the high court since 1993, Streit since 2001, Baker since 2008. Where's any record of "activist" decisions threatening property rights, gun ownership, homeschooling and so on? The 'no' advocates aren't defending Iowans from activist judges. They're making an example of Iowa judges to advance their agenda across the country."
2. The tour connects the anti-judge vote with politicians outside the mainstream in Iowa.
Bleeding Heartland points out that the Judge Bus is pulling in toxic Iowa Congressman Steve King to kick off the bus tour and attack Iowa's judges.  On top of that, Rick Santorum is also being brought in to support the Judge Bus. 

Speaking of crazy politicians connected with this effort to vote out Iowa's Supreme Court justices, thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats raised the rhetoric at a debate late last week.  According to BVP, the Supreme Court isn't just after your property or your guns, it wants to take your life:
They don’t get to evolve our Constitution, only we the people get to amend the Constitution. If they do this to marriage — make law, execute law, amend the Constitution, hand out rights that our Founders could never have imagined — they won’t even blink an eye as they take your private property. They won’t even blink an eye as they take away your Second Amendment rights, they won’t even blink an eye while telling you how you have to educate your children. They won’t even blink an eye when they get to determine who gets to live and who gets to die, in regards to which life is valuable and which one is not.
But I'm beginning to digress...
3. The bus looks like a mean-spirited attack on the judges.
Lastly, Bleeding Heartland believes that the Judge Bus' outside graphics make this retention vote seem less like a expression of concerns for Iowa's judicial freedoms and more of a political vendetta against the justices. S/he believes the Iowa's middle, though uncomfortable with marriage equality, are much more uncomfortable with voting out our Supreme Court justices without any evidence of corruption or incompetence.

NOM's Judge Bus is scheduled to visit Sioux City, Carroll, Fort Dodge, and Mason City tomorrow.  Stop by and pass on your cheers or your jeers, depending on your POV. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Thoughts on "Red"

D'Angelo and I went to see "Red" yesterday afternoon.  It boasts all sorts of wonderful actors, including Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Morgan Freeman. 

Willis plays the role of "retired extremely dangerous" agent Frank Moses who finds himself hunted by the CIA because of secrets connected to a nearly 30-year-old evac mission.  Parker, playing the part of Social Security phone clerk Sarah, gets swept up in this clean-up mission due to her frequent phone flirtatious phone chats with Moses.  Moses begins the process of reconnecting with several of his old spy buddies, most of whom are struggling with retired life and all too easy to draft into one final spy mission.  Moses eventually discovers that his hit order comes from very powerful sources: quite possibly the White House itself.  Moses, Sarah, and his old friends soon begin a suicidal assassination mission of their own against one of America's most powerful men.  Will that be enough to regain some sense of normalcy for them?  And what is "normal" for a bunch of spooks anyway?

Red is based off a 3-issue comic book series created by Warren Ellis and published by Homage Comics.  I hadn't read the comic, but it seems to be much darker source material than the more comical movie version.  Personally, I liked the humor.  Red deals a lot with growing old and losing one's sense of professional identity.  That's heavy stuff and the humor does an effective job of making it feel less oppressive, without cheapening the reality that many feel after retiring too much.

D'Angelo really enjoyed the movie.  There were some wonderful action scenes in this movie that he responded well to, such as when Malkovich's character batted a live grenade at one CIA operative with explosive results.  And the banter between the various characters wasn't so heavy that it ever lost his interest.

Red might not be the best movie for younger kids, but frankly it wasn't that bad of a movie for either gratuitous swearing or violence.  With the exception of "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World", this is quite possibly the best movie that we've seen all summer.  I strongly encourage you to check it out.

It Gets Better: Joseph & his Coat of Many Colors

Last month, Dan Savage launched the YouTube "It Gets Better" channel to serve as a message of hope and reassurance for GLBT youth from GLBT adults.  I last commented on it back on the 5th, but others keep coming up with their own messages, including the President and the Speaker of the House.  My pastor shared his own "It Gets Better" message today at church during his pastoral prayer.  He tied the message (which identified GLBT youth, but also prayed for children with special needs and others who struggle everyday with being bullied) to one of the ultimate Biblical "It Gets Better" stories: Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors.  I'm surprised that I never made that connection:

Young Jacob was the favored son of Jacob.  To demonstrate his love for Joseph, he was given a magnificent coat decorated with every color imaginable.  Jacob had many brothers and they were extremely jealous of Jacob.  They let their anger get the better of him and did the unimaginable.  They beat Jacob and left him for dead in the middle of the dessert.  They ended up changing their mind and sold him into slavery to slave traders from Egypt.  They then told their father that his beloved brother was killed by a vicious beast and went on with their lives.



Jacob was then sold to a rich man named Potiphar, who appreciated his intelligence and loyalty. Unfortunately, Potiphar's wife seduced poor Jacob and incurred Potiphar's anger. As a result, Jacob was thrown into prison and sentenced to death.



Fortunately, Joseph has a knack for helping people interpret their dreams and managed to impress enough people to find himself in a position to assist the Pharaoh.  Joseph quickly became Egypt's No. 2  man.  Years later, his brothers came to Egypt seeking grains to save their farm from drought.  Joseph -- after a bit a trickery aimed at his previously fratricidal brothers -- was able to reconcile with his brothers and reunited with his still-grieving father.



Joseph's story is a good one for pointing out that we can be beaten down and things may look like they'll never get better, but they can.  On the other hand, things may not get better for a while and not without a bit of work.  But you never know what choice jobs there are out there or when a broken relationship will be mended.  Allow yourself the time and effort to help things get better in your life.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spaghetti Dinner Monday Evening at Faith UCC

Faith United Church of Christ will be hosting its monthly spaghetti dinner this Monday evening.  I'm in charge of providing the meat sauce and the garlic bread.  Another family is in charge of the vegetarian sauce and the salad.  Unfortunately, I won't be there for the meal; neither will D'Angelo.  It's a Tae Kwon Do night.  But Mark and Les are planning on being there.  Here's a description of the event from today's Press-Citizen:
Faith United Church of Christ is hosting a free spaghetti dinner from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday at the church, 1609 DeForest Ave.

Meat and vegetarian sauces will be served with spaghetti along with salad, bread and beverages. Guests may bring a dessert to share if they like. Faith UCC holds a neighborhood dinner the last Monday of each month.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Man Survives Android Attack in Iowa City

Iowa City has had more than its fair share of zombie attacks in recent years.  It's bad enough that the undead swarm our community every few months.  But who knew that you had to keep your eyes out for killer robots also???  Check this out from KCJJ News:

Illinois Man “Jumped By Some Androids” in Ped Mall
-Tommy Lang; 10-22-10

Iowa City Police arrested an Illinois man early Friday morning after he claimed he was jumped by “androids” on the Ped Mall.

Officers were called (to) TCB on East College Street just after 1:45 AM after staff reported that a subject wearing only one shoe was causing problems inside the establishment. The man left before police could arrive.

Just before 2 AM, a man wearing only one shoe and matching the description of the earlier suspect approached a police quad car outside the Sheraton Inn and stated, “I was just jumped by some androids!” The man, identified as 20-year-old Mark Puch Jr. of Des Plaines, showed multiple signs of intoxication. He denied breath testing and was charged with Public Intoxication.
It's easy to understand why Mr. Puch would seek some liquid courage after surviving an android attack.  Can you imagine how you might react if you were in his shoes?

I've been doing some research.  The robots are slowly taking over.  Right now, there are robot dogs and robot nannies and robot sushi chefs and robot astronauts.  It's all fun and games when the androids are burping our babies and serving us raw fish.  The fun quickly evaporates once the androids turn those sushi knives on humanity or begin jumping young men in the heart of America.

Humanity needs to wake up.  We're barely holding our own against these random zombie swarms.  There's no way we can survive a two-pronged battle between the zombies and the androids.  We need to stop empowering the robots.  You've been warned.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hellcow: Reborn!

Early this month, I wrote a tribute to one of Howard the Duck's first villains, Bessie the Vampire Cow AKA Hellcow.  We talked about her relentless mission of vengeance against Dracula, about her untimely visit to Cleveland, OH, and about her unfortunate death at the hands of Howard.  I lamented that this wonderful villain was left behind in the 1970s during Marvel Comics' current vampire craze and wistfully observed that Hellcow would make a wonderful villain for Marvel's coolest super-team, the Pet Avengers.  I ended her tribute with the following paragraph:
So keep a prayer (or a curse) going for Hellcow's eventual return from comic book limbo. She was one of the wackest creations out of the 70's and deserves to experience the spotlight once more.
Little did I know that my special prayer was in the process of being answered, as evidenced by Marvel's January 2011 comic book solicitation list.  Check this out:
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #885
Written by Rick Spears; Art by Philip Bond; Cover by Humberto Ramos
Watch out Marvel U, the Bovine Blood Beast is back! The Merc with a Mouth meets the The Cow with a Cape. Gaze in horror, dear reader, upon the fiendish experiments inflicted upon Deadpool and Bessie the Vampire Cow by the malevolent Dr. Kilgore in the name of mad science and bear witness to their terrible revenge! Nothing on earth can prepare you for the horror that lurks within these pages.
This is very cool.  I mean, it's not the Pet Avengers, but at least she's back.  Plus she's hanging with Deadpool, who hangs with Dogpool, which could eventually drag Hellcow over onto the Pet Avengers' yard as some point in the future.  Like I said: Very cool!!!

Croc Found in Des Moines River

I'm not a big fan for passing on spam e-mail. This one couldn't be resisted:

Croc found in Des Moines River!!

I checked this out on Snopes and it is true. Scary!!!!!

This really freaks me out!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

No Rapture for Condom Users

That's the message coming from the self-described Third Eagle of the Apocalypse, William Tapley.  Noting the Biblical story of Onan, Tapley instructs YouTube viewers that the rules of sex were written by God and any attempt to go against those rules irrevocably damns one's soul.  This includes everything from the pull-out method of birth control that was (in)famously performed by Onan to modern day use of condoms or any other form of birth control such as condoms.  Tapley notes that condoms and other forms of birth control are not 100% effective for preventing pregnancies, HIV, or STIs and that only monogamous marital sex is 100% effective.  Tapley says that birth control is an attempt to play outside of God's sexual rules and God will make sure that only the purest of the pure will be raptured while the rest burn.  Here's the video:



Don't get me wrong.  I agree with Tapley and the Pope about the effectiveness of birth control.  There are failure risks with condoms and all other forms of birth control.  If you want to avoid STIs, it's most effective to avoid sex outside of marriage.

But I'm not with him when it comes to birth control and the Rapture.  The story of Onan was more of a cultural tale as opposed to an anti-birth control tale (or an anti-masturbation tale, as I've also seen it used against).  Onan was purposely and repeatedly pulling out of his brother's widow during sex in order to prevent his dead brother from having an heir.  He was punished for being disobedient, not specifically for the sex act.  To use Onan's story to justify a belief that condom use in and of itself prevents one from being saved?  That's a huge stretch.  IMHO.

There's something to be said for sexual purity in the life of a Christian.  But believing that condom use -- even among married believers -- casts one out from God's protections?  That smacks of the type of legalistic busy-bodiness that Christ rallied against throughout his ministry.  There are so many things that Christians can speak out about.  Condom use between married partners?  Not so much.

I guess I'll just chalk this up to another one of those "In essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity, in all things charity" moments, even if the belief may not be reciprocated, and trust that God's grace sorts this difference out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Does Gay Marriage Lead to Incest?

That's the prediction being foreseen by Sioux City church member, Tim Hicks. His church, Cornerstone World Outreach, is purposely throwing down the gauntlet against the IRS by openly and publicly campaigning against the three Supreme Court justices who face retention votes this November.  He just created an eHarmony parody that anticipates the legalization of incest and the legalization of marriages between brothers and sisters by the Iowa Supreme Court if the current court isn't voted out:
Hick’s video, which is entitled “Vote no on judicial retention,” is a parody of commercials for the online dating website eHarmony. The narrator of the video says the Iowa Supreme Court is the authority on marriage, all while a married couple discusses how they’ve known each other their entire lives. By the end, it is revealed that the married couple are brother and sister, and they thank the Supreme Court for allowing their marriage to happen.

In comments below the video, Hicks said he made it to reveal “the obvious next steps for liberal judges to take. What will they legalize next … polygamy, NAMBLA, a feller and his horse?”
Personally, I grow weary of the whole slippery slope fallacy that gets tossed out there when discussing gay couples marrying.  Why is incest so much more likely to happen now that gay couples can marry vs. than when just het couple were marrying?  I mean, first cousins are still able to legally marry in @ 27 of the United States -- and that's been the case long before gay couples could marry anywhere here in the States.  And how many kings, queens, princes, or princesses have married their siblings in order to keep their bloodlines pure over the centuries?  Practically speaking, there are actual health risks behind current legal bans on sibling relationships and parent/child relationships.  Allowing gay couples to marry doesn't take away the rationale for preventing the legalization of incest.  I might discuss plural marriages in a future post and I'm not even going to dignify the issue of child sexual abuse or bestiality in this post.  Ultimately, there are arguments against incest.  Allowing gay couples to marry don't negate those arguments and pointing and my marriage doesn't give incestuous couples a free pass in life.  And seriously, are there any brothers and sisters out there who are fighting to legalize their intimate relationship?  I don't think so...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Minnesota NOM Ad Distorts the Effect of Gay Marriage on States

The National Organization for Marriage has been doing lots of campaigning in Minnesota this year. It's a little surprising given that I really haven't heard a lot from NOM here in Iowa where gay couples can actually marry this this summer's poorly attended "Summer for Marriage" road trip across America.  I vaguely recall that there is a pending court challenge in Minnesota, though I'm not sure of the status.  Maybe that's why.  Otherwise, I have no clue why NOM's so focused on Minnesota.  NOM just issued a campaign advertisement for Tom Emmer, which offers the following dire message:
Gay marriage has consequences. Legal experts predict same-sex marriage will result in a flood of lawsuits against individuals, small businesses and religious groups who don’t accept it. When Massachusetts imposed gay marriage, second graders were taught that boys could marry other boys. In the District of Columbia, Catholic Charities was forced to end its eight-decade old adoption and foster care programs.


I'm not too impressed with the "truthiness" of the above campaign ad.  Massachusetts has had legal marriage protections for gay couples for over six years and frankly I'm not aware of many court challenges.  Most challenges that I'm aware of have come from religious and social conservatives who seek to assert their right to discriminate against gay couples and most of those challenges haven't been court challenges, but instead policy challenges at schools or in human resource departments.  The only real court challenge that I'm aware of that's come from gay couples in MA was the legal challenge to the federal DOMA's Section 3, which prevents the federal government from recognizing state-recognized legal marriages.  I haven't seen a flood of lawsuits here in Iowa or in Vermont or in any of the handful of states that have marriage equality.

The "King and King" second grade book reading issue, I'm not terribly concerned about.  I've seen the book.  It's not sexually graphic or even sexually suggestive.  No more than any number of heterosexually-themed books that exist on the market.  That said, if people have a problem with the book being used as a curriculum tool, they can contact their principal and/or their school board and work out a remedy.  As noted in the linked NPR article, many kids out there already know other kids who have gay dads or moms.  It's usually not an issue for them.  It's more of an issue for their parents.

Lastly, I'm sick of hearing about Catholic Charities (either in Boston or Washington DC) spinning their decision to quit the foster care/adoption business as them being forced out.  Both communities have certain licensing requirements and they didn't want to adhere to them.  I know of at least one incident of the Boston Catholic Charities organization adopting to a gay male couple back before 2004.  It wasn't until the Archdiocese transformed adoption into a political issue that they had a problem with a minuscule potential for working with a gay couple.  Other adoption agencies exist and are willing to meet the need for adoption services in those communities.  It's too bad that Catholic Charities isn't one of those agencies anymore, but their desire to discriminate against potential parents trumped their desire to serve children in need of permanent adoptive homes.

The fact is that churches aren't being sued to perform gay weddings, nor are any pastors being hauled away in chains for preaching against our families.  I'm not aware of any business here in Iowa that run afoul of gay activists for not honoring our marriages like any other legal marriage.  (If someone knows of any example, PLEASE post it in the comments.  I'd seriously like to learn about it.)  Iowa's kids aren't being taught about gay sex acts in elementary school.  Heck, I'm not aware of any educational mandates that our families be talked about in elementary school and I'm living here in liberal Iowa City and have an elementary-aged son.

The post-marriage equality challenges are coming from two sources: social conservatives who are fighting to involuntarily annul our families and out-of-state gay couples who are desperate to establish some form of legal protections for their own families.  Most gay couples that I know here in Iowa only desire to protect our families and go about our daily activities.  And yes, that sometimes includes insuring our wives on our insurance plans or making medical decisions for our ailing husbands or being treated like any other parent at our children's schools.  But most of us don't have the time, money, or desire to file frivolous lawsuits against businesses for stupidly discriminating against gay customers in a sour economy.

The real immediate consequence of marriage equality is that gay couples have the option to file for a marriage license at the local Recorder office and obtain the legal rights, responsibilities, and protections of marriage, just the same as our heterosexual neighbors.  Short-term, we've seen as increase in marriage applications here in Iowa and a decrease in divorces.  Long-term, if we are permitted to maintain our marriages, it's possible that marriage will become increasingly relevant for all teens and young adults, gay or straight.  Imagine what could happen to the rates of STIs in Iowa or even the rates of out-of-marriage pregnancies if we promoted a culture of marriage for all.  Of course, that will require Iowans to refrain from fearful speculations of what terrible things that gay people will do once married instead of patiently and honestly observing the actual effects of marriage equality.

Happy 1st Birthday, Nero!

It's hard to believe that it's been a little over a year since my beloved Moogie passed on following months of illness. He'd had bladder surgery back in May 2009 to have a ton of bladder stones removed and never really recovered. We finally made the tough decision to have him put to sleep. Shortly after that, we asked our groomer -- who also breeds standard poodles -- to keep us in mind next time she had a litter. Turns out that a litter was brewing and was days away from hatching. Sure enough, Nero and several brothers and sisters were born one year ago today!

I have had dogs by my side for most of my life. Most of them were miniature poodles, with the exception of my other current dog, Ms. Lion, who's a pekepoo mix. I'd always been interested in owning a larger breed, but it never worked out before. Mark and I decided that neither of us was getting any younger and that if we wanted to go with a larger breed, we needed to do it sooner than later.

Nero moved in with us shortly before Christmas 2009. I normally discourage holiday pets. The chaos surrounding Christmas is overwhelming for baby animals who suddenly find themselves in strange homes with strange people. After some debate, we decided to take him in before Christmas instead of after Christmas. Due to weather concerns, Mark ended up staying home with Nero while I traveled with Ms. Lion and the boys to my Mom's place. Nero got lots of initial one-on-one bonding in his new home, so it worked out okay.

Nero is everything that I hoped for. He's smart. He's clever. He's a problem solver. He's handsome. And he's very friendly. On the other hand, he gets into trouble if not watched and his trouble always seems so much more extreme than anything Ms. Lion ever produced. Then again, Ms. Lion's a little puffball. Nero is a 45-pound moose who can easily reach onto counter tops or into trashcans.

Here are the things that I've learned so far about owning a big dog after nearly 40 years of small dog ownership:
1. Unsupervised food on the counter top or the table is a thing of the past.  A peckish standard poodle has no problem snatching bread or meat or butter or whatever if he puts his mind to it.
2. Big dogs tear up stuffed animals with little difficulty.  I've a new appreciation for tough toys like Kongs and Kong balls.
3. Big dogs aren't content with walks around the block.  It was well worth the membership fee to join the local dog park.  I'm already saving up to send him to the local doggy daycare a few half-days weekly during the coming winter months.
4. Big dogs have a lot of pull to them.  It's pretty easy to tolerate a 8-pound peke yanking at the end of your leash.  Somewhere around 30 pounds or so, that yanking does a real number on your shoulder and back.  Obedience training takes on a whole new level of necessity when you have a big dog.
5. Lastly, standard poodles are fierce.  Every single one that I've met over the past year.  Too many people assume that my poodle's a push-over at the dog park.  That assumption quickly fades.  I've seen him successfully wrestle and throw pitbulls and dobermans and german shepherds to the ground.  I've seen him out-race most of the dogs around him.  I know (/hope) that some of this will fade as he ages and loses some of his youthful pep.  But Nero's a tough dog and it's good to see that he can handle himself against pretty much any dog that comes up against him.

I don't think that we'll do anything too exciting to celebrate Nero's birthday.  He doesn't cope well with changes to his diet.  Most likely, I'll find a big beef bone to chew on for a while and then drive him to the dog park for an extra long visit.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Kids Fight Off Zombies; Television Audience Cheers

Not sure what to make of the following clip.  A zombie invaded a Japanese neighborhood and trapped three young children, two television hosts, and a camera crew in a small apartment.  As one of the boys remarked, the TV hosts were no use against the zombies, but the children managed to overcome their fears and fight off the flesh-eating fiend.  The televised attack was later shown to a studio audience.  Shockingly, the audience cheered with hysterical laughter instead of freaked-out terror.  It's all fun and games until your own kids find themselves under a siege of undead monsters.  Here is footage of this horrible home invasion:


Closer to home, a group of Simpson College student waged a Humans Vs. Zombies battle back on September 19th.  According to this news article, the zombie won.  183 people were overwhelmed and turned into zombies.  I'm somewhat sceptical about the truthiness of this event.  I've seen images of zombie swarms before.  I've never known of them to wear neon green head bands.  But maybe they're organizing more effectively these days...  What do I know?  Regardless, I haven't seen any zombie spill-over from Indianola so ever if the battle was victorious for the zombies, their good fortune didn't last.

Lastly, I came across some disturbing zombie-related news footage dating back to the George W. Bush presidential reign.  Bush's proposed a supplemental budget request back in 2007 to help the USA better prepare for the inevitable zombie incursion.  I haven't heard this same level of foresight coming out of the current administration.  That's a darned shame...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wash Your Hands!!!!

I missed breakfast today, was a little hungry, and decided to get something before work. So I stopped by one of the local bagel chains to get an Asiago Parmesan Bagel (plain). Somebody beat me through the door and ended up getting served first... by a woman who put on rubber gloves presumably for sanitary purposes... except that she immediately wiped her nose with her gloved hand and began serving the woman ahead of me!!!

Gross! I mean, what's the point of going through the motions of protecting me from the germs on your hands if you immediately infect me with germs from your snot???

For whatever reason, the woman ahead of me didn't seem to mind to nose-wiping and was happy to be served her breakfast. I was in a state of dilemma. Do I let her serve me with her snot glove? Do I make a scene and insist that she wash up and put on clean gloves before serving me?  Fortunately, somebody from the back saw me waiting to be served and took care of my order. Plus, I had the extra bonus of watching him NOT rub his gloved hand across any body part or secretion.

Now I'm feeling guilty for not saying anything. Who knows if that person is still wearing her snotty glove and serving unsuspecting customers?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Faith Killers

I served as secretary for my church for a couple years.  I had a car loan and never really felt like I had any extra cash for pretty much anything.  The hours were flexible and I could bring D'Angelo (then around 6 or so) with me while I worked if it was needed.  All in all, it was a pretty good gig.  Then I got burnt out doing my full-time job plus that part-time job plus an extra occasional part-time job plus my family time and I decided to quit the church job.  One of the coolest things about being church secretary is that I always knew what was going on.  Unfortunately, that was also one of the suckiest things about being church secretary.  You get to hear most of the gossip and complaints and you get to deal with the public in a way that most parishioners never do.

Among other things, my church is an Open & Affirming (ONA) church.  An ONA church explicitly welcomes and affirms all people in all area of the church life, regardless of sexual orientation.  GLBT folks can serve (and have served) as pastor (or church secretary, for that matter) at our church.  We can serve on Council.  We can join the church.  We can lead worship and serve on church committees.  We can teach Sunday School or Adult Education.  We can get married in the church.  Basically, GLBT members can do anything that het members can do.

As church secretary, I would receive letters or e-mails from visitors that loved our church.  They loved our ministry and our missions.  They loved the pastor and they loved the people.  Except us gays.  They weren't coming back and they wanted it to know that they wouldn't be back because of the gays.  Additionally, we would sometimes receive e-mails from people who'd read our website and decided to let us know that God really hates gay people.  Some of these people seemed to mean well.  Most were quite nasty about it.

Frankly, I've never understood people of faith who spend so much time condemning gay people and churches that support gay people.  I have problems with the public stances that certain churches have made regarding all sorts of issues.  I've never had the inclination to send a blistering message to any of those churches to tell them why they are wrong or that they need to change their belief system to cater to my beliefs.  Unfortunately, too many people cannot bite their tongues when it comes to GLBT-affirming churches.  We (Christian churches, anyway) are joined together through our shared devotion to Jesus Christ and his 2000 year ministry.  There are many ways that Christ's churches have diverged from each other, but most churches and denominations have been successful at looking past our non-essential differences and refocusing on that all-imporant commonality.  Most of the time.

Several years ago, Jay Bakker started Revolution Church, a bar-based ministry that catered to those who don't fit in most churches.  Bakker and Revolution Church were financially supported by many churches, who didn't have a problem with his church, with preached God's unconditional love and which offered weekly Bible studies and music and drinks and community-building.  Then Bakker came out as someone who believes that God's love extends to gay people.  And then his financial backing fell apart and his ministry was suddenly marginalized by those who'd previously supported it.

I hang out often on Andrew Marin's blog and participate in discussions there.  Andrew is attempting to bridge the gap between the conservative Christian community and the GLBT communities.  I've listened to enough of his radio interviews to predict one main question whenever he connects with a Christian audience: "I love what your doing and want to share my love and friendship with gay people. That said, when do I get to tell my new GLBT friends that they're hellbound and need to repent?".

Too many in the Christian community are determined to break the spirit and the faith of the GLBT among them.  If they're called on it, they claim their religious beliefs are being disrespected.  Meanwhile, that's exactly what the majority Christian community does to the GLBT communities and those that affirm them when they diss our churches and denigrate our marriages and our families.  It's ridiculous and I'm tired of it.

To the conservative Christians out there, I offer you the following advice.  Lay off a bit.  Please don't attack or belittle my faith or the faith of my church family or others like us.  Please don't assume that we haven't actually prayerfully reflected on our beliefs before acting on them.  And finally, you don't have to kill the faith of others in order for your own faith to flourish.

Monday, October 11, 2010

WWJD: Lord Jesus Christ Excommunicated from Public Library

Lord Jesus Christ III visiting the library
I feel like this should be a joke, but apparently it's not. Lord Jesus Christ III was banned early last month from the Clapp Memorial Library of Belchertown, MA, for "recurring bad behavior". Jesus Christ is a 50-year-old transgendered artist who looks way hotter at the age of 50 than I ever will.  It's hard to imagine how bad one's behavior must be to get kicked out of the library. Apparently, it's a lot easier to get kicked out of the library than I ever expected:
(Library director Owen Maloney) said Jesus is always asking staff at the desk and other patrons for tissues, pencils or other things.
Maloney also claims that Jesus Christ cut in line occasionally and got in people's personal space.

Jesus Christ apparently used the library on a daily basis to access the computer system.  He claims that his banning has less to do with borrowing items and more to do with his choice of clothing:
Jesus Christ said the librarians then began telling him his clothing was inappropriate, and not long afterward, a sign appeared inside the front door warning that proper attire was required.

He said that on one occasion where he was warned about inappropriate dress, a woman walked in with shorts and a halter and no one on the staff batted an eye.
Lord Jesus Christ III was in the news this past May following a car accident.  People were less interested in the actual accident and (admittedly like me) interested in the fact that the victim shares the same name as God's human son.  There was some interesting insight to Jesus' life that makes this current story a bit more tragic:
Jesus Christ has no telephone and no access to the Internet at home. To go online, he needs to go to the Belchertown library, but since the accident, he has been too banged up to leave his apartment in the Belchertown Housing Authority.
Reading between the lines, there are poverty issues affecting Jesus' life.  Without access to the library, he cannot access online resources that many of us take for granted these days, public benefits and/or employment information.  Beyond that, there's simple communication via e-mail that's now denied to Jesus.

According to the first article, this is Clapp Memorial Library's first ban in at least two decades.  Surely, Jesus isn't the first customer to interrupt a conversation to ask for a Kleenex.  Matthew 25:40 reads: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

One hopes that the director and Lord Jesus Christ III can sit down soon and begin ironing out their differences. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Squirrel Girl --> Super Nanny 911

New York Comic Con is wrapping up and I've been catching up with all my comic book news. There's lots of cool stuff coming up, but the biggest news of the weekend centered around one of Marvel Comics' greatest super heroes. Forget Spider-Man. Forget Spider-Woman. Forget Wolverine. Forget Iron Man. The hero I'm talking about here has single-handedly taken out some of Marvel's greatest and most powerful villains. Menaces like Doctor Doom, Mandarin, MODOK, Thanos, Terrax, Ego the Living Planet, etc., etc. I'm talking about Squirrel Girl.

Until last month's issue of I Am An Avenger #1, Squirrel Girl had served with distinction with the Great Lakes Avengers, a ragtag band of misfit heroes.  Recognizing that she was the powerhouse of the GLA and fearing that she was bringing down the team, Squirrel Girl sacrificed her spot on the team and decided to move back to New York City.  It was clear that Marvel had some sort of plan for her, but it was unclear what that plan was.  Now that plan has been announced.  Squirrel Girl has been hired to serve as nanny for the New Avengers Luke Cage's and Jessica Jones' baby girl:
(Writer Brian Michael) Bendis addressed the question of "Who is the nanny?" of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones' baby in "New Avengers" joking that it had to be someone new because "Agatha Harkness is dead." He then revealed that after much debate, Squirrel Girl won out. "This isn't a joke," the writer said. "I wrote my Squirrel Girl issue. She has a hidden past with some members of the group...she's one of dozens of people who auditioned for the job, and you'll meet all the applicants in the book."
This little baby has had quite the life.  She was kidnapped and replaced by a shape-changing skrull.  She's been present during demonic attacks.  In other words, being the child of two prominent super heroes and living in their super hero clubhouse isn't always very safe.  So it makes sense to hire a nanny who has wiped the floor with Doctor Doom.

My big concern isn't that Squirrel Girl is in the spotlight, but that she's going to be written by Bendis.  Bendis is a good writer and is very much responsible for rejuvenating the Avengers and much of modern Marvel Comics.  But Squirrel Girl is an innocent character with an innocent world view.  She talks to squirrels and sees the best in people.  Bendis swears a lot and doesn't really do "innocent".  So I'm glad to see more Squirrel Girl and I'm fearful that she'll end up gagged and gang-raped by the end of her second storyline.

This promotion from the GLA to the New Avengers might actually help improve Tippy-Toe's chances of joining the Pet AvengersRegular readers of this blog voted for Squirrel Girl's animal sidekick to join Marvel's coolest super hero team last month.  This could make it happen.  I've already seen Chris Eliopoulos and Dan Slott tweeting about this possibility in recent days.  Something to keep your fingers crossed about, if nothing else.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekend Odds/Ends

Here are a couple random items that I wanted to raise up:

*Last Saturday, a benefit breakfast event was put on to support the adult son of my co-worker Christine, Jesse Haworth.  He has a rare form of brain cancer and his family & friends were raising money to help pay for his ongoing treatment.  Christine offered the following update this past Thursday:
I want to thank everyone for all your kind thoughts, concern and support for Jesse and our family. The fundraiser last weekend was a lot of fun and a great success. Almost $10,000.00 was raised for his medical expenses!!! This is very humbling and heartfelt.

Jesse is on chemo treatment right now and has one more treatment at the end of the month. Then it’s MRI’s every two months. The doctors have assured us that his cancer will return to his brain within 10 years but we will cross that bridge when/if it happens. Technology is never ending so our fingers are crossed.

Again, thank you everyone!!!
*My church, Faith United Church of Christ, will have a Think Pink worship service tomorrow in recognition of those affected by breast cancer:
We hope to raise awareness and hope. We'll have upbeat music, relevant preaching, pink prayers, etc. The prayers will focus on the women we have lost, the survivors, and our hope for a cure. We'll also explore Psalm 3 and its message for the battle against breast cancer. Plus, Pastor Brian and Sara will play their song, "Victory," which is about one woman's connection to Psalm 3 as she battled cancer (and won!).
Faith UCC is located at 1609 Deforest Avenue in Iowa City. Worship service begins at 9:30 AM.

Disabled High School Senior Crowned Homecoming King in Nearby Solon

There has been so much attention recently on bullying in high schools and on college campuses recently.  I have written way too much about anti-bullying and anti-suicide messages.  Frankly, it was getting to be too much.  Fortunately, the following news article appeared in the local Press-Citizen newspaper which warmed my heart:

Solon students rally around their homecoming king

In many ways, Josh Klein is an average high school student. The Solon High School senior likes hunting and fishing, bicycling and watching sports, especially football. However, Josh's Down Syndrome prevents him from participating in the sports he loves so much.

But these days, Josh is more than an average student. He's the king.

The students at Solon High School recently banded together to get Josh named to the homecoming court. Thursday night, in front of his parents, sister, the football team, his friends, classmates and most of the community, Josh was crowned homecoming king.

The buzz, the excitement and the emotion still are going strong, said his father, Tracy Klein. "It was just a really life-changing moment for our family," he said. "He loves it. He loves the support."

Klein credits his son's classmate and longtime friend Sydney Farnsworth for spearheading the effort to get Josh elected to the court. Farnsworth said it was a team effort. "We were just going around telling everyone, 'Vote for Josh,'" said Farnsworth, a queen candidate. Farnsworth, who was Josh's escort for the homecoming festivities, said the court was committed to making Josh king. Before the king was announced, the remaining candidates agreed to hand over their crown to Josh if it came to that, Farnsworth said. The charity was unnecessary. The votes were in and Josh was king.

"Everybody just went crazy," Farnsworth said. "It was probably one of the happiest moments of my life."

Josh was crowned and presented with a football signed by the team. Farnsworth said he stood on the stage for close to a minute, just soaking in the moment. "I think he would have stood up there all night," she said...

Eventually the buzz will die down. But Tracy Klein said the memories will never fade. "We're very blessed and humbled," he said. "It's just a really, really neat, cool event that we'll cherish forever."
I remember a very similar story a couple years back of a senior girl with Down Syndrome, I believe, in nearby Tiffin, IA.  Her classmates had always looked out for her and made sure that she was included.  She got drafted onto the cheerleading squad and attended cheerleading camp with the other girls.

I am the parent of a mentally disabled teen and I have worked with disabled children and adults for years.  Trust me, this level of social inclusion is not terribly common.  This story is another reason I'm proud to live in Iowa.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Birthday British TV Podcast!

I want to wish Ryan and Chrissy a hearty happy first anniversary for their wonderful weekly podcast, British TV Podcast!  Every week, they provide up-to-date news, reviews, and previews about all the brilliant television programs coming out of the United Kingdom.  I'm a huge fan - even if Ryan reveled in the news earlier this year that my beloved Clatterford got canceled.

To make things cooler, they answered two of my questions during the past two shows.  My first question was posed to Ryan on Twitter ("@brittvpodcast I'm curious. Outside PBS & BBC America, how do we Yanks catch new Britt shows like what I hear about on yr podcast?") and answered by Ryan both on Twitter and on the show's 52nd podcast ("There's the legal way and the not so legal way...").  My second question was posed by e-mail and answered two days later on the 53rd podcast/anniversary episode:
I was just catching up on your latest podcast and was reminded of the news. Happy One Year Anniversary Ryan and Chrissy for your wonderful British TV Podcast! I look forward to each new podcast every week. :)

Quick question for you both which probably has an equally quick answer: Why do so many British TV shows change their names when they get imported to the US? (example: "Grace and Favour" --> "Are You Being Served Again?" or "Jam & Jerusalem" --> "Clatterford")

I look forward to your next year of podcasting!
The answer was pretty simple, as anticipated: "Marketing".

Check out the show on their website or on iTunes.  It's a great way to learn about excellent television programming, as well as various actors and actresses.

Updated: I just got back from the gym and was thinking about some of the different British television shows that I've watched and enjoyed over the years.  I thought it might be fun to re-visit this blog entry and -- in honor of British TV Podcast's first anniversary -- share my first favorite British programs.  These aren't my all-time British shows.  These are my first favorite British shows (based on different categories).  These are programs that I really digged at the time and that sucked me into British programming.  In some cases, there are some really wonderful (and frankly much more wonderful) British shows that have come out since the programs listed below (such as Being Human, The Office, Keeping Up Appearances, Midsomer Murders, Poirot, etc.).  These are my firsts, and as such hold special spots in my jaded bleeding heart.

First Favorite British Science Fiction Program: Doctor Who.  Might as well get that out of the way.  I was introduced to Doctor Who by Randy, an older boy who used to tolerate me as a child when our parents got together for whatever parents do when they get together.  He introduced me to classic Doctor Who: Tom Baker during his golden years.  I think my first Who episode was "The Robots of Death".  The robots were super creepy and managed to live up to their reputation.  Since then, I've seen pretty much every available episode of Doctor Who, except for a few missing Patrick Troughton episodes.

First Favorite American Remake of a British Television Program: Three's Company.  Looking back, I have no idea why I was allowed to watch Three's Company as a 7-year-old boy.  Looking back, I might concede that this sitcom about a raging het man who poses as a gay man so that he could live with two hot chicks might have had some influence over my future affectionate development.  And looking back, I had absolutely no idea that Three's Company was a remake of a British sitcom called Man About the House.  All I know is that I loved Three's Company and watched it all the way from season one through Three's a Crowd.  I liked it so much that I even named my pet hamster after the often-spoken-of-but-rarely-seen Greedy Gretchen.  That said, I've never seen an episode of Man About the House and I'm sure I likely never will.

First Favorite British Sitcom: Are You Being Served?: I worked in a group home from my senior year in high school through the end of college.  I worked there pretty much every other Saturday evening.  This was the evening routine: We ate. We took care of hygiene needs. We then watched Lawrence Welk and Are You Being Served? on Iowa Public Television.  I never could get into Lawrence Welk and his crew, but I absolutely fell in love with the employees at Grace Brothers department store.  Each episode, the ladies and gents would struggle with management's scheme-of-the-week or find themselves hip-deep in sexual innuendo.  Several years later, the crew reunited to run an English manor in Are You Being Served? Again!, which I never really got into.  A few years after watching the reunion program, I came across a 1977 Are You Being Served? movie.  Here's the plot: Mr. Grace forced all of the staff to go on vacation to a run-down resort in Costa Plonka.  It was campy, crude, silly, and repetitive.  And I loved every moment of it!

First Favorite British Mystery/Crime Drama: Prime Suspect: I'm a huge murder mystery/crime drama fan know, but I really didn't get into that genre or program or book until the mid-90s and I owe much of that to the talented Helen Mirren and Prime Suspect.  The series tells the story of newly promoted DCI Jane Tennison, as she fights to overcome institutional sexism and cronyism and solve a baffling rape and murder.  Tennison was wonderfully complex and not terribly likable.  Her struggles with personal isolation and alcoholism ultimately killed her career.  But you can't help but admire her instinct or professional drive.  The storylines were brilliant and not to be missed.

First Favorite British Children's Program: Teletubbies: I absolutely love the Teletubbies. The costuming is bizarres and the giant rabbits adorable.  They were pretty much out of fashion by the time D'Angelo came around.  Fortunately, Leslie enjoyed watching them way longer than what was age-appropriate.  Jerry Falwell single-handedly made Tinky Winky a gay icon, which was an extra bonus.

First Favorite British Drama: Queer as Folk: Back in the late 90s/early 00s, I used to get together with a group of guys every week to watch episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.  Somehow, one of the guys got hold of QAF and showed it to the bunch.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.  It tells the story of three gay guys living in Manchester's gay village.  It was sexually graphic and definitely risque with its depiction of recreational drug use and sexual intimacy between 29-year-old Stuart and 15-year-old Nathan.  It ended up spawning a US version of Showtime, which grew into its own program but was never quite so earnestly edgy as its UK predecessor.

First Favorite New British Program of 2010: Rev.: Here's my final category for the night.  Rev. is a sitcom about a vicar who's transferred with his wife to serve a tiny congregation in a crumbling inner-city London church.  The humor is sufficiently dark for my current tastes.  Rev. Smallbone struggles to connect with his neighborhood and make his church both relevant and morally instructive to his new community.  It looks like the show has been picked up for a second series.

What are your favorite first British television programs?