Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Son in Art

My son D'Angelo received a short letter from his birth dad with this really nice picture. Check it out:

Perez Hilton is a Dad!

I learned earlier today that online gossip blogger Perez Hilton is a father. Here is the announcement from his website:
Dear Friends, I want you to hear this directly from me, right here. I am ready to announce that earlier this month I was blessed with the birth of my first child, a beautiful and healthy baby boy - with lots of hair on his tiny head! My family is overjoyed at this newest and most cherished addition... I am so humbled to welcome this little man into my life. And I am honored and ready for the challenge of guiding him through his. With love, Perez
I know very little about Perez's personal life except that he's lost a lot of weight in recent years. I've already been asked how he brought his family into being (which, to be honest, is a pretty common question you hear asked when it involves gay parents). I have no clue if he adopted this child or if he used a surrogate or if he has some co-parenting arrangement with the little boy's mother.

But I do know that he looks very happy with his new son and I know that his life has totally changed forever.

Congrats with your new family, Perez!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

X-Men's Northstar is an Illegal Immigrant

Back in November, I noted that ASTONISHING X-MEN's Northstar and his new husband Kyle Jindu-Beaubier were facing a new personal foe: U.S. Immigration officials. At the time, it didn't make a lot of sense that they were hassling our favorite homo-speedster:
I'm not sure why the I.C.E. agents are focused so much on Jean-Paul (AKA Northstar). I mean, there is a school-full of international mutants in upstate New York -- one who was just whisked into the States from Brazil just earlier this month. My point is that Jean-Paul is an international professional athlete and a teacher. It's unlikely that he's able to work professionally in the States without some sort of work visa.
Check out this image from ASTONISHING X-MEN #59, which summarizes in one panel why Northstar is screwed:

It turns out that Northstar has been living and working in the United States of America illegally for years. Every time he worked as a teacher for the Xavier Institute or the Jean Grey School or anytime he came here to work for his private corporation, anytime he came here for any reason at all, he was here illegally. No passport. No visa. No luck.

Among other things, Kyle and Northstar have begun fighting over whether they should stay in New York and fight or if they should just go home to Canada. Presumably, Kyle can do this as he has a passport and has worked in Quebec in the past.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

18 GOP Senate Republicans Sponsor Resolution to Constitutionally Ban Iowa's Gay Families -- Including One Johnson County Senator

18 Senate Republicans sponsored a resolution to initiate a statewide vote to constitutionally eliminate the marriages of Iowa's gay and lesbian families. The lead sponsor is Sen. Dennis Guth of Klemme, IA, who noted, "This is very important to our caucus... Not all of the Republican senators have signed on as sponsors, but all of them have said they would vote for it if it would come to the floor. It is the sort of thing that we just need to do. I believe in a God who has control of all things, and that includes Sen. Gronstal."

Sen. Michael Gronstal is the Democratic Senate Majority Leader who has consistently prevented such resolutions from moving forward and he has already vowed to protect all of Iowa's families -- including its gay and lesbian families. And he kept his senate seat during the last election, which bolsters his ongoing resistance to allowing Iowa Republican leaders to undo the 2009 Supreme Court decision that struck down the state's DOMA law and allowed its gay and lesbian citizens to share in the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

The 2012 Des Moines Register notes that 56% of Iowans oppose a constitutional amendment to define the state's marriages as only between one man and one woman compared to 38% who want to constitutionally ban marriages like mine.

Meanwhile, the Iowa City Patch notes that one of those 18 GOP sponsors is a Johnson County Republican: Sen. Sandy Greiner of Keota, IA. Her particular district includes parts of southern and western Johnson County. Johnson County boasts one of the densest areas of LGBT presence and families. It's sometimes easy to forget that not all of my immediate neighbors actually support marriage equality.

Wolverine Loves Hercules

Bloggers have been writing about the romance between Wolverine and Hercules over in Marvel Comics' X-Treme X-Men book recently. It's a team book about a group of alternate reality heroes led by Dazzler who are tasked with traveling the universes and killing evil versions of Charles Xavier. The linked article talks about the pair announcing their love for each other in X-Treme X-Men #10, but that was just the kiss issue. Them as a couple has been known for a few issues before that.

Before you get too excited about this, keep in mind that the book is scheduled to end in a couple issues. There is going to be a cross-over between Astonishing X-Men, X-Treme X-Men, and Age of Apocalypse, which results in the cancellation of the latter two books. It is possible that we will see more of X-Treme Wolvie and X-Treme Hercules after the book's cancellation, but not likely.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How Will the Sequester Impact Iowa?

Assuming that the President and Congress cannot get their act together soon, our country will experience $85 billion in automatic federal budget cuts on March 1st -- essentially 10% of the federal budget. This is the Sequester. Earlier today, the President forwarded details about what each state will experience by these automatic spending cuts. Here is how my own state of Iowa will be affected by the Sequestration:

* Iowa will lose $6.4 million in funding for our schools. This will jeopardize around 90 teacher and aid jobs. Additionally, $5.8 million in special education funding will be lost, risking at least 70 special education teacher, aides, and other staff.

* 2,370 low income students in Iowa would lose the financial assistance for college and 1,020 Iowa students will lose their work-study jobs that assist them with paying for college.

* Head Start and Early Head Start services will be eliminated for roughly 500 children in Iowa.

* Iowa will lose roughly $2.4 million in environmental funding to help keep our water and air clean and to prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. We will also lose $661,000 in fish and wildlife protection grants.

* Roughly 2,000 civilian Department of Defense employees in Iowa will be furloughed, resulting in salary savings of roughly $7.4 million.

* Army base operational funding in Iowa will be cut by $1.5 million.

* Iowa will lose $135,000 in Justice Assistance Grants -- which will negatively affect our local law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

* Iowa will lose $376,000 in federal funding that assists people with job seeking, referring, and placement. This will affect 12,680 out-of-work Iowans.

* 300 children will lose access to child care assistance, will will negatively impact the ability of their low-income parents to maintain their jobs.

* 1,320 children will Iowa will lose access to vaccines for diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to $90,000 in vaccination funding cuts.

* Iowa will lose $291,000 in funds used to upgrade our ability to respond to public health threats, such as infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. Iowa will also lose $670,000 in substance abuse treatment and prevention grants, affecting 1,100 people. We will also lose $61,000 in funding, resulting in 1,5000 fewer HIV tests.

* Iowa will lose up to $65,000 in domestic violence victim services, affecting 200 victims of domestic violence.

* Iowa will lose $220,000 in food assistance funds for our senior citizens.

We all lose if these cuts are enacted. There are people whose jobs will be lost -- directly or indirectly -- because of these indiscriminate cuts. There are people whose jobs and health will be affected -- directly or indirectly -- because of these cuts. C'mon, Washington! Stop playing games with the future health of this country! Address this financial mess of your own making!

Octomom Smokes Medical Marijuana // Plus, Iowans Support Medical Marijuana

I totally missed this last week. Apparently one of Nadya (AKA Octomom) Suleman's ex-nannies filed a report with DCFS claiming that Suleman is drug-addicted and unfit to care for her 14 children:
Sources close to Nadya Suleman tell TMZ ... DCFS arrived at Octo's home Saturday night after a former nanny complained that Octo has been using drugs, drinking heavily, blacking out, forgetting key appointments (i.e. the bus incident), leaving the kids unbathed for days and not changing their clothes for weeks.

We're told DCFS made Octo aware of the allegations against her, searched the home and asked a mountain of questions regarding the situation. DCFS didn't feel there was enough evidence to pull the kids out of the home ASAP ... but we're told the investigation is still pending.
TMZ later reported that Suleman has a prescription for medical marijuana and usually ingests it by baking it in brownies and other baked goods. It is unclear why she needs it, but she got prescribed to it two days after she discharged from rehab. She also reports that she is more than capable of caring for her 14 kids while high of medical marijuana. Later in the week, Suleman told TMZ that DCFS is going to give her a pass because she has a prescription for the drug.

I learned of Suleman's latest drama just after reading a Des Moines Register Poll indicating that 58% of Iowa adults support the legalization of marijuana for medical reasons. Meanwhile, my own Sen. Joe Bolkcom is going to sponsor a bill to allow for the legalization of medical marijuana. I don't think it'll go anywhere, but you never know...

In theory, I support medical marijuana. I was always told that there were a handful of ailments, such as glaucoma and certain types of cancer, where marijuana appeared to be the most effective treatment remedy. But then it got legalized in California and a couple other places and it seems like there are plenty of doctors who will write out a medical marijuana script for pretty much any reason and with little scrutiny. I could be wrong with that assessment, but that's how it looks from the outside.

My point is that if medical marijuana passes in Iowa, it needs to be as tightly regulated as Schedule II drugs like Ritalin or Adderall. Medical marijuana shouldn't be an excuse to permit legalized recreational drug use. Without strict regulation and clear reasons for it being prescribed, the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes will likely find itself eventually revoked.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Honey Boo Boo's Father Hospitalized Due to Pancreatitis // Update on Sugar Bear's Hospitalization

Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson, father of Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and reality TV personity on "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo". Several months ago, he suffered severe leg injuries following an ATV accident. Last December, an ambulance got sent to his home following a high blood pressure scare. Now fans are learning via Alana's official Facebook page that Sugar Bear was rushed to the hospital due to chest pains and was subsequently diagnosed with pancreatitis early this week:
oh k cause everyone is talking and what our family emergency is well im going to go public so there will b no fake stories of what is going sugarbear was rushed to the hospital Monday by us cause he was having chest pains like gas pains well we get to the hospital and after tests we found out he has a severe case of pancreatitis which is inflammation of the pancreas and cause he is a diabetic type 2 pills only thats not good so he has been hospitalized under strict doctor care was in ICU the first night he is out of ICU but he has a long road ahead of him we have let his pancreas rest and his body rest tests r being ran everyday cause they dont know what is causing us cause normally causes it like gall stones alcoholism or high cholesterol and he doesn't have none of these things so hope we get answers soon we r staying very close to the hospital in case he needs us thanks for all the thoughts ahead of time and i will update when i can... (June)
I hope they find the cause of his illness and that he gets better very soon.

Updated on 02/23/13: Mama June posted the following update on Sugar Bear's health and hospitalization on Honey Boo Boo's official Facebook website:
oh k update on sugarbear after not feeling like we was getting the best treatment possible we checked out of that hospital to another one with better doctors and specialists he needs he is now getting the treatment he needs to get better he now has a severe pancreatitis which we all ready knew and fluid in his lungs(puemonia) that wasnt treated before lets hope he gets better soon
Hopefully this treatment change will work out for Sugar Bear.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Gay Marriage Updates Across the Nation

I've done a variety of marriage equality updates this year (here, here, and here). There were a few incidents of states where marriage bills were shot down. But here are a couple recent developments from this week:

Minnesota: Republican state Senator Branden Petersen is preparing to co-sponsor a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Minnesota, thus making this a bipartisan bill. If I remember correctly from radio reports, he plans to recruit other Minnesota Republicans. Petersen was motivated to co-sponsor this bill from a couple different fronts. First, his father-in-law has been in a same-sex relationship for roughly two decades and has been struggling with the concept of same-sex relationships for many years. Secondly, he views same-sex marriage as an inevitability and wants to be one of the folks controlling the discussion and ensuring that religious leaders won't be forced to marry gay couples against their will and to protect the children of same-sex married children.

New Jersey: Last February, the New Jersey legislature passed a marriage equality bill that was vetoed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Unfortunately, the bill did not have enough supporters within either the New Jersey House or Senate to override his veto. However, same-sex marriage supporters have apparently been working hard over the past year to gain additional legislative supporters and the bill's sponsors are beginning to think that they have enough votes to overcome Gov. Christie's veto. They are looking at a June 2013 effort. I guess they have until January 2014 to overcome that veto. It's unclear where this might go, but it's cool that New Jersey might become the 11th state to legalize same-sex marriage!

Lastly, I decided last week to start tracking "gay marriage" data being put out by Public Policy Polling. This is what I've found this week:

Montana: The PPP reports that Montana voters still oppose same-sex marriage by a margin of 49% to 43%. However, 64% of voters in that state support some form of legal recognition for its gay and lesbian residents (38% for marriage and 26% for civil unions) versus 33% against any legal recognition.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reggie & Me #1-3

Several months ago, I learned of a digitally exclusive comic book title put out by Archie Comics called REGGIE & ME. It features Archie Comics' original bad boy, Reggie Mantle, and his new dog. The first issue establishes how the two come together to share a comic book.

Reggie gets shot down while trying to hit on a couple attractive girls. He learns that the girls -- Lindsey and Jackie -- are proud owners of rescue dogs and enjoy spending their free time at the local dog park. In typical Reggie fashion, Reggie decides to impress the girls first by renting Jughead's dog, Hot Dog, and later by adopting his own dog from the animal shelter (with plans to return the dog after enough time passes). He ends up picking a dachshund-mix with a sour disposition and names him Runty.

Despite himself, Reggie quickly begins to bond with Runty. He even allows the mutt to sleep on his bed. The next day, he impresses the girls (especially red-headed Lindsey) with his rescue dog -- as well as written proof that he adopted the dog from the shelter. The girls then begin warming up to Reggie, which unfortunately distracts them all from a pair of dognappers who mistake Runty for an expensive pedigree pet. Reggie, Jughead, and the girls spend the second issue tracking down Runty and saving him and the others from the thieves.

The third issue, which was issued last week, focused on Reggie's efforts to better understand his new dog. He recruits Riverdale's resident genius, Dilton, to invent a machine that allows Reggie and Runty to hear each other's thoughts. Dilton agrees to help out -- but really does it as a joke. He really doesn't have any such invention. That doesn't stop Reggie from convincing himself that he can really hear Runty's thoughts. Later on, a freak accident creates actual mind-links between Reggie and Lindsey and Runty and Sophie (Lindsey's dog). As you can imagine, uncontrollably hearing the thoughts of others non-stop does not help nurture Reggie's blossoming romance with Lindsey. They spend several pages arguing over each others' surface thoughts until Reggie comes up with a way to smooth things over with Lindsey long enough for Dilton to come up with a cure.

As with each issue before, REGGIE & ME #3 ends with a cliffhanger as Runty runs away from home in search of his original owner. How will Reggie fix this latest blunder??

I have written recently on the Archie Comics Fan Forums that digital comic books like REGGIE & ME might end up being a good way to less expensively experiment with new Archie Comics titles. After a few months of REGGIE & ME, maybe we will be treated to new digital adventures featuring other characters such as Cheryl Blossom or Pat the Brat or Jellybean or Cosmo the Merry Martian or Chuck & Nancy. Some of these stories might not go anywhere. Some or all of them may find themselves eventually reprinted in one of Archie Comics' various double digest books and maybe some of them might actually graduate into their own ongoing print comic book title! That would be really cool.

I am really curious where this book is going. It has already told three very different stories: from adoption to busting an exotic animal theft ring to experimenting with mind-reading! I have an idea broadly speaking what the next issue will be about, but I have no clue what kind of unique setting that it will take place in. Whatever happens, I know that I can count on Reggie to make the right decisions for all the wrong reasons. And that's why I like this book.

If you have the technology to access digital comic books, I urge you to take the time to download the Archie Comics app and check out REGGIE & ME. It's totally worth it!

Man With Down Syndrome Fatally Asphyxiated Over Cost of Movie Ticket While in Police Custody

There is a sad story circulating in the news and on Facebook today about a 26-year-old man with Down Syndrome named Robert Saylor who went to a movie in Frederick, MD, to watch Zero Dark Thirty with some sort of friend or companion. He decided he wanted to watch the movie again and stubbornly refused to get out of his seat. A Regal Cinema employee initially interacted wtih this man and wasn't able to get him to leave the room. So the Regal employee decided to contact three off-duty police officers/theater security guards to get Saylor to leave.

Once again, Saylor refused to leave and swore at the guards. The off-duty officers/security guards noted that he "resisted arrest" (didn't know that off-duty officers/security guards could arrest you) and decided to wrestle Saylor to the ground and handcuff him. He quickly asphyxiated and the EMS was called. Saylor later died at the hospital directly as a result to this encounter.

Please look at Robert Saylor's picture. It is obvious from looking at him -- and I'm sure from listening to him -- that he has Down Syndrome, which is accompanied by certain intellectual disabilities as well as certain behavioral traits (obviously more pronounced in some than in others). It was unclear to me where his companion was during all of this. Did they try to get him or her to help out or to contact Saylor's parents? A movie ticket costs anywhere from $9-11. Why not have him pay for an extra showing and then take the time to contact his parents or his house staff?

As a result of the medical examination, Saylor's death has been ruled as a homicide. The case has been forwarded to the state's attorney's office for review. Hopefully, we will see some justice for Robert Saylor.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

DC Gay Wedding in the Works

Archie Comics and Marvel Comics both witnessed gay wedding ceremonies for two of its prominent gay male characters back in 2012. Now it looks like DC Comics will be spotlighting a gay wedding for one of its prominent lesbian characters. Readers of DC's BATWOMAN #17 will be treated to the title's main character proposing to her longtime girlfriend:
(I)n Batwoman #17, published today, Kathy Kane, the Batwoman, DC’s leading lesbian lady asks Maggie Sawyer, Captain Sawyer, her secret girlfriend to be her wife.

No idea how well that’s going to go down. And you have to read the build up to this – and the rather dangerous epilogue. There’s no guarantee we’re going to hear wedding bells.

But I think that’s a story. I’ve been talking about how much I love this comic for some time, I think it’s DC’s best. Now I’ve just been given another reason.
I'm not a BATWOMAN reader. I have gradually dropped all DC Comics over the years for a variety of reasons. But I have a lot of friends who absolutely rave over BATWOMAN month after month. I'm also curious if Kathy and Maggie will actually get through their wedding ceremony -- much less their first anniversary!! -- unscathed. But it should be a fun ride.

By the way, this isn't DC Comics' first gay wedding, though it certainly features more prominent characters than their last gay wedding.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New Poll: Illinois Residents Back Gay Marriage 50/29!!

You may remember that Illinois enacted civil unions in mid-2011. Much more recently, the state's Senate just voted last week to pass a marriage equality bill, which will soon to go the House and then to Illinois' governor. It's expected to get signed into law without much hassle. Today, Crain's Chicago Business published the results of a new Illinois-based poll that shows pretty significant support by Illinois residents for same-sex marriage! We're talking about nearly 2-to-1 support:
Most Illinois residents want the Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, according to the latest results of the Crain's/Ipsos Illinois Poll. The survey of 600 adults found that 50 percent support the gay-marriage bill that cleared the state Senate last week and now awaits action in the House. That's considerably more than the 29 percent who oppose it, with 20 percent saying they don't know or have mixed feelings on the matter. As expected, support is strongest in Chicago, with 56 percent backing passage. A majority of 52 percent of suburban residents supports approval, but support drops to a plurality of 48 percent downstate. The online survey had an accuracy rate of plus or minus 4.7 percent statewide, with wider ranges for numbers specific to Chicago or its suburbs.
If/when Illinois passes its marriage equality bill into law, Illinois will become the 10th state to allow its gay and lesbian couples to share in the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Monday, February 18, 2013

GOP House Majority Leaders in Alaska Laugh at Civil Unions

I wrote this weekend about a recent Public Policy Polling poll that found that 62% of Alaska voters support some form of legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples in that state (marriage or civil unions). I wasn't the only one who noted that PPP poll. A reporter named Mark Miller of the Juneau Empire noticed it and decided to ask the state's Republican-led House Majority Caucus about enacting civil unions or domestic partnerships for the state's gay and lesbian couples given that level of support. The House Majority Caucus was showing off their "Guiding Principles" for the year. This question elicited lots of laughs from the House leadership before they shot down the idea:

MILLER: I’m looking at a recent Public Policy Polling of Alaska that found that only 30 percent of respondents believe there should be no legal recognition of gay couples’ relationships in Alaska. I was just curious, would the caucus support the idea of having domestic partnerships or civil unions open to same-sex couples.


PRUITT: …We didn’t have a discussion here about what happens inside your home. We’re talking about whether or not you can make money, whether or not there is a great economy, and whether or not you’re going to have the opportunity to live in Alaska with a great future. Now, your discussion on that, we didn’t talk about that.

Harlem Shake: Iowa City Version

Iowa City Patch assemble a batch of "Harlem Shake" dance memes today. I thought I would share a couple of my favorite Iowa City videos.

Harlem Shake is a popular style of hip hop dance and the title of a 2012 heavy bass instrumental track produced by Baauer. In February 2013, the song spawned a series of dance videos that begin with a masked individual doing the Harlem Shake alone in a group before suddenly cutting to a wild dance party featuring the entire group.

I particularly enjoyed this first one, mainly because of the horse-headed guy:

I found this other dorm-based video that I also enjoyed:

Feel free to share links to your favorite Harlem Shake dance meme in the comments section!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My 2013 Pledge to Archie Comics

I'm a pretty big fan of Archie Comics, but I really didn't get back into them until about a year ago. Before that, I'd read the various digest magazines that you can buy at the grocery store when I was young and more recently I've been reading LIFE WITH ARCHIE for a few years now, but it's only since 2012 that I have been interested in Archie Comics' other titles, such as ARCHIE, KEVIN KELLER, and NEW CRUSADERS. Plus I've been picking up digests again. But it gradually occurred to me that Archie Comics really isn't putting out much original material. In fact, right now I'm reading most of their original material (with the exception of their SONIC and MEGAMAN licensed books). The only comic book I'm not buying regularly that features original material is BETTY & VERONICA (more about that below). But VERONICA, BETTY, and JUGHEAD have all been canceled over the past year and it's very possible that there were other titles that also found themselves subject to cancellation or (in the case of JUGHEAD) hiatus.

I understand that Archie Comics make a lot of money from its digests compared to its ongoing original print comic books! Then again, why wouldn't they make money from those digests? At this point, it is all reprint material. From what I understand, they don't pay royalties to most -- if not all -- of their creators for reprint material. So they are paying for someone to compile each digest issue and for the materials, but not to writers and artists (or minimally). So it makes sense that digests are less expensive to put out.

Not only that, but Archie Comics' various digest books are generally more accessible to new readers. I can go to my grocery store and pick up any Digest or Double-Digest book put out by Archie Comics. But -- with the exception of LIFE WITH ARCHIE -- it's difficult to track down their monthly and bi-monthly comic books. My comic book shop only gets them if I ask for them. Barnes & Noble is the closest shop to find them with any regularity.

Here is the honest truth. I would not have gotten back into Archie Comics if LIFE WITH ARCHIE wasn't being sold at my grocery store. The cover grabbed my attention, I decided to splurge on an issue, and I've been hooked ever since! And because of that specific decision, I now buy ARCHIE, KEVIN KELLER, NEW CRUSADERS, LWA (of course), and about 3-4 different Archie Comics digest titles! I also buy what appear to be an original digital comic book called REGGIE & ME every other month (a review of the first three titles will be published on this blog later this week).

Where am I going with all this?

I have been researching different Archie Comics characters that interest me and wondering where and when they first appeared for various reasons. Raj Patel? He debuted in TALES FROM RIVERDALE DIGEST #21. Toni Topaz? She debuted in JUGHEAD DOUBLE DIGEST #176. Archie Comics' "Dynamic New Look" series? It started out in BETTY & VERONICA DOUBLE DIGEST #151-154 and then subsequent follow-up stories showed up in a variety of other digest titles.

Archie Comics used to include original materials not only in their comic books, but also in their digests and double digests. But, with the exception of the final JUGHEAD story from his comic book that never saw print before it went on hiatus but instead got published in JUGHEAD DOUBLE DIGEST, I am not aware of a single digest or double digest coming out over the past year by Archie Comics that has featured original content. Instead, it has all been reprint material.

To be fair, I have enjoyed many of these old reprint stories, such as COSMO THE MERRY MARTIAN, PAT THE BRAT, GINGER, and SEYMOUR. And, once again, I realize that these books are making money for Archie Comics.


It's Archie Comics' new stories that show up in the press. When Archie married Veronica (and later Betty), it grabbed attention. When Kevin Keller married Clay Walker in LIFE WITH ARCHIE, it grabbed attention. When ARCHIE featured an "Occupy Riverdale" storyline, it grabbed attention. When Salem the cat switched Riverdale into Reversedale, it grabbed attention. When Archie met KISS and when Kevin Keller met George Takei, it grabbed attention. When Archie married Valerie from the Pussycats and broached the subject of interracial romance -- something that even my non-comic book-reading biracial son paused to comment upon -- it grabbed attention. The upcoming Glee storyline has grabbed attention already.

The most attention that the Archie Comics digest books have gotten lately is one-time news stories that each title will feature "Double Double Digest" issues starting this year.

Publishing increased reprints while cutting back on original content might make sense in the short-term, but not in the long-term. Gradually newer (or return readers) like myself will begin seeing the same stories reprinted again and again and we will want to buy new stories. We will gradually leave if there aren't newer stories. Plus, the reprints do not grab the attention of the media (comic book press or mainstream press). So there are fewer opportunities to promote the company to those who may not read this material.

So here's my point. I am already buying most of Archie Comics' original comic book titles (minus their licensed titles). Starting with the next issue, I will add BETTY & VERONICA to my pull list in order to show support. And I will be cutting back on all Archie Comics titles that feature reprints. If one of their digests features "Cosmo the Merry Martian" or "Pat the Brat" or "Bats", I will buy them (until their supply of reprint material runs out). But I will focus my purchase power on Archie Comics' new material from now on. (The one ongoing exception will be the quarterly SONIC SUPER DIGEST, which is the only Sonic title that I purchase.)

I anticipate a new original title featuring Sabrina the Teenage Witch once her new animated series begins. If it is published, I will purchase it. If they ever release a new ongoing title featuring Jughead (as kind of promised), I will purchase it. If Archie Comics begins including original stories in their digest titles again, I will purchase those titles. And where are the long-promised modern relaunches of classic Archie characters like Cosmo the Merry Martian and Sam Hill? If Archie Comics ever publishes them, I will purchase them! In other words, I am going to make a conscious choice to purchase Archie Comics titles that feature original material over those that don't effective this month.

And I encourage you all to actively check out their original monthly and bi-monthly titles, too!

Let's get this trend turned around. The only way we will do this is to support these original titles and then to talk them up to our friends!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Superheroic Periodic Table

I found this really cool chart on Facebook and thought you all might like it too. Enjoy!:

Gay Marriage Updates Across the Nation

There are a few marriage equality updates (previous updates here and here) that I've missed this month. Here are a few of the bigger developments:

Colorado: Early this week, Colorado's Senate passed a civil unions bill that would grant same-sex couples most of the rights afforded to married heterosexual couples. It passed pretty much without debate and by a wide margin. The bill will now move to the state's House, where it is expected to pass. Colorado's governor has already indicated he will sign this bill when it comes before him.

Hawaii: Despite efforts to introduce a marriage equality bill within the state of Hawaii, it now looks that those efforts are on-hold until at least 2014. Hopefully marriage movements within other states like Colorado and Illinois (as well as Rhode Island and Oregon??) will prevent Hawaii from stalling past 2014.

Illinois: Iowa may now have some competition when it comes to Midwest wedding destinations for area gay and lesbian couples. On Thursday, the Illinois Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The 34-21 vote paves the way towards Illinois becoming the 10th state to offer marriage rights and responsibilities to gay and lesbian couples. The bill will now move to the Illinois House, where it is expected to pass. Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois has already stated that he will sign this marriage bill into law if the House approves it.

Oregon: Following a recent PPP poll indicating 54% support for marriage equality (versus 40% opposition), efforts are being made to undo an constitutional amendment that banned legal recognition of gay and lesbian marriages within the state of Oregon.

Speaking of Public Policy Polling, I was looking at same-sex marriage-related poll data since 01/31/13, and noticed:

Alaska: 42% of Alaska voters support same-sex marriage, which 51% support civil unions. More broadly, 62% of Alaska voters believe that same-sex couples should benefit from some form of legal recognition (marriage or civil unions), but only 36% believe that our relationships should have no legal recognition at all.

Louisiana: Meanwhile, only 29% of Louisiana voters support marriage equality, but 54% of them support some form of legal of legal recognition (25% supporting marriage compared to 29% supporting civil unions) versus 41% opining that we shouldn't have any legal recognition of gay relationships.

North Carolina: Voters in North Carolina recently voted to constitutionally ban same-sex marriages, but the PPP finds growing support (4% increase since May 2012) for our marriages. According to the PPP, 38% of North Carolina voters now support same-sex marriage versus 54% who disagree. Back in May 2012, it was a 34/58 voter spread. 63% of North Carolina voters now support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples versus 55% for civil unions back in May 2012!

Texas: Lastly, the PPP recently reported that 61% of Texas voters support some form of legal recognition of gay relationships (33% support towards same-sex marriage VS. 28% support towards civil unions). In related news, State Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth, TX, introduced a marriage equality bill to the Texas State House. It is not expected to go anywhere.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Iowa: 40th Gayest State in the USA

Gallup recently did a state-by-state poll (plus Washington DC) where they asked the following question: "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" Washington DC was the gayest state with 10.0% of respondents responding with a yes and 88.0% responding with a no, while North Dakota when the least gay state with 1.7% of respondents responding with a yes and 93.7% of respondents responding with a no:
The percentage of U.S. adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) ranges from 1.7% in North Dakota to 5.1% in Hawaii and 10% in the District of Columbia, according to Gallup surveys conducted from June-December 2012. Residents in the District of Columbia were most likely to identify as LGBT (10%). Among states, the highest percentage was in Hawaii (5.1%) and the lowest in North Dakota (1.7%), but all states are within two percentage points of the nationwide average of 3.5%...

Measuring sexual orientation and gender identity can be challenging because these concepts involve complex social and cultural patterns. There are a number of ways to measure lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientation, and transgender status. Gallup chose a broad measure of personal identification as LGBT because this grouping of four statuses is commonly used in current American discourse, and as a result has important cultural and political significance. One limitation of this approach is that it is not possible to separately consider differences among lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgender individuals. A second limitation is that this approach measures broad self-identity, and does not measure sexual or other behavior, either past or present.
Given that I'm a gay man who lives in Iowa and given that Iowa is one of roughly one-fifth of the United States that features marriage equality, I naturally wanted to see where Iowa ranks amongst its peers. It turns out that Iowa is the 40th gayest state. According to that Gallup Poll, 2.8% of Iowans responded yes when asked if they are LGBT and 93.4% responded with a no when asked if they are LGBT. For the record, neither I nor Husband Mark were called and asked if we identify as LGBT.

Where does your state rank?

Iowa City Mom Arrested After Police Officer Notices Her Child Playing With Crack Cocaine

Earlier this week, the Iowa City Police got called out to a residence where three young children (ages 7, 4, and 3) were allegedly left unsupervised while their mother was shopping at the nearby K-Mart. According to the Press-Citizen, one of the three children called 911, which prompted the police visit. The mother arrived home while the police was there and began explaining the situation when the police observed something much worse than a false 911 call:
When the woman Tiffany Stanton Johnson, 25, arrived home and spoke to an officer on the scene, she stated that she had left her three children home alone to go shopping at Kmart. While speaking to the woman, the officer allegedly saw her son behind her playing with a crack rock, according to the complaint.

At this, Johnson was forced to admit that she sells crack cocaine. After giving a consent search, the officer found a can with 12 grams of crack cocaine packaged for sale.
According to the Press-Citizen, Johnson allegedly admitted to storing the crack cocaine in a can in her bedroom, which is where the police reportedly found the 12 grams noted above.

Johnson was arrested and charged with drug possession with intent to deliver, which is a Class C felony; possessing drugs without a drug tax-stamp, which is a Class D felony; allowing the possession of drugs within a home, which is an aggravated midemeanor; and child endangerment with no injury. Johnson remains in the Johnson County Jail (as of 02/14/13) on a $25,000 bond.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Christian Writer Matt Moore: "Please Don't Call Me Ex-Gay"

I earlier this month wrote about ex-gay "Christian Post" writer Matt Moore being discovered running around the streets of New Orleans with an active Grindr account. He confessed to his mentors, sold off his computer, and got rid of his phone apps and is working hard to letting this incident fade out of our collective memory.

But before he fades away, he wants to pass on a message to the rest of him. Matt Moore wants to clarify that he is not ex-gay and it makes him bristle when others call him ex-gay. He is still as attracted to guys as he was three years ago and he is still not as attracted to gals as he was three years ago. He still feels that gay relationships are immoral and he's given up the option of finding a life-mate of his own in favor of living as a Christian. Check out the video here:

More power to Moore for trying to live through his convictions. Hopefully someday he will realize that he can be a Christian and a gay man with a family. But I wish him well as he figures things out.

Fundraiser Tonight (02/13/13) at Short's Burger Eastside to Benefit Scattergood Friends School!!

If you live in or near Iowa City, you should snag a friend and grab some supper at Short's Burgers Eastside. I would go there myself, but a family funeral will be keeping me busy for much of today and the rest of today. Why should you go to Short's Burgers Eastside? Because they are hosting a fund-raiser to benefit Scattergood Friends School, starting at 5:00 PM and lasting until 10:00 PM. Short's Burgers is located at 521 Westbury Drive in Iowa City. 15% of all proceeds generated by the restaurant tonight to be donated to the school's financial aid program.

Scattergood Friends School is a nearby Quaker-based, college-preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12. It is based in nearby West Branch. For a pricey boarding school, they are pretty diverse. They serve up to 60 diverse students from across this nation as well as from other countries. In addition to their studies, students work on the school's farm and campus. Most of the food that the students eat is actually produced on their farm.

I've known about Scattergood Friends School for years, but only began thinking about it last summer when I saw a sign for the school along the Interstate. I began researching the school and found that I really like it and wish that I could have gone there myself when I was younger. Recognizing that there's no way that we could afford tuition for this school for our son, I began searching the web for negative stories about the school by other parents or former students. Outside of one comment on Youtube, I have encountered absolutely no bad reviews. In fact, Scattergood Friends School has been repeatedly pointed to as an example of one of the best of the Quaker-based schools in this country.

Despite my strong admiration for the school, it is extremely unlikely (for a variety of reasons) that I will send my son there as a student. But that doesn't stop you from supporting their financial aid program by eating tonight at Short's Burgers Eastside and then checking out their website.

Here is a video about Scattergood Friends School to wet your appetite:


Kevin Keller Was the First Gay Character in Archie Comics??? -- Maybe Not!

If you have read this blog long enough, you know that I'm a fan of Archie Andrews' gay pal, Kevin Keller. He is best known for being the first gay character in Archie Comics. But I found these one-page Archie gags and got to wondering if Archie and his friends are as hetero as we've been led to believe. Check this out:

And more explicitly:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

AFA: "Recognizing Families of Gay Service Members Will Disrupt the Military!!"

Yesterday, the Department of Defense issued a memorandum for how the various branches of the military should treat the families of America's gay and lesbian service members. Think Progress listed a variety of these new benefits, which included access to service members group life insurance, casualty notification, hospital visitation privileges, access to Dependent ID cards, commissary privileges, child care, and joint duty assignments (among other benefits).

Later in the day, the American Family Association issued a member alert, expressing concern that the partners of America's gay and lesbian service members might sit next to the families of America's heterosexual service members at on-base movie theaters, for example. They were particularly concerned that gay partners might be buried at Arlington National Cemetery:
Among sweeping changes just signed by the departing Panetta are the issuing of military ID cards, which will give same-sex spouses and partners access to on-based commissaries, movie theaters and gyms.

Other changes Panetta is pushing for are prohibited by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which Panetta and the Obama administration have asked the Supreme Court to overturn.

This means the military will recognize homosexual loves as "married" and will give a full slate of benefits, including burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

Panetta, at every turn, has exposed the military to open homosexuality, which presents an unacceptable risk to good order, discipline, morale and unit cohesion -- qualities essential for combat readiness.
Keep in mind that the military has continually noted no negative response to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (here, here, here, and here) and they have so far continued to meet all of their recruitment goals since DADT's repeal, despite predictions to the contrary. There have been a few hiccups and a few GOP politicians who have continued to rail against America's gay and lesbian service members, but really all of this blather about problems with morale and discipline and ailing unit cohesion have amounted to nothing. So I have no doubt that our combat troops will continue to remain ready even if the partners of our gay soldiers are allowed hospital visitation or casualty notification.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pancake Supper at Faith United Church of Christ in Iowa City, Tuesday, 02/12/13

Faith United Church of Christ will be hosting its annual Shrove Tueday Pancake Supper tomorrow evening (02/12/13) from 5:30 PM until 7:00 PM.

There will be a free-will donation made to benefit the Family2Family project.

All are invited and welcome to attend tomorrow evening's pancake support.

Faith United Church of Christ is located at 1609 Deforest Avenue in Iowa City. Please contact 319-338-5238 if you want any additional information.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Kevin Keller #7": Kevin Gets Two Love Interests!!

I read Archie Comics' KEVIN KELLER #7 earlier this. Fans were anticipating this story as Kevin was finally going to get himself a new boyfriend and his boyfriend was going to get a rival! That has always been the main complaint about Kevin Keller and his comic book. Archie Comics introduced a gay teen who was just like Archie & the Gang except gay, but then he didn't really have any romantic complications like Archie & the Gang (except in the future LIFE WITH ARCHIE stories where he got married last year to Dr. Clay Walker). But even Kevin himself admits that he's a dud when it comes to dating.

Which is why fans were excited when he learned that Kevin was getting himself a boyfriend and even more excited when we learned that a second love interest was also going to show up and offer some competition to Kevin's new boyfriend.

Last week, Archie Comics writer/artist Dan Parent had this to say about Kevin's new boyfriend and his boyfriend's rival:
His boyfriend is a new character. Devon is his name, and he's not quite what you'd expect. I wouldn't say he's a bad guy, but he's not who you'd expect Kevin to be dating. He's not as clean cut, and he's not as lucky to have grown up with Kevin's family. His coming out was a very different experience. There's a lot of baggage with this character, and Kevin kind of takes that all on. His parents are concerned because in any scenario, your parents want you to be with the best person you can find. We'll see how that plays out.

Then the other character who likes Kevin -- Paul, the secret admirer -- has issues too. So we're introducing new characters, and like every other character in real life and in the Archie books, they have flaws. That makes them more interesting. Even Kevin has flaws. I know it can seem like he's perfect, but we're trying to break that down a little too.
That's the set-up, but how does it actually play out?

Let's talk about Devon first. In the actual story, he's sort of played up as a bad boy. Not really by anything he does, but by what others think of him. Such as Betty Cooper ("That's funny... I don't see them as a couple! Devon was always kind of obnoxious! Much too abrasive for Kevin!") and Kevin's Dad ("I thought that Devon was kind of a trouble-maker..."). The problem is, Devon wasn't actually a trouble-maker in this story. He reacted negatively to a situation where he was almost outed in front of his friends and he got pissed at Kevin for pushing him to come out before he's ready, but we the readers are just left to assume that Betty and Dad are right that Devon is a bad guy.

To me, Kevin came off as a much bigger jerk. He is out and he wants to date Devon, who isn't out. But Devon has reasons for not coming out as a gay teen. His parents aren't terribly supportive. His friends aren't terribly supportive. He doesn't have the right foundation for coming out at this point in his life and -- when this happens towards the end of the story -- we see the sad truth behind that lack of foundation. But at least Kevin gets to hear Devon ask the following question:

Before their relationship has a chance to gather any dust, Kevin gets approached by his old secret admirer, from KEVIN KELLER #2. That kid asked Kevin to the prom via note and then didn't show up. Kevin had the maturity to tell his secret admirer that he would be there when his closeted friend was ready to come out of the closet. I'm still pretty sure that his secret admirer was dressed as a giant creepy Tribble-stalker last issue. But we finally meet the secret admirer. His name is Paul. He's newly out and ready to take Kevin on his promised date!:

As Betty observes, "Yikes! Awkward moment!"

Next issue, we will get to see Devon and James vie for Kevin's affections. Maybe we'll even see Kevin's first kiss. But what I really hope we get to see is some of that obnoxious behavior that Devon is supposedly known for. And I want James to be revealed as a creepy stalker fan for our Mr. Keller. Those three things would really make my month!

Iowa City K-Mart Employee Arrested for Stealing Food

I learned earlier today from KCJJ that an Iowa City man was arrested and charged with 4th degree theft for stealing over $350 in merchandise from his employer, K-Mart. That sounds pretty bad and I'm certainly not thinking that he did a good thing by stealing what he stole, but the story behind this arrest makes me feel more sympathetic towards him and less so towards his employer! Check this out:
An Iowa City man who works at Kmart was arrested for stealing over $350 worth of food just to eat over breaks. 18-year old Arrion Jeremiah Jackson was arrested for 4th degree Theft Saturday afternoon at the Kmart on Hollywood Blvd in Iowa City.

Loss prevention at the store had observed the 5’11, 335 pound Jackson selecting various food items and then eating them in the break room. They saw Jackson take items several times since December and finally confronted him on Saturday. Jackson admitted to taking the food. By using food wrappers and watching surveillance videos loss prevention compiled a list of stolen items that totaled $358.65.
Once again, I'm not excusing Jackson for what he was accused of. However, his employers were tracking these food thefts since December, collecting his food wrappers, and building up a tab until he was well past the point of being charged with 4th degree theft, which is a serious misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail, as opposed to 5th degree theft, which is a simple misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

I know people who were stupid and took something like a soda or chapstick from their employer. They were confronted right away by their supervisor and fired on the spot. Some were even criminally charged. But they weren't stalked for months by their employer so that there were additional opportunities to tack on additional thefts!

Anyway, hopefully Jackson gets himself a good attorney who helps him get this theft charge pleaded downward.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Man Accused of Driving Through Coralville Scheels Pleads Not Guilty

Roughly a month ago, Iowa City and Coralville residents woke up to news that Coralridge Mall was locked down after an armed man drove his car through the Scheels entrance and into the store. Coralville Police arrested 23-year-old Joseph Moreno and charged him with multiple crimes after he shot up his apartment and then allegedly drove into Scheels and tried out a few additional weapons. He then apparently passed out in the store, where he was discovered by police.

Yesterday, KCJJ and the Press-Citizen both reported that Moreno finally got his chance to respond to his legal charges. Joseph Moreno pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including drunken driving, first degree burglary, reckless use of a firearm, reckless use of a firearm with property damage, intimidation with a dangerous weapon, and carrying a concealed weapon.

According to news reports, Moreno does not remember entering Scheels, nor does he remember what he did while he was inside the store. Unfortunately, there are surveillance cameras within that store and most likely they were on so even if Moreno doesn't remember what happened within the store, there likely will be a video trail of what happened within the store that evening!

Stuff Social Workers Say

I saw this yesterday on Youtube and found more than a little bit of myself in these quotes:

I say a variety of the statements in this vid -- or at least some various of them! Such as...

"Tell me what brought you here today."

"What changed?"

"I hear you."

"I can understand that."

"I'm calling about a client about resources..."



Nervous laugh followed by an apology for the nervous laugh.

None of the therapy speech (since I don't do therapy) and none of the fixation on my degree (because most people couldn't care less).

Anyway, hopefully you'll find something to chuckle about in this video.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Iowa GOP Chair: We Want To Be The Big Tent Party -- Unless You Support Gay Families. There's the Democratic Party For That!!

We learned yesterday of steadily increasing support for gay marriage and gay families here in Iowa. We also learned yesterday that most Iowans have experienced positive or neutral results since same-sex marriage became legalized nearly four years ago. However, the Chair of the Iowa Republican Party has a message for gay families and our supporters: Go to the Democratic Party 'cuz the GOP doesn't have a big enough tent for our marriages!:
Appearing on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” show, GOP state party chairman A.J. Spiker, 33, of Ames, said his party “wants to be welcoming and we’re a big tent and we want to have people of a lot of different views that are part of the party.

But what they also need to understand is that there is a gay marriage party in the state of Iowa and that’s the Iowa Democratic Party. The Republican Party embraces one-man, one-woman marriage and embraces the right of the people to vote on the definition of marriage,” he added.

Spiker was responding to a question about concerns from a group of Iowa Republicans who worry their party will continue to lose with younger voters who embrace marriage rights for same-sex couples if Republicans aren’t more accepting of gay marriage, or at least not make it the central point of their political campaigns.
Spiker's assertion says much more about the GOP than it does about the Dems. I mean, it isn't like the Democratic Party is only for gay families. It is for all families -- straight or gay -- and promotes policy and law that supports all of Iowa's families. Conversely, Spiker is reminding voters that the Republican Party is very much against supporting all of Iowa's families. In fact, it favors the legal dissolution of its gay families.

Coralville, IA, Woman Sprays Woman With Mace on Bus

18-year-old Zhene Ball of nearby Coralville, IA, got into an argument last month with another woman on the city bus. Unable to let things settle, Ball reportedly borrowed a can of mace from a friend and then sprayed that mace in the face of the female passenger when she got up to leave the bus!

Coralville Police were called to the scene of this 01/22/13 incident. They found that the mace victim was in pain and had red, watery eyes.

Ball was arrested yesterday by Coralville Police and charged with assault causing bodily injury, which is a serious misdemeanor. I can't help but wonder if the person whose mace Ball used is at all culpable for this alleged assault?

Nero at Daycare -- 02/07/13

Nero had a lot of fun at daycare yesterday -- despite the pouring rain, as you can tell from the attached pics! He came home a little bit soggy, but seemed to enjoy himself. Check it out:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New Poll: Support for Gay Marriage Rising in Iowa

Public Policy Polling released a new poll yesterday that mostly dealt with statewide political leaders, but it also addressed the issue of marriage equality in this state. According to their latest polling data, the PPP found that Iowans currently support same-sex marriage by a margin of 46/43. That's compared to a 41/48 support margin back in October 2011.

Those polled also overwhelmingly indicated that legalized same-sex marriage in this state has had either no impact on their lives or a positive impact on their lives. We are talking 76% of those polled. Of course, I'm left wondering what kinds of negative experiences that other 24% has experienced over the past four years!

New Crusaders #6: Rise of the Heroes

NEW CRUSADERS: RISE OF THE HEROES #6 was released yesterday. It wrapped up the first mini-series featuring Archie Comics' new teen hero series, published under the company's Red Circle emblem. I was pretty excited about last month's issue, which featured the public debut of this new team of super-heroes. The New Crusaders finally got out of their bunker and into the public where they were sent by their adult mentor, the Shield, to quell a prison riot. Unfortunately, they found themselves outgunned by the rioters and an assortment of super-villains. Fortunately, they found themselves assisted by an assortment of former heroes who were themselves serving time for their more aggressive vigilante actions.

Issue 6 was also pretty good. Everybody got a little bit of the spotlight. You could tell that this team is pretty green. Nobody came out of this situation unscathed. Physically or emotionally, everyone felt some pain. The prison riot was stopped, but several key prisoners still managed to escape into the city to cause mischief at some point in the future.

What follows are some of the highlights:

MVP Among the New Crusaders: No doubt about it. That stand-out was the Web. I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much from this pipsqueak. The Web's greatest asset was his mind. Let's face it. He's just a scrawny kid. He was given a super-suit that enhanced his strength and agility a bit. Plus, he's got some weird energy thing going for him and I'm not sure if that's coming from him or his suit. But while the others were punching and getting punched, the Web was tapping into the computer systems and restarting the security and communication systems. Not only that, but he still managed to pull it together and save one of his teammates from a legion of murderous prisoners. Frankly, I didn't think he had it in him.

MVP Among the Mighty Crusaders: I'm kind of surprised to admit it, but I really liked Hangman! He has no powers. He just strangles people really quickly with the different ropes he carries -- hence the prison sentence! When the various heroes split up to take care of the riot and to track down the Brain Emperor, Steel Sterling was teamed up with Hangman and two other imprisoned Might Crusaders -- partially to help out but mostly to make sure they kept out of trouble. I expected myself to like the Black Hood or Deadly Force, but it just cracked me up every time someone found themselves snared around the neck by Hangman's noose! I am really hoping that we get to see more of him and the other Mighty Crusaders who've been imprisoned. They're really all too cool to keep locked away forever!

MVP Among the Super-Villains: Up until last issue, we readers hadn't gotten the opportunity to see many super-villains besides the uber-powerful telepathic villain known as the Brain Emperor. Last issue, we met about a half-dozen additional villains and they all look extremely powerful. I will admit that I know next to nothing about the Mighty Crusaders' bad guys, but I'm slowly piecing things together. This I do know. The Brain Emperor is very powerful and very deadly, but he's got nothing compared to the Eraser! The Eraser has a pretty basic power. He can destroy matter by touching it. For the past six issues, the Brain Emperor has been floating around and forcing others to kill each other and to make a mess of things. Meanwhile, the Eraser managed to effortlessly kill one of the New Crusaders in one panel without breaking a sweat. That's right, someone died in this issue. You will have to buy the comic book in order to figure out which of the heroes in the top right corner picture found themselves with a hole through their chest midway through this issue. I only wish that the Eraser would get himself a cooler costume.

So those were some of the highlights. NEW CRUSADERS: RISE OF THE HEROES has wrapped up and now we get to look forward to a new six-issue series titled NEW CRUSADERS: DARK TOMORROW. It looks like that will be debuting in three months.

Should Iowa Eliminate Straight-Ticket Voting?

The Iowa House is mulling a bill that, if passed, would take away the ability of Iowa voters to check off one box and allow them to vote for all candidates within one political party or another. Instead, voters would be required to vote for each individual candidate. This bill is being sponsored by Republican Rep. Peter Cownie of West Des Moines. This Gazette article indicates that lawmakers are split over this bill.

I'm not sure why the Legislature would want to eliminate straight-ticket voting. If someone really wants to vote for candidates from multiple parties -- something I've done before -- they can choose to vote for each individual candidate. But why should the Legislature care if someone wants to check off a box that would effectively allow them to vote for all Republican candidates or all Democratic candidates?

Personally, my main problem with straight-party voters is that they check off the box and then never follow up on other election issues like judicial retention votes that have nothing to do with political party. But I still don't support eliminating straight-ticket voting because of that.

What do you think? Should Iowa get rid of straight-party voting? Why or why not?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Honey Boo Boo's Mom Down 100 Pounds Since Production Began on Their Show!!

You all know that I love TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo". I missed their recent clip show and then we missed a week because of the Super Bowl, but fortunately I get to look forward to a new special on Sunday -- their Christmas holiday episode!

Anyway, TMZ is reporting that Mama June Shannon has lost just over 100 frickin' pounds since production began on the show back in 2011! Here's the skinny:
The TLC reality superstar says she weighed in at 365 lbs when she first starting taping the show back in January 2011 ... but has since slimmed all the way down to a trim 263 lbs...

"I haven't done any surgeries ... no diet pills ... never went to the gym," June says ... "but with the show I've been more active." She continues, "They have me running around and going different places ... I guess it's paying off."
Can you imagine???

I mean, I get losing weight because you are more active. But 100 pounds in under two years from just getting out of the house??

I really need to get out more...

Family Research Council Gunman Injures Guard // Shooting Spree Avoided // UPDATE: FRC Shooter Pleads Guilty

(Originally written on 08/15/12): What is it with shooting sprees lately? This latest attempted shooting spree at the Family Research Council's headquarters happened while I was traveling home from Chicago. By the time I sit down to write this, there isn't much new. This is what they seem to know so far. A 28-year-old Virginia man named Floyd Corkins allegedly got into the Family Research Council HQ this morning by falsely claiming to be an intern. He immediately shot the security guard in the arm, but was quickly overpowered by the injured guard who held him at gunpoint until the police arrived.

According to reports, Corkins has been volunteering at The DC Center for the LGBT Community for about six months. According to multiple sources, Corkins apparently "made statements regarding (the FRC's) policies, and then opened fired with a gun striking a security guard." I also read that he was carrying a Chick-Fil-A bag at the time. I heard on the radio that all of the major LGBT advocacy groups released a joint press release earlier today denouncing the attack.

I have seen the Family Research Council described by Fox News and numerous other sources as a "traditional marriage organization", which is kind of true. But FRC is more than that. Since 1983, FRC has used its resources, influence, and voice to repeatedly miscast gay men as child molesters. It has used this lie to fight not only against same-sex marriage, but also gay parenting, Don't Ask/Don't Tell repeal, anti-bullying efforts, employment non-discrimination efforts, and other efforts to de-stigmatize LGBT people in our society. They have been called on the lies and distortions that they use against us and yet they continue to spread the falsified "gay-men-want-your-kids" meme over and over. (Read here for more information) Their office and their staff do not deserve to be shot up by anyone for any reason, but it is simplistic reporting to describe them as a simple "traditional marriage organization".

It should be interesting to learn more about the shooting, the gunman, and his motivations during the coming weeks.

Updated on 02/06/13: Floyd Corkins has pleaded guilty to committing an act of terrorism while armed, interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, and assault with intent to kill while armed in regards to this case. He faces up to 70 years in prison.

According to CNN, he had planned to kill as many FRC employees as possible. He also planned to smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in the faces of up to 15 of his dying victims. If he'd accomplished his tasks at the FRC HQ, he would have rushed to one of several other anti-gay organizational headquarters.