Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Texas Attorney General: Domestic Partner Benefits Are Unconstitutional

For some reason, Texas' Attorney General Greg Abbott decided to issue an opinion to that state's local governments and school districts, telling them that any domestic partnership benefits offered to employees in same-sex relationships are unconstitutional:
The Texas Constitution bans the city of Austin, Travis County and area school districts from offering domestic partner benefits to employees in same-sex relationships, according to a legal opinion released Monday by Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Domestic partnerships, as recognized by the local governments, are close enough to the definition of marriage to violate a constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions that 76 percent of Texas voters approved in 2005, the opinion stated.

“By creating domestic partnerships and offering health benefits based on them, the political subdivisions have created and recognized something not established by Texas law,” the opinion said.
A January 2013 Public Policy Polling poll found that 61% of Texas voters support legal recognition of same-sex couples.

Jon Learns About Home Composting PLUS My Favorite Five Comic Books Worms!!

Last week was Earth Week. My office is all about being Green. We work out of a carbon-conscious building. We recycle. We look for ways to reduce the use of paper. We are encouraged to bike or walk to work or carpool. And we now compost. Whenever we get together in groups of 25 or more with plans of sharing food, we're supposed to compost whatever is left over.

A couple weeks later (i.e., last week), I learned that there would be informational sessions about composting. I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about composting. Here is a description of the home composting class that I attended:
Food for the Food” will provide all the in-and-outs of home composting on Thursday, April 25th. The 30-minute outdoor presentation will be offered at 12 p.m. and repeated at 12:30 p.m. The presenter is Scott Koepke, of New Pioneer Co-op’s Soilmates Organic Garden Education Service. The sessions will be held in the employee parking lot south of the Johnson County Administration Building. Session attendees may park in the adjacent public lot.
Wanna know what convinced me to check out the "Food for the Food" class? They advertised that there would be worms and I wanted to see how people utilized worms when home composting. Basically, the worms chew up the composting materials and poop out the nutrients. Recycling at it's finest!

My mind works funny. Something grabs my attention and I can't let it go. The concept of nurturing a composting pile at my home really interests me. I have this visual image of us tossing banana peels and lettuce leaves and apple cores and grass clippings onto this hypothetical pile, watching it break down into compost, and then recycling it on our yard. It's a cool concept. Not that I garden. That's more Mark's, Leslie's, and D'Angelo's thing to do. But I could see myself getting into composting itself -- once I learn more.

The main problem with the "Food for the Food" class was that there wasn't enough time for me to learn more about the concept and the practice of composting from a beginner's perspective in a group setting in a half-hour. It just went too fast. But I learned enough to keep my eyes peeled for future composting programs.

Anyway, since worms attracted me to this home composting class, I thought it would be fun to create a list of my favorite comic book worms. I initially thought that this might be hard, but -- with a flexible definition of what could be a comic book worm -- I actually found an assortment of fun favorites.

Welcome to Jon's Blog's Favorite Five Comic Book Worms!!:

5. Worm: Worm is a member of the Savage Land Mutates. I was going to say that he's one of the newer members, which is technically true. There is this place in the Marvel Universe called the Savage Land, which is this prehistoric patch in the middle of the Antarctic. It's filled with dinosaurs and cavemen, but there are also these mutated cave-people called the Savage Land Mutates who cause trouble from time to time. I'm not quite sure how he got his powers, but Worm is this slug-like guy who secretes mucus from his hands. He smears his mucus on others and then mentally controls their bodies, basically making them into living puppets. I'm not a huge fan of Worm, but he's a favorite for Husband Mark.

4. Bookworm: Nelson Gruber was a laboratory assistant in a university sleep clinic and a bit of a loner. He got shocked by dream energy from the extra dimensional traveler, Sleepwalker, and found himself with the ability to create people and things from books, which he could then mentally control. He let this new power go to his head, of course, and eventually got defeated when someone gave him a book with nothing but blank pages. I've always enjoyed doppelganger powers, which kind of includes Bookworm's abilities. Unfortunately, Bookworm has only appeared in the one story, which is a shame.

3. Squoimy the Woim: I had never heard of Squoimy the Woim until I saw him sharing space with several other nearly-forgotten Archie Comics/MLJ Comics characters in ARCHIE & FRIENDS: NIGHT AT THE COMIC SHOP. Compared to several of the other characters like Cosmo the Merry Martian, Gloomy Gus, Super Duck, and Young Dr. Masters, Squoimy didn't really stand out. He was just a funny animal with a silly accent. Then I purchased a digital copy ARCHIE #1 off the Archie Comics iTunes app. ARCHIE #1 featured not only Archie and his friends, but it also featured the adventures of several funny animals such as Cubby the Bear, Judge Owl, and... Squoimy the Woim. The Squoimy story was cute. He's trying to woo his girlfriend Annabelle with a poem, but keeps getting interrupted by a bully named Moe Squito. Eventually, Moe pushes Squoimy too far and the nerdy worm decides to push back. Like I said, it was a cute story.

2. Maggott: Maggott was a short-lived South African mutant who briefly joined the X-Men back in the late 90s. I think I was his only fan. He had one of the most unique powers around. His digestive system consisted of these two slugs (named Eaney and Meany) who could eating pretty much anything. They would run around and fuel up and then return to Maggott's abdomen and charge him up. He would then transform from a skinny black kid to a hulking blue man with superhuman strength. Unfortunately, he didn't last long with the X-Men and quickly found himself captured by the Canadian government and placed in a concentration camp called "Neverland." He was exterminated with several other prisoners at Neverland, though one of his slugs managed to survive the experience. I keep thinking that Maggott's due to a return to the X-Men or one of their many spin-offs. Frankly, I could think of at least two ways to resurrect him pretty easily!

1. Glow Worm: Glow Worm appeared in two stories back in the mid-80s. I think he's so significant in my memories because he appeared in some of my first comic book stories once I began collective comics on a regular basis, which I know dates me. Glow Worm was this freakish mutant who lived with this other freakish mutant named Bulk in the middle of a toxic waste dump. He had this twisted worm-like body and generated explosive energy spheres. People were scared of Glow Worm and Bulk, so they hired X-Factor (the original X-Men who decided to disguise themselves as mutant hunters) to capture these two creatures. X-Factor quickly realized that Glow Worm and Bulk were essentially harmless and just wanted to be alone. Plus, they were pulsing with radioactive energy from the waste dump, so they didn't want to bring the pair home with them. So X-Factor wished them well and sent them back to the toxic waste dump to live out the rest of their days. Which wasn't that long. A couple years later, the High Evolutionary drained away Glow Worm's and Bulk's powers, which ultimately led to their deaths due to radioactive poisoning!

It's unfortunate that Glow Worm and Bulk were too repulsive to hang with the cool kids at X-Factor. It's likely that they could have actually helped this mutant "odd couple" instead of kicking them to the streets. They could have been two of the greatest X-Men if given half a chance. Now we'll never know.

So those are my favorite five comic book worms. Who are your favorites? I'd love to learn all about them in the comments section!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Two People Stabbed in Iowa City; Suspect at Large // Updated on 04/29/13: Suspect Arrested

(Originally written on 04/28/13): This story might not have made the blog except that I received the following message at approximately 3:00 AM today, which disrupted my sleep for the rest of the night. This is what the message warned us about:
Hawk Alert: Stabbing near Washington and Dubuque. Suspect is an Asian male wearing a red USA jersey. Call 911 with any information.
KCJJ later reported that two people were stabbed by a man described as "a short Asian male wearing a red USA jersey" at approximately 2:00 AM on the corner of Washington and Dubuque Streets here in Iowa City. According to KCJJ, the suspect left the area by foot, heading east away from downtown iowa City. As of 4:00 AM, the suspect was still at large.

The two stabbing victims are being treated for non-life threatening injuries, which is good.

You should contact the Iowa City Police if you know anything. As always with these types of stories, I will share more as I learn more.

Updated on 04/29/13: A University of Iowa student has been arrested in connection to yesterday's early morning double-stabbing. The arrested suspect is 18-year-old Gabriel Badding of Oak Park, IL. He was taken into custody in Macomb, IL.

The Iowa City Patch has an updated description of yesterday's attack:
At 1:57 a.m. on Sunday officers located two men who had been stabbed in an altercation near the intersection of Dubuque and Washington Streets. The two stabbing victims were taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for treatment.

Police say one victim received several stab wounds to the torso area, two of which were near vital organs, and the second victim received a deep stab wound in the upper arm when he attempted to intervene and help the first victim. None of the injuries suffered by either man appear to be life threatening at this time, according to the release.

Police say that the Hawk Alert issued by the University of Iowa after the initial incident generated several calls to Iowa City Police indicating that Badding may have been involved. The suspect in the stabbing indicated in the Hawk Alert was described as a short Asian male wearing a red USA jersey.

Further investigation by police made them more certain of the likelihood of Badding's involvement, and they also became aware of his potential location in Macomb.
Badding has been charged with Willful Injury Causing Serious Injury, which is a Class C felony, and Willful Injury, which is a Class D Felony. He is currently being held on bond in an Illinois jail awaiting extradition back to Iowa City.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Leslie Interviewed for Transitions Sevices Video

I was given a link to a video featuring the various students at the local Transitions Services Center, including my boy Leslie. Transitions is a special education program offered through the Iowa City School District for students who have graduated from high school, but who still need assistance preparing for living on their own and obtaining employment.

You can watch Leslie and the other students working and doing money transactions and competing in Special Olympics competitions during the first couple minutes of the video.

At the 1:59 mark, Leslie is asked "What are you favorite activities at Transitions?" He replies, "Go out to eat with my friends."

At the 11.24 mark, Leslie is asked "What are your future plans?" He replies, "Get an new apartment. I'm gonna work on getting my own job."

At the 14:28 mark, Leslie is asked "What does it mean to be independent?" He replies, "Go to the bus by myself from Hy-Vee."

You can watch the whole video -- as well as listen to the responses from several other Transitions students -- here:


Few Applicants During First Few Months of Iowa City's "Urban Chicken" Ordinance

Only four Iowa City residents have started the application process for raising up to four hens since our City Council approved new "urban chicken" ordinances last December, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. I suspect a lot of that has to do with it getting approved in the middle of winter. I also suspect that some folks who might be interested are waiting to see how things work out with initial applicants.

The Press-Citizen also includes an interview with a prospective urban chicken farmer, which describes the steps he has been taking to realize this goal. He also explains that it's not the application process itself that's difficult. It's tracking down all of his neighbors to get their permission that's been the biggest barrier for starting his urban chicken farm!

You can hear his interview here:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Gay Marriage Updates Across the Nation -- 04/27/13

It's been a few weeks since I last wrote one of these marriage equality updates. Check out the following links (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) for past updates.  Here is a summary of the recent major marriage developments across the USA:

Brisbee, Arizona: Early this month, I shared that the Brisbee City Council voted 5-2 to legalize civil unions for all couples, which would be recognized same as marriage within city limits. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne immediately began threatening to sue the city of Brisbee if they actually implemented this plan. On April 11, 2013, the Brisbee City Council voted to reverse the community's civil union ordinance so that they could revise it enough to eliminate aspects that had upset the state's Attorney General. The new proposed civil union ordinance would only affect local governmental functions such as access to family passes at the local swimming pool or the ability to be buried together within the municipal cemetery. Larger and (I would argue) more important items such as the ability to retain community property within the relationship, equal inheritance rules, and the ability to make decisions for a deceased partner will be stricken from Brisbee's civil union ordinance.

Delaware: The Delaware House of Representatives approved a marriage equality bills by a vote of 23-18 this past Tuesday. The bill now needs to pass through the Delaware Senate. Gov. Jack Markell (D) has already expressed support for this bill and would likely sign it into law if it passes through the Senate. Delaware passed a civil union bill back in 2011.

Minnesota: A few weeks after a marriage equality bill passed through House and State committees, plans have been announced to introduce a civil union bill in the Minnesota legislature. This bill would create civil unions for all couples -- gay or straight -- and leave the term marriage specifically for churches. I guess it's an attempt to protect marriage from the gays. Except there are gays like me who belong to churches that recognize and honor marriages like mine. Ultimately, I don't see the point.

Nevada: The Nevada Senate voted 12-9 to repeal the state's constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriages this past Monday. Anything is possible, but I'm not terribly optimistic about the success of this repeal. This bill will have to pass through the Assembly this year and then it will need to pass through both legislative chambers again in 2015. After that, it will need to pass a voter referendum during the following year. A recent Public Opinion Strategies poll found that Nevada voters supporter a repeal of the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage by a margin of 54-43.

Oregon: This past Thursday, Ninth Circuit Court Judge Harry Pregerson ruled in favor of a lesbian public defender whose wife was being denied health benefits that were available to the families of her co-workers. Judge Pregerson blasted Oregon's Measure 36 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act for being prejudicial, degrading, and likely unconstitutional. LGBT activists are currently gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would repeal Measure 36.

Pennsylvania: A bill (House Bill 1178) has been proposed that would legalize civil unions in the state of Pennsylvania. If passed, civil unions would be treated equally to marriages within that state. The bill currently has 27 supporters.

Rhode Island: Back in January 2013, a marriage equality bill successfully passed through the Rhode Island House. On Wednesday, April 24, the Rhode Island Senate voted 26-12 to approve same-sex marriage!! Because of some minor revisions, this bill must return to the Rhode Island House (most likely next week) for final passage. Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (I) has already promised to sign this bill into law. Assuming everything goes as expected, Rhode Island will soon become the 10th state (plus Washington DC and an assortment of Native American tribes) to legalize same-sex marriage!!

They Have an App for Everything! iPad Protects Man's Face from Foul Ball!

One of the best things that I've gotten within recent history was my iPad. You can surf the web. You can check your email. You can do Facebook and Twitter. You can take pictures and films. You can easily download digital comic books. You can check the weather. You can play video games. You can plan a menu. It's the coolest thing. And apparently your iPad can now protect you from random softballs!

This guy was at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, IA, taking pictures of a softball game. The batter hit a foul ball, which whizzed right at the guy. Fortunately, he had that iPad or else his face would've gotten smacked hard! I tried capturing an image of the ball hitting the iPad, but it happened so fast that I couldn't make it work. Check this out:

That all happened within a fraction of a second!

I'm impressed with the iPad shield, but I'm even more amazed that the iPad continued working after getting hit by the softball and dropped on the ground!

Check out this video. It's pretty cool!:

The Gays Began Marrying in Iowa Four Years Ago Today

The Iowa State Supreme Court unanimously affirmed a lower court decision on April 3, 2009, that found the state's Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, which paved the way for gay weddings. But those weddings didn't begin right away. Gay and lesbian couples began legally marrying in this state four years ago today.

The Human Rights Campaign produced this 38 second video congratulating Iowa on this milestone achievement. Check it out:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Which Are the Next States to Watch for Gay Marriage Developments?

The Associated Press wrote an article yesterday identifying the next five states to watch for same-sex marriage developments:
  • Delaware: The state's House approved a bill Tuesday legalizing same-sex marriage on a 23-18 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate. It has the support of Democratic Gov. Jack Markell. Delaware approved same-sex civil unions last year.
  • New Jersey: The Democratic-led legislature is expected to attempt to override Republican Gov. Chris Christie's veto of gay marriage legislation a year ago. But there aren't enough Democrats to guarantee an override, and Christie has suggested putting the question before voters.
  • Oregon: Gay marriage advocates hope to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot that would reverse a ban on gay marriage passed by voters in 2004. The effort has the support of Gov. John Kitzhaber.
  • Minnesota: Hundreds of gay marriage supporters gathered at the state Capitol this month to urge lawmakers to vote for gay marriage. Legislation has cleared committees in both the House and Senate.
  • Illinois: The state's Senate approved gay marriage legislation on Valentine's Day. Supporters in the House say they're still a few votes short but hope a vote is held before the General Assembly adjourns this spring. Gov. Pat Quinn supports the bill.

  • I'm in the process of drafting a new "Gay Marriage Update Across the Nation" post for tomorrow and at least three of the above states are included in that blog post:

    Thursday, April 25, 2013

    Zach Wahls on Scouting for Equality

    This video promoting inclusive Boy Scouts just came out today, featuring Iowa City's own Zach Wahls. Check it out:

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    Iowa House Republicans Want to Reduce Supreme Court Justices' Salaries by 85% Over "Varnum" Gay Marriage Ruling

    It has been four years since gay and lesbian couples began marrying here in Iowa. Unfortunately, some people cannot let go or move on. A group of House Republicans have attached an amendment to Senate File 442, the judicial branch budget bill, that would lower the salaries of the four Supreme Court Justices that upheld the Varnum v. Brien case, which struck down the state's DOMA law as being unconstitutional. The justices' full-time salaries ($163,200 as of January 2010 for most justices, $170,850 for the Chief Justice) would be reduced to $25,000 -- the same as a part-time state legislator:
    “It’s our responsibility to maintain the balance of power” between the three co-equal branches of government, Rep. Tom Shaw, R-Laurens, said Tuesday.

    The justices “trashed the separation of powers” with their unanimous Varnum v. Brien decision and implementation of same-sex marriage without a change in state law banning any marriages expect between one man and one woman, added Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull...

    It’s not meant to be punitive, Alons and Shaw said April 23.

    “We’re just holding them responsible for their decision, for going beyond their bounds,” Shaw said.

    “It’s not the merits of what they said in that decision,” added Alons. He’s trying to stop “an encroaching wave” of judicial activity including decisions on nude dancing and landowner liability – decisions the Legislature also is trying to correct through legislation this session.
    This nearly 83% wage reduction would only affect four of the current Iowa Supreme Court Justices. The other three justices currently serving on the Iowa Supreme Court came on after social conservatives successfully led the charge to oust Justices Ternus, Baker, and Streit.

    Gay Marriage Around the World -- 04/24/13

    I shared this worldwide gay marriage map earlier this month. It's already out of date! Congratulations, New Zealand and France!! Check it out:


    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    Newbie News Anchor in North Dakota Has a Really Bad First Broadcast

    I learned early this morning about NBC North Dakota Anchor AJ Clemente who had a really bad first day on the job. During the opening credits of his first broadcast, Clemente was overheard saying "gay... f**king sh*t." He basically forgot that his microphone was on. Some viewers immediately complained, which led to his suspension, which then led to him getting fired. It turns out that he was struggling to figure out how to pronounce the name "Tsegaye Kebede".

    I totally feel bad for this guy. It's Watch the video at the end of this blog article. He is so nervous. It's painful to watch. It's unfortunate that this "rookie mistake" was made so publicly. Hopefully, he will learn from this mistake and excel at his next broadcasting job.

    You can watch the video here:

    Nero at Daycare -- 04/23/13

    Nero had an enjoyable (if wet!!) time at doggy daycare today. Lots of opportunity to show off his new haircut. Unfortunately, there were also lots of opportinities to get all muddy! Oh well... That's what bathtubs were made for!

    Check it out:

    Monday, April 22, 2013

    New Superhero Title for Archie Comics: THE FOX!!

    Late this afternoon, I received some exciting news on the comic book news websites. Archie Comics announced the release of a new ongoing comic book series under its Red Circle brand of comics. Spinning out of events from their recently concluded NEW CRUSADERS: RISE OF THE HEROES series (written about here and here), Archie Comics/Red Circle announced a new series featuring a classic Archie Comics superhero: THE FOX!!

    The series will combine the talens of writer Mark Waid and writer/artist Dean Haspiel. Not much has been release about THE FOX, but it looks like it will get released sometime in Fall 2013.

    Who is the Fox? There have been two Foxes published by Archie Comics/MLJ Comics. The first was published in 1940 and the second debuted in 1984:
    The Fox is secretly Paul Patten, a young news reporter and photographer for The Daily Globe, and a former athlete at Penn State University. He has a camera that attaches to his belt. His editor and girlfriend is named Ruth Ransom. Patton's main reason for becoming the Fox was to further his career; as a crimefighter, he is the first on the scene with his camera.

    Whenever dangerous situations arise, Patton quickly changes into his costume, which consists of a black, skin-tight body suit, complete with pointed ears and (in some adventures) a golden fox head logo on his chest. Although the transformations from photographer to superhero are never illustrated (artists favored a simple panel with the caption "Paul Patton becomes the Fox!"), it is assumed that the costume is worn under Paul's street clothes.
    The second Fox is Paul Patten Jr., the son of the original Fox. His girlfriend is Delilah Monaco, who is secretly the She-Fox; Paul and Delilah are unaware that the other person has a secret identity.

    The second Fox wears a black full body stocking with a covered face and pointed fox "ears".
    Judging from the cover, THE FOX will feature the second Fox.

    As exciting as this press release was, it included some less exciting secondary news:
    This thrilling new addition is a shake up to the Red Circle lineup. The previously solicited New Crusaders: Dark Tomorrow will receive a new release date in early 2014.
    Keep in mind that Archie Comics was promoting NEW CRUSADERS: DARK TOMORROW as recently as March 16th! I asked some of the folks at Archie Comics for confirmation -- just in case I misread the press release -- and learned that NEW CRUSADERS: DARK TOMORROW is indeed being pushed back to early 2014:

    From Paul Kaminski, executive director of editorial at Archie Comics:
    And then I heard from Mike Pellerito, president of Archie Comics:
    So it's a bit of a mixed bag. I won't be reading the new NEW CRUSADERS: DARK TOMORROW series in a week like I'd hoped. But I will be reading it eventually and I will be reading a new ongoing series by Archie Comics -- THE FOX -- in a few months. Plus, as reminded by Paul Kaminski, I will get to read a new graphic novel soon called LEGACY OF THE CRUSADERS, which is a mix of new and classic stories featuring the New Crusaders and their predecessors (including the Fox!), the Mighty Crusaders. That graphic novel is scheduled to be released on or around July 10th.

    Iowa City Group Protests Local Businesses that Sell Synthetic Drugs

    Last Thursday, a new group called Iowans Against Synthetics hosted an organizational/educational community meeting about the negative health and societal effects caused by synthetic drugs, such as K2, spice, and bath salts. I was originally going to attend with my youngest son, but ended up getting pulled into an unexpected family get together. It is unfortunate that I was unable to attend. Not only did I miss out on an opportunity to meet up with others who are concerned about the effects of synthetic drugs on our communities, but my son missed out on an opportunity to learn that it's not just his father who is worried about this new problem.

    Either way, it is likely if I'd attended the meeting on Thursday that I would also have attended the following protest that happened in Iowa City this past weekend:
    After learning that some Iowa City area businesses sell synthetic drugs, Tipton resident Brydie Criswell said she was enraged, infuriated and deeply saddened. She said people — especially children — assume that synthetic cannabinoids are safe because they are sold legally. In reality, she said, these substances can have harmful, unpredictable and sometimes deadly effects. “People call it fake pot and they think pot is pretty harmless,” Criswell said. “But this is nothing like pot at all.”

    Criswell was one of about 15 Iowa City area residents protesting the sale of synthetic drugs outside The Den on Saturday in Iowa City. The protest was organized by the newly formed Iowans Against Synthetics, which is working to raise awareness about synthetic drugs and hopes to eventually see them banned in Iowa.

    Group founder Amy Sorensen said side effects of using synthetic drugs can run the gamut of hallucinations, memory loss, paranoia, violence and suicidal tendencies. She said her 18-year old daughter struggles with an addiction to these substances and has been hospitalized after using the drugs multiple times...

    Some forms of synthetic drugs — K2 and bath salts — already are illegal, Sorensen said. But manufacturers are sidestepping the law by slightly changing the chemical makeup of the substances. Iowans Against Synthetics is calling for a boycott of the Iowa City area businesses that sell the substances.
    I try to avoid references to my job on this blog most of the time, for multiple reasons. One aspect of my job is interacting with the local hospitals' psychiatric units. One of the biggest, most negative changes over the past year has come as a direct result of synthetic drugs. They are difficult to test for. Patients come into the hospital displaying incredibly violent behaviors, which are barely managed by hospital staff. It's not pretty and it's not safe, either for those caught up in this new addiction, nor for the other patients or the hospital staff.

    The Den was spotlighted this weekend for protest, but I can assure you that they are not the only local business selling these unsafe, yet legal substances. I have joined Iowans Against Synthetics' Facebook page and will use it to keep up-to-date with their activities.

    In the meantime, here is a video with footage from last weekends' protest:

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

    Ex-Gay Spokesman John Paulk: Ex-Gay For Life?

    PQ Monthly posted an article about John Paulk. Paulk and his wife, Anne Paulk, were big-name professional ex-gays back in the mid-90s. They founded and led a traveling ex-gay road show called "Love Won Out" along with Focus on the Family. He was also one of Exodus International's leaders for a while. He and his wife were trotted out quite often as examples of how gay men and women can (and should) turn away from homosexuality. Their stories were also used as reasons for why LGBT people should have our personal right curtailed.

    Then in 2000, Paulk got caught (and photographed!!) hanging out in a Washington DC gay bar. First, he denied he was there. Then he said he was just looking for the bathroom. It became clear to everyone -- including his bosses within Focus on the Family -- that Paulk was struggling a bit with the whole ex-gay thing. After that, he was required to travel with a chaperone while on speaking gigs. He was taken off the Exodus International advisory board. Within a year, he stopped pretty much all public ex-gay speaking programs.

    Eventually, he relocated to Portland, OR, and opened a fairly successful catering business that markets itself to the local LGBT communities. I'd already heard rumblings about this business and wrote about it and Paulk in this blog article.

    Which brings us back to the PQ Monthly piece, which talks about his complicated relationships with the Portland LGBT communities and his pretty public ties to the international ex-gay community. John Paulk responded to the article with an email response, where he denounces ex-gay programs:
    Until recently, I have struggled all my life in feeling unloved and unaccepted... I have been on a journey during the last few years in trying to understand God, myself, and how I can best relate to others. During this journey I have made many mistakes and I have hurt many people including people who are close to me. I have also found a large number of people who accept me for who I am regardless of my past, any labels, or what I do...

    I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated. I feel great sorrow over the pain that has been caused when my words were misconstrued. I have worked at giving generously to the gay community in Portland where I work and live. I am working hard to be authentic and genuine in all of my relationships.
    John Paulk still hasn't come out as ex-ex-gay, but he has now denounced the program that he helped nurture for the first decade of my adult years.

    My biggest beef with Paulk's statement is his use of the word "misconstrued." What has been misconstrued about the words that Paulk used when he co-wrote his Love Won Out book or when he spoke to audiences time after time or when he shared his false testimony on radio and television programs? There was nothing misconstrued about Paulk's words. As it is written, Paulk is just trying to avoid true accountability for his past words and actions.

    North Liberty Talking about Urban Chickens

    Beginning on 04/23/13, the North Liberty City Council will begin talks regarding a new urban chicken proposal. This discussion comes at the request of a couple city residents. North Liberty currently prohibits the keeping of any livestock within city limits. The city council will discuss what types of livestock could be allowed within city limits, what the permit process would consist of, if they would require permission from neighbors first (similar to Iowa City's urban chicken ordinance), and how this new ordinance might affect city employees and resources.

    Both Iowa City and Hills passed urban chicken ordinances in 2012 and Cedar Rapids passed its own urban chicken ordinance in 2010.

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

    Tell Archie Comics YES to New "Cosmo the Merry Martian" Stories!!!

    I was getting in some weekend shopping today, which included the latest issue of WORLD OF ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST #28. I'd stopped reading most of Archie Comics' digest books, mainly because I wanted to save my money for their original content as opposed to reprint materials. But I've been sticking with WORLD OF ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST -- largely because it has been reprinting old issues of the COSMO THE MERRY MARTIAN series from the late 1950s.

    COSMO THE MERRY MARTIAN was an old comic book about the then modern day space race. It featured a handful of Martian astronauts -- Cosmo, Orbi, Professor Thimk, and Astra. Over the course of the series, Cosmo and the others found themselves visiting an variety of planets, including Earth, Earth's moon, Venus, and Saturn. Each planet featured an odd assortment of aliens and humorous adventures. Unfortunately, the series only lasted six issues. Not only that, but it ended on a cliffhanger ending!

    I had never heard of Cosmo until last year when I won a copy of ARCHIE & FRIENDS: NIGHT AT THE COMIC SHOP paperback collection through an Archie Comics-sponsored contest. In that story, Archie and the Riverdale Gang found themselves teaming up with a whole assortment of old Archie Comics/MLJ characters, including Cosmo and his Martian friends. I've been hooked ever since!

    Getting back to today, I was picked up my copy of WORLD OF ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST #28 and noticed this note following the final "Cosmo the Merry Martian" story:

    You might remember that I wrote a very public pledge to support Archie Comics' original materials, which included a plea to them to produce new original titles. This particular character is one whose name keeps getting bandied about for a revival. And, to be frank, he deserves the chance at new and exciting stories!!

    I strongly encourage each and every one of you to contact Archie Comics by Facebook or Twitter and let them know that you want to see more COSMO adventures. It seriously will only take a moment or two. This does not mean that it will definitely happen. They might decide that there aren't enough interested readers, but this will only happen if we don't contact them. They might decide to just feature COSMO stories online or in the digests instead of in his own new title -- and that's okay!! This would still be new stories featuring this funny original Archie Comics character!

    The flip-side is that people need to buy these new adventures if/when they get published! Hopefully you will join me in supporting the revival of this classic Archie Comics character!!

    Friday, April 19, 2013

    Another Dog Left to Starve to Death in Abandoned Kennel -- This Time in Clinton, IA

    What is happening in Iowa these days??

    I learned tonight of yet another dog found dead, apparently left to starve to death in its kennel. This latest incident happened in Clinton, IA. It looks like a white boxer of unknown age was left behind a home in the 600 block of 7th Avenue South in Clinton inside a wire kennel:
    (Clinton Humane Society operations manager, Sandi) Bartels said the back yard of the home was not fenced in. "I don't understand why somebody didn't hear something or see something," she said.

    Capt. James Klaes of the Clinton Police Department said police have the names of the last owners and occupants of the home and are trying to track them down, but they appear to have moved out of the Clinton area.

    Bartels said she is hopeful that they will be found. "We're hoping that these people have to answer for what they've done to this dog," she said.
    Somebody in the Quad-City Times comments section noted that the local shelter might have turned away the dog's owners due to running at full capacity. I get that, but there are boxer-specific rescue groups operating out of the Quad Cities. Why not call them? Why not get a friend or family member to take in the dog? Why not just abandon it? Why not just shoot it instead of leaving it to slowly and painfully die from starvation??

    And why didn't any of the neighbors notice the sights or sounds of that dying dog?

    This just makes me sick. As always, I will share more as I learn more.

    BETTY & VERONICA #265: "Betty and the Beast"

    I made a public pledge back in February 2013 to support all of Archie Comics' original titles. This wasn't a huge leap for me since I was already purchasing most of their original books. But there was one title that I hadn't been getting that I finally began purchasing the very month: BETTY & VERONICA. BETTY & VERONICA began a new "Fairy Tale Princess" theme last issue, which seems like it will continue for a few more issues. B&V #264 was a re-make of Rapunzel, this issue was Beauty and the Beast, which will be followed by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the fourth issue will be a Little Mermaid issue.

    "Betty and the Beast" is very much inspired by the Disney "Beauty and the Beast" cartoon. A vain prince gets cursed and transformed into a monster. His curse won't get reversed unless someone can show him true love. Not only that, but this expression of love needs to happen before he turns 21. This story also featured several Archie Comics characters (Miss Grundy, Kevin, Chuck, and Jughead) who also got affected by the curse and transformed into talking trinkets. The only thing missing was a musical soundtrack.

    Prince Archibald was the handsome prince who needed to find a wife. Veronica was a witch who wanted to rule the kingdom alongside Archibald, but he decided that he didn't love her and rejected her affections, thus prompting the curse. Later on, Betty's father became one of Prince Archibald's prisoners. Fearing for his health, Betty negotiated with the Beast to have her father freed and replaced by her. Gradually the two fall in love and the curse is broken. I'd worry about spoilers, but it's a pretty straight forward adaptation of the Disney adaptation of the fairy tale.

    I have to admit it. I'm not a huge fan of this fairy tale series. I think I would've preferred it more if they had broken down one issue into three or four short stories featuring the Riverdale Gang in different fairy tale stories. Given that this book only gets released every other month, readers who aren't huge fans of fairy tales will have to find ourselves patiently riding this theme almost a full year. That's a long time!

    I will add that I enjoyed the artwork and the story itself, though predictably faithful, had a few chuckle moments. That "ugly stick" comment by Betty (at the top of this blog entry) was so anti-Betty. And I loved it! Reggie also cracked me up in his role as Gaston!

    Don't get me wrong. This wasn't a terrible comic book. I know that there are lots of readers who really get off on the whole "Disney Princess" thing. I'm just not one of them. I'll follow along until the theme ends -- and it's very possible that the following two fairy tales will knock my socks off. But I'm really looking forward to future BETTY & VERONICA issues where the stories will be more grounded in high school reality.

    Thursday, April 18, 2013

    Iowa State Senator Complains of the Health Risks to his Family Caused by Homosexuality

    Iowa state Sen. Dennis Guth (R) of Klemme, IA, gave a speech to the Iowa Senate yesterday talking about how society has been bamboozled about homosexuality. Tomorrow they're doing this "Day of Dialogue" thing, where social conservatives are encouraging folks to dialogue about why homosexuality is such a terrible thing, which prompted Sen. Guth's speech. I don't have a clue how to embed audio clips on my blog, but you can listen to his 8 minute speech by following this link.

    Radio Iowa does a decent summary of his remarks, while weeding out the specifics:
    The media, for the most part, has bamboozled us into thinking that having a relationship outside of the boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage is positive, happy and fulfilling,” Guth said. “Movies, television shows, articles and magazines abound with this theme, giving partial information to vulnerable audience: our children.”

    Guth said there are “numerous” health and mental problems associated with homosexuality that “ultimately” shorten the lives of gays and lesbians.

    There are health risks that my family incurs because of the increase of sexually transmitted infections that this lifestyle invites. For example, there are more and more medical tests required before giving blood or giving birth,” Guth said.

    Guth said “many civilizations have fallen” because the traditional family was not protected and he argued the homosexual lifestyle “is a lie.”

    If I saw someone going the wrong way on a one-way street, I would make every effort to stop and redirect them,” Guth said. “Simply put, it saves lives to have honest communication not only about the sexually transmitted diseases that shorten lifespans, but also about the deep loneliness that accompanies a life based on youth, beauty and sex.”
    Sen. Matt McCoy (D) of Des Moines came back with a quick retort that same morning, which you can also listen to at this link.

    Iowa City Patch shared reactions from several others who disagreed with Guth. Interestingly, they weren't all Democrats. Including Sen. Bobby Kaufmann (R) of Wilton, IA:
    "I do not find abrasive language such as this to be helpful to the atmosphere in Des Moines," said Kaufmann, whose district includes part of Johnson County. "I am hopeful that major changes can be made in the areas of education, property tax reform, eminent domain, and sound budgeting principles. Comments like these are not helpful nor productive."
    ... As well as Shane Blanchard, a Republican City Council member from Waukee, IA, who previously services on the Dallas County GOP central committee:
    "I must not be up to date on STD Infections, I thought you could only get them while having intercourse with someone already infected," Blanchard said. "Unless he is speaking of some other kind of health risk, and I don't know what that could be?"
    I've already seen a couple groups soliciting monetary donations in opposition to Guth's statements. I'm not sure that his statements will embarrass enough of his constituents to seriously matter.

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013

    Iowa Man Found Guilty of Animal Abuse in Christmas Eve Shooting of Dog

    You might remember this past Christmas Eve when a man named Charles Collins Cutler of Marne, IA, got in trouble for shooting a dog in his yard. The dog's name was Wrigley and he was an 18-month-old chocolate Labrador. The dog and his owner were passing through from Denver, CO, to the Quad Cities. They had stopped for the night and the dogs were playing in the snow when Cutler shot and killed the younger dog. Cutler was initially charged with reckless use of a firearm, but subsequently charged with animal abuse.

    This case went to trial this month and the jury came back with a guilty verdict related to the animal abuse charge. The Cass County District Court jury ruled that Cutler did not have the right to shoot the licensed and collared dog because Wrigley wasn't chasing, maiming, or killing another pet, nor was he attacking or attempting to bite any person.

    The Omaha World-Herald offered probably the clearest description of what happened back on 12/24/12. Wrigley, his owner Stacey Ernat, and her boyfriend Andrew Knuth were traveling from Denver, CO, to the Quad Cities to spend Christmas with her parents. They stopped in Marne for an overnight visit with Peterson's brother, who lives near Cutler. Wrigley and a German shepherd named Ranger were allowed to play unsupervised for a few minutes while the others were inside.

    The dogs ran off and ended up in Cutler's yard. Cutler explained in testimony that he was trying to get from his garage to his home when he was approached by both dogs. He said that one of the dogs growled and made him fearful about his safety, as well as for the safety of his cats. He says that he tried shooing the dogs away, but they didn't respond. Since he didn't feel that he could safely get into his home, he retreated to his garage, where he apparently stores a shotgun. Only Wrigley was still in the yard when Cutler came out with the shotgun. He shot the dog as it was turning away from him and shot him in the dog's hindquarters.

    The dog subsequently died in a nearby veterinary clinic later that morning. None of those affiliated with Ernat witnessed the dogs' behavior leading up to the shooting incident.

    Cutler argued unsuccessfully in court that he feared for his safety and believed that he had a legal right to defend himself and his property from the dogs.

    Cutler will be sentenced next month. He faces up to two years in prison and up to $6,250 in fines.

    There are a few morals to this story...

    1. Don't let your pets run around unsupervised. An unsupervised pet can meet a tragic end very quickly. Plus, you never know when your dog might become threatening to someone else -- or appeal threatening to someone else who doesn't know your dog.

    2. Don't be so quick to pull out the guns. A simple cell phone call to 911 might have served Cutler well in this situation.

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Nero at Daycare -- 04/16/13

    Nero had another fun day today at doggy daycare. I asked him if he had been a good boy when I arrived and the guy at the front desk observed that Nero is always a good boy. Check it out:

    Pipe Bomb Discovered in Cedar Falls, IA, Neighborhood

    (Originally written on 04/16/13): One day after a deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon, residents of a Cedar Falls, IA, neighborhood have been evacuated and nearby a daycare and school have been been placed on lock-down status after Cedar Falls Public Works employees discovered what appears to be a pipe bomb.

    According to Cedar Falls Patch, the pipe bomb was discovered by public works staff while they were working on manhole covers. The immediate area was evacuated and the bomb squad was on the scene about an hour ago:
    "I could see it laying on the lawn. Just a PVC pipe with duck tape on the end," said Jim Smith, 52, who said he lives at 908 Royal Dr. He was among the residents who had been evacuated. He said he'd watched sewer truck outside his house that morning. "They were all standing around looking at something. I thought they were just taking a break," he said. "But then the police came by and said they think it is a pipe bomb that's been laying there for several months and to stay away from the windows. Then a while later they came back and said we have to evacuate."
    It sounds like the pipe bomb is being taken care of and most likely the residents of this neighborhood will be able to return safely to their homes later today. But you gotta wonder why anyone would want to build a pipe bomb (or fake pipe bomb) and drop it off in a residential neighborhood within a small city in the middle of Iowa.

    Updated later on 04/16/13: The Cedar Rapids Patch offered updates throughout the afternoon. A bomb squad robot was used to detonate the pipe bomb right around 1:30 PM today. The detonation apparently "made a small boom and smoke."

    Cedar Falls Police Chief Jeff Olson did a press conference later in the afternoon. He noted that the pipe bomb was down in the storm drain. It was unclear when exactly the pipe bomb was placed there. It was definitely a pipe bomb and not a fake. They will now analyze the remains in an attempt to track down the bomb-maker.

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Will Riverdale Survive Its First Gay Kiss?

    I noticed that Archie Comics posted their July 2013 solicits last night and there were quite a few exciting comics to look forward to, but one that stood out for me -- especially considering this post and a frequent source of discussion in the comments of my blog articles -- was KEVIN KELLER #10!!

    Check out this description:
    KEVIN KELLER #10: "A Kiss ISN'T Just a Kiss!" -- We've all heard of PDA (public displays of affection), and how sometimes it's appropriate, but other times it goes too far. When Kevin gives Devon a simple goodbye kiss, reactions ignite in peculiar fashion. And when one person overreacts, the debate begins: what's appropriate and what it not. What's even more surprising is who's on Kevin's side of the debate -- and it's not someone you would think! So pucker up, and enjoy the next chapter of Kevin's adventures in Riverdale!
    Who do you think is the one who sides with Jughead? And who freaks out? I'm guessing that Kev's BFF Veronica is going to be one of those who overreacts. Just a hunch. Hopefully, she'll get over it pretty quickly. I just think her negative reaction would affect Kevin the most given their close friendship, if nothing else.

    As for the one who sides with Kevin? My initial thought was Jughead. After all, he's the one who first connected as a friend with Kevin. But I'm really starting to lean towards Reggie. The bad boys (and girls) of Riverdale always seem to relate to Kevin. Wouldn't it be a hoot if Reggie backed Kevin when all the more open-minded kids turned away from Riverdale's first gay teen?

    Who do you think will react negatively to Riverdale's first gay kiss? And who do you think will take it all in stride?

    KEVIN KELLER #10 is scheduled to come out in later July/early August.

    36 People Protest Gay Marriage in Minnesota

    I found this on Joe My God. A group of 36 people participated in a protest against marriage equality in Minnesota this past weekend. They tried selling t-shirts, but ended up tossing freebies into the sparse audience. Some guy from Focus on the Family lied about pastors being forced to marry gay people -- because apparently pastors are required to marry any heterosexual, right? And the one politician who came told those at the rally that he would consider their point of view -- and then listen to the other side.

    The whole thing came off like a parody, but sadly was true. Check out the video below:

    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    School Shooting Featured on Latest Episode of "Glee" // Sue Sylvester Takes the Bullet (Figuratively) for Becky

    I was writing about the second installment of "Archie Meets Glee" last Thursday evening and didn't finish it until the closing credits of the actual "Glee" television program. I finally saw that episode, titled "Shooting Star," this afternoon while working out. It started out with the goofiest of premises and jarringly became one of the most distressing episodes of the season. The sad part is that the goofiness easily inspired the near tragedy.

    The episode starts out with Brittany, who discovered that an asteroid was falling from the skies and would eventually wipe out Lima, OH. This led to a series of character interactions, as they begin wrapping up their loose ends and preparing for the last day of their lives. We quickly discover that Brittany made a mistake. What she believed to be an asteroid was in reality a dead ladybug trapped in the lens of her telescope -- and by telescope, I mean empty Pringles container. Silliness, right?

    Life began returning to normal when the school was suddenly jolted by the sound of two gunshots. Kids began screaming and racing through the hallways. The glee club barricaded itself in their practice room. Brittany was cowering alone in tears in a toilet stall. For roughly one-third of the program, we had no clue what was going on. We just found ourselves witness to the terror of those trapped in the school with a potential shooter and no word from outside.

    Eventually, the SWAT team arrived and told everyone it was safe to go home. Except nobody knew who fired the gun or why.

    And then Sue Sylvester confessed. She told the principal that she owns a registered weapon and stores it at the school just in case. She took it out and accidentally discharged it. And she found herself fired on the spot.

    It wasn't until later that we discovered through a flashback that Sue didn't fire the gun. It was her protege, Becky. Becky was afraid of graduating and leaving the safety of school. She was afraid of the world and for her future. So she snuck her dad's gun to school and accidentally fired it in Sue's office. Sue took the bullet (figuratively) for Becky to protect her from expulsion.

    I'm not a terribly sentimental guy and yet I found myself sobbing towards the end of the episode. Nothing like wiping away the tears while riding an recumbent bike amongst strangers, y'know?

    It's unclear whether Jane Lynch (AKA Sue Sylvester) is gone from the show for good, but my guess is that we will see more from her in the final four episodes of the season. Either way, it was an extremely good episode and one that will be remembered by fans (and me) for quite some time.

    My Experience with Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation // Response to Dan Savage's "New York Times" Critique

    I was watching the Grand Entry at the 2013 University of Iowa Pow Wow yesterday when I received a text from my friend Andrew Marin asking me to give him a call. An hour or so later, I learn that writer and "It Gets Better" creater Dan Savage had written a pretty harsh review of Does Jesus Really Love Me? for The New York Times. Most of the criticism was focused on that book's author Jeff Chu, but there was a paragraph devoted to Andrew himself, which said:
    Chu goes easy on Exodus International, the largest “ex-gay” ministry in the country, despite the harm the group does to vulnerable gays and lesbians, particularly gay children. He gives an approving nod to the sneakily homophobic Marin Foundation, an evangelical group that shows up at gay pride parades holding signs that say, “We’re sorry!” and offering hugs to paradegoers who have been harmed by religion. But Andrew Marin, the group’s founder and public face, has urged his followers to target Christian teenagers struggling with “same-sex attraction” because they’re easier to talk out of being gay. Marin has refused to say that gay sex isn’t a sin, and he seems to believe that gay people can change their sexual orientation. The more you learn about the Marin Foundation, the more it looks like Westboro Baptist in the drag of false contrition: God hates you — now with hugs! Chu blasts M.C.C., but Marin gets a pass.
    Andrew asked me and a group of other LGBT people who have shown support for the Marin Foundation in the past if we would be comfortable responding to Savage's critique of him and the group. Nothing harsh -- though at least one of them did draft a pretty rough critique of Dan on his/her own blog. He was mainly seeking a paragraph talking about our interactions with TMF, so I gave him four paragraphs accompanied by an invitation to edit out what wasn't needed.

    Andrew posted my contribution along with several others along with his own reply to Dan on his blog this morning. You can read it here.

    My own response to Dan Savage's critique of the Marin Foundation is listed below -- minus a couple structural corrections that I should have caught before sending it to Andrew.

    Incidentally, I first learned of Chu's book through a podcast interview with GCN founder Justin Lee. I was intrigued enough by the interview that I have purchased the book, but haven't yet read it.


    I’m a married gay dad and father of two. I’m also a liberal UCC Christian who has struggled over the years with getting to know and love (or at least coexist with) people who disagree with people like me in the Church, as well as families like mine. I’m also a loyal fan of Dan Savage and his weekly “Savage Love” podcasts, as well as a longtime friend of Andrew Marin. I read Dan’s recent comments about Andrew and The Marin Foundation in his review of Does Jesus Really Love Me? and was puzzled by him characterizing The Marin Foundation as “Westboro Baptist in the drag of false contrition: God hates you – now with hugs!”

    I have known Andrew and the others at The Marin Foundation for roughly five years. I’ve broken bread with them. I attended Andrew’s 30th birthday party. He and his wife attended my 2010 wedding ceremony. Last summer my family stayed with Andrew and his wife Brenda in their apartment while vacationing in Chicago. I can honestly say that Andrew, Brenda, and the others at The Marin Foundation have always been gracious and loving towards me, my husband, and our sons. They have never challenged our understanding of our faith. They have never questioned my identity as an out gay Christian, nor have they ever promoted, urged, or nudged any of us towards anything hinting at anti-gay or ex-gay groups or beliefs. They have accepted us and love us exactly where we are and how we are. 100%.

    It’s ironic that Dan brought up the one comment that Andrew made at a Christian youth leadership conference where he essentially encouraged those youth leaders to urge LGBT teens to put off coming out. It’s ironic because I’ve heard Dan give the same advice – with slightly different words and reasons. But both men recognize that it’s not always safe for LGBT teens to come out in certain communities. Sometimes it’s best to wait until you’re done with school and into adulthood.

    The Marin Foundation isn’t about being gay or pro-gay or anti-gay or ex-gay or even pro-Christian. It’s about connecting with people who don’t agree with you in that tension-filled area where faith and sexuality intersect and learning how to understand each other a bit more effectively. It’s a different approach and I get that others struggle with it, but I’m really glad that I let go of my initial skepticism of The Marin Foundation and allowed myself to re-think my role in our never-ending culture war.

    -Jon Trouten in Iowa City, IA

    Saturday, April 13, 2013

    KEVIN KELLER #8: Kevin's Love Triangle Begins!!

    I was in for a really big treat this past week. Not only did I read a really fun issue of ARCHIE #642 (AKA "Archie Meets Glee Part 2"), but I was treated to what I believe was the funnest and the funniest issue of Archie Comics' KEVIN KELLER series, KEVIN KELLER #8!

    Last issue, the Riverdale Gang learned that Kevin has a new boyfriend, named Devon. Devon is apparently trouble. You know this, because Betty and Kevin's dad tell us that. Unfortunately, we readers haven't really gotten to see how bad Devon really is. Most of the time that he causes trouble, it's because he's reacting to something that Kevin said or did. When I envisioned a "bad boy" boyfriend for Kevin, I pictured something like Jellybean's boyfriend over in LIFE WITH ARCHIE (below).

    All that said, Devon's a pretty good boyfriend -- even if he's a bit jealous! That last bit is important because Kevin's secret admirer, Paul, finally came out of the closet. Kevin went from being the only gay boy in Riverdale to the object of attraction by Riverdale's other two gays!! That is how we exited the last issue and slid into this latest issue.

    KEVIN KELLER #8 starts out with Veronica interrupting one of Kevin and Devon's dates and essentially drafting Kevin for a high school musical that she wrote herself. Kevin is going to be the lead actor -- whether he wants to or not! Unfortunately for Devon, she also recruited Paul to play Kevin's love interest in the musical! That leads Devon to volunteer as set manager for the play. Needless to say, he almost kills the entire cast in one single fit of jealousy!

    Meanwhile, check out our first glimpse of Veronica's high school musical, titled "Teenagers! The Musical!" It doesn't get any better than this scene!

    My only complaint is that Paul didn't end up being the creepy stalker that I hoped he might become. He actually seemed like a nice guy. But things could change as these characters and their story lines unfold!

    KEVIN KELLER #8 was a great issue. Kevin and Devon seem to be adjusting well to being a couple, though there's enough tension to create some drama. Veronica continues to snag Kevin into her schemes, which always cracks me up. And Jughead makes a great Ed Wood joke! And the humor had me literally laughing out loud from cover to cover. Check it out. I strongly recommend this issue!