Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Dilton" # 2: Dilton Drops Out!

Early last month, Archie Comics published the first of a four-issue digital mini-series titled DILTON featuring Riverdale's resident genius, Dilton Doiley! Here's the nutshell: A busybody guidance counselor named Mr. Pigeonhole decides that Dilton Doiley is wasting his talents by remaining as a student at Riverdale High School. Dilton agrees to check out a nearby private school for geniuses called Brainard University. After some backs-and-forths, Dilton agrees to transfer to Brainard University. However, the new assistant janitor -- high school drop-out/video game fanatic Kenny -- learns of Dilton's talents and makes a mysterious call.

Fast forward to DILTON #2, we meet Mr. Snarley of Snarley Tech (Kenny's uncle). He runs a successful video game company and spends most of this issue aggressively recruiting Dilton to join Snarley Tech's research and development team. And Mr. Snarley would pay him handsomely for this new job. The catch? Dilton would have to drop out of school.

Everyone is extremely excited for Dilton and this unique opportunity. Everyone but Archie!


The issue of dropping out of school appears to be the broader theme of this digital comic book. It's an interesting contrast of Kenny dropping out and ending up as a janitor and Dilton being offered to chance to drop out of school for a job of his own. Assuming that Dilton follows through with Mr. Snarley's offer, I think it's safe to assume that we will discover increasingly similar results between Dilton's and Kenny's situation.

Next issue should be interesting. The Snarley Tech staff don't appear too pleased with the prospect of working under the supervision of high school drop-out. Will they sabotage Dilton's job efforts? Not only that, but Betty and Veronica have indicated that Riverdale High will soon be welcoming a new genius to its student body. Will his intelligence rival Dilton's? Should be interesting...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Married Same-Sex Couples to Received Federal Tax Status in All States!

This might end up being one of those "be careful what you wish for" moments, but the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Treasury announced yesterday that they will recognize all same-sex married couples for federal tax purposes, regardless if they live in a marriage inequality state:
The decision, which was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, marks the latest political progress for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Prior to this spring, the Internal Revenue Service did not recognize same-sex married couples pursuant to section 3 of DOMA. Once DOMA was overturned in June, the question became: What about same-sex married couples who moved to a state that didn’t recognize their marriage (a couple married in Massachusetts who moved to Arkansas, for example)?

Thursday’s ruling by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew provides a uniform policy for the IRS; the state of celebration -- where the wedding took place -- now trumps the state of residency when it comes to federal tax status for same-sex married couples.
Prior to this year, one of the headaches of being a married gay man in Iowa was that we had to do two sets of taxes: married for Iowa taxes and single for federal taxes. Now it will be streamlined for us, which was assumed. But the script will be flipped for couples who've come from other states here to get gay-married and then returned to their own states.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Duggars Coming to Iowa

One of TLC's biggest families will be coming to eastern Iowa in a few days. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, their tens sons, and their nine daughters will be attending worship services at Marion Avenue Baptist Church in nearby Washington, IA, at 10:45 AM on Sunday, September 1st. They plan to share their story at this event. They then plan to attend another event with another large family in Kalona, IA, on Labor Day.

The Duggars are devout Christians from TLC's "19 Kids and Counting." They are not friends of the LGBT community. They have caucused here in Iowa for Rick Santorum because of his "pro-family" values. And oldest son Josh Duggar was recently hired as a senior executive for the Family Research Council.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More on the "It's Archie" Cartoon

Back in late July, Archie Comics and Moonscoop LLC announced a new animated project called "It's Archie." I heard two big complaints amongst fans: 1.) The artwork and 2.) The fact that the Gang are 'tweens instead of teens.

Comic Book Resources released a great interview earlier today with Archie Comics' co-CEO Jon Goldwater to discuss this project. Among other things, they released new artwork of the Gang and I gotta say I like it! The kids are still kids, but the artwork is less drastic and that's a good thing (in my opinion, as always). It almost reminds me (Reggie and Archie in particular) of the golden age art portrayals of the Gang. Check this out:


Goldwater also discussed how they came up with the story and art designs for the characters and why they are younger:
We (Goldwater and Moonscoop) had discussions on their creative goals for Archie and how they saw the show rolling out domestically and internationally. We also discussed the look of it and where Archie was going to be placed in terms of his high school years. I really loved their vision of doing a little bit of a younger version of Archie. This is not the typical teenager Archie. It's a middle school version. It's not "Little Archie," but you're not driving around in cars either. I love that take. It just creates so many opportunities for us.
The article says that Archie Comics is "working on something internally with Sabrina" in order to tie their publishing company in with the upcoming Sabrina cartoon on the Hub. It wouldn't surprise me if this consists of ongoing reprints of old stories featuring Sabrina, but I would love it if we received new stories featuring Sabrina -- outside of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, of course!

Lastly, Goldwater talked about other media projects that he would love to see featuring some of Archie Comics' properties, including animated projects featuring Katy Keene and Cosmo the Merry Martian. He also thought that Jinx would make for a great television show. And then he mentioned dream projects featuring the New Crusaders, the Fox, and the other Red Circle super-hero characters.

You can read the full article here.

Online Petitions to Kick Houseguest Amanda Zuckerman from "Big Brother 15"

It's been a few weeks since I've written about Big Brother 15 (here and here). I actually took a break from the show recently (I'm really struggling the enjoy the antics of most still in the house at this moment), but have been following the show's progress on various social networks. My plan is to return to the show again tomorrow night, but we shall see how long I can stomach it.

Speaking of "stomaching it"... Aaryn Gries recently came into the HOH room and swigged a bottle of finger-nail polish. I have no clue why and I strongly discourage anyone from ever attempting this. Here is a GIF of the incident:
 

But back to the source of this post. There is an effort by Big Brother fans to get one of the current Houseguests, Amanda Zuckerman, kicked off the program for threatening and bullying others, as well as for ongoing racist comments. I've seen these online petitions on both Facebook and Change.org:
Amanda Zuckerman is on the reality show Big Brother.  She is a horrible bully. She threatened to kill Elissa in her sleep. She spent hours today following her around the house harassing her. Horrible bullying behavior and many of us are sick to death of watching it go on and we want something done NOW!  We have watched Aaryn, GM and Kaitlin earlier in the season do/say horrible things and nothing was done.  And now we are sick of it all.  I for one will NOT be watching or ever paying for live feeds again if this is the type of behavior you are promoting.  It is disgusting.  And it breaks my heart that you all are doing nothing about it.  Elissa has been locked in her HOH room all day because of this.  This is WRONG!  And I would hope this is not the type of behavior you wish to promote.  This petition was started because there are a lot of us out here in TV land that feel something needs to be done.  So now the ball is in your court.  But you should listen to your viewers....because if you don't...you could be having some serious ratings issues in the weeks to come.
One of the supporters of this particular online petition shared why she wants to see Zuckerman kicked from the show:
She is malicious, vicious, and has destroyed property (of) Elissa on camera. She forced this contestant to hide upstairs behind a locked door, to keep from being verbally and physically attacked. Amanda has asked another contestant, Aaryn, to share her prescription medication Adderall with her (and she did!), and (this) was documented on camera, I saw it on the feeds. Aderall is a CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, and production did nothing to stop this. Amanda is exhibiting psychotic behavior, and appears on the feeds to be a danger to herself and others. The racist comments and verbal abuse is disgusting to watch. For her own safety and the safety of her fellow contestants, Amanda should be removed from the Big Brother house and game IMMEDIATELY.
Here is the nutshell explanation on what's being described above. Elissa is the Head of Household. She nominated Aaryn and McCrae for eviction from the Big Brother House. Amanda (McCrae's girlfriend within the house) won a contest that allowed her to protect herself and McCrae from eviction. They then unsuccessfully sought to sway Elissa to offer up somebody else of their choosing to replace McCrae. Elissa then began a daylong campaign of harassment against Elissa. She dressed up like an old woman and claimed that Elissa was married to an old man. She made fun of her children and her parenting skills. She followed her around everywhere blowing horns in her ears. She vandalized her property. It was uncomfortable to watch and it was indicated that CBS production eventually told her to knock it off.

I personally don't know that she should be kicked off the program, but Zuckerman is the chief reason why I don't enjoy watching this program anymore. And that's saying something with this cast!

It is worth noting that Amanda Zuckerman has apparently lost her realtor license. This would make her the fourth Houseguest from the current season to find their employment jeopardized.

Updated: By the way, my guess is that Big Brother's producers will fall on the floor laughing upon receiving any petitions (online or otherwise) before hitting the delete button or tossing them in the garbage.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Iowa City Man Accused of Assaulting Anti-Abortion Protester // UPDATE: Video of the Assault Aftermath

(Ma)
(Updated on 08/22/13): Man Juhn John Ma of Iowa City has been charged with assault causing bodily injury -- a serious misdemeanor charge -- after allegedly punching a 78-year-old anti-abortion protester yesterday morning at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Highway 1 in Iowa City. According to Iowa City Patch, the protester was holding a sign protesting abortion was she was allegedly approached by Ma from behind and punched, which caused pain to right shoulder and arm. The woman's husband contacted the police:
As the officer arrived, Ma, unprompted by the officer, admitted he had punched the woman and that it was wrong, according to the complaint. When advised of his Miranda rights, Ma told the officer that he understood but that he found the idea of being anti-abortion "strange."
Ma was charged and released from the Johnson County Jail last night.

It was one year ago this month that I learned that Iowa City even has a Planned Parenthood clinic near where this woman was protesting. She apparently stands at that same intersection every Wednesday morning. I'm almost never driving through that intersection on Wednesday mornings, but happened to drive by her silent protest last Wednesday morning. To be honest, I almost didn't notice her. And even then, her protest sign reminded me of a KFC advertisement for some unknown reason. It took me a few moments to realize what I'd actually driven past!

Regardless, this is presumably the same woman whose anti-abortion protest disrupted last August by another Iowa City man when he grabbed and broke her protest sign.

Updated on 08/25/13: Here is video footage of the immediate aftermath of alleged assault. The time-stamp on the footage is interesting:


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Coming in 2014: Justice League Canada!

The big comic book news yesterday was that DC Comics' JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA title will be recreated as JUSTICE LEAGUE CANADA in early 2014. It was announced that the team will be moving its headquarters to Northern Ontario. It sounds like a handful of the current JLA membership (Atom, Catwoman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern (Simon Baz), Hawkman, Katana, Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, and/or Vibe) will cross the northern border to help found this new team. They will be joined by a new Canadian incarnation of Adam Strange and a brand-new Canadian superhero.

A lot of folks have been fretting about this new Canadian team, but I think it sounds fun. I haven't been reading any of the DC comics books since the whole company rebooted a couple years ago. But I might be willing to invest in this title.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nero at Daycare -- 08/22/13

It was another fun day of doggy daycare today for Nero and his friends. Check it out:

PPP Poll of Louisiana Republicans: Obama More Than Bush to Blame for Hurricane Katrina

Public Policy Polling did a recent poll of Louisiana voters on a variety of topics. One of the final results from this poll founds that Louisiana Republican voters believe that President Barrack Obama is more to blame for the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina versus President George W. Bush by a margin of 29/28. 44% of that same group of Republicans were unsure about which president was more to blame:


Hurricane Katrina occurred back in August 2005, back when President Obama was a U.S. Senator.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

BETTY & VERONICA #267: "Little Mermaids"

I just finished reading BETTY & VERONICA #267, which continues the title's "fairy tale princess" theme. This particular issue re-imagines the story of the Little Mermaid, with both Betty and Veronica casts at a pair of step-sister mermaids. To be honest, BETTY & VERONICA #267 re-imagines the Disney version of the Little Mermaid, complete with Jughead/Forsythe as Flounder, Archie/Prince Archie as Prince Eric, Mr. Lodge as King Triton, and Cheryl Blossom/Cheryl the Sea Witch as Ursula! It was a pretty steady adaptation, but there were enough differences from that story and this one to keep things interesting!

Here's the nutshell version: Little Mermaids Betty and Veronica go up to the surface of the ocean and witness the ship-side birthday celebration of Prince Archie. Both girls are immediately smitten by the red-headed prince. Fortunately for him, a sudden storm destroy the ship and everyone on it. Archie is dragged back up to the surface and the two mermaid sing him back to consciousness.


King Triton immediately bans the girls from interacting with people once he learns from that stool pigeon Forsythe what the girls have been up to! But Cheryl the Sea Witch offers the Little Mermaids a deal. They can sprout legs for three days and seduce Prince Archie, but they can only go on-land without their voices. One of them has to get Prince Archie to kiss them within that time span. The Little Mermaid who fails to get a kiss will become Cheryl's slave. Worse yet, if neither Little Mermaid manages to snag a kiss, then Cheryl gets to choose to enslave whichever girl she wants! So it's really a win/win situation for Cheryl.

Of course, Cheryl sabotages both of the Little Mermaids so that it becomes increasingly unlikely that either will succeed in getting kissed. And then she uses the girls' combined voices to entrap Prince Archie. And then King Triton gets into the mix and there's this huge three-pronged battle between the Little Mermaids, the Sea Witch, and the King. (Well, it's not huge; but it's definitely different enough from the Disney version that I won't spoil it here!!) The Little Mermaids receive King Triton's blessing to keep their legs and stay among the people.

 
As for which one of them successfully woos Prince Archie? I'll leave that for you to figure out for yourself!

I actually really enjoyed this story. BETTY & VERONICA's "Little Mermaids" did a good job of plucking the right elements from the familiar "Little Mermaid" animated movie, while diverging from the more traditional story at just the right moments. One example? Jughead as Forsythe the Flounder! Classic portrayal!:


And then there's a sidebar issue that I thought I would address. Over in the Archie Comics Fan Forum, there was a recent thread complaining about the ongoing addition of Toni Topaz on the covers of multiple Archie Comics double-digests. The gist of the complaint is that she's not in any of the stories. She's been in a handful of stories during the past couple years. In fact, you could probably count those stories on one hand. The general complaint (which I get) is that she shouldn't be on the covers. My general opinion is that she should appear in more stories. She's a fun character and foil for Jughead. We need more of her!

Anyway, we got more of her in this issue. It was out of character and she was a mermaid, but we finally got another story featuring an original portrayal of Toni Topaz in this issue! Check it out:


Next issue with feature a Rumpelstiltskin story featuring Reggie as the title character. It should be a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lily Tomlin Jokes About Wearing Chicken Costume To Her Own Wedding!

(source)
One of Hollywood's biggest open secrets is that Lily Tomlin is a lesbian. Maybe it's common knowledge, but she's been pretty hush-hush about herself for years. The 74-year-old comedienne has been with her partner Jane Wagner (age 78) for 42 years (basically all of my life, plus a few months!), which is big not only for a relationship -- but also for a Hollywood relationship!

Tomlin was interviewed recently for E! and revealed that the couple is toying to marrying each other, though they want to keep their wedding somewhat nontraditional:
"You don't really need to get married, but marriage is awfully nice," Tomlin said. "Everybody I know who got married, they say it really makes a difference. They feel very very happy about it."

Of course, being the funny lady that she is, Tomlin also cracked that she and Wagner wouldn't be slipping into wedding gowns.

"No rings, no bridal dresses," she said. "Maybe we'll be dressed like chickens."
As implied above, there is no wedding date scheduled for the pair -- yet.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Family Told by Anonymous Neighbor to Euthanize Their Autistic Son or Move

Somebody sent a horrible letter to the family of a severely autistic child in Newcastle, Ontario. The anonymous writer told the family that their child is a societal and social burden and that it would be in his best interest to be euthanized. The family was then instructed to move from the neighborhood.


What kind of person does this???

The neighborhood has rallied around the family and the letter has been forwarded to the police.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Iowa's Top Medical Official: Don't Use Tapeworms to Lose Weight!

Dr. Patty Quinlisk of the Iowa Department of Public Health has a message for Iowans: Don't swallow tapeworms!!:
The state health department’s medical director, Dr. Patty Quinlisk, says she got a call from an Iowa physician whose patient was seeking treatment for removing an intestinal parasite.

“Tapeworms can be very, very dangerous and even in rare circumstances have killed people,” Dr. Quinlisk says. “No, this is not a good idea. Even if you can find a place that would sell you something like this, it’s definitely not something to do. You could ruin your health by doing this.” Just because a product is illegal doesn’t mean you can’t find it for sale online, still, Quinlisk says she’s stunned tapeworms are apparently available for purchase...

In the case of the Iowan who gobbled the live tapeworm, Quinlisk advised the physician to prescribe an anti-worm medication which would kill the worm, forcing it to detach and be flushed out through the digestive tract.
The timing of this article was very interesting to me. Just this past Friday, somebody asked me whether or not it was a good idea to swallow tapeworm eggs as a diet aid.

I've heard urban legends of people using tapeworms as diet aids, but never anyone is real life. Outside of the health risk, I'd be nervous about passing it on to other people or animals!

"Archie #650" Goes Bollywood! // Update: More on Archies' World Tour!

(Originally written on 08/12/13): After months of fantasy-themed storylines, it looks like we will be treated to a more conventional storyline in ARCHIE #650. I say "conventional," but I'm extremely excited about this issue! Besides featuring a beautiful variant cover by Fiona Staples, ARCHIE #650 will kick off a four-issue battle-of-the-bands featuring the Archies, the Pussycats, the Bingoes, and the Gladhouse Mads! Plus it features one of my favorite secondary characters: Raj Patel!

Check this out:
ARCHIE #650: "The Archies World Tour Part One- Bollywood Love!": Celebrate the 650th issue of Archie with this star-studded 4-part series, featuring all of your favorite faces from the Archie universe! Raj Patel films the event of the year -- The Archies on world tour! Joining the tour are Josie and the Pussycats, the Bingoes, and the Madhouse Glads! But Archie is thrown for a loop on the first leg of the tour in India, where he romances Bollywood superstar Amisha Mehta! Archie’s going to have some explaining to do to Valerie… and Betty… and Veronica…
That cover is hot!

Updated on 08/18/13: The Times of India rolled out the other cover to ARCHIE #650 by Dan Parent. It's a wrap-around cover featuring the Archies, the Pussycats, the Bingoes, and the Madhouse Glads, as well as new character Amisha Mehta!

Check this out:


The Times of India interviewed Jon Goldwater and Dan Parent about ARCHIE #650, the four-part Archies world tour, and why they decided to kick off the tour in India:
Could you tell us how the idea of involving Bollywood in Archie Comics came about? Why India as the first stop?

Jon Goldwater: Archie is very popular in India and it's a place we love. It's an exciting place and a place that Archie has always embraced. Raj Patel is one of my favorite characters and India is so important to the future of Archie that it was a natural to embrace India as the first stop.

Dan Parent: I liked the idea of starting the tour in India because we have a large fanbase there, and I thought the beautiful backdrop of India would make a nice starting point...

Film Toonpur Ka Super Hero came out with comic scripts. If any Bollywood film-maker approached you to promote their film through your comic, what would be your reaction?

Jon Goldwater: Absolutely yes...

Tell us more about the tour.

Dan Parent: The tour also features most of the characters from the Archie universe that we've seen in recent years, including Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Katy Keene. There are also special guest stars at the end which we can't quite reveal yet!!!!
Follow the link for the full interview, including the origins of Amisha Mehta!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Nero at Daycare -- 08/15/13

It was a great day for doggy daycare today. The weather was wonderful for romping about. Nero got face-to-face with one of his four-legged friends. Check it out:

(Some) Gay Married Couples Will Now Be Eligible For Social Security Benefits

The Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Carolyn W. Colvin, issued a press release late last week concerning married same-sex couples and Social Security benefits:
I am pleased to announce that Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due. The recent Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, made just over a month ago, helps to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and equally, with the dignity and respect they deserve. We continue to work closely with the Department of Justice. In the coming weeks and months, we will develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions. We appreciate the public’s patience as we work through the legal issues to ensure that our policy is legally sound and clear. I encourage individuals who believe they may be eligible for Social Security benefits to apply now, to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized.
This is great news for married gay guys like myself who live in marriage equality states such as Iowa. Married couples should be treated equally under federal law.

But... it doesn't look like all married same-sex couples will be treated equally, according to sources such as Think Progress and BuzzFeed:
The Social Security Administration is limiting payment of claims for same-sex married couples currently to those couples who were married in a state the allows same-sex couples to marry and are “domiciled,” or live, in a state that recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages. The decision means claims from same-sex couples married where such couples can legally marry but who live in a state that does not recognize such marriages are having their applications put on hold for the time being.
Check out these images from BuzzFeed, which highlight Social Security's current decision-making processes involving married same-sex couples:


This is unfortunate news for gay couples who've traveled to Iowa or other marriage equality states from one of the marry marriage inequality states. And don't even consider applying for Social Security if you live in a civil union state such as New Jersey!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Failures in Publishing: "Bible Principles of Child Discipline

Evangelist Doug Sehorne published an eBook called Bible Principles of Child Discipline: From the Book of Proverbs:
This booket (sic) covers every verse found in the book of Proverbs that deals with Child Discipline. With many Christian parents losing their children to the world, this book gives fresh Biblical insight on how to discipline children properly and teach them charater (sic). This book is concise, to the point and easily readable, but contains profound truths that can only come from the Bible.
Sadly, the book has gained attention, -- not for its content -- but instead for the family whose image that he pulled from Google Image to prominently display on his eBook cover.

Yes, that is the actual cover that Sehorne originally used for his book on Christian child discipline: one of the families from Modern Family, which features a nontraditional extended family -- including a pair of gay adoptive dads.

Somebody eventually contacted Sehorne and informed him of the Modern Family on his eBook cover. This was his response:
FALSELY ACCUSED!
Well, I just got a phone call about the picture I used on my Book on Child Discipline. Evidently, it is from a wicked TV show involving a gay couple! Here is the situation.
1. I do not even have a TV and have not for 35 years.
2. I never heard of the TV Show.
3. I got the image from a search on Google Images, which I assumed were not copyrighted, etc.
4. Anyone who knows me, knows I would never condone such wickedness as sodomy or even TV.
Your friends will warn you and your enemies will attack without knowing all the facts.
I am in the process now of removing the book and changing the cover.
Thanks for the friends who warned me. ~ God bless you!
The original cover is still featured on Amazon. But if you click on it, another cover now appears.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nero at Daycare -- 08/13/13

Nero's been rocking his new bandanna today at doggy daycare. Check it out:

Will The Archies Boycott Russia?

I wrote yesterday about the upcoming "Archies World Tour" storyline, which will be starting in ARCHIE #650. I have also written some about Russia's anti-gay/"anti-propaganda" law and resulting calls for boycotts of the 2014 Olympics and the 2016 World Dog Show (here and here). Mix these two topics together and we now have a Russian boycott by the Archies (according to Archie Comics writer/artist Dan Parent):
When asked whether he agreed with and supported a boycott of Russia, Parent instantly replied “Yes. Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four issue story arch I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them.  But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and  they won’t. They love and support Kevin.
Part of me thinks it would make for an interesting story to have Kevin Keller tossed into a Russian detention cell for kissing his boyfriend Devon or for telling somebody "I'm gay." Or maybe chased down by Russian thugs. But that might be too intense for an Archie Comics comic book!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Iowa's Infamous Butter Cow Vandalized by Animal Liberation Activists

One of the annual highlights of the Iowa State Fair is its infamous Butter Cow. The Butter Cow is a life-size cow carved out of butter. Here is a picture I took of the Butter Cow a couple years ago:


Here is a picture of the Butter Cow yesterday morning:


Members from a group called Iowans for Animal Liberation have claimed responsibility for vandalizing this year's Butter Cow by covering it with red paint:
The group painted the words "Freedom for all" on the window of the butter cow and then put paint on the sculpture.  The incident was discovered early Sunday morning. The group said members hid inside the Horticulture Building, emerged after closing time and dismantled a lock on the Butter Cow's case to gain entry to the sculpture. "The paint represents the blood of 11 billion animals murdered each year in slaughterhouses, egg farms, and dairies," the group said in a statement.
Every single progressive group that I follow on Twitter -- including a handful of animal welfare groups -- have outright condemned this act of vandalism.

"Obama" Rodeo Clown Shakes Up Missouri State Fair

Rodeo spectators at the Missouri State Fair were treated to unexpected political commentary this past weekend. One of the rodeo clowns dressed up as President Barack Obama and the announcers implored the presidential clown to stand still and get hit by the bull:
The announcer wanted to know if anyone would like to see Obama run down by a bull,” the posting said. “The crowd went wild. He asked it again and again, louder each time, whipping the audience into a lather.”

Another clown then apparently joined the performance.

One of the clowns ran up and started bobbling the lips on the mask and the people went crazy,” the posting said. “Finally a bull came close enough to him that he had to move so he jumped up and ran away to the delight of the onlookers hooting and hollering from the stands.”
Missouri politicians from both sides of the aisle have come out to condemn the Obama clown incident.

The Missouri State Fair issued the following statement distancing themselves from the rodeo show:
The performance by one of the rodeo clowns at Saturday’s event was inappropriate and disrespectful, and does not reflect the opinions or standards of the Missouri State Fair. We strive to be a family friendly event and regret that Saturday’s rodeo badly missed that mark.
The Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association has posted the following statement on its website:
The Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association would like to extend a sincere apology for the inappropriate act during the Bull Riding at the Saturday performance of the MRCA Rodeo. The MRCA Board of Directors and over 600 members do not condone nor approve of this sort of activity.  The MRCA Board of Directors is dealing with the situation firmly and quickly as this type of behavior will not be tolerated. The Sport of Rodeo is not meant to be a political platform. We are taking measures by training and educating our contract acts to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
 
All Members of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association are very proud of our Country and our President.  Once again our apologies to the Missouri State Fair and the fans who were in attendance and we hope to see you at another rodeo soon.
You can watch videos of the event here and here:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

American Kennel Club Against 2016 World Dog Show in Russia Over Extreme Anti-Gay Legislation

I wrote a little about Russia's anti-gay/"anti-propaganda" law yesterday. There has been much written elsewhere about the 2014 Winter Olympics that's to be held in Sochi, Russia, and whether or not this should be boycotted or relocated in light of the human rights abuses against gay people. There are also concerns about how LGBT athletes and visitors will be treated once they arrive in Russia.

It looks like it's not just those associated with the Olympics who are concerned over Russia's "anti-propaganda" laws. Check out this letter by the America Kennel Club's current leadership:

One of the most compelling aspects of the human-canine bond – cherished internationally more than ever before – is the fact that our dogs love us unconditionally. Dogs do not discriminate. Gender, race, sexual orientation and other status do not enter the equation of responsible pet ownership. That is why the American Kennel Club and our constituency are puzzled and disappointed by the decision to allow Russia to host the 2016 World Dog Show. The proliferation of anti-gay and lesbian laws in Russia today is both disturbing and shocking to our community. The choice of this country as a venue for such a prestigious dog show flies in the face of the ideals of the human-canine bond.
 
On behalf of the American Kennel Club, our member clubs, and the American purebred dog fancy, we urge you to move the 2016 World Dog Show from Russia to a nation that respects and upholds human rights for all its citizens. The international dog community deserves to enjoy the World Dog Show in a place that stands for freedom and equal rights for all. AKC cannot and will not support participation in the 2016 World Dog Show if it is held in Russia.
 
As exhibitors, breeders, handlers and trainers, we teach our dogs many things. But there is no denying, they teach us too. Our bond with dogs is not defined by the type of person who holds the leash. We cannot support competition in an environment where tolerance does not exist.
This letter was sent late last month to President Rafael de Santiago of the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) by AKC Board Chairman Alan T. Kalter and AKC President and CEO Dennis B. Sprung.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Jonathan & I Discuss Kevin Keller's First Same-Sex Smooch on The Riverdale Podcast #75!

I had the pleasure of chatting with Jonathan Merrifield of The Riverdale Podcast last night about KEVIN KELLER #10. We reviewed the comic book and shared our thoughts on a variety of topics, including Kevin Keller's first public kiss, Riverdale's angry moms, Jinx's lesbian mom, and Lady Gaga. It was a lot of fun!

You can download The Riverdale Podcast episode #75 in a variety of ways by following this link. You can check out this YouTube video, which carries the whole conversation! My phone reception was choppy at the beginning, but it gets much better as the program progresses:



This is the second time that I've appeared on The Riverdale Podcast. It's always a fun experience! Jonathan and I are already discussing future involvements with the program, which will hopefully materialize.

Enjoy!

It Gets Worse: 76 Countries with Horrible Anti-Gay Laws

Russia has been in the news a lot recently because of its horrible anti-gay anti-propaganda laws. But BuzzFeed noted yesterday that there are 76 other countries with anti-gay laws that are just as bad -- if not worse -- than Russia's anti-propaganda laws:
It is illegal to be gay in 76 countries. Punishments range from fines to short and lifelong prison sentences, hard labor, forced psychiatric treatment, banishment, whippings, and death by public stoning. The upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi have put Russia’s “gay propaganda” law and the international community on an unavoidable collision course, but whatever happens in February is only the beginning of a broader (and much more complicated) conversation about the status of LGBT rights around the world.
Check out this great graphic:

Iowa Lawmaker: "I'm Seventh Worst in the USA, but Want to Become Number One!"

The Marijuana Policy Project released its "8 Worst State Legislators of 2013" list earlier this week -- and one of Iowa's lawmakers made the cut. Representative Clel Baudler (R) of Greenfield, IA, was declared the Seventh Worst State Legislator, but it's not exactly what you might be thinking:
Baudler and seven other state legislators were selected based on their efforts to maintain or expand laws prohibiting the legal use of marijuana. Baudler made the list for his opposition to a bill to allow Iowans with serious illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Although an Iowa Poll found 58 percent of Iowans support such a law, Baudler said it would be the “top one or two or three stupidest bills” to pass the Legislature in more than 50 years.
Baudler is quite proud of this award and has already gone on record with his intent to eventually become the MPP's most worst state legislator at some point in the future.

Here is the complete list of legislators:

8. Rep. John Cebrowski (R) of New Hampshire.
7. Rep. Clel Baudler (R) of Iowa
6. Rep. David Howard (R) of Montana
5. Rep. Darryl Rouson (D) of Florida
4. Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam (R) of North Carolina
3. Rep. John Kavanagh (R) of Arizona
2. Rep. Luke Malek (R) of Idaho
1. Sen. John Morse (D) of Colorado

You can watch a video of the MPP's rankings and why each legislator made the list here:


Friday, August 9, 2013

Nero at Daycare -- 08/08/13

Nero and Ms. Lion spent all day at doggy daycare yesterday while I was busy attending to some family business. Ms. Lion didn't make the Lucky Pawz blog, but Nero got his playtime activities highlighted. Check it out:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wedding Facility in Grimes, IA, Refuses to Work with Gay Couple

A gay couple from central Iowa is complaining after they were turned away by the owners of the Gortz House of Grimes, IA, for their wedding. Lee Stafford and his fiance Jared had one wedding venue planned, but that business closed down. They then toured the Gortz House, which advertises itself as "the perfect venue for your wedding ceremony, reception, rehearsal dinner, baby shower, anniversary or other special event." After the tour, one of the facilities owners asked the couple if this was being planned for a gay wedding. He then told them that he couldn't accept their money and that he wouldn't work for free. In other words, he wasn't going to work with them.


The owners of the Gortz House admit that they turned away the couple. They are Mennonites and believe that they have the right to turn away those who do not share their religious beliefs. It is unclear if they've ever turned away non-Mennonite, non-Christian, and/or non-religious heterosexual couples from their business before.

The couple has found another venue for their wedding, but they're still angry about getting turned away from the Gortz House and plan to file a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, since Iowa law clearly prohibits discrimination in public accommodations.

Check out a news story from KCCI here:



I'm always torn about these cases. Anti-discrimination laws exist for a reason. It's ridiculous to create them if people are going to flagrantly ignore them and get away with it. Plus, we've seen cake-makers who refuse on religious grounds to accept money from gay couples who then turn around and accept money for Winter Solstice parties and dog weddings, so I'm increasingly suspicious of religious claims by business owners.

But then I wonder why people would want to work with businesses who don't want to work with them -- especially on one of the most important days in their lives. Weddings are expensive. Why invest time and money into a business that will likely do the bare minimum that they are required to do on your wedding day? They don't respect your wedding. Invest in the business that does, y'know?

Interestingly, Grimes' motto is "Your hometown. Your lifestyle."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Kevin Keller #10": Kevin Keller's First Same-Sex Smooch

I just finished KEVIN KELLER #10, which featured the infamous first kiss between Kevin Keller and his boyfriend Devon. Here was the solicitation:
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!
Here's how it played out: Devon leaves Riverdale to reunite with his estranged father. He and Kevin kiss each other goodbye, which freaks out a passing mother. She lectures Kevin about inappropriate public displays of affection, which creates a stir within Pop Tate's restaurant. Veronica records the whole exchange on her cell phone and immediately posts it on YouTube. The video goes viral and everyone (including Ellen) throws in their two cents about whether or not it's appropriate for gay teens to kiss in public.

I really liked the last couple issues, but I thought this issue was a bit heavy-handed. When I first read that original solicitation, I was hoping for more of a debate about the kiss. As it was, everyone turned out to support Kevin and tell Nora Felshop that she's a crazy bigot -- including her little girl! I think the story would have had more weight if we would've seen some of the Riverdale regulars made uncomfortable by Kevin's kiss. That said, it was funny to see Mr. Weatherbee and Miss Grundy wearing a pair of those red marriage equality t-shirts!


It was most interesting for me to watch Devon reconnect with his father. It's clear that his father is uncomfortable with a gay son, but he's doing his best. Meanwhile, Devon's trying to maintain a media black-out at the house to prevent his dad from seeing any of the news footage of "The Kiss." Devon ends up returning to Veronica's home at the end of the issue, but it's clear that relations are improving for the pair!


It was an okay issue, just not one of my favorites. But it's good that we've finally crossed this threshold. Hopefully future kisses shouldn't be so controversial in the future.

Dan Parent, HuffPost Live, and Kevin Keller's Kiss

Comic book fans will be picking up their copy of KEVIN KELLER #10 later today. I haven't picked up my copy yet, but you can bet I'll write about Kevin's infamous first same-sex smooch later tonight.

In the meantime, check out this five-minute interview between Archie Comics writer/artist Dan Parent and HuffPost Live. They talk about Archie Comics' first gay character, his creation, his critics, and Parent's inspiration for this latest issue of the comic book:


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What's Wrong With Sugar Bear?

It's been a horrible year for Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." He's been in the hospital or assessed by EMT crews several times since last summer. Back in May, it was reported that Sugar Bear was undergoing "tests of his brains" following several incidents of dizziness and unconsciousness. He was hospitalized while tests were completed, but they ultimately did not reveal the results of those tests.

Unfortunately, it appears that Sugar Bear continues to undergo tests for these same symptoms except this time he's up at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, according to Facebook reports by the family. We first learned about Jacksonville from Mama June on Sunday afternoon:
Well everyone plz keep sugarbear in our thought as we r leaving mcintrye to head to Jacksonville to the mayo clinic to see what they will say in the am we r all nervous to c what will b done with everything will update when we hear something ‪#‎nervous‬ and ‪#‎hoping‬ for the best...
Uncle Poodle (Sugar Bear's younger brother) offered more details about why they were heading to Mayo:
Plz keep my brother Sugarbear in ur prayers... we r heading to the Mayo Clinic we've been waiting nts for this appt... he has episodes where he blacks out & meds aren't working so got to find the cause & solution, prayin it's nothing serious! Thanks in advance!
Then yesterday, Mama June posted a Facebook update essentially saying that they need to run more tests. Fortunately, Uncle Poodle gave us more information about where things currently stand:
Update on Shorty (Sugarbear, my brother): He's doing ok... had several test run after we saw the Neuro dr this AM. We got to go back for more test tomorrow... hoping for answers soon! Looks like we'll be here all week to run tests and more appts to get the right diagnosis and treatment sugarbear needs so will update more later when we actually know something. Thanks for all the thoughts/prayers/concerns!
So that's what I know. I will post more when I learn more. In the meantime, I offered my positive thoughts and prayers to Sugar Bear and his family as they figure out how to best help him get better.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Police Investigating Two Separate Armed Robberies of Taxi Cabs in Iowa City

I was settling into bed last night when I was startled by the following Hawk Alert phone call:
HAWK ALERT: Armed robbery occurred 10:05 PM in area off Melrose on Samoa Drive with suspect displaying a handgun described as skinny black male mid 20s fled on foot.
Short and to the point.

This is the second armed robbery of a cab in that area of Iowa City within the past three days. In that block of Iowa City, actually.

Shortly after 10:00 PM last night, a Yellow Cab driver was called and asked to pick up passenger on Samoa Drive. The driver was approached by a black male in his mid-20s wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt. The suspect displayed a handgun and demanded cash. The gunman received an undisclosed amount of cash and then fled on foot.

As noted earlier, this is the second armed robbery of a cab driver in three day. The first robbery took place late Friday night and involved a cab driver from Five Star Cab. This driver reported being robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of 2437 Petsel Place in Iowa City by two black men wearing dark clothing.

Anyone who knows anything about either of these armed robberies should contact Iowa City Area Crime Stoppers at 319-358-8477. Callers whose tips lead to the arrest of these suspects could receive awards of up to $1,000.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Peter Capaldi is the New "Doctor Who"

It was announced a few months back that Matt Smith would be leaving the title role of the BBC science fiction program, Doctor Who. Fandom has been wondering ever since who would be the new Who. We got our answer a little while ago: Peter Capaldi!:


Capaldi was quoted: "Being asked to play The Doctor is an amazing privilege. Like the Doctor himself I find myself in a state of utter terror and delight."

He would not have been my first choice, but they certainly could have chosen much worse actors to play the role of the Doctor.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Archie 1's Untold Origin in "Archie #646"?

ARCHIE #646 was released this week. The solicitations indicated that the comic book would feature a space-based storyline on the planet Mars. I was hoping that we would get to see Archie & the Gang interacting with Cosmo the Merry Martian, but that didn't happen. Instead, we were treated to another unexpected character from Archie Comics' past: Archie 1!

One of the favorite concepts from Archie Comics' past is Archie 1. It's a pretty simple concept: Archie and the Gang are re-cast as cavemen. They run around in animal skins and learn about new concepts such as the wheel and jump-roping, but with a primitive flair!


Reprints featuring Archie 1 show up every so often in the various double digests, but we haven't seen any new stories featuring Archie 1 for quite a while. Until now!

But I'm digressing! We met Archie Andromeda in ARCHIE #646. He looks pretty familiar to regular readers of Archie Comics! He and his friends & family lived several thousand years ago on Mars. The Martians maintained a fairly high-tech society, complete with flying cars, robot maids, and futuristic architecture. At this point in Martian history, the planet was really cooking! It was getting so bad that Mars' leaders were plotting a mass exodus to another more habitable planet.


But the people of Mars weren't quite ready to abandon their home planet. The Martians boasted their own super-science teen and he happened to be named Dilton! He invented a school science project that would, when activated, created an artificial ozone layer that would bring down the temperature. His biggest mistake? Teaming up with Archie Andromeda!


I won't spoil too much about what happens afterwards on Mars, but Archie Andromeda gets himself and his family exiled to nearby planet Earth -- which happens to be undergoing a major Ice Age!

The family settles into their new home (a mammoth-proof cave!) when they look up and find four very familiar cavemen and women! The implication is that Archie Andromeda will adopt a new, yet familiar identity: Archie 1!


At least that's the implication...

Very fun issue, by the way!

Man Confesses to Vandalizing Gay-Friendly UCC Church

Earlier this summer, Pilgrims United Church of Christ of Maple Grove, MN, reported several incidents of vandalism due to its public affirmation of gay people and its support for same-sex marriage. Earlier this week, the Maple Grove Police Department released new video footage of a man egging and spray-painting the church.

Now Maple Grove Patch reports today that a culprit has been identified. Not only that, but he has publicly confessed!:
Maple Grove police tracked down Lonny Roseland at his home less than a mile from Pilgrims United Church of Christ, Fox 9 reported Wednesday, and they have turned his case over to prosecutors with gross misdemeanor charges for a bias-motivated property crime.

In an interview with the station, Roseland said he would like to be known as the "Right-wing Early-bird Vandal" and expressed views in line with the anti-gay messages he wrote on the side of the church in four separate incidents in recent months
City Pages shares:
Roseland admits he's the man caught on camera Sunday morning, and told Fox the "main reason" he keeps vandalizing the church is because "I am definitely against gay marriage, of course. Although, I know I can't change it."

"Show me in the Bible where gay persons can get married in the eyes of Yahweh," Roseland said. "If they were atheists, I would not have had a problem with them -- but they call themselves the United Church of Christ. They consider themselves a religious organization."

Roseland says he has no plans to vandalize the church again.
So it's okay to vandalize a church whose views you disagree with. That's what we call "religious liberty," I guess.

By the way, you can check out a bunch of Roseland's Facebook statuses here. I've included a couple of my favorites immediately below: