Saturday, May 31, 2014

Nero Launches His First Solo Album!

I learned recently that Nero has been sneaking out of the house and working with the Ralfi Chingas on his first solo album! My friend Donny (AKA Stuffed Animal) managed to capture this musical milestone with his artwork and sent me the results earlier today.

I first learned of this music project last week when Donny sent me the following email:
If Nero seems a bit more excited lately, it's because he's looking forward to his first solo album!!!  His cartoon alter ego is in New Orleans right now.  Nero specifically asked to record at Spanish Eddie's, because there's a lounge that Eddie always keeps well-stocked with Bar-B-Que dog biscuits. Besides that, it's just a bitchin' studio!
As you know, The Bettys are playing the background music.  Betty, Ralfi and Jonniemae (who plays lead guitar in The Bettys) wrote the Disco arrangements, and Sabrina has a magic touch with the vocal arrangements (literally)!  Midge Mercury is kicking serious ass on Latin percussion.  Ralfi Chingas is producing, of course, and conducting the horn section. Just wait until you hear the songs Nero chose!  Here are some of the mad groovy lyrics he's been singing:

Is the poverty bringing you down?
Is the mailman jerking you 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else's box?
What's the matter with your world?
Was it a boy when you wanted a girl?
Your straight hair ain't got no curl?
Life just ain't real funky
Unless it's got that pop

Dig it!
Pop life
Everybody needs a thrill
Pop life!
We all got a space to fill
Pop life!
Everybody can't be on top
But life just ain't real funky
Unless it's got that pop
Dig it!

Who says Disco lyrics aren't about anything?  Nero refuses to sing dumb lyrics; he's a progressive pooch!
If those lyrics look familiar, that's because Nero is all about Prince in his debut album. The reasoning -- I'm assuming -- is two-fold. First, Nero really likes the musician who once gave up his name for a symbol. And secondly, Nero's own birth dad was named Prince. As Nero just told me, "My music is my roots." It's all full circle for our favorite poodle!

Check out this pics:

In case you missed it in that final pic, there has been a lot of speculation -- mostly by corrupt music mogul Jason Blossom -- about whether Nero sings his own music or if it's really me?? I can assure each and every one of you that the warbling voice singing on Nero's new CD is definitely not me!

Thanks again, Stuffed Animal!

The Dawn of X Begins in MEGA MAN #37

MEGA MAN #37 was released this week. This is the beginning of a four-part "Dawn of X" storyline featuring the historic first meeting of Mega Man and X (Mega Man X). I wrote about the lead ups to this storyline here and here. I will say one thing about this cross-over. Neither of the characters actually manage to cross over and meet each other -- yet! But everything has been laid out for their first meeting, presumably next issue.

Meanwhile, there appear to be four main players in this story:

X: X is the first of a future line of living robots, also known as Reploids. Since being activated by Dr. Cain, X has been struggling to find his way in the world. So far, we have seen Arcadia City rocked by robotic attacks on human by Maverick Reploids. But MEGA MAN #37 introduces an extra challenge by anti-robot human terrorists known as the Emerald Spears. They are doing their best to get humanity to reject the robots around them:

Mega Man: The present-day adventures of Mega Man begin in the Badlands, where Mega Man and two Robot Master allies (Pharaoh Man and Bright Man) checking out one of Dr. Wily's secret laboratories looking for a host of evil Robot Masters who stole some powerful technology last issue (here for more information). The lab is supposed to be devoid of active security devices, but we quickly discover that this isn't the case. Fortunately, Dr. Wily is back at Light Labs remotely directing them around his traps. In theory, anyway...

Dr. Wily: Speaking of the reformed robot engineer, one has got to wonder why fewer people aren't questioning his role in last issue's Robot Master attack? I know they've bought into the idea that he was mind-controlled by Ra Moon, but he's always been a selfish, unstable fellow. You would think that they'd keep him on a shorter leash. Instead, they are deferring to him to keep Mega Man & Friends safe from harm.

Xander Payne: Meanwhile, we learn that present-day Emerald Spear terrorist Xander Payne has infiltrated the Chronos Institute. He has a time-traveling scheme to halt the "robot revolution" before it begins. He uses the technology at the Chronos Institute to jump into the time-stream, implying that he's traveling backwards in time. Which is confusing since this crossover will have Mega Man meet X one hundred years from now. But I'm sure it will all make sense eventually!

The issue ends with a battle between Mega Man and a giant Wily Walker robot. This thing is tough and loaded with all sorts of nasty weapons. Things really aren't looking good for our Mega Man -- both in the present and in the future.

The issue ends with X intersecting with the remains of this battle. Once again, it's not looking good for Mega Man. Then again, we know that he has at least three additional issues in this comic book series, so chances are that he will survive one way or the other!

"Secrets in the Deep" is written by Ian Flynn, penciled by Jamal Peppers, and inked by Gary Martin.

Iowa's Gov. Branstad Signs "Cannabis Oil" Bill into Law

You might remember that the Iowa Legislature was working last month on narrowly focused medical marijuana bill. More specifically, this bill would make it legal for Iowans to legally access cannabis oil to relieve an uncontrolled seizure condition. The bill moved through Iowa's House and Senate pretty quickly, but it was unclear for nearly a month if Gov. Terry Branstad would sign this bill into law.

Gov. Branstad finally signed that bill into law yesterday:
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has signed into law a bill that legalizes the use of cannabis oil to treat severe epilepsy... The cannabis bill is a victory for mothers of children with epilepsy who persistently lobbied lawmakers.
There is one major drawback to our new "cannabis oil" law. It's not legal to produce or sell it in Iowa. So Iowans who need it will be required to travel out of state to obtain it. I'm not sure if it's legal to mail it in from another state. Still, it's a step in the right direction!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Iowa City Man to Compete on "The Price is Right" // Did He Win or Did He Not?? Update Posted Below!

(Originally written on 05/28/14): The Press-Citizen reported today that an Iowa City man named Chase Brower recently competed on CBS' "The Price is Right" game show while away at a bachelor party vacation in Hollywood. He got called from the audience to compete:
"It was crazy," he said. "It was just so overwhelmingly amazing. I've never felt that much … I can't quite describe …. Everyone is rooting for everyone, regardless if you knew the people or not. People were just ecstatic being on the show, cheering for strangers."

Brower said when he was chosen as a contestant, he stood there in disbelief. "I just kind of stood there, like, are you kidding me?" he said. "I turned to my buddies and started going nuts and jumped on my buddies."
Brower cannot reveal if or what prizes he won until after the game airs tomorrow morning. Good luck!

Updated on 05/30/14: I don't usually get to watch daytime television due to work, so I missed this episode of "The Price is Right." But I was hoping to provide an update to this story. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything in the local media. So I reached out to the Press-Citizen on Twitter and learned that Chase Brower unfortunately did not win a prize:

So there you have it. He didn't win any prizes, but he won a once in a lifetime experience!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

American Family Association: Boycott Harvey Milk Stamps!

I wrote last month about the new "Harvey Milk Stamps" available from the United States Postal Service. They officially went on sale last week.

The American Family Association is not happy about the Harvey Milk stamp, claiming that he was drug addict and a sexual predator who should never have been given a stamp. Because of this, they want you to boycott this stamp -- and any letter attached to this stamp!:
Unfortunately, the deed is done. The United States Postal Service honored a child predator at the whim of a drag queen...  

Furthermore, the radical homosexual lobby will undoubtedly encourage businesses to use these stamps - all in the name of inclusiveness, political correctness and diversity. This is not diversity; this is perversity. 

What you can do… 

1. Refuse to accept the Harvey Milk stamp if offered by your local post office. Instead, ask for a stamp of the United States flag. 

2. Refuse to accept mail at your home or business if it is postmarked with the Harvey Milk stamp. Simply write 'Return to Sender" on the envelope and tell your postman you won't accept it.
I love how they assume that gay people like me are going to rush out to every local business to ensure that they are purchasing Harvey Milk stamps -- like I have nothing better to worry about!

Johnson County Board of Supervisors Approved "Pride Month 2014" Proclamation

The Board of Supervisors here in Johnson County, IA, voted 4-1 in favor of a Pride Month proclamation earlier today. Here is the content of today's Pride Month proclamation:
JUNE 2014

WHEREAS, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people across the nation celebrate pride in their culture and community in the month of June; and

WHEREAS, the whole community is strengthened and enhanced through the contributions of all its diverse citizens; and

WHEREAS, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in Johnson County will celebrate Pride Month in June with a parade and festival on June 21, 2014.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, do hereby proclaim the month of June 2014 to be:


and encourage Johnson County residents to recognize the many contributions that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals and communities have made to our County.
Republican Supervisor John Etheredge voted against the proclamation, indicating that he has no problems with "people who are gay, transgendered, or whatnot," but he has a problem with devoting an entire month to Pride when "we don't do that for anything else" (except for County Government Month, or Donate Life Month, or Foster Care Month, etc...). But if it had been a Pride Day Proclamation or possibly a Pride Week Proclamation, he says he likely would have voted to support it.

I don't personally care if Etheredge voted against the Pride Proclamation or that it wasn't an unanimous vote. I don't expect his support so I'm not disappointed when I don't get it. But I know some of the other Supervisors were upset by both his no vote and by his explanation. They were also upset by him posing with Pride Committee representative Jewell Amos in a photo op after voting against her proclamation.

But the important part is that the Pride Month Proclamation was approved by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and at least one Board representative will publicly read it next month at our local Pride celebration.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Iowa City Woman to Compete on "Let's Make a Deal" // Updated: Iowa City Woman Wins Car on "Let's Make a Deal!"

(Originally written on 05/21/14): An Iowa City woman named Lauren Willberg will be doing something that I've often fantasized about. She will be appearing on "Let's Make a Deal!"

I don't get to watch this program often because of work conflicts, but I've really enjoyed both incarnations of this game show. Audience members show up wearing crazy costumes and compete to win money and prizes by choosing the right curtain or box. You might win a car, but you are just as likely to win an angora goat! The first incarnation of the game show was hosted by Monty Hall, but the current incarnation has been hosted by Wayne Brady.

Ms. Willberg's appearance on "Let's Make a Deal" will be broadcast on CBS on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Hopefully she will win big!

Updated on 05/28/14: We learned more about this experience. Turns out that Lauren and Lee Willberg of Iowa City did indeed win big today on "Let's Make a Deal"! Lauren was the second audience member who got to play and she ended up winning a white 2014 Volkswagen Jetta.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TrekFest 2014: Generations! // Guest-Starring Martok & Gowron!!

The Riverside Area Community Club has announced the full itinerary of next month's TrekFest XXX, over in nearby Riverside, IA. TrekFest is an annual celebration of the official future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk. In past years, they have pulled in actors from the original Star Trek television series, but most years it's an excuse to have a lot of fun with a bit of a small town science fiction flavor.

TrekFest XXX's theme is "Generations." It is scheduled this year for June 27-28, 2014.

Here is a schedule of some of the highlights from this year's TrekFest:
Friday, June 27. 2014

6:30 PM -- Kids Parade with the theme "Generations"!

7:00 PM -- Pet Show! Big & Small Pets Welcome!

7:00 PM -- Star Trek Trivia!! at the Railroad Park Pavilion

7:30 PM -- Demolition Derby!! $10 admission for adults and free to children ages 12 and under!

7:30 PM -- Lawn Mower Demo Derby!!

9:00 PM -- Sky-Watching
with the Cedar Amateur Astronomers, Inc. behind the Riverside Elementary School.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

8:00 AM -- Volleyball Tournament. This is a team event and pre-registration/payment of entry fee is required.

10:00 AM -- Parade with the theme "Generations"!
12:00 PM -- Federation Games

1:00 PM -- Costume Contest

1:00 PM -- Lone Tree Garden Tractor Pullers

2:30 PM -- The Bill Riley State Fair Talent Show located at the Main Stage at Hall Park.

3:00 PM -- Golf Cart Rodeo located at the Main Stage at Hall Park.

10:00 PM -- Fireworks located at Hall Park.

There are several bands scheduled throughout the weekend, but there is also one last big event that sounds really cool:

4:00 PM on 06/28/14 -- Meet and Greet the Stars!!!  This will take place at the Riverside City Hall. There is limited seating and it is $30 per person. This year will feature two stars from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: JG Hertzler (AKA General Martok) and Robert O'Reilly (AKA Chancellor Gowron)!!!

Additionally, one ticket holder will receive a Klingon makeup makeover by professional makeup artist John Paladin!!

Sadly, I will be unable to attend this year's Trek Fest due to another obligation -- but I highly recommend that others attend. Those DS9 actors are nothing but great!

U.S. Census Bureau to Count Gay Married Families as Actual Families

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced that it will begin counting married gay couples along with America's other families:
The Census Bureau, which struggles to keep up with the rapid changes in American life, is about to start categorizing same-sex married couples as families. 

The 2013 American Community Survey results, which will be reported in September, will mark the first time the census integrates an estimated 180,000 same-sex married couples with statistics concerning the nation’s 56 million families. Until now, they had been categorized as unmarried partners, even when couples reported themselves as spouses.

Because of the large disparity between the number of gay and straight married households, combining the two is not expected to have a significant effect on the statistics that scholars and planners use to analyze how families are changing. Its significance is largely symbolic of the growing acceptance of gays in American society. “I think the American public already thinks same-sex married couples are families, and the Census Bureau is just catching up with public opinion,” said Andrew J. Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University who studies families.
Up until now, gay families like mine have been reporting our family data to the Census Bureau and they have been segregating our family data apart from heterosexual families.

Starting in 2016, Americans will be offered four separate family options for the Census: opposite-sex spouses, opposite-sex unmarried partners, same-sex spouses, or same-sex partners. People will also be able to identify if they are in civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Nero at Daycare -- 05/27/14

It's kind of hot today in Iowa City. Not as hot as it will get, but pretty hot anyway -- especially if you are a furry dog. Fortunately, Lucky Pawz filled up their swimming pool.

In other words, Nero is all wet! Check this out:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day -- 2014

New HIV Diagnoses in Iowa Slightly Increased in 2013

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced increased diagnoses of HIV in Iowa during the past year. 122 Iowans were diagnosed with HIV in 2013, which was up from 117 new cases in 2012.

Most of these new cases were men. 34 of the new cases were women. 50 of the new cases were people over the age of 45.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review: "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

Husband Mark and I went to watch "X-Men: Days of Future Past" yesterday afternoon. It's the latest in a string of movies featuring Marvel Comics' X-Men and Wolverine characters.

It's based off an infamous 1981 Uncanny X-Men storyline originally created by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin. It told of a dark future where Marvel's mutants were being rounded up by robotic Sentinels and placed in concentration camps to await execution. The future X-Men telepathically transported the adult Kate Pryde into the mind of her present-day self. She then had to convince the present-day X-Men to help her stop Mystique from killing Senator Robert Kelly, whose death will jumpstart the anti-mutant hysteria that leads to the Sentinels and mutant concentration camps.

Now replace the underlined words with adult Kate Pryde, Wolverine, young Charles Xavier & Magneto, and Bolivar Trask and you have the basic storyline for the X-Men: Days of Future Present movie. The rest are just details -- and there are a lot of great details! Such as...

1. Quicksilver: They introduced a young version of Quicksilver in this movie and did a great job of portraying his powers in action coming from his own perspective.

2. The future X-Men were pretty kick-ass. They consisted of Kate Pryde, Bishop, Sunspot, Iceman, Colossus, Blink, and Warpath. They have a pretty cool method of surviving. Warpath keeps watch for the Sentinels once their bases get noticed. Kate then uses her phasing powers to send Bishop's mind back in time a day or two to warn the X-Men of the attack. Blink finds them a new home and they end up escaping the Sentinels before they arrive.

3. Pretty much everyone from past movies returns -- if only for a cameo. That includes old Xavier & Magneto; young Xavier & Magneto; Storm; old Beast; young Beast; Havok; Jean; Cyclops; Rogue; Havok; etc... I think the only X-Men who doesn't make an appearance is Nightcrawler.

I have a confession to make. I have loved pretty much all of Marvel Comics' Avengers-themed movies. But I've watched the X-Men films more out of loyalty. There are usually enough bits to keep things interesting and I admit that I enjoyed the previous film more than the others, but this hasn't been my favorite film franchise. But I really liked X-Men: Days of Future Present. It was great story, character movement, adventure, and believable special effects. Those factors all combined effectively in this movie.

This is definitely a movie to check out.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ultimate Spider-Man to Join the All New X-Men??

So I was visiting Bleeding Cool tonight, which directed me to Brian Bendis' tumblr page tonight, which blew my mind tonight:

From Mr. Bendis:
Cover to All new X-Men 32 By Sarah Pichelli

this is real!

have a nice weekend :-)
I really don't know what to think of this. I like Ultimate Spider-Man. And I like the All New X-Men. I'm just not sure if I like them together.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Urbandale School Board Policy Against Satanic Clothing Challenged

The school board in Urbandale, IA, is facing a challenge from five high school seniors regarding religious expression. Apparently, the school district allows you to openly express your religious beliefs when at school -- unless you are a Satan worshiper. These students want that policy to change:
Graduating senior Jake Thompson showed up at the Urbandale school board meeting earlier this month to advocate for students who worship Satan as part of their religion. The students should be able to wear T-shirts that represent their beliefs just like anyone else, he said, yet the district's student dress code specifically prohibits "satanic symbols..."

But Thompson wasn't done yet. He returned to Monday's school board meeting and brought along other recent graduates to echo their beliefs that students should be allowed religious freedom in the dress code.

Four students addressed the school board on the topic. Although none said they actually know any Satan worshipers, they believe students with that belief should have the same religious freedoms as any other student.
The Urbandale School Board didn't comment on this request during either of their most recent meetings.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Leslie at Graduation -- 05/21/14

I spent a couple hours yesterday attending my oldest boy's graduation from the Transitions Services Center. He graduated two years ago from City High School, but formally ends his special education services later this month. Leslie was one of eight students who participated in yesterday's ceremony. We were treated to music and to tributes to each student's strengths and achievements.

Congratulations Leslie!

Nero at Daycare -- 05/22/14

Nero was enjoying the warm weather today during doggy daycare! Check this out:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

And Pennsylvania Makes 19!!

Sorry it took me a couple days to get to this one! U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III ruled yesterday against Pennsylvania's DOMA law, claiming that it is unconstitutional and that it violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was unclear to me if they were going to appeal that decision, which is why I didn't immediately post about this decision. But we learned earlier this afternoon that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's administration will not appeal yesterday's decision.

That means that Pennsylvania is now the 19th marriage equality state -- plus Washington DC plus eight different Native American tribal governments!!


ARCHIE #655: Who Are the Good Guys of the Galaxy??

Fans of Archie Comics were treated to a great riff on Marvel Comics' Guardians of the Galaxy in ARCHIE #655! It's a fun space story where Archie and Jughead help Cosmo the Merry Martian repair his damaged flying saucer (reminiscent of this "Archie: Riverdale Rescue" scene!) and then find themselves recruited for a battle against one of the Galaxy's greatest menaces!

Readers had known about Cosmo's appearance in this issue, but an even bigger surprise came with the appearances of several other characters from Archie Comics' vault of nearly forgotten characters:

Captain Sprocket is a human superhero from the 1960's era ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE comic book. Captain Sprocket is known as the "world's only 3-in-1 hero." His powers include super-strength, flight, and spouting bad puns!

Captain Pumpernik is a space adventurer, also from the ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE comic book. He is a vegetarian vampire who would rather explore the moon than skulk in catacombs. I was probably most excited to see this rare character than any of these other Galactic Good Guys!

Super Duck is a 1940's era character. He had an ongoing comic book for nearly 20 years. If you ever get the chance, you should read some of his adventures. My biggest complaint about Super Duck's few contemporary appearances is that he's usually portrayed as a super-juggernaut. But the truth is that Super Duck was much more like Donald Duck (with a few Popeye the Sailor spinach moments during his first appearances) than he was ever like Krypto.

Lastly, we met Cat Girl. I'm pretty certain that she was a love interest to Red Circle's original Jaguar character -- or at least inspired by her, including her costume. She possess the typical cat-themed powers -- speed, agility, and claws. She also shares to strong attraction to Archie Andrews.

The Good Guys of the Galaxy have gathered in order to defeat the cosmic curse known as Ha'cha the Hottie. Not only does she boast ferocious flame powers, but she possesses a reality-warping gauntlet called the Miracle Mitten which causes nothing but trouble!

It's really unclear if Archie and the Good Guys can pull it together enough to defeat Ha'cha and her Cosmic Cuties. Will Archie sacrifice it all in order to save his new buddies?

"The Good Guys of the Galaxy" was written by Tom DeFalco, penciled by Fernando Ruiz, and inked by Rick Koslowski. It is a great story from start to finish. The humor is fresh and the artwork is some of the best Fernando Ruiz work that I've seen in a while. It's highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Archie Comics to Publish New "Sabrina" & "Mighty Crusader" Series // Both Comic Books Geared Towards Mature Audiences

The Diamond Retailer Summit just happened over in Las Vegas this past weekend. I don't know much about this summit, but I do know that there were lots of revelations from the different comic book companies. I was not impressed with much coming out of Marvel Comics (with the possible exception of the upcoming GUARDIANS 3000 and ROCKET RACCOON comic book series).

But Bleeding Cool shared a couple new projects coming out of Archie Comics in the future that got me all excited!

First, there is the new SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH series, which sounds like it will be a spin-off of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE. But it might just be created in the spirit of Archie Comics' zombie juggernaut book. SABRINA will be published as "an out-and-out horror comic." This book is supposed to debut in October 2014.

Then I learned today about a new line of Red Circle comic books geared towards an older audience. This will presumably include the previously announced THE FOX: FOX HUNT comic book, but will also apparently feature the MIGHTY CRUSADERS and associated heroes. I am a huge fan of the old Hangman character. And by "old Hangman character," I mean the old 1940s Hangman stories. You should check them out if you get a chance!

I have several online Archie Comics friends. I know that some of them will love these changes and other friends will absolutely hate them. I am pretty hyped about both projects!

62% of GOP Voters in Iowa Against Gay Marriage

Iowa has now been a marriage equality state for five years. For years, we were warned of all sorts of problems that would occur if that happened. And yet no pastors have been jailed. No churches have been shuttered. And kindergartners are not being taught the mechanics of gay sex. In fact, only one thing has changed since April 2009: same-sex couples are legally marrying in this state and our marriages are equal to every other marriage.

But that doesn't stop the Iowa Republican Party from fighting against the ongoing existence of Iowa's gay families.

A Loras College Poll determined that a majority of likely Republican primary election voters in Iowa want their political party to continue fighting gay marriage:
According to the poll, 62 percent favored keeping the GOP’s defense of traditional marriage in its platform, 10 percent would accept same-sex marriage as it exist following the Varnum decision and 23 percent would remove government from the equation.
Once again, it has been five years. And they still want to defend heterosexual marriage from marriages like mine.

Nero at Daycare -- 05/20/14

Nero had a ball at doggy daycare today. Check it out!:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Journey Church Holds 2nd Annual "Blessing of the Bikers & Bikes" Worship Service

I have written before about Journey Church. It is Coralville, IA's, new UCC church (written about here and here). I still haven't visited the church, but they have been keeping busy with their own unique ministries and with a recent church move.

Journey Church is in the local news today following its second-annual Blessing of the Bikers and Bikes worship service:
Riding a motorcycle is dangerous business, so some riders gathered Sunday morning at Journey Church in Coralville for a little extra insurance...

"I just believe that this experience of the holy, this God, this Sacred that people are searching for is in everything," (Pastor Chuck Kelsey) said. "It really is, so why not celebrate? And it kind of sends a message to people who have been pushed out before by the church in many ways that they're OK, that it's good that you want to be a community and that we want to experience God together."

Kelsey said he was "born into" biking, and the Blessing of the Bikers and Bikes is another way to introduce spirituality into everyday life.
Four motorcycles and one bicycle were blessed at yesterday's service.

And Oregon Makes 18!!!

Did you hear about Oregon? A group of same-sex couples were suing to overthrow that state's gay marriage ban. Nobody in the state's executive office defended the law. As a result, US District Court Judge Michael McShane overthrew Oregon's gay marriage ban and same-sex couples are legally marrying at this moment!

I have gotten to the point where I don't court the various states who have also had court rulings against their own constitutional amendments banning gay marriage recognition struck down, but where there are stays in place while those cases wind their way through the courts.

But Oregon's victory gives us 18 marriage equality states (if you count Illinois which will officially make the transition from civil unions to marriage equality on 06/01/14), plus Washington DC, plus eight Native American tribal governments!! We are zoom-zoom-zooming along!!!

By the way, I know a pair of lesbian moms who lived here in Iowa City for many years before moving to Oregon right before Iowa became a marriage equality state. This couple now just moved to Kansas mere days before Oregon became a marriage equality state. It makes you wonder if Kansas might see some marital updating in a year or two!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #5: "We're Never Going to Come Back, Are We?"

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE's first story arc came to a close this week with its fifth issue. Here's the background: Reggie killed Jughead's dog Hot Dog. Jughead convinced Sabrina the Teenage Witch to resurrect his pet, which trumpeted the beginning of the end of the world. Riverdale is now overrun by hungry zombies. The town's last known survivors have sought refuge at Lodge Mansion to wait for help. Meanwhile, Zombie Jughead, Zombie Big Ethel, and the rest of the undead have surrounded the mansion and are preparing to knock down the walls.

This has been a great series. Lots of great character development. The familiar Riverdale Gang is the same group of kids that we've known for 70 years (with a little tweaking for the sake of perversity -- I'm talking about you Blossom twins!!), but placed in a hellish situation. I think I learned more about Smithers' background in this issue than ever before.

It's unclear how much time has elapsed since this story began. It appears that only one or two days has passed since Jughead rose from the dead, but there is an insane about of decay coming out of that boy -- not to mention Big Ethel! Maybe this is a side effect of Sabrina's magic??

I mentioned before that all of the known survivors have made their way to Lodge Mansion. The survivors at this time include Archie, Veronica, Betty, Reggie, Kevin, Chuck, Dilton, Mr. Lodge, Smithers, Mrs. Andrews, Nancy, Ginger, Jason, and Cheryl.

Smithers spends most of this issue monitoring the kids via security cameras and reminiscing about his primary mission: protecting the Lodge family -- most particularly Veronica. He witnesses the crazy twincest drama that vomits out on Dilton's lap. He comforts Ronnie when Archie turns to Betty during a moment of grief. And he assesses the kids' skills during key flashpoints.

Speaking of flashpoints, here were a couple of my favorites. Reggie is losing it over Midge's death. Midge has been bad for Reggie. It was because of Midge that he was recklessly driving, which inadvertently led to Hot Dog's death. Now he appears to be grieving her loss in a very insane way. Like, insane enough to free her from his watery prison within Lodge Mansion! Fortunately, Dilton interrupts him at a key moment.

Everyone sees Reggie's distress. Kevin tries to help out, but that turns out bad. But it was fun watching everyone's favorite army brat put Reggie in his place!

Then there is the scene that everyone has been waiting for when he first learned of Riverdale's secret Sapphic romance! We all wondered what would happen when Nancy and Ginger reunited with Chuck. There's lots of tension as Nancy fights to keep Ginger from outing her to Chuck -- and Chuck has no clue! I really can't wait to see what happens when this powder keg explodes!

It eventually becomes clear that the survivors cannot safely stay at Lodge Mansion. Zombie Moose and Zombie Midge are pounding away at the pool cover and Jugdead is pounding away at the walls along with the rest of the ghouls. The group manages to escape into an uncertain new world filled with zombies and witches and black magic and very little protection!

I started listing the dead back when I reviewed the first issue. Nobody specifically died in this issue, but we learned the identities of three more zombies: Hal and Alice Cooper (Betty's parents) and Coach Clayton!

I keep hoping that the Riverdale survivors will run into Mrs. Jones and Jellybean out in the wilderness. It's not that I think that Jellybean should be immune from the apocalypse. I just think it would be fun to see a gun-toting tot surviving when far more capable teens and adults have fallen! I'd also like to see whether or not Jinx Malloy's unlucky energy would protect him during the end of the world. Match him with Cricket O'Dell and those two might be unstoppable!

"Exodus" is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with artwork by Francesco Francavilla.