Monday, June 30, 2014

Michelle Shocked Teams With Anti-Gay Activist Robert Oscar Lopez // Performs at Anti-Gay "Family Values" Event

There is this guy named Robert Oscar Lopez who has been trying to make a name for himself for the past couple years as a professional anti-gay activist. He has rallied against gay marriage in France and has testified against LGBT equality before several state legislatures. He has even tried writing gay erotica in the past.

I don't think I've written about him in the past, but his story is that his mom was in a closeted relationship with another woman throughout much of his childhood. He would spend time with his mom and her girlfriend and her girlfriend's family on weekends for many of his 'tween and teen years before the two women briefly lived together while he was in his late teens and before his mother's death. Lopez is apparently a bisexual man who is now married to a woman and raising at least one child together.

As noted above, he is trying to make a name for himself as a professional activist against same-sex marriage and gay parenting. He wants everyone to know that he had a bad childhood and that gay parenting is bad. In fact, he describes our children as modern day slaves to gay parents. Literally. Let's set aside the delicious irony of a bisexual dad who actively promotes the idea that LGBT parents are bad until another day.

Besides using himself as a one-person representative of all kids who had a supposedly crappy lesbian mom (who conveniently cannot defend herself due to being dead), he likes to whine about not being used by anti-gay groups to campaign against gay marriage and gay families. This linked article is one of his latest complaints about not being taken seriously as an anti-gay spokesman. In it, he complains that gay college students don't believe that he's as hot as other anti-gay spokesmen and that is why they don't listen to him. I will let you read the entire piece here.

I am really more interested in who he brought to join him at a family values conference at Stanford University: Michelle Shocked!

You might remember March 2013 when alt-folk singer Michelle Shocked surprised her typically progressive fans at a gig in San Francisco when she went on a "the world will be destroyed if gays are allowed to marry" rant followed by as assertion that "God hates faggots." Not surprisingly, her audience reacted poorly to this. Word spread and she refused to respond outside of a series of cryptic tweets about "truth vs. reality." Eventually, she lost a series of gigs, leading to a bizarre protest at the site of one cancellation by Shocked herself. Shocked eventually went on CNN's Piers Morgan Show and clarified that she is "not homophobic." She also was probably the most direct with her stated beliefs during this interview, but the damage had already been caused.

Given that Lopez and Shocked are both victims of the "gay mafia," he thought it would be a great idea to bring her along as an ally, supposedly to show Stanford's conservative students that they aren't alone in the culture way. Indeed, they apparently have an Occupy Wall Street protester/singer/songwriter on their side.

I should clarify that Shocked defined herself in an interview within this article as an anarchist who gladly takes on two separate "mafias": "Big Gay" and "Big Tech." It's actually an interesting interview and reveals that Shocked has a soon-to-be-published book titled Bootleg This.

I'm not sure about her current reading audience, but I cannot image that too many gay people are interested in reading about someone who went on an esoteric discussion of "truth vs. reality" on Twitter while explaining why she told her normally pro-gay audience that God hates faggots. Not to mention that she keeps offering up mixed messages about marriage equality. But I can't help but be curious about what she has to say. So maybe she has an audience after all.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My British Fest Experience!

I don't exactly remember when I first learned of BritishFest. Thinking back it must have been a Facebook ad that snagged my attention. It was advertised as a convention in Omaha, NE, for people who enjoy British TV, movies, games, and books. It was scheduled for the final week of June 2014 and the price was extremely reasonable ($15 per person per day, if you ordered before a certain date). Husband Mark and I both enjoy British media so I asked him if he wanted to go, which he did. So we bought some tickets and waited for the big day to arrive.

I have only been to a handful of conventions. I have been to three separate star-studded cons in large cities in neighboring states and I've been to a couple small cons featuring lots of vendors and a couple pros (usually comic book artists). I can honestly say that BritishFest was my favorite convention experience.

Both Husband Mark and I work a lot. It isn't easy to get away and this June was made even more difficult by the fact that we both already took a week off from work earlier this summer to spend time with our extended family up in Minnesota. So we decided to keep it simple and only attend the convention on its first day.

We each attended a series of workshops. Friday started out with "I Moustache You A Question" -- which was a "Sherlock"-themed open discussion about the current BBC revival. That workshop ended with a trivia contest. Husband Mark nudged me onto the stage -- thereby hammering home how very little I actually know about this great television series. That said, I earned our team a point by correctly answering "Guy Fawkes Day."

We then split up so that I could attend a self-publishing workshop facilitated by self-published Steampunk author Melissa Ann Conroy. She is the author of Steam on the Horizon and is finishing her second book Clouds of War. Conroy did a great job of walking through the resources that she has utilized to become a self-published writer -- not to mention marketer and merchant.

Husband Mark went to a workshop about "The Voyage of Sinbad." He said that not many people attended that particular workshop, but he enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the program and to chat with the workshop leader about "Sinbad," what he liked about the show, and their theories about why the show eventually got canceled.

We both attended a workshop titled "Doctor Who 101," which ran through the various incarnations of the Doctor and his various companions. We got to that workshop a little bit late, so I missed the names of facilitators. However, I had already met Lars Pearson years ago at an event sponsored by an old "Doctor Who" fan group that I used to belong to called UNIT. Pearson has edited numerous "Doctor Who" reference books and possesses tons of knowledge about the TV program and everything related to it. I really enjoyed this program, but it's really hard to cram 50 years worth of popular media into 60 minutes! That said, I got to eat my very first Jelly Baby at this workshop!

This is how my day continued. I managed to attend workshops on the Spice Girls (co-hosted by the 2012 Miss World Steampunk Laci Neal), "Steampunk 101" co-moderated by Ms. Neal and the very handsome Johnny Irish, and a "Torchwood!" workshop. We then listened to a band called the Brits before deciding that we're a couple of old men who need to sleep before traveling back to Iowa City the next day!

There were some really wonderful costumes at Britishfest -- everything from Steampunk outfits to random "Doctor Who" characters to "Harry Potter" to "Sherlock". I even saw someone dressed up at The Stig from "Top Gear."

I really regret coming for only one day. We ended up missing workshops about "Red Dwarf," "Star Wars," "James Bond: 007," and "Transformers." Additionally, there was a Quidditch Game that looked really interesting -- not to mention "Doctor Who"-themed belly dancing, contests, charity auctions, a Steampunk Ball, movies, inprov, and the infamous Timey Wimey Puppet Show! Actually, there was much more than that Saturday and Sunday -- and we missed it all!

I am really hoping that there is a BritishFest II in 2015! Husband Mark and I will definitely be there and we will both make the effort to attend from start to finish. I keep thinking that it would be fun to cosplay when I return. Of course, that implies that I can find a British character with my body type who interests me and who is recognizable enough for others to appreciate. I'm thinking of hosting a poll later this week to seek input on this question.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who organized BritishFest. I know that it takes a lot of time, energy, and commitment to pull everything together and to roll with it when portions don't work out as planned. Everyone did a marvelous job. Thanks from Iowa City!

The Dawn of X Continues in MEGA MAN #38

MEGA MAN #38 was released this past Wednesday. This is the second chapter of the four-part "Dawn of X" storyline featuring the historic first meeting of Mega Man and Mega Man X -- in theory. However, we are halfway through this crossover and I'm beginning to thinking that this is actually the historic first meeting of Mega Man's hat and Mega Man X!

Chapter two of "Dawn of X" has two stories that actually do manage to intersect over time. First, X finds himself battling Dr. Wily's giant Wily Walker battle-robot. Not only that, but the robotic beast escapes from Dr. Wily's hidden lair and threatens to destroy Arcadia City!

Meanwhile,  Xander Payne of the present-day Emerald Spear anti-robot terrorist group finds himself knocked across the timestream. He had originally intended to travel backwards in time and destroy all robots before they were ever invented. However, something happens in this story that manages to toss him forward in time to the era of Mega Man X!

Meanwhile, I don't think I'm spoiling too much to reveal that Mega Man was not killed at the end of MEGA MAN #37 -- though he did manage to lose his battle-helmet! Our title character spends his portion of the story trapping the Wily Walker in Dr. Wily's secret laboratory so that Mega Man X and Dr. Cain can find it and accidentally reactivate the giant battle-robot one hundred years from now.

Can I be even more confusing with this blog summary??

Needless to say, one robot has managed to crossover with both Mega Man and Mega Man X. I am assuming that our two main robots will eventually meet, but Wily Walker really seems to be the star of this show!

Of course, Mega Man's present-day battle continues to be secretly sabotaged by the not-so-rehabilitated Dr. Wily. He keeps guiding Mega Man through his secret lab in an effort to local a group of evil Robot Masters. Meanwhile, he keeps leading Mega Man into one trap after another and then getting away with it with a simple "Sorry!" You would think that Mega Man and Dr. Light would be more clued in, but not yet.

If you cannot tell, I'm enjoying this battle -- but I'm disappointed in the crossover. When Mega Man met Sonic last summer, they led into the storyline with the two character meeting and battling things out. And yet here we are two issues into a four-part crossover story and the two main characters haven't even crossed over!! That said, I'm hopeful that our two main characters will finally meet next issue.

"The Hunters and the Hunted" is written by Ian Flynn, penciled by Jamal Peppers, and inked by Gary Martin.

Pat Sajak Makes a Hetero Assumption With a Gay Contestant

Earlier this week, "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak stumbled a bit while introducing a contestant named T.K. Klotz:
“So you’re engaged?” Sajak said to player T.K. Klotz, reading off his cards. “Some woman has agreed to marry you.”

“Some gentleman,” Klotz said, taking the air out of the room for a moment.

“Wrong again,” Sajak scolded himself. “I had a 50-50 shot, T.K.”
Sajak later reportedly apologized to Klotz during the commercial break. Frankly, few people would have even noticed this incident if not for Sajak's recent "coming out as heterosexual" Twitter post back in April:

"Organic Herky" Damaged // Suspect Identified by Police // Charges Are Pending // UPDATED: Local Transient Charged with Damaging "Organic Herky"

(Originally written on 06/28/14): Iowa City is doing its "Herky on Parade" art displays this year. The last Herky on Parade event was in 2004, but earlier this summer 83 statues of the University of Iowa's Herky the Hawkeye were unveiled. They all share a common pose, but each Herky features a unique artistic vision. Check out this link for all of the Herkys (here).

Almost immediately, Reflections of U Herky was damaged by vandals. The sculpture was returned to its sponsors and repaired.

Then earlier this week, we learned that Organic Herky -- which is located in downtown Iowa City on the Pedestrian Mall -- was damaged. It appears that somebody jumped on his back, causing both of the statue's ankles to crack.

Early reports did not indicate that this was being treated as an incident of vandalism. However, KGAN reported earlier today that a suspect has been identified by police in this second case and a charge of second-degree criminal mischief (a felony charge) is expected to be filed on this individual.

I have to admit that Organic Herky is my favorite Herky this year. There is something perversely ironic about a fiberglass statue with an organic/green theme.

Updated on 06/29/14: The "Organic Herky" vandalism suspect has been identified and KCJJ has all the info!:
Police on Friday arrested a 48-year-old Robert John Lee Jr. for allegedly punching the "Organic Herky" at Dubuque and Washington Streets...

Police say they received an anonymous tip identifying Lee as the person who damaged the Herky. During a police interview Friday Lee admitted to causing the damage by punching the statue. Police say Lee was cooperative in the investigations, offered to pay for the statue, and promised he would He would not damage any more Herkys.
Lee has been charged with 2nd Degree Criminal Mischief, which is a class D felony, and Public Intoxication. He faces up to five years in prison.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gay Marriage Pie

The Chicago Sun-Times published an article with a bunch of LGBT stats, including a pie chart of U.S. states where gay marriage is allowed, where an existing ban is being contested, and where a ruling in favor of gay marriage has been stayed by a state or federal court. The pie chart represents total population, not number of states:
When you break it down, 19 states plus Washington D.C. allow same-sex marriage. 9 states have had their same-sex marriage bans successfully overturned by a court, but has a stay in place while those decisions go through appeals. And an additional 22 states currently have ongoing court challenges on existing same-sex marriage bans. There currently is no state whose same-sex marriage ban is not being challenged.

Ms. Lion at Daycare -- 06/28/14

Ms. Lion and Nero spent a few days at doggy daycare while Husband Mark and I attended the first day of the first ever British Fest over in Omaha, NE. Usually Nero finds his mug plastered all over Lucky Pawz's blog and Ms. Lion hides in a corner whenever the two stop by for a visit. Over this weekend featured several pics of Ms. Lion and none of Nero. She actually appears halfway sociable. Almost...

Check it out:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

United Church of Christ to Help Sponsor the Gay Games

Gay Games 9 will be competing in Cleveland and Akron, OH, from August 9-16, 2014. The Gay Games' purpose is to promote LGBT inclusion in sports (something that is less of an issue since it was created in 1982 -- though obviously is an issue considering how many people freaked out when openly gay football player Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend during a moment of extreme excitement).

Normally the events like the Gay Games seek corporate sponsorships. This year's Gay Games 9 will be unique for another reason. It will be the first time that a Christian denomination has provided sponsorship for the Gay Games:
The United Church of Christ is the first religious denomination to sign on as a major sponsor of the Gay Games when the event comes to Cleveland, home of the UCC's national headquarters, this summer, and has made the commitment in partnership with local churches around the country.

Through a unique co-sponsorship opportunity, nearly 30 Open and Affirming UCC congregations have promised support of the event and will be listed alongside the national setting as a major sponsor of the ninth international competition, taking place Aug. 9-16.

"It's a win-win offer of support that will enable the United Church of Christ to be listed among the Gay Games' top corporate sponsors," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the first openly-gay national officer of the UCC. "[Gay Games] organizers realize that the UCC can play an integral and important role in dispelling the pervasive myth that all people of faith are anti-gay, and we are excited to share our message of extravagant welcome and radical inclusivity..."

As a major sponsor, the UCC will provide significant financial support for Gay Games 9, which is expected to bring more than 30,000 athletes and visitors to Cleveland. The sponsorship provides the UCC an unprecedented opportunity to welcome thousands of like-minded visitors to its hometown. Attendees will also be welcome at events held throughout the week at the UCC's Amistad Chapel, a worship space located on the first floor of the UCC's national headquarters. 
The United Church of Christ has a 40+ year history of LGBT inclusion -- beginning with the ordination of Rev. Bill Johnson in 1972. It also became the first major Christian denomination to endorse equal marriage rights for same-sex couples back in 2005. That said, this is still a topic of contention among UCC churches, leaders, and members.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" Cartoon???

Bleeding Cool reported a couple days ago that it looks like there may soon be a "Guardians of the Galaxy" cartoon, as noted among the various offerings at last week's Licensing Expo 2014:

It's worth noting that Marvel Comics was hinting at a possible cartoon featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy last summer.

I really like this team. I just wish they had someone on the team who didn't rely on weapons and hand-to-hand combat. Maybe someone like Moondragon or Adam Warlock...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Story of Disfigured Girl Getting Kicked Out of KFC Restaurant Appears to be Hoax!

Did you hear about the three-year-old girl from Jackson, MS, who was severely injured after being mauled by her grandfather's three pit bulls? And then did you hear about the time when she and her grandmother were reportedly kicked out of the Jackson KFC fast food restaurant because her scarred face disturbed the other customers. Her family posted this story on Facebook, which quickly went viral. The corporate KFC immediately apologized and donated $30,000 towards the girl's outstanding medical bills. Many others donated money to the girl and her family, which helped them raise $135,000.

Now it looks like the Jackson KFC incident didn't actually happen. KFC investigators reviewed the surveillance video footage at the Jackson KFC and supposedly didn't find any evidence of the young girl being at the restaurant on that day. Keep in mind that employees of this restaurant have faced death threats and had drinks thrown at them since this story went viral.

KFC has reportedly held firm with its intent to give $30,000 towards the girl's medical care, but others are upset that they donated money under these circumstances.

Meanwhile, the family has been advised by attorney's to avoid any further statements.

Positive Gay Marriage Court Outcomes in Indiana & Utah Today!

We received two more positive federal court decisions in favor of marriage equality earlier today, starting with Indiana. U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young ruled that Indiana's state law banning gay marriages or the recognition of legal same-sex marriage from other states violates the U.S. Constitution.

This ruling took place right away, which led to dozens of same-sex couples rushing to their local clerk of courts offices in order to get married. Craig Bowen and Jake Miller appear to be the first same-sex couple to get married today in Indiana.

State officials in Indiana have expressed the intent to appeal this decision. In addition, the office of Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed an emergency motion for a stay on new marriages pending their appeal.

Meanwhile, the federal appeals courts continue to side with same-sex couples in the state of Utah. An earlier federal court had declared that state's constitutional amendment to violate the U.S. Constitution. Earlier today, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

However, an immediate stay was filed and no new same-sex marriages were created in Utah today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Rumor: Marvel to Cancel "X-Men" Titles

I posted an article early this month about a rumor that Marvel Comics was placing its FANTASTIC FOUR books on hiatus in order to avoid giving Fox Studios "free publicity" during the production, promotion, and release phases of their upcoming "Fantastic Four" movie. Fox Studios also owns the movie rights to the various X-Men teams and character, but earlier rumors had indicated that Marvel Comics wasn't doing anything about those characters, despite greatly reduced internal promotion in favor of their Avengers titles and characters.

Now I'm reading new rumors about the X-Men characters and the company-wide cancellation of all these titles, starting with this anonymous posting:
Most of you reading this will initially react to what i have to say with skepticism. I'm a brand new poster with no posts. That's understandable. But i can only assure you that what i have to say in at this time and present is 100% true and will happen. I obviously can't release my sources but it's actually become an open secret within the marvel offices, and many are NOT happy. There have been a few leaks by various ''in the know'' people who work at marvel within the community and on personal blogs over the last few days. Don't be surprised when other sites/blogs start to come forward with more information soon. Obviously, these leaks on personal blogs have been redacted very quickly. Onto the dire news:

Marvel WILL be rebooting their entire line next summer, and they will be rebooting it without the X-Men. Without mutants at all. This includes Wolverine, Storm & Cyclops. Every mutant is gone. However, The Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver will be reintroduced as Inhumans. Although this won't apply to any other X-Men related characters. Currently unsure what will happen with Namor. It's currently unknown if any of the X-Men will ever return to the comics, but if they do it won't be for quite a while.

The X-Men as we know them will cease to exist by the end of Axis. Whatever this means, the end result is that the X-Men are finished. For the second time in 3 years the Avengers office will be hijacking what's going on in the X-Books to further their own stories, and once again Cyclops, as the face of the X-Men, will be portrayed as a villain. They're having him go full Magneto and he will die at the end of the event in shame. Bendis is NOT happy about having his stories hijacked by the higher ups, but he's going to be documenting Cyclops decent into insanity in the post ''Will'' issues of Uncanny so his characterization in Axis fits. Once Cyclops dies and with Wolverine also dead the X-Men will be reunited under Havok's leadership for a few short weeks in real time until the reboot, where all X-Books will be cancelled. The idea is, with Cyclops dead and buried, Marvel no longer have to worry about their ''mutant problem''. I can also confirm that the Scarlet Witch is the ''hero'' of Axis.

I know it sounds too crazy to be true, but i assure you it all is. There are clues for those who know what to look for ''out there'' already. I will update this thread as myself am updated.
Bleeding Cool, which was the first major source for the Fantastic Four hiatus rumor, has been questioning their usual sources and believe that this is a false rumor. According to BC, sources from both the business side and the creative side of Marvel Comics have dismissed this rumor. But I'm still suspicious.

I will say this. I keep hearing rumors of a company-wide reboot of Marvel Comics. DC has a habit of rebooting its comic book line. I came along for the ride when they did this in the 80s and then again in the 90s. But I haven't picked up a DC comic book for well over a decade due to rebooting. If Marvel Comics does indeed reboot, I imagine that Husband Mark and I will use that as an excuse to stop collecting comics from that company.

Methodist Appeals Commitment Reinstates Ministerial Cedentials to Defrocked Pastor Who'd Officiated at his Son's Wedding

Remember Rev. Frank Schaefer? He was recently defrocked from the United Methodist Church after he got in trouble for officiating at his gay son's wedding six years ago (read here, here, and here for background). Rev. Schaefer eventually appealed this decision -- and a UMC appeals committee ended up overturning his conviction and punishment!:
A United Methodist Church appeals committee — a nine-member panel made up of laypeople and clergy — said Tuesday that it had decided to overturn the punishment of Frank Schaefer, who with three gay children and a determination to celebrate their relationships has become an unexpected champion of gays and lesbians in church life. The panel deemed the punishment too harsh...

The appeals panel did not question Mr. Schaefer’s guilt but significantly altered his punishment. It changed his penalty to a 30-day suspension, which it deemed to have already taken place...

The decision by the appeals panel can be appealed to the church’s Judicial Council; it was not immediately clear whether church officials would choose to pursue that course.
Schaeffer's credentials are to be restored immediately and he is to be compensated for all lost salary and benefits from the date that he had lost his credentials back in December 2013.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Remembering the University of Iowa's Infamous "Gerbil Quilt"

A local politician was reminiscing earlier today about Iowa City Pride events from decades past. She was thinking back to the very early 90s. Back then, there was a University of Iowa Republican leader/Campus Review editor-in-chief named Jeff Renander who would take pictures of everyone who showed up to the Pride Festival. He would then attempt to use the images of these individuals against them. He might place their images on posters, which would then be hung around campus. Or he might send their Pride pictures to their employers or to their families. They also tried using Iowa City Pride pics of political folks in order to scuttle their election campaigns.

Fortunately, this type of thing doesn't hold as much power as it used to. But there is power to living in the most progressive community in Iowa and to being out as a gay person on your own terms.

I heard the name of this Campus Review guy and it struck a memory cord. I did a quick search and suddenly remembered how I know of Renander. He and the Campus Review staff created a mock AIDS Quilt called the "Gerbil Quilt" during the 1990 Gay Pride Festival.

Check out this excerpt from The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on Higher Education by John K. Wilson:
While the board of regents worried about any mention of homosexuality on campus, they did not object to homophobia. Jeff Renander, editor of the University of Iowa's conservative Campus Review, brags that during a 1990 Gray Pride Rally, "my friends and I demonstrated against the abuse of gerbils by certain segments of the gay community. (We had a gerbil graveyard with 50 little white crosses, and our infamous gerbil quilt.)" Again, in September 1993, when the AIDS Quilt was exhibited at the University of Iowa, the Campus Review staff brought out the gerbil quilt. Accuracy in Academia reported the event with approval: "The 'Gerbil Quilt,' consisting of 25 patchwork squares each depicting a gerbil, was put on display in a glass case in the student union along with a copy of The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS by Michael Fumento and displays of statistics from the Centers for Disease Control which showed that AIDS ranks only twelfth among the leading causes of death in the United States. Gerbils were chosen for this quilt because of the role they play in certain homosexual practices."
The Gerbil Quilt was inspired by this urban legend.

What I didn't realize until today is that Campus Review's Jeff Renander has grown up over the past 25 years and has a job of some responsibility. He is the Cedar County Attorney! Just a little something to keep tucked away in the back of your head should you ever get prosecuted for anything as an LGBT person in neighboring Cedar County, Iowa!

Iowa City Celebrates 44 Years of Gay Pride

Yesterday was the Iowa City Pride Parade and Festival. Husband Mark and I were joined by Ms. Lion to cheer on the various entries. This was the 44th annual Pride Parade in Iowa City. Iowa City Pride originally started out in 1970 as a protest march, but has long since morphed into a celebration.

A few groups stood out in my memory:

The I.C. Kings drag king troupe always stands out as a fun group. The Roller Derby Girls  made sure we got lots of fliers -- and then after they finished their portion of the parade they raced back for a repeat performance! Then there was the Olive Garden folks. I cheered them on and ended up with a lap full of Oliver Garden mints! There was also a GSA from the local school district (I think their name is G.L.O.W.) and an Inclusive Scouting group marching in the parade. Also, lots of folks were there from the Johnson County Democratic Party, but nobody from any other political parties.

There were a small group of protesters who were holding signs and warning us of eternal judgement. I actually almost got beaned in the head by one of them when he suddenly hefted his sign up from the ground without paying attention as I was walking by. Fortunately, I noticed it before the sign connected with my head!

After the parade, I hung around with Mark for a bit while he waited to set up for the Saturday showing of "Before You Know It" and then I left before Ms. Lion overheated.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Harper Wheels into Riverdale in ARCHIE #656!

Fans of Archie Comics were introduced this week to a new character, Harper Lodge (AKA Veronica Lodge's previously unheard of cousin), in ARCHIE #656 Harper has been all over the news in recent weeks. Everyone keeps writing about Archie Comics' first disabled character (disregarding the long-forgotten Anita Chavita and also forgetting that Moose Mason has been outed in recent years as being a teen with learning disabilities).

This is what we know about Harper. She became disabled as a young girl following a car accident. Now she ambulates by wheelchair, though she also uses an elbow crutch to get around for short distances. Beyond that, she has lots of talents. She is a clothing designer. She writes children's books. She writes an advice column titled "Dear Jewel" -- although only Veronica knows that Harper is the writer of that column. And she spends her free-time blinging-up wheelchairs.

Harper was created by writer/artist Dan Parent and patterned after Toronto-based author Jewel Kats. Kats is a disability advocate who challenged Parent to create a disabled Archie Comics character. It is difficult to read Harper's debut story and not see a lot of Kats shining through. Not only do the two girls look alike, but they both became disabled the same way and they both have a lot of the same professional interests.

So back to the story. Archie arrives to take Veronica to a dance and meets Harper. Despite the expectations of many fans, Archie actually does not hit on Veronica's famous cousin. Instead, he muddles through a bunch of questions about her disability and background. That isn't to say that romance doesn't bloom for Harper. She literally knocks Reggie off of his feet, which leads to a love at first sight scenario.

The big question is whether Harper and Reggie can sustain their relationship when she moves back home "across the country." At least for now, they are going to try to make this thing work.

I keep wishing that Archie Comics would publish a comic book featuring Reggie again. I really think that it would only work if they continued to portray him as a jerk, but I'm not sure that they would want to have a title character who causes trouble for everyone else. But wouldn't it be cool if Harper became a recurring character in a new REGGIE & ME comic book? (Drop me an email, Archie Comics! I've got some ideas for this proposal!)

Here are a couple extras that I enjoyed about this issue:

First, check out the dancers in the background of this panel. There were a few like this. Back when I was in school, it seemed like most kids stood around in corners and avoided dancing. These Riverdale kids are dancing maniacs! Must be residual effects caused by their recent "Glee" crossover:

Second, my buddy Jimmy found himself inserted into this Riverdale dance. Look at Jimmy sporting the bow tie! Most important, do you think that he got the courage to ask Kevin for a slow dance?:

Dan Parent has promised that we definitely will see more of Harper in the future, which I'd definitely like! "Here Comes Harper!" was written & penciled by Dan Parent and inked by Rick Koslowski.

Friday, June 20, 2014

X-Men's Dazzler Getting a New Look

Writer Brian Michael Bendis announced today that the X-Men's Dazzler character will soon be undergoing a startling physical transformation in UNCANNY X-MEN #24.

Dazzler was recently recruited by SHIELD to hunt down a bunch of rogue X-Men (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magneto, and Magik). Pretty quickly, Dazzler was drugged and kidnapped by the mutant shape-shifter Mystique and then impersonated for months. Magneto eventually rescued Dazzler from captivity. And then Dazzler realized that nobody had even noticed that she'd been replaced.

Which led to her quitting SHIELD in disgust. Hence, I guess, the new look.

I'm not a huge fan of the new look. But maybe it will grow on me.

What do you all think?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: "Before You Know It"

I wrote earlier this week about a film called "Before You Know It." It is a documentary that follows the lives of three different gay men in their 60s and 70s. I attended a free showing this past Tuesday night and was very impressed by what I saw.

This is who "Before You Know It" is about (from right to left): 

* Robert is a campy bar owner in his mid-70s. He is widowed from his partner of 35 years and he's one of those guys who loves to adopt strays. He gay nephew assists him with the day-to-day operations of the bar. Robert is very comical and spends much of his time entertaining his patrons. Trust me. You will never hear the Muppets' "Mahna Mahna" song the same again! Unfortunately, his humor covers a very serious legal complication that threatens to destroy everything that he built for himself over the past four decades. 

* Ty is a sixtysomething SAGE activist. His mission is to create a more visible LGBT presence within Harlem, while dreaming for the day when gay marriage finally comes to New York State. Gay marriage finally did come to New York while this documentary was filming, which leads to nonstop uncertainty about whether or not Ty and his longtime partner should married now that they finally have the opportunity! 

* And then there is Dennis. He is a seventysomething widower who spends much of this film exploring his cross-dressing identity as "Dee" and seeking acceptance within the larger LGBT communities. On the surface, Dennis' story appears to be the saddest. But in actuality, he is the one who demonstrates the most personal growth and courage from start to finish. The other men lived their lives as out gay men. Dennis has no such connections and bravely explores this new world of gay retirement centers, gay cruises, and gay bars on his own -- with varying levels of success. 

"Before You Know It" is a really fun documentary! There is much to make you laugh -- as well as moments that will bring you to tears. I really, really enjoyed it!

This film will be playing again in Iowa City this Saturday, June 21st, at the Iowa City Public Library (Meeting Rooms A&B) at 3:00 PM. It's a free program and just footsteps away from the Iowa City Pride festivities. Check it out!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Public Policy Polling: 52% of Minnesota Voters Support Gay Marriage

Public Policy Polling just released the results of a new poll of likely voters from my home state of Minnesota. PPP found that 80% of Minnesota voters assert that gay marriage has had a positive impact on their life or no impact at all since it became legal in that state (20% positive/60% no impact) compared to 20% of Minnesotans who have experienced negative impact from gay marriage.

Meanwhile, 52% of Minnesotans believe that same-sex marriage should be allowed, 40% believe that it should not be allowed, and 9% just aren't sure.

Keep in mind that gay marriage has been legal in Minnesota for nearly one year. Meanwhile, Iowa has had largely trouble-free gay marriage for over five years and 42% of Iowans still want to void our marriages!

Solon Man Arrested // Accused of Hiding Camera in Public Restroom

I read today that a man from nearby Solon, IA, was arrested today after being accused of placing video cameras in a portable restroom in Cascade, IA. The cameras had been placed in a port-a-potty near a baseball field in Cascade and the investigation led to this guy in Solon.

I try not to judge much when it comes to fetishes and peccadilloes, but I really don't get guys who hide cameras in public restrooms. Too often, they're nasty and smelly. Plus, who wants to watch guys piss and crap? Not to mention that none of these guys being filmed want to be filmed pissing and crapping!

I've been hearing a lot about these types of stories recently. A law enforcement officer was recently arrested somewhere in Missouri for taping guys in public restrooms. And just last week, a camera was found in a public bathroom here in Iowa City.

So stop it folks! This kind of thing isn't cool.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The United States of Horror Movies

I saw this map online today and couldn't help adding it to my blog. It's the United States of Horror Movies!:

Iowa, of course, gets "The Crazies," which is kind of like a zombie attack movie, but more like "28 Days Later" in that they are not really zombies.

Incidentally, Nebraska gets "Children of the Corn," which is notable because Husband Mark's ex-boyfriend was one of those random children way back when we were all still children.

What's your favorite horror movie?

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Archie: Riverdale Rescue": More New Characters!

I began writing about the "Archie: Riverdale Rescue" iOS gaming app back in October 2013. Since then, the game has expanded to PC users. It's an oddly addictive game where you are tasked with the improvement and beautification of Riverdale USA using a variety of recognizable characters, such as Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica. A big part of the game also involves building emotional bonds between the various characters, leading to romantic couples, BFFs, and overall friends. I thought it would be fun to discuss aspects of the game that I find exciting, disappointing, and/or note-worthy.

Earlier this month, we experienced a series of updates featuring new characters to "Riverdale Rescue" along with hints of new characters -- including Kevin Keller's future husband Clay Walker. Last night, almost every hint -- minus the previously mentioned Clay Walker -- became actualized!

"Riverdale Rescue" players can now buy two new characters into the game -- Sven Svensson and Smithers! I guess they needed some folks to clean the houses and answer the doors!

(Smither // Svensson)
Not only that, but I was surprised to see Archie's new dog Vegas (here and here) available for this game! In retrospect, he's clearly in the advertising. But I saw that doggy character and assumed that they included Runty in the mix. Of course, the dogs look very different so it's my own fault for missing this.

Meanwhile, there's still no Clay Walker. There's been ongoing speculation between me and my friends that they are still trying to work out the storylines involving the teenage Kevin Keller and the traditionally adult Clay Walker. But I truly believe that Clay will make an appearance sooner or later.

Free Showings of "Before Your Know It" -- LGBT Documentary on Aging Adventures -- in Iowa City on Tuesday, June 17th, and Saturday, June 21st!

It's Pride Month. A collection of local agencies called the Visibility Action Team have organized a free movie event tomorrow evening featuring "Before You Know It: A Documentary" by PJ Ravel:

"Before You Know It" will be airing in Iowa City tomorrow evening (Tuesday, June 17th) at Film Scene at 5:45 PM. It will be followed by a Skype discussion with the film's creators. The show will be re-airing on Saturday, June 21st, at 3:00 PM at the Iowa City Public Library. This is a free event!

These "are no ordinary senior citizens. they are go-go booted bar-hoppers, love struck activists, troublemaking baton twirlers, later night Internet cruisers, seasoned renegades and bold adventurers. They are also among the estimated 2.4 million lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans over the age of 55 in the United States, many of whom face heightened levels of discrimination, neglect and exclusion... It's a film about generational trailblazers who have surmounted prejudice and defied expectation to form communities of strength, renewal and camaraderie -- whether these communities be affable senior living facilities, lively activist enclaves or wacky queer bars brimming with glittered trinkets and colorful drag queens."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day from President Obama! And from the United Church of Christ!

President Barack Obama released the following Father's Day 2014 proclamation back on Friday:
Fatherhood is among the most difficult and rewarding jobs a man can have. It demands constant attention, frequent sacrifice, and a healthy dose of patience. Even in a time when technology allows us to connect instantly with almost anyone on earth, there is no substitute for a father's presence, care, and support. On Father's Day, we show our gratitude to the men who show us how to learn, grow, and live.

With encouragement and unconditional love, fathers guide their children and help them envision brighter futures. They are teachers and coaches, friends and role models. They instill values like hard work and integrity, and teach their kids to take responsibility for themselves and those around them. This is a task for every father -- whether married or single, gay or straight, natural or adoptive -- and every child deserves someone who will step up and fill this role. My Administration proudly supports dads who are not only present but also involved, who meet their commitments to their sons and daughters, even if their own fathers did not.

Today, let us reflect on our fathers' essential contributions to our lives, our society, and our Nation. Let us thank the men who understand there is nothing more important than being the best fathers they can be.
The President then called on all Americans to observe Father's Day with relevant celebrations and activities.

The United Church of Christ also commemorated Father's Day today:

Happy Father's Day from Jon's Blog!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Christian Writer John MacArthur Advises Parents to Shun their Gay Kids

Last month, my blog was visited by a commenter who searched for information about Debby Boone and ended up proselytizing to me. You can read our exchange in the comments section of this post. One of the Christian writers that she wanted me to read from was a guy named John MacArthur. To be honest, I didn't follow that particular link. Then earlier this month, his name came up again in another context. It took me several days to link John MacArthur in that other context to my own conversation with Joyce on this blog. Let's just say, I wasn't impressed with Mr. MacArthur...

I was recently directed to a blog post about John MacArthur. He posted a recent video onto YouTube, in which MacArthur instructed Christians to shun their gay Christian family members:

Among MacArthur's pearls of wisdom:
If they profess to be a Christian, you have to alienate them. You have to separate them. You can’t condone that. It’s inconsistent with Christ. So you isolate them, you don’t have a meal with them, you separate yourself from them. You turn them over to Satan as it were as scripture says.
I hang out on GCN a lot. I sometimes hang out on GCN too often for my own good. I read so many stories of LGBT Christians who have wasted years of their lives trying to appease anti-gay churches and family members. This advise is poison. It figures that Joyce would direct me to John MacArthur in an effort to poison my faith and destroy my family.

For the record, here are some posts I've written in the past about my faith:
Some of my thoughts have refined a bit over the past few years, but they are all essentially the same.

Nero and Ms. Lion Sporting their Summer Styles!

Nero and Ms. Lion were treated to spa days yesterday (i.e., they received haircuts and they got their toenails trimmed). I knew that Nero was going to get a pretty tight haircut, so I told them to reduce the size of his topknot and tail hair proportionately. Ms. Lion received a light trim and bathe, plus her face got shaved clean.

Check it out:

I like it! Nero's head is just different enough that I'm still find myself doing second glances and Ms. Lion looks cute as always!

What do you think?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Man Accused of Impersonating "Twilight" Actor to Attract Young Teens

I'm still wrapping my head around this story. A 33-year-old guy named David A. LaVera was arrested in Newton, IA, earlier this week and was charged with enticing a minor, carrying weapons, and failure to have a valid driver's license. Basically, he got in trouble for luring young teenage girls into his car and touching them inappropriately.

But the odd part is that he appears to have convinced these girls and their parents -- and local school officials -- that he is a Hollywood stuntman and an actor from the "Twilight" movies.

(David LaVera // Kiowa Gordon -- Do you see much of a resemblance?)
More specifically, LaVera convinced everyone that he was actor Kiowa Gordon. LaVera befriended one of the girls on Facebook and then traveled to Iowa from San Diego to see her. He appeared at two Iowa schools, where he performed a variety of stunts and signed autographs as Kiowa Gordon. He was even allowed to attend a school-sponsored eighth-grade pool party.

Kiowa Gordon is understandably very upset that somebody essentially catfished others with his identity:
I am deeply saddened that there is a person out there trying to impersonate me and do harm to young girls... My heart goes out to their families and anyone else who has been deceived or hurt by his actions.
David LaVera is currently being held in the Jasper County Jail on a $50,000 bond and is scheduled to appear this coming Monday in court.

Iowa Supreme Court Overturn Man's "Criminal Transmission of HIV" Conviction

(Nick Rhoades & Gov. Terry Branstad)
I wrote last year about Iowa's criminal HIV transmission law. At the center of this law was an otherwise healthy HIV-positive man named Nick Rhoades whose medication compliance and healthy lifestyle made his viral load medically undetectable. He had sex -- wearing a condom -- with another man, but didn't tell that man that he is HIV-positive. The man later found out and reported Rhoades to the police. Despite the fact that they practiced safer sex and that his sex partner did not acquire the disease, Rhoades was convicted of "criminal transmission" of HIV and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. His felony conviction was eventually reduced to time served, but Rhoades remained on Iowa's sex offender registry.

Then earlier this spring, Iowa's legislature updated our criminal HIV transmission law to make it less draconian. As a result of this revised law, Rhoades would be removed from Iowa's sex offender registry effective July 1, 2014.

(And frankly, why was he placed on a sex offender registry in the first place? People have this idea that these registries are to protect children from convicted child molesters, but then we hear about people on the list who got convicted for having consensual, condom-wearing sex, but who didn't tell that partner about their HIV status. Not to mention guys who get caught pissing on a building or flashing their junk at other when they were drunken college students. It's situations like these that make sex offender registries seem really pointless, IMHO as always. But I'm digressing...)

Anyway, Rhoades finally saw a day in the very near future where he no longer had to wear an electronic monitoring anklet and where he no longer had to get permission from a probation officer to travel from his community. But he was still a convicted felon.

Now he's not. The Iowa Supreme Court overturned Nick Rhoades' felony conviction of criminal transmission of HIV earlier today:
Rhoades, 39, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to criminal transmission of HIV after a 2008 arrest. The arrest came after Rhoades had protected sex with a man to whom he did not disclose his HIV status. The man later went to the police. The man did not test positive for HIV after their encounter, but under the law transmission does not have to occur for someone to be convicted. 

Rhoades began serving his sentence before a District Court judge released him on a five-year probation. He also was required to register as a sex offender. Rhoades appealed the case, arguing his original trial attorney gave him faulty advice by recommending he plead guilty. 

The Iowa Supreme court agreed. "His trial counsel allowed Rhoades to plead guilty when no factual basis existed for the plea," wrote Justice David Wiggins in the majority opinion. Because Rhoades used a condom and because he had an undetectable viral load -- meaning the level of the HIV in his blood was very low, making transmission unlikely -- his conviction was unjust, Wiggins wrote.
Unfortunately, this case is not necessarily over. The case has been sent back to the Black Hawk County District Court. They may choose to prosecute Rhoades again for criminal transmission of HIV.

Gun Stats Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting -- #NotOneMore // Updated: CNN Disputes School Shooting List by Ignoring a Significant Number of School Shootings

(Originally written on 06/12/14): This was posted on Facebook by the United Church of Christ:

Updated on 06/13/14: CNN posted an article where they dispute the number of school shootings since Sandy Hook (i.e., 79 shootings) which is listed above. Instead, CNN has determined that there have only been 15 school shootings worth worrying about:
CNN took a closer look at the list, delving into the circumstances of each incident Everytown included.

Everytown says on its web site that it gleans its information from media reports and that its list includes school shootings involving a firearm discharged inside or on school grounds, including assaults, homicides, suicides and accidental shootings.

CNN determined that 15 of the incidents Everytown included were situations similar to the violence in Newtown or Oregon -- a minor or adult actively shooting inside or near a school. That works out to about one such shooting every five weeks, a startling figure in its own right.

Some of the other incidents on Everytown's list included personal arguments, accidents and alleged gang activities and drug deals.
Whatever helps the people at CNN sleep at night...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

O'Face Bar (of "Bar Rescue" Fame) Has Liquor License Suspended for 1 Week Over 2011 Incident

Iowa has a unique relationship with the Spike TV reality show Bar Rescue. Only one of our bars has been on the show so far and it ended up being the first and, so far, only bar that Jon Taffer walked away from before actually rescuing it. I'm talking about O'Face Bar in Council Bluffs, IA. You can read my earlier posts on this bar here, here, and here.

I wrote last month that the Council Bluffs City Council voted 3-2 against renewing the bar's liquor license. The three council members who voted against the bar felt that O'Face Bar placed Council Bluffs in a bad light through its appearance on Bar Rescue and that the city was suffering as a result. It probably didn't help that the show highlighted intoxicated staff, abusive employment practices, and sketchy premises. It's arguable that a lot of this was staged for the program, but it certainly didn't help matters!

O'Face's owner has appealed this decision and a hearing date has been scheduled for the afternoon of July 28, 2014.

Bar Rescue Updates posted an update about O'Face Bar that surely cannot help with the July 2014 hearing: O'Face Bar has agreed to a settlement with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division related to an incident stretching back to November 11, 2012. The bar admitted that they "sold, dispensed, or gave an alcoholic beverage or beer to persons who were intoxicated at the time."

As a result of this settlement, O'Face Bar's liquor license will be suspended for seven day from 10/05/14-10/12/14 and they must pay a $1,000 fine to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. They can remain open during this timespan, but no booze of any sort can be sold.

Actor Jim Carrey to be Commencement Speaker at Fairfield's Maharishi University of Management // Updated 06/12/14 to Include Commencement Speech Video

(Originally written on 05/24/14): Actor Jim Carrey is the commencement speaker at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, IA, later today.

I didn't realize this, but Carrey believes in and practices transcendental meditation (TM), which is what attracted him to Maharishi University.

The graduation ceremony will take place at 1:00 PM today in the Golden Dome on the school's campus. It is a free event and it's open to the public. So if you are near Fairfield and you want to see Jim Carrey speak or if you just want to help the graduates celebrate their academic accomplishments, you should check this out.

Updated on 06/12/14: Video footage of Jim Carrey's recent commencement speech at the Maharishi University of Management has been posted online.