Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Georgia Police Mistake SpaghettiOs for Meth // Woman Spends Month in Jail Waiting for Test Results

This is one of those stories that you just cannot make up. A Georgia woman was arrested after police found a dirty spoon in her person. Police believed it was meth residue. She asserted that it was dried sauce from an old can of SpaghettiOs. Several weeks of jail later and local officials confirmed that it was indeed dried SpaghettiOs sauce on her spoon:
Ashley Gabrielle Huff, 23, maintains the spoon had only spaghetti sauce. Gainesville police officers thought differently after conducting a field test of the spoon July 2. The charge of possessing methamphetamine was dismissed, according to the Hall County district attorney’s office, after a crime lab analysis. 

“I’m just happy to be free again,” said Huff, who was released on Sept. 18 from the Hall County Jail.
Gainesville police provided The Times with the arrest report this week, the result of a traffic stop for a tag light violation.

The officer’s report states he received consent to search Huff’s 1994 Ford Explorer, and searched a bag with the name “Ashley” printed on it. The officer described Huff, a passenger, as “nervous,” noting sores on her face, arms and legs. Inside the bag was a spoon with a “clear, crystal-like substance,” according to the report...

The officer reported he found a glass smoking device in the bag as well before conducting a field test for methamphetamine. “I tested the spoon with a field test kit, and the crystal-like substance on the spoon showed a positive indication for methamphetamine,” the report reads.

Huff was arrested and taken to Hall County Jail...

Huff told The Times the spoon and the SpaghettiOs were from a friend, as she and the other three people in the car were driving to a friend’s house in Gainesville. “We had been riding around, and I threw the can in the trash because I was eating them straight out of the can,” she said. “I just threw the spoon in my purse because I had borrowed it from a friend — the can of the SpaghettiOs and the spoon.”

The district attorney’s office issued a dismissal for Huff’s charge after further analysis on the spoon. “The Crime Lab report showed no controlled substances on the spoon submitted for testing, “ according to the dismissal signed by Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh.
Another report indicates that Huff was pressured to take a plea deal in order to get out of jail early.

Because of this arrest and incarceration, Huff missed her kids' birthday, as well as a job at a waffle house restaurant.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Nero Gets Reincarnated! Welcome Fender Blossom!!

Earlier this month, I shared a tragic story by my buddy Stuffed Animal featuring Nero's final sacrifice against the evil witch Carmen Serna. You can read all about it here. That said, I hinted at a rebirth of sorts for my favorite poodle. This blog carried on with the rest of that story...

It's true that Nero finally meets his end in the year 2050, but Sabrina "Bree" Spellman made sure that Nero's soul would live on into the next generation.

Shortly after Nero's physical death, Bree redirects his soul into the stillborn body of the offspring of Lyle Jason Blossom and Rikki Ninja. Nero's reincarnated human name is Fender Carlyle Blossom!

This extraordinary child has some unique abilities. In times of need, his animal spirit kicks in and Fender finds himself with the heightened senses, speed, and agility of a canine. He's young now, but those talents will definitely come in handy as he ages. Especially when you consider who his aunt is... (Hint: Carmen Serna!!)

Until now, Fender Blossom gets to grow up basking in the love and care of his dad and his transdad, under the spiritual protection and tutelage of his godmother Bree!

Don't You Wish Lesbians Had This Much Power?

I saw this 1992 quote from Pat Robertson earlier today and couldn't help wishing that lesbians and feminists had this much power...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Open Letter to the Married Christian Mom Who is Leery about Worshipping at an Aging Church...

A blog article titled "The Church is Responsible for This" by Candice Czubernat was circulating yesterday through my Facebook feed. It tells the first-hand tale of a married lesbian mom, her wife, and their two infants as they search for an LGBT-affirming church. The problem is that they can't find an affirming church that isn't too far away, isn't too liberal, or isn't overly filled with "old people." So she privately grieves and send other LGBT parents to non-religious LGBT community centers. Because she doesn't want to exposed to "old people" germs and because (though she doesn't actually spend any time in the blog article addressing this) she doesn't want to be exposed to "liberal" people (i.e., religious progressives who actually welcome and affirm families like her family).

Lots of people have commented to that article. They either feel her pain or they welcome her to come to their church. More recently, there has been a small group of anti-gay religious folks who want her to know that she and her family are welcome at their church as long as they use quote-marks about the words "wife," "marriage," and "family" when referencing her family and as long as they eventually turn away from lesbianism and get divorced.

But there's another group of commenters who cannot move beyond Czubernat's call for LGBT tolerance; namely those of us who are offended by her lack of tolerance towards those who struggle with "old people" and aging congregations.

I belong to a small church. It hasn't always been this way, but currently we have a lot of old people at our church. I'm in my lower 40s and I'm one of the youngest members. There used to be other families with younger children at my church. There were my boys. There was a lesbian pair with a son & daughter who are roughly the age of my younger son. There were two other kids who were just a bit younger than my younger son. And there were a three other kids just older than my younger son.

And then they all left because they all wanted to belong to a church with more kids. Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that for most of them; but that was one of the stated complaints. The end result is that my aging church was left with one pre-teen boy (i.e., my son).

So do I leave a church with people that I've worshiped alongside since the late 90s so that we can seek out another gay-affirming church with more kids? Or do I stay at our church and allow my son the gift of worshipping at a church with a sense of history that includes our family? And if we had left, what does our absence provide for other visitors and prospective members who are seeking a church with diverse membership ages?

And, frankly, what's the likelihood that we'd find another church that's both gay-affirming, that's liberal (because I don't believe that is a horrible thing), and that has an active youth group that my son wants to hang with?

Speaking of church history, check out this picture:

This was from a membership "Stations of the Cross" exhibit that we created at my church back in 2006 when D'Angelo was five. I remember discussing the scene with D' and asking him to drew a picture. I then asked him what it all means and wrote down his words verbatim. One of the sixtysomething women collected that picture and kept it at her home until recently. She just shared it with me and asked me to share it with D'Angelo.

Keep in mind that D' is going through a "religion is a farce" phase right now. Maybe he will grow out of it. Maybe it won't. But his reaction to this drawing was precious. My 14-year-old son read it out loud and laughed with genuine appreciation. He doesn't worship at our church these days, but he belongs at our church and he knows that the old men and women at Faith UCC love him, worry about him, and are proud of the young man that he is growing into.

I would encourage young families to give a second thought to aging congregations. This isn't a "beggars can't be choosers" encouragement. This is a reminder that aging congregations have a lot to teach younger adults and their kids. It is also a suggestion that your presence may make it easier for other younger church-seekers who are leery about worshipping with people on the other side of 50. And (particularly for LGBT individuals and families who are seeking affirming church communities) this is a reminder that several of those fifty-, sixty-, and seventysomething old people are quite possibly LGBT Christians themselves and (assuming you're so lucky) they may be able to offer you and your kids a glimpse into your future.

In other words, stop being so quick to dismiss churches because there are too many gray-haired members. You both have something to offer each other.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Gay-Affirming Pentacostal Church Opens in Cedar Rapids, IA

You all know that I regularly visit the discussion boards at the Gay Christian Network. One of the things that irks me is when GCN regulars worship at churches that will literally kick them to the curb if they ever find out that they are gay, or gay married, or gay-affirming, or anything but ex-gay. I mean, these folks are supporting religious institutions that will turn against them and cast them out. Meanwhile, they criticize faith communities such as the United Church of Christ and the Metropolitan Community Church that actually will support them and nurture the development of their identities as gay Christians. But I understand their dilemma. They have spiritual needs that are better met by charismatic worship practices. And unfortunately those churches tend to be anti-gay.

There is a third option and it bugs me that more LGBT Christians and straight allies rarely consider: Start a new church that fits your worship needs, but also remains affirming to all. I'm glad to announce that a nearby group of charismatics in Cedar Rapids, IA, have actually done that:
The Rev. Tony White and his partner, Scott Niskanen, know what it’s like to be turned away from the church, and from those leading a Christian life. “There are some hateful people out there, and some of those hateful people are behind the doors of the church,” White said.

That’s why White, a former truck driver, and Niskanen, a retired music teacher, started Showers of Blessings Pentecostal Church, open to anyone but with a specific aim of letting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community know “they are loved,” White said.

“The other night I preached — and this really is the foundation of Showers of Blessings — about John 3:16: ‘That God so loved the world, that he have his only begotten son Jesus Christ, so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,’” White said. “I am a ‘whosoever.’ We are all, ‘whosoevers.’”

The church is part of a growing denomination, the Affirming Pentecostal Church, International, and Apostolic Pentecostal denomination founded in Indiana in 2010. Unlike most other Apostolic churches, APCI is LGBT-affirming. Their doctrine, however, follows the same beliefs as most other Apostolic Pentecostal churches.
Showers of Blessings is a small church and so far its worship size has grown to nine.

But it's a start. And it's an important start. It's time for LGBT Christians, our friends, and our families to assume our rightful seat within the collective brotherhood of Christ.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Man Arrested in Iowa City & Charged with Stealing Several Catalytic Converters

Remember yesterday when I complained that somebody stole the catalytic converter off my vehicle? I received a call late yesterday from the Iowa City Police informing me that they found a guy with a truck-full of catalytic converters
According to an Iowa City police complaint, officers investigating the theft of catalytic converters – a vehicle emissions control device – came into contact with 19-year-old Jamari L. Russell, who was driving a U-Haul near Highway 1 West at about 2:50 p.m. Wednesday. In the back of the U-Haul, officers found a bag containing 16 catalytic converters... 

Russell told police he was taking the converters to his mother's house in Chicago, where his brother – who he said stole the converters – would pick them up and sell them, police say. Russell admitted to knowing the converters were stolen. 
The estimated collective value of these catalytic converters falls somewhere between $10,000-$15,000. Russell has been charged with 1st degree theft, which is a Class C felony. He faces up to ten years in prison.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Iowa City in the Midst of Catalytic Converter Crime-Wave!

Apparently, stealing catalytic converters off of cars is the it-crime these days in Iowa City. Larger vehicles that are easy to crawl under are particularly susceptible. I was told that catalytic converters are laced with vibranium or platinum or adamantium or some other rare metal, which attracts thieves. Unfortunately, our family got caught up in this latest crime-wave.

Two mornings ago, Husband Mark went to the gym and had the catalytic converter sawed off our Hyundai Tucson. Keep in mind that this happened sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning in a busy parking lot along a busy street. Someone pulled next to our vehicle, crawled underneath it, performed a few quick strokes, and drove off with a portion of our vehicle's exhaust system!

I often listen to KCJJ radio in the morning. One of their segments reviews the local police reports. I remember hearing police reports about stolen catalytic converters over the past week. I chatted with two separate folks yesterday who told me about friends who'd had catalytic converters stolen off their cars. A quick review of the online police reports shows a handful that were reported just yesterday.

Fortunately, I have good auto insurance with a low deductible. But it bugs me that I even have to go through the motions of contacting the police and my insurance agent and arranging for repairs.

So if you're at the gym or a store or wherever and you notice someone crawling under a vehicle with a saw, call the police. Most likely, you are interrupting a theft. As indicated by the fricking saw.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One Final Fight for the Equalizer in KEVIN KELLER #15!

The KEVIN KELLER comic book series was a trailblazer. Starring Archie Comics' first gay teen, this series featured Archie Comics' first same-sex crush, their first same-sex love triangle, their first same-sex smooch, and their first same-sex break-up. The company seemed to struggle with how far they wanted to go with this character, especially during the first six or seven issues of this series.

It always seemed like that liked having a gay character for public relations events like GLAAD's Spirit Day and Dan Savage's It Gets Better campaign. But it took them a while to realize that they could figure out a way to spice up Kevin -- if only in a G-rated manner -- and let him be an actual gay teen with the same types of dating misadventures that seem to plague the rest of Riverdale! By that time, the book had lost some steam and readership.

As a result, KEVIN KELLER has been canceled -- though we've been promised a relaunch in 2015. Dan Parent has said that this new series will feature a slightly older version of Kevin Keller. My hunch is that we will see more dating and PDAs in this new series -- as well as the possible introduction of Clay Walker and the army adventures of Private Keller! That's all conjecture on my part, but I think it would be cool!

The final issue of the series -- KEVIN KELLER #15 -- was released last Wednesday. It's a follow-up to last issue's introduction of the Equalizer! The Equalizer is a super-hero identity that Veronica designed for Kevin. Basically, I think she wanted an accessory for her own Power Teen identity! But she got him a costume, and a secret crime-laboratory, and a sexy manservant, and a bunch of gadgets. So that's how Riverdale got its newest superhero!

Of course, Riverdale doesn't have a lot of crime so there's not much for the Equalizer to do except moon over Tony. But his costume and gadgets come in handy one night when Kevin's friend Wendy finds herself struggling with an overly grabby date. The Equalizer saves the night, but then discovers one of the biggest problems about fighting crime in a small-town:

That's right. Wendy recognized his voice. Not only does she reveal his secret identity, but she reveals his secret identity loud enough for the Equalizer's victim to overhear.

The next day, somebody steals a bit of DNA from Kevin's soda and creates a teenage clone of Kevin with superhuman strength and a bad attitude. The clone begins causing trouble in Riverdale:

Power Teen eventually joins the battle and the Equalizer barely defeats his new enemy:

This whole "Nivek" story seems to have missed a step and I can't help wondering if there was a third chapter to his storyline that ended up getting snipped due to the book's cancellation. I mean, who created Nivek? The guy who stole Kevin's DNA didn't look like Wendy's date who discovered the Equalizer's secret I.D. And who has the knowledge needed to create a superstrong teenage clone within days? Dilton? Salem? Or possibly Tony the manservant??

I'm hoping that Nivek shows up again in the new KEVIN KELLER relaunch. It's not that I want to see tons of him in the future. But I definitely would like a little bit of explanation and resolution.

"Holding Out For A Hero" is written & penciled by Dan Parent, inked by Rich Koslowski, and lettered by Jack Morelli. This issue might be the closing of a chapter for Kevin Keller, but I'm excited to see what new adventures he'll encounter in the months to come.

Jackson County Assessor Resigns following Shooting

Earlier this month, the community of Maquoketa, IA, was shaken up when Francis "Gus" Glaser (a former city manager for Maquoketa and current resident) caused a big stir at the Jackson County Board of Supervisors meeting. He was upset about his property taxes and was not happy with the message that he was receiving from the BOS or from county assessor Deb Lane. He fired a gun at Lane, who fortunately ended up escaping injury. He was tackled by others in the room before shooting and killing himself.

We learned late last week that Jackson County Assessor Deb Lane has submitted her letter of resignation. Her resignation goes into effect on January 2, 2015. However, she plans to use accumulated vacation and comp time and will not be returning to work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do Same-Sex Marriages Hurt Iowa?

Two of our local anti-abortion protesters got a letter published in the Press-Citizen earlier today. Their letter references the 72-year engagement between Vivian Boyak and Nonie Dubes of Davenport, IA:
The front page of Tuesday’s Press-Citizen and the Des Moines Register featured pictures and a story of two 90-plus-year-old women who have loved each other for more than 70 years and recently became married in Davenport. A later letter to the editor asked, “How can this couple possibly harm Iowa?”

Jesus told his disciples: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?”

It is God who established marriage. They hurt Iowa with their example! It is impossible for two men or two women to consummate a “marriage.”

Not long ago, men courted women for the purpose of marriage and family. Work was considered a blessing, an expression of man’s worth to his family and his community. No life was thought to be complete without showing reverence to God. If a man got a girl pregnant, they were married at the point of a shotgun, if necessary.

We need to go back to those days.

Dan and Donna Holman
It seems presumptuous of the Holmans to assume that these women haven't lived a married life in their 72 years together. They courted each other. They both worked hard during their younger years. They formed a family together, even if they themselves didn't raise any children together. And they are both active members of First Christian Church of Davenport, IA.

I really have a hard time understanding how these two women hurt Iowa -- simply through their decades of commitment.

The quote from Jesus does not have to be prescriptive (how things should be). These women each left their parents' homes, came together to share a life together, and have literally held fast to each other for over seven decades. They shared a life together in every way. It is very difficult for me to see how their example has hurt this state!

Iowa has not been hurt by the example set by Vivian Boyak and Nonie Dubes. Far, far from it. We could all learn a lot from their life lessons!

Nero at Daycare -- 09/23/14

Nero strutted his stuff earlier today at doggy daycare. Check it out:

Gay Couple's Wedding Heckled by Anonymous Jerk

A male couple named Oscar De Las Salas and Gary Jackson were getting married on a park in Coronado, CA. Unfortunately, their wedding was heckled from some jerk in a nearby condominium:
Around sunset that day, the happy couple walked in, took their positions and stood in a grassy spot near the water. The music died down and the shouting began. Cell phone video shows the officiant standing in front of the couple while someone is shouting the words "homos" and "go home homos." The shouts were loud and unmistakable. From the balcony of a nearby pricey condo complex, the couple and their wedding guests heard a string of homophobic slurs. "He really wanted to humiliate the people there. He said, 'go home f***,'" said wedding musician David De Alva... "During the wedding vows, everyone stopped and turned," said De Las Salas.
The couple later complained to the city of Coronado and to the condo complex's HOA and received letters of apology from both entities.

But can you imagine if a gay person did this to a het couple's wedding?

Looking at the comments section, you will read several comments from folks saying stuff like "free speech," "this is news?," "shake it off," and "blah blah P.C. blah blah."

This was this couple's wedding. This wasn't a political event. This wasn't a TV show. This wasn't a sporting event. This was one everyday couple's wedding and it was spoiled by some asshat who didn't even have the balls to let them see his face.

Sen. Jack Hatch: Iowa Republicans Want to Get Rid of Iowa's Gay Marriages // Gov. Terry Branstad Doesn't Disagree

State Senator Jack Hatch (D) is running for Iowa governor. He reminded Iowa's LGBT citizens and progressive allies earlier this week that elections have consequences:
Iowa could face a divisive statewide referendum over the legalization of gay marriage if Republicans retain the governor's office and win control of both chambers of the Legislature, state Sen. Jack Hatch warned Monday...

"It is very clear that (marriage equality) will be their No. 1 priority and Iowans should be very skeptical of that," said Hatch, a supporter of same-sex marriage. "People who believe in marriage equality should realize the rights we have in Iowa are only as good as the quality of our politicians and the words of our Constitution. If they want to change the words of our Constitution, we should be very scared of the agenda of the Republican leadership."
Governor Terry Branstad (R) didn't disagree:
Branstad told reporters Monday at his weekly news briefing that... he didn't believe same-sex marriage was a settled political matter in Iowa. "I think the people of Iowa should have a vote on this," Branstad said. Although the governor does not have a direct role in determining whether a constitutional referendum would be conducted, Branstad said he would be supportive of legislative efforts to permit a vote on the issue.
Keep in mind that Iowa has been a marriage equality state for over five years now. There have been no major problems. And yet the GOP still wants to campaign against same-sex families.

Early voting in Iowa begins on Thursday. I will be at the Auditor's office during my lunch hour. Don't you forget to vote!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Who's Captain Citrus?

Have you heard of Captain Citrus? He's a superhero, commissioned by "Florida's citrus industry" to promote and sell more orange juice.

According to NPR, Captain Citrus has solar powers and he has cool, green hair. Not only that, but he starts off each day with a healthy drink of Florida orange juice.

I guess you can download his comic book adventures somewhere, but the NPR story doesn't tell you.

Little known story. I used to be a fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes. This was a few reboots ago. I eventually grew tired of learning new origins for my favorite future heroes. But they inspired me to create a superheroic identity for my old dog Moogie: Citrus Lad. He fought crime with the power of citrus. That's about as far as I ever got to defining his powers. But I'm sure he'd take a bite out of Captain Citrus if given half a chance!

Anyway, let me know if you know where to find his comic. I'm tempted to give it a peek!

Mama June & Sugar Bear from "Here Come Honey Boo Boo" Have Separated!! // Updates: More Details Emerge Surrounding the Break-Up

(Originally written on 09/19/14): I was heartbroken when I heard this bit of news coming from Mama June Shannon via TLC earlier today:
Sugar Bear and I have decided to take some time apart to figure out some things in our relationship. We are taking things day by day, but regardless of what happens, the girls will always be our number one priority. We want to thank y'all for your support.
Mama June and Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson have been together for roughly a decade. They aren't legally married, but the two celebrated their relationship last year with a commitment ceremony.

Hopefully the two will work things out soon. This is one "Hollywood" couple that I don't want to see break up!

Updated on 09/20/14: TMZ revealed yesterday that Mama June keeps finding Sugar Bear trolling for dates off online dating sites. They also reported that Mama June plans to move from the family home along with the kids once the current filming season is completed.

TMZ subsequently reported earlier today that TLC will not be firing Sugar Bear from "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," but they also won't pretend like the break-up hasn't happened. Apparently, they're actually happy about the separation because it has the potential to spice up the storylines on the show -- if it doesn't cause the show to implode first!:
Sources close to the show tell TMZ ... they have made a decision -- Sugar Bear is the father of the show's star, and the story line would be "ridiculously incomplete" without including him.  The separation itself will become a significant part of the show.

Producers are not looking to exploit the split, and haven't yet decided how to cover it, but one source was candid, "To tell the truth it's good for the show.  It had hit a bit of a lull and now there are tons of story lines ... dating, single parenting, breakups."
It seems like TLC is worried that "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is destined to fall apart now similar to "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which fell apart following a similar adultery scenario.

Updated on 09/22/14: Star reported today on a brief interview in which Sugar Bear outright denies rumors that he set up a profile on an online dating site:
Although Sugar Bear said he couldn’t comment on the subject, he was very adamant about the fact that he was not unfaithful. “No, not me,” he told a photographer.
It's interesting that he can't directly comment on the break-up. What's up with that?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mid Con Comic Show 2014 -- Initial Post-Con Reaction

I wrote earlier about the Mid Con Comic Show that debuted this weekend in Iowa City (here and here). A little over 250 people arrived for this local con, including me, Husband Mark, our youngest son, and one of his friends. I spent a little more than Mark would have preferred, but the boys had a good time scurrying around, looking at old comics, and checking out the various cosplayers. Unfortunately, there were some attendance issues at many of panels -- but that is something that can be remedied for next September's Mid Con!

I volunteered to lead a panel titled "Archie's Dead and Other News from Riverdale." I've been equally excited about and dreading the actual panel, but spent a lot of time developing a discussion plan, drafting a PowerPoint, rehearsing, and editing. That's seemed to work well for me! I ended up getting a lot of positive feedback from pretty much everyone who attended and those same folks passed on the good word to the con's organizer. I may post the content of the panel on the blog later, but not today.

I was volunteering today at the con and decided to commission a drawing of what I like to call "Pughead" from artist Mike Norton on my convention t-shirt:

While chatting with him, I realized that he created the "Zoo-Pendous Variant Cover" of ARCHIE #659, which just came out this past week. Such a great artist!

There was a lot of planning and work that went into Mid Con and it shows! I want to thank Noel Burns, Mitch Thompson, Nick Maida, Ike Lewis, Aaron Gillespie, Ryan Smith-Burns, and a whole host of others for doing tons of work over the past several months to pull this together. I want to thank all of the artists and writers who came to the show to teach their craft. And I'd like to thank cosplayers Alexa Heart and Mimiru Riley (as well as a host of other incredible cosplayers!) for putting themselves out there and showcasing their talent and imagination. I'd like to thank Mike Norton again for "Pughead." And I'd like to thank D'Angelo and Diego for (im)patiently sitting through my panel.

Now I think it's time to rest!

Monkey Madness Comes to Riverdale in ARCHIE #659!

I just got finished reading one of the wildest issues of ARCHIE in quite some time! ARCHIE #659 is a crazy issue. It's premise is simple. Salem casts a spell on a lion with the intent of transforming him into a man. It was poker night and the lion needed some camouflage! Unfortunately, the spell ran wide and the five Riverdale Gang got caught up, instantly transforming them into various wild animals!

But that's not all! Anytime any of the animals get near any people, those bystanders get magically transformed into animals also! It's like an animistic version of "28 Days Later" -- except with less blood, gore, or death!

What follows is 20 pages of humorous chaos -- Archie Comics at its best. It doesn't waste any time laying the foundations for this tale. Salem casts a spell on page two. Animals run amok beginning on page four. Sabrina fixes things on the last page. Perfection!

Here are some of my favorites:

Jughead scrounging for food at the mall and creating a stampede!

Mr. Weatherbee as a hippo throwing a tantrum!

Sabrina finally grasping a concept that I'd realized years ago!

This issue was so much fun. You really need to go out and get it!

"Walk on the Wild Side!" is written by Alex Segura, penciled by Pat & Tim Kennedy, inked by Rick Koslowski, and lettered by Jack Morelli.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Reminder: Mid Con Comic Show This Weekend! // Updated to Include Mid Con's Weekend Schedule!

I wrote last month about the Mid Con Comic Show. This is a brand new comic book convention that debuts later today and will continue all weekend (September 19-21, 2014) at the Clarion Highlander Hotel & Conference Center (2525 N. Dodge Street) here in Iowa City!

You can purchase tickets at the door. Here are the prices: It's $35 for a three-day weekend pass. It's $10 for a one-day pass on Friday or Sunday. And it's $25 for a one-day pass on Saturday.

Here is a rough schedule of events (not including the roughly 26 panels spaced out throughout the weekend):
Dealers Room/ Artist Alley Hours
Friday 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Saturday 10:00am - 6:00pm
Sunday 10:00am - 3:00pm

Event Times
Comic School - 4:00pm - 6:00pm
DC/Marvel Mash-up - 8:00pm - 9:00pm
DC/Marvel Mash-up Meet and Greet - 9:00pm - 10:00pm
Game Room - 8:00pm - 8:00am
Comic Creation Room - 8:00pm - 8:00am

Blood Drive 9:00am - 12:00pm
Cosplay Pre-Judging/ Rehersal 4:00pm - 7:30pm
Cosplay - 8:00pm - 9:30pm or done
Game Room - 8:00pm - 8:00am
Comic Creation Room - 8:00pm - 8:00am

Art Auction Display - 10:30am - 11:30am
Art Auction - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Registration by the Day
Friday 2:00pm - 8:00pm
Saturday 8:00am - 7:00pm
Sunday 8:00am - 12:00pm
There will be a variety of comic book professionals, as well as big-name cosplayers, at Mid Con.

 I don't have the list of panels, though I know the guys from SuperHero Society podcast will be critiquing/panning the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie sometime tomorrow. Also, I have a panel on Archie Comics scheduled for tomorrow at noon. I've got my PowerPoint all made up and, assuming that I don't get all nervous, it should be a pretty fun panel & discussion!

There is also a Comic School for non-adults starting at 4:00 PM today. It will walk participants through the steps of creating a comic book from idea to print.

Hopefully I'll pick up a complete list of events later this afternoon. I'll share those here later tonight.

Hope to see you all at Mid Con this weekend!

Update: I just got back from watching a Marvel/DC Mash-Up Improv event at Mid Con. The weekend schedule has been announced. Check out the options. As you can see, I'll be doing my "Archie's Dead!" panel starting at noon tomorrow. But there are lots of other cool events going on this weekend. 

Check it out (click on graph for a better look!):

I hope to see you at Mid Con Comic Show tomorrow!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Iowa City School Board Member Arrested & Charged with Domestic Abuse // Updated on 09/18/14: Charges Have Been Dropped // Questions Have Not Been Answered

Originally written on 09/07/14: Iowa City School Board member Tuyet Dorau was arrested early this morning and accused of domestic violence. Coralville Police were called to Dorau's home at 1:20 AM this morning to investigate a domestic dispute.

According to the victim and a witness, there had been an argument in the home. It has been alleged that Dorau escalated the argument by striking him with a clothes hanger and kicking him in the stomach when he tried holding her down in order to get her to stop striking him with the clothes hanger. Coralville Police report that the victim had scratches and redness on his abdomen.

Dorau has been charged with one court of domestic assault without intent to cause injury, which is a serious misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. She was booked at the Johnson County Jail and later released at 10:37 AM today after posting a $1,000 cash bond.

The victim in this case has requested a no-contact order.

Updated on 09/18/14: It was announced yesterday that domestic abuse charges have been dropped against Iowa City School Board member Tuyet Dorau. Even though the victim had initially requested a no-contact order, it was subsequently dropped the next day. It is unclear why charges were dropped other than the victim asked for them to dropped.

Subsequent news articles repeat that she was alleged to have struck her victim with a clothes hanger, physically attacked him, and kicked him in the abdomen. No additional information about the domestic fight have been released and Dorau has been silent, despite promising to issue a formal statement this week.

I wouldn't normally care this much except that she is one of our elected officials.

"Archie: Riverdale Rescue": Clay Walker! // Update on 09/18/14: Where's Clay??

(Originally written on 06/14/14): 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.

I wrote last weekend about a recent summer upgrade, which introduced three new buy-in characters (plus Caramel!). I noted in that article that an early glitch indicated that three other buy-in characters will apparently be brought into the game: Smithers, Svensson, and Clay Walker.

Clay Walker is a character from the soon-to-be canceled LIFE WITH ARCHIE. He was introduced in LIFE WITH ARCHIE #16 when he married an adult Kevin Keller. Clay later got shot in LWA #22, but he eventually got better.

(Clay Walker)
As I noted above, Clay has not yet been introduced to the game and I'm not sure why. I cannot help wondering if there might be some issue about him being introduced to the game because he's an adult character in the comics and Kevin in "Riverdale Rescue" isn't.

But last night, I was putting some work into a new house in order to upgrade to, when I skipped over a BFF-specific task. In "Riverdale Rescue," there are some joint tasks that can only be performed by Romantic Couples or by BFFs. When I clicked on that one BFF-specific task, a list of potential BFF characters were presented -- and one of those characters was Clay Walker!

When the summer upgrades occurred, there was a glitch that messed up most of the relationships. Some of these new characters were suddenly friends and BFFs with older characters. So it looks like Moose and Clay are BFFs in my own private Riverdale. Except that Clay -- despite being listed as a potential player -- isn't a player yet. I tried assigning Clay and Moose to a joint task and my game shut down!

Then this morning, an advertisement popped up encouraging players to purchase all of these new characters. Clay is among that collection of characters though you still cannot purchase him (or Smithers or Svensson).

I got to thinking that it would be interesting if Clay got introduced this month as part of a Gay Pride special, but I really don't think that's gonna happen. But I will keep my eyes open for the moment when I can finally introduce Clay Walker to my own private Riverdale and hook him up with Kevin!

Updated on 09/18/14: Not long after writing this original post, the folks at "Riverdale Rescue" told me that it would be a while before Clay was introduced to the game. They didn't quite tell it to me like this, but I read between the lines and came to the conclusion that they are struggling to introduce an adult Clay to the game and having him potentially dating a teenage Kevin! It's been a few months and there haven't been any new developments, so I just periodically check for updates and leave it at that.

Then I read the following update on Facebook from the "Riverdale Rescue" folks and decided to write the following offhand comment: Where's Clay??

I seriously didn't expect a response, but I got one:

So either the folks at "Riverdale Rescue" are putting me off, or else there will be developments soon. Maybe it will tie into the upcoming new 2015 KEVIN KELLER comic book? That would be pretty cool!

I will share more as I learn more!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chick-fil-A Co-Sponsoring Iowa Soul Festival this Weekend

I am totally out of it these days. I've never heard of Iowa Soul Festival and I certainly hadn't heard that they had asked Chick-fil-A to be one of their co-sponsors. But apparently it's a local controversy. Funny that I'm Facebook friends with the two women interviewed in this article and I don't recall hearing anything about it.

According to the Press-Citizen, "local members of the LGBT community" are upset that Iowa City Summer of the Arts teamed with Chick-fil-A for a co-sponsorship of this weekend's Iowa Soul Festival. Chick-fil-A became the fastfood restaurant of choice amongst anti-gay Christians and political leaders back in 2012 when their CEO began condemning families like mine and when the corporation began donating huge sums of money to anti-gay political and social groups:
Janelle Rettig, a Johnson County Supervisor who has been in a same-sex marriage for nearly 26 years, said Chick-fil-A's sponsorship makes her question whether LGBT people — those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — are welcome at Soul Fest. "When they're a sponsor in a city that prides itself in celebrating diversity, I think we do have to question that," Rettig said Tuesday. "It's eyebrow raising, and it makes me wonder if I should even go to Soul Fest because I'm uncomfortable with it."
Jewell Amos, 44, the chairwoman of the Iowa City Pride Committee, said she has mixed feelings about the sponsorship, and questions whether Summer of the Arts knew the background of the company before partnering with them. "It is their choice, by all means, to utilize all the funds they can get to put on their festival," said Amos, who said she was sharing her personal thoughts and not speaking on behalf of the committee, which she said does not generally involve itself in political issues. "But I personally think they should have picked their sponsors a little more carefully."
Lisa Barnes, the executive director of Summer of the Arts, said in the interview that they knew they would be courting negative reactions when they partnered with Chick-fil-A. But they did it anyway. Because "open discussion" and apparently because there aren't any restaurants without nationwide anti-gay reputations in the Iowa City/Coralville area.

The Iowa City Summer of the Arts issued a statement yesterday about this controversy:
Summer of the Arts is supported by the generous sponsorships and donations of many area businesses, vendors and individuals. Those that contribute to the organization may have values or beliefs that are not embraced by everyone. Summer of the Arts has recently received some public criticism and questions regarding the Chick-fil-A sponsorship of Culinary Row at the upcoming Iowa Soul Festival.

Summer of the Arts welcomes all people to attend and participate in our festivals and events regardless of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference.

Chick-fil-A stepped forward to support the Iowa Soul Festival by investing in the available sponsorship of Culinary Row, showing their support of the arts in our community. Chick-fil-A would also like to show their support of diversity including the LGBTQ community and want to make sure to show honor, dignity, and respect to all people. We feel that it is important and appropriate to encourage that sentiment especially in Iowa City.

Summer of the Arts is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community. We have collaborated and partnered with Iowa City Pride Festival for multiple years, as well as actively look for ways to include LGBTQ musicians, artists, vendors, movies etc. in our programming each year. This will not change.

Festival goers may choose which sponsors and vendors to patronize or visit while attending an event as there are many options available. The purpose of the Iowa Soul Festival is to celebrate and increase awareness of diversity and the positive impact it has on our community. Again, this is a welcoming and open event for all. It would be unfortunate for someone to not attend the festival or participate in all that it has to offer.
For the record, I won't be at the Iowa Soul Festival. It has nothing to do with Chick-fil-A. I just have other plans. That said, I would be less likely to follow through with my plans to attend Iowa Soul Festival if I'd have been planning on attending because of this co-sponsorship. That's my thoughts. You are free to make your own choice. And feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Uncle Poodle is Engaged!

Uncle Poodle & Alan
Remember back in July when we learned that Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson has a new boyfriend named Alan? Uncle Poodle promised at the time that there would be no gay weddings on the "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" program, but the two have been quite active together on Uncle Poodle's Facebook page and they've been referring to each other as husbands.

I guess they just decided to make it official. Mama June announced on the office "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" Facebook page today that "He said yes! Sending lots of love and happiness to Uncle Poodle!" No word on whom asked whom, or if they've set a date, or if it's going to be a camo-themed wedding, or if Alan's going to appear on future episodes of the reality TV program.

Congratulations, Uncle Poodle and Alan!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Girls Bid Farewell to Riverdale in BETTY & VERONICA #272!

It took me a while, but I finally read BETTY & VERONICA #272. It's Part One of the "Farewell Betty & Veronica" storyline, in which our title characters head off on a months-long foreign exchange trip. Part One is pretty basic: Betty and Veronica are leaving and everyone is sad about it -- except for Cheryl Blossom. They have a going away ceremony. And then the girls board their flight -- after kissing their favorite redhead!

It's actually not a bad story and I'm certainly not doing it any justice with my brief summary. But I guess I'm feeling a little leery. I believe that there will be five parts to this story. This first part says "goodbye." And we'll "learn how this all began" next issue. Assuming that this doesn't happen as part of a flashback intermixed with the beginning of their new adventure... Well, it doesn't leave a lot of book-space for their new adventure.

Personally, I would have preferred that the start of their new adventure had been more condensed. Combine the "how" and the "goodbye" in a series of flashbacks as the girls fly overseas and then unload onto their new school bus or whatever. Not to mention, watching the kids at home grieve over their joint absence after they had actually been absent for a bit. It just seems like we're stretching this aspect of the story too much.

Best part of the story? Cheryl and Midge! Now that Betty and Veronica have left Riverdale, there are two new spots on the cheerleading squad. This leads to a huge fight over Cheryl's cavalier attitude about shooting up on the social totem pole. But does a fist-fight really count as a "cat fight?"

One last thing... Shades of PEP COMICS #22??:

I really hope we get to see the girls enjoying their new adventure next issue and not spending all issue thinking back on how they actually got chosen for their new adventure. This book doesn't come out often enough to get mired in the details.

"The Beginning of the End!" is written by Michael Uslan, penciled by Dan Parent, inked by Bob Smith, and lettered by Jack Morelli.

14-Year-Old Boy Faces 2 Years in Prison for Simulating Oral Sex Act with Statue of Jesus

Have you heard about the 14-year-old boy from Everett, PA, who is facing two years in prison for posting pictures on Facebook of him simulating oral sex acts with a statue of Jesus?

It's true. Back in July, the boy had some pictures taken of him kneeling in front of a statue of Jesus pretending like he was getting some head. The pictures were posted on Facebook and eventually came to the attention of the local district attorney's office.

The ministry who owns the statue, Love in the Name of Christ, wasn't happy about the pictures. But they didn't want to press criminal charges. And they accepted the boy's apology. Basically, they asked folks to pray for the kid.

But Bedford County district attorney Bill Higgins had the boy arrested, charging him with "Desecration of a Venerated Object," which is a 2nd degree misdemeanor. He wants the boy tried in juvenile court as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Higgins feels pretty good that others think it's ridiculous that he has criminally charged this teen in this instance:
I guess I should take solace in the fact that the liberals are mad at me—again. As for this case, this troubled young man offended the sensibilities and morals of OUR community.… His actions constitute a violation of the law, and he will be prosecuted accordingly. If that tends to upset the 'anti-Christian, ban-school-prayer, war-on-Christmas, oppose-display-of-Ten-Commandments' crowd, I make no apologies.
You read that correctly, Bill Higgins cited Fox News' annual "War of Christmas" in support for this criminal prosecution.

Speaking of Fox News, Bill Higgins is reaching out to various Fox News personalities in an effort to bolster support for his cause:

And just because Bill Higgins is citing is conservative Christian values, it's worth noting that he came under a bit of professional heat back in 2008 for committing adultery with a woman at the Bedford County courthouse. Then again, the values of his community -- those same values that support the criminal prosecution of a 14-year-old boy for posing in a stupid photo -- re-elected Higgins. So what do I know?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kanye West Pauses Concert While Waiting for Disabled Audience Members to Dance

(Waving Prosthetic Leg)
Kanye West stopped an Australian concert mid-performance Friday night because there were two people in the audience who refused to stand up and dance -- because they were physically disabled:
Kanye was playing a gig at the Qantas Credit Union Arena in Sydney when he stopped rapping mid-song ... ordering the crowd to get on their feet before he'd continue. An eyewitness told the Daily Mail Australia that Kanye said, "I can't do this show until everybody stand up.  Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and s**t." One person in the crowd waved their prosthetic leg in the air and Kanye said they could sit. Shortly after Kanye spotted another person in the crowd sitting down and once again stopped the show -- then sent one of his employees into the crowd to make sure the person was handicap (sic). Once the hired gun confirmed the disability ... Kanye said "it's fine" and rapped on.
I watched some video of the event. TMZ makes it seem like it was nothing. But it was several minutes of awkward micromanagement of audience members. What a diva!


Catching Up With My Friends: Joseph Wilson Pleads Guilty to Online Child Sex Crimes (2013)

I'm having one of those mornings. I woke and began wondering about one of my old friends who used to be quite involved with the Iowa City LGBT and arts scenes and who later (May 2012) got arrested after getting caught up in an Internet child sex sting in Florida.

I met Joe back in the mid-90s when I first moved to Iowa City. Husband Mark and I used to go to his place every week to watch episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (and later Star Trek: Voyager and later the UK Queer As Folk series) with a group of friends. We went to a handful of his parties. He even hosted our commitment ceremony reception at his condo in Iowa City. Eventually, he sold the condo and moved back to the Okoboji area of Iowa and I haven't been in touch with him since.

I first learned of Joe's arrest a month or two after it happened while reading an editorial in ACCESSline, an Iowa-based GLBT paper that my friend used to write for. Basically, the editor reported the arrest and informed readers that my friend was no longer involved with the paper (and, honestly, I don't think he'd written anything for the paper for a while prior to the arrest) and that his work was being scrubbed from the paper's online records.

I did some cyber-sleuthing at the time and learned that he was accused of reaching out to a fictional parent online (i.e., a cop) and made arrangements to have sex with the fictional parent's fictional 12-year-old son (and possibly his fictional 14-year-old daughter). He was arrested while allegedly coming to meet up with these fictional folks (i.e., multiple cops). He was arrested along with 30 other men as part of this sting and ended up sitting in jail for three months while gathering bail money.

And that was the last I'd heard of Joe's arrest until this morning. I have no clue what made me think of him, but I decided to check on the status of his case. It turns out that he ended up pleading guilty on 02/12/13 to charges of "using of a computer to solicit, seduce or entice a child to commit sex acts" and "traveling to solicit, seduce or entice a child to commit sex acts." Both charges are felonies. He was sentenced to a five year prison sentence, which will be followed by five years of probation. He is also required to remain on Florida's list of sex offenders. Last thing I read indicated that he is scheduled to be released from prison in May 2017.

I have no idea what I'm trying to communicate with this post. Mainly, I find the need to process his arrest and conviction. I know that these are old charges, but the updates are still fresh for me. But a lot of this is to communicate extreme disappointment in my old friend.

I know that I haven't seen him in over a decade, but I liked the guy. I always thought he had potential. He was smart and friendly and civic-minded and had financial resources. He was great at networking amongst the various statewide LGBT groups and worked hard to provide outreach to local LGBT communities -- particularly in places like northwest Iowa, where there aren't many resources. And then he does something stupid like what he tried to do in Florida (and hopefully he never successfully carried out what he tried to do in Florida) and now every effort he made in the past to serve local LGBT populations (include, of all things, an LGBT teen outreach effort that he operated out of his home!!) are now forever suspect.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Straight Guys Marry for Rugby Tickets

I've seen copies of this tweet circulating today. Here is the backstory:

The Edge is a New Zealand-based radio program. New Zealand is now a marriage equality country. The Edge invited heterosexual buds to apply for the opportunity to win tickets to a world rugby match. The catch? They had to get legally married.
Matt McCormick and Travis McIntosh were the winners of this contest. Their wedding was officiated by somebody dressed like Darth Vader. It's unclear if they shared a kiss at the wedding. But they're now married and are looking forward to watching some rugby.

New Zealand-based LGBT groups are upset that the Edge is making light of same-sex families with this contest. I really didn't care either way until I heard about the Darth Vader officiant. Hopefully one of the guys takes the other to the cleaners when they eventually divorce.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Palin Family Involved in Drunken Brawl over the Weekend

There's a story making the rounds involving the Palin family, a "snowmachine" party, and a drunken brawl. Check this out:
The night before, Saturday, was a doozy. The details are a little sketchy, but there’s enough of them, from enough different sources, that a story emerges, a story that according to the gossip Gods, looks kind of like this: There’s some sort of unofficial birthday/Iron Dog-type/snowmachine party in Anchorage. A nice, mellow party, until the Palin’s show up. There’s beer, of course, and maybe other things. Which is all fine, but just about the time when some people might have had one too many, a Track Palin stumbles out of a stretch Hummer, and immediately spots an ex-boyfriend of Willow’s. Track isn’t happy with this guy, the story goes. There’s words, and more. The owner of the house gets involved, and he probably wished he hadn’t. At this point, he’s up against nearly the whole Palin tribe: Palin women screaming. Palin men thumping their chests. Word is that Bristol has a particularly strong right hook, which she employed repeatedly, and it’s something to hear when Sarah screams, “Don’t you know who I am!” And it was particularly wonderful when someone in the crowd screamed back, “This isn’t some damned Hillbilly reality show!” No, it’s what happens when the former First Family of Alaska comes knocking. As people were leaving in a cab, Track was seen on the street, shirtless, flipping people off, with Sarah right behind him, and Todd somewhere in the foreground, tending to his bloody nose.
Another Alaska blog has confirmed with the Anchorage Police Department that the brawl did indeed happen and that there were roughly 20 people involved. No charges were pressed. No arrests were made. And young Tripp was present at this party. Oh, and Track also ended up getting bloodied in this fight.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Phil Robertson from "Duck Dynasty": STDs are God's Punishment for Homosexuality

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson appeared yesterday on a Family Research Council radio program and asserted that sexually transmitted diseases are God's punishment for homosexuality:
“Do you think it’s a coincidence,” Robertson asked, “that all of these debilitating — literally that can cause death — diseases follow that kind of conduct?” He was responding to Perkins’ question specifically about the controversy from last year.

“God says, ‘One woman, one man,’ and everyone says, ‘Oh, that’s old hat, that’s that old Bible stuff,’” he said. “But I’m thinking, well let’s see now. A clean guy — a disease-free guy and a disease-free woman — they marry and they keep their sex between the two of them. They’re not going to get chlamydia, and gonorrhea, and syphilis, and AIDS. It’s safe.”

Robertson reasons, “Either it’s the wildest coincidence ever that horrible diseases follow immoral conduct, or, it’s God saying, ‘There’s a penalty for that kind of conduct.’ I’m leaning towards there’s a penalty for it.”
Interestingly, you could say the same thing about gay people.

Two disease-free guys or gals -- they marry and they keep their sex between the two of them. They're not going to get chlamydia, and gonorrhea, and syphilis, and AIDS. It's safe.

It's true. I've been with my husband for over 20 years. No STD and no AIDS.

What was his point again?

Oh that's right. His point is that he's "as much a homophobe as Jesus was" and that gay people need to know that Phil Robertson loves us.