Sunday, November 30, 2014

Anna Cardwell of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" Launched $20,000 FundMe Campaign

Anna "Chickadee" Cardwell, formerly of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," caught some flack this weekend from her fans when she launched a FundMe fundraising campaign to help her and her family out.

It's been known that she and her husband are pretty much broke and there have been problems with them accessing her trust account from the reality TV show -- if indeed there's any money left in it.

She set a monetary goal of $20,000 to help pay her phone bill and to buy Christmas gifts for her daughter. They are also trying to save for a house. And -- if she was wise -- there was also the potential for going to school.

The people on her Facebook account freaked out that they were being asked to voluntarily contribute to this FundMe campaign. I mean, it's not like they are being compelled to donate money. But the negative publicity was enough that she decided to cancel the FundMe campaign:

Now she's trying to sell oils online and has also spoken about writing a tell-all book.

GOP Staffer Criticizes Obama Daughters Following Turkey Pardon Ceremony

I spent Thanksgiving Day weekend up north with my extended family. I briefly made note of the annual presidential "pardoning of the turkey" ceremony. My only thought at the time was that the media was going to have a field day with his wise-cracks about his presidential duties, executive orders, etc.

Little did I realize that the media would instead go after his daughters. Briefly. Until one GOP staffer took it too far and then everyone turned on her.

Here's what happened...

President Barack Obama pardoned two turkeys from the butcher's knife. As in past years, he was joined by his two daughters, Sasha and Malia. Apparently, they weren't presidential enough with their behavior during the ceremony. They occasionally folded their arms and rolled their eyes at their dad. Of course, other times they smiled and laughed politely.

But the 13- and 16-year-old girls weren't stepford enough for one GOP staffer. US Rep Stephen Fincher (TN)'s communications director, Elizabeth Lauten, posted the following message on Facebook:

Lauten's criticism of the First Daughters went over about as well as a couple of lead balloons. After receiving lots of negative feedback, Lauten posted this message on her Facebook account:
I reacted to an article and quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager. After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents and re-reading my words online, I can see more clearly how hurtful my words were. Please know that these judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart. Furthermore, I'd like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience.
Actually, this is one of the better political apologies that I've read. None of those "I'm sorry if you took my words the wrong way..." non-apologies.

Regardless, Lauten continued to receive negative input about her posts, so she removed both of them from Facebook and changed her account to a private setting.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Uncle Poodle & His Fiance Take the HIV Shower Selfie Challenge

Uncle Poodle and his fiance Alan posted the following message on their Facebook fan page. They accepted a new online challenge in preparation for World AIDS Day. I've seen it called #weareALLclean. I've seen it called the HIV Shower Selfie Challenge. Either way, people are encouraged to take selfies of themselves in the shower to help those diagnosed with HIV.

Uncle Poodle and Alan have challenged the adult members of his family, as well as the adult members of the Duggar family, to the HIV Shower Selfie Challenge.

For the record, I didn't do the Ice Bucket Challenge and I definitely won't be stripping and showering for the HIV Shower Selfie Challenge!! ;)

But if you want to do it, you are invited to take a selfie or make a Vine video of yourself in the shower without any explicit nudity. You are invited to post your pic on all social media platorms with the caption "Take HIV Shower Selfie Challenge raise $$ for HIV/AIDS cure #weareALLclean". You are to nominate three or more others to take the challenge. You are encouraged to donate money to And you are encouraged to change your profile pictures to your shower selfie on World AIDS Day (December 1st).

Iowa City Residents Protested Walmart at Black Friday

I didn't do any Black Thursday or Black Friday shopping this past weekend. I was visiting family and pretty much out in the sticks. But even if I was home, I probably wouldn't be shopping. I cannot stand the crowds. But the local Press-Citizen had a story about what others in the Iowa City/Coralville area were doing on these special shopping days.

A handful of shoppers were interviewed, but there were also several paragraphs devoted to a member from my church, as she protested with others against low-wages and rampant commericialism:
A few hours later Friday, Ann Zerkel, a member of Faith United Church of Christ in Iowa City, helped organize a protest outside the Iowa City Walmart Supercenter. Up to two dozen people stood along Highway 1 holding signs that read, "Respect = Living Wage," "Can't Survive on $7.25" and "Low Wages Hurt America."

"We picked this day because it traditionally is a shopping day, and we expect to see and be seen by a significant number of people," said Zerkel, who co-organized the protest along with the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa and the Iowa City Federation of Labor.

As cars passed by, Iowa City resident Jim Walters — who held a sign that read, "Honk for Higher Wages" — said: "Listen to 'em honk. They've been honking all day."
Incidentally, Faith UCC will be holding its annual Alternative Christmas Sale tomorrow morning following worship services. Pretty much everything is homegrown and/or homemade and the proceeds all go to benefit Heifer International.

Faith UCC is located at1609 DeForest Avenue in Iowa City. Worship services begin at 9:30 AM every Sunday morning. Faith UCC is an open, affirming, just-peace, accessible to all, economic justice covenant congregation.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Gay Teen Romance in AMAZING X-MEN #13

I just got finished reading AMAZING X-MEN #13. This issue features Nightcrawler and Northstar as they rush to save one of their students, a young teen named Anole, from a villain named Lady Mastermind.

Anole is a young mutant who looks like a lizard. He's green. He has a forked tongue. He can regenerate severed limbs. And he can use his camouflage abilities to blend seamlessly into the background. But he's also a young gay kid, which kind of sucks because he's got one of those mutant powers that makes you look pretty darned inhuman.

It seems like Anole has been chatting online with another gay teen and arranged for a hook-up date in New York City. He told the kid that he is a mutant, but never sent him a pic because he's afraid that his date, Noam, will ditch him because he's green and scaly. So Anole hides in the corner until his date finally leaves.

That's when he gets attacked by Lady Mastermind and ultimately rescued by his two teachers. Sorry about the spoilers, but did you really think that she's prevail over these guys? I mean, they've successfully faced down Dark Phoenix, Apocalypse, and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Lady Mastermind isn't going to defeat them.

I remember when comic books could only talk about gay characters with highly implied subtext. Marvel's editorial staff banned gay character portrayals, so the company's characters would make vague swipes about Northstar's manliness and you wouldn't know unless you were clued in on the fact that he was a gay superhero.

Then Northstar came out of the closet in the early 90s in a huge way. He adopted an abandoned baby girls who was dying from AIDS and then screamed out "I am gay!" while fighting an aging Canadian hero whose son had also died from AIDS. It was all quite melodramatic. And then Northstar kind of faded into the background for over a decade.

Then a few years ago Marvel Comics started pumping out the LGBT characters: Anole, Hulkling, Wiccan, Ms. America, Bling!, Moondragon, Karma... I know there are many more. It's just gotten to the point that I've lost my ability to recall all of them.

So it's still amazing to me that you can have a story where a gay teen breaks into a monologue about how he will never be able to love or hug or kiss another because of his appearance. There is never any doubt -- going back to the earliest pages of this book -- that Anole is a young boy who is interested in dating another boy. I never imagined this type of frank portrayal of LGBT life when I was growing up back in the 80s. Never.

And then comes the big reveal at the end. Anole meets Noam and shows him his true face. And then he asks him out on a date. We've come a long way since the Hulk was nearly gang-raped in the YMCA! 30 years later and we now have tender moments of awkward romance. That's seriously real progress.

"Charm School" is written by James Tynion IV, penciled & inked by Jorge Jimenez, colored by Rachelle Rosenberg, and lettered by VC's Joe Caramagna.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nice Becomes Naughty and Naughty Becomes Nice in B&V FRIENDS COMICS DIGEST #241

B&V FRIENDS COMICS DIGEST #241 was published earlier this week. Like all of the recent digests published these days by Archie Comics, this one has a Christmas theme through most of stories, including the new lead-in story.

This was a pretty cute short story featuring, of all characters, Santa Claus! He apparently got over his seasonal depression pretty quickly because he's now rushing to get ready for his Christmas Eve run.

It seems that he has a dilemma though -- otherwise, there wouldn't be much storyline tension. It seems like there is a major discrepancy with his "naughty or nice" list. Basically, Betty is naughty and Veronica is nice. Santa knows better and decides that he needs to go personally to Riverdale to find out what's going on!

"Naughty Or Nice" is written by Batton Lash, penciled by Bill Galvan, inked by Jim Amash, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Color-Tek, Inc. This was a cute story and the solution to Santa's confusion ends up making a lot of sense.

By the way, it was great to see Kevin Keller in this story. I worry about the guy now that his book's been canceled. I'm afraid that he'll slowly fade away. But here he is collecting toys for the needy!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Thanksgiving Day from Jon's Blog!

My you dine in moderation, drink wisely, and drive safely!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nero at Daycare -- 11/25/14

It was another wild day at doggy daycare yesterday and Nero really ramped up the playtime energy. Check this out:

Archie Learns that There's an App for Everything in WORLD OF ARCHIE COMICS DIGEST #45!

It's been a crazy week so I just got caught up on last week's comic book shipment earlier today, including WORLD OF ARCHIE COMICS DIGEST #45. I have to say that WORLD OF ARCHIE has to be my favorite of the digests. I mean, they're all basically the same -- collections of classic reprints with first-print lead stories. But WORLD of ARCHIE always seems to have the really great classic characters such as Super Duck and Suzie. They also featured reprints of Cosmo the Merry Martian in the past, which were pretty good stories too.

This issue featured a great brand new lead story by Fernando Ruiz. It shows Archie desperately shopping for the perfect Christmas gift for Veronica, the girl who has everything. Jughead sees him at the mall and learns that Dilton created a cell phone app that has fully cataloged Veronica's inventory of clothing, jewelry, and other possessions. All Archie has to do is scan an outfit's barcode and he instantly knows if she still has it.

Unfortunately, Archie quickly discovers that Veronica already has everything within his budget. That's when Jughead comes up with the perfect plan. They need to shop somewhere where Veronica would never go shopping: the Riverdale Flea Market!

What follows is a mad-dash effort to sift through Riverdale's discarded treasures in hopes of finding something -- anything -- that Veronica will appreciate! Let me assure you . The choices weren't pretty! I'll leave it up to you to figure out what -- if anything -- that Archie ultimately found for Veronica!

"The Christmas App" was written & penciled by Fernando Ruiz, inked by Rich Koslowski, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Digikore Studios.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Iowa Man Arrested After Going to White House wtih Gun // Iowa Man Pleads Guilty to Gun Charges.

Originally written on 11/20/14: Iowa is in the news today -- and not for a good reason! A man from Davenport, IA, was arrested near the White House yesterday after driving to Washington DC with a gun and a knife on a "self-described mission to go to the executive mansion:"
R.J. Kapheim, 41, of Davenport, Iowa, walked up to a Secret Service officer on the east side of the White House grounds and “told the officer that someone in Iowa told him to go to the White House,” Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor said.

Kapheim said he had driven to Washington from Iowa. When officers searched his car, a 2013 Volkswagen Passat parked a few blocks away on the edge of the National Mall, they found a .30-30 rifle with more than 40 rounds of ammunition and a six-inch knife in the trunk, she said.
Kapheim has been arrested and charged with possession of an unregistered firearm. He potentially faces additional charges.

Updated on 11/26/14: That was fast. R.J. Kapheim was arrested late last week for bringing a knife and a gun to the White House. Now we learn that Kapheim pleaded guilty yesterday to misdemeanor charges of possessing an unregistered firearm and ammunition. He will remain in custody until his sentencing date, which has been scheduled for 01/26/15.

According to the Press-Citizen, Kapheim approached a Secret Service post last week and told them that he had an appointment with President Obama. They informed him that he wasn't on the president's schedule and escorted him to his vehicle, where they found the weapons.

It's clear from reading media reports that Kapheim has been struggling with mental health problems. I don't say that to be mean or anything. Neighbors describe his behavior as "really odd" and "strange." One neighbor reports that he was trying to sell his home so that he would have enough money to pay for a "transgender operation." And then there's the larger delusion that he was summoned to see the president.

I could be wrong, but that's my uneducated assessment. Hopefully he receives the help that he needs.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: "The Overnighters"

I went yesterday to watch "The Overnighters" at FilmScene, Iowa City's nonprofit theater. "The Overnighters" is a documentary about the town of Williston, ND, which became overwhelmed by thousands of unemployed men seeking employment within the oil industry. Even though many of these men successfully found work, many others (particularly older men or men with criminal backgrounds) found that employment opportunities were not as plentiful as hoped. On top of that, there are few affordable housing options for this onslaught of migrants.

Pastor Jay Reinke ends up creating the Overnighter program at Concordia Lutheran Church. Dozens of men end up sleeping night after night in this makeshift shelter until other housing options become available. Many more end up sleeping in their vehicles in the church parking lot.

The film begins several months into the program. Pastor Reinke is trying to juggle his responsibilities to his family and to his church with his desire to provide housing and outreach to these Overnighters. Meanwhile, the church is hemorrhaging members and the City Council is in the process of passing an ordinance to ban residents from sleeping in RVs within town for more than a month. Additionally, the newspaper is stirring things up with emotionally-charged articles about the migrants and the resulting increase in crime.

"The Overnighters" does a good job of bouncing back and forth from hope to despair. Pastor Reinke is obviously emotionally connected to his community's visitors -- much to the detriment of his neglected family. The documentary follows a handful of the men. It's wonderful to watch men secure employment for the first time in years. But how sad is it that they're earning anywhere from $25,000-$40,000/year and still cannot do much better than live in RVs on the outskirts of town?

And then there is the sex offender whose criminal background is hidden by Pastor Reinke so that he doesn't jeopardize the larger Overnighters program. What happens when his background is ultimately exposed to the community?

I won't give away everything, but nobody leaves "The Overnighters" unscathed -- not even Pastor Reinke and his wife. It's clear throughout the movie that Pastor Reinke has poor pastoral boundaries and those poor boundaries eventually lead to something horrible -- seemingly out from left field, but when you look back at the movie it makes more sense.

Check out this link for a listing of the film's current schedule.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Open Response to the People Who Want Gay Couples to Know that They Disapprove of Marriage Equality

I wrote yesterday about Ryan Buell's engagement. If you go onto his Facebook account, you will find well over 2,000 comments following that announcement. Most of those people are congratulating him and/or asking for the identity of his fiance. A couple snarky individuals are asking about money still owed to fans following a canceled tour.

But then there are a handful of individuals who want Ryan to know that they do not agree with same-sex marriage. Because Ryan Buell is going to go out of his way to cancel his wedding if any complete stranger objects to his relationship and future marriage. (That was snark, by the way...)

Anyway, I responded to one of those commenters. She wanted Ryan to know that "my Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman so not sure what Bible u are is also says homeosexulaity is punishable by death- God forgives pretty much everythng but u cant ask forgiveness and still keep sinniing the same sin over and over- I am a christian and not perfect- I make mistakes- we are all a work in progress but when the Bible says something is not "right" I have to beleive it- and for u to use the Bible in your ghost shows etc just shows u are picking and choosing what parts of the Bible to follow." (Note: I could have corrected her horrendous spelling, but it was more satisfying to leave it alone.)

She then went on to tell people that we don't follow any of the Old Testament except for the ten commandments since Jesus' birth, but then cited the sin of Sodom.

To which I replied, "Sodom? I thought we weren't to worry about the Old Testament..."

To which she responded that "Sodom was a town- sodomy is anal sex and technically illegal in many states are u that uneducated?"

To which I quote Ezekiel 16:49: "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." (Note: If I'd been on my game, I would have added verse 50, also: "They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.")

I then responded to her comment about anal sex being illegal in many states: "As for anal sex being illegal in many state, "Lawrence v. Texas" in 2003 struck down those laws. Are u that uneducated?" (Note: That last question was a cheap shot, but it felt good.)

She then got fed up with me and said: "there is no talking to a person like u Jon so I will say a prayer and be done with it." (Note: That comment elicited an LOL from me -- both online and out loud.)

Except that she wasn't "done with it." She posted a link to a six month old USA Today article that points out that 12 states technically still have anti-sodomy laws on the books despite the U.S.S Supreme Court's "Lawrence v. Texas" ruling.

I told her that I would like to see those laws stand up to a court challenge, which resulted in the following comment from her: "states have their own laws - they dont have to follow federal laws- where have u been?" (Note: That's Joni Ernst logic. Don't believe me? Check out this piece. I know a handful of Iowa Republicans who voted against her specifically for that reason. Not that it did any good...)

I LOL'ed again and pointed out that those sodomy laws were unconstitutional. "They might be on the books, but they aren't constitutional. The very article that you linked me to showed how men recently charged with "crimes against nature" had their charges dismissed by the prosecution because those laws were unenforceable. Did you read the article that you referred me to?"

Anyway, that's how the conversation ended. Or at least, that's where it stands at the present.

But I can't help wondering why people feel the need to tell gay people that they object to our marriages when we announce our engagements? Others wish us well. And others beyond them are polite enough to mind their own business. But I don't get how it's socially acceptable to respond to a "we're getting married(!)" message with a "I don't agree with gay marriage and you need to get right with God" response.

Ryan's family has disowned him over this relationship and he's still getting married. Do these people seriously believe that their opinions -- opinions of complete strangers -- will cause him to break off his engagement and relationship? Or any of us gay couples, for that matter?

So next time you learn that a gay person is getting married, do the right thing and either wish them well or mind your own business. Anything else is just rude.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ryan Buell of "Paranormal State" Getting Married

Here's the latest from Ryan Buell, formerly of "Paranormal State." He announced earlier today that he is engaged, presumably to longtime boyfriend Sergey Poberezhny:

No news on the whens and wheres. He doesn't engage with his fans on Facebook as much as some other reality TV folks, but I'm sure we will learn more when they're ready to share it.

I'm assuming he's joking about the polygamy and proton packs. But maybe not.

President Obama Getting Rid of the White House Christmas Tree in 2014? Don't Believe that False Rumor!

A friend told me yesterday that President Obama has decided to do away with the annual White House Christmas Tree for the first time ever in 2014 in favor of a new Holiday Tree. She thought it was horrible that the president was giving into political correctness and disrespecting God in this manner.

It took me about five seconds to google "White House Christmas tree" and I immediately found this page on the White House website:
Upcoming Guidance on Holidays at the White House

Friday, November 28, 2014
The White House * North Portico * 11:00 AM -- On Friday, November 28, First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome the Official White House Christmas Tree to the White House. Mrs. Obama will be presented the Blue Room tree by the Botek family, growers of this year's tree.

This year's White House Christmas Tree, which will be on display in the Blue Room, is an 18.5-foot Douglas Fir grown by Chris Botek, a second generation Christmas Tree Farmer from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, PA. Botek is the National Christmas Tree contest's 2010 champion and his parents, Francis and Margaret, were the 2006 contest champions.

Members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room since 1966.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
The White House * 1:30 PM --On Wednesday, December 3, First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome military families to the White House for the first viewing of the 2014 holiday decorations. Mrs. Obama will deliver remarks in the East Room, and then ask military children to join her in the State Dining Room as White House Chefs Cris Comerford and Susan Morrison, and White House Florist Laura Dowling, demonstrate holiday crafts and treats. As in years past, many of this year's White House holiday decorations will honor military families.
In other words, there will be a White House Christmas Tree in 2014, just like there has been going back to at least 1966.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Marvel Comics Announced New HOWARD THE DUCK Ongoing Comic Book Series!

I really like Howard the Duck. He's this talking duck character who got yanked to Earth back in the 70s and (when he's written best) is a great source for subversive social commentary and satire. It was announced earlier today that Marvel Comics plans to publish a new ongoing comic book series featuring Howard the Duck in Spring 2015!!

It seems like Howard will begin a new career in this series. He's going to become a private detective -- which seems more like a Howard-job compared to his last career as a zombie-hunting Agent of A.R.M.O.R. in MARVEL ZOMBIES 5 and MARVEL ZOMBIES DESTROY!

HOWARD THE DUCK will be written by Chip Zdarsky and penciled by Joe Quinones.

Uncle Poodle Vents on Facebook about Mama June and his Haters!

I lamented yesterday that Ryan Buell of the Paranormal Research Society and formerly of "Paranormal State" keeps so much of his personal stuff bottled up, which makes it difficult to watch things from a distance. That is one of the reasons why I love Uncle Poodle from "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." It seems like something new erupts every other day. And the frequency of reveals means that something new and exciting is just around the bend!

It's been the busy end of a busy week, so I haven't had time to troll the comments on Uncle Poodle's fan-page. I'm not sure what triggered it. Maybe Mama June left a series of posts on his page, which usually get deleted. Maybe she texted him some nasty message. Maybe her kids texted him some nasty message. Maybe one of her fans (and yes, Mama June still has a few fans) posted some nasty message. Either way, something triggered a Facebook response from Uncle Poodle late this afternoon:

Uncle Poodle claims that Mama June is essentially the Queen of Lies. He claims that she placed the family utilities in one of her daughter's names. Same with the credit card. He claims that they managed to steal cable. He also claims that Mama June stole his dead mother's life insurance money from him.

He also repeats that Mama June has cut Uncle Poodle out of the family -- and especially out of Alana's life. He also asserts that he will be there for both Alana and Anna (and presumably the other girls) if/when they want and need him.

Lastly, he clarified that he DOES NOT want a spin-off reality TV show -- which really bums me out because I want to see "Here Comes Uncle Poodle!"

Shortly afterwards, he posted this message:

Uncle Poodle addressed his fans and haters who periodically complain that he keeps stirring the "Honey Boo Boo" pot. He basically tells them to get over it. It's his fan page. Sometimes he wants to vent. If they don't like it, -- and seriously, why would they love this?? -- then they need to unlike his fan page.

He also said that he and his fiance Alan are trying to do something special for their fans for Christmas and that he will try posting other types of topics.

And then he finished up with my favorite post of the day:

Uncle Poodle replied to some of the most repeated complaints posed to him by his haters such as "You're just an attention whore" and "You're in this for the money" and "You're just as bad as Mama June."

He reminded people that he was Alana's director and choreographer from her "Toddlers & Tiaras" days. He was just as integral to Honey Boo Boo's rise to fame as her mother was. He reminded people that he has always been pretty clear that he is famous because of her -- which is very true. I've never seen him say anything different.

He also didn't create any of the mess surrounding Mama June's recent sex offender scandal.

Lastly, he's not making any money. He's living paycheck-to-paycheck and has about $300 to his name right now.

Anyway, I know I said earlier that I would try to post fewer posts about the "Honey Boo Boo" scandal, but nights like these make it very difficult to keep to that promise!

Nero at Daycare -- 11/20/14

It's been a while since Nero has graced this blog with his ever-loving presence. He still makes it to doggy daycare every week, but his times got shifted and this new time seems to clash with the photographer! But he finally showed up on the Lucky Pawz blog yesterday and doesn't he look handsome?

Check it out:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ryan Buell of "Paranormal State" Struggling with Health Concerns & Parental Rejection over Same-Sex Relationship

I was an off-and-on viewer of "Paranormal State," which followed Ryan Buell and other members of the Paranormal Research Society as they researched reports of suspected hauntings and demonic activity. Since then, I've read his book and learned of him coming out as bisexual and struggling with cancer. I also learned this summer that he was supposed to do a North American tour and ended up scuttling the whole thing. He now reportedly owes tens of thousands of dollars to many, many fans related to this event.

I woke this morning to a long and somewhat rambling Facebook post by Ryan Buell. It speaks about his health, his hopes for a newly reformed PRS, and about his parents total rejection of him because over their homophobia and his relationship with Sergey Poberezhny:

As always, I'm very curious about what's going on with Buell and his family -- not to mention his current health status and things with Sergey. But -- this post aside -- he's pretty private. But I'll keep watching from the sidelines and post more if I learn more.

Homeless Stats in Iowa City // Johnson County, IA

The Press-Citizenpublished an article this week highlighting current statistics regarding the homelessness population here in Johnson County, Iowa.

The Shelter House reported that they housed 676 people between 11/01/13 and 10/31/14. 126 of those folks were children. 238 were women. 437 were men. One was a transgendered individual. 40% of Shelter House residents reported disabling conditions. 21% reported struggles with mental health symptoms. 15% reports substance abuse difficulties.

The Johnson County Crisis Center reported that 373 households reported homelessness at some point between 07/01/14 and 11/19/14. 243 of those individuals were children.

My biggest problem with the article is its emphasis that homeless people aren’t all single men without children or panhandlers. Or that unmet mental health and substance abuse struggles don’t significantly affect those who are homeless. It’s true that too many people are within a couple paychecks of becoming homeless and that the homeless includes families, children, the elderly, and veterans.

That said, I really worry about the men that I know who are homeless. There are fewer resources available to them. And there is really less societal concern or empathy for these particular individuals – as emphasized by that fact that each of these agencies is working hard to publicly de-emphasize the scope of homeless men out there.

I just got a call yesterday from a guy I know. I’ve helped him out in the past and hadn’t heard from him for several months. He thought of me yesterday and just wanted to check in.

It turns out that he got evicted from his apartment back in July. He is mentally ill and has chronic pain. Plus he has a criminal background and bad credit. All of these factors make it close to impossible for him to secure any source of employment. So now he’s living in an abandoned trailer just outside of Iowa City and struggling to keep warm. He’s aware of the agencies out there, but he’s just tired of jumping through the numerous hoops to access services out that that have provided temporary barebone supports for him in the past.

It’s not comfortable or safe. But it’s predictable. And the stress of figuring out how to keep warm and fed turned out to be less stressful than navigating the systemic barriers inherent within the social services system.

But I’m rambling a bit…

I think it’s important to know that homelessness surrounds us and it affects more people than we assume. It’s the veteran who experienced a long-term medical emergency. It’s the single mom who lost her low-wage job. It’s the single mom whose part-time low-wage job cannot sustain her ongoing rent payments. It’s the mentally ill woman whose poorly controlled symptoms has caused her to become evicted. It’s the 18-year-old who has been turned away by his dysfunctional parents and who is now couch-surfing.  

Frankly, it could be any one of us if we experienced prolonged periods of unemployment and/or disability. This seriously keeps me awake at night when I think about it too much.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mama June & Uncle Poodle Discuss "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" Scandal on "Dr. Phil"

June "Mama June" Shannon appeared yesterday along with Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson and her daughter Pumpkin at the "Dr. Phil" show to respond to questions about her relationship with convicted sex offender Mark McDaniel, as well as her reckless exposure of her two daughters to the man and subsequent cover-up attempts. Her interview was painful to watch. She seemed pretty clueless about the controversy and got caught up in a few obvious deceptions.

Earlier today, Dr. Phil interview Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson. Uncle Poodle disputed Mama June's assertion that she only saw McDaniel twice -- once briefly and by chance and secondly for 10-30 minutes to look at a house and to give Pumpkin some closure about his relation to her.

Uncle Poodle gave his account of Mama June's intimate relationship with McDaniel (also recounted here). More importantly, he took a lie detector test at the end of the program about his version of the scandal -- and passed it.

Mama June was offered the opportunity to respond:
  • There was no checking into the hotel with him (Mark McDaniel) at all. I’m still trying to find the email. I don’t know what folder I put it in.
  • I didn’t tell Pumpkin what to say. I didn’t tell Sugar what to say. They spoke what they wanted to say.
  • Pumpkin is Pumpkin’s own self. I don’t tell her what to say.  
  • He (Poodle) is very mad because the show ended. He told Sugar Bear that he didn’t receive money and said he was going to make my life hell, and he has. 
  • Lee (Poodle) doesn’t know the truth from a lie anymore. It gets real in his mind. 
  • I do not have any ill will towards TLC or Lee (Poodle). I chose not to talk to him because he’s constantly putting stress on Sugar Bear. 
  • Pretty much the whole family has cut him (Poodle) off. Now he’s trying to come up with every excuse to make people feel sorry for him, and I’m tired of it. 
  • Maybe I caused everything because I met with Mark that one time. I owned up to that mistake. What the hell else do you want me to do? 
  • It’s over with him (Poodle). It’s like beating a dead horse. 
 Hopefully, I'm done writing about "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" for a while.

Kansas City Homeless Shelter Will Turn Away Married Gays from Family Shelter

A friend pointed me to a story out of Kansas City, MO, about City Union Mission, a Christian homeless shelter. The Kansas City Star approached the leadership of the mission and asked if a married same-sex couple would be allowed to stay at their family shelter.

Predictably, they said no:
Even if same-sex marriage becomes legal in both Missouri and Kansas — a matter now working its way through the courts — same-sex couples will not be allowed to stay as couples at City Union Mission’s family shelter.

“I knew this day would come, especially when the media would begin asking that question,” Doty said, deeply concerned about what effect the nonprofit’s decision could have on its broad community support and donations. “I truly hope you understand the can of worms this could open.

“…We are a Christian, faith-based organization that really does adhere to biblical standards. Our view is that it (same-sex marriage) is inappropriate. Our intent is not to shelter same-sex couples together.”

Married, same-sex couples who insist on being housed together will be referred to another area organization willing to accommodate them. Such organizations might include the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph and reStart Inc.
This doesn't surprise me. I have one friend who is currently struggling with homelessness in Kansas City, MO, and is sadly connected with the City Union Mission. Additionally, I work with a variety of individuals who have struggled at one point or another with homelessness. One of those folks stayed for a while at the City Union Mission.

The men who seek shelter there are required to sit through lengthy worship services (1-2 hours per service). They struggle with threats of violence and personal property thefts. They struggle with bedbug infestations -- both in the living areas and in the chapel area.

And you get charged nightly by the mission for the privilege of staying at the shelter.

My friend, after witnessing the latest in a string of anti-gay banter amongst some of the residents, sought help with starting up some kind of support group older LGBT homeless individuals. The shelter representative was apologetic about the threatening speech, but could not "condone" any LGBT support groups within the mission.

So it really doesn't surprise me that they wouldn't support married gay families who are homeless.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Charles Manson Plans to Marry 26-Year-Old Woman

For some reason, a woman young enough to be mass murderer Charles Manson's great-granddaughter wants to marry him.

Jughead Contemplates the Perfect Gifts in JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE COMICS DIGEST #7

Riverdale has been overwhelmed by new Christmas stories this November and the lead story in JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE COMICS DIGEST #7 is no exception! "Fantasy Time" is an inventory story by the late George Gladir. Unlike his last inventory story, this story was actually a lot of fun.

The Riverdale Gang (Archie, Veronica, Betty, Reggie, Chuck, Nancy, and Pop Tate) have teamed together to purchase Jughead the perfect Christmas gift -- a new hat to replace his old shabby one! However, Jughead is broke. So instead of real presents, he came up with a list of fantasy presents that he would give to each of his friends -- if he had magical genii powers!

For example, Chuck's fantasy present is a robotic third arm that would allow him to work on his cartooning while cuddling with his girlfriend Nancy!

It turns out that Juggy is pretty good at imagining the perfect fantasy presents!

"Fantasy Time" is written by George Gladir, penciled by Pat Kennedy, inked by Bob Smith, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Digikore Studios.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mama June & Uncle Poodle Wage War on Facebook!

I'm not sure what prompted it, but June "Mama June" Shannon from "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" went on the attack against Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson last night. It was still happening when I was getting ready for bed and I just couldn't pull myself away.

The Examiner was pretty quick about writing about it last night and did a pretty good job of summarizing the main points of contention:
One of the posts is from a fan asking if Sugar Bear has his own Facebook page. Uncle Poodle is responding on his own verified account. He says that yes he does if June didn't make him shut it off. The comment that has everyone talking though is how he said that Mama June actually set up Sugar Bear by making him a Plenty of Fish account. She tried to say that he cheated on her by finding women to date online, but if she made up the account that would make it where that is not true at all. 

Next June started posting pictures of phone conversations between herself and her daughter Anna. The worst part about is that she is sharing her phone number for all of the world to see. Mama June and Uncle Poodle are arguing back and forth with each other over how the pictures of June and sexual offender Mark McDaniel even got out in the media. Poodle says he did not sell the photos and that he was not the only one who had these pictures. He also calls June a liar more than once saying she bought Mark a car and even rented him one time.
Despite the drama, I eventually went to sleep and woke up to the following lengthy post by Alan, Uncle Poodle's fiance:

(click on images to make them more easily read)
This whole situation is a train-wreck.

Let's be clear. There are elements and nuances to this story that will never be clearly understood by those of us who aren't members of this family. I understand that Uncle Poodle's account isn't 100% accurate. But I believe his version of events much more than I believe Mama June's version of events. He's been fairly consistent and she's been doing damage control. She complains of photoshopped pics and accuses him of doing interviews for money. He pretty much reacts with anger when the rest of the family scapegoats him for June's behaviors.

Anyway, I know that Uncle Poodle most likely does not read my blog. But if you do, you need to disengage for a while. The family is looking for a scapegoat in this situation. You are the most visible member of the family who isn't one of the kids or the parent of at least one of the kids. You will be scapegoated so that everyone else can move on with each other.

It sucks. But that is what is happening.

You have Alan. You have friends. You have other family members. After Tuesday's appearance on Dr. Phil's show, you need to let go of this mess. You need to ignore their texts. You need to ignore their barbs. You need to let your earlier statements speak for themselves and refer media folks who come to you seeking a reaction to those earlier statements.

Do not let your family destroy you and your reputation. You need to let go.