Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ACLU Files Gay Marriage Lawsuit in Nebraska... And Fights to Keep One Couple from the Case

Nebraska is one of the remaining marriage inequality states. The state not only refuses to allow same-sex to marry within the state, but it also doesn't recognize marriage performed elsewhere. Additionally, the state's constitution was amended to also ban recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships. According to this poll, 54% of Nebraska residents oppose the legalization of gay marriage with that state, 34% support efforts, and 12% oppose it.

The ACLU of Nebraska is working on a federal lawsuit to overturn Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage. They are representing 7 gay and lesbian couples ranging in age from 29 to 61. Some have kids. Most were married elsewhere, but their marriage aren't recognized within their own state.

But there is one couple that the ACLU of Nebraska does not want involved with their marriage lawsuit:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska has asked a federal judge not to let a state prison inmate and his transgender fiancĂ©e join their legal challenge to Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, Harold B. Wilson and Gracy Sedlak, formerly named John Jirovsky, filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Omaha to allow them to intervene in the lawsuit.

On Monday, attorneys for the ACLU filed an objection to the move, arguing that the couple has failed to demonstrate or allege that the seven Nebraska couples already in the suit do not adequately represent their interests...

Wilson and Sedlak, who say they have been denied a marriage license by the Lancaster County Clerk's Office, twice have been unsuccessful in attempts to challenge the ban on their own...

Wilson, 59, is serving 56 to 170 years in prison on attempted murder, kidnapping and sexual assault charges from Dawson County. He went to prison in 1986 and is at Lincoln Correctional Center. Sedlak, 29, was released from prison in 2011 and lives in Lincoln.
Let's face it, every step of this type of lawsuit is about making a good impression. Every time that the ACLU or Lambda Legal or whomever moves ahead with a marriage or marriage-related lawsuit, they are searching for the right couples to make their case. That means, that they spend a lot of time before the lawsuit researching and finding compelling life stories.
I was actually contacted at one point by Lambda Legal way back when they were considering their Varnum case in Iowa.  Ultimately, it wasn't a good time for us to be involved with such a lawsuit because of the boys being in foster care and some other issues. But they were looking for specific family types for that lawsuit.

This isn't unique to LGBT causes. Anti-gay plaintiffs do the same thing.

Sad to say, I can't see this new couple helping this lawsuit. Mostly, I'm thinking about their legal convictions. But their large age difference doesn't help.

Not everyone can be in a marriage equality lawsuit -- but everyone can benefit from a successful marriage equality lawsuit. With that in mind, I applaud the ACLU of Nebraska's decision to limit their lawsuit to their seven original plaintiffs.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Can I Attend a Gay Wedding Without Violating my Catholic Faith?

I recently learned of this Catholic Q&A, which asked Can I Attend a Gay Wedding?:
Question: I understand and agree with the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage. However, is it wrong to congratulate people or attend the wedding of a same-sex couple? Wouldn’t it be similar to going to a wedding of a different religion?
I was actually surprised by the answer. Essentially, his Catholic lay minister responded: Yes!:
While the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is reserved to one man and one woman, this doesn’t preclude Catholics from attending celebrations that aren’t Catholic sacramental weddings. Civil weddings don’t pass muster in the Catholic Church, nor do some unions celebrated in other religious communities. That’s not the point here. Mere presence at an event does not mean approval of everything that is taking place... 

If someone invites you to a gay wedding or to a wedding of a different religion — especially if that someone is a friend or relative of yours — don’t hesitate to go. You are called first and foremost to love that person and to honor the relationship you have with him or her. There is another time and place to discuss the teaching of the Church with respect to marriage. And if you are concerned about scandal, remember this: There’s a difference between a Catholic priest presiding at a gay wedding and you attending one.
I thought that this was a well-balance response. It acknowledged that a lot of folks really feel torn by this question (in fact, it's one of the more commonly searched for questions that I receive these days). Do I violate my faith by celebrating with my gay friend or family member?

If you read her full answer in the linked Q&A, she states the Catholic Church's opinion on same-sex marriage, but then points out something that most Catholic leaders frequently fail to note: same-sex weddings aren't Catholic sacramental weddings. In other words, the Catholic Church might not recognize my own gay wedding. But that same church also doesn't recognize my own parents' wedding because it wasn't performed within the Catholic Church. The same could be said for almost every wedding performed within my immediate and extended family.

And yet members of the Catholic Church attended most of those weddings because they were friends or family members of those getting married and they wanted to celebrate their unions. And the Catholic leadership doesn't actively fight to legally invalidate all heterosexual non-Catholic weddings.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Arizona Couple Accused of Stealing Neighbors' Christmas Decorations & Using Those Stolen Ornaments on their Own Yard

Ready for one more Christmas story? A couple was arrested in Tucson, AZ, after being accused to stealing Christmas decorations from other homes in their neighborhood and then using those stolen decorations to decorate their own home:
Jeremy Lewallen is 18 years old, his wife Carrie (Lewallen) is 42... They were busted after a neighbor was driving around the neighborhood and recognized the decorations on their house as ones that had been stolen from his home. He called police.

When police searched the home, they found stolen lawn ornaments and Christmas decorations all over the place. Police say the couple admitted they'd stolen about $2,000 worth of decorations.

Police also say Lewallen claimed he didn't care he'd stolen from other people. Carley claims her husband acted alone. She told police in an affidavit  "I guess he still thinks it's a game. He doesn't seem to care really one way or another. ... I asked him, and he was like, 'Well, this is my job.' And I'm like, 'Taking from unassuming people is your job?'"
Among the items reported stolen by the Lewallens are a "white wire reindeer, Mickey Mouse in a Santa costume, a 5½-foot inflatable Olaf from the movie 'Frozen,' a 9-foot Grinch in a Santa suit, a 3-foot Minnie Mouse sporting a white polka dot dress and a candy cane, two penguins in a wire-and-fabric hot air balloon and two dalmatians - one in a firetruck and one in a Santa hat."

This isn't the first time that Lewallen has been accused of crimes like this. Earlier this year, he spent time in jail for stealing Halloween decorations.

Both husband and wife have been charged with theft.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Woman Charged with Tossing Bacon & Sausage at Police Officer

A 24-year-old Massachusetts woman is facing charges of disorderly conduct and malicious destruction of property after she threw sausage and bacon at a police officer:
Police say Lindsay McNamara showed up in the police department Friday morning carrying a Dunkin Donuts box filled with bacon and sausage. She then threw it at an officer sitting at the front desk. McNamara represented herself in court, saying god told her to “feed the pigs,” and that “someone is out to get her.”
McNamara has been released into the custody of her parents and is to undergo a mental evaluation. She is scheduled to return to court in February.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Riverdale Kids Take Over Lodge Manor in BETTY & VERONICA COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #229!

I just got finished reading my copy of BETTY & VERONICA COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #229. Among several reprints of classic stories featuring Betty, Veronica, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, this comic book digest features a very funny new short story at its beginning.

This short story starts with Mr. Lodge coming home to all sorts of zaniness. Lodge Manor is overrun with students! There are cosplayers in one room and RPG gamers in another. And then there's the volleyball club and the tennis club and the reptile club and the fencing club... It's crazy!

So why is this happening? Apparently, Archie had an idea...

I still don't know why Mr. Lodge hasn't filed a restraining order against that troublemaker!!

I don't want to spoil too much, but this doesn't work out too well for Mr. Lodge. All of the clubs are eventually thrown out -- with the exception of one important club! Too bad he didn't throw them all out when he had the chance!

By the way, I've got something for you Two-Fisted Toni Topaz fans out there. Our perennial covergirl makes a cameo appearance in this issue. Check her out as she gets a bit jiggy with Smithers!

"The Club House" is scripted and penciled by the ever-talented Fernando Ruiz, inked by Bob Smith, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Digikore Studios.

Baby Jesus Statue Stolen from Nativity and Replaced with Actual Pig's Head

A statue of Baby Jesus was stolen from the nativity scene at Sacred Hearts Church in Haverhill, MA, sometime early on Christmas morning -- and replaced with an actual pig's head (wrapped in plastic).

As of this writing, the Baby Jesus still hasn't been found. The local police are seeking assistance from the public to solve this mystery.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Jon's Blog!

Iowa City City Council Approves $20,000 for Temporary Homeless Shelter // Local Businesses Petition Council to Reject Temporary Homeless Shelter // Updated Below!

(Originally written on 12/19/14): Here's the good news: The Iowa City City Council approved $20,000 to pay for a temporary homeless shelter at the old Aldi's building on Gilbert Street in Iowa City. This shelter would be staffed by two people, would provide shelter for 20-25 people, and would be in operation in January and February 2015. This would alleviate some of the overcrowding at the Shelter House and could be used as a "wet shelter" (i.e., be available for individuals who'd been drinking). Those individuals are turned away from the Shelter House.

And then there's the bad news: A group of business owners that operate near the old Aldi's building have begun fighting back against the temporary shelter. According to KCJJ, they are concerned about increased criminal activity. They also appear concerned that this temporary shelter will become a permanent homeless shelter.

A petition has been signed by 37 representatives of nearby businesses. They want the Iowa City City Council "to refrain from funding, participating in and/or providing any financial or other support for the creation and/or operation of any homeless shelter at any location other than the location now operated by Shelter House."

Updated on 12/25/14: It seemed like a good time to update both of these stories.

First, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors approved $16,000 yesterday towards the creation of the new temporary homeless shelter. It was approved by a 5-0 vote.

Second, a few local business owners have begun pulling their names from the linked petition. For example, co-owner Mark Paterno of Marco's Taxicabs has communicated to the city and to various social media sites (including this very blog) that an employee with no authorization signed the petition. As you can read below, the owners of Marco's Taxicabs support the creation of this temporary homeless shelter. Additionally, Jeff McNutt of Jeff McNutt Art has told the city that "it was never his intention to deny funding or shelter for the homeless." Also, Paul Young of Sweet Livin' Antiques approves of the temporary shelter. He just does not want this to become a permanent shelter location.

The new temporary shelter is scheduled to open on January 5, 2015, and remain open through the end of February. I have seen them advertising for temporary part-time paid and volunteer staff to run this location of Facebook.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sven Returns in 2014!

Do you remember Sven? He's this little snowman that was hidden throughout my department last Christmas season. We were tasked with finding Sven in his elusive hiding spot and then re-hiding him for someone else to find. I got pretty good at finding Sven last winter. But eventually Christmas ended and Sven went away.

Until earlier this month!

That's right, Sven returned to Iowa City and I managed to be the expert tracker for our little friend!

Check out this year's bath of Sven Selfies:

Sadly, the "2014 Hunt for Sven" officially ended yesterday. I was the last to officially find him this year. After Sven got snatched back from his keepers, I went to my mailbox towards the end of the day to see if there was any last minute correspondence that I needed to attend to.

And I found this...

That's right. I found a new snowman ornament with the phrase "Sven Is Dead."

No note. No explanation. I have no clue if I'm supposed to hold onto Sven-Is-Dead until Christmas 2015. I don't know if he's mine to keep. I'm just flattered that he's mine!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Iowa City's Press-Citizen Uses Christmas-Time Editorial to Denigrate Liberals, LGBT College Students, and Married Same-Sex Couples // Claims We Are Slaves to Slogans // Lack Discipline

For whatever reason, the Press-Citizen decided to publish this editorial by B.P. Waterbury, one of the PC's conservative Writer's Group members... just in time for Christmas.

It seems that a group from the University of Iowa's LGBT student group recently solicited t-shirt sale in preparation for Valentine's Day. He decided to use this sale to denigrate college students, liberals, LGBT students, and married same-sex couples in the name of "discipline."

It seems that he has a problem with slogans. More specifically, he has a problem with simple slogans about same-sex marriage:
Arguing with ethos, pathos and logos takes discipline.

Arguing with bumper sticker slogans merely requires imbecility...

Celebrate diversity in rainbow colors — the fallacy that race and sexual orientation are "born-that-way traits" and should be considered the same. One might argue we're born celibate and then evolve our sexual preference. Or argue chastity is always a choice in regards to our sexuality. I'm not sure what one would equate chastity with when discussing someone's race.

You can't legislate morality in red, white and blue. Funny how liberals have no problem telling "immoral" Wall Street how they can and cannot buy and sell commodities or spend their money. But once sex and drugs enters the fray, all of a sudden any prohibition is a violation of our basic human rights.

No heterosexual marriages were harmed in the making of these marriages in purple with interlinking male-male and female-female symbols surrounding the slogan. Redefining an institution that predates all law — and transforming it into something that has no historical merit — in order to take away the intrinsic meaning of the institution in both culture and society? That's the very definition of harm.
Keep in mind that he's upset about a t-shirt sale by a student group.

Of course, Waterbury wants this "LGBTQA group" to add other symbols to their t-shirt design, which would include "pederasts, polygamists, polyandrists, the incestuous and zoophiliacs." Because you cannot promote same-sex relationships unless you promote child rapists, incest, and bestiality.

(That said, Waterbury himself is in favor of families with "historical merit," so I'm not sure why he wants to denigrate polygamists -- given their prominent inclusion within the Old Testament. But I digress...)

But the lack of "historical merit" of same-sex marriage doesn't define "harm." That makes no sense. Same-sex couples were harmed for thousands of years. Our relationships were criminalized or made invisible. We were attacked and/or killed for our sexual orientation. We were involuntarily hospitalized in order to ineffectively cure our supposed disease. Even today, governments are actively seeking to prevent the legal recognition of our families -- or to reverse gains already achieved.

That is the definition of "harm;" not our families themselves.

But what do I know? I'm just a silly liberal who once attended college. My mind is cluttered by simple slogans.

Here's the deal, when you design a t-shirt, -- to support a liberal cause, or a conservative cause, or just to promote a commercial effort -- your message is going to be reduced to a slogan. You only have so much space. It's not like you have the space contained within a rambling editorial to make your point. You pretty much mix together a small handful of words with or without a simple visual design and, if you're effective, it comes out pretty well.

Nero at Daycare -- 12/23/14

Nero had a blast at doggy daycare today. He was so excited to see his friends, but decided to take a break from his running to mug for the cameras. Check this out:

By the way, Nero wants to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014


JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #8 came out last week. It continues a wonderful trend for new stories at the beginning of each of Archie Comics' digests. I mean, it's fun to read some of those classic stories, but I really enjoy these weekly opportunities to laugh at new adventures featuring Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and the rest! Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater has indicated that these new stories will continue into the foreseeable future. If that's true, then I will keep reading!

The first story in this latest digest features Archie and Jughead in an ever-escalating snowball fight with Reggie. Basically, Jughead and Archie find themselves on the receiving end of Reggie's snowballs once too often -- and vow retaliation!!

You will want to pick up this digest to check out the revenge. Unfortunately (for Archie and Jughead!), their snowball attack will blow up in their faces before this tale is finished!

"Snow Brawl" is written and penciled by Fernando Ruiz, inked by Rich Koslowsky, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Digikore Studios.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"Archie: Riverdale Rescue": Christmas!

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'm actually a couple weeks late with this update. "Riverdale Rescue" issued a new Christmas-themed upgrade earlier this month. This upgrade introduces a new game called "Cookie Craziness," but it also introduces several new outfits and quests for players.

The Christmas 2014 upgrade is a lot like Easter 2014's upgrade. During the Easter upgrade, Dilton accidentally released a bunch of mutant rabbits onto the streets of Riverdale and the players were tasked with gathering up the bunnies. They earned different points depending on the type of rabbit that they gathered and eventually won prizes once they achieved certain point thresholds (click here for more information).

Cookie Craziness introduces a plot involving Betty and Dilton. I mean, they really need to lock that trouble-maker up! Anyway, Betty is trying to start-up a Gingerbread Cookie bakery and recruits Dilton to create a super oven that will assist with her new business. His invention screws up and now Riverdale is overrun by Gingerbread Men and Women. Once again, you earn different points depending on the type of Gingerbread Person that you capture. You capture the Gingerbread Men and Women by tapping on them with your finger (if you're on a smartphone or a tablet) or with your mouse (if your on your computer).

It's interesting to note that the Gingerbread Woman captures the smallest amount of points. In understand that one type needs to garner the least amount of points, but Gingerbread Men seem to be the default gingerbread foods, so it seems odd that the Gingerbread Woman earns less than the Gingerbread Man. But I digress...

Here's the deal. You will need to purchase the Gingerbread House in order to play Cookie Craziness. The Gingerbread House costs $500 game dollars. You can earn those over time by playing the game.

Outside of a few quests, there isn't a lot that actually happens within the Gingerbread House. You can give individual characters tours of the Gingerbread House, but it doesn't even level-up. But you get to keep the Gingerbread House once the Christmas 2014 games officially end.

As noted before, you earn Christmas- and candy-themed prizes as you earn points. That varies from candy-themed fences to candy-themed outfits for characters like Archie and Betty.

I discovered a trick that helps players capture many more Gingerbread Men and Women without even trying: Runty. Runty was introduced to "Riverdale Rescue" during the Easter upgrade. Back then, he could be used to collect multiple bunnies. The same holds true for the Gingerbread Men and Woman. You just need to assign someone to take him for walks. Once each walk ends, you discover that Runty collected a dozens of Gingerbread People worth hundreds of points!

By the way, there are several holiday- and candy-themed outfits that you can purchase right now on "Riverdale Rescue." Check these out:

Bundle Up Pack 1: Archie // Betty // Jughead // Reggie // Veronica
Bundle Up Pack 2: Cheryl // Ginger // Jason // Kevin // Kumi
Sweet Treat Pack: Adam // Cheryl // Cricket // Kevin // Shrill
And for some reason, they introduced this latest swimsuit outfit for Veronica with this Christmas upgrade:
Veronica One Piece
Lastly, they introduced several pieces of property that you can purchase while this particular upgrade is active:

Cookie Craziness will only be around for a couple more weeks -- tops. So you better act quickly if you want to get into the fun!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Coming to TLC: "My Husband's Not Gay"

The Wrap shared news yesterday about an upcoming new special on TLC: "My Husband's Not Gay." Basically, a bunch of Mormons with "same-sex attractions" (I hate that term) have married women and want to tell the world that they aren't gay -- despite their same-sex attractions:
TLC will air a special in January called “My Husband’s Not Gay” that follows four men living in Salt Lake City, Utah, who don’t identify themselves as homosexual despite having an attraction to men.

The show focuses on three married couples: Jeff and Tanya, Pret and Megan, and Curtis and Tera. Joining the cast is 35-year-old Tom, the bachelor of the group who enjoys fishing and baseball and served as a missionary in Long Beach.

All cast members are devout Mormons belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The special will follow the cast as they navigate life while explaining to outsiders their unique marriages.

“I get a little defensive when somebody calls my husband gay,” one wife says in the debut trailer.
As to the last paragraph, can I suggest that you not share your husband's same-sex attraction with the world if you don't want to field the question about whether or not he's gay?

Check out a promo piece for the program here:

The show premiers at 9:00 PM  (CST) on Sunday, 01/11/15, on TLC.

For the record, my own husband also isn't gay despite his own same-sex attractions. He's bisexual. Just sayin'...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Methodist Church that Forced Out Gay Choir Director to Close Following 80% Membership Decline

Nearly one year ago, I wrote about First United Methodist Church in Alexandria, IN. It seems that the church's interim minister had a problem with the church's openly gay choir director. He set up a situation so that the choir director quit his job. He then fired one of the long-time lay leaders over this personnel matter and refused to hire back the choir director. As a result of this situation, 80% of the membership left this church. A commenter in this post noted that average worship attendance had been around 75 people prior to the firing.

That membership decline apparently never turned around. First United Methodist Church will close on December 31, 2014. It's final worship service will be held on December 28th.

Rev. David Mantor denies that the closing has anything to do with Adam Fraley's employment termination:
David Mantor, pastor of the church, said the decision to close the church resulted from falling attendance, membership and financing problems. Mantor said statistics he's seen from United Methodist Church headquarters show a "downward spiral" of membership and donations across the whole UM church for the past 30 years.

"This is a problem that's going on everywhere," Mantor said. "And that's why we're closing."
It's true that the church suffered a "downward spiral" of membership and donations, but this was a fairly significant drop within the past year. I think he's spinning the statistics a bit to make himself feel less responsible about this church closing. IMHO, as always

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wrong Season!

City Councilor Bud Williams
A crowd gathered on Court Square this past Tuesday night in Springfield, MA, to participate in the annual city menorah lighting ceremony. The ceremony was attended by several Jewish leaders and residents, as well as various local politicians. All of the speakers reflected on the Hanukkah, as well as the history of the Jewish faith within Springfield.

And then Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams stepped up to the microphone and offered some wisdom of his own:
"Jesus is the reason for the season," Williams said during remarks at the ceremony that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
Which kind of makes sense, since Jesus was a Jew. But he wasn't the reason for this season.

Councilor Williams later offered an explanation for his remarks:
"I thought it added something to the service, it didn't take away," Williams said Tuesday night.

The city councilor said he referenced Jesus Christ, whose birth is celebrated every Dec. 25 by Christians worldwide but not by Jews, after participants in the ceremony mentioned "the bright light" of 2,000 years ago – an allusion to Christ, according to Williams.

"They said it," Williams said.

The councilor said his remark wasn't meant as an expression of religious superiority or "dominance," but rather as a simple reminder about the "reason for the season."

"Jesus was Jewish," Williams said. "To me, Jesus is the messiah ... I thought I was being very positive."
Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the mighty Greek occupiers within the Holy Land. It also celebrates the time when a menorah within the Temple was able to miraculously remain lit for eight days and nights despite there only being enough pure oil for one day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mama June Spends Thousands to Boost her Floundering Christmas Toy Drive

Over the past five years, June "Mama June" Shannon of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" used her family's notoriety to collect toys for a local Christmas charity. Kids comes from all over to bring toys and to sit on Sugar Bear's lap -- dressed as Santa Claus.

Usually, it's pretty popular. This year, it hasn't been. Mama June ended up purchasing more than $2,000 for toys in order to make up for the shortfall, which is nice.

But she has posted more than once on Facebook that people aren't coming this year because Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson is talking smack about her. And maybe he is, but I haven't seen it online. I'm talking specifically about any criticism about her involvement in the annual Christmas toy drive.

This is what really disappoints me about Mama June. She really seems oblivious to the damage that she has done to her reputation -- and her entire family's reputation, for that matter -- because of her romantic relationship with convicted child molester Mark McDaniel. It doesn't matter if it's over. It was stupid to do in the first place.

I mean, they were already causing damage to their brand when she and Sugar Bear broke up and rumors of his infidelity came out. Adding Mark McDaniel to the picture -- particularly since he is the man who sexually abused her oldest daughter roughly ten years ago -- just shows how out of touch they really are.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mrs. Weatherbee???

I was reading ARCHIE'S FUNHOUSE JUMBO COMICS DIGEST #11 and noticed an old short story featuring Archie, Mr. Weatherbee, and... Mrs. Weatherbee??!?

Longtime fans of Archie Comics have pretty much always seen Mr. Weatherbee as a bachelor. But here we are seeing the 'Bee as a married man -- and as the victim of domestic violence in front of his own students!!

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Mrs. Weatherbee was featured in a story titled "Ship Shape" by Samm Schwartz. Archie has been answer Mr. Weatherbee's office telephone while the principal is out to see the Glamor Queen. Meanwhile, Veronica has given Archie one of her new swimsuit studio pictures to keep him company. Archie receives a call from Mrs. Weatherbee and tells her that Mr. Weatherbee is out to see the Glamor Queen. She immediately turns green with jealousy and storms over to the principal's office -- where she proceeds to batter her husband senseless with an umbrella before realizing that the Glamor Queen is a boat.

No wonder Mr. Weatherbee isn't married anymore. If he had any sense, he got a restraining order and divorced his wife years ago!!

Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater: No Plans for Relaunch of The Carneys!

I learned from my buddy Jimmy today that Jon Goldwater, the publisher and CEO of Archie Comics, did a Reddit AMA today. Basically, fans were encouraged to ask him anything!

I was busy with work-related appointments, but Jimmy was kind enough post a question for me:

Click on the image if you cannot read it, but I essentially wondered if this might be a good time to revisit the Carneys as a mature horror relaunch. This makes perfect sense to me, given the success and popularity of both AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA, as well as "American Horror Story: Freak Show."

As anticipated, Jon Goldwater told me that there are "no plans for that," but I planted the seed.

Jimmy posed the following AMA question to Jon Goldwater:

Basically, Jimmy wants Kevin Keller and Cousin Ambrose to hook-up in the new CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA comic book. Jon Goldwater punted that question to the SABRINA creative team, but I really like how Jimmy's brain works!

Kevin + Cousin Ambrose Together Forever!

Iowa City Homeless Advocates Considering Temporary Winter Shelter

So far, Winter 2014/15 has been pretty mild in Iowa City. But winters here can get pretty nasty. Unfortunately, we have a lot of people who struggle with homelessness or who are on the verge of homelessness. Fortunately, we have a pretty good homeless shelter. Unfortunately, it fills up quickly during this time of year and people are either sleeping in the Shelter House's lobby or in the Iowa City City Hall building or in vehicles or in other makeshift spots.

I learned today that the Shelter House and the Johnson County Local Homeless Coordinating Board are working to convert the old Aldi's building on Gilbert Street into a temporary homeless shelter for the coming winter months. Not only would this serve those who cannot get beds at the Shelter House because of overcrowding or because they maxed out the number of nights that they're allowed to remain at the shelter, but it would also serve those who are unable to stay at the Shelter House for other reasons, such as drug or alcohol abuse.

According to Little Village, the Iowa City City Council will vote tonight on whether or not to approve $20,000 for this temporary shelter. Efforts are also being made to secure additional funding from other local governmental entities.

If approved, this temporary shelter will serve up to 20-25 people through February 2015.

Nero at Daycare -- 12/16/14

Nero was running wild this morning at doggy daycare! Check out this action move!:

Also, here are a few other pics from recent weeks that haven't yet made the blog:

Monday, December 15, 2014

What Excites Me About the Archie Relaunch!

There is a lot out there today about the new ARCHIE relaunch.

For example, there is this great interview with Archie Comics co-CEO Jon Goldwater over at Comic Book Resources. He shared that we will see an updated reimagining of how the famous love triangle between Archie, Veronica, and Betty came into existence. More importantly, the character designs are being updated and redesigned. The books will retain their humor, but the humor will become a little edgier. It promises to be less safe.

Frankly, I think that's a very good thing. I enjoy reading the really classic Archie Comics stories in the digests and online. I know that people think of Archie Comics humor as sanitized and safe, but that is something that has evolved over the years. Take some time and review some of those old stories from 40, 50, 70 years ago. That was edgy humor. Not always, but often.

I don't get the impression -- as others elsewhere have suggested -- that Archie Comics is going to jump into controversial subjects for the purpose of appearing relevant. Like making Midge into a battered teen romancer or exploring Jughead's newly diagnosed bulimia. I mean, I suppose it's always possible. But I really get the impression that they are planning on physically updating the characters and their town and ramping up the humor and attitudes to make them appear more cutting edge and contemporary.

It was also interesting to note that we will continue to receive classic tales in the various digests and that the digests will continue featuring new lead content. I am all about that. So if you are hesitant to check out the new stuff, you can still get your fill of more traditional designs and storytelling.

Then there is this article over at Bleeding Cool, which briefly addresses the relaunch. Over in the CBR article, Goldwater noted that all of the traditional 32-page titles will eventually be relaunched. We kind of already knew that, given that Archie and Kevin Keller were receiving make-overs. Why not Betty & Veronica?

But then I read this paragraph over at Bleeding Cool:
It’s a  whole line of relaunched 32 page comics… Betty, Veronica. Betty & Veronica, Jughead, Jughead & Archie, the Kevin Keller relaunch we already heard about… and we also know that Lena Dunham is writing a story. But it’s not classic Archie.
The underlined portions are what I'm mostly concerned about here. Regular Archie Comics readers know that Archie Comics does not currently publish BETTY or VERONICA or JUGHEAD or JUGHEAD & ARCHIE.

So I got curious. Was Bleeding Cool just yanking our chains about these hypothetical titles or did they know something we average readers don't? After all, they often know lots of gossip that's initially dismissed, but later confirmed.

So I reached out to Bleeding Cool on Twitter and asked to clarify about those titles. "Most of the titles you listed here (except B&V and Kevin Keller are not current or recent titles. Are you hearing that those titles (Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Jughead & Archie) are being launched in 2015?"

Rich Johnston answered my first question directly without acknowledging the second question: "Not yet."

That's extremely exciting news if we really get to look forward to new titles featuring these characters -- particularly Jughead. But this would also be the time to make it happen -- especially if the ARCHIE relaunch is successful.

Once again, I'm all about this new relaunch. Smart, cutting edge humor. More mature approach to Riverdale's teens. Crisp, beautiful new designs. And (*fingers crossed*) two new series featuring Jughead(!!).

Quadruple Amputee Receives Arm Transplants // Gets Greatest Gift: Abilty to Hug Partner Again

I saw this article a few weeks back and kept meaning to share it here, but kept forgetting. It tells about a now 40-year-old man named Will Lautzenheiser who lost both of his arms and both of his legs back in 2011 following a horrible bacterial infection. Since his illness, Lautzenheiser transformed from a Boston University film professor to a "sit-down" comic (as opposed to a stand-up comic).

But the gist of this story is that Lautzenheiser just became the recipient of two transplanted arms:
The late donor put those arms to similar use, as described in a message from his family that New England Organ Bank President Richard Luskin read aloud to Lautzenheiser: “Our son gave the best hugs. We pray that you make a wonderful recovery and that your loved ones will be able to enjoy your warm embrace.

Thus far, Lautzenheiser says, his new arms have little sensation, mainly just a bit of feeling in the skin right below where they’re joined to his own body. As for moving them, “If I really focus, I can occasionally move my thumb just a little bit, a few millimeters. It bends. I can pronate and supinate my wrist on my right arm. I have a little bit of wrist motion, a little bit of forearm motion...” 

Wearing splints, Lautzenheiser can now use a spoon, and a stylus for electronics, though he can’t type on a keyboard because his fingers cannot exert pressure. One big advance: He can now use his elbow to get up from bed independently. “This is major for me,” he said.
I cannot imagine losing my arms and my legs. I really just cannot. You would lose pretty much all sense of privacy and independence. It would be close to impossible to do anything from writing a note to eating a snack, from driving to the store to taking a shower. I mean, you have to make do with what life throws at you, but this would be very difficult to adjust to.

These two new arms have to feel like lifesavers to Lautzenheiser.

But this paragraph was the biggest tearjerker moment of the article for me:
It will take months for the new arms and hands to gain sensation and function, but Lautzenheiser, a former film professor at Boston University, says he’s already putting them to good use, hugging his partner, Angel Gonzalez. “To be able to hold my love in my arms again is really the best,” he said.
You really need to check out this article.

New ARCHIE #1 Relaunch in 2015!

The big news came later last night from the New York Times, when they announced that Archie Comics will be relaunching ARCHIE with issue #1 in mid-2015. The new series will initially be written by Mark Waid and penciled by Fiona Staples. The goal is to update the Riverdale Gang on the eve of their 75th anniversary:
After nearly 75 years of chasing girls through the halls of Riverdale High and hanging out at Pop Tate’s soda shop, the teenage Everyman Archie Andrews is headed for a makeover.
Plans for the redheaded Romeo include a new look and an edgier tone, which will be introduced in 2015 when the Archie comic book is reset at No. 1 with a new creative team. The effort is timed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Archie, who was introduced in 1941...

To keep Archie fresh, new talent was sought, including Lena Dunham, who will bring her feminist take to a four-part story in 2015. Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, two comic book veterans, will be the new creative team for the Archie comic.

Mr. Waid said his primary goal was to return Archie to a modern audience, which included restoring the contemporary attitudes that the teenagers of Riverdale had lost. “Over the years, some of the sharp edges have been sanded off,” he said. “They are kids, and they should act as kids.”
The NYT also mentions the planned Fox television series, an apparel line from fashion designer Marc Ecko, a cartoon, a movie (with or without zombies, but possibly with Sabrina), and theme park rides(!!).

2015 looks to be a year for lots of number ones for Archie Comics. We already had Sabrina and heard about Kevin. Of course, there's also the Fox, the Shield, and the Black Hood over at Dark Circle. Now we have a new title featuring Archie. Do you suppose a relaunch featuring Betty & Veronica is too far behind? Heck, this could finally lead to a new title featuring Jughead.

I'm actually pretty excited about these changes. I like how they have handled the characters in AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and I have confidence that this relaunch will be handled well.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Betty Learns Self-Defense & Purse-Snatchers Menace Riverdale in ARCHIE'S FUNHOUSE JUMBO COMICS DIGEST #11!

I just finished reading through ARCHIE'S FUNHOUSE JUMBO COMICS DIGEST #11. It's the first digest from Archie Comics that doesn't have a Christmas theme -- though it does feature a brand new lead story featuring beautiful artwork by Fernando Ruiz. I don't think that he gets enough credit for his crisp, unique style. In fact, several of the stories within this digest feature his artwork. That alone makes this a must-buy digest.

This intro story mainly features Betty and Archie. It seems that Riverdale is in the midst of a crime wave. A pair of hoodlums have been snatching purses from the local women -- and this has Betty all shaken up.

Never one for worrying about a problem without developing a suitable action plan, Betty decided to take a mixed martial arts class. And she's gotten pretty good with her self-defense moves. The problem is that she goes into automatic attack-mode whenever she gets startled -- and unfortunately, Archie finds himself the target of these attacks! Check this out:

Archie takes it upon himself to help Betty learn how to control her fighting moves. Unfortunately, his teaching methods are so good that Betty manages to become the victim of the local purse-snatchers without even knowing it!

Emboldened, the purse-snatchers set their sights on bigger fish: namely Veronica Lodge! Will their thieving ambitions finally go too far??

This is a really great story -- it's about double the size of other recent digest short stories and it features some great moments for Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie. Which is great, since Reggie hasn't had many great moments in recent years! It's great to see him being used more often.

"Don't Cross Betty Cooper" is a great storyline with wonderful artwork. It's written by Craig Boldman, penciled by Fernando Ruiz, inked by Bob Smith, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Digikore Studios.