Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 9 ("Law And Order")

This is the ninth in a series of blog posts dedicated to the 40th anniversary of BBC's "Survivors" television series. Survivors followed a core group of characters who managed to survived a devastating viral outbreak -- one which managed to kill off somewhere between 95-99% of humanity. Society has crumbled and now those who remain must relearn the old way if they have any hope of surviving much longer.

Our last episode continued with our group of survivors (Abby Grant, Jenny Richards, Greg Preston, Tom Price, Emma Cohen, Wendy, and Barney; along with children John Milton and Lizzie Willoughby) settling into their new commune at the Grange. Their weak attempts at planting seed were enhanced by the addition of a new man named Paul Pitman. They were quickly joined by two new travelers, business tycoon Arthur Russell and his secretary Charmian Wentworth. Meanwhile, Greg and others traveled to a forgotten quarry stockpile to gather more food and supplies -- picking up a physically disabled man by the name of Vic Thatcher in the process.

We find that things are trudging along at the beginning of Episode 9 (titled "Law And Order"). Barney is learning how to hunt rabbits using the bow and arrow -- under the tutelage of Tom Price, of all people! Vic has settled into a routine of providing basic education to the children. And Emma remains our local "Top Chef."

However, others are having difficulty now that everyone has settled in. Emma is isolating herself from the others. Likewise, Arthur is not only refusing to eat meals with anyone else, but is found to be hording food in his room. And then Tom Price keeps avoiding and/or delegating assigned tasks -- including the vital chore of keeping the pigs out of the cabbage patch!

After the pig incident, Abby calls everyone together and lays down the law:

Emma immediately questions if they are living in a democracy or if they are living in dictatorship. Abby concedes that she hadn't really much that much thought into it. But nobody seems to disagree with these new household rules, so those are the new rules. 1. Eat Together. 2. Don't Horde.

After Abby's lecture, she noted that the day was May 1st. This is traditionally a day of celebration. She proposes that they throw a party that evening and everyone agrees to her proposal 100%. Emma whips up all sorts of food, while Arthur and Tom pull out their stash of booze.

And it proves to be quite the hit! Greg and Paul take turns playing songs on the guitar. And everyone is dancing -- except for Tom Price, who's a bit of a troll. He tries hitting on Jenny, but she runs off with a repulsed look on her face.

Tom manages to trick Barney into drinking some alcohol, which ultimately makes the mental disabled man terribly nauseous. Barney ends up rambling away to his room to drink off his booze while the others celebrate.

During the party, Greg and Jenny have a drunken discussion about how far they can devolve socially. Greg notes that May Day is a form of Pagan celebration. He wonders how far they might travel down that Pagan path:

Wendy decides that she is going to turn in early. She blames the alcohol, but she's truly been a bit depressed throughout this episode. I imagine that she's finally coming to terms with the end of the world now that she's not fighting nonstop against starvation.

Unfortunately, Tom Price follows her upstairs and begins propositioning her. She blows him off, but he just starts pushing harder and harder. Unfortunately, she runs to her bedroom instead of to the common room where most everyone else is partying. Tom Price then rapes and stabs Wendy to death off-camera.

Wendy's body is discovered the following morning by the children, who alert Abby and Greg. Everyone is in the building -- except for Barney who is off hunting rabbits.

Almost immediately, Greg and Paul accuse Barney of being the murderer. They claim that he was "bothering" Wendy all night with their dancing. Tom immediately steps up to defend the disabled man, but then backs down when Paul observes that it had to be somebody else if it's not Barney. "Well, it's one of us, isn't it? Who else? You?"

The men take off to find Barney. Tom finds Barney first and tells him to run away as quick as he can. But Barney is captured and supposedly says something to the effect of "I didn't do it" or "I didn't kill her" -- though this was off-camera. It's also noted that he was found with a bloody arrow, from one of his fresh rabbit kills (which Tom conveniently hid).

Barney is hauled in front of everyone and interrogated by Abby and the others:
Abby: Barney, why did you say I didn't do it, when Greg and Mr. Russell caught you this morning?
Barney: Well, I didn't.
Abby: Didn't what?
Barney: Do that to Wendy.
Abby: Barney, how did you know Wendy was dead?
Barney: *Confused silence*
Abby: And this. *Holding the arrow* Is this yours, Barney?
Barney: *Smiles and nods*
Abby: It's got blood on it.
Barney: Clean it.
Abby: By it, what do you mean? It's got blood on it.
Barney: *Smiles* Clean it...
Abby: Now, Barney, this arrow which belongs to you has got blood on it. Can you tell us how the blood got there?
Barney: *Smiles and nods* Rabbit!
The group immediately began debating about their inability to tell human blood from rabbit blood. So naturally, they discount his claim or attribute it to his lack of mentality.
Abby: Barney, do you remember last night?  The party? We had a party last night.
Barney: Yeah.
Abby: You were with Wendy.
Greg (with very stern tone): You were dancing with Wendy.
Barney: Yeah! Dance!
Abby: Barney, did you go to Wendy's room afterwards?
Barney: *Confused silence*
Abby: Barney, what did you do when the party was over?
Barney: I was bad.
Abby: Bad?
Barney: Sick.
Abby: After you were sick, what did you do?
Barney: Sleeped.
Arthur: There's one question we haven't asked. (Gets right in Barney's face) Did you kill Wendy?
Barney: No.
Barney was then locked in his room so that the adults could debate his fate. They first debated his guilt or innocence without any consideration of their eventual punishment. It's also worth noting that they debated his guilty or innocence without any consideration of other suspects. All of the men and Abby (except for Tom, of course) believed Barney to be guilty. Charmian believed him guilty, but also believed him to have no understanding of his crime. The other women -- especially Emma -- believed him not-guilty. But there were enough guilty votes based off the circumstantial evidence provided by Tom Price, as well as Greg's forceful persuasion.

After finding Barney to be guilty of the crime of murdering Wendy, they were left to determine his punishment. Arthur initially suggested that they banish Barney. Greg quickly scuttled that suggestion in favor of execution.

"How many people has he killed?" "Are you all prepared to put John and Lizzie at risk?" "We can't keep him separated from the kids 24 hours a day" "We can't pass the buck anymore. I can't pass this off onto anyone else. We've got to act for ourselves." "You all make me sick."

They all voted in favor of death or banishment. It was a 50/50 split with Abby making the deciding vote for execution. They then drew straws to see who got to kill Barney. That tasks fell on Greg shoulders. He then led Barney off into the woods with a gun and shot him in the back while Arthur and Paul dug up graves for Wendy and Barney.

Then Greg and Abby were confronted with a little confessional truth from Tom Price:

That's the murder weapon and Tom's bloody shirt from last night in case you can't make it out.

Greg then tells Abby that they cannot tell anyone else that Tom Price was Wendy's true murderer. Now Greg's tune has changed. "We're fighting for survival, not principles." He says that he will challenge Abby's leadership if she tells anyone and that will eventually lead to their little community's early demise.

Greg and Abby have decided that they will keep an eye on Tom Price 24 hours per day and keep him from drinking and make sure that the kids are safe from his murderous ways. Even though Greg was just advocating for Barney's execution because of the safety factor involved in keeping him alive.

That's how Tom Price managed to rape and kill Wendy and successfully deflect blame onto the group's mentally disabled member with the help of Abby Grant's kangaroo court, as well as Greg Preston's push for blood vengeance and utter hypocrisy.

And that's how I grew to hate the character of Greg Preston. This was also the episode that made Husband Mark turn away from "Survivors" in disgust with no interest in continuing forward with any of their subsequent adventures (as well as a couple other unrelated reasons, but this was the last straw).

I understand that it looked suspicious when Barney ran. But nothing else in his character made him seem guilty except for his disability and his inability to defend himself.

Meanwhile, we already knew historically that Tom Price is a lying drunk and a cheat. We know that he was being a creepy lech towards Jenny during the party. And we know that he wasn't present at the party once Wendy left. If Greg and the others hadn't been in such a rush to deflect any amount of scrutiny from themselves about the crime instead of actually analyzing everyone instead of the one person who was unable to defend himself, maybe Tom Price would have been discovered before Barney was executed instead of after.

But while the outward theme is about "law and order," the subtle theme is about society's descent into paganism. Greg noted above that country people believed that innocent blood was needed in order to bless their harvest. Well, they got their innocent blood. Either in the form of Wendy, who was killed by that horrible troll named Tom Price. But most likely in the form of Barney, who was killed by community consensus for charges he didn't understand and a crime he didn't commit.

We return next week with a less emotionally charged episode: "The Future Hour."

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Speaks to Hundreds Today in Iowa City

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders came to Iowa City today and spoke to at least 250 supporters. It was actually much more than 250 people, but that's all that were in his room. There were many, many more crowding into the Iowa City Rec Center lobby, stairway, and sidewalk hoping to hear what he had to say. Everyone was there -- except me. I knew about the event, but forgot to show up until it started and I suddenly noticed frequent updates on my Twitter feed!

So what did he campaign about? Here are some of his main interests, according to local blogger John Deeth (who live-tweeted the event). Keep in mind that I've shared my own thoughts after the bolded bits:

* "Medicare for all single payer health care" instead of the current Affordable Care Act system. Frankly, the current system run by multiple for-profit entities isn't working. It's not equitable and it is not affordable for too many. Plus, there's more incentive for for-profit health insurance companies to fight insurance charges than to pay up. It's good that we have the ACA, but we really need something even better.

* Free college tuition. Frankly, I'm not sure how this would work. But it is getting more and more difficult for someone to get a degree from a four-year state university or even a 2-year community college program without long-term debt. Personally, I think we need to focus a bit more on funding the academic portions of our universities over the recreation centers, clubs, etc. But something needs to change within that system.

* Corporations need to step up. We cannot afford to allow corporations to pay less and less in taxes. We cannot afford to remove their liability when they pollute our land and our water. And we cannot afford to allow them to sock away billions of dollars in tax havens while wages remain stagnant.

* Sanders supports a two-state solution to the never-ending Israel/Palestine conflict. I've got nothing to add affirmatively or negatively to that.

The Press-Citizen also noted that Sanders spoke out in favor of campaign finance reform, in support of action to address the effective of global warming, and against trade agreements (presumably the TPP -- based off interviews that I have heard with him in the past).

I caucused for Hilary Clinton back in 2008, but I'm seriously tempted to throw my full support this time around for Bernie. Our country continues to head in a direction where it is increasingly difficult for a family to pay its bills and set aside money for emergencies, much less retirement. Our kids cannot get advanced degrees without acquiring tens of thousands of dollars in debt -- and then too many cannot find employment in their field of study once they have acquired this debt. We are quickly killing our planet by poisoning our water and cooking our air.

In the meantime, our government is dismantling our tax system and our education system and our mental health system. We are pumping our resources into endless wars, while simultaneously attacking the growing number of impoverished people in America for receiving food stamps and SNAP when no work options are available. And, of course, we have been militarizing our police for decades while pushing the distressed populace into purchasing more and more personal weapons.

Seriously, something needs to change.

Friday, May 29, 2015

"American Pickers" Coming to the Amana Colonies

Do you live in or near the Amana Colonies and have an interesting antique collection? Are you a fan of "American Pickers" on the History Channel? Then you should check this out:
According to a news release from the Amana Colonies, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz of the hit documentary television show will soon begin filming in the Amana Colonies area, and throughout Iowa, but need leads on where to go.

Wolfe and Fritz are looking for "interesting characters with interesting and unique items," according to the release. Vintage bicycles, old toys, unusual radios, movie memorabilia, old advertisements, military items, folk art, vintage automotive items and vintage clothing are just some of the items the two are eager to find.
Those interested in showing off their collections are encouraged to email their name, phone, address, and a description of their collection (complete with pics) to americanpickers@cineflix. Or people can call 855-653-787.

The pair will be in the Amana Colonies sometime in June 2015.

New JUGHEAD Series Coming in October 2015!

Archie Comics might have called off their Kickstarter campaign earlier this month, but they still plan on publishing their new JUGHEAD series later this fall! CBR posted an interview with writer Chip Zdarksy this week, which confirmed that the title is coming... and it's scheduled to be published in October 2015!

This new comic book will be apart of Archie Comics' reboot. That means that the characters are being redesigned and the stories are going to be grounded a little bit more in the real world. But I really like what Zdarksy has to say about Jughead Jones and his new comic book adventures:
Jughead is a bit of an enigma. He always seems to know more than everyone else, which is a fun trait to play with. The key is to make Jughead go from easygoing bystander to helpful hero and back again. He has moments where he shines and then goes back to being cool and zen. I love Jughead. He's the teen who's comfortable with himself, which is such rare, weird thing
Obviously Archie Andrews will have a role in his best friend's solo series but how big will it be, and which other characters from Riverdale will be featured supporting players in "Jughead?" 

Yeah, for sure! All of the action takes place at Riverdale High so we get to see Jughead interact with all the classic and newer characters. I'm kind of focusing on building a friendship between Jughead and Betty, who both kind of share a deserted common ground when Archie and Veronica are a thing

Will "Jughead" feature shorter digest-style stories, done-in-one adventures or longer story arcs over multiple issues? 

Well, I have a larger arc planned out but trying to give each issue its own done-in-one feel because I like to have my cake and eat it too in single slices. 

Can you give us a tease of what's planned for this larger arc? 

An insidious infiltration of Riverdale High forces Jughead to rise up and become an uncomfortable leader! And there's another thing that I'm sneaking into the first arc. I'm a huge fan of the alternate Archies like Super Teens and Agents of P.O.P., so I'm incorporating those into the series as daydreams of Jughead

With this relaunch, the New Riverdale titles are all set in the same continuity, but how tightly will the events and stories in "Jughead" be tied to what's happening in "Archie" and "Betty and Veronica?" 

Really, I'm just following Mark and Fiona's lead here. "Jughead," as a series, will be a little weirder, but I do like the idea of keeping it within the realm of what the main "Archie" series is doing. Also because it's really, really good.
I haven't blogged at all about it, but I'm a big fan of Zdarksy's HOWARD THE DUCK series. I think he has a good handle on Jughead's character and motivations. But I'm also a huge fan of the artist who has been assigned to this title: Erica Henderson of UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL!

That said, I'm really looking forward to this new series!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"19 Kids" Spin-Off Featuring Two Oldest Duggar Daughters?

TLC pulled "19 Kids & Counting" from its rotation late last week following 12-year-old sex abuse revelations involving Josh Duggar and more than one of his sisters. Since then, TLC has been struggling with how to move forward with this rating juggernaut. It's pretty much a given that Josh Duggar is permanently cut from the program. But I have been hearing rumors over the past 24 hours of a "19 Kids & Counting" spin-off featuring the two Duggar daughters and their new husbands:
A source revealed to People that the beleaguered network, which hasn’t decided whether to cancel the series, may switch gears to showcase the squeaky-clean newlyweds Jill and Derick Dillard, and Jessa and Ben Seewald, rather than tainted parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and the rest of the clan. 

“The show had begun to focus more and more on the next generation of Duggars, anyway — mainly Jill and Jessa and their marriages and babies,” says the source. “That's when the show got its highest ratings.” 

 TLC sources told the Daily News that a long-term decision regarding the Duggars or any spin-off has not been made. Network officials declined to comment.
It would be just like "The Brady Brides," except with quiver-kids.

Pat Robertson of "700 Club": Gay Men Are Recruiting Impressionable Young Teens!

Pat Robertson went on a "gay-men-are-after-your-boys" rant during the "Bring It On" on today's "700 Club."

A woman named Nancy posed the following question: "My son is gay. He is in a relationship with a man who is married and has 2 grown daughters. They are very active in our church, but no one is aware of this situation. His wife has no idea. My son lives with me. What would the Lord want me to do? I pray about this situation constantly. I am a widow."

Pat flew off the handle, assuming that Nancy's son is a teen:
Pat Robertson: Look, the guy who is having sex with your son – married man – pedophile. And he’s in the church. I’d go to the pastor. I’d go to the elders and say, “Listen. This guy is hitting on my son and it’s a relationship that is outrageous. 

Co-Host: He’s married and got children and now he’s taken up with my son. He’s a pedophile. She’s a widow and she’s afraid her son will probably get mad and leave. 

Pat Robertson: Well, if he leaves, he leaves. Tough luck. But I mean, she needs to go to the church and get that thing straightened out. Her son right now doesn’t know what he wants. He doesn’t know if he’s a homosexual or not a homosexual. But this man is trying to talk him into that. 

You know, there’s so many people, young people, impressionable… Some coach comes after them. Some adult comes after them. Some older sibling comes after them. And they somehow think that because they did this I must be gay. Well, he doesn’t know that for sure. He doesn’t know what sexual identity he’s got. But for this man to do something like that and hide in the church, you can’t allow that. 

You need to go to him – that’s what the Bible says. You see somebody. You go to such a one and you go to the elders. You bring that to the church and you say “You’ve got to deal with this thing.” And if they don’t, then you need to find another church.
Pat's co-host seemed to understand that it's more likely that Nancy's son is an adult who lives and helps care for his aging mother. Which is as much an assumption as Pat's assumption that Nancy's son is a teen who's been perped on by this older man. But -- given the limited information contained within the question -- it's more likely that Nancy's son is an adult and not a teen.

His co-host tried reigning Pat in, but he was having none of that. After all, he had a stereotyped meme to perpetuate!

You can watch the whole segment here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Iowa Man Fined $100 After Tossing Cat Into River

Here is a sick story from Iowa's recent past. A couple noticed a man toss a duffel bag into the Winnebago River in Mason City, IA, back in late March and became curious. Which is fortunate, because there was a live cat within that duffel bag!

The man, 69-year-old William Hill, was apparently identified and eventually charged with animal torture. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of abandonment of an animal. His punishment? A $100 fine.

The cat has been named Winnie and was taken to the Humane Society of North Iowa, which is where Hill should be taken her in the first place instead of the river! She has since been adopted by an individual from St. Paul, MN.

"League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" Movie Reboot in the Works!

Exciting news regarding 20th Century Fox and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:"
20th Century Fox is rebooting its 2003 historical fantasy film “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with John Davis on board to produce through his Davis Entertainment banner. 

Ira Napoliello and Matt Reilly are overseeing the remake, based on Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s graphic novel of the same name, centering on Victorian-era literary characters such as Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde teaming to fight a common enemy...

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” comic book series launched in 1999. News of the reboot was first reported by The Tracking Board.
I enjoy reading comic books (and I do mean "books" -- this comic book series comes out with hardcover issues these days!). But I'm also one of the few people who enjoyed the 2003 "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" movie. It would be nice if the movie reboot feels a bit more like the comic books than the first movie, but I'm a pretty easy movie goer!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Is Anyone Still Alive in Riverdale After ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #2?

ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #2  was published last Wednesday. This is a joint comic book venture between Archie Comics and Dark Horse Comics. I wrote late last week about the unexpected crossover within the final pages of this comic book between Little Archie and the Mask, but I really need to tell you about the main story!

Last issue, the entire Riverdale Gang won a fabulous tropical island vacation during their Spring Break. Everything was fairly traditional for an Archie Comics adventure. Jughead got to eat tons of food. Archie flirted with everyone. Betty and Veronica clashed over our favorite carrot-top. Cheryl and Jason Blossom instigated all sorts of mayhem. And...

And the Predator arrived from some unknown intergalactic location and began hunting our favorite teens! (I'm not joking! Both Cheryl and Jason got skinned alive!!)

After a major blow-out between Betty and Veronica, the surviving gang returned to Riverdale. However, Betty accidentally snagged a dark ceremonial blade on her outfit before leaving the island. Not only that, but it appears that the Predator stowed away in one of Veronica's trunks!

But before I get too far into this blog entry...

This blog entry contains spoilers. If you don't want to know what happens in ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #2, then stop reading now. You have been warned!

Back to the show...

The action picks up pretty quickly in AVP #2. One of Riverdale's main characters -- Pop Tate -- got his head blown off while slicing up a "Welcome Home" cake for our traveling teens! Betty quickly connects the Blossoms' gruesome deaths with Pop's violent murder and determines that she is the cause of these deaths.

And she's probably correct. I don't know if it's just the black ceremonial knife that attracts the Predator or if it was the entire ceremony -- where she vowed vengeance against both Cheryl Blossom and Veronica Lodge for their nasty attitudes.

Anyway, she and Veronica rush over to Greendale to see if Sabrina can break whatever nasty curse that Betty has unleashed upon her friends. Our favorite Teenage Witch gives it her best try, but... her best efforts are quickly interrupted by Riverdale's newest visitor!

Betty and Veronica are unharmed, but Sabrina is no more. And don't count on Salem to save the day anytime soon. But Betty managed to capture an image of the Predator with her cell phone camera, which she uses to warn her friends:

Since the Riverdale Police are helping the Greendale Police with mess over at Sabrina's home, General Keller leads a frontal attack against the Predator using the next best thing -- a squadron of teen soldiers.

Seriously. It doesn't turn out pretty.

General Keller and his Kid Commandos are easily slaughtered. The Predator didn't leave the battle unharmed, but that's little consolation. I ended up leaving this issue wondering if there was anyone left alive in Riverdale!

As it is, we ended up losing Pop Tate, Sabrina, Salem the Cat, General Keller, Moose, Midge, Reggie, Kevin, and Chuck.

I really don't understand why they led an armed assault against the Predator -- especially since General Keller explained to them the basic rules of surviving a Predator attack. They would have been better off doing a collective yoga meditation session until the Predator got bored and moved over to the next community!

I'm really curious about that knife. There's clearly something mystical and/or alien about it. It shattered during the Predator's assault on Sabrina's home and then melted back together after things settled down. Not only that, but it somehow ended up in Veronica's purse -- and I'm pretty certain that she didn't put it there!

Maybe there's something to Betty's "curse of the Jaguar Goddess" theory after all!

ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #2 was written by Alex de Campi, beautifully penciled by Fernando Ruiz, inked by Rich Koslowski, colored by Jason Millet, and lettered by John Workman.

Teen Pranksters Accused of Releasing 72,000 Ladybugs in their High School

Seven Maryland students are in serious trouble after being accused of releasing 72,000 ladybugs within their high school as part of a senior prank:
"You turn around the corner and all you see is ladybugs on the lights and a bunch of lady bugs on the lights," described Jerod Gaines, a Junior at Chopticon High School.

"Walking in, seeing a bunch of lady bugs squished and lying around," said Nick Hughes.

It sounds like a movie scene but the students are describing a high school senior prank, where 72,000 ladybugs were let loose into Chopticon High School in St. Mary's County, Maryland.

Police said five of the students forced their way into the high school while another two waited in a car in the early hours of May 20, 2015. The ladybugs were apparently purchased online.

Students and school staff discovered the swarming senior prank later that morning.

"Everybody got a good laugh out of it, I don't really see what the big deal is about it," Kyle Fisher a student at the school said.

However, school officials did not find it as amusing. The seven students involved are facing charges and two of them were banned from walking at graduation according to other students at the school, who decided to protest early Tuesday.

"A lot of us thought it was unfair how they weren't allowed to walk after they worked so hard all of high school and just to have it taken away because of a harmless senior prank," said Fisher.

School officials don't see the prank as harmless. St. Mary's County Public Schools Director of Safety and Security, Mike Wyant told WUSA they expect senior pranks and measure the severity of the prank based on certain criteria, including whether there was any damage to property.
Four of the students -- being charged as minors -- have been charged with 4th Degree Burglary, Property Destruction Under $1,000, and Disruption of School Activities. The other three students -- charged as adults -- are still facing criminal charges.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Which Is Worse? A Hurricane or a Middle-Aged Cannonball? Find out in "B&V Friends Comics Double Digest #243!"

I finally picked up my copy of B&V FRIENDS COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #243 yesterday. Like all comic book digests published by Archie Comics, it mainly featured classic reprint stories featuring characters such as Betty, Veronica, Josie & the Pussycats, Cheryl Blossom, and even Caramel the Cat! But it also features an original short story featuring Betty, Veronica, and pretty much all of Riverdale High!

The story is pretty fun. It seems that Mr. Lodge is looking forward to an empty house for Spring Break. Veronica and all of her friends are going to be vacationing on some island, so he is hosting a quiet meeting with several conservative businessmen from Italy. Except, it seems that a hurricane has struck Veronica's island-getaway. As a result, she has decided to host Spring Break at Lodge Manor. That way, her friends' holiday week isn't ruined.

Mr. Lodge is freaking out because he'd promised his guests peace and quiet and now there are kids everywhere! Fearing the worst, Mr. Lodge explains to his important guests that their work is going to be disrupted by his daughter's play. That's when he learned that Mr. Garibaldi and his associates like to play -- much to Veronica's dismay!!

Needless to say, Veronica and her friends decided that they would much rather contend with a hurricane as opposed to a middle aged cannonball!

"Spring Broken" is written by Paul Kupperberg, penciled by Jeff Shultz, inked by Rick Koslowski, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Colortek, Inc.

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 8 ("Spoil of War")

This is the eighth a series of blog posts dedicated to the 40th anniversary of BBC's "Survivors" television series. Survivors followed a core group of characters who managed to survived a devastating viral outbreak -- one which managed to kill off somewhere between 95-99% of humanity. Society has crumbled and now those who remain must relearn the old way if they have any hope of surviving much longer.

Our last episode featured two major development. Our core group of "survivors" (Abby Grant, Jenny Richards, and Greg Preston; along with children John Milton and Lizzie Willoughby) nearly doubled in size with the additions of Tom Price, Emma Cohen, Wendy, and Barney. Additionally, the group settled into a small enclosed estate (later named the Grange), where they hope to start up their new settlement.

The question is whether or not they have the collective skills needed to sustain their new community? Case in point, what's the likelihood that Abby and Jenny can plow a field for potatoes using a pony?

Paul Pitman
Fortunately, their fruitless efforts are being monitored by a traveler named Paul (played by Chris Tranchell). He quickly sits down with the larger group and explains that they are going about everything all wrong. They have the wrong type of horse for plowing. They're wasting their time trying to restart this old tractor. They are trying to farm the wrong portion of their community. Plus, they don't know the first thing about seed-potatoes!

Paul is pretty blunt, but everyone quickly warms to the guy and he pretty seamlessly folds into our new community.

While doing their walkabout of the property, Greg suddenly remembers the quarry from his first adventure. He reminds Abby that he had encountered a man and a woman in a quarry. They had been gathering food, seed, and equipment almost immediately after the Sickness. Unfortunately, the man was severely injured in a tractor accident and Greg had been called in to help them out. The woman later told Greg that the man had died (though we viewers know that Anne coldly abandoned Vic to fend for himself) and they both moved on to new adventures.

For whatever reasons, they decided to send Tom Price and Barney off to the quarry to create an inventory of the stockpile.

That night, our group is visited by a caravan. The vehicle is driven by a secretary named Charmian Wentworth (played by Eileen Helsby). She is traveling with her employer, a business tycoon by the name of Arthur Russell (played by Michael Grover). They are seeking shelter for the night, which is granted.

Charmian Wentworth
This new couple is a bit of a rarity for "Survivors." Up until now, everyone who has survived has been unknown to each other. Arthur and Charmian have proved to be the exception. She was his secretary before the Sickness. And she's carting him around after everyone else that they knew had died off.

They explained that they are traveling to an island cottage that Arthur owns. He plans to fish for survival -- well, he probably plans for Charmian to fish for their survival. Either way, our survivors aren't impressed by Arthur's pompous attitude. Money and prestige don't count for much in this new world.

Arthur Russell
The group becomes anxious when Tom and Barney don't return as scheduled. Greg and Paul load up into Arthur's van and travel to the quarry to see what's holding them up. They discover that our missing pair is pinned down by a gang of hidden thugs who shoot at anything that moves!

Greg sneaks around back and discovers that Tom and Barney aren't being shot at by a group of men. There's only one man in that shack: Vic Thatcher! He's armed with his own weapons, plus he's creating the illusion of more men by using ropes to fire other weapons:

Greg confronts Vic and discovers that his legs had healed badly. Vic cannot walk and he's probably still in a lot of pain. Vic had been mostly delirious when they had originally had met, but had assumed that Greg had whisked Anne away. Greg told him that she had told him that Vic was dead and he'd believed her.

Vic can scarcely believe that he had been abandoned by Anne. He is now consumer with thoughts of revenge.

Greg tells the others that they are not going to raid Vic's stockpile, as these items belong to him. Vic tells them to take as much as they like. Greg tells Vic that he's not going to take anything -- unless Vic himself comes to the Grange with them. He promises to find some sort of work to keep him busy.

The Grange continues to grow! Four new residents within two days! Each offers new skills and new perspectives.

I have been meaning to share second-hand stories of what things are like in the cities -- London in particular. It doesn't sound pretty. We keep hearing from others that they should stay away from the cities. It makes sense. There are too many dead bodies lying around, which can only promote new illnesses and infections. We learned from Tom Price back in Episode 3 that the London was surrounded by a wall of unbearable stench. It was bad enough that he ended up leaving before he got too close.

Paul told us in this story that he went to London to find his father. He found his father's apartment (which was empty), but never did find his father. He told of snipers everywhere. They were shooting at anything that moved, in hopes of snagging anything from food to gold teeth to cigarettes.

London definitely seems like the place to avoid in this post-apocalyptic world!

Next week, we will watch Episode #9 ("Law And Order"). It is one of the more powerful episodes of the series -- and one of the most disappointing episodes. It's the one episode that soured the whole show to Husband Mark. I will tell you why next week.