Saturday, February 28, 2015

David Benham: I Can Cure Homosexuality With Baseball

Remember the Benham brothers? Their home improvement program got canceled before it ever began once HGTV discovered the scope of their anti-gay and anti-choice activism. Apparently, they have discovered the cure to homosexuality. It's baseball:
The Benhams shared during their National Religious Broadcasters convention speech a specific interaction that they recently had with an unidentified gay man who vocally opposed their stance on homosexuality.

“We had so many people from the gay community reaching out to us and one man in particular from the city of Chicago reached out — and he said things to me that made me lose my appetite,” David Benham told the crowd during a panel discussion about religious liberty. “But I simply responded in love.”

And that positive tone went well beyond merely listening and speaking with kindness. 

“After a little conversation back and forth, I found out he loved baseball … and I got him tickets to a Cubs game,” Benham continued. “He shot me a Facebook post and said, ‘I was not expecting that — and I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I’ve chosen to walk away from my lifestyle.’”

The story received a round of applause from the audience and the brothers proceeded to discuss their take on religious freedom, their belief that the nation has begun to “slowly turn our back on God” and the need for Americans to boldly stand up and defend their faith.

“Love filled our heart. We had absolutely no hatred,” David Benham said, later adding, “What God needs most is a simple voice for truth.”
Interestingly, softball continues to encourage lesbianism...

Seriously, the Twins also revealed that they reached out to representatives from GLAAD, Right Wing Watch, Human Rights Campaign, and a few other groups after their show got preemptively canceled and invited them for dinner:
While no one took them up on the dinner offer, he said that they exchanged emails and had good conversations with some of the individuals — a testament to the Benhams’ views about how people should treat their opponents.

“We tell folks, ‘Don’t open your mouth to speak until you first truly love the people you’re speaking to,’” Jason Benham added, pushing back against the “false narrative” that he and his brothers are “haters.”
This might be a good message for the guys to communicate to their father, who is known for some pretty toxic anti-gay activism, including disrupting a same-sex wedding in North Carolina (and upping the toxicity when the police asked him to tone it down) and disrupting a Unitarian Universalist church services (including terrorizing a classroom of children with images of bits of aborted fetuses). These are just a few prominent incidents since the twins' show can preemptively canceled by HGTV.

Ms. Lion at the Veterinary Clinic

Ms. Lion was due for a fecal exam and heartworm test, so we made the journey to her veterinary clinic. She wasn't happy:


She was not happy at all. In fact, she was so unhappy that she ended up taking a dump in the clinic's reception room.

But she's clean from parasites, so that's good.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Christian Florist Upset She Cannot Legally Discriminate Against Gay Couple in Washington

I've avoided writing about this case out of Washington. It's the case of 70-year-old Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who refused to allow her flower shop to provide flowers for a long-time gay customer's wedding "because of my relationship with Jesus." He and his new husband were upset that they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientations. With the help of the ACLU, they filed a successful lawsuit against Stutzman's business for violating the state's anti-discrimination law. She owes them money and now she's making the rounds on various political and religious programs to complain about how her religious liberties were violated by this couple and by the state of Washington.

I only started getting heated about this case because of this blog article. It was written by The Marin Foundation's current executive director, Michael Kimpan. Another person commented that Kimpan missed the boat and said that now anyone can claim discrimination for anything. Jewish delis will be forced to sell non-kosher food. Muslim restaurants will be forced to serve pork. Cutlery salesmen will be forced to sell knives to cannibals and they won't be able to do anything when those cannibals use those products to carve up human flesh. Oh, and florists will be discriminating against single people for selling wedding bouquets.

All of this is bull. Public accommodation laws don't force restaurants, for example, to sell anything and everything. I cannot claim discrimination for going to McDonald's and requesting pizza because McDonald's -- unless they put it on their menu someday -- doesn't actually sell that product. The same goes for those other businesses. And the cutlery salesman can actually call the police if he has a suspicion that someone is killing and/or eating other people. That's illegal.

On the other hand, Stutzman's business actually sells -- among other products -- wedding flowers. If her customer was marrying a woman, she would gladly sell him wedding flowers. Because that's what she does for a living. But because he married another man, she discriminated against him. On the basis of sexual orientation. She admits it. Everyone admits it. They just don't like that she can't get away with it.

Washington updated its anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation. Why should we be surprised when a public business gets in trouble for discriminating against someone on the basis of sexual orientation? The same way they would get in trouble for discriminating on the basis of race or disability or gender? Otherwise, what was the purpose of this law?

Washington allows exemptions under its anti-discrimination law for certain types of religiously-based nonprofit businesses and institutions. Why doesn't this woman reclassify her business to comply with the law so that she can continue to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers, as well as presumably any other customer who doesn't fit within her specific religious perspective?

 It's not like wedding bouquets and arrangements for gay weddings are dramatically different than flowers for heterosexual weddings -- if at all.

Would her faith seriously be injured by preparing flowers for this wedding? How? Does she honestly endorse every wedding that she's ever worked with commercially or is she ultimately just bringing home a paycheck and keeping her business open for business? I'm curious how much she communicates her faith to her customers before each wedding? Surely she's worked with non-Christian customers on their weddings before.

Or is her faith only offended by same-sex marriages? Because, frankly, those are the only types of weddings where I see businesspeople ever claiming to be running commercial extensions of their personal faith as opposed to for-profit businesses that are open to the public.

#TheDress or #TheDalek??

(Inspiration)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Archie Plays the "Game of Phones" in ARCHIE #664!

I'm really behind on my Archie Comics reviews. I won't go into the reasons, but there is at least one comic book digest (maybe two) that won't get reviewed at this rate. But -- two weeks late -- I finally got around to reading ARCHIE #664! Sadly, there are only two more issues left in this series before it ends and gets relaunched into something new and exciting.

ARCHIE #664 was an obvious homage to "Game of Thrones." They took the familiar Archie Comics characters, placed them in a medieval worlds, and made everyone preoccupied with cell phones and apps and texting and that's how they came up with "Game of Phones."

Here's the deal. I know nothing about "Game of Thrones." I've only watched the gory scene from the show's "Red Wedding" episode -- and that's only because I heard so much hype about that episode. Husband Mark assured me that the indication that "winter is coming" (as seen above) is pretty significant to the upcoming new season, but I know nothing about that. So I assume that the imagery and the funny variations of the main characters' names mean something to fans of the HBO program.

But it's clear that it's a show about usurping powers and building alliances. And here is how power begins to shift in the Seven Kingdoms of Riveros. Check out King Bee:


So there will be an election for the new Prom King, who will choose his own Prom Queen. And they will rule the kingdoms. Here are the power-couples...

Archie Starch and Betty Cooperian:


And Veronsei Lodgister and Reggey Braggian:


The latter couple seeks to sit upon the Great Throne through deceit and manipulation. The former couple seeks to assume power through populism. Which strategy wins the day? I'll leave that up to you to decide, but the outcome is decidedly less bloody than what went down during that "Red Wedding," I can tell you that!

I would love it if someone could tell me if the name "Archie Starch" is somehow connected to the "Game of Thrones" program. Otherwise, I can't help thinking of MAD MAGAZINE's subversive "Starchie" character!


Lastly, It was good to finally see Clay Walker interacting with Archie Comics characters outside of LIFE WITH ARCHIE! Gone but not forgotten!


"Game of Phones" was written by Angelo DeCesare, penciled by Fernando Ruiz, inked by Rich Koslowski, and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Honey Boo Boo Bop

So here is the other Honey Boo Boo news. It was announced yesterday that Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson recorded her first song and is in the process of making a music video called the "Movin' Up" and a dance called the "Honey Boo Boo Bop."

You can follow the above link to an Inside Edition segment featuring Alana, Mama June, Sugar Bear, Pumpkin, and some new poodle as they discuss her new song and dance. Heck, you can watch them all do the Honey Boo Boo Bop -- very badly.

Keep in mind that I like Alana. But somebody needs to tell her and her parents "NO."


And those somebodies are reportedly the executives at TLC, who have reminded the family, according to TMZ, that they are contractually forbidden from doing stuff like this -- at least until June 2015.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Senate Republicans Submit Resolution to Ban Gay Marriage in Iowa

It's been nearly six years since Iowa became a marriage equality state. There have been a few hiccups along the way, but things have largely gone smoothly. But that didn't stop a group of Sentate Republicans from filing a constitutional amendment that would ban the recognition of gay marriage in Iowa:
Late last week, State Senator Dennis Guth, one of the leading social conservatives in the chamber, finally introduced Senate Joint Resolution 6, "specifying marriage between one man and one woman as the only legal union that is valid or recognized in the state." Just eleven of the 24 Republicans are co-sponsoring this amendment. That's a significant drop from two years ago, when three-quarters of the Iowa Senate GOP caucus co-sponsored the marriage amendment.
Those sponsoring SJR6 include Bill Anderson, Jerry Behn, Rick Bertrand, Jake Chapman, Randy Feenstra, Dennis Guth, David Johnson, Tim Kraayerbrink, Ken Rosenboom, Mark Segebart, and Jason Schultz.

It's worth noting that the Democratic Party controls Iowa's Senate and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has consistently prevented all past efforts to bring constitutional amendments restricting marriage to a vote.

Pet Avengers' Thor Frog Returns in THORS!

I'm not a big fan of Marvel Comics upcoming "Secret Wars" event, which promises to reboot the company's line of comics. Some of it seems interesting, but I've lived through too many DC Comics reboots. I have no clue what's going on over there and haven't picked up one of their comics in years. I'm afraid of that happening with Marvel Comics when this thing is over.

But there's one new "Secret Wars" series that grabbed my attention: THORS. It sounds like all of the various Thors and Thor-wannabes are stuck together in Battleworld:
The book will bring together the various Thors of many realities including Beta Ray Bill and the Ultimate Universe Thor. "This is not about the apocalypse, it’s about closing cases, "the writer told Marvel.com of the series pitch. "This is basically me doing a cop story, but with hammers instead of guns. This is me getting to do 'Homicide: Life on the Street' with lots of cosmic cops. It’s every version of Thor you can imagine, all walking beats, solving murders, getting yelled at by their commissioner and blowing off steam at their local Thor-cop bar...

"In the first issue, our Thors pick up a doozy of a murder case, one that sends them all scrambling," the writer added. "And ultimately has a few of them asking questions that may shake the foundations of everything they think they know."
Which is interesting, but this is what's gotten me all excited about this series:


Thor Frog!!!!!

That's right! Thor Frog from the Pet Avengers will be appearing in this story. Hopefully he won't be treated like a throwaway character destined for a cheap death scene. But this is very exciting!

2015 is shaping up to be the Year of the Pet Avengers!

Four Generations of Iowa City LGBTQ Individuals Connected to Share Stories Last Night in Iowa City

Much of the reason that I didn't blog yesterday was because I was attending the "Intergenerational Dialogue with the LGBTQ Community" at the Iowa City Public Library. It was an interesting meeting attended by 30 high schoolers, college students, gen-xers, and baby boomers. The event was also a confidential event, so there is a limit to what I can say about it.

It was organized by the Visibility Action Team (VAT), which Husband Mark is a member of. VAT's purpose is to raise awareness about the unique challenges shared by this community's aging LGBTQ population. They host events and sponsor movies.

Last night's event was a guided dialogue aimed at promoting friendships and understanding across the generations:
One of the reasons (facilitator Kendra) Malone said she believed people were so excited about the talk was the lack of events which specifically involved the LGBTQ community.
 
“There aren’t a lot of opportunities for the queer community to get together and talk about issues that we face and how we can support each other across generations, or more broadly,” she said.
 
This was the first time an intergenerational discussion has been held, and Malone said the reason it was created was because of the continuous need she heard from the community for a conversation between generations.
 
“I continuously heard this conversations of, ‘We need to talk to each other,’ ” she said. “So the committee decided to put this event on to create an opportunity for people to talk to each other.” 
 
The topics the meeting revolved around were community building and storytelling, Malone said, with members sharing their unique generational experiences, coming-out stories, and learning about how to continue to develop a community despite age differences.
There was a expressed desire amongst many of the attendees to plan future events. One of those events -- scheduled for June 2015 -- will be an all-ages Gay Prom at the local Senior Center.

One of the things that was driven home to me last night was the need for passing on LGBT historical stories to the coming generations. I was in a small group discussion with a couple near retirees, a college frat boy, and a couple high schoolers. The younger folks didn't know about the AIDS Quilt and only vaguely knew about Stonewall. We didn't get much of a chance to discuss much more. This is not a criticism of them. It just shows the need for passing on these stories so that they don't become lost. You can bet that these types of stories will be showing up in future posts on this blog.

Honey Boo Boo Getting a Weight Intervention on Tomorrow's "The Doctors"

I wrote this weekend about rumors that the "Honey Boo Boo" family was working out a new reality TV show series. It would essentially be a reality TV version of "Beverly Hillbillies." A big announcement was supposed to be forthcoming this week, but it turns out that I was wrong. Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, June "Mama June" Shannon, and the others aren't getting their own show -- at least not yet. Instead, Alana is getting a weight-loss intervention tomorrow, courtesy of "The Doctors:"
While it may be all fun and games for Here Comes Honey Boo Boo viewers, the professionals on The Doctors see a totally different story.

"What's ironic, and something that I've learned in the emergency department, is the common culprit in a lot of these things is what you're eating," Dr. Travis Stork shared in a sneak peek at Wednesday's all-new episode. "And when I looked in your fridge, Mama June, I'm sorry but I didn't see anything in that fridge that's going to either improve Alana's weight or decrease inflammation in her body."

Another doctor took an even more direct approach.

"She is an obese nine-year-old," Dr. Jennifer Ashton proclaimed after reviewing Alana's lifestyle. Guess Honey Boo Boo's sketti isn't the best dinner choice after all.
It looks like The Doctors spend the episode digging through the family's fridge and offering her healthier eating options -- which, judging from the clips, looks really, really awkward.


Seriously, there's a need for something to be done. I've read elsewhere that the girl is 4'9" and weighs 125 pounds. And you don't have to watch much of the show to see that the types of foods that the family routines eats are unhealthy. It's just unfortunate that this has to take place in the public eye.

But I think that's the point. Distract fans from the sex offender story by trying to rehabilitate the family's television reputation by tackling their weight issues. But that's my cynical nature.

There's another "Honey Boo Boo" story coming out tomorrow, but I want to separate these two stories.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Intergenerational Dialogue within the LGBTQ Community: 02/23/15 from 6-7:30 PM in Iowa City

Husband Mark asked me to share information about an upcoming event. It's an intergenerational dialogue for people within the LGBTQ community. It's meant to offer both younger and older LGBTQ individuals the opportunity to get to know each other and learn from each other.
It's open to people of all ages and designed to encourage LGBT people of all ages to build relationships and learn from each others' stories.

It's scheduled for Monday, February 23, 2015, from 6:00-7:30 PM at the Iowa City Public Library: Room A. People are encouraged to RSVP with Kendra Malone at the contact information listed above.

New Reality TV Show for Honey Boo Boo & Family?

There were rumors throughout the Internet last week and June "Mama June" Shannon, Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, and the most of the rest of the family have been in Los Angeles, CA, trying to come up with a new reality TV show series. The most consistent concept is that it would be a modern day "Beverly Hillbillies" show -- i.e., "rednecks hobnobbing with rich people" for those who are a little bit younger than me! Alana would be on the show, as would Mama June, Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson, and most of the girls.

Mama June addressed these rumors on their Facebook page earlier today, with a bit of excitement but also with a "can't say anything" vibe:


Frankly, I don't see either Anna "Chickadee" Cardwell or Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson appearing on this new program. Not unless TLC or whomever is talking with the family about getting the new show insists that one or the other is involved or else.

I have already heard rumors that the network wants the family to address Mama June's "dating the sex offender" scandal and the parents' break-up on the new show -- something the family does not want to do. But I get the network's perspective. Those subjects are going to be brought up by the press and the viewers over and over. They need to address those stories directly -- preferably on their terms. Otherwise, the new show won't succeed.

Alabama Supreme Court Justice: Marriage May Be Abolished If Gays Are Allowed to Marry

Justice Murdock
Alabama has become the USA's 37th (messy) marriage equality state, though there continues to be fights amongst the populace, the state government, the state court system, and the federal court system about whether or not these marriage are going to be honored and about how hard the state is going to fight against its newest married citizens.

Case in point: Alabama Supreme Court Justice Glenn Murdock has thrown out the possibility that all marriages will be eliminated if same-sex couples are ultimately successful with our efforts to legally protect our families:
Justice Glenn Murdock raised the possibility in a concurring opinion when the full court declined to issue a "clarification" of Chief Justice Roy Moore's order instructing probate judges to ignore U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade's ruling striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban. 

Murdock agreed with his colleagues that the request by Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to review Moore's administrative order was improper because only the governor or Legislature can do so. But he wrote separately, in part, to discuss the possibility that "considering the meaning of the term 'marriage' intended by the Legislature in those statutes, they may be deemed to survive, or must be stricken as wholly void, if they are not to be applied solely to a union between a man and a woman."

Murdock cited a 1945 case, A. Bertolla & Sons v. State, which the court held that a law is unconstitutional in its entirety if "the invalid potion is so important to the general plan and operation of the law in its entirety as reasonably to lead to the conclusion that it would not have been adopted if the legislature had perceived the invalid part so held to be unconstitutional." 

The court at the time described the circumstances under which a law could be saved if part of it were declared unconstitutional. "The test is ... whether the legislature would have passed the statute without" the unconstitutional part

So the potential question in the gay marriage case would be whether the Legislature would have codified marriage as a legal institution if it had been available more broadly than one man and one woman.
Which makes you wonder if someone or some group would go out of its way to challenge the existence of Alabama's marriage laws in order to effectively ban gays from marrying -- by destroying marriage altogether.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Michigan Pediatrician to Lesbian Moms: I Prayed & Decided My Faith Is Challenged by Treating Your Daughter

Dr. Vesna Roi of Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, MI, demonstrated her Christian faith to a lesbian couple -- by refusing to provide medical care for their newborn daughter:
Last September when the expectant mothers first met Dr. Vesna Roi at Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville. She was recommended by their midwife. "We were really happy with her," Krista said. "The kind of care she offered, we liked her personality, she seemed pretty friendly. She seemed pretty straight up with us." The Contrerasas were told to make an appointment with Roi once Bay arrived. The baby was born at home and when she was six days old - they went in. But instead of seeing Dr. Roi,  another doctor greeted them. "The first thing Dr. Karam said was 'I'll be your doctor, I'll be seeing you today because Dr. Roi decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won't be able to care for Bay," Jami said. "Dr. Karam told us she didn't even come to the office that morning because she didn't want to see us." The new mothers were shocked, hurt and angry. "It was embarrassing, it was humiliating and here we are, new parents trying to protect her," Jami said. "And we know this happens in the world and we're completely prepared for this to happen other places. But not at our six-day-old's wellness appointment."
The couple finished their medical appointment and then immediately began searching for another pediatric clinic for their daughter.

They then began complaining on social media, which led to attracted lots of negative attention for the pediatric clinic. Dr. Roi reportedly sent a letter to the couple earlier this month and confirmed that she decided that she couldn't work with their daughter because they are lesbian moms:
Dear Jami & Krista: I am writing this letter of apology as I feel that it is important and necessary. I never meant to hurt either one of you. After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients. I felt that was not fair to the two of you or to Bay. I felt that you deserved that type of relationship and I know you would get that with Dr. Karam. We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you. I found out on the Monday morning that you were coming and I made the decision that it would be better for Dr. Karam to see Bay. I felt that it was an exciting time for the two of you and I felt that if I came in and shared my decision it would take away much of the excitement. That was my mistake. I should not have made that assumption and I apologize for that. I should have spoken with you directly that day. You were always welcome at the office and I assumed that you would continue coming to our office with Dr. Karam. Please know that I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice.
Except that she did judge them and determined their daughter unworthy of medical care based off what she thought of her parents. And she didn't believe them worthy of directly communicating her judgment. And she didn't judge them worthy of even trying to develop a personal patient doctor relationship because Bay's moms are lesbians. But it's okay because anti-gay discrimination is legal in Michigan. And because Jesus would turn away children from his medical practice -- if they had two moms.

Incidentally, this was probably an instructive lesson for this family. I am a strong believer in self-advocating -- especially when it comes to your kids. Whenever my sons needs a new day program or a new camp, I came right out and communicated that we have a two-dad household and that I wanted to know upfront if this would be a problem. Mainly because I don't want to invest a lot of time, energy, or emotion into an entity that is hostile towards gay families. I have better things to do with my time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

ARCHIE Ends With Issue #666 in June 2015

We learned a while back that Archie Comics will be canceling and relaunching ARCHIE sometime in 2015. The relaunch will feature updated characters, looks, and storylines and will be created by writer Mark Waid and (initially) artist Fiona Staples. We learned earlier today that the current run of ARCHIE will be ending in June 2015 and the series will be ending with Issue #666:
"Archie" #666 will be written by comics veteran and former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Tom DeFalco -- who has contributed multiple stories to Archie in recent years -- and illustrated by Dan Parent, Fernando Ruiz and Pat and Tim Kennedy; illustrators who have defined the more traditional Archie art style in the modern era. As of the relaunched "Archie" #1, the classic Archie look will remain in original stories released in the digest format, but Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater has indicated that a new approach, as represented by artists like Staples, will be dominant in single-issue stories.

Plot details are light at this time on "Archie" #666, but it definitely appears to be of a retrospective theme, described as a "dazzling journey through the world of Archie with plenty of winks and nods to what's come before." Additionally, the six covers of "Archie" #666, all by Parent, will connect to showcase a wide range of Archie main players and supporting characters, anchored by Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Kevin Keller and Reggie. CBR has the first look at both the solicitation text for "Archie" #666, and not-final versions of the six covers. 
There are some rough Dan Parent sketches of other covers including one featuring Betty (with Veronica, Kevin, Trev, and Brigitte in the background), one featuring Veronica (with Marcy, Harper, Sherry, Big Vic, and Chunk in the background), one featuring Jughead (with Big Ethel, Shrill, Hot Dog, (maybe) Cricket, and one other girl in the background -- help me out!!), one featuring Reggie (with Nancy, Chuck, Two-Fisted Toni Topaz, and Ginger Lopez(??) -- help me out again!!), and one featuring Kevin (with Raj, Amisha, Kumi, and Pencilneck G).

Rejoice! Pet Avengers Returning to Marvel Comics in May 2015!!

Marvel Comics released its upcoming releases for May 2015 and I was treated to something very exciting. It seems that Rocket Raccoon will be teaming up with the Pet Avengers in GUARDIANS TEAM-UP #5(!!!):
• The universe’s most powerful cabal of villainy has formed right under the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ noses--and they never noticed! This group of fowl (get it!) villains, is the Pets of Evil Masters!
• And they’re after world domination! Rocket must team-up with The Pet Avengers (much to his dismay) to face down the foes that no one else can (or will bother with) in this Earth-Shattering adventure that can only be told in the Mighty Marvel Manner!
The Pet Avengers haven't worked as a team since 2011. I often describe them as the greatest super-team I never knew I needed until Marvel created them.

The Pet Avengers consist of:
  • Lockjaw, the Inhumans' teleporting bulldog.
  • Thor Frog, a frog who was given his own Asgardian hammer.
  • Lockheed, Kitty Pryde's space dragon and Agent of A.R.M.O.R.
  • Zabu, Ka-Zar's pet sabretooth tiger.
  • Hairball, Speedball's kinetically-charged cat.
  • Redwing, Captain America's (FKA Falcon) pet falcon.
  • Ms. Lion, Aunt May's pet dog.
They are a great team of heroes and it's wonderful that they are being given their own team of evil pets to fight!

Nero at Daycare -- 02/17/15

It was pretty chilly today in Iowa City, but Nero still managed to get some running time for him and his various friends at doggy daycare. Check it out:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lisa Whelchel of "The Facts of Life": Christians Deserve their Anti-Gay Stigma

I've written about my love of the old "The Facts of Life" 80s sitcom in the past. It's very sad, but I used to pretend that I was the first boy admitted to Eastland School so I could hang out with Mrs. Garrett and the girls. I have the first several seasons of the program on DVD and often binge on those old episodes.

I wrote back in 2011 about an untrue National Enquirer article that Lisa Whelchel (AKA Blair) had snubbed longtime friend and former co-star Geri Jewell (AKA Geri) because Whelchel is a born-again Christian and Jewell is a lesbian. I later found out from Jewell that there was no truth to the story. The women don't interact much, but there is no animosity between them. I corrected the first story here and here.

Whelchel recently appeared on a YouTube program called "The Justin Root Show." They discussed her involvement with "The Facts of Life" and her television career. They also discussed her Christian faith and her thoughts on gay people. Basically, she believes that Christians have earned their anti-gay stigma:
It's not like there are some loud voices that wear the one-way Jesus shirts and point fingers. Sadly, that is the voice and that is the poster child for Christianity and the unacceptance of people that  choose differently. Or are born differently. Because even that you have to be careful of saying "choose differently." You know, that's an electric rod right there. And so I'm sorry about that and I'm sad for that because that is not at all what Jesus taught. He taught us to follow him and he never made a deal about it and if he did make a deal, it was about acceptance and love and grace. And so I'm sad that is the stigma that Christians have deserved unfortunately.
They also speculated on whether or not Jo would have been written as a lesbian if "The Facts of Life" was produced today.

I was also reminded to a storyline from the sitcom's first season where Blair gay-baited Cindy for being a tomboy.


I also learned that Whelchel prefers Mrs. Garrett over Beverly Ann.

Anyway, follow the link and learn all about "The Facts of Life," as well as her involvement with "Survivor" and "Friends."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Who Is the Spookman?

I received my copy of THE CHARLTON ARROW #1 early last month from Charlton Neo. My connection to Charlton Comics is pretty limited. I never read any of the books when Charlton Comics was in publication and only became as interested as I am due to the online promoting and interest of various comic book pros whom I enjoy. But I got my comic and then leafed through it.

One of the characters has gotten a lot of buzz among people I know. His name is the Spookman. The final story in THE CHARLTON ARROW #1 featured a short story set within an asylum for the criminally insane which appears to be beset by paranormal symptoms.

There was a man named Crispin who apparently killed his wife and children forty years before. He wrote a crazy confession letter shortly before this story began involving his old employer Aaron Piper -- and a demonic creature known as the Spookman!

We then learn that Crispin has disappeared from his locked cell -- but video footage captured something quite horrifying:


It was the Spookman and he came from nowhere to either rescue or destroy Crispin. I presume that Crispin is no more.

It was an interesting story by Roger McKenzie and Sandy Carruthers -- but once again, I didn't know much about the character and moved on without dwelling on the story too much longer. I know that he's shown up in the latest couple issues of THE CHARLTON ARROW, but I haven't read those books yet.

But then I gained access last week to the new Pix-C Web Comics being put out by the Charlton Neo guys and noticed that Spookman has a weekly strip. I was totally hooked.

We were introduced to a couple named Dianne and Jason. It seems that Dianne had some sort of tragic encounter with the Spookman when she was a child. It was raining and it seems that her family car ended up crashing. Presumably, her parents died and she survived. Since then, she has been obsessed with a demonic urban legend know as Spookman. Frankly, Jason is getting sick of it! And then...

I really want to know more about this demonic menace. Who is he and why is he attacking other people. Is it all random? Is he attacking bad guys? I really want to know!!

So I google-searched Spookman and found a slightly different character dating back to 1967. He was created by Pat Boyette and premiered in CHARLTON PREMIER Vol. 2 #1, but didn't appear in any other stories until his Charlton Neo tales.

I learned that Aaron Piper was a failed archaeologist who decided to open his own museum gallery. He found an artifact called the Moonstone Amulet that allowed him to transform into a demon called the Spookman. He quickly learned that he could travel through time when he was wearing the amulet, so he and his assistant, Crispin X Crispin (remember him?), decided to travel back in time to claim valuable artifacts that they would then sell to modern-day collectors for big money.


Their first trip was to ancient Rome, where Spookman defeated one of Rome's greatest fighters. He didn't go all crazy like he did above. This fight was fairly mundane. In exchange for his victory, Spookman was allowed to buy a valuable statue from the Roman emperor -- in exchange for a cigarette lighter.


Did I mention that the Roman emperor was Nero? Not my poodle, but the guy who inspired Nero's name. It seems that he likes fire a little too much -- but Spookman really doesn't care!


The story from THE CHARLTON ARROW #1 made a lot more sense once I'd read this original story. It seems that he spent the next few years following his debut collecting historical items -- and then began seeking out arcane objects. These magical objects did something to Aaron Piper. Either they brought out his dark side, or they slowly made Spookman more powerful and more prominent -- or both.

Either way, Aaron Piper transformed himself into the Spookman one final time roughly forty years ago and the demon is now permanently loose. This final transformation profoundly affected Crispin and led to him murdering his family. And now Spookman is stalking others and committing horrific offenses.

It's an interesting way to take a forgotten and corny concept ("Antique Roadshow" with demons and time travel) and organically evolving it into something much darker and mysterious. Have I mentioned that I'm hooked??

THE SPOOKMAN was created by Pat Boyette and his latest stories are created by Roger McKenzie and Sandy Carruthers.

University of Iowa's LGBT Sorority is Slowly Blossoming!

Two years ago, I wrote that the University of Iowa was assessing whether or not it was a good idea to start up a new campus sorority geared towards lesbian, bisexual, and progressive women. But I never heard the results of this deliberation. It turns out a small sorority came out of those deliberations and they are recruiting new sisters:
The 16 women of Gamma Rho Lambda were helped this Tuesday by a UI Mass Mail, an email sent out to all students at the university. “We’re a progressive women’s sorority, dedicated to changing what it means to be in a sorority, and exploring queer Greek life,” the email stated.

“The email kind of announced our presence to campus,” said Voloria Noland, the sorority’s recruitment chair, at an event Saturday afternoon. “You wouldn’t think it would be very hard to find people who fit in this niche.”

Sitting around a kitchen table at the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center on campus, a mix of eight members and recruits introduced themselves to each other. Just two years into its existence, the sorority operates just as any other sorority does...

Also like all sororities, Gamma Rho Lambda is open to women of all backgrounds and diversities. Gamma Rho Lambda hopes to be the sorority that also acts a support group for anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or is an LGBT ally.

“We’re open for anyone who self-identifies as a woman,” member Chelsea Niles said.
The UI's Gamma Rho Lambda is still a "colony," which means its still pretty new and need at least one more class of recruits and planned philanthropic events in order to become an actual chapter of the sorority. They hope to become an official chapter later this year.

I wish the women of Gamma Rho Lambda lots of good luck as they work towards becoming an official sorority chapter!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Have Iowa House Republicans Quietly Killed Gay Marriage Amendment Legislation?

Remember these two House Bills/Resolutions that would have amended Iowa's constitution to ban recognition of same-sex marriage and prevented Iowa's recorders from processing any more marriage licenses to gay couples while the constitutional amendment meandered through its processes? It looks like HJR4 (the one which would initiate the effort to amend our state constitution) has quietly died in committee:
Iowa House Judiciary Committee Chair Chip Baltimore appears likely to let the marriage amendment die again this year. His committee never took action on the 2013 version of the marriage amendment, even though Baltimore was nominally a supporter and co-sponsor. At that time, he had a convenient excuse, because supporters filed the marriage amendment less than a week before the "funnel" deadline. 

This year's first funnel deadline is Friday, March 6. With the exception of appropriations bills, most legislation that hasn't cleared at least one Iowa House or Senate committee by that time will be considered dead for this session. There is still plenty of time for Baltimore to assign House Joint Resolution 4 to a subcommittee, pass the bill in subcommittee, and consider the bill in the full House Judiciary Committee, but I wouldn't put money on that happening. 

The marriage amendment was introduced and referred to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee on January 27. Typically, the next step would be for the chair to assign the bill to a subcommittee. Yet at this writing, HJR4 has not been assigned to a subcommittee

If Baltimore does bring the marriage amendment up in his committee, things could get awkward. Of the 13 Republicans now serving on the House Judiciary Committee, just three (Baxter, Heartsill, and Windschitl) are co-sponsoring HJR 4. Voting on the amendment could be a lose-lose proposition for the others (Baltimore, Gustafson, Hagenow, Nunn, Rizer, Rogers, Kaufmann, Heaton, Branhagen, and Jones). As the years pass, a vote to restore discrimination against LGBT Iowans will be increasingly unpopular and difficult to explain. Yet voting against a marriage amendment now would enrage social conservatives who still believe in the GOP platform's "traditional marriage" plank. 

Voting on the marriage amendment looks like a headache these Republicans don't need. It's easier to avoid attracting any public attention to the issue. 
It's also worth noting that the Democratic Party continues to control the Iowa Senate and they have steadfastly resisted efforts to allow anti-gay marriage amendment legislation to come up for a vote since marriage equality became a reality in this state back in 2009.

Rev. John Dorhauer: UCC's New General Minister & President

We learned yesterday that the United Church of Christ has announced it's 9th General Minister and President. Rev. John C. Dorhauer is currently the conference minister for the Southwest Conference of the UCC and has been chosen by the denomination's search committee.

That said, his appointment isn't yet a done deal:
Dorhauer’s candidacy must be confirmed first by the United Church of Christ Board of Directors by a two-thirds vote at its upcoming meeting March 19, then by the delegates of the 30th General Synod, meeting in Cleveland June 26-30, with a 60-percent majority.

The 18-member search committee spent four-and-a-half months on the process to identify a candidate for the next general minister and president. They were seeking a leader who is "a person of faith, an articulate and theologically-grounded preacher and speaker, and an innovator who leads with clarity and purpose" to act as CEO and chief spokesperson of the UCC. Dorhauer would be charged with preparing the denomination for the future by planning, coordinating and implementing the mission of the church.

"The committee made its decision after careful prayer and intentional deliberation over the past months," said the Rev. Bernard R. Wilson, co-chair of the search committee and chair of the UCC Board of Directors. "We are enthusiastic about his recommendation."

Friday's announcement concludes a search process set in motion in mid-August, when current General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black announced his plans to retire at the conclusion of General Synod.
I had forgotten about Rev. Black's retirement plans. I'm actually surprised that I didn't blog about it back in August.

I remember Rev. Dorhauer from year's back when he was blogging and promoting his book, Steeplejacking: How the Christian Rights is Hijacking Mainstream Religion. That book and his dialogues surrounding those issues didn't endear him to this crowd, which might create some tension when it comes to confirming his position. I've also read some general complaints that it would have been nice to finally have a UCC General Minister who is a woman and/or someone in the LGBT spectrum.

I'm pretty excited about this announcement and hopes that he gets the job. Good luck, John!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's a Snow Day in ARCHIE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #258 // PLUS: Secret Riverdale Scandals!

I got several great comic books this week, including ARCHIE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #258. This digest comic book features mostly reprint stories of classic Archie Comics stories, but starts out with a cute new short story.

The concept is pretty simple and can be summarized by looking at the top-right panels. It's about the instant transformation that kids go through once they learn that school has been canceled due to snow! That's the moment when the dreaded snow and cold become a high school student's best friend!

It mainly focuses on Archie, Jughead, and Betty, but a couple other main characters also show up briefly.

"Snow-Kay by Me" is written by J. Torres, penciled by Fernando Ruiz, inked by Rich Koslowsky, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Digikore Studios.

Incidentally... I learned a few scandalous secrets about Riverdale USA on this dark winter night.

First...

It seems that Betty Cooper's home is infested by mice. It's so bad that Caramel gave up even trying!

Second...

I guess this is what Archie, Jughead, and Reggie do to entertain themselves when the girls aren't around! Mr. Lodge, I know how you feel tonight!

I wonder what else happens in Riverdale when people aren't looking??

Family Feud: Name Something a Doctor Might Pull Out of a Person? // Contestant's Answer: A Gerbil

A recent episode of "Family Feud" asked the following question: "Name something a doctor might pull out of a person?"

The woman's answer? A gerbil.

Because of that anti-gay urban legend about Richard Gere putting gerbils into his anus for sexual pleasure and having to go to the emergency room to have them removed.

Iowa City and the University of Iowa have a history with the urban myth of "gerbils as sex toys for gay men" when the now-former "Campus Review" editor-in-chief (and current Cedar County Attorney) Jeff Renander created an anti-gay "Gerbil Quilt" in 1990 to mock the UI's gay students, as well as the AIDS Quilt.

The answer was not a correct answer and the woman was sent back to her family with feigned shame. I did actually watch the end of that particular program and her family ended up winning the game.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Alabama Minister Arrested after Trying to Marry Same-Sex Couple

Alabama's marriage mess continued today, though a small handful of counties eventually opened up and allowed same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses. I often hear from Christians who fear that their religious liberties are threatened if gays are allowed to marry. But I've found that it's progressive Christians who find their beliefs attacked when it comes to LGBT issues.

Today's latest example involves a minister from Prattville, AL, who got arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct for offering to perform a wedding ceremony for a lesbian couple who'd just received their marriage license. Probate Judge Al Booth had stopped all courthouse weddings and refused Anne Diprizio's offer to marry the couple. He told her to leave and she pressed the issue. So he had her arrested:
"I was trying to marry a nice couple and that wasn't going to happen today because Judge Booth explained that if he let one couple be married he would have to let everybody be married," Diprizio said. "So he was not going to allow us to have ceremony there and he had me arrested.

"I told him I wasn't going to leave on my own volition and I was very respectful. These are intimidation tactics and we have the federal government on our side. It's bad for Judge Booth because he is on the wrong side of history."
Diprizio has vowed to return to the probate office in the future to help marry same-sex couples.

It should be noted that the lesbian couple was able to obtain marriage licenses at that probate office, but were unable to get married by the probate judge.

Diprizio says that she belongs to a non-denominational church, but declined to offer any details. It does seem to me that she has at least one other option available to her besides trying to marry same-sex couples at that probate office. She could hand out business cards and offer to officiate these weddings at her church or at some other location.

KKK Endorses Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore // Opposes Gay Marriage

I learned from the Joe My God blog that the United Dixie White Knights have come out in support of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for his opposition to marriage equality:
The Mississippi Klan salutes Alabama's chief justice Roy Moore, for refusing to bow to the yoke of Federal tyranny. The Feds have no authority over individual States marriage laws. The fudgepackers from Hollywood and all major news networks are in shock that the good people from the heart of Dixie are resisting their Imperialist, Communist Homosexual agenda!

Alabama has a Constitutional amendment, that clearly says marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. But much as they have since the 2nd war for independence was lost in 1865, the Federal Government by way of it's foreign masters seems set to push this abomination, on the God fearing people of Alabama. Will they send Jack Booted thugs to enforce it? Remains to be seen, but a simple study of history will show they once burned, destroyed and looted the state of Alabama. Georgia was burned almost to the ground, and in our state, Meridian Mississippi was destroyed by blue bellied sledgehammers in one day.

We call upon all Klansman and White Southern Nationalist to help in the massive protest's coming, Not by wearing your colors, but by joining in with the Christian community's protests that are surly coming against tyranical Federal judges. We have made the decision that we don't want to distract attention away from the issue, as anytime the Klan rides, we are made the issue by the zionist controlled media. Members are encouraged to lend a hand, make signs, recruit etc., but leave any insignia, colors, shirts etc at the house. We want to infiltrate these protests and make sure they are kept running in military fashion and not bullied by the outside agitators.

Let today be the day, that the outside forces that have ruled this nation since the end of the War of Northern Aggression be given notice, "The God fearing White man will no longer stand for your immorality, your Illegal unjust judges and laws. Your attempts to turn us into a third world cesspool must be defeated. Unlike the 1950's and 60's we see you clearly for the enemy you are. Until we drive the spear of God and truth through your lying cold black hearts, the Klan will leave the light on for you.
Something tells me that this branch of the Ku Klux Klan is not inclusive of gay people like this Montana-based KKK group.

Either way, what an endorsement that Chief Justice Moore just received!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Have You Heard About Charlton Neo??

Several months ago, I learned about Charlton Neo, which is a resurrection of the classic Charlton Comics line. It's headed up by Editor-In-Chief Mort Todd, Executive Editor Paul Kupperberg, Managing Editor Roger McKenzie, and Assistant Editor Dan Johnson and features tons of art and stories by various comic book pros, such as the previously-mentioned guys, Chuck Dixon, Fernando Ruiz, Joe Gill, Sandy Carruthers, Pat & Tim Kennedy, and a whole host of others. These folks have mostly volunteered their time and talent towards resurrecting these characters, but the hope is that more and more fans will step up and support this line of comics, which in turn will allow the line to grow and prosper.

The current titles include THE CHARLTON ARROW #1-3, CHARLTON WILD FRONTIER #1, and PAUL KUPPERBERG'S SECRET ROMANCES #1. Plus, there are some great black-and-white reprint stories from the 1970s called CLASSIC HOT RODS #1-4. You cannot get any of these titles at your local comic book shop, but you can order them from this page or you can order them digitally off of Amazon.com for your Kindle device. There are some other interesting looking titles on the website, such as a photo-comic called SADISTIK and stuff from a fictional 1950s Zeus Comics line that looks interesting too.


I've purchased two of the CLASSIC HOT RODS titles, plus two issues of THE CHARLTON ARROW title. The latter two titles are anthology comics books, which are nice because there's a little for everyone (heroes, horror, humor, and romance). I'm looking forward to purchasing the SECRET ROMANCES book soon, as well as the CHARLTON WILD FRONTIER title (western themed).


Most recently, the Charlton Neo guys launched a new PIX-C WEB COMICS page, which promises to feature weekly comics from a variety of comic book pros, including writers Bradley Mason Hamlin, Paul Kupperberg, Roger McKenzie and Mort Todd and artists such John Severin, Steve Ditko, Sandy Carruthers, Kevin Halter, Arden Belfry, and P.D. Angel Gabriele.

Mort Todd launched a fundraising page for PIX-C WEB COMICS through Patreon, which not only gives you ongoing access to the web comics, but depending the amount that you donate you can also receive periodic copies of print comic books, t-shirts with Charlton Neo print designs, copies of autographed scripts and artwork, and/or original commissioned artwork, among other incentives. I went ahead and decided to contribute $30 per month towards Charlton Neo, and would encourage you to check out what they have to offer as well.

I received a link to PIX-C WEB COMICS this weekend and finally got the chance to check out the first batch of weekly strips today. Initial offerings include CELEBRITY BIOGRAFIX, FRANKENSTEIN 9, MOLLY THE MODEL, SADISTIX PHOTO COMICS, THE SKYMAN, THE SPOOKMAN, and VIVA LOS COMEX. Another title called N.E.O.: NON-SEQUENTIALLY EVOLVING ORGANISM is also listed, but not yet started yet.


I plan to do reviews of some of the Charlton Neo-related comics that I have in the future. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the "Charlton Neo" and "Charlton Arrow" Facebook groups. Both pages are quite active and feature promotional information about the Neo line, as well as classic Charlton Comics cover and out-of-context panels from classic stories. Plus there are tons of comic book pros on both pages and who doesn't enjoy hobnobbing with comic book pros??

More later!