Monday, November 30, 2015

Tim Tebow & Girlfriend Break Up Due to His "Virginity Vow."

I haven't written about Tim Tebow in a while. The football player is currently trending on Facebook following his break-up with new girlfriend Olivia Culpo (a former Miss Universe). The couple broke up their dating relationship because of Tebow's "virginity vow."

Which is fair. I'm just not sure why it's a big deal. The couple just started dating in September. Part of dating is figuring out if a couple is compatible. They weren't. They broke up after a very short relationship.

My guess -- and this is coming from the cynical part of my personality -- is that Tebow's people linked news of the break-up and of "no sex" excuse in order to remind fans of his virginity creds.  Otherwise, it just seems to be a shrug-worthy development.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

#LipstickIncident Explained in ARCHIE #4!

One of the biggest mysteries of the Archie Relaunch has been the super-secret "lipstick incident" that led to the break-up of Riverdale High's power couple, Archie and Betty. Everyone knew about it, but nobody actually knew anything about it. They just knew that the Archie and Betty were no longer a couple and that it was because of the #LipstickIncident. Judging from the reactions, it was very traumatic for everyone in Riverdale!

ARCHIE #4 was published this week and we finally learned the story behind the #LipstickIncident. I feared that it had everything to do about Archie and other girls. I just read the story and learned that I was both completely right and completely wrong at the same time!

But first...

This blog entry contains spoilers. If you don't want to know what happens in ARCHIE #4 or about the #LipstickIncident, then stop reading now. You have been warned.

Back to the show...

#LipstickIncident was all about Betty and Archie struggling with the idea of change. They have known each other for all of their lives. They are very comfortable with each other. They want everything to stay as it's always been. But they are both high school students now. They aren't kids. They aren't even junior high kids. They are growing and maturing and turning into adults. How will they adjust when one of them steps out of the familiar and tries something new?

That's what Betty does -- and that's where Archie fails. Betty is a tomboy. I mean, she's a very pretty tomboy. But she's always been a tomboy. Until her new friends get all excited about a movie date and talk her into getting a makeover.

She is uncomfortable with her new look. Archie is also. To top things off, he makes things worse by saying that she looks weird and wonders where the old Betty is. Which is obviously the wrong thing to say. But he's a dumb kid and doesn't know any better. She storms off and doesn't return any of his texts. And Archie slowly realizes that it's over.


And that is the #LipstickIncident. Given time (and Jughead's secret string-pulling), Archie and Betty probably would have eventually kissed and made up. But then Veronica Lodge arrived and now it might be too late.

Except that Archie still misses Betty -- even while panting after Veronica!

But wait! There was one element of this story that seemed off to me. Everyone was freaking in ARCHIE #1 when Archie and Betty broke up. The biggest fretters in that issue were Kevin Keller, Sheila Wu, and Maria Rodriguez. Except in this issue -- which arguably closely leads into issue #1 -- Sheila and Maria viewed Betty with a fair amount of contempt. I have a hard time imagining that this pair cared too much about the break-up.


ARCHIE #4 was written by Mark Waid, with art by Annie Wu, colors by Andre Szymanowicz & Jen Vaughn, and letters by Jack Morelli.

Latest Anti-Gay Argument: Gay Marriage --> Everyone Going Gay --> No More Babies --> Death of Humanity

I was on the Gay Christian Network yesterday afternoon and noticed that a new GCN member had posted something in the "Ask Me Anything" thread for GCN's founder/executive director, Justin Lee. It was clear that the person wasn't using the thread as a serious effort at asking Justin anything. He was just trolling GCN with a lengthy anti-gay post. Basically, the guy was upset because Justin Lee hasn't told GCN's membership that "Man should not sleep with man." A few people responded and I eventually encouraged them to ignore the post, flag the post, and to stop feeding the troll.

Fast forward to this morning: "Dclark" returned to GCN expressing further dismay that there are homosexuals who believe that you can be both gay and Christian. He said that this is why people (apparently) don't trust gays -- because some of us believe that you can be both gay and Christian. He also asserted that you cannot be a homosexual if you are celibate. Which shows you how much of a disconnect that we had from the beginning with this guy.

But then he got weird. He began equating homosexuality with murder. Here's why:
Worse case scenario: If everyone on earth became homosexual, then, men would not reproduce with women AND therefore, without any births of new human beings on earth, that would end all humanity and YES, that is a form of killing

Therefore YES, believe it, homosexuality has the potential to disobey the commandment: Thou shall NOT kill. 

Homosexuals deny it because they don’t want to admit just how corrupted and bad homosexuality is really about. They pretend as if they have extensive knowledge about love and they pretend as if they believe that killing is wrong but yet they don’t admit that homosexuality on a wider scale would end humanity and in doing so, they don’t admit that that’s a form of disobeying “Thou shall not kill”. 

God gave men and women the power to reproduce and create more people. In the old testament, God commanded that man was to reproduce and subdue the entire earth...

God would not had created humans at all if in the long run God’s plan had been to not have them reproduce at all. 
Can I state the obvious? Humanity is not going to go all gay on us.

I like my marriage. I support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. But I've never been so vain to imagine that the quality of my marriage will result in a societal ripple effect that will cause anyone -- much less everyone -- to go completely gay who isn't already gay. And even then, my marriage did not cause them to go gay.

I only wish I had that much power!!

On the other hand, I have been encouraged to become celibate by right-leaning Christians as a result of my homosexuality. Even Paul from the Bible encouraged everyone to give up on sex and to prepare for the end of the world. If my same-sex marriage will lead to everyone becoming gay and ceasing to populate this planet, why won't my celibacy lead to everyone giving up sex and ceasing to populate this planet??

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade to Black Co-Worker: "Do You Make Kool-Aid?"

Here is a story coming out of Fox News from Wednesday's "Fox & Friends" program. Fox News host Harris Faulkner was on the program demonstrating how to prepare a peach cobbler for her holiday guests when host Brian Kilmeade came at her with a bit of a race-tinged aside:
“Do you make Kool-Aid?” he asked. 

“Uh, do I do what?” she replied. 

“Make Kool-Aid,” Kilmeade repeated. 

“Uh, no,” Faulkner stuttered. “I – I don’t make Kool-Aid.”
Faulkner quickly recovered and noted out that she prepared "an adult beverage" for everyone to share.

I had never head of the "Kool-Aid as the Black person's drink" stereotype until I took in and adopted my own black son. Now I see that reference a lot. The idea is that Black people = poverty = need for cheap drink = Kool-Aid. (Jon's Note: It seems silly to spell it all out, but I've already had people ask me how Kool-Aid is part of a racist stereotype.)

You can watch the whole segment here. The Kool-Aid comment comes at the 33 second marker. It is worth watching everyone's reactions, including Faulkner's daughter, who was assisting her mother with the segment.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Size Matters When It Comes to Christmas Trees! Find Out How in JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE COMICS ANNUAL #17!

I've been taking advantage of my extra-long holiday weekend to catch up with my stockpiled comic books. Case in point: JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE COMICS ANNUAL #17! It features an all-new lead story featuring Archie, Jughead, and Vegas. It's titled "Trees Are The Times" and it's written & drawn by Fernando Ruiz, inked by Bob Smith, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Digikore Studios.

The story is pretty simple, but a lot of fun! Archie and Juggie find themselves in trouble yet again with Mr. Weatherbee after one of their schemes backfired (yet again!!). To make it up to the 'Bee, Archie has tracked down the biggest Christmas Tree in Riverdale and plans to sneak it into the school as a surprise for the principal.

Of course, Archie's schemes rarely turn out the way that he would prefer. I mean, how are two teen boys going to transport the biggest Christmas Tree across town and get it into the school and set up without anyone noticing?? (Hint: They can't!!) They'll be lucky if they can even it get it through the front doors!

As always, Ruiz delivers a solid story with beautiful cartooning. This comic book digest is definitely worth picking up, not only for this Ruiz story, but also for a variety of classic stories featuring Archie, Jughead, and the rest of the Riverdale Gang!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Squirrel Girls VS The 1960s in THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #2!

I have a ton of comic books that I need to read right now, but I pulled out my current favorite comic book first: THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #2! This issue is a mix of time traveling and mystery. The time travel occurs on the first page when Doreen Green (AKA Squirrel Girl) and her ever-present partner (AKA Tippy-Toe) get transported fifty years into the past (AKA the 1960s)!! The mystery also occurs on the first page, as Doreen has no clue how she managed to get sucked fifty years into the past!

Unfortunately, not only has Squirrel Girl traveled backwards in time, but nobody seems to remember her except for her best friend, Nancy Whitehead! Not her parents, nor the Avengers, nor the school. This places her with the impossible burden of figuring out how to bring back her BFF. That's difficult enough to accomplish when you're a D-list superhero. Try being a D-list superhero's civilian sidekick!!


Meanwhile back in the 1960s, Doreen manages to plant a letter for Nancy to find in 50 years before stumbling across another involuntary time-traveler from ESU named Mary:


This realization leads Doreen to seek out other involuntary time-travelers from 2015 -- but not before realizing that somebody appears to be "inventing" present-day technology (like the iPod) in the past and making a mint off of it! Is it a super-villain? Is it another involuntary time-traveler who has decided to cash in on his/her new home in the 60s? I guess we'll have to find out next issue!

(By the way, Nancy manages to stumble across an avid time-traveler in 2015 -- but may live to regret it!!)

"The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2" is written by Ryan North, penciled and inked by Erica Henderson, colored by Rico Renzi, and lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles. Plus, the "Trading Card" art is by Matt Digges, David Robbins, and Chip Zdarsky!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chelsea Man Who Clubbed Gay Men With Chair Now Suing Victims & Witnesses for Assault, Battery, & Defamation

Do you remember this incident from last summer? A video was posted involving a guy smashing a pair of gay men over the head with a chair at a BBQ restaurant in Chelsea, NY. The video went viral and soon everyone was looking for the large black man who assaulted the gay guys. The guy with the chair was eventually identified as a gay man who works as an HIV-counselor. It turns out that this was the end result of a larger argument between the two parties. The guy with the chair (Bayna-Lehkiem El-Amin) was eventually charged with assault and attempted assault.

El-Amin has now filed a civil lawsuit against the guys that he clubbed with the chair, as well as some of the witnesses:
An HIV counselor's night out in New York City went off the rails when he was labeled a homophobic racist for wielding a chair to fend off a gay couple attacking him, he claims in court. The May 5, 2015, altercation at a Dallas BBQ in Chelsea hit major news outlets across the globe, and had politicians and civil rights groups rushing to judgment. "Cops hunt thug who beat gay couple with a chair," proclaimed the New York Daily News. New York City Councilman Corey Johnson meanwhile renounced "the senseless act of anti-LGBT hate violence that was perpetrated last night at a restaurant in my district." Bayna-Lehkiem El-Amin, the Bronx man who was the target of these headlines, contends in a Nov. 19 lawsuit that there was only one problem: he was actually the victim. 

El-Amin, 41, says he arrived at the boisterous barbeque joint with friends at about 11 p.m. on the night in question after attending a charity event. He says 32-year-old Jonathan Snipes was at a table nearby, arguing with his boyfriend, Ethan York-Adams, 25. Claiming that the couple nearly fell onto some women sitting nearby, El-Amin says he interceded, saying "guys, come on, there are ladies here." He says Snipes then "viciously struck" him on the head with a "heavy, blunt weapon" that cut open El-Amin's head. The attack was "so sudden and completely unprovoked that plaintiff, who was ordering his meal, did not even raise his arms, duck or otherwise defend himself," the complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court states. "Dazed and bleeding," El-Amin allegedly pushed Snipes to the ground and then tried to walk away. Snipes nevertheless "continued his attack by grabbing at plaintiff's legs and attempting to claw at plaintiff's genitals," according to the complaint. York-Adams allegedly "joined in the attack by pushing plaintiff onto his injured back." With York-Adams blocking, Snipes then grabbed a knife from a table, the complaint states. El-Amin says no one came to his help, and that the manager even walked away. Fearing for his life, and "left with no choice, plaintiff grabbed a chair and threw it at his attackers, knocking them to the ground and giving plaintiff time safely to retreat from his attackers by walking out of the restaurant," the complaint continues. 

Snipes filed a criminal complaint with the police that night, while Isaam Sharef, another patron of Dallas BBQ, uploaded video of incident to the Internet, according to the complaint. El-Amin says one of Snipes' friends, Matt Friedlander, then sent Sharef's edited video to CBS News, calling it footage of "a vicious hate crime." Another friend of Snipes, Sarah Meyers, told DNAinfo "we want this to go viral," according to the complaint. "Snipes's lies did, in fact, go viral," the complaint states. "Within twenty-four hours of Snipes's CBS interview, millions of people all over the country and around the world were being shown Sharef's edited video and/or plaintiff's photo and told that plaintiff was a violent homophobe."
I have seen the video. Nobody behaved well. But Snipes and York-Adams had clearly disengaged from El-Amin towards the end of the fight and weren't even looking at him when he clubbed them with the chair.

El-Amin is seeking unspecified damages for assault and battery from Snipes and York-Adams, for negligence from Dallas BBQ, and for defamation against pretty much everyone include Sharef, Friedlander, and Meyers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crowdfund Recommendation: DIE KITTY DIE! by Fernando Ruiz & Dan Parent // Updated on 11/24/15: Kickstarter Goal Achieved!!!

(Originally Written on 11/16/15): I wrote a couple weeks ago about a top-secret mystery project by comic book creators Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz. Late yesterday, the project launched! It's a creator-owned project called DIE KITTY DIE! -- and it sounds like a lot of fun!

Here is the concept:
Kitty Ravencraft, a beautiful and magical young witch, is the star of her own popular comic book. When her greedy, publicity-starved publisher wants to increase interest in her comic book, he does what many comic book publishers do nowadays... he sets out to kill his main character, Kitty! Even worse, he decides to REALLY spike sales by killing the REAL Kitty in REAL life! The question is though... how do you kill a witch? "DIE, KITTY! DIE!" is a funny, exciting, and often sexy story about a girl caught in both the supernatural world of witches, and the super-crazy world of comics!
Basically, she's a cross between "Here's Josie" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," with inspired characters like "Casper the Friendly Ghost" and "Richie Rich" thrown in for fun! And -- looking at some of the promotional pages -- it's a funny book that's fun and friendly for adults! My kind of book!


The fundraising goal is $25,000 by Friday, December 18, 2015. As of this writing, they have raised $10,697! Check out the Kickstarter page to find all sorts of pledging levels and associated incentives!

Updated on 11/24/15: Exciting news!!! DIE KITTY DIE! met its fundraising goal today! Here is part of the message that Dan and Fernando put out tonight:
Hey everybody!  We did it!  "DIE KITTY DIE!" has been funded! In just a little over a week, you have all made this dream come true! And the best thing is you're all a part of it!  You're in on the ground floor of this whole crazy new universe!  We promise you it will be a fun ride!  

And things don't stop here. With almost 3 weeks to go, we will be adding stretch goals, add ons and other incentives to make this project even bigger and better! 

Time to hit the drawing board!  Tomorrow we should have our first stretch goal posted...and those Christmas Kittys we promised!
As of this moment, they have raised $25,169 towards this project.

Local Clergy Plan to Issue "Interfaith Statement on the Raising of the Minimum Wage" Tomorrow

I group of local clergy will be issuing an "Interfaith Statement on the Raising of the Minimum Wage" tomorrow morning at 10:30 AM in front of St. Mary's Church in Iowa City. This statement has been endorsed and signed by 30 separate faith leaders within Johnson County:
Clergy members have hosted several Interfaith Economic Justice forums with the Center for Worker Justice over the past two months to hear from low-wage workers and to discuss how the issue of low-wages relates to their congregations, their faith traditions and their service to the community. As cities continued to debate whether to allow the county’s full minimum wage increase to take effect, the group decided to develop a statement reflecting their shared views.
This conversation has been occurring for years, but it came to a head earlier this year when the Johnson County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an incremental increase in the minimum wage within the county. Check out the milestones from the attached graphic. But there are plans to increase the wage to $10.10 per hour starting in January 2017 and then the minimum wage will be adjusted annually to reflect increases in the Consumer Price Index.

A few communities within the county -- notably Oxford, Solon, Swisher, and Shueyville have all rejected this wage increase and have lowered their city-wide minimum wage to $7.25 per hour.

Updated: It is worth noted that my own pastor, Rev. Bob Loffer of Faith United Church of Christ, is one of the signers though cannot attend tomorrow's press conference. He noted via email that he "will be present in prayer and will continue to support the work of the Consultation on Religious Communities actions to support the raising of the minimum wage."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pat Robertson: R&B Music's Pretty Good!

It's been a while since I've checked in on CBN's "The 700 Club." I looked at this morning's Bring It On segment and found an interesting question about whether or not it's wrong to listen to R&B music. Co-host Terry Meeuwsen shared the following question by a woman named Erin: "Do you think it's wrong to listen to R&B music -- even though they lyrics are positive?"

Here is Pat's answer:
Pat Robertson: R&B means "Rhythm & Blues." Is that what it means?

Terry Meeuwsen: Yup! Mmm-hmm.

Pat Robertson: Well, what's wrong with Rhythm & Blues?

Terry Meeuwsen: I dunno.

Pat Robertson: It's out of the African-American context and there's some pretty good stuff!

Terry Meeuwsen: I think... Lots of people enjoy R&B music, so... 

Pat Robertson: You're not a sinner? 

Terry Meeuwsen: You're good, Erin! You're good!

Pat Robertson: Especially if the lyrics are positive, because some of the other lyrics are pretty horrible... Let me tell you, "Kill your mother" and all that stuff. They're not too swift.
You can watch the whole segment here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Game Obsession

I've done a few things this weekend. I did some cleaning in the kitchen. I worked out (twice). I went to a memorial service for one of the men at my church. Otherwise, I've done little else this weekend but this...


And this...


And this...


And this...


Which got me thinking about an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" that first aired back in October 1991. It featured the guest appearance by former cast member Wil Wheaton in the role of Cadet Wesley Crusher. The episode was called "The Game."


Crusher arrived on the Enterprise only to find everyone fascinated by this new video game that fits over a players' ears and projects signals into their eyes. It involved colorful disks and funnels, which the player somehow manipulates. They are then rewarded for positive playing by euphoric pleasure sensations. It turns out that the game is some sort of mind-control device that has enslaved everyone but Crusher (who hasn't yet played the game) and Data (who, as an android, is immune from the effects of the game).


It seems so silly that people would allow themselves to get addicted to a stupid video game. Then again, I can't help but wonder how much truth there is in this television program when I can waste an entire weekend fixated on colorful games on my phone when I have a ton of actual work to do!!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Ohio Bakery Challenges Customers: We're "Policitally Incorrect;" Now Leave!

So this was trending this morning on Facebook -- and it instantly annoyed me. This bakery in Springfield, OH, put out this sign that puts you on notice.
Notice. This store is politically incorrect. We say Merry Christmas, God Bless America, we salute our flag & give thanks to our troops, police officers and firefighters. If this offends you, you are welcome to leave. In God We Trust.
Like anyone care if they say "Merry Christmas" to you in November or "God Bless" or whatever. And when did it become "politically incorrect" to support the troops or the police or even the firefighters?

A business owner is more likely to get picketed these days by activists for telling someone "Have a nice day" as opposed to "Merry Christmas" than the opposite. Most people don't care. Offer the salutation that feels most natural to you at the time and move on like the rest of humanity. It will be okay.

But signs like this really rankle me. You, the business owner, just challenged me, the customer, to a political pissing war. I don't like to spend my money in the location of a political pissing war. Instead, I go to the bakery (or whatever) that doesn't instantly challenge me to assess my own political views before coming in to buy my donut or cake or whatever.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Is This The End for Marvel Comics' Moon Boy??

I wrote about Marvel Comics' new series MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR a couple of months ago. It features the adventures of Devil Dinosaur and his new partner, a young girl by the name of Lunella Lafaytte (AKA Moon Girl). Lunella is a super-smart girl who has apparently realized that she has the genes to transform into an Inhuman -- which she doesn't want to risk. I assume that she will eventually transform into something more. In the meantime, Lunella will hang out with her new dino-friend and push back against the Killer-Folk -- fuzzy adversaries from Devil's timeline.

Speaking of the Killer-Folk and Devil Dinosaur and their native prehistoric timeline (or alternate dimension or the Savage Land or wherever they are actually from -- it changes every few years depending on who's writing them!), We were told back in August that Devil's old partner, the furry caveman named Moon Boy, will not be a series regular, but will make an appearance in MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #1.

Sadly, the book's preview showed us why Devil and Moon Boy aren't partners anymore... It looks like Moon Boy gets beaten to death by the Killer-Folk!!


The Killer-Folk twitch off through a portal into the future, leaving Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy with a touching final moment...


Which leads to Devil Dinosaur racing into the future, presumably to kill off the Killer-Folk and then rebound with a new moon-themed sidekick!


I'm a little upset if indeed Moon Boy was killed off. I had assumed that the pair had been separated by time, not death. Then again, Colossus survived cremation and Nightcrawler survived a robotic arm through his chest. So what's stopping Moon Boy from surviving a Killer-Folk whoop-ass??

MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #1 debuts on Wednesday, November 25th.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Misfits Crash the Holograms' Video Launch Party in JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS #9!

I picked up my copy of JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS #9 yesterday. I'm not sure what's different this issue compared to last issue. It's the same artist and colorist as last issue, but I'm not really feeling the art most of the time in this current issue. But the story is a lot of fun.

Basically, the Misfits crash the Holograms' Halloween-themed video launch party with good intentions. They have plans to cause all mischief at the party. Techrat plans to hack the Holograms' computer. Jetta plans to push someone into the pool. Pizzazz plans to publicly confront Jem. None of these pranks materialize.

But...

1. Several romances are rekindled.

2. The Misfits discover -- via social media -- that the Holograms will be the opening act for their upcoming tour. (Jon's Note: Called that!)

3. Techrat discovers that something is very wrong with Synergy!

4. Somebody ends up suffering from a major car accident!!

Mostly though, Issue #9 was a lot of fun!! Lots of funny party interactions. But also some sinister indications that Jem and the Holograms are getting a bit over their heads!


"Viral! Part Three" was written by Kelly Thompson, with art by Emma Vieceli, colors by M. Victoria Robado, and letters by Shawn Lee.

The Bishop of Dibley!!

I've been a fan of Dawn French's "The Vicar of Dibley" for years -- decades, actually. It's a BBC sitcom dating back to 1994 featuring an English village's adjustment to having a female vicar assigned to their local Anglican Church. New seasons of the program have popped up over the years, most recently in 2007.

A year or so ago, I began hearing rumors about a new season of the program. Except this time, the program's title has changed to "The Bishop of Dibley"(!!):
There will be an episode of her sitcom in March for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day. Echoing the historic decision on female bishops, French’s character Geraldine Granger becomes The Bishop Of Dibley in a show featuring some best-loved stars.
A source said: “Geraldine assumes she is a shoo-in but the joke is that there are some other unexpected names in the frame.”
In 2012, French, 57, hinted at a come-back once women were allowed to become bishops. The move follows decades of controversial debate and was described as an “important step forward” by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Church of England’s first female bishop, Rev Libby Lane, will be ordained as Bishop of Stockport at York Minster on January 26.
This is pretty exciting!!

I've been mulling the creation of a convention panel about Religion and British Television Sitcoms. This would be a great opportunity to to make that panel very relevant!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

University of Iowa Schedules LaVerne Cox Public Lecture on the Same Night as the Iowa Caucus

I received an invitation to attend a lecture featuring LaVerne Cox. For those who don't know, Cox is a wildly successful actress and producer, who also happens to be a trans woman. The event is scheduled for 5:00 PM on 02/01/16 at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City. I was planning on attending. I was looking forward to seeing and learning from a high profile trans speaker.

Then I realized that they scheduled this lecture on Iowa Caucus Night. Granted, Caucus begins at 7:00 PM. But volunteers and organizers need to show up early. And there's not a lot of turnaround time from the end of the LaVerne Cox event (roughly 6:30 PM) and the beginning of Caucus -- given that you need to be at your Caucus location and registered by 7:00 PM.

A couple of weeks ago, efforts were made by certain county officials to point out the time disconnect between these two important events. My understanding is that there was no response. So then those concerns became public early this week. A petition was created to push the event up by an hour to offer more time for Caucus goers to attend both events.

Then came push-back from lecture organizers. I changed my online RSVP from going to not (or "Not Interested," as they choice is now listed on Facebook) and explained why I couldn't come. I received a pleasant response:


Someone then attempted to shame Caucus promoters for asking to reschedule this event. We were told that we were being unreasonable for speaking out. We were also told that LaVerne Cox might cancel altogether if there is "any hint of controversy." Here is the full email message that was posted on the Facebook page. It was not explained who exactly sent the email, but here is the entirety of the message:
I just saw the petition. While I understand the sentiment, the petition itself might in actuality, risk eliminating the choice it implies people must make; Caucus or Laverne. The agent has let us know that if Laverne’s management hears of any hint of controversy with any of her public appearances, she is likely to cancel. She is very sensitive to negative publicity and the ensuing increase of threats that may occur because of it.

This was the only/last date that was available in her schedule for the spring, and while we originally scheduled it for 5:30 because of our concern about the Caucus, we adjusted the start time to 5 p.m. in response to this issue. In addition, she will speak for 50 minutes and entertain questions for 15. That means the event will be over by 6:05 – 6:10. In addition, she will include, at the end of her address, comments about the importance of people leaving to go Caucus. The ULC plans to have maps available with Caucus locations in case people there do not already know. Carter will also make a public announcement as part of her introduction and before the Q&A begins to reinforce this message. Most student Caucus locations are an easy 10 minute walk (at most). And for folks who live in Coralville/Iowa City, 50 minutes should be sufficient time to get to their Caucus locations.

5 p.m. does in fact, allow many in our communities the possibility of doing both. I say possibly, because the capacity of then Main Lounge is @ 1200 and sadly, not everybody will not be able to get into the venue in the first place.

I always try to negotiate our right to record and rebroadcast our speakers events on YouTube and/or UITV. Though, I was initially denied this request by the agent on behalf of Cox, I’ve made another request given the existing concerns.

I’m very nervous about this petition getting press. If that happens, we may lose any opportunity to have Laverne visit our community at all. I spoke to the agent this morning and suggested adjusting the time, and it was rejected. 5 p.m. is already an unusual time for hosting a lecture program, and her travel connections are tight and planned months in advance based on her schedule. I am respectfully asking that the petition be removed or discontinued for fear of inadvertently causing her to cancel completely, thereby taking away our choice to have her as a guest in our community. I encourage those who signed the petition and any others who would like to see her, to attend Laverne’s program while remaining mindful of their other civic obligations. As you so appropriately shared with me during our chat, you often do not stay for an entire event on your calendar so that you can attend to multiple obligations that are scheduled in close proximity to one another. Modeling your example in this instance seems appropriate given the circumstances.

In the meantime, please know that I fully appreciate the concerns expressed in the petition, and we’re doing our level best to address them within our means. But to be clear, booking a speaker for our campus and community is not at all a simple proposition. We are limited by the speaker’s availability; by venue availability; by our budget; by when a speaker decides to speak at all, and so many other limitations and concerns. It was less than ideal for us to have Laverne speak on the same evening as the Caucus; we didn’t have a choice. But when faced with the choice of hosting her or not, we decided to move forward, but adjust the time to allow people the possibility of doing both. If we can adjust it more, we will. If not, the committee would rather give the members of our community the opportunity to hear Laverne speak rather than not. We also believe that those who take the Caucus seriously, will find a way to do both, or choose what is most important to them.

They should also know that she will be speaking at UNI on April 13th. So if some feel they have to make a choice, attending her talk at UNI provides them with a possible option. It’s a drive, but it is in fact, an option.
It's great that Cox is coming to Iowa City and the University of Iowa. But Iowa Caucus is the beginning of the process for winnowing out the next President of the United States of America. This choice will be a critical opportunity to promote candidates who will (or won't, depending on the turnout) stand up for LGBT people, among other important issues important to people of color, women, and students.

Anyway, the petition was dismantled. God forbid that we have any "controversy." The LaVerne Cox will happen at 5:00 PM on February 2nd. Hopefully, you can attend the lecture if you want and still make it to the Caucus before the doors close and the work begins.

I will not be there. I will be at the Iowa Caucus that night. Most likely, I will not see LaVerne Cox at the UNI on April 13th, because I work and have a family. But, as the Facebook commenter noted, LaVerne won't notice.

We all have choices in life. I know which choices to prioritize.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Iowa House Investigation into Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth Postponed -- Because of Fall Harvesting

There is annual anti-bullying and -homelessness conference that happens in Des Moines, Iowa, called the Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth. Keep in mind that it has nothing to do with the governor -- certainly not our current governor. It receives no state funding and it is planned and organized by Iowa Safe Schools. But it is well attended by interested students, as well as educators and others who decide to attend.

The conference has received more and more attention in recent years -- largely from social and political conservatives who are looking at ways to shut down the conference. A group of attendees from the most recent conference reported all sorts of controversial goings-on, including explicit safer-sex discussions that allegedly discussed bondage and orgies. There was a drag speaker who reportedly promoted vandalism. Those were the biggies.

Iowa Safe Schools denies these allegations, by the way. These reports were "twisted and manipulated" to create a conservative political response.

Which they got. State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R) of Wilton, IA, is the chairman of the government overnight committee and he scheduled a hearing for tomorrow that will "investigate reports of explicit materials at the event, which... tax dollars help fund, and to offer recommendations to the event's organizers."

We just learned that the hearing into the Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth has now been postponed -- because of harvest. It apparently slipped Rep Kaufmann's mind that he runs a farm and that he needs to work on it while also maintaining leadership roles within state government. He also found out that "several groups and individuals who hoped to attend" couldn't make it this week.

Kaufmann clarified that there's no truth to the theory that he wants to shut down the conference. He just wants to "stop the spread of explicit information" at future events.

The hearing has not yet been rescheduled, but probably will happen next month.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Utah Judge Who Ordered Baby's Removal from Lesbian Foster Family Removes Himself from Case Following Public Outcry and Scrutiny

Remember the recent case of the Utah judge who ordered the removal of a baby from its pre-adoptive foster parents because they are lesbians? Remember how he wanted the baby placed with a heterosexual foster family because science has proved that pairing a vagina with a penis is automatically better than mixing parental vaginas? Remember how the birth mother was pissed because she wanted her child adoptive by this particular foster family? Remember how Utah's DCFS filed a motion to block the removal of the baby? And then remember how Judge Scott Johansen decided to partially reverse his removal order -- instead scheduling a permanency hearing on December 4th to further consider this case?

We learned today that Judge Johansen has now removed himself from this case:
A juvenile court judge in Utah who drew criticism for removing a foster child from the home of a lesbian couple has recused himself from the case. 

Apparently agreeing to a motion filed by the couple, Judge Scott Johansen issued an order Monday that he “hereby disqualifies himself from this case and refers all pending matters to the Presiding Judge.” 

Johansen, a juvenile court judge in eastern Utah, had drawn the ire of gay rights activists and others, including former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, for removing the 9-month-old baby from the home of Beckie Peirce and April Hoagland, who had fostered the child for three months. The couple was seeking to adopt the child.
It's still possible, of course, that the new judge will simply continue Judge Johansen's earlier work. But it's highly unlikely.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Who Is Deathwatch: The Stroke of Midnight?

(Originally written on 11/15/15): I've written several times about Charlton Neo, which is a resurrection of the classic Charlton Comics lines; as well as Pix-C Web Comics, which features public domain characters from Charlton Comics as well as a few other original characters. Pix-C Web Comics features strips from a variety of genres, including superhero, horror, action, and humor romance. But Pix-C Web Comics recently launched several new strips, including a dark story titled DEATHWATCH: THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT!

DEATHWATCH: THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT is a new character created by Roger McKenzie and Ben Torres. It features Danny Eisen, the owner of Eisen & Son -- a family-owned clock sales and repair business --, who meets a tragic end early in this strip. Or is it a tragic beginning?


Eisen's business is attacked at the beginning of this story by a pair of goons. Their boss has been trying to get Eisen and the other local business owner to pay for "protection." Eisen has refused their protection, so their boss has decided to make an example of Eisen & Son for the rest of the neighborhood.

But Danny Eisen doesn't go down without a fight. He manages to get a few punches in before going up in flames!


The goons drive off and the emergency service providers arrive. They expect to find a body beneath the burning rubble, but instead find something -- barely living and very scarred!

 

Eisen is rushed to the hospital, but dies on the operating table. But before he can be whisked away to the morgue for his autopsy...


I don't know what to expect from Deathwatch, but I'm pretty sure that he's not the first in a line of mindless, flesh-eating zombies. Instead, I anticipate a series of dark tales filled with vengeance and hard-hitting punches!

You too can read Deathwatch's first and subsequent adventures -- not to mention Yang, No Name, Tuffy Turtle, N.E.O., Skyman, The Knightingales, The Spookman, Sadistik, Ms. Molecule, and several other great characters, by becoming a patron of Pix-C Web Comics. Those who become patrons (for as little as $1 per month) gain access to several weekly online comic strips. The more you pledge, the more perks you qualify for. I've been contributing $30 per month towards this venture. I encourage to you to become a patron too!

Updated on 11/30/15: Check out how much Danny Eisen buffs up after death!! Very great artwork by Ben Torres!!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Seven Great Things About JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS #8!

I have a small pile of comic books next to my computer that are just waiting for me to write about. It's been difficult over the past month to find the motivation needed to check in with these books. These are some of my favorite comics -- otherwise I wouldn't be writing about them in the first place! But it occurred to me that I really need to begin work on this particular blog, considering that the next issue is scheduled to be released next Wednesday!

I'm talking about JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS #8. Last issue featured the introduction of Techrat. The Misfits' new manager, Eric Raymond, hired Techrat to hack into the Holograms' computer network. I was pretty excited about this new development! There were a bunch of other interesting developments that continue to build in this latest issue.

Anyway, here are seven great reasons to check out JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS #8!

1. New Video!: Jem and the Holograms have produced a new video -- with major assistance from their holographic computer, Synergy. By all accounts, it's the best video ever. (Would Kimber lie?) But this leads to a discussion about the nature of Synergy. We all know that she's a computer, but she's obviously much more. She's a webmaster. She's a costumer. She's a video producer. But she's also a major secret!


2. Genii In The Bottle: Jerrica and the others then lecture Kimber on why they need to keep Synergy secret. What if the government exploited her abilities? Or some evil corporation? It's pretty clear that Synergy's talents are better used by the Holograms for their music and concerts, right? (Synergy seems convinced...)


3. Pizzazz? Is That You??: This issue features the most diplomatic version of Pizzazz that I have ever seen in print or on the television screen! Pizzazz didn't like Stormer's latest song. Check that. She liked it, but not as a Misfits song. Stormer pushed back and challenged her leadership. Any other time, Pizzazz would have torn up the room. This Pizzazz asserted her authority and then successfully reframed her argument without actually changing her position (i.e., no ballads now; maybe later).

I'm wondering if Pizzazz has been replaced with a Skrull!


4. New Concert!: The Misfits learned in this issue that they'll be touring soon! I wonder who their opening band will be?


5. The Holograms Sign With A Record Label!: The Holograms are all over the place, leaving Jerrica with the responsibility of managing the band, writing their music, and reviewing contracts. She decided to sign with Fivebyfive Records. Who happens to work with the Misfits. Wanna bet that the Holograms will be opening for the Misfits? Wanna bet that this is going to lead to all sorts of crazy drama??


6. Party Crashers!: The Holograms have decided to host an uber-secret Halloween party. They plan to launch their latest video at this costume party. You need to password to get into the party. Guess who found out about the party??


7. Techrat Blocked!: Remember Techrat? He has been trying to hack into the Holograms' computer system, but keeps getting blocked. The harder he tries, the harder he fails. And the harder he fails, the crazier he gets. He's decided that he needs onsite access to the Holograms' computer. Remember that party invitation???


Next issue will focus on the Techrat and the Misfits crashing the party and attempting direct access to Synergy. I wonder if this new Synergy will find a kindred spirit in Techrat?

"Viral! Part Two" was written by Kelly Thompson, with art by Emma Vieceli, colors by M. Victoria Robado, and letters by Shawn Lee.

Friday, November 13, 2015

"My Big Fat Fabulous Life": How to Survive Ripped Pants!

Do you watch TLC's "My Big Fat Fabulous Life?" I don't watch it often, but it's not bad for a reality TV show. It features Whitney Thore, a nearly 400-pound woman who became popular due to her popular "Fat Girl Dancing" videos. Her TV show features her antics and family.

There is this funny promotional clip on YouTube featuring the time when she accidentally splits her pants while shopping for groceries. She's bending over to pick some cheese of the floor when "RIP!!!"

Her mother tells her to pretend like the large hole in her pants is a giant patch, but Whitney will have none of that! She doesn't want people to notice the pink fabric. That would be too embarrasing.


So instead she has her mother glob onto her from behind while they inch their way through the store...


She then changes into a spare pair of pants out in the parking lot -- in full view of anyone and everyone!


But at least nobody saw the hole in her pants. Too funny!

You can watch the whole clip here.