Saturday, April 30, 2016

Honey Boo Boo To Be Featured on OWN's "Where Are They Now"

I was online today and noticed that Oprah Winfrey is set to air an episode of "Where Are They Now" tonight and that part of the show will feature Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and her family. You might recall that "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" got canceled in late 2014 after the tabloids ran with a story that Mama June Shannon was dating a convicted sex offender -- not to mention the man who sexually molested her oldest daughter.

Looking back, it seems like TLC cut and ran from the family before getting enough of the details. I have heard conflicting stories of what went down, but it seems like June's involvement with this man had more to do with her middle child seeking an interaction with her birth father and less about her dating him. But the family was uncharacteristically evasive early on when it came to explaining this story and, as a result, both they and the network let the tabloids and the media define this situation.

On the other hand, it was probably a good thing for the family (and the children, in particular) to separate from the reality TV show. Alana spent half of her life in front of cameras and it was clear from several of her media events that she really didn't want to be there much of the time.

So the family has been out of the public eye for most of the past 1 1/2 years (with the exception of her music video "Movin Up!" and her parents' appearance on the most recent "Marriage Boot Camp" season).

My son is hosting a sleep-over at our home tonight, which means that I won't be able to watch this episode of "Where Are They Now." But I really want to see it!

My family thinks I'm odd for my fascination with Honey Boo Boo, her family, and her program. But I really found them fun to watch and have continued to find them accessible to fans -- particularly her uncle, Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson and his fiance Alan. I bristle when people make fun of her weight and her antics and I really want to see what she's like when she's not performing -- at least, not performing like she needed to do for the reality TV shows that she was on before as opposed to sitting through a simple interview.

Hopefully I won't have too long to wait to see this program. My plan is to check in again after watching this episode of "Where Are They Now" and offer my reaction.

You can watch the promo video here.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bathroom Cops Now Accosting Androgynous Women in Women's Restrooms

It's been a couple of years since America began its latest freak-out over LGBT people. The current freak-out is over the idea of trans-inclusive bathroom policies. The meme is that communities and businesses cannot have LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies or else sex predators will have free reign over public restrooms, which will leave women and children vulnerable to sexual assaults, and there will be nothing that the police will be able to do to protect those women or children.

Which has led us to the latest fall-out from the freak-out: Self-appointed bathroom cops who come into women's restrooms to protect women from other women. For example, there was this lesbian who was kicked out of the women's bathroom last December because of her gender-ambiguous style and because she didn't have photo ID proving that she's a woman. Of course, she told the cops that she is a woman and her friends all told the cops that she is a woman and I could tell that she is a woman from looking at her.

But the cops called her "Sir" and kicked her out of the restroom and presumably sent her to the men's restroom to pee with a bunch of guys. Because it's not about actually allowing women to pee with other women. I's about control and about enforcing gender norm. You can watch the video here.

Now there's a new story coming out of Dallas involving another self-appointed bathroom cop who recently chased a woman named Jessica Rush into the women's restroom at a hospital:
She was, for the record, and her situation isn't particularly complicated. Rush was born and identifies as female and has no plans to change that. "I look very much like a girl," she says. "I'm not trying to transition, nothing like that." 

But Rush wears her hair in a bleached blond fauxhawk and dresses androgynously. On Thursday, she was wearing a T-shirt from her alma mater, Texas Tech, with basketball shorts. As the man at Baylor explained after walking into the restroom behind her, it's all very confusing... 

"When I saw you enter I thought you was..." the man says. 

"A boy?" Rush offers. 

"Yeah, it was kind of confusing." Certainly she can see why. "You dress like a man," he says several times as he walks away. 

Later, in the doctor's office lobby where Rush was waiting to have a pair of broken fingers looked at, the man elaborated that he was concerned that a man had entered the same bathroom his mother was going to use. 
According to the article, Rush has been confronted several other times by people who don't think that she should use the women's restroom.

This is the new normal. Religious and social conservatives have gotten our country all freaked out over sex predators in women's restrooms and now men are harassing women in the women's restrooms.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Celebrate National Superhero Day... With Squirrel Girl!

Did you know that it's National Superhero Day? No doubt! Which made me think of my current favorite superhero: Squirrel Girl! Did you know that she's unbeatable? It's true!

Here's an example of her unbreakability:

Simple solutions! Wonderful superhero!

(By the way, check out THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #7! It features Koi Boi, Swarm, and Galactus in a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style story!)

Iowa City Man Charged With Animal Neglect After Leaving 62 Ducks in an Abandoned U-Haul Van

A 69-year old Iowa City man has been charged with animal neglect after police officers discovered 62 ducks in an abandoned U-Haul van in the old Hy-Vee parking lot on North Dodge Street. The were alerted to the U-Haul due to a strong, foul-smelling odor. The ducks were in stacked cages and were covered in feces.

19 of the ducks were dead before authorities arrived. The surviving ducks were taken to the Iowa City Animal Shelter, where they are being cared for. One of the remaining ducks has died since arriving at the shelter:
"It was probably some of the most horrible conditions I've ever seen and you know, even though they're just ducks and they're livestock, they're still living beings," (Iowa City Animal Services Supervisor Liz Ford) says. A veterinarian examined each one. Now the survivors are divided into six dog kennels by how well they're recovering.
According to the news, the U-Haul van was towed by the police and the man responsible for it went to the police department seeking information about its whereabouts, as well as the location of the ducks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Oxford, AL: City Council Rebukes Target for Trans-Inclusive Bathroom Policy // Makes It Illegal for Trans People to Use Public Restrooms

The City of Oxford, AL, voted last night on an ordinance that rebuked Target for having a trans-inclusive bathroom policy, while also making it illegal for trans people to use the public restrooms that correspond with their gender identities:
The new law, approved unanimously by the council’s members, restricts a person’s use of public bathrooms and changing rooms to the facilities designated for use by those of the gender listed on his or her birth certificate. The law applies within both the city’s limits and police jurisdiction. 

After members approved the new city ordinance, Council President Steven Waits read from a prepared statement. 

Waits said he and the council sought the law “not out of concerns for the 0.3 percent of the population who identify as transgender,” but “to protect our women and children.” 

He said the measure isn’t meant to be discriminatory, and comes in direct response to the bathroom and changing-room usage policy put forth by supermarket chain Target, which has a store at Oxford’s Exchange shopping center. 
The ordinance says that a complainant would need to call the police and a police officer would need to witness the trans person in the restroom. If found guilty, the trans person would face a fine of $500 or would be sentenced to six months in jail.

Here are the exceptions: Adults are allowed to accompany children under the age of 12 into the restroom. Those who need to do janitorial or maintenance work, to offer emergency medical assistance, or to assist the disabled, are also permitted to enter any bathroom.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Still Too Much to Digest! Catching Up with My Archie Comics Digests!!

It's happened again. I've fallen behind on my comic book reading. Yet again. But I finally finished this yearlong work-related study project and, now that I'm finished, it feels like I've caught my second wind. So I pulled out my various comic book digests and dug into them this evening!

Here (in alphabetical order) are some summaries from the original stories at the beginning of each comic book digest:

ARCHIE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #267: This first story is "Mess Code," featuring story & pencils by Fernando Ruiz, inks by Bob Smith, colors by Glenn Whitmore, and letters by Jack Morelli.

I know that I'll get in trouble for over-thinking this one, but I guess I'll go there. Mr. Weatherbee flips out when he sees a handful of kids wearing torn and dirty clothing. So, with the flick of his secretary's pen, he institutes a dress code for Riverdale High School. Basically, dresses and suits all around.

Of course, several of the kids -- including Archie and Jughead -- can't afford to meet the school's dress code and neither can their parents. So now the kids are scrambling to find additional part-time jobs in order to afford their new dress clothes. Overall, this wasn't my favorite Archie Comics story...

JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE SPRING ANNUAL #20: I enjoyed "Paws For Effect" much more. This story featured Archie and Jughead, along with their four-legged friends Vegas and Hot Dog. Archie has been spending his free-time lately bonding with his dog and teaching him a special new trick!

Some kid ends up recording Vegas' new trick and posts the video on Eyetube. Literally within seconds, the video goes viral and Archie finds himself the focus of hordes of new fans... and each of them wants a piece of Riverdale's newest online celebrities! It turns out that this was all a set-up by Riverdale's master-trickster -- for reasons that still don't quite make a lot of sense to me. But I still enjoyed this story!

"Paws For Effect" featured writing by Adrian Ropp, pencils by Bill Galvan, inks by Jim Amash, letters by Jack Morelli, and colors by Glenn Whitmore.

WORLD OF ARCHIE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #58: Lastly, we have "Thrills & Chills," featuring story by James Gartler, pencils by Fernando Ruiz, inks by Bob Smith, colors by Glenn Whitmore, and letters by Jack Morelli.

This story features a chance encounter between Betty & Veronica and Mrs. Andrews. Mrs. Andrews is at the end of her wits. Archie and Mr. Andrews took off for an afternoon of fishing, leaving her with a house that's full of dirty laundry -- and she would rather be outside having fun! The girls take pity on Archie's mom and treat her to a day at the amusement park. This proves to be a fun and exciting adventure for all. Plus, the girls pitch in and help Mrs. Andrews finish the laundry before the end of the story!

Leave it to me to pick up on the trivial when reading this story. Of course, everyone is noticing the coveted "Red Head Fred" doll at this ring-toss game, but I can't help noticing the Super Duck and Squoimy the Woim dolls hanging next to Red Head Fred! I love these classic MLJ characters and wish that they showed up more often!

(Speaking of which, I have a great short story featuring Betty, Veronica, and Squoimy the Woim bouncing around in my head. So if anyone from Archie Comics wants to hear it, I'd love to pitch it! Just saying...)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Parents Denied Medical Treatment of Child Due to Their Religious Beliefs // Now Their Daughter Wants Faith Healing Law Revoked & Her Parents Prosecuted

Here is an interesting news story to watch develop. A 20-year-old woman named Mariah Walton is pushing for legislation in Idaho that would require that parents seek medical treatment for their children if they are in imminent danger of dying.

Currently, Idaho protects parents from being prosecuted if they withhold medical treatment from their children if their religious beliefs support this type of inaction -- even if children end up dying from otherwise treatable illnesses.

Walton personifies the end result of such inaction. She suffered throughout her childhood from a congenital heart defect that could have been treated, but her parents had refused such treatment. As a result, she experienced nearly two decades of painful, labored breathing.

Now she is permanently disabled at the age of 20 and in need of heart and lung transplants. She is quite angry with her parents for using their own religious beliefs to withhold medical treatment for her. In fact, she would like to see her parents punished for prolonging her pain. ("I think it's time to prosecute them.")

Of course, this is America. Where the religious liberties of those with power (i.e., corporations or parents) trump the lives and liberties of those who don't hold power (i.e., employees or children).

I'm really curious how this story unfolds!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dubuque, IA: NAACP Demanding Answers Following Report of Cross Burning

There were reports last week of cross burnings at the intersection of 22nd and Washington streets in Dubuque, IA:
Police were notified again around 9:30 a.m. of burned objects in the same area. They found what appeared to be two crosses damaged by fire. Authorities are now investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. Dubuque Police Chief Mark Dalsing says the crosses were in an area fenced off due to a construction project.
Nobody was charged in connection to the incident, but it was being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Now WQAD is reporting that local activists have stepped forward with demands for answers about this incident:
Thursday, Members of the NAACP chapter in Dubuque held a press conference. They say they want to stop hate crimes from happening in the future. "We need be proactive not reactive," said president, Anthony Allen. 

Allen says the group plans to take several steps to prevent any hate crimes from happening. He wants to have an opened dialogue about race with community members and in schools, "We need to begin having our relationship in talking about harsh topics with our children." 

The group is also demanding that law enforcement give them concrete details by Friday, April 22nd, at 3 p.m. If there's no update given by the deadline, the Dubuque NAACP chapter says they will reach out to the Department of Justice and the FBI to ask for assistance in investigating the case.
Dubuque suffered from a series of 14 cross burnings between 1988 and 1993. The incident on 04/13/16 was the first since 1993.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Three's Company" Movie in the Works

I was watching "Good Morning America" today and heard that there's going to be a movie reboot of "Three's Company." At least, somebody is looking into this as an option.

I loved this show when I was a kid. It was around from 1977-1984. It was a sitcom about two girls and a guy (Chrissy, Jack, and Janet) who shared an apartment with each other. The landlords were old fashioned, which forced the heavily heterosexual Jack to pretend to be gay. There were plenty of hijinks and mishaps which kept us laughing over the years.

It's been 40 years since "Three's Company" debuted. We've shifted quite a lot culturally. As much as I loved "Three's Company," I cannot see how they can translate it effectively for a contemporary movie audience. Not unless they play it off like the old "Brady Bunch" movies. Which worked for the Bradys, but would be a strain for the Ropers...

Anyway... #TeamRopers or #TeamMrFurley? Discuss in the comments section...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Why Does Marvel Comics Hate Jubilee?

So Marvel Comics began publishing a comic book called X-MEN '92, based off the X-Men teams from the early 90s. It's got nice art. Classic characters. And the potential to play around with character and concepts from that time period. Basically, it's a fun romp and I had high hopes for it.

And then they brought back the stupid vampires...

A few years ago, Marvel Comics thought that it would be fun to have a war between its mutant characters and vampires. In the course of this storyline, they took one of my favorite characters -- Jubilee, who'd already been kicked to the curb and de-powered as a result of Scarlet Witch's "decimation" spell -- got turned into a vampire.

I hated it then. I still hate it.

A year or two later, a character named Legion warped reality and created the "Age of X." Some characters -- such as Chamber -- went through a status quo transformation when things went back to normal. I'd hoped that Jubilee would no longer be a vampire after "Age of X," but no dice.

So I was excited when X-MEN '92 started up and included young Jubilee with her colorful firecracker powers. And then X-MEN '92 #2 got published last week and Jubilee became the victim of some super-soldier vampire from Russia named Alpha Red. Which resulted in her death and resurrection as a frickin' vampire!! Again.

Why does Marvel Comics hate Jubilee??

University of Iowa Kicks Off Its First Trans Alliance Week of Action!

I just learned today that there is a trans-specific group at the University of Iowa called the UI Trans Alliance. The UI Trans Alliance is working to "make the University of Iowa a welcoming place for all trans and nonbinary individuals and raise awareness of trans and nonbinary issues on campus and within the community."

The Daily Iowan reports that the group has kicked off its first Trans Alliance Week of Action starting yesterday. Here are several of the planned activities for the rest of this week*:

1. "Trans Action & Allyship Workshop" on Wednesday, 04/20/16, from 4:00-5:30 PM at the IMU North Room:
Focus on taking actions that can create a more welcoming & positive campus for transgender people.
2. Andrea Gibson slam poetry event on Wednesday, 04/20/16, from 6:00-7:00 PM at Englert Theater in Iowa City:
Her poetry highlights the struggle observed on Thursday’s Transgender Day of Remembrance. The night mourns the lives lost in the fight against transgender violence. 
3. "Non-Discrimination Letter Writing Campaign" on Wednesday, 04/20/16, from 7:00-10:00 PM in Group Areas C & D at the Main Library:
Write a letter to our representative & our Iowa senators, asking them to support the Equality Act that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation & gender identity.
4. "Trans in Greek Life Panel" on Thursday, 04/21/16, from 7:00-8:00 PM at the Indiana Room in the IMU:
Members from trans-inclusive chapters of the University of Iowa will talk about chapter policies, personal experiences & how their chapters work toward inclusivity.
5. "Trans Day of Remembrance Vigil" on Thursday, 04/21/16, from 7:00-8:00 PM at Danforth Chapel:
The night mourns the lives lost in the fight against transgender violence.“The whole week kind of revolves around the vigil,” said sophomore Merric Bower, Trans Alliance board member. “People don’t realize between the high murder and suicide rates that it is very much an issue that we want to stop.”
There is also a potluck scheduled for Friday, 04/22/16, at the WRAC building, though one source says that it goes from 4:00-6:00 PM and another source says that it goes from 6:30-8:30 PM.

*Apologies for not including events from earlier in the week, but they've already happened by the time that I wrote this piece!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Skeptical "Hot Bench" Judges Preside Over Case Involving Male Victim of Domestic Violence

Our fridge stopped generating cold late last week. As a result, I had to spend all morning today waiting for a repairman to come to our home and fix it. Which means that I got to watch a lot of court television programming. One of those shows was a panel-based court show called "Hot Bench."

"Hot Bench" has a panel of three judges -- Patricia DiMango, Tanya Acker, and Larry Bakman -- who listen to small-claims legal cases and then privately come to a consensus before making their verdicts. I don't get to watch "Hot Bench" often, but it seems to be one of the better court TV programs on these day. IMHO, as always!

Today's program was titled "Male Victim of Domestic Abuse?" It was a rerun from late last year featuring what appears to be an Iowa couple where the plaintiff -- AKA the ex-girlfriend -- sued the defendant -- AKA the ex-boyfriend -- for several months of unpaid rent, as well (I believe) additional rent money for the remainder of his lease.

He claimed that he was the victim of domestic violence who finally had the courage to escape his abuser. She claimed that he was a deadbeat and that he was just trying to get out of paying the rent. He ultimately lost his case.

The ex-boyfriend described a variety of abuses by his ex-girlfriend, including physical abuse, name-calling, took away his cell phone, and isolation from friends and family. His brother testified to witnessing some of the emotional abuses. He said that he became increasingly depressed as a result of this abuse and began to experience suicidal thoughts as a result of it. He never went to the police or to a mental health provider; nor did he take any pictures of bruising.

The ex-girlfriend initially treated his claims as a joke in court, openly smirking while he described what happened in their home. She later told one of the judges that she allowed him access to his family -- which seemed like an odd choice of words.

I was disappointed in the judges' dismissal of and skepticism towards his claims of abuse. Judge DiMango was particularly bad. It was bad enough that Judge Acker called them out during their private session and point-blank asked them if they would ask the types of questions that they asked of the defendant if he'd been a woman who claimed to be the victim of domestic violence. Judge Bakman admitted that he wouldn't have.

Judge Acker noted that the defendant's story was a textbook example of someone in an abusive relationship. But we as a society are so dismissive of domestic violence towards men, that this guy really never had a chance.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Wonder Woman Unleashed" Class Being Taught at the University of Iowa

So Husband Mark and I went to a movie yesterday: "Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice." It was an okay movie, but not enough superhuman fighting and too many dream sequences. They easily could have cut at least 30 minutes from the movie. Easily.

But I must confess. We went to the movie because of Wonder Woman. I would have watching "Barbershop 3" if I'd had my choice. But Mark is a Wonder Woman fan and I enjoy going to the movies with Mark, so we went to see Wonder Woman.

"Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice" needed a lot more Wonder Woman. Just saying...

Anyway, "Batman Vs. Superman" reminded me of a recent article about a new course at the University of Iowa called "Wonder woman Unleashed: A Hero for Our Times." It's an honors class that explores "Greek and Roman mythology, historic female figures and ancient texts" in the context of Wonder Woman's nearly 80 year publication and broadcast history:
"I started doing a little bit of research and I realized the history of Wonder Woman as a character is so stunning, shocking and bizarre that it would be wonderful to teach a whole class on her," (instructor Anna) Barker said.

The class, which meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, is structured in three parts. The first has students read plays about ancient, strong women. They include "Medea," "Antigone" and "Lysistrata."

The second part of the class focuses on reading about Amazons, an ancient race of fierce female warriors. Wonder Woman is an ancient Amazon warrior, according to comic book lore.

The third part of the class is where students get their hands on Wonder Woman comics. They read an introduction to Wonder Woman written by famed feminist Gloria Steinem, Jill Lepore's 2014 book "The Secret History of Wonder Woman" and Wonder Woman comics.
Barker has taught other comic book-themed courses at the University of Iowa, including a course comparing ancient mythology to modern day superheroes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

What Are the 10 Most Dangerous Communities in Iowa?

I was looking at this list (from August 2015) of the 10 Most Dangerous Places in Iowa earlier today, according to the Only In Your State website. I've been through a few of these places at least twice in my lifetime. Of course, the commenters are blaming illegal immigrants, Chicago transplants, and progressive politics on these rankings.

Iowa City didn't make the list. Neither did Cedar Rapids. It looks like they took the crime statistics for each town to determine the worst of the worst communities. Then again, I'm not sure if they counted all crimes or not.

Here are the 10 Most Dangerous Places in Iowa (in descending order):
10. Muscatine -- population 23,034. 1 in 24 chance of being a victim of crime.
9. Waterloo -- population 68,366. 1 in 23 chance of being a victim of crime.
8. Davenport -- population 102,157. 1 in 22 chance of being a victim of crime.
7. Burlington -- population 25,725. 1 in 21 chance of being a victim of crime.
6. Centerville -- population 5,448. 1 in 20 chance of being a victim of crime.
5. Fort Dodge -- population 24,639. 1 in 19 chance of being a victim of crime.
4. Clinton -- population 26,473. 1 in 19 chance of being a victim of crime.
3. Des Moines -- population 207,510. 1 in 18 chance of being a victim of crime.
2. Keokuk -- population 10,769. 1 in 15 chance of being a victim of crime.
1. Council Bluffs -- population 61,969. 1 in 12 chance of being a victim of crime.
For the record, I still feel safer in Iowa's most dangerous city than in most other state that I've visited during my lifetime!

North Carolina: Lesbian Waitress Receives Bible Verse for Tip from Anti-Gay Patron

A new story is circulating involving an LGBT waiter or waitress sharing a rude anti-gay message on his or her receipt on the tip line. This latest story involves a lesbian waitress named Alexandra Judd and this incident happened in Charlotte, NC:
Alexandra Judd works at Zada Janes in Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood area. She says a group of patrons she served for lunch Tuesday morning left her a “hateful message” in lieu of a tip.
A Bible verse was left on the tip pointing Judd to Leviticus 20:13. “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination,” the King James version of the Old Testament verse reads. “They shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” 

Judd is gay.

The bottom of the receipt had a message for her as well: “Praying for you!”

“I never expected a hateful gesture like this,” Judd said of the comments. “I’ve had a guest leave me a pamphlet to their church as a tip one time, but I didn’t feel as if they were being hateful towards me. The ladies that came in were very rude, and would hardly talk to me – but I never expected this.”
Judd posted a pic of the receipt on her Facebook page with the following message:
I don't care what anyone says, this is the most disrespectful thing you can do. Don't pray for me darling, I have everything I could possibly want and need in my life
It's unclear from the news article or from the FB page how the patrons even knew that she is a lesbian. I'm often hesitant to post stories like this because they sometimes don't pan out when it comes to truthiness. Hopefully, that's not the case here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Decorah, IA: Parent Arrested // Accused of Threatening Teachers over 4th Grade Sex Ed Curriculum

I learned early this week that the public schools in Decorah, IA, were locked down on Monday the 11th, but I didn't initially learn any other details about why. Until tonight. It seems that the Decorah Community School District teaches sex education to its students. And one student's dad wasn't happy about that. So he sent a threatening email to child's teacher:
A man by the name of Deano Divers reached out to KWWL saying he sent the email to a teacher. He says he did not mean to threaten the school but he is upset with the curriculum his 4th grader is learning, specifically about sex-ed.

He sent KWWL a copy of the email he sent a teacher which says in part, "Decorah schools spiritually declared war against my house today. When I retaliate Monday morning..."

That was the language the school found threatening which prompted the school district to go on lock down.
Divers also reportedly threatened two teachers on Facebook.

All schools in Decorah were on lockdown due to his threats. About 1,700 students chose to stay home on that day.

Divers was eventually arrested on Monday and faces two counts of 2nd Degree Harassment and one count of 3rd Degree Harassment.

Superintendent Mike Haluska has this to say about the the district's 4th grade sex ed programming:
Superintendent Mike Haluska says the 4th grade curriculum focuses on human growth and puberty.

He says, "Interestingly enough, we have paper work available at the beginning of the school year for anyone who wishes to have their children exempted from any conversations that have to do with that type of subject matter."
Interestingly, Divers' alleged threat was credible enough to lockdown the entire school district, but not serious enough to prevent the superintendent from scheduling an appointment with him late Monday afternoon or to prevent the police from arresting him earlier.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Archie Comics to Publish New BETTY & VERONICA Title in July 2016

Speaking of new titles, Vulture reported this morning that Archie Comics will be relaunching BETTY & VERONICA in July 2016! The new title will be written and drawn by Adam Hughes.

Here is the gist of the first story:
When Betty and Veronica go head-to-head over the issue, all bets are off! Friendships will shatter. Cities will burn. Nails will be broken.
I'm very excited about this new title. It's unclear to me if this title will be officially on a bi-monthly publishing schedule like the first B&V title. Hopefully not!

Archie Comics to Publish LIFE WITH KEVIN Digital Mini-Series in June 2016

The Advocate reported this morning that Archie Comics will be publishing a digital only comic book featuring gay character Kevin Keller, titled LIFE WITH KEVIN, in June 2016. The comments in this article assert that LWK will be a four-issue mini-series. LWK will feature story and art by Dan Parent, with inks by J. Bone.

LWK will focus on Kevin's life after he's exited high school and traveled to New York for college. Look forward to some familiar faces, as well as some new love interests:
It appears Kevin has a new supporting cast. What can you tell us about them?
We have a couple new potential boyfriends for Kevin, as you can see, plus we have Shrill, who has been seen in the regular pages of Archie before. And of course there's Veronica, the only major Archie character to appear in this series. As Kevin's BFF, she's a natural in this storyline.

Would you call this a more “mature” series than Kevin’s previous comic book?
It's more mature since we can deal with more serious subject matter, but the book is a comedy book first, and I want humor to be the most important element.
Archie Comics recently dropped it's "classic" art style as a result of its relaunch. More recently, classic Archie Comics artists like Fernando Ruiz have been let go from the company and have been told that people aren't interested in their work. So if you like classic Archie style and if you like titles featuring stories and artwork by longer-running creators like Dan Parent, then I would encourage you to download every single copy of LIFE WITH KEVIN!

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Riverdale Gang Pranks Bart Simpson!

"The Simpsons" spoofed the "Death of Archie" storyline last night. I wasn't there, but all of my online Archie friends were there to tell me about it afterwards!

Here's the gist: Bart sees a quarter and attempts to pick it up, but it's glued to the sidewalk. The Riverdale Gang is gloating over their successful prank...

... until they remember their deceased buddy, Archie. Archie would have loved this prank...

They then drive back to Riverdale with a photographic memoir of their good friend back when he was still with them.

And this is why you shouldn't miss "The Simpsons."

Coon Rapids, MN: Prank Caller Tricks Burger King Employees Into Smashing All Windows in the Restaurant

So... A prank caller called the Burger King in Coon Rapids, MN, late last week. The prankster claimed that they were calling from the fire department and that the restaurant was filling up with gas and that the employees needed to relieve the pressure before the building exploded. So the restaurant manager and the employees smashed all of the windows on the ground floor of the building:
"Officers arrived and found that the manager and employees of the Burger King were smashing out the windows," Sgt. Rick Boone told the Star Tribune. "The manager explained they'd received a phone call from a male who identified himself as a fireman who said there were dangerous levels of gas in the building and they had to break out all the windows to keep the building from blowing up."

Boone said there was no immediate cost estimate for the damage. The restaurant was boarded up Saturday, and investigators were trying to identify the caller.
Subsequent reports indicate that the employees ended up causing $35,000 in damage.

I guess it never occurred to the manager to open the door or the drive-thru window or anything like that...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Gay Advocates Urging Iowa Board of Medicine to Bar Conversion Therapy for LGBT Youth

There is an effort to ban conversion therapy in Iowa for people under the age of 18. Advocates from the Youth Advisory Council are pressing the Iowa Board of Medicine to ban the effort outright. The board decided against administratively barring it and instead set up a subcommittee to study the topic.

Of course, Chuck Hurley with The FAMiLY Leader absolutely wants mental health providers keep messing with the minds and bodies of LGBT youth:
“I would encourage you to be very careful about limiting the therapy that is available to parents and children who are perhaps struggling with the same sex attractions that they don’t want,” said vice president, Chuck Hurley. “There are those who do want help with those things and for you to limit and punish doctors who offer that would be a big mistake.”
Yes, it would be a mistake to stop convincing LGBT teens that they are mentally ill and morally suspect through conversion therapy and electro-shock treatment. (That's saracasm, btw...)

Members of the Iowa Board of Medicine will meet again in 6-12 months to make a final decision on this matter.

Remembering Bill Sackter

I went to Bill Sackter's 103rd birthday yesterday at Uptown Bill's Coffee Shop. Sackter was a mentally disabled man who was institutionalized in Minnesota until he was 44-years-old. He was eventually discharged and placed in a halfway house. I understand that he was quite the character and he certainly drew people to him. He eventually connected with a man named Barry Morrow and his wife and they slowly adopted him into their family and became his legal guardians.

Morrow was eventually hired by the University of Iowa. He and his wife brought Sackter to Iowa City with them, but struggled to find work for their ward. So they assisted Sackter with starting his own business called Wild Bill's Coffee Shop.

This was back in the 1970s and this type of effort was virtually unheard of. Sackter was named Handicapped Iowan of the Year in 1976 and later met with President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to be honored for his efforts. His story was later told in a pair of TV movies (in 1981 and 1983) called "Bill" and "Bill: On His Own," starring Mickey Rooney.

Bill Sackter died in his sleep at the age of 70 on June 16, 1983 -- a few months before "Bill: On His Own" premiered.

I've been watching a documentary of Sackter's life and achievements called "A Friend Indeed: The Bill Sackter Story." You should check it out by following the link. It's pretty good.

In 1997, the Extend The Dream Foundation (EDF) was founded as a non-profit organization. It had spun out of Wild Bill's Coffee Shop and has worked to provide employment opportunities for disabled and aging individuals, and to assist these people with establishing their own micro enterprises.

One of those businesses is Uptown Bill's Coffee House. You can get coffee and supper, listen to live music, purchase a used book, attend your NA meeting, and then work on an art project. I've been spending more time at Uptown Bill's recently due to my involvement with KICI 105.3 FM, which is part of the EDF network.

Yesterday's celebration featured a variety of musical performers. You could also catch up on Bill's story and share a slice of cake with the many people who showed up to commemorate his life.

It always amazes me when one man or woman captures the collective heart, mind, and imagination of so many. Typically one doesn't expect someone from a mental institution to cast out his shadow 30+ years following his death. But Bill was one of those people and I really regret missing the opportunity to meet him in person when he was still with us.

Bill Sackter (04/13/1913-06/16/1983)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Superwoman = Lois Lane?

I haven't read any DC Comics comic books in many years. I got tired of the reboots, so quit trying to keep up back in the 1990s even though some titles have looked interesting. There is some new thing called "Rebirth" that's starting sometime in the near future. I have no clue what it's about, but it will result in new titles such as NEW SUPERMAN and SUPERWOMAN.

Speaking of Superwoman, it looks like she has a familiar secret identity and it's Lois Lane:
The Superwoman series by writer/artist Phil Jimenez and co-artist Emanuala Lupacchino was announced last month as part of Rebirth, but the publisher specified at the time it would star a "new character," and hasn't named the character since. But the publisher has just added a colored version of the penciled image (originally released during WonderCon) to their official website as part of their Emerald City Comicon coverage, and the filename identifies the image as "Lois."
The Newsarama article reveals that there are about five or six Lois Lanes running around these days, so I have no clue which Lois will become Superwoman -- if any.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


I read through ARCHIE #7 last night. This continued from the previous issue where Reggie spilled the beans and told Mr. Lodge that Archie was the one who accidentally destroyed his mansion back in ARCHIE #2. The result? Veronica is banned from interacting with Archie. And Reggie has been hired by Mr. Lodge as some sort of consultant.

Pop Tate drops some advice on Archie's lap. What kind of useful information can someone like Reggie Mantle provide to someone like Mr. Lodge?

Archie infiltrates the local newspaper (which is headed by Mr. Mantle) and discovers that there is some sort of dirt affecting Reggie that's being covered up by his father. Unfortunately, he's too much of a good guy to dig up the dirt on Reggie.

That doesn't stop Pop from pulling Reggie aside. He noted that it was interesting that Mr. Lodge would hire someone like Reggie Mantle. "Maybe that's because he hasn't heard about.*mumble mumble mumble*...

We readers aren't privy to Pop Tate's secret knowledge. But it's enough for Reggie to quit his consultant position on the spot. Which makes Archie happy.

But Archie Comics wants to know: #WhatDidReggieDo that was serious enough that he wanted to keep from Mr. Lodge?

Feel free to leave your opinions below!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Republican Congressman Indirectly Admits that Voter ID Laws Target Democratic Voters

A Republican Congressman from Wisconsin named Rep. Glenn Grothman was being interviewed last night during the Wisconsin primary. Rep. Grothman was asked why he thinks that Ted Cruz or Donald will win the presidential vote in Wisconsin later this year. Rep. Grothman ended up inadvertently disputing Republicans' assertions that strict voter ID laws are about reducing voter fraud as opposed to disenfranchising traditionally Democratic constituents:
Well, I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up. And now we have Photo ID. And I think Photo ID is gonna make a little bit of a difference as well.
Voter ID has negatively affected elderly voters who don't drive. It has negatively affected students who lack in-state driver's licenses. It has negatively affected the poor who don't have the time and money to track down all of the documents needed to get photo IDs. And it has negatively affected married women whose last names don't match the names on their birth certificates.

These are all Democratic constituent groups who have continued to struggle to work about Voter ID laws, such as what's now active in Wisconsin.

You can watch the clip here.

Same-Sex Couples & Adoption News: 04/06/16

Adoption and same-sex parenting has been in the news recently.

First the good: Mississippi just became the last state to bar same-sex couples from adopting children:
Mississippi was the last state to have such a ban on the books after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year legalising same-sex marriage. In a 28-page ruling filed on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, citing the Supreme Court's decision legalising same-sex marriage nationwide last summer...

The Supreme Court ruling "foreclosed litigation over laws interfering with the right to marry and rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage," Jordan stated in his ruling. "It also seems highly unlikely that the same court that held a state cannot ban gay marriage because it would deny benefits — expressly including the right to adopt — would then conclude that married gay couples can be denied that very same benefit."

The court case stemmed from the complaint filed last year by four same-sex couples who were joined by the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Family Equality Council. According to the complaint, hundreds of families and thousands of children in Mississippi were disrespected and denied legitimate rights, benefits and duties that come with legal parentage.

Jordan ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to adopt violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Then the bad: Republican legislators in Arizona are fighting efforts to make same-sex adoption rights more equitable:
Democrats in the Arizona Legislature are renewing efforts to repeal a law requiring judges to give preferences to married heterosexual couples in adoptions.

But Republicans in the House and Senate are pushing back, refusing to allow amendments on bills that would remove the language.

Legislation introduced early this year in both the Senate and House revoking current law giving preferences to a husband and wife over others in adoptions never received hearings. But Democratic lawmakers aren't giving up.

In the Senate on Tuesday, Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, tried to add to the child safety bill an amendment removing the adoption language. But he was rebuffed. Farley said another Senate bill and two House bills have been held to avoid the same amendment... 

House Majority Leader Steve Yarbrough led the charge to stop Farley's amendment, saying it wasn't procedurally allowed. Senate President Andy Biggs also fought against the amendment. 

"The rule is the rule, game over," Yarbrough told The Associated Press. "Offer a germane amendment and we will have a delightful debate about the merit of the question of whether a child is better served being adopted by a man and a woman than by a single parent, a same sex-parent or people from Mars." 

"My personal opinion? I think that the meritorious, academic, quality peer-reviewed literature demonstrates most clearly that a child is better served if they are able to have a married man and woman as parents," Yarbrough said. "Now, does that mean there aren't a whole bunch of other people doing a great job? Doesn't mean that at all." 
Keep this in mind when people like Caitlyn Jenner claim that the GOP is supportive of LGBT rights.
Finally, the ugly: Nearly 2 Million Colombians have signed a petition to bar gays and lesbians from adopting:
In November 2015, within a week after the country's constitutional court decision to allow same-sex adoption, Senator Viviane Morales had rounded up 33 members of Congress for her campaign to overthrow that ruling.
The country's complex mechanisms for direct democratic action required her to gather 1.8 million signatures in four months. The "Sign for Mom and Dad" campaign, supported by both the Catholic and evangelical Protestant churches (Morales belongs to the latter), produced 2 million.

The campaign hammered at two points: adoption was an institution to protect children, not a right of parents; and the courts had usurped Congress's role by reinterpreting a clear declaration in the constitution that marriage was for men and women to allow same-sex couples to adopt. Prior to 2015 only the gay partners of biological parents could adopt.

In a formal statement the campaigners argued, "Since the Supreme Court has [gone] beyond its role of guarding the Constitution, it is essential to go to the primary constituent through a referendum, to express the importance of such a vital affair as the rights of boys, girls and adolescents to have a mother and father."

Monday, April 4, 2016

Archie Gets Outfoxed by a Cat in BETTY & VERONICA COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #242

I just finished reading BETTY AND VERONICA COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #242, which features the latest chapter of the "Many Loves of Archie Andrews." This is an ambitious 10-part series of short stories that's been appearing at the beginning of each of the BETTY AND VERONICA DOUBLE DIGEST comic books for the past several months. Each chapter features a story involving Archie Andrews and some romantic misadventure. Stories so far have included Betty & Veronica, Noelle Claus, Valerie Smith, Cheryl Blossom, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

This latest story focused on Ginger Lopez. It's called "Don't Make Ginger Snap" and it features story & pencils by Dan Parent, inks by Rick Koslowski, letters by Jack Morelli, and colors by Glenn Whitmore.

This story starts out with Ginger backing out of a movie date with Archie. It seems that her cat Cinnamon is sick and she needs to nurse her back to health. Archie decides to be nice and help Ginger with her cat-care responsibilities.

Here's the deal, though. Cinnamon really doesn't like Archie. She would rather receive one-on-one attention from the lovely Ginger.

So at the first opportunity, Cinnamon pulls a prank on Archie and tricks him into thinking that she snuck out of the house!! Most of the rest of this adventure features Archie's fruitless search for the missing cat that isn't missing!

This was a fun chapter in "Many Loves of Archie Andrews" story line. It was nice seeing a story where Ginger Lopez was in the forefront. It also occurred to me that I really don't know much about Ginger's private life, outside of her interest in fashion. Her trickster cat Cinnamon is a lot of fun. I can't help wondering if she might return someday to cause trouble for the Pet Posse!

"Many Loves of Archie Andrews" will wrap up next month. I'm really looking forward to it because it will feature one of my favorite new characters, Amisha Mehta!

Does "The Flash" Promote Psychological Torture of Prisoners via Extended Isolation?

Because of work and other obligations, I don't get to watch as much television as I used to. Because of this, I've been terribly slow with getting to watch CW's "The Flash," starring Grant Gustin. I finally got a watch a recent episode where the character traveled to Earth 2 and went up against Zoom.

This was enough to capture my interest. I binge-watched most of the first season this past week on Netflix. The show follows the life of Barry Allen. He's a CSI guy who gains superhuman speed following an industrial accident, who now uses those new abilities to fight back against criminals who also gained new superhuman abilities.

The series has been really, really good. I still have a few episodes left in the first season and it's been really hard to push myself away from the TV.

However, I have one issue with the series. Flash and his team are based out of S.T.A.R. Labs. They have access to all sorts of technology that allows them to hobble together weapons to push back against these new meta-humans.

Here is the problem. What do you do with these villains once you capture them? The good people at S.T.A.R. Labs decided to create a prison deep down in their sub-basements.

And why wouldn't you? I mean, what else would you do with a guy who can transform into poisonous gas?

And then there's Girder, who can transform into living metal. He probably could remain in a regular prison, but why take the chance?

But there's nothing in these prisons. These people get sealed up and forgotten. I'm assuming that they feed them, but I don't even see toilets. There's no furniture. There are no books. There's no contact with people. There's no entertainment.

Essentially, S.T.A.R. Labs is psychologically torturing its superhuman prisoners. These people are already messed up enough as a result of S.T.A.R. Lab's faulty particle accelerator mishap. What further damage are they producing due to placing each of these people in extended isolation?

And how much worse will they be when they eventually escape?

Powerpuff Yourself!

Ever wondered what I would look like if I was a Powerpuff Girl? Who hasn't, right?

I was on Facebook this weekend and saw this program where you can do and design yourself to look like a Powerpuff Girl, in anticipation of their returning cartoon series.

I think I look pretty cool as a Powerpuff.

What do you think?

You can Powerpuff yourself here.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

7 Years Ago Today: Iowa Supreme Court Struck Down Our DOMA Law!

Seven years ago today, the Iowa Supreme Court declared Iowa's DOMA law to be unconstitutional. This effectively made Iowa the third marriage equality state -- given that California's citizens had just voted away the marriage rights of its state's same-sex couples months earlier.

There was backlash. Social conservatives lead the fight against Iowa's Supreme Court justices. Several of them were voted out of office during the following election, but their efforts to go after additional justices were eventually stymied.

The only reason that Iowa's legislature didn't move forward with efforts to amend our constitution to reverse this decision and make it so that only opposite-sex couples could marry is because the Democrats held a slim majority in our state's Senate.

Slowly, -- after increasing numbers of months and years where gay and lesbian couples were marrying and none of the horrible things that were predicted ever materialized -- the fire within most of the GOP to get rid of my marriage and others like it pretty much burned out.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that they will go after our marriages if given the chance. But it's getting harder and harder to justify this type of delayed response.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Meet Weapon II (AKA the Wolverine-Squirrel)!! // Plus Squirrel Girl & Howard the Duck Team-Up in UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #6!

Back in October, I shared a story about an upcoming crossover event between Squirrel Girl and Howard the Duck. This week, that two-part crossover began in UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #6.

I have to say that I'm a bit confused from the start. This story happens some months ago, between the final issue of the first UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL series and the first issues of the second UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL series. I guess you can tell because Nancy's hair is still black. I just don't see why it's set in the past. Maybe they said something and I missed it. I dunno...

Anyway, our favorite girl with squirrel-based powers meets up with our favorite surly duck after he attempts to steal Nancy's cat, Mew. He's on a case to find a missing cat, but can't tell cats apart. Nancy quickly gets her cat back and Squirrel Girl agrees to help Howard find the missing cat.

But they quickly get interrupted when Kraven the Hunter shows up to kidnap Howard!

It turns out that he's collecting creatures like Howard (and Rocket Raccoon and Beast) for a crazy rich lady named Shannon Sugarbaker. It seems that she wants to hunt people, but since that's illegal, she has settled on hunting anthropomorphic animals instead!

Ms. Sugarbaker has an assortment of working superhero weapons, plus a whole slew of Cosplay Doombots, at her disposal. Can Squirrel Girl save the day? Or is she too much of a squirrel to avoid being hunted??

Incidentally, remember when Marvel Comics introduced us to Ratatoskr the Norse Squirrel God? Looks like we now have a squirrel with Wolverine-like powers named Weapon II running around the Marvel Universe! How cool is that??

UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #6 features story by Ryan North and Chip Zdarsky, art by Erica Henderson, trading card art by Chip Zdarsky, van art by Joe Quinones, and letters by Travis Lanham.

Have You Milked Your Hens Today?

Perhaps you were watching WKBT out of La Crosse, WI, yesterday. Or maybe you just saw this video. But the morning crew played a trick on one of their own yesterday for April Fools Day.

Keep in mind that I really hate April Fools Day. I hate it when people post fake news stories. I hate it when people play tricks on each other. I just hate the whole thing.

But this was pretty cute.

There was a segment during their morning news program where they aired a segment on a little-known aspect of raising chickens: Milking them.

The clip features a woman describing her job on the family farm. She talks about raising the chicken and how difficult it is to find the udders:
First thing, you have to find the udders. They're a little hard to find sometimes. Just make sure not to pull the feathers. They don't like that! And there's definitely an art to it. 

Once the milk starts flowing, it's easy from there. It doesn't all come out at once. Sometimes there's a little left. So if you just give them a little squeeze, you can get the last few drops. They don't hold as much as a cow. But they like being milked. 'Cuz sometimes they get full. And that's where the eggs come in. You can't milk them 24/7. So overnight they lay eggs.
The pranked newscaster looked confused once the segment ended and said, "I learned something new today."

That's when everyone started laughing at him and reminded the audience that you do not milk chickens!

You can watch the entire clip here.