Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gallup: 10.2% of LGBT Adults Are In Gay Marriages

Gallup did a poll of LGBT Adults in preparation for the 2 year anniversary of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. According to Gallup, 10.2% of LGBT Adults are married to same-sex spouses. That's up from 9.6% last year. 6.6% of LGBT Adults are living with same-sex partners. 55.7% of us are single or never married. 4.2% of us are living with a opposite-sex partner and 13.1% of us are married to opposite-sex spouses. 5.4% of us are divorced and 2.1% of us are separated. And 2.2% of us are widowed.

Gallup made a huge deal about the decline in domestic partnerships. According to their polls, 61% of cohabiting LGBT Adults are now married, compared to 38% two years ago. Meanwhile, only 39% of cohabiting LGBT Adults are domestic partners, compared to 62% two years ago. In other words, the script flipped. Probably because we can actually get married now nationwide versus two years ago.

Gallup also noted that LGBT Adults are more likely to be married if we're men (11.4%, compared to 9.3% women) or if we're 50 years and older (18.1%, compared to 3.3% if you're 18-29 years old or 14.4% if you're 30-49 years old).

Check out the full stats here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

SPOILER: Archie Comics Reveals the Identity of the Major Character Who's "Forever Changed" in ARCHIE #21

Last April, I came up with the theory that Archie Comics won't be killing off any of its main five characters, as they've been hinting will happen in the "Over the Edge" story line in ARCHIE #20-22. Before then, they were milking the idea that some cherished character would die horrifically. Then CBR published an interview with Mark Waid that suggested that somebody might not actually die.

io9 posted an article today that spoils tomorrow's ARCHIE #21 and makes clear that I was (most likely) right.

But first...



Monday, June 19, 2017

Trek Fest 2017: "30 Years of the Next Generation" -- June 23-

Have I mentioned that Trek Fest happens this weekend? I really haven't. But Trek Fest XXXIII is quickly approaching.

In case you've forgotten, Trek Fest is an annual celebration of the official future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk. It takes place in nearby Riverside, IA, from Friday evening through Saturday.

I'm sadly unsure if I will be able to attend any of Trek Fest this weekend due to work, but that shouldn't stop each and every one of you from traveling down to participate in this unique blend of "Star Trek" themed activities and small town excitement!

Here is the schedule of events for this weekend's events:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Who Is Yellowjacket??

It's been several months since I've written 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 launched a new strip this week called YELLOWJACKET REBORN! And it features storytelling by Roger McKenzie and art by Rodney Bennett & Bill Williams.

YELLOWJACKET REBORN is pretty new. In fact, The pic in the upper right corner is the only panel that we've seen so far. But this is what I know so far. YELLOWJACKET REBORN features Kirby King, a handyman who is skilled at robotics. He's the grandson of the Yellowjacket, who happens to be Charlton Comics' original superhero. And King will become a new superhero in the image of his grandfather.

But who is Yellowjacket? Wasn't he one of the Avengers? 

In order to answer that question, we need to travel back in time to September 1944. That's when the original Yellowjacket made his superhero debut!

He didn't start out as a superhero. He started out as Vince Harley, a crime-fiction writer who struggled to write convincing crime-fiction. His editor encouraged him to get into the criminal mind. So Harley took a two-week stay-cation -- just in time for a mystery woman and a gang of villains to break into his house!

The woman's name was Judy Graves. She was out of her mind in panic and passed out on Harley's couch. He began digging around in her purse and found a necklace. Which seemed really suspicious at the time. Because why would a young woman carry around a necklace in her purse, right?

Harley was suspicious enough to call the police, but not before taking a nap in his living room. He woke to a room full of thugs, who demanded that he hand over the girl and the necklace. Unfortunately for him, both had disappeared from the room while he'd napped. So the thugs beat him unconscious and dumped a hive of yellow jackets on him, with the idea that the bees would sting him to death. 

And yes I realize that yellow jackets aren't actually bees. And that people don't raise them in commercial hives. Or harvest their honey. But this was the 1940s... The time of food rationing. People made allowances for such things. Or something like that...

Anyway, it turned out that Judy was just hiding in the closet with the necklace and it also turned out that Vince Harvey isn't your average guy. He's one of those rare guys that bees won't thing -- or wasps for that matter! He comes up with a plan. First, he sent Judy off to the police to report that she was holding stolen jewelry. He then gained some inspiration from his yellow jackets and came up with the rest of his plan.

He dug out a giant yellow jacket costume from somewhere and attacked the thugs at their apartment. And he gained the ability to fly somehow. Seriously, that was his plan.

And final shot was pretty sweet! Check this out!

After this, Vince Harley regained his inspiration and managed to sell a story -- with promises of future adventures featuring the Yellowjacket! And those adventures continued to happen for some nearly a year! YELLOWJACKET continued for 10 issues before disappearing.

But now we get to catch up with his legacy in this new YELLOWJACKET REBORN story line!  And I'm really curious about this guy with his robotic bees -- or are they robotic wasps? Who knows? Not me! But I will next week when the next installment of YELLOWJACKET REBORN hits Pix-C Web Comics!

You too can keep up with YELLOWJACKET REBORN and the rest of these weekly strips, but you first need to have access to Pix-C Web Comics' premium site if you want to see what's happening! You too can read BILLIE THE KID -- not to mention Yang, Billie the KidNo NameTuffy Turtle, N.E.O., Kid Montana, The KnightingalesDeathwatch, The SpookmanSadistikMs. Molecule, the FunhouseFreddy, 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!

Incidentally, you can now read older Pix-C Web Comics on this Free website. Becoming a Pix-C Web Comics patron will give you advanced access to new Pix-C stories that are not readily available to those who access the Free website (such as BILLIE THE KID), so definitely make your pledge today!

Iowa City Pride Celebration 2017

Yesterday was a busy day because it was Gay Pride Weekend in Iowa City. There was a picnic (which I couldn't attend due to work) on Friday evening and a parade (which I could see because of where I was sitting). But I was siting in the Iowa City Ped Mall with my friend Sherry at the makeshift booth for Faith United Church of Christ!

Once again, Faith UCC signed up for a booth and passed out free cookies and water (and the occasional brochure) to the many people who come downtown in the heat to celebrate diversity and work collectively for a better tomorrow.

KCRG came by the booth after I left for my afternoon work shift and interviewed one of our church's members. Our booth didn't make it on the air, but we got quite a bit of space in the written online article:
The event also had plenty of booths set up. One was a church showing its support. "We feel very strongly that people hear of the negatives or the un-accepting messages that are out there and we accept everyone for who they are," Marilyn Calkins said. The Faith United Church of Christ says it was one of the first open and accepting churches in Iowa City.
Actually, Faith United Church of Christ was the first UCC congregation in all of Iowa to declare itself as open & affirming of LGBT members and leaders back in the early 1990s.

Here are some of the interesting images was last night's newscast:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Muscatine City Council Begins Impeachment Effort Against City's Mayor // Updated Report: $100,000 in City Legal Fees May Be Used to Justify Impeachment Effort // More Updates... // Updated on 05/11/17: Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson Has Been Removed from Office by Unanimous Vote of her Accusers, the Muscatine City Council // Updated on 06/16/17: Court Reinstates Diana Broderson as Mayor

(Originally written on 01/13/17): This is interesting. Last night, the mostly Republican City Council in Muscatine, IA, unanimously approved impeachment proceedings against the city's Democratic mayor, accusing her of unspecified incidents of misconduct and neglect, as well as making disparaging comments towards city employees.

I've been reading the sordid conflict between Mayor Diana Broderson and the Muscatine City Council with interest. She unexpectedly won an election against the incumbent mayor back in 2015 and has since struggled for achieve any of her limited mayoral duties, which pretty much consist of making appointments to city commissions, as well as appointing the Police and Fire Chief. In fact, the City Council voted last summer on an ordinance that stripped the mayor of those duties. Mayor Broderson challenged this new ordinance and received a decision from the state Attorney General's Office back in October 2016 indicating that the City Council lacked the authority to make these changes and that it was potentially criminal. However, the Muscatine County Attorney declined to act on the state Attorney General's opinion last month.

Which leads us to this week. The Muscatine City Council announced that it would vote on a request to impeach the city's mayor at its 01/12/17 city council meeting. According to the Muscatine Journal, none of the Council members wouldn't offer any explanation for this move and instead referred the reporter to the city attorney, who conveniently couldn't be reached for comment.

Last night, Councilman Michael Rehwaldt read the following motion:
An elected City official may be removed from office for, among other reasons, misconduct or maladministration in office, and willful or habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of the office; and

Willful misconduct or maladministration in office and include, but is not limited to, conduct such as repeated public criticism of the City or staff; repeatedly engaging in defamatory attacks against the City, staff or public; breach of fiduciary duties; or other conduct which tends to erode public confidence in the City or staff.

Habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of office an include, but is not limited to, such conduct as repeated breaches of the public official's fiduciary duties and/or repeated failure to follow established city ordinances or policies;

It appears the Mayor may have engaged in some of the foregoing conduct to the detriment of the City and in contravention of her established duties and, as such, written charges for removal should be filed to determine if the Mayor should be removed from office as a result of such conduct.

Therefore, the City Council of the City of Muscatine, Iowa, hereby motions to instruct the City Attorney to draft and file written charges for the removal of the Mayor as provided for by Iowa Code Chapter 66 and City Code section 1-7-6.
The Council members continued to avoid any specific accusations. Hopefully, they have evidence of willful misconduct or maladministration. Certainly something more substantial than vague suggestions that she "may have engaged" in detrimental conduct.

About 60 citizens attended the meeting and all appeared to denounce this impeachment effort.

I'm not a citizen of Muscatine, but this really doesn't pass the smell test. The Muscatine City Council better watch out or they might engage the citizens enough to vote out its incumbents -- particularly those like Councilmen Rehwaldt, Bynum, and Natvig -- all of whom are up for re-election later this year.

Updated on 01/19/17: We're beginning to get an idea about what the Muscatine City Council plans to use to support their impeachment effort against Mayor Diana Broderson:
The Muscatine city attorney said in an email to City Administrator Gregg Mandsager Wednesday that the city has incurred more than $100,000 in unbudgeted expenses in fighting what he says are "unproven claims and allegations" made by Mayor Broderson...

City officials said the official charges could be released as early as Friday.

City Attorney Matthew Brick detailed the 2016 attorney fees in an email to Mandsager. That email was in response to an inquiry Mandsager received from Broderson requesting more information about costs and attorney fees. Brick's email stated that complaints filed by Broderson against city officials, staff, contractors, and citizens resulted in about $64,000 in unbudgeted legal fees and $43,600 in staff time during the 2016 calendar year.

Mandsager had forwarded the email to the mayor and city council members early Wednesday morning. The email was also forwarded to the Muscatine Journal and Quad City Times.

As to the allegations that she caused funds to be spent by filing complaints, Broderson said she was just doing as the citizens asked...

Her reaction to the amount of costs paid to the city attorney was to wonder how much had been spent changing the city's appointment process. The council passed an amendment earlier in 2016 that created a nominating committee made up of the mayor, the city administrator or his appointee, and two council members to review candidates for city appointments.

"My take would be most of the money has been spent trying to reduce the office of mayor," she said.
By the way, I was listening to this Muscatine-based podcast earlier tonight and was shocked to learn that City Administrator Gregg Mandsager has apparently banned the city's employees from speaking or interacting with Mayor Broderson, outside of basic greetings. It's apparently been this way since shortly after Broderson's election in 2015.

Updated on 01/25/17: I'm not even sure that the Muscatine City Council actually has a clue about Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachable offense. Check this out:
Muscatine City Attorney Matthew Brick says charges for removal of Mayor Diana Broderson may not be filed for weeks, and the nature of the charges has yet to be determined. Brick said he will continue to investigate, and "slow equals fair. I want to make sure if there are relevant issues that they get looked at," he said. 
The Muscatine City Council two weeks ago voted to take the first steps toward ousting the mayor. Councilman Michael Rehwaldt cited "habitual neglect" and "willful misconduct or maladministration in office" as two possible reasons. State law says elected officials can be removed by two-thirds vote of the council. 
"It would be nice for not only me but for the people of Muscatine to know sooner rather than later so both sides could work to prepare," Broderson said. 
If evidence for removing the mayor under state law is not found, Brick said at the end of the investigation he would report back to council.
It sounds to me like the City Council members are just biding their time until after the next election cycle. Pretty shady, Muscatine...

Updated on 02/17/17: Muscatine City Attorney Matthew Brick filed a list of complaints early this morning, which are being used as the basis for Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachment:
Broderson is accused of ignoring Brick's legal advice when he told her that she was stepping outside of the boundaries of her power as mayor, listed in the document as "willful misconduct or maladministration … habitual neglect or refusal to perform the duties of her office..."

In the document, Broderson is accused of "making baseless complaints” that cost the city as much as $100,000 in legal fees and staff time to investigate, including asking for an investigation into whether she had been discriminated against on the basis of her gender and requesting investigation into actions of the city that were later determined to be unfounded.

Also outlined is an alleged breach of fiduciary duties, failure to comply with city code, defamation and/or false allegations and misuse of power and/or abuse of discretion.
These charges have been filed with the city and could appear on the agenda for the next Muscatine City Countil meeting. That is scheduled for 03/01/17.

Updated on 03/10/17: The Muscatine City Council scheduled the date for Mayor Diana Broderson's impeachment hearing at their council meeting last night. The hearing will begin at 8:00 AM on Thursday, March 23rd.

According to news reports, residents approached the Council and expressed disappointment with this whole process. One particular resident suggested that they should have waited until the next election when Mayor Broderson's term expired and just run a better candidate against her instead of going through the time, money, and embarrassment of impeaching her mid-term:
Although advised by City Administrator Gregg Mandsager to answer “no comment” to residents’ questions, Councilman Santos Saucedo responded to Nathan Baker, of Muscatine, after Baker said the recent actions of the council were making Muscatine a statewide laughing stock. Baker said that the mayor would not have retained her seat through the next election in November, and the council should have waited instead of trying to impeach her. "I wouldn’t vote for her again except for that you guys have created this problem," he said. "The right thing would be to let her finish her term, and for you guys just to do your thing." 
Saucedo was visibly upset after Baker’s remarks. Saucedo said he was doing what he felt was right and promised that the reasons behind the charges filed for the mayor’s removal would be revealed at the March 23 hearing. "All the information is going to come out," Saucedo said.
The problem is that the Muscatine City Council has been so cagey about why they are impeaching her that there is little else for residents to do except assume that there's something under-handed, political, and nasty about this whole affair.

Updated on 03/21/17: The impeachment hearing begins first thing Thursday morning. Here are some new details. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 8:00 AM in the council chambers in Muscatine. The hearing will be open to the public, but they will not allow any public comments at the meeting. They will not broadcast the hearing on their local government channel, so you won't have any televised footage for use during future campaign commercials (unless someone in the audience records something on Facebook Live).

Muscatine has brought a retired judge and mediator in to act as special counsel for the city and to act as prosecutor. Mayor Broderson will be represented by her own attorney, presumably at her own expense. Council members will hear the arguments for and against Mayor Broderson's impeachment. Two-thirds of the Council will need to vote for her impeachment. It's unclear if they will actually vote on Thursday or not.

The Muscatine City Council is walking on fragile ice here. This is the first case of a mayoral impeachment in Iowa history. There is an election in a few months and three of the seven Council members are up for reelection. There are already efforts to vote out all three Council members this fall.

Updated on 03/23/17: Mayor Broderson's impeachment hearing dragged on for eleven hours today. You can follow the #musmayor hashtag on Twitter, but it's not clear to follow most of the testimony because there's very little video or written coverage (outside of some tweets and 2-minute clips). Eventually, the hearing was postponed until 9:00 AM on Saturday, 04/01/17.

Updated on 03/24/17: Hear are some details on the testimony, courtesy of the Muscatine Journal. It offers more substantial reasons for the impeachment hearing:

Gender Bias Complaint: Mayor Broderson had initiated a gender bias investigation against the City Council and City Administrator Gregg Mandsager. It was later determined that there was no basis for her allegations:
When he was called as a witness, City Administrator Gregg Mandsager said he may have been negatively impacted by the investigation during a recent job search, because he was required to say he had been the subject of an investigation into gender bias. He also said his health had been negatively impacted by the investigation and allegations made against him and council members during her term.
Misuse of Campaign Funds: Mayor Broderson has been accused to spending $500 of her campaign funds to pay for her attorney. She is also alleged to have spent $1200 in campaign funds to send letters to residents that attack the character of Council members. For example, she referred to the Council members as "good old boys."

Complaints Against City Staff: Mayor Broderson allegedly claimed that two staff members violated Muscatine's Code of Ethics for negative comments made on Facebook about her during their free time. For example, she was called an "asshat" by a city accountant. She also questioned the employment status of a retired city engineer who was hired as a temporary independent contractor while also drawing from his IPERS pension.

Mayor Broderson still hasn't testified on her own behalf. She will presumably have the chance defend herself on April 1st.

Updated on 04/02/17: Testimony resumed and concluded yesterday in Musatine. I was traveling this weekend, but monitored the impeachment hearing as much as I could on Twitter. Testimony was split between City Attorney Matthew Brick and Mayor Diana Broderson.

We learned more of the complaints against Mayor Broderson:

Coffee with the Mayor: Mayor Broderson is accused of violating city code by forming an ad hoc committee, i.e., her monthly Coffee with the Mayor chats. These informal events were characterized by the city as a committee or task force.

Contacting City Staff: Mayor Broderson was accused of contacting city staff without permission by the city administrator. Broderson claimed that she was permitted to contact city staff by email as long as she cc'ed City Administrator Greg Mandsager. She noted that other city counselors were not required to cc the administrator on emails.

Misspending Campaign Funds: Mayor Broderson is accused of using her campaign funds to fund letters to Muscatine residents, which violates the city's code of ethics.

Lastly, it's been reported that Mayor Broderson stated that there is some sort of political deal in the works. If true, it would dismiss the impeachment charges -- with some strings attached:
Broderson dropped that bomb Saturday at the very tail end of another marathon hearing of her impeachment trial. "I don't understand this, since you'll give me back my appointment power if I agree not to run again in November," Broderson responded when acting City Council Chairman Bob Bynum asked if she had "anything else to say."

Broderson's power to appoint Muscatine residents to its various commissions and committees is at the heart of the legal and political battle that, for the past year, has fractured the city of 23,000. Last spring, just months into her tenure, the City Council stripped her of unilateral appointment power. It set off an all out war, with Broderson alleging all kinds of malfeasance on the part of City Administrator Gregg Mandsager and City Council members.
It's worth reading this article so that you can visualize the shocked responses from those in the room -- including Broderson's own attorney.

Updated Again on 04/02/17: Someone who was watching Saturday's impeachment hearing in person noted a slight difference in Mayor Broderson's final comments:
As I heard it (and heard again thanks to the Muscatine Profile recording), she says it this way: "It surprises me that the Council is acting like this is such a big travesty, some of the things that I've done, yet they were willing to make this all go away and give me back my appointment powers if I would just agree not to run again in November. And I think that that is such a terrible thing for the people—"
This latter quote rings more true to me.

Updated on 05/11/17: It took three minutes. The Muscatine City Council voted unanimously to impeach Mayor Diana Broderson. There was no discussion. No input from the various citizens in the room.

Four months ago, the Muscatine City Council moved forward with plans to impeach the city's mayor, citing unspecified charges of misconduct. Eventually, we learned that the mayor held informal gatherings with constituents. We also learned that she spoke to city staff without getting permission first from the city manager. We learned that she made some unwise decisions as mayor, but we also learned that she was pretty much cut off from the rest of the city staff. Which means that nobody pulled her aside to help her through her growing pains.

The Muscatine City Council accused her of misconduct. The Muscatine City Council acted as judges and jury. The Muscatine City Council then voted her out of office. And now they get to appoint anyone they want as the city's new mayor. Mayor Broderson might have been a mediocre mayor, but the optics on this look bad.

There is an election later. Three of the council member are up for reelection and they've managed to piss off and energize a sizable chunk of the voters. I can't wait to see the results of this election.

Updated on 05/13/17: Muscatine has a new Mayor Pro Temp: Alderman Bob Bynum. Bynum will act as mayor for Muscatine until the City Council makes a decision about how to replace impeached Mayor Diana Broderson. Bynum is one of three City Council members who is up for reelection later this year.

Updated on 06/16/17: Oh my! Diana Broderson has been reappointed as Mayor of Muscatine, IA, while her impeachment appeal moves on.

Last month, Broderson filed an appeal in court, arguing that the impeachment process was improper and that it was a conflict of interest for Muscatine's City Council to preside over her impeachment, given that they were her accusers. And, it appeared from news report of the initial court hearing that Judge Mark Smith agreed with her attorney:
"I counted 17 allegations in the decision where Mayor Broderson was accused directly affecting the city council, can you tell me why that isn`t a conflict of interest," said Judge Mark Smith. Judge Smith didn't hand down a decision in court and didn't say when he will. He did leave the door open that the former mayor may return to office, "The likelihood of success is pretty good on this case in terms of the plaintiff, in terms of being successful."
Judge Smith issued an order this morning that reinstated Broderson as mayor, pending final hearing on this case:
The judge said there were "inherent conflicts of interest" throughout the council's removal of the mayor, and to ensure a fair trial, "no man is permitted to try cases where he has an interest in the outcome."
Of course, that means that Mayor Pro Temp Bob Bynum is no longer Muscatine's mayor.

It's been reported that the City of Muscatine has spent more than $107,500 in their effort to remove Mayor Broderson from office. Ironically, one of their complaints about her was bad decisions that cost the taxpayers a lot of money.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Divorce in the Time of Gay Marriage

I read an article yesterday by a lesbian who's in the process of divorcing her wife. According to the article, they moved in with each other on their third date and got married eight weeks later:
It was 2014, and we were making it official before marriage equality went nationwide. We weren't telling our parents about the ceremony, and we weren't paying more than $20 for the whole shebang. Our wedding had the urgency of a protest, one where I got to wear an ugly blue dress and chugged Guinness with my best friends.
Three years later, she and her wife have split up and are in the midst of the 6-month separation and divorce process. Predictably, she's used her disappointment over her marital break-up to disapprove of others in the LGBT communities:
But, at the risk of sounding bitter, I have to admit that I am also distrusting of the nonstop party. My experiences ultimately make me critical of queer assimilation narratives, the kind that mainstream Pride events love to hoist up: the lesbian stroller derby, the two white men at their expensive wedding, "Queers! They're Just Like Us!" The complicated human experiences of LGBTQ folks often come at the cost of producing images that heterosexuality will accept. In places like Chicago, most LGBTQ folks are allowed to thrive as long as they follow the same rules as their progressive, straight-identified allies.
I have many pet peeves, but queer assimilation isn't one of them. But I do have a problem when people around me -- and I've known a few -- treat marriage as a political act without considering that they're actually creating a new family. It bugs me much more when they bring kids into these marriages before deciding the the marriage itself has no legs. That didn't happen here, but I've seen that happen more than a few times as well in my life time.

 And I'm not terribly sympathetic when people complain about wait times before they can get divorced. Or when they complain about the money involved with getting divorced -- once again, not part of this essay. But I'm a believer in marriage. I think that it should be difficult to get out of marriage -- or at least not so easy that you're not forced to either wonder if it's worth it to get married or worth it to jump into another marriage right away.

So if you want to make a statement about marriage equality with your new boyfriend or girlfriend, why not do a flashy commitment ceremony? Or produce a vlog about it? Or write a book about it? Or go on a march about it? But wait until you've had enough time and exposure to your prospective spouse to make sure that you two have compatible goals, interests, and habits.

Our families are special. Our families are sacred. We need to treat them as such. Marriage equality might have political and legal roots, but our weddings themselves shouldn't be political acts.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Coming to PBS: "Prime Suspect: Tennison"

One of the first British mystery dramas that I ever got into was "Prime Suspect." It starred Helen Mirren and focused on a female police detective who investigated horrific murders and sex crimes while also contending with workplace hostility at the hands of her sexist male counterparts. "Prime Suspect" last for seven series between 1991 and 2006. It's a heavy program and worth watching if you haven't already seen it.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw a preview for a new program on PBS titled "Prime Suspect: Tennison" (or "Prime Suspect 1973" if you live in the UK!). It features Jane Tennison's first adventures as a 22-year-old police officer to learns to deal with intense sexism before finding herself thrown into the big leagues during a murder inquiry. This preview video stresses that this is an inexperienced Tennison, who is still learning the ropes when it comes to police work.

The concept appears to be an attempt at recreating "Endeavour," by taking a popular television detective who's no longer around and jumping backward in time to revisit his or her first adventures. "Endeavour" has been largely successful. I can only hope for the same with "Prime Suspect: Tennison."

"Prime Suspect: Tennison" will make its premier at 9:00 PM CST on Sunday, June 25th. You can watch the entire preview clip here.

Incidentally, you can't find the original "Prime Suspect" series on Netflix, but you can watch it on Britbox!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Iowa City: Salvation Army Opens as Cooling Station during Summer 2017

You might not have noticed, but it's terribly hot right now in Iowa City. It's baking hot. It's oppressively hot. It's just really hot. Fortunately, the Salvation Army of Johnson County has offered itself as a cooling station to the Iowa City community:
Starting Monday, the facility at 1116 S. Gilbert Court opened its lobby and will remain open throughout the summer during extreme temperatures. Water will be offered from 9-11:30  a.m. and during the evening meal, served 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
Mid-morning is a challenging time for Iowa City's homeless and housing insecure residents. The Shelter House makes most of its residents leave the building by 9:00 AM. And the Free Lunch and Crisis Center programs don't open to the public until 11:30 AM.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

UWSP Student Sues to Get Poetry Grade Changed from "F" to "A" Because of LGBT Content // PLUS: Remembering When Mrs. Garrett Went Back to College on "The Facts of Life"

I read a news article on Friday about a 59-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point who took an Advanced Creative Writing Poetry course. She ended up becoming disgusted by the selected reading options because they didn't serve her needs as a "mainstream" student. She apparently expected course work dealing with Robert Frost, Edgar Allen Poe, and others and instead ended up with work by poets such as Mark Doty, Marie Howe, Sharon Olds, Terrance Haynes, and Sammy Greenspan) that apparently focused on "lesbians, illicit sexual relationships, incest and frequent swearing." She was also upset with the emphasis on LGBT issues in general in the coursework. She complained to the instructor, as well as her instructor's boss, but nothing changed. In fact, she earned an F at the end of the course.

So the student took the instructor to court and demanded that her F be changed to an A. She also requested that the courts suspend the instructor's employment from UWSP for one year without pay, or that it terminate her employment outright.

The judge ended up dismissing this case. And the student is mulling over whether or not she should appeal this decision.

Which reminded me of a an episode of "The Facts of Life" from Season 6 titled "E.G.O.C." At this point in the series, Mrs. Garrett was running Edna's Edibles and most of the girls were students at Langely College. Mrs. Garrett felt that her life was stagnating a bit so she let herself be talked into taking a class on William Shakespeare with Jo and Blair.

And she struggled. A lot. The students were much younger and she struggled to keep up with the banter and the references. She was all about the Shakespeare quotes, but struggled with the interpretations. Largely, she felt like it was going to be relatively easy to do. But it ended up being much harder than anticipated -- especially since she was still single-handedly running a small business and raising four teenage girls.

By the end of the episode, Mrs. Garrett was this close to quitting the class. But it's implied that she kept with it. But I don't think that she took anymore college classes after that.

One interesting note, the writing on the chalkboard never changed once during the episode. So either the instructor was lazy and never saw to write down new materials or else they filmed everything in one day!

Ryan Buell Streams from Rehab

I've heard that substance abuse rehab residential programs are pretty boring places to be over the weekends. That's when the primary treatment workers are away and the residents have a couple of days to do pretty much nothing. With that in mind, Ryan Buell -- who's currently in rehab at an undisclosed location -- spent some of this weekend on an impromptu Facebook Live session yesterday afternoon.

I'm actually surprised that he's allowed to do Facebook Live sessions at this residential program. Granted, he didn't reveal where he's at. But one of his fellow residents showed up briefly on-screen and we heard his name. I know that some programs and hospitals would come down on his like a ton of bricks if they found out that something like this happened. Maybe this program is different.

Ryan spent most of the Facebook Live session talking about being sober and feeling optimistic about the future. He talked for a bit about the 10-step programs. He referenced several mentors at the facility and also said that he had to give a speech on Friday for the other residents.

He was asked if he would be returning to the paranormal field and, to his credit, Ryan skirted around the issue by admitting that he's still trying to figure out how to move forward with his life. The truth is that he needs to rebuild his reputation and repay the fans who feel scammed by him in the past. Any time that he appears on social media, he gets hounded by former fans who sent him money for events that he skipped out of or for memorabilia that he never sent. This is something that he needs to resolve before he attempts to return to the paranormal field on a professional basis.

Lastly, Ryan is looking so much better right now that he did the last two times that we saw him (here and here). That's a really good sign that he's healing. Let's hope that it lasts!

You can watch the entire chat session here.

Friday, June 9, 2017

"Return to Amish" Season 4 Ends With a Traditional Elvis Wedding -- Plus Sabrina's Gay Pal Matt Returns with Some Sage Advice

It's hard to believe that the latest season of "Return to Amish" is already over. In the latest episode, Mary decided that Jeremiah and Carmela and their struggling marriage could be fixed by a delayed honeymoon to Las Vegas. She ended up paying for herself, Jeremiah, Carmela, Abe, and Rebecca to fly to Las Vegas. Which led to Jeremiah talking Carmela into renewing their wedding vows on their first anniversary. Because nothing saves a struggling marriage more than a costume wedding officiated by someone dressed as Elvis Presley, right?

Seeking to reunite her "family," Mary reached out to her husband and kids... I mean, Mary reached out to Sabrina back in Pennsylvania and offered to fly her out west to witness the wedding and hopefully smooth things over with Rebecca and Abe.

Once again, Sabrina -- still reeling from the loss of her two children -- reached out to her only reality TV friend: Matt! First, she spent some time discussing her decision to stop fighting to resume custody of her children so that they can settle someone else more stable, such as with her parents.

As usual, Matt was a rock during this conversation. He didn't judge Sabrina for how this went down. Instead, he accepted that her girls can no longer stay with her and commended her for continuing to take care of herself despite all of her current challenges. Sabrina noted that Matt has been her only consistent friend during this latest trial. Once again, I find myself wishing that he'd be allowed more regular access to Sabrina and the rest of the "Return to Amish" family. I mean, why not let us into his life again instead of just using his as a sounding board for Sabrina and her own struggles?

Later on after we learned that this season would be ending with a commitment ceremony, Mary reached out and secretly invited Sabrina to the wedding. This resulted in another visit by Matt for some advice! Sabrina is nervous about going to Vegas because Abe and Rebecca have been pretty nasty to her during their last few encounters. Matt was having none of that:
Are you going to let Abe and Rebecca keep you from going to Vegas? If they want to be pissy about stuff from the past, let them be. You're there for family. You're there for Jeremiah and Carmela. And Mary invited you. So that's why I would go -- if I was invited. 
(Jon's Note: Which he wasn't -- invited, that is... Which is a serious shame. I guess he should have bought more Tupperware from Mary back in Episode 2!)

Matt then shared this with the production crew:
Abe and Rebecca have their problems with Sabrina. But if Sabrina goes to Vegas, they might make up and become family again... I'm speaking from personal experience. Like, my family gave up on me when I came out, but I stuck by them. I didn't disown them. I was there for them. And maybe it's pay out for Sabrina to be there for the family.
Personally, it would have been nice for Matt to offer to fly to Las Vegas with Sabrina given that she was heading into a volatile situation at a high-stress moment of her life. But that wasn't meant to be.

But Matt's prediction of reconciliation between Sabrina and Rebecca came true. They might not be best friends anymore, but the two women agreed to let go of their mutual hostility and genuinely seemed to have fun in each other's company! Which was a great way to de-stress this Elvis wedding!

Anyway, the wedding happened. Jeremiah and Carmela got some special Elvis cake. Mary got some advise from her husband to tone down her English behavior. And Abe agreed to let Rebecca continue studying for her GED. And thus the season ended.

I can't help but wonder what's gonna happen with the next season -- assuming there is another season. Jeremiah and Carmela separated following a very public domestic violence arrest. And Sabrina ended up going to jail again for a drug-related probation violation. I can't help wondering if these folks will be able to return to the show again or if TLC needs to back off and give them all some time to recover from their interpersonal and legal problems.

Once again, I truly hope that we'll see more of Matt next season. "Return to Amish" could benefit from some new blood -- and frankly, Mary has run out of kids to abandon their Amish roots! Maybe folks like Matt and Lizzie and straighten out Jeremiah and Sabrina and offer their own unique perspectives as ex-Amish and former Mennonite -- him for being doubly-shunned because of his sexuality and her as a fairly stable mother with a black husband and biracial child. I think that it could really shake up the show -- in a positive way.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

RIVERDALE #2: Archie & Friends Reenact "The Breakfast Club" While Kevin Keller Snubs a Chubby Gay Teen

I've been terrible about writing about comic books recently. Then again, I've been terrible about reading my comic books recently, between my job, my new part-time job, preparing for British Fest, etc. But I'm slowly catching up with my comic book reading lately, including RIVERDALE #2. RIVERDALE is a comic book adaptation of The CW's "Riverdale" series, which of course is a television adaptation of Archie Comics. It's written by many of the same people who write the TV show and it's pretty good.

But back to RIVERDALE #2... This story, titled "The Breakfast Club," is heavily inspired by the classic 1980s teen flick "The Breakfast Club." And they try. Just not very well.

The original "The Breakfast Club" featured five teens from different cliques who get stuck together in a Saturday detention and learn to overcome their various stereotypes. RIVERDALE's "The Breakfast Club" certainly plugs different stereotypical characters into a Saturday detention, but they always hang out together. It's not like they learned anything about themselves or others from this exercise. They basically shared the story of a recent food fight from each of their personal perspectives.

Except for Josie. See her rolling her eyes in this pic? That's the image of a black girl who finds herself unjustly accused of being instrumental in something bad, even when it's clear that she did nothing. And she truly did nothing. Check out the lunch room scenes. She was eating lunch with her friends and she was sitting there while the other kids threw food everywhere. I don't blame her for rolling her eyes. Roll away, girl!

Anyway, I was less interested in the detention scenes and more interested in this scene where Veronica and Kevin were trying to start up a Gay/Straight Alliance at Riverdale High -- not because they wanted to learn about LGBT issues or provide support for sexual minority students, but so Kevin could find a non-closeted date. Leave it to Reggie to ruin the mood...

Notice that Reggie is being portrayed much more like his classical comic book image. Which I also find interesting. Reggie is a white character in the classic comic books, who was recast as an Asian teen in the "Riverdale" series, who's now been white-washed in the RIVERDALE comic book adaptation! My head is spinning.

I was a bit disappointed with Kevin in this comic book. Reggie offered to set him up with another gay kid on the football team. But Billy the Fridge, as he's known, isn't as conventionally gay in his appearance. So, despite the fact that he's clearly expressing some interest in Kevin and despite the fact that Kevin is supposed to be starting up a GSfrickingA for all of Riverdale High's LGBTQ student, he dismisses Reggie's efforts to hook him up with Billy.

I was actually quite proud of Reggie for sticking up for his friend and teammate. Which is a first.

I'm actually hoping that Billy the Fridge shows up sometime on the "Riverdale" TV show. And I hope that Joaquin dumps Kevin for Billy. Just because it would hopefully teach our favorite gay teen a lesson about body-shaming.

"The Breakfast Club" features writing by Greg Murray & Daniel King, art by Joe Eisma & Thomas Pitilli; colors by Andre Szymanowicz, and letters by John Workman.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pat Robertson: "I'm Not Sure I Know Anything that Indicates that Polygamy Is Against the Bible"

I was checking out "The 700 Club" today and found this question about Biblical polygamy to be interesting. Actually, I found Pat Robertson's answer about Biblical polygamy to actually be the interesting bit about this Bring It On segment.

Co-host Wendy Griffith started off the segment with this question by a listener named Margaret: "Why did God allow the men of faith in the Old Testament to have multiple wives and concubines? And when did God change his mind and make marriage monogamous?"

You've got to hear Pat Robertson's response:
Pat Robertson: I don't think God changed his mind. The truth is that women have babies. When they have babies, they can't fight wars because they're having babies. They're looking after their babies. And they need someone to look after them. That's why husbands are supposed to look after their wives. And a man can look after several wives whereas one wife cannot look after several husbands. But I think in the early days, there must have been more women than men. Y'know, multiple wives was standard stuff in the primitive societies. They still are in Africa. I know one guy. He was a chief or general. He had 60 wives. So you'd say, "That's a little excessive," and indeed it is. 

But nevertheless, God didn't change his mind but there came the New Testament and Jesus gave the standard of marriage -- a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and between them they'll become one flesh -- and so that's the Biblical order of the New Testament.

But the culture has changed. God didn't changed his mind. The culture changed. Still... I'm not sure I know anything in the Bible that indicates that polygamy as such is against the Bible. But we don't do it and a lot of laws are based on the New Testament and don't permit it. That's the way we are.

Wendy Griffith: And praise the Lord for that!

Pat Robertson: *Laughs* Y'know, you go to China and now there are more men than there are women to go around so maybe a wife will get several husbands!
To summarize, Pat Robertson admitted that polygamy is culturally neutral in the Bible and denied that there is any real prohibition against it. In fact, he was pretty blasé about the concept despite the whole "one man/one woman/one flesh" garbage that ministries like The 700 Club have pushed for decades and used to deny marital rights and rites to same-sex couples.

So next time the 700 Club begins talking about marriage, just remember that "polygamy in a culture? = good" while "same-sex marriage in a culture = bad" -- despite the fact that there is no prohibition against same-sex marriage in the Bible. Understand?

You can watch the entire segment here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Iowa City: Methodist Campus Minister in Trouble for Officiating at Gay Wedding // Updated: Same-Sex Wedding Complaint Against Campus Minister Resolved

(Originally written on 05/10/17): The United Methodist Church was recently in the news after a Bishop got defrocked or disrobed following a complaint about her being a married lesbian. Now a similar story is unfolding here in Iowa City after a campus minister within the University of Iowa got reported to her UMC superiors for officiating at a gay wedding:
The board of directors for the Wesley Student Center at UI is supporting the Rev. Anna Blaedel, the center's executive director. Blaedel faces possible censure from the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church for having officiated at a wedding ceremony April 4 in Oklahoma for a fellow clergywoman and her wife. 
The Appointive Cabinet of the Iowa Conference filed a unanimous complaint last month against Blaedel, charging the campus minister with practices considered “to be incompatible with Christian teaching.” The cabinet includes the superintendents of the eight church districts within the state.
Blaedel acknowledged in news reports that she could lost her pastoral credentials and her job officiating over this wedding. But she felt called to do it.

I posted this linked article to the Iowa News Facebook page earlier today and someone shared it on her own Facebook page, along with some public commentary. She wrote:
Guess she's trying to follow a sect of California Methodists. I hope the Christian Methodists will stand upon the Bible teachings and remove her. The predictions of the last days are upon us. And it's getting more difficult to reject these wicked ways as our families and congregations are being infiltrated.
For the record, the UMC's Book of Discipline explicitly bars its ministers from officiating at gay weddings or from being ordained as ministers. I understand that. Rev. Blaedel will likely be defrocked. Or at least punished professionally. I get that. It's one of the reasons that I left the church of my childhood for the United Church of Christ back in the 1990s.

But this woman (let's called her D.L.) really annoys me. First, marriage equality isn't a "California" thing. I understand that people like to dismiss things that they don't like as some leftist kooky thing springing from the left coast. But let's get this straight. Iowa is a marriage equality state. It has been for eight years. In fact, Iowa became a marriage equality state at the same time that California went back to being a marriage inequality state.

Lastly, the United Methodist Church isn't being infiltrated by LGBTQ people. We grew up in the church. We are the church. We'd love to stay in the church, even if the church really doesn't want us. One way or the other, gay marriage will come to the UMC. I just don't know if the UMC will survive the experience as an intact denomination.

Updated on 06/06/17: We learned yesterday that things have resolved positively for Rev. Anna Blaedel. She got in trouble last month after a complaint was filed over an April same-sex wedding that she officiated at.

Yesterday, the Appointive Cabinet of the Iowa Conference decided against taking any disciplinary action against Blaedel. Basically, they asked her and other Methodist ministers to stop doing same-sex weddings for a couple of years in order to avoid future complaints and division.

Monday, June 5, 2017

My 2017 British Fest Experience!

I got back yesterday after a long weekend in Omaha, NE, at the 4th British Fest Convention! British Fest is a celebration of all things British -- though it tends to focus on "Doctor Who" and "Harry Potter," which is where all the fans are at.

There were three featured guests at this year's British Fest, including Frazier Hines (AKA Jamie McCrimmon from "Doctor Who"), Terry Malloy (AKA Davros from "Doctor Who"), and Colin Spaull (AKA Lilt & Mr. Crane from "Doctor Who"). 

Speaking of Frazier Hines, I've enjoyed his portrayal of Jamie ever since I first saw him on "The Two Doctors" episode of "Doctor Who" back in the 80s. Jamie was this highlander character who was all about action and he wore this kilt all of the time.  Very nice guy.

In fact, let me tell you about how nice he was. Husband Mark and I decided to attend the "Frazier Hines Personal Theater" panel on Saturday evening. I had no idea what to expect. It turned out that Hines aired a program filled with personal recollections about famous friends such as Tom Jones and Davy Jones that were interspersed with favorite songs and rock videos. I thought it was odd at first and then I sat back and enjoyed the music. Some of those videos were really great! Midway through the show, Hines pulled out some six packs and began passing out beers to several of us in the audience. So now I can say that Frazier Hines from "Doctor Who" gave me a beer!

The biggest thing that sucked about this year's British Fest was something that the organizers couldn't plan for way back when they scheduled the venue: hotel renovations. The second and third floors were in the midst of complete renovations when we arrived. As was the main ballroom where they typically store the vendors. They came up with a plan to put up a tent at the Main Panel Room out in the parking lot, but it was very hot this weekend and the sound of the generator made it very difficult to hear anything out there. So there ended up being a lot of juggling around of program locations and I'm sure that it was a major headache for the organizers. I know that it was annoying as a guest who struggled to listen to panelists over the sound of overhead hammering. And yes, there was hammering heard from our hotel room late into the night.

Beyond that, Mark and I had a fun time away from home. I attended some really great panels, including one that explored the various detective mystery programs (great stuff like "Poirot," "The Father Brown Mysteries," "Morse," and "Midsomer Murders"), one that explored the various faeries and paranormal creatures from the UK, and a tribute to Sarah Jane Smith. I also saw a viewing of the 2014 version of "Under Mild Wood." Very beautiful storytelling!

Speaking of "Midsomer Murders," I ended up doing another panel about that program at this year's British Fest. I pulled together this panel last year and received a lot of positive input from my audience. So I updated the panel for 2017 and volunteered again. I wasn't sure what to expect this time around. I got scheduled for 9 PM on the first night of the convention opposite a Harry Potter-themed dinner theater event. But I pulled in 10-12 people for my panel and had some great conversations about the program. I'll probably revamp the whole thing next year, but I'm really happy with how the panel turned out from start to finish!

My biggest 2017 British Fest regret was that I had to miss the "British Belly Dancing Collective." I saw that last year and was completely blown away! Unfortunately, it's a nearly five hour drive from Omaha to Iowa City and I always have to miss most of the Sunday programming because of that. Hopefully I'll get to see them again next year, assuming that there is a next year. 

As always, I want to thank everyone involved with pulling British Fest together. There is a ton of work involved with conventions of any sort: Arranging for guests. Coordinating the venue. Checking people into the event. Managing the computers and sound system. Running security. Entertaining the guests. General trouble-shooting. I appreciate the hard work that everyone people put into this event and hope to return for another British Fest in 2018!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

"The Guardians" Team Up to Help a Homeless Vet and His Two Poodles!

I discovered a new(ish) reality television program from Animal Planet called "Guardians." The show actually debuted earlier this year, but I just discovered it. The Guardians of Rescue are a handful of animal rescuers who run around saving animals in ways that others can't. Or something like that.

I ended up watching the third episode of the program earlier this evening, titled "Stakeout." The portion of the episode that grabbed my attention focused on two of the rescuers, former cop Brian and former soldier Amanda, learning of a homeless man who was sleeping in a car with his two poodles. Amanda was initially upset when she learned of this situation, because the homeless guy dragged the dogs into his poverty: "It's really unfortunate for someone to be living out of their car, and I truly feel bad for them. but if they don't have the means necessary to take care of themselves, they're making their animal suffer unnecessarily."

Fortunately, the homeless guy -- who was sleeping soundly in his car with his two poodles -- was already fully miked when the Guardians arrived. Brian and Amanda learned that he is a Navy veteran who got kicked out of his home and now couldn't find an apartment that would accept both of his poodles. They bonded with him over their shared veteran statuses and decided to help the guy get out of his car and into a new home.

Keep in mind that these poodles are absolutely adorable -- so I'm willing to forgive the show for giving this guy for being a homeless vet living in a car with two dogs when they wouldn't give him a pass if he was just some homeless guy living in a car with two dogs. Then again, I'm all about this homeless guy because his dogs are poodles as opposed to some other breed, so who am I to judge? The poodles are Princess Arielle and Amazing Grace and they are both too cute for their own good!

They end up upgrading a donated RV camper for the vet to move into with his dogs until something more permanent was secured. Which is a great idea, except that he still needs help finding places to park his new camper. But it's great the he and his poodles have a bed again and it gives him some time to search for a more permanent housing solution, so I can't fault the program too much!