Tuesday, February 28, 2017

British Fest 2017 Celebrity Guests Announced! Includes Frazier Hines (AKA Jamie from "Doctor Who!!")

I've shared my enjoyable experiences at British Fest over that past three years (herehere, and here). I even put together two panels this past summer. The fourth British Fest has been scheduled for the weekend of June 2-4, 2017, and will take place yet again in Omaha, NE. You can learn more about the convention here. Earlier this year, I announced that British actor Terry Molloy would be the guest at this summer's British Fest. Since that announcement, British Fest has announced several other guests.

Check this out:

Frazier Hines will be appearing this summer at British Fest. He is best known as Jamie McCrimmon, the 2nd Doctor's most famous companion!

There's Terry Molly, who appeared in several episodes of "Doctor Who" back in the 80s as Dalek creator, Davros!

And then there is Colin Spaull, who appeared in two different episodes of "Doctor Who" as Lilt and Mr. Crane!

Of course, there's a litany of professional cosplayers who will be making appearances at British Fest. Plus, I'll be doing an update panel of "Midsomer Murders."

So head over to the British Fest website and get your tickets today!

Monday, February 27, 2017

"Finding Bigfoot" Comes to Iowa

I learned yesterday that Iowa was finally going to appear on Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot." This particular episode was called "The Squatchland." Husband Mark and I decided to skip this week's "The Walking Dead" in favor of this program -- and I'm thinking that we might have been better off choosing walkers instead of squatches!

For example, there was this twangy bango music playing in the background. Because it's Iowa. And then we viewers were told that "there's more than just corn in these fields" -- which is true, but they were filming in prairie land that completely lacked any sign of corn. And that was just the first minute of the program.

The show kept mentioning that they were filming in Iowa for the very first time. These folks want us to know that they have never been in Iowa ever before. They want you to know that Iowa is this barren flatland filmed with nothing but cornfields. Corn and deer. Corn and deer. Corn and deer. They spent the first several minutes talking about how there is nothing in Iowa but corn and deer. Meanwhile, they are driving in the northeast corner of the state, surrounded by bluffs and into the Yellow River State Forest. Plus, they just aired episodes set in Minnesota and Wisconsin -- two states within quick driving distance to where they were investigating.

Once the four "Finding Bigfoot" investigators stopped talking about all of the corn, they met up with representatives of the Iowa BFRO (Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization). One interesting note, I learned last night that one of my friends is friends with one of the Iowa BFRO leaders.

Turns out that the Yellow River State Forest area is a hotspot of Bigfoot activity, according to the Iowa BFRO. After listening to a variety of sasquatch testimonials, the "Finding Bigfoot" investigators teamed with the Iowa BFRO leadership to wander through the trails where thermal gear.

After wandering around for a while, Bobo picked up what could only be a Bigfood on thermal camera. The "Finding Bigfoot" folks then told us that they heard weird stomping noises -- that inconveniently didn't show up on the television mics -- before calling it a night and returning to their tents.

*Cue the techno-bango transition music*

A group then went off into the woods the next morning to investigate the area where one BFRO member thermal-scanned a bigfoot. Turns out that this image most likely isn't a sasquatch.

Later, they spent some time with BFRO member Valerie, who shared how she encountered possibly twenty bigfeet in the campground area late one night. Turns out that the red glow from the squatchy eyes was most likely lightning bugs.

The "Finding Bigfoot" folks then decided to do a series of individual nighttime squatch searches. This search rewarded our crew with distant roar -- but I couldn't figure out if they were genuine roars or if the researchers were just picking up sounds from other researchers roaring in the distance.

At one point, Matt began noticing something coming towards him. He saw what appeared to be two young squatches that were climbing a tree, until he realized that it was instead a bunch of squirrels. I kid you not.

Then Bobo noticed something upright that was bobbing back and forth between the trees. Could it be a sasquatch?

We were then treated to another sasquatch testimonial. This one involved an Iowa BFRO member who was found himself spied upon by a bigfoot while he slept in the back of his vehicle. The "Finding Bigfoot" crew decided that this particular story was most likely legit.

They then split into two groups for one final nighttime investigation. Cliff, Matt, and Bobo immediately began hearing weird squealing noises and breaking branches. Soon enough, the ground-based investigators find a human-shaped thermal scan -- that turns out to be a human. Basically, the night was a bust.

*Cut the banjo music and Iowa puns*

And that's a summary of Iowa's encounter with the "Finding Bigfoot" cast and crew.

Don't get me wrong. I love bigfoot. I've loved bigfoot since I was a kid. I want to believe that bigfoot is real. But I just don't see how bigfoot could be real in today's world of deforestation and urban sprawl. Even in Iowa.

Did you watch "The Squatchland?" I want to hear your reaction. Shared your thoughts in the comments section below.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

"Riverdale" Episode 5 Recap: Jason's Memorial Service

The fifth episode of "Riverdale" aired Thursday night on The CW. This show continues to improve with each episode. So here is a rundown of what you missed if you skipped this particular episode. But first...

SPOILERS!! Once again, it's extremely difficult for me to avoid spoilers, so be mindful of that fact before you read the rest of this blog post!

This episode is about Jason Blossom's memorial service. We found his murdered body at the end of episode #1, so now the family has something tangible to mourn. Cheryl is beginning to crack mentally due to grief over her twin brother's murder. Sadly, her parents are no help to her. In fact, they are downright toxic! She's now having nightmares about her dead brother.

Meanwhile, Archie is trying to juggle his music-writing with his football-playing. Coach Kleats wants Archie to be the football team's new quarterback. He's given Archie one week to get his act together or else Reggie will get the quarterback gig. Meanwhile, Valerie from the Pussycats is beginning to team up with Archie to work on his music. She even got him in touch with a new music coach, who proves to be extremely challenging for our resident carrot-head! By the end of the episode, somebody becomes the new quarterback and he doesn't have red hair!

Also, Betty, Jughead, and Kevin have done their best to recreate Sheriff Keller's murder board. Betty resumes her investigation of the students at Riverdale High -- and everything keeps looping back to her missing sister Polly. She eventually learns that Polly had a nervous breakdown after something horrible happened involving her and Jason. She attempted suicide, which led to her parents committing her to an asylum far, far away.

Cheryl then invites Veronica to her home for a sleepover on the eve of her brother's memorial service -- which proves terribly uncomfortable as Cheryl and her parents continually lobs bombs at Veronica and each other through the evening.

Things get worse at the memorial service when Cheryl stuns everyone by wearing the outfit that she wore on the day that Jason disappeared.

Betty and Jughead take advantage of their unique access to the Blossom home to snoop through Jason's bedroom for clues. They meet Cheryl's dotty grandmother, who mistakes Betty for Polly. They learn that Jason and Polly got engaged shortly before his death!

Betty also learns that her parents have a generational grudge against the Blossom family. Something to do with maple syrup and the murder of Betty's great-grandfather. The result is that Hal Cooper really hates the Blossoms. On top of that, Betty learns that her father was the one who broke into Sheriff Keller's office and stole all of the evidence!

Is that enough spoilers for you? Betty is going to begin investigating her parents' role in Jason's death next week. And I think that we're finally going to meet Polly. Meanwhile, Archie is going to continue working on his music with the help of Valerie!

As always, you should check out this episode on the CW website and then tune in for subsequent episodes on TV. "Riverdale" airs every Thursday night at 8:00 PM CST.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Remembering the "Kate & Allie" Lesbian Episode ("Landlady")

I used to be a big fan of "Kate & Allie" back in the 80s. This was a sitcom starring Susan Saint James and Jane Curtin as two divorced women who decide to share a home and raise their children together.

I was revisiting the program on YouTube and discovered an episode that featured their lesbian landlady. Janet Franklin purchased their home and reminded the women that they were living in a single family occupancy. Because they're not a family, their rent was going to be doubled!

Unable to find another apartment that they could afford, Kate and Allie decided to pretend to be a lesbian couple in order for their rent to remain the same. Janet was so excited that she introduced our stars to her lover, Miriam Goodman! 

Soon enough, the two couples were doing everything together and were invited to a gay & lesbian dance. This was one step too many for the uptight Allie, who ran to her bedroom to hide! Janet overheard Kate and Allie talking about how they needed to pretend to be lesbians.

They rushed downstairs to salvage their new friendship (and their affordable rent!!):
Kate: Janet, please let us explain!

Janet: There's no explanation necessary. It's all perfect obvious. You lied about being gay in order to avoid a rent increase. 

Miriam: Oh! Oh no! Did you?

Allie: We couldn't help ourselves. We couldn't afford a new apartment and we can't afford the rent increase.

Miriam: Oh dear...

Janet: Miriam, please! 

Miriam: Janet... I'm sure the girls didn't mean anything...

Janet: Why are you taking their side? After the fools they made of us!

Kate: No, we didn't. 

Janet: I am so tired of people who feel they have the right to condescend to us just because we're different from them!

Kate: Wait a minute! You were ready to penalize us $648 a month just because we're different than you. 

Janet: This apartment is a one family dwelling! 

Kate: Sure! As long as you get to say what a family is. 

Janet: Everybody knows what a family is. 

Kate: I'm not so sure. A lot of people wouldn't consider a gay couple a family, but you do. And now... so do we!

Miriam: Oh Janet... 

Allie: A family is anybody who wants to share their lives together.

Kate: Right! Raise their kids together... Put up with each other's craziness... 

Allie: It's love that defines a family and it could be any kind of love. Your kind... Our kind... Theirs...

Kate: Who's to say whose kind of family is best? You above all people should know that...

*thoughtful pause*

Janet: We're going to be late...  *pause* Get your coats! We're going to be late!

Allie: Us? 

Janet: Who else am I talking to?

Allie: We're not gay!

Janet: I won't tell anybody if you won't! Besides, lots of our members bring straight friends. That is... if you want to be friends...

Kate: You bet we do. Except this time we're going to be real friends!
You can watch a condensed version of "Landlady" here.

Needless to say, Kate and Allie were able to keep their affordable rent and their brownstone. (Jon's Note: Keep in mind that their rent was $648!!! Granted, it was 1984. But it was also set in New York's Greenwich Village. Nowadays, you're lucky to find an efficiency here in Iowa City for that price!)

It's pretty common for television programs to have LGBT-inclusive story lines and characters in them these days, but not so much in the 1980s. Looking back, these stories usually featured regular characters being challenged by a former friend who has since come out as gay or had a sex change operation. So this particular story -- and the reminder that love is love and that families come in all sizes -- was extremely progressive for that time.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Iowa Man Arrested for Threatening to Kill Trans High School Student & Brand the Student's Genitals

Mondell Olson of Ames, IA, was arrested last week after being accused of repeatedly harassing and leaving threatening voice messages at his local high school. His harassment was focused on a trans student at Nevada High School. In the calls, Olson is accused of threatening to kill the trans student and to brand that student's genitals:
Court documents show Olson faces two charges of Harassment in the 1st Degree, for allegedly leaving voicemail messages at Nevada High School earlier this month. The first message, left on February 10th said, "a transgender student would be killed if continued to be allowed to go to school." The other message, left on February 14th said, "a transgender student would be branded" on their private parts.
Earlier this week, a Story County judge approved a no contact order against Olson, which forbids him from entering the Nevada Community School buildings.

In addition to the two charges of 1st Degree Harassment, Olson faces one charge of 3rd Degree Harassment for "sending an inappropriate text to a teacher."

According to this news source, Olson also left a threatening phone message at the trans student's home. This resulted in an additional charge of 1st Degree Harassment.

It's unclear to me if the no contact order actually protects the student from further contact by Olson.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Anti-Gay Protester Interrupts UCC Worship Service in Portland, OR

I led another worship service this past weekend at Faith United Church of Christ this past weekend. Our church has a shared ministry program where individual members fill in for our pastor once monthly by organizing worship or bringing somebody else in to do it. This weekend's sermon focused on Matthew 5: 38-48 and using the Christ's message to reflect God's love in practical ways.

All that's to say that I wasn't watching the worship services at Parkrose Community UCC from Portland, OR, online -- at least not until this evening. While I was doing my service and interacting with my church family, the pastor and membership at Parkrose Community UCC were tested by an anti-gay protester, who objected to the church's openly gay pastor and it's gay affirming status.

The church membership had just watched a video on diversity and reverse racism. Immediately after the video ended, the protester began clapping loudly and walked up front alongside the Pastor Don Frueh and began calling out the following message:
Listen up! I'm here to tell you that homosexuality is wrong. And what you're doing is wrong. And that's wrong and that's a lie.
To which Pastor Frueh replied:
Okay. Thank you very much.
The protester then told Pastor Frueh to sit down before going on:
Homosexuality is an abomination to God. There's a reason. In the Bible, God says that he made male and female. You are here because a man and a woman had sex. Okay? You're not here because two guys had sex. You're not here because two girls had sex. It is wrong. It has no place in God's house. It has no place in God's house.
People from the congregation then stood around the man, seemingly to protect the pastor or to step in if something bad happened, but also to embrace him and eventually embrace him and lead him out:

You say out there that I'm welcome. Then embrace me! Then embrace me and the message.
It went on for until the pastor told the protester that he's welcome to stay. Otherwise, he'd had his say and it was time to leave. While leaving, the protester observed, "Yeah, you're puffed up on pride. That's why I can't find a wife in this town!"

Pastor Frueh then prayed for the protester and assisted the church membership with processing the situation and transitioning back into worship:
Gracious and loving God: We ask you to be with our friend who came here today and who is hurting obviously. Find a way for his hurt to heal. And if there's any way that we can be part of that healing, please let us be that healing. Amen.

We can't just go on. We can't just go on. We have to understand that we live in a time where there's lots of differences that create anger. We are not people of anger. We are people of love. That does not mean that we have to set ourselves up for abuse. But it means that we have to remember what Jesus taught us -- and you're going to see a lot about that this very morning. In a way, I couldn't have arranged for that to happen that way for the discussion that we're going to have on Sunday. And I did not! But I want you to understand and I want to thank you -- everybody who helped us deal with this situation in a way that was as respectful as possible without allowing us to be abused.
Pastor Frueh took a stressful and upsetting situation and helped guide the congregation back into a sense of calm and transition. Bravo!

You can watch the entire worship service as this link and this link.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Christian Blogger: "LEGO Batman Movie" Promotes Gay Adoption

A Christian blogger is warning people to avoid "LEGO Batman Movie" because it apparently promotes gay adoption:
For example, two men adopting a son together sounds like a dream come true to Richard, the orphan Bruce Wayne adopts without telling him he’s Batman. That’s why, when Richard hesitates to board a bat vehicle without Bruce-Dad’s permission, Batman tells him he and Bruce-Dad share custody of him. Richard doesn’t need Bruce-Dad’s permission; he has Bat-Dad’s!

This solution thrills Richard, who unblinkingly climbs aboard (and later becomes Robin). The bubbly young man is tickled as he spells it out for viewers: Yesterday he didn’t have a dad, and now he has two dads! Viewers may laugh, because they know it’s a farce: Bruce-Dad and Bat-Dad are one. Richard doesn’t learn the truth until the end, when Bat-Dad pulls off his mask to reveal Bruce-Dad’s face and tells Richard to call him “Dads.” Funny, right?
Keep in mind that I haven't seen this movie yet. I wasn't even sure if I was going to see it. But now I really want to see this movie because Richard/Robin has two dads. Sort of, but not really.

I've read several responses who believe that this blogger has completely gone overboard with his analyzing of this film and that most people won't actually associate this film with gay parenting. Especially since there's not actually any gay parenting in the film, just stupid jokes about having two dads.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Iowa City: Groomer Charged with Animal Neglect after Being Accused of Kicking Dog & Causing Serious Injuries // UPDATED Below

(Originally written on 07/29/16): There's a sad story circulating online and in the local news involving a dog who went to a local veterinary clinic for grooming and who left with multiple fractured ribs and bruising in the lungs.

According to the Press-Citizen, a 22-year-old groomer at Creature Comfort Veterinary Center was charged with animal neglect after he reportedly admitted to Iowa City Police that he kicked this poor dog while grooming it earlier this month.

The dog's injuries were severe enough that he was kept under medical observation for several nights at a local pet emergency center during his initial recover period.

Creature Comfort Veterinary Center has issued the following statement:
The owners and management of Creature Comfort Veterinary Center are aware of an animal injury during grooming and subsequent citation for animal neglect issued by the city of Iowa City against the groomer. Any animal injury is of paramount concern and is not tolerated in any respect. Immediately upon learning of this incident, the groomer was discharged from his employment. We will have no further comment while the legal issues are being resolved.
On the positive side, the dog is recovering.

Updated on 08/26/16: 22-year-old Lucas Van Orden -- the groomer referenced above -- recently pleaded not guilty on this charge of aggravated animal abuse. His court case has been scheduled for 11/01/16. He had previously been charged with animal neglect (as reported last month), but that charge eventually got dismissed and he was charged instead with the animal abuse charge. If convicted, Van Orden faces up to two years in prison.

Updated on 02/20/17: There has been resolution with this case. 22-year-old Lucan Van Orden V pleaded guilty to the animal abuse charge last month. He has been sentenced to two years of probation and will not face any time in prison. He will need to meet regularly with a probation officer and avoid further criminal charges. He is to make financial restitution to the owners of the injured dog and he is to complete 40 hours of community service.

Jasper, the injured dog, suffered multiple rib fractures and bruised lungs because of Van Orden. The cost of his medical treatment was $1468.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

New Iowa City-Based Comic Con Creating Waves Due to Sexist Posts

Earlier this month, for a very brief time, it looked like Iowa City might get its own comic book convention again. I am still not 100% sure what happened, but something called the Iowa City Mega Comic Con was supposed to be debuting sometime in September 2017. I think. I heard about vendors who were contacted by the ICMCC's organizers.

But this is how I first learned about Iowa City Mega Comic Con. From Cedar Rapids Comic Con:
We have been messaged by a large number of people (from all over the country) concerning a convention being organized in Iowa City (just 30 minutes south of us). Because the convention world is very tight knit, people are reaching out to us to voice their concerns. 
A Facebook representing that convention is posting and promoting things that are the exact opposite of the type of convention we run. Examples include (and we're copy-pasting here), "hot girls in bikini cosplay get in free" and telling people to skip other shows because they are "for chumps this show will be so much bigger." 
Despite being so close to us geographically, the Iowa City show has nothing to do with us. We are a very inclusive, and a family-friendly convention. More than 10,000 people attended CRCC this year and we are proud to put on the type of convention we do. 
Leading up to and during our convention each year, we make our zero tolerance policy for harassment and inappropriate behavior very clear... people who behave this way are not welcome at our convention. That policy continues year-round. 
Anyone involved with this Iowa City convention is not welcome at Cedar Rapids Comic Con.
Which of course made me want to seek out information about Iowa City Mega Comic Con. I found a Facebook page and liked it, but that page seems to have disappeared. But the Internet has a long memory and people managed to screen-grab elements of that page, including:


The ICMCC folks later claimed that their Facebook page was hacked, keeping in mind that their FB pape was hacked about as soon as it was created. But the damage (self-inflected or not) was done and the Iowa City Mega Comic Con FB page has completed disappeared.

Then again, somebody has been trying to salvage the ICMCC's reputation -- or maybe they're just trying to salvage the idea of an Iowa City-based comic con. As recently as yesterday:
To all who seen this crap ...and are still supporting a con in iowa city,and to those vendors who i still have on my list who saw through all this crap.. thank u..and to those who cant see what happened your still invited to our con..we have picked up a few shops who know it was a bunch of crap..for those who beleave this.. sorry ..but if your going to put on a con and want it to be a great con ..your not going to advertise hot girls knowing it will be mostly kids..come on think about it..and why would we bash other comic cons knowing they could send ppl this way. Again think about what u saw and if u still choose to beleave thats ok..the support we had and the messages we have gotten telling us how much of a ass they are..they could have came up with something better to get us shut down..but anyways..we have some great things coming to cr wait and see..and if u dont..well hope u have a great time at all the other cons.and to the ppl who are runnng the cons..the ppl who was going to fund this project , they are waiting to talk with u...
Actually, I can't tell if he wants to start something in Iowa City, or if he's all about Cedar Rapids now.

Did ICMCC doom Iowa City's convention hopes for the foreseeable future??

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Riverdale" Episode 4 Recap: Grundy's Secret Revealed!

The fourth episode of "Riverdale" aired Thursday night on the The CW. The show continues to get better and better with each episode! I thought that I would do a quick run-down of the program. With that in mind...

SPOILERS! It's too difficult for me to avoid spoilers, so be mindful of that fact before you read the rest of this blog post!

Last week's episode ended with Betty learning that Ms. Grundy had been out at the site of Jason Blossom's disappearance back on July 4th. She already knew that Archie had been out there. After some initial sleuthing, she realizes that the two are dating each other -- and that's not a good thing considering that Ms. Grundy is a teacher!

She does some more digging and discovers that Ms. Grundy didn't appear to exist until a year ago. No Facebook account. No LinkedIn account. Nothing. The only reference that she can find to Geraldine Grundy is an old lady to passed away a few years ago!

Betty and Veronica end up breaking into Ms. Grundy's car to find evidence of foul play -- and they do! They discover a driver's license that indicates that Ms. Grundy is actually somebody named Jennifer Gibson. They also find a gun in her car! The spill the beans to Archie who eventually learns that "Ms. Grundy" was in an abusive marriage, which led to her going into hiding and assuming a new name. Archie forgives Jennifer/Ms. Grundy for the deception, but begins wondering if there's much of a future to this relationship.

Meanwhile, Jughead is trying to rally his friends to help save the Twilight Drive-In. This is a city-owned drive-in theater that has fallen into disrepair. We learn that Jughead works there and that he has fond memories of going to the drive-in with his family when he was younger. Mayor McCoy has been offered a huge buy-out from an anonymous backer and she's all to ready to cut ties with the gang-ridden drive-in theater. That said, Jughead manages to draw in a huge crowd to the drive-in for its final night.

Meanwhile, Veronica realizes that something is up with her mother. First, Cheryl notices that Mrs. Lodge was interacting with one of the Southside Serpents -- Riverdale's local motorcycle gang. She later sees her mom with the Serpent at the drive-in, exchanging a bag-full of money. We later learn that the Lodges are the anonymous buyers of the Twilight Drive-In. They've been paying the Southside Serpents to cause trouble there and to bring down the property values. They have plans for that chunk of land -- we just don't what yet!

Meanwhile, Kevin finds a kindred spirit with Joaquin, one of the Southside Serpents. Which is awkward because Kevin's dad is the local sheriff!! I always thought that Kevin should go after the bad boys in his own comic book. This match-up is everything I ever wanted for Riverdale's gay boy!

Lastly, Betty's mom stumbles across Betty's diary (and Grundy's gun) and learns about the affair. She grabs Fred Andrews and confronts Archie and Grundy -- mid-break-up -- and threatens Grundy with jail time. Turns out that she's less concerned about saving Riverdale's youth than dashing Archie's golden boy reputation. Betty threatens to reveal that she broke into Grundy's car. Mrs. Cooper backs down and Grundy promises to leave town first thing in the morning -- leaving behind a broken-hearted Archie. (But I'm pretty sure that we haven't seen the end of Grundy!)

Lastly, we learn at the end of the episode that the head of the Southside Serpents is Jughead's father. We also learn that Juggy is essentially homeless and has been sleeping on a cot inside the Twilight Drive-In. He wanders off at the end of the episode in search of a new place to lay his head.

Jellybean Jones got two mentions in this episode. She played a key role in his fond memories of going to the drive-in as a child. We later saw a picture of Little Jughead and sister Jellybean amongst his possessions. What cute kids! Sadly, I'm sure that their back-story isn't as cute.

Lastly, I noticed in Betty's father is being playing by actor Lochlyn Munro. I've had a crush on this actor since first seeing him in "Dead Man on Campus back in the 90s. So handsome...

Check out this episode on the CW website and watch this program. It is so good! As always, new episodes of "Riverdale" air every Thursday night at 8:00 PM CST.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Love Has No Labels" Kiss-Cam Campaign Features Gay, Lesbian, Interracial, & Disabled Kiss-Cammers!

I learned today about this video, which was produced at the NFL Pro Bowl game this past January by the Ad Council. It was part of the "Love Has No Labels" campaign, and it features all sorts of couples on a kiss-came -- friends, families, and romancers of all ages and genders:
For years, kiss cams have been a big part of American sports culture. This year, Love Has No Labels puts a twist on the kiss cam by turning it into a symbol for unbiased love. In the stadium, fans cheered for love in all its forms - regardless of race, gender, disability, age or religion. 
Love Has No Labels is a movement to open our eyes to unconscious bias. While the vast majority of Americans consider themselves unprejudiced, many of us unintentionally make snap judgments about people based on what we see - whether it’s race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. By becoming aware of our own biases, we can work to end bias in ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities. Rethink bias at www.lovehasnolabels.com.
Among those featured are a male couple, an older black couple, a pair of lesbians who survived the Orlando massacre, and a pair of friends with Down Syndrome.

Check these out:

You can watch the entire video -- including several other wonderful couples and families -- at this link.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Archie Comics Announces Development Deal With Warner Bros // PLUS: My Favorite Five Archie Comics Television Spin-Off Ideas!!

Archie Comics announced yesterday that the company has signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. Television to develop new television projects, now that "Riverdale" is nearly halfway through its first season run. This deal could include the traditional Archie Comics characters (i.e., Archie & the Riverdale Gang, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Josie & the Pussycats), but it could also include lesser known characters from the publisher's archives.

Which got me thinking about potential media projects that I would to see come out of this development deal so...

Welcome to Jon's Blog's Favorite Five Archie Comics Television Spin-Off Ideas!!:

5. Sam Hill: Sam Hill is a private detective who appeared in his own comic book back in 1950 and 1951. He appears to have been inspired by those old private detective shows, such as "Sam Spade" and "Let George Do It."

Sam Hill is an interesting mix of contradictions. He's an Ivy League college graduate who lives the gritty life of a private dick. He's not above seducing (or slugging) an attractive woman, but refrains from any drink with more kick than a glass of whole milk. He punches villains. He gets into gunfights with the police. And he's a lot of fun!

He disappeared for many years after starring in his own comic book. Then he appeared in the "Night at the Comic Book Shop" storyline in ARCHIE & FRIENDS, followed by an appearance in LIFE WITH ARCHIE back in 2013. He had his straight-to-digital one-shot comic book that's also pretty good.

There's nothing new about Sam Hill, but everyone loves a good murder mystery show. A private eye show starring a compelling character actor starring as Sam Hill could really be great. They could run this as a vintage show set back in the 1950s or update the character with some modern adventures. Either way, I would love to see a program featuring Sam Hill!

4. Hangman: Archie Comics has several superheroes that they like to update every so often. I have one favorite and he is the Hangman! He has no powers. He just strangles people really quickly with the different ropes that he carries! His most recent adventures in the Dark Circle imprint have largely stalled, but the character was essentially made into an agent of the Devil or something like that. A flawed character seeking to redeem his soul by hanging countless other villains and sending them to Hell. I'm actually not as big a fan with this modern take on the character. But I do enjoy the simplicity of the Hangman and his weapon.

I would love to see the Hangman show up in some adventure stories featuring heroes and villains. Maybe the other Mighty Crusaders could show up from time to time to help out -- or cause trouble. But it would be great if Hangman (the human Hangman, not the avenging spirit Hangman) ran around fighting back against villains -- both powered and non-powered!

3. Jinx: Archie Comics revamped one of it's classic kid characters a few years back and it was a really great experiment that never really took off. I'm talking about the time that they took Li'l Jinx and revamped her and her friends as high school freshmen. They ended up publishing two graphic novels featuring Jinx before everything faded away. But they were so very good!

As you know, I'm a huge fan of anything "Degrassi!" When I think of Jinx, I think of "Degrassi." And yes, it goes there! High school crushes! Strained friendships! Former tomboys trying to figure out how to stay true to their roots while embracing their feminine side! Lesbian parents! And so much more!

2. New Crusaders: I was a big fan of the New Crusaders. These were the children and trainees of the Mighty Crusaders, who managed to defeat all of their videos and settle down into lives of simple suburbia. Then one day, their greatest enemy, the Brain Emperor, returned and killed all of the Mighty Crusaders except for the first hero. The Shield gathered the teens and helped activate all of their new powers. These kids became the New Crusaders: Comet, Fireball, Fly-Girl, Jaguar, Steel Sterling, and the Web. They were assisted in their adventures by a space monkey named Dusty.

Here is what I would do: I would create an animated series featuring the New Crusaders. I would pattern the artwork on properties like "Teen Titans" or something similar. Personally, I would get rid of the Shield and focus on Dusty and the teen heroes, whom I affectionately refer to as the New Cru! And I would go big on the villains. Brain Emperor! Eraser! Lodestone! Dragonfly! Brontosaurus! Elasto! Roxr, Ruler of the Vegetable Planet! Need I go on?? Animated New Cru!!

1. Sabrina: I actually wrote about this idea last year. Revamped 90s sitcoms like "Full House" and "Boy Meets World" were new hits and Melissa Joan Hart hinted that she was open to returning to an updated series based off her 90s sitcom of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." Which resulted in huge cheers from the audience of the minor talk show that she was appearing on!

Here is my show concept again: Sabrina will be a single mom with 2-3 witchy kids. Each kid will have his/her unique quirks. Salem will be the household's manny, as well as the perpetual chaos-maker of the family. Sabrina will be torn romantically between her old high school flame Harvey and some handsome warlock. Sabrina's two aunts will make periodic appearance, as will her gay cousin Ambrose.

I can't wait to binge-watch this updated sitcom featuring Sabrina on Netflix!

How about you? Which of Archie Comics' properties would you like to see on TV?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Christians Upset Over Fleeting Images of Gay & Lesbian Parents in "Storks"

(Originally written on 09/27/16): I don't go to the movie theater as much as I used to. There are multiple reasons for that. Long story made short, I haven't seen Storks. I'm vaguely aware that it deals with storks and some corporation that delivers babies to people. One baby gets lost in the process, leading one stork to attempt delivery of the baby in defiance of his corporate overlords. Or something like that. (Jon's Note: I'm sure that the baby eventually makes it to his family and everything works out in the end.)

Turns out that Christian movie reviewers are upset because there's a lesbian couple and a gay male couple in this movie towards the end. Like for less than a second. But you really need to know this so that you can decide if you want your money to go to anything even hinting at gay families.

From the Christian Examiner:
The Bad... The creators of Storks did tip their hat to the LGBT community, although the scene is even more brief than the alleged lesbian scene in Finding Dory. The Storks scene takes place in the film's final minutes, as we watch a rapid sequence involving babies in the arms of different parents. Most of the couples include a man and a woman, but we also see two women, and moments later two men. It's so quick that it's easy to miss (it might last a fifth of a second – if that). The scene was not a deal-breaker to me, although it might bother some conservative families.
In fact, the Christian Examiner decided to post a second article highlighting Storks' gay parenting controversy yesterday:
But there is no question about a just-as-brief (if not briefer) scene in the new animated movie Storks (PG), which has been widely applauded for some of its general themes but which also includes a rapid sequence at the film's end that shows a baby in the arms of different couples – including a lesbian couple and a gay couple. The film grossed $21 million over the weekend and finished No. 2. 

Adam Holz of Focus on the Family's Plugged In department said Christian families who know about the controversy will reach different conclusions as to whether they should watch the film. 

"The scene in question here is very, very short. It may be a quarter of a second or less," Holz told Christian Examiner. "It's truly a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. If viewers aren't paying close attention, they may very well miss it entirely. Because of that, I think there's room for Christian families to make a variety of decisions on whether they want to navigate this scene or not. That said, I suspect that for many Christian families, the fact that the film includes a scene with at least two same-sex couples (two women and two men shown in a fast-moving montage) receiving babies from storks will push it out of bounds on principle, no matter how fleeting the scene is

"By including those images, the filmmakers are promoting a worldview and an understanding of family that's consistent with mainstream secular values with regard to sexuality and marriage, but one that's at odds with a biblical understanding of those important subjects. I suspect that will be enough for many Christian families to take a pass on this film."
Seriously, there are people who will refuse to see Storks because it includes a passing image of two men holding a baby and two women holding a baby for less than one second. And Christians continue to ask me why gay people don't think that there's room for us within the Church...

Updated on 02/14/17: I have been meaning to update this post for a while. It garners much traffic and people from both sides are commenting, which is nice. But I still haven't seen "Storks." It's not on Netflix and there is a huge wait list for it at my local library. And I refuse to buy a DVD copy of this movie for a fleeting glimpse of same-sex couples.

Then I stumbled across images of these same-sex couples late last night, so...
 So these are the fleeting images that have upset so many Christian viewers.