Friday, March 31, 2017

Jughead Wolfs Out in JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER

A few months ago, Archie Comics announced a series of one-shot comic books. Those one-shots are going to be auditions for new ongoing comic book series. The first of the bunch was finally published -- and it's not one that I was originally going to purchase. But the initial buzz was positive and I was feeling financially secure this week, so I purchased JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER.

JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER is a werewolf tale. Coming out of Archie Comics' dusty Archie Horror imprint, it attempts to explain the source of Jughead's insatiable hunger. How is it that he can eat nonstop and avoid an appearance on "My 600-lb Life?" Turns out that he's a blossoming werewolf born from a long line of Jonesian werewolves!

The story begins with a horrific murder and then a revelation that several beloved Riverdale residents -- Pop Tate, Big Ethel, Miss Grundy, Bingo -- they're all dead. Victims of the Riverdale Ripper!

Jughead eventually discovers that he's the Riverdale Ripper -- though to be fair, he should have realized this right away. But I won't belabor that point. 

The comic book eventually goes all Buffy the Vampire Slayer before wrapping up with the potential for future adventures.

I'm a fan of werewolf adventures. There's just something about lycanthropes that intrigues me -- much more than vampires and zombies. So I'd be interested if JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER returned for future adventures.

JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER features words by Frank Tieri, art by Michael Walsh, lettering by Jack Morelli, and colors by Michael Walsh & Dee Cunniffe.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The All New X-Men Finally Learn Why They Cannot Return Home

A few years ago, there was a schism in the world of the X-Men. Wolverine hated Cyclops. Cyclops hated Wolverine. And everyone else chose sides for a while. The Beast decided that he needed to stop this civil war, so he traveled back in time and brought back the original teen X-Men (Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey, Iceman, and Angel) fresh from their first adventure. Basically, he wanted to remind the older Cyclops about his more nobler days. Or something like that. Anyway, the teen X-Men got stuck in the present and they've been trying to get back ever since.

Except that they really haven't. Iceman came out as a gay teen and began dating this annoying Inhuman kid. Angel went all cosmic and gained some fiery wings. Jean went off on her own for a bit. And Cyclops just moaned a lot.

But Beast kept on working on solving the riddle about why they couldn't travel back in time again. He eventually began experimenting with magic and finally succeeded in traveling back in time. He even told young Cyclops about it, but never got to tell him what he found.

The current ALL NEW X-MEN series wrapped up this week with issue #19 and Marvel Comics finally decided to revisit that discussion and explain why the All New X-Men cannot return home.

In this issue, Beast gathers the original five X-Men together and pulls out his magic time-traveling mask. Before anyone knows what's happening, they're back at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters on the very day that they left. Everyone is pissed that Beast yanked them back in time, except for Cyclops who never really fit in our present.

Then Beast shows them what's up: There's another group of X-Men fighting crime at Xavier's School -- living their lives like nothing ever happened to them!

In other words, the All New X-Men are from some alternate past timeline and have no idea how to return to their world. Or time corrected itself and created temporal duplicates of the X-Men. Or something. Either way, this isn't the All New X-Men's timeline and they need to return to the world where they've lived for the past few years.

This actually contradicts what Marvel Comics had been doing with time travel for a while. There was a story where young Cyclops was killed and the adult Cyclops disappeared because he'd never existed. Fortunately, the younger Scott was brought back from the dead so the older Scott came back.

But I've been reading Marvel Comics comic books since the 1980s. Most of that time, there was no plucking people from our direct timelines. If you went back in time, you automatically created a divergent timeline because you've automatically changed the past by being there. So this new revelation about the All New X-Men actually appears to return things to the status quo.

And I'm happy about that.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Iowans Discover Forest Bathing

I just discovered a local news story from earlier this month exploring the concept of "forest bathing."

I'd never heard of it either before tonight.

This is happening in nearby Hiawatha, IA. A forest bathing tour guide named Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiler has been leading small groups near Prairiewood. It's an opportunity for people to unplug from society and open up their minds and senses to the nature around them.

For example, participants are encouraged to use their eyes to notice the subtle differences in plant-life. They cup their hands around their ears in order to channel the sounds of nature more effectively. They are encouraged to submerge their hands in water and to hug trees during the tours.

It looks like the forest bathing sessions at Prairiewood are now over. But people living near Des Moines can look forward to similar walking tours at Jester Park in June.

You can watch the news segment here. It's interesting stuff!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Drug Addicted Mom & Dad Attempt to Use their Catholic Faith to Disrupt Adoption by Non-Drug Addicted Lesbian Moms

I've been reading about a court case from New South Wales where a lesbian couple was allowed to adopt the 4-year-old girl that they had raised for most of her life. The birth parents were objecting to this adoption because the adoptive parents would not commit to raising the child as a Catholic.

Here is some of the backstory: The girl was removed from her mother's care when she was four days old due to the mother's long history of drug abuse and due to her manslaughter conviction over the death of her infant son seven years earlier. In that case, the infant son had died from methadone and benzodiazepine poisoning. She blamed her then-boyfriend for administering the fatal drugs into the child.

The baby girl -- named CJD for court purposes -- was placed with the lesbian couple when she was six months old. They have been together as a couple for nearly ten years and have provided financial and emotional stability for the child. The child continues to experience behavioral challenges, most likely as a result of prenatal drug exposure.

The birth mother opposed the adoption of her child by the lesbian moms because they would not commit to raising the child as a Catholic. The birth father opposed the adoption of his child by the lesbian moms because he also wanted the child to be raised as a Catholic. He also said that he wanted to raise the little girl himself if the birth mother was not allowed because he was "deprived of the opportunity to be a father" due to the child's removal due to safety concerns.

Both birth parents have significant mental health challenges and learning disabilities. The birth mother also refuses to take any responsibility for her son's death and has been in jail since that child's death due to continued struggles with drug abuse.

Meanwhile, the adoptive mothers have committed to an open adoption arrangement with the birth parents. They are open to allowing the girl to be involved with scripture class and listen to Bible stories. They also don't object to CJD making her own decision to becoming a Catholic as she gets older.

I can't even...

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Where Is Richard Simmons?

I decided to try out some new podcasts this past week and discovered a new one called "Missing Richard Simmons" by a director/producer/podcaster named Dan Taberski. This podcast explores the mystery behind fitness guru Richard Simmons' sudden disappearance from public life back on 02/15/14. Taberski was a Slimmons gym regular who found himself wondering what happened to his friend.

Keep in mind that Richard Simmons was a gregarious public figure for nearly four decades. He was known for connecting with fans at their home phone numbers for years at a time to assist them with their long journeys from obesity. He ran exercise classes every week at Slimmons gym for forty years, where he led combination workout/sharing sessions with as assortment of regular and gawkers. He connected with his fans in such an intimate way.

So for him to drop out of public life and to avoid all attempts at contact by all but his family and inner circle... Well, it's just nurtured whatever concerns that people who personally knew him but who existed outside of his very inner circle. Every unanswered email and phone call just prompt friends to begin wondering about every dark rumor surrounding his disappearance.

Is he sick or disabled? Did he really transition into a woman? Did he regain his weight? Is he the victim of elder abuse or financial exploitation?

I ended up joining this podcast just in time for it to wrap up. Which made for some interesting podcast-binging this week. Ultimately, Taberski did not connect with Richard Simmons. But he finally received enough reassurance from Simmons' people and from the police that he's okay. He's just done with public life.

That's ultimately what I learned from "Missing Richard Simmons" and the subsequent media reports. Richard Simmons, after forty years of public life, simply decided that he needed to shift gears and focus on himself.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Repressed Romance in "Riverdale" Episode 5 Deleted Scene

It's been a few weeks since the last issue of "Riverdale" aired and it will be another six days before episode #8. Fortunately, Archie Comics and The CW decided to treat us fans with a deleted scene from episode #5. This was the episode where Cheryl went a little nutty at her brother's memorial service. But it's also the episode where Archie gave up the quarterback position on the school's football team so that he could focus more on his music.

In this scene, Valerie interrupts Archie while he works on his song. He tells her that he turned down the quarterback gig so that he could focus more on his music. However, he confuses her because he's still playing on the football team -- granted, it's the junior varsity team and he's not likely to get much play-time anymore.

He explains that he's not a quitter. He doesn't want to give up on the football team, just like he doesn't want to give up on his song. And he really wants Val's help. Which she agrees to do.

You can definitely feel the romantic tension between these two characters in this scene. And I'm left wondering why it was excluded from the final episode. Still it's nice to get a treat after nearly three weeks without a new "Riverdale!"

You can watch the deleted scene here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Federal Court Okays Lesbian Mother to Sue Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, and Others for Role in International Kidnapping

It's been a very long time since I last wrote about the sad story of Lisa Miller, Janet Jenkins, their break-up, their decade-long child custody fight, and Miller's subsequent international kidnapping of the womens' daughter. Lisa fled to Nicaragua with their daughter Isabella in late 2009 after the Vermont and Virginia courts reached their final straws with Miller over her repeated disregard for shared custody agreements. Primary custody was to have transferred to Jenkins, but Miller fled the country with the assistance of others, including Pastor Kenneth Miller (who was sentenced to 27 months in prison for his role in the kidnapping) and Virginia businessman Philip Zodhiates (who faces eight years in prison for convictions of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy).

Yesterday, a federal court gave permission for Janet Jenkins to go ahead with a lawsuit against Lisa Miller and others who had conspired to assist with Isabella's 2009 kidnapping -- including Liberty Counsel, Liberty University, as well as Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen of Liberty Counsel:
This fall, Jenkins, represented by Sarah Star, Esq. as well as attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Langrock Sperry & Wool, LLP, asked the federal court in Vermont to lift the stay, and, in light of new evidence adduced through the criminal prosecutions, to permit them to name Liberty Counsel, Liberty University, as well as Liberty Counsel lawyers Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, as defendants. On Monday, the court issued a 61-page order granting that request and lifting the stay. 
“I’m pleased that the court today expressly confirmed that the kidnapping was an affront to our client’s rights not just as a mother, but also as a former member of a same-sex couple whose rights the Constitution protects,” said Sarah Star, Esq., who also served as Ms. Jenkins' attorney during the custody dispute. 
“The court acknowledged its obligation to protect those rights and to ensure that we can pursue Ms. Jenkins’ claims expeditiously, which we intend to do.” “The court has given the green light to a full exploration of Liberty Counsel’s role in the kidnapping of Isabella, as well as the role of the Liberty Counsel lawyers,” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “We are pleased the court recognized that our allegations suggested ‘significant wrongdoing’ by these lawyers, including Mat Staver, and we will move swiftly to learn more about their wrongdoing and to hold everyone involved in the kidnapping to account.” 
According to the court document, Jenkins' team alleges that Miller conspired with Liberty Counsel to raise funds with the intent of keeping Isabella separated from Jenkins. After legal attempts to keep them apart failed, the legal team conspired to facilitate their run through Canada and eventually to Nicaragua. You can read the entire decision here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I Finally Saw "Damned," the Social Work Britcom

I wrote last month about a British television series called "Damned," which featured a team of children's services social workers. There was a lot of interest for this program within the online social work community given some of the early publicity.

However, there was more negative than positive once the series made its premier. There were complaints about the cookie-cutter characters with little depth or originality. There were complaints that "Damned" failed to portray the social work profession with anything remotely resembling professionalism. And there were concerns that it was overwhelmingly dark and depressing.

At the time, I pushed back against the criticism. Keep in mind that I was unable to watch "Damned" because it wasn't airing outside of the UK. But I figured, based off the pre-publicity, that the creators approached the social work profession with good intentions, while also acknowledging our warts. I also figured that they needed to come up with storylines that would entertain the masses.

Last night, I was on Vimeo and stumbled across the program's pilot episode from 2014. I still haven't seen any of the episodes from season one, but I'm left agreeing with the social work critics of "Damned." I'm also wondering why they expected anything different from the first season, after having watched the pilot!

The first four minutes featured the office staff ignoring calls and people pounding at the door while they complained about how nobody would answer the calls. They even turn away a woman who's trying to access the restroom for her child.

We're then introduced to Rose (played by actress Jo Brand), who managed to lock herself out of her house -- with her three very young children left behind. Keep in mind that Rose is 60. At least the actress is. And it's possible that she adopted three very young children. But it's very difficult to imagine that she's the single mother of three children under the age of 5 or 6. Anyway, she's late for work and is struggling to connect by phone with her own mother. So she -- the child services social worker -- leaves her children behind with hopes that their grandmother will eventually show up.

Let's go through the other characters. There's Al (played by Alan Davies), who spends his day planning a skiing vacation, avoiding his former client, and covering for Rose's child neglect. There's Nitin (played by Himesh Patel), a former cop who constantly spars with Al over workplace rules and conduct. There is Denise (played by Georgie Glen), the cold uncaring supervisor who lords over each morning's unit meetings. There is Nat (played by Isy Suttie), the temporary receptionist who's portrayed as incompetent, but who was never provided any training in the first place. And then there is Martin (played by Kevin Eldon), the former co-worker who washed out because of a mental break-down, but who still manages to hang out in the office and take calls when nobody is looking.

Finally, after spending tons of time in the office avoiding phone calls, Rose goes off to investigate reports of young 6-year-olds selling weed at their elementary school. She rescues three kids from a home-based pot farm. But that scene pretty much lasts 1-2 minutes.

Anyway, the pilot ends with two sets of children being hauled into the office by police officers for parental abuse and neglect. Fortunately, Al is around to pull some strings so that Rose's kids don't go into foster care.

I'm still curious about the first season of "Damned" and hope that it will eventually find itself on Netflix or wherever. But I will also be content if that day never happens.

You can watch the pilot for "Damned" at this link.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Remembering the Gay Waiter in "Archie Bunker's Place" (Episode 8: "The Cook")

I was on YouTube again this afternoon and was reacquainted with "Archie Bunker's Place," one of the many spin-offs to "All in the Family." The show featured Archie Bunker after he purchased a tavern with his Jewish friend Murray. I didn't watch this program too much when I was a kid, so my memories of the characters are kind of muddled. But midway through Season One of "Archie Bunker's Place," Archie and Murray decided to improve business at the bar by expanding as a restaurant.

Archie Bunker's Place, the restaurant, had its grand opening in "The Cook." The guys were struggling to find a cook for the restaurant. Either they wanted too much money or else they were foreigners. Finally, Veronica Rooney entered the restaurant. She was outspoken and pushy and didn't put up with Archie's guff. She managed to get the job -- with the condition that they would also hire her nephew Fred at a wage of $125 per week plus tips.

It's clear early on that Fred is gay. He's flamboyant and that makes many of the regulars -- Archie Bunker included -- uncomfortable. Archie insists that they fire Fred at the end of his shift. Of course, Veronica is threatening to quit if that happens and Murray really wants to keep her as their cook.

(Jon's Note: Keep in mind that Fred served beer to Archie's young niece Stephanie early in the show. If he'd been smart, he would have made a bigger deal over that and less over Fred's homosexuality.)

Everything works out in the end. Fred maintains his employment and Archie (eventually) gains some appreciation for his gay employee -- later... in his final appearance later in the season.

Check out Fred -- as well as some casual racism -- at this link.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Beauty and the Beast" Comes Out on Top During Its Opening Weekend // Plus: LaFou's Exclusive Gay Moment Revealed

Despite calls of boycotts by Christian conservatives, Disney's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" movie has been best selling movie of its opening weekend, bringing in $64.1 million on its opening night and promising to bring in at least $173 million once the weekend is through.

As you know, people have been talking about LaFou's "exclusively gay moment" in "Beauty and the Beast" all month. I haven't seen the movie this weekend and I most likely won't get to see it. But I really want to know about this "exclusively gay moment."

So I googled around and found it out. It turns out that there are two moments. One builds into the other. Towards the end, Gaston leads the villagers in an attack against the Beast and his enchanted castle. During that battle, an animated wardrobe snags three of Gaston's men:
(A)n enchanted wardrobe attacks a trio of Gaston’s henchman, forcing them into powder, wigs, and dresses. Two are disgusted, but the third smiles — a sort of gender-bending moment.

Later on, as things are wrapping up and everyone is celebrating, LeFou starts dancing with some woman before turning his attention to the henchman who enjoyed getting dressed up in women's clothing by the wardrobe. LeFou and the Henchman then begin dancing together for one or two brief moments before returning to the larger "exclusively straight movie."

And that is what has gotten everybody so upset about this movie: two evil henchmen dancing for two seconds in a sea of straight couples.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Sad Story of James' Weight Loss Journey on "My 600-lb Life"

I tuned into TLC's "My 600-lb Life" last night in order to watch the story of Nicole's weight-loss journey. However, the show ended up not being about Nicole, but instead James.

I wasn't expecting James, but I couldn't turn away from his story.

But first... Spoilers!! It's extremely difficult for me to avoid spoilers, so be mindful of that fact before you read the rest of this blog post!

Now with that out of the way...

First off... When did "My 600-lb Life" become a two-hour program?

Second.... James struggled to lose weight -- any weight -- throughout that entire two-hour program. He's in his mid-40s and has gradually put on the weight over the years. When he was 42, he hurt his ankle and became bed-ridden. He hasn't been out of bed since then. His legs are covered by cellulite, which is weeping, raw, and painful. He survives through the efforts of his girlfriend and daughter.

Unfortunately, James has horrible eating habits, especially for somebody who doesn't move. And if his girlfriend doesn't cater to his food desires, he yells and screams at her. So nothing changes and he continues to consume more calories than most active people.

He eventually connects remotely with Dr. Younan Nowzaradan from Houston, TX, and is prescribed a 1200 calorie diet. The plan is for him to begin losing enough weight to travel more safely from Kentucky to Texas. Unfortunately, he doesn't lose any weight during the first four months of his diet. But he is able to eventually travel to Houston with some financial assistance from his family. Once he arrives in Texas, he discovers that he weighs 735 pounds.

Dr. Nowzaradan orders the family to a renewed diet after chewing out James and his girlfriend and after a short hospitalization. Unfortunately, James ends up putting on a huge amount of weight once he discharges back to his family's care. That part of the show made me physically sick.

James was hospitalized one more time, where he was able to lose more weight. He then went back home again and stalled with his weight loss -- though not as bad as the first time. By this point, Dr. Now gave up on his and discharged James from care.

This was probably the most depressing episode of "My 600-lb Life" that I've ever seen. Not every person featured on this program loses huge amounts of weight, but I've never seen an episode where somebody ends up breaking even.

The program ended with one minor accomplishment: He's able to sit upright for the first time in years with help from two physical therapists and his girl friend. But he says that this is the motivation that he needs to restart his goal of getting his weight back down to 600 pounds.

Lastly, Husband Mark and I were talking about James' story tonight. We got to thinking about his severe celulitis and wondered if his cellulitis was preventing his weight loss later on. Like maybe he was absorbing fluid in his legs. Maybe.

Anyway, I hope that James is doing well. And I hope that he's finally begun losing weight so that he can finally get the surgical procedure needed to continue his weight loss journey and save what's left of his life.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

RIVERDALE ONE-SHOT Comic Book Offers First Appearance of Hiram Lodge

I picked up a copy of the RIVERDALE ONE-SHOT comic book last week (or was it the week before?) at my local comic book shop. It's an interesting story offering glimpses into the summer of Jason Blossom's murder and leading into the television series that we all know and love.

There are four short stories in this comic book. One is the story of Archie -- how he began working at his father's construction firm, how he began romancing Ms. Grundy, how he began nursing his interest in music, and what they witnessed on the day that Jason Blossom disappeared. One is the story of Betty and her summer away from Riverdale living with her aunt in Sacramento and interning for some publishing firm, and (more importantly) getting away from the house while her parents whisk Polly away to the home for troubled girls. One is about Jughead -- how he gradually became more and more distant from Archie and why he became so invested about writing about Jason Blossom's disappearance.

And then there is "Fall From Grace," the short story that told about Hiram Lodge's arrest on charges of fraud and embezzlement -- on the same day that Jason Blossom disappeared over in Riverdale, no less! Obviously, this story is about Veronica -- how she went from having it all to having it all taken away from her. After her father's arrest, she and her mother had everything taken from them and all of their friends turned their backs on them. That's why they moved to Riverdale. To live in the one property still in their possession.

More importantly, this short story offered us our first look at the new Hiram Lodge. He's a much different man in the RIVERDALE ONE-SHOT than he ever was in the comic books.

I checked out the "Riverdale" page on the IMDb website and did not find any information about the actor chosen to play Hiram Lodge on the television. So I'm really curious how much the Hiram Lodge in the television series will look like the Hiram Lodge in the RIVERDALE ONE-SHOT.

"Veronica: Fall From Grace" featured words by James DeWille, art by Thomas Pitilli, colors by Andre Szymanowicz, and letters by John Workman.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Iowa City's Temporary Winter Shelter Closes on Eve of Snowstorm

Iowa City's 2016/17 winter has been one of the warmest on records, but that did not stop the Shelter House from creating a temporary winter shelter from 12/12/16-03/12/17 at the site of the former Unitarian Universalist Society Church. Ironically, the temporary winter shelter shut down within hours of our first real snowstorm in nearly two months. This resulted in most of the former residents having to camp out in the regular Shelter House's lobby, as well as other hidden corners of Iowa City.

According to this article, the temporary shelter averaged 30 residents per night during those three months, which is an increase of nearly five residents per night from last winter.

Latest "My 600-lb Life" Episode Highlights Potential Child Neglect by Obese Parent

I've been busy watching superhero-themed television programming on the CW more and more when at the gym, so I totally overlooked that there appears to be a new season of "My 600-lb Life" on TLC. You may or may not remember that I used to watch the reality TV show during my evening work-out routine for months. But things change and I began neglecting this program. 

I was on YouTube this evening and saw a preview clip for Wednesday night's episode, featuring a woman named Nicole. I don't know much about Nicole, but I do know this. She has two young children, she lives with her parents, and her weight is getting in the way of her ability to safely care for her young children. 

Check out this video. Nicole's young child is bathing and her mother is insisting that Nicole actually supervise her child in the bathtub. Keep in mind that Nicole can barely stand for more than a few minutes without experience pain and fatigue. But that limitation is compounded the fact that Nicole cannot fit through the bathroom doorway(!!).

You read that correctly. Nicole is too large to fit through her bathroom doorway. 

I don't write this blog post to make fun of or to humiliate this woman. I write this because Nicole's extreme weight has created a huge risk in her ability to safely care for her children. Her two children are young. Maybe 1-3 years old. Can you imagine if one of them experienced a health emergency in the bathroom? Or if they needed her to help them clean up after a toileting accident? And how is she going to keep these kids safe if they decide to run off in some random direction -- out the door or into the street or through the park or whatever?

I feel horrible for Nicole and whatever challenges that she has experienced that have contributed towards her extreme weight. But there is no way that she can safely care for her children on her own. Sadly, this is something that she even acknowledges in the video.

I really hope that Nicole gained the skills and motivation to bring her weight down and to overcome whatever issues led to her putting on some much weight in the first place. Otherwise, I really don't see how she can safely parent these young children without significant supports.

You can watch the entire clip here. I will definitely be watching this episode!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

"Riverdale" Episode 7 Recap: #PollyCooperKilledMyBrother #NowhereToHide #SharpenYourPitchforks

The seventh episode of "Riverdale" aired Thursday night on The CW. This program continues to suck me in week after week. So here is a rundown of what you missed if you missed 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 was (mostly) about Betty's missing sister, Polly Cooper. We learned last week that Polly and Jason Blossom had been planning on running away together on the day that he disappeared. She was whisked away by her parents and placed in a girls home, where she was secretly pregnant and unaware of Jason's murder. She escaped from the facility at the end of last week's episode, just as the police found the burning remains of their escape vehicle.

So now Betty is trying to figure out where her sister is hiding. Unfortunately, so is the Blossom family. They overheard Betty conspiring with the Archie Gang and began rallying their troops. So now you have two search parties chasing after a pregnant, emotionally damaged 17-year-old girl in the woods surrounding Riverdale!

Hostilities seemingly come to an end once the Cooper family finally announces that Polly is pregnant. That changes everything. Now the Blossoms have a grandson and they will do everything they can to wrestle that baby away from Polly! Betty -- without her parents' knowledge -- manages to find Polly and -- with help from Cheryl and Veronica -- secures a hideaway far, far away from either set of parents.

Meanwhile, Jughead is still homeless. He's now sleeping at the school. Archie discovers his friend's new pad and offers him a place to sleep at his home. Which leads into a sad side-story featuring Jughead's broken family. Jughead's dad is struggling with addiction. Jughead briefly guilts his father onto the wagon, but things quickly fall apart.

Meanwhile, Veronica and her mother are feuding right now. Ronnie is pissed that her mother was kissing Archie's father. She then forged Veronica's signature to approve Fred Andrews' business working on the Lodge's new property. Thus begins a back and forth exchange between the two Lodges, until Hermione finally agrees to tell Hiram Lodge (who's currently tucked away in prison) about Fred Andrews and his involvement with their property.

Part of this fight resulted in Veronica treating three of her new friends (Josie, Kevin, and Reggie) to a dance excursion at the local club. It was a fun scene and it was good to see Reggie getting some screen-time and dialogue.

Incidentally, Casey Cott (the actor who plays Kevin Keller in "Riverdale") did a Facebook Live session before Thursday's episode. He revealed that this was his favorite episode of the season, particularly because the four actors were allowed to dance forever.

Those were the high-points of the program. Outside of this fabulous line by Cheryl Blossom about Polly Cooper:

Another great episode, but now we need to sit back and wait a few weeks for the next episode of "Riverdale." That right! No new episodes of "Riverdale" until March 30th! In the meantime, check out this episode of "Riverdale" on the CW website and stream it for free. It's so very good!!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Remembering the Creepy Stalker/Rapey "Love Boat" Episode ("Mike and Ike / The Witness / The Kissing Bandit")

My son is hosting a group sleepover at our home, which usually means that I'm holed up in my bedroom while they play video games and watch YouTube videos in the living room. I've developed this tradition of watching episodes of "The Love Boat." If you don't know, "The Love Boat" was this program that aired during the late 1970s and well into the 1980s that featured the captain and crew of this one cruise ship and their weekly interactions with various celebrity guest stars who experience a variety of romantic misadventures.

I received seasons one and two of "The Love Boat" for Christmas back in 2015. I was so excited to catch up on this favorite from my childhood. However, I quickly discovered that the story lines in "The Love Boat" are quite repetitive and cliched. I will watch an episode or two about every three to four months and that's about as much as I can handle. But it also means that I've managed to stretch out my viewing of this program for much longer than I'd originally anticipated.

Tonight, I watched one of the early episodes from season two, titled "Mike and Ike / The Witness / The Kissing Bandit" from 1978. This blog post will be focusing on the third story. Billy Crystal played Newton Weems, a terribly shy man who donned a mask and ran around stealing kisses from random women on the cruise ship. Seriously.

It turns out that Newton suffered from severe social anxiety, especially when it came to women. He hid in the bathrooms during school dances due to fear. He was convinced that no woman in her right mind would willingly kiss someone like him, so he invented a masked alter ego that would run around and steal kisses from the women around him.

Today, that behavior would be a form of sexual harassment and assault. Back then, the Pacific Princess' crew laughed it off. After all, none of the women were complaining!

In fact, the Princess' crew didn't do anything about the Kissing Bandit until he stole a kiss from Captain Stubing's date! Then -- and only then -- did he insist that they do something. And that something was using Cruise Director Julie McCoy as bait for the Kissing Bandit -- something she really didn't want to volunteer for!

Ultimately, Newton gets found out by Roberta, the one girl who wants him and not the Kissing Bandit. They fall in love overnight and he throws away his mask. And she's not at all concerned about his creepy stalker rapist behaviors.

But that's 1978 social values versus 2017 social values, I guess...

Remembering CBS' "Medical Center" ("Undercurrent")

I was exploring YouTube again today and discovered a medical drama series from my very early childhood called "Medical Center." It aired on CBS for seven seasons from 1969 through 1976. It featured Dr. Paul Lochner (played by James Daly) and Dr. Joe Gannon (played by Chad Everett). Each episode focused on the doctors and patients at some generic hospital in California.

This blog post is going to focus on the second episode of the second season. Titled "Undercurrent," this episode featured an anti-gay smear campaign against one of the hospital's medical researcher, Dr. Ben Teverley (played by Paul Burke). There was this 20-year-old patient with terminal leukemia. She needed some experimental treatment and Dr. Teverley seemed to have the right stuff, in the opinion of Dr. Gannon. Unfortunately, everyone began receiving anonymous letters accusing Dr. Teverley of all sorts of sexual deviancy.

As a result of the smear campaign, the hospital's decision-makers began turning to another less-skilled (but more heterosexually-inclined) medical researcher to treat the young patient. And they held to their decision even when it became clear that this was the wrong decision. Soon enough, Dr. Teverley's assistant quit to work with lesser-gay researcher and the hospital began threatening to pull all funding from Dr. Teverley's lab.

Dr. Gannon begged Dr. Teverley to stand up for himself. That's when he finally learns the truth:

Fortunately, Dr. Gannon and Dr. Lochner are eventually able to convince enough of the decision-makers to overlook their disgust with Dr. Teverley's homosexuality and his research is finally used to successfully treat the young woman. (And presumably funding doesn't get cut from his lab!!)

This show was pretty overwrought. It's difficult to imagine that people were this upset over this man's homosexuality, to the point that they would allow someone to die rather than face public scandal over his work. Then I remembered that it wasn't that long ago (early 90s) that a man was taking pictures of people that attended Pride events here in Iowa City and then sent those photos to their family and employers. Not that it really mattered back then to most of us, but it's amazing that someone would put that much time, effort, and malice into hurting someone else for being gay. (Incidentally, that local gay smearer now holds public office in a neighboring county....)

You can watch the entire episode here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ex-Gay Champion Joseph Nicolosi Dead at Age 70

Ex-gay champion and NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi died earlier this week:
Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a co-founder of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and a prominent figure in the ex-gay movement, has passed away, the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic, where he served as clinical director, confirmed over the phone to The Daily Beast. Nicolosi, 70, was a practitioner of conversion or reparative therapy, treatments intended to change a person’s sexual orientation that have been widely denounced by major medical associations—including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association—and banned by legislation in five states: Vermont, Oregon, New Jersey, Illinois, and California. The Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic announced on Facebook Thursday afternoon: “We are deeply saddened and shocked to announce the death of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi yesterday in California from complications from the flu.”
Nicolosi was a proponent of the idea that childhood trauma causes homosexuality (i.e., distant father, overbearing mother, etc.).

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tulsa, OK: Equality Center Targeted with Vandalism & Refusal of Services

Police are investigating two separate acts of vandalism directed at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa, OK.

According to news reports, somebody driving a white trucks fired more than a dozen shots from a pellet gun at the building's entrance area at around 12:20 AM on Monday, 03/06/17.

Later in the day at around 3:00 PM, a man entered the building and began yelling at the people inside. According to reports, he "called them homosexual slurs and even said he wised they were dead."

The Equality Center was in the news late last week after the group's executive director complained that they were struggling to find any local contractors to provide plumbing or fire safety inspections due to their LGBT advocacy nature.

Oklahoma does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its hate crime laws. Additionally, the state's lawmakers are currently working to pass legislation allowing anyone to refuse services to anyone else on the basis of their religious beliefs.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"Riverdale" Renewed for Second Season!!

Entertainment Weekly reports that "Riverdale" has been picked up for a second season!! Not only that, but EW reports that "Riverdale" has become one of the most streamed programs on The CW's digital platforms. Which is great news!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Archie Comics' Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa Speaks Out on "Riverdale" Plus the Future of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE & SABRINA

Archie Comics posted a four minute video featuring "Riverdale" showrunner and Archie Comics CCO Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa. In the video, he discussed Season 1 of "Riverdale." He stated that we definitely will learn the identity of Jason Blossom's murderer by the end of Season 1. But we will also learn the identity of Season 2's "Big Bad."

I have two ideas about next season's Big Bad. I'm thinking Hiram Lodge. Or Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Hiram is an easy target. He's a shady businessman who is currently tucked away in prison. But it really wouldn't surprise me if the man who bribes politicians and makes deals with gang-members also has no problem with shooting low-level drug-dealers who get in his way and generally causing trouble for Riverdale.

Sabrina is trickier. After all, why would a witch with fantastic magical abilities need to shoot one of her victims. On the other hand, what if Jason tried shooting Sabrina and she used her magic to defend herself and turn his own bullet against him?

Of course, all of this assumes that we will actually have a "Riverdale" Season 2. I'm still not sure if this was an informal announcement or if Roberto is just experiencing a case of wishful thinking...

Also, Roberto reports that we will be seeing more issues of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA soon. We've heard this before. I'm anticipating that the next issues of each comic book will arrive by early summer, to be followed by subsequent issues in summer 2018.

You can watch the entire video for yourself at this link.