Friday, June 30, 2017

Reminder: It's Illegal to Play with Fireworks in Iowa City

Earlier this week, I wrote that it's legal to play with fireworks in Iowa City. Turns out that I was wrong, according to a recent email from the city:
Residents Reminded that Firework use in Iowa City is Illegal
Be a good neighbor and celebrate Independence Day safely. Recent state law changes allow for the sale of fireworks in the State of Iowa. However, the launch of consumer fireworks remains prohibited within City limits. Novelty fireworks, like sparklers and snakes, are allowed.
Violators face fines between $250-$650. To report illegal fireworks in Iowa City, call the Iowa City Police Department at 319-356-6800. That line is available 24-7.
If you want to see a great fireworks show, check out the fireworks display that will close out the Iowa City Jazz Festival on Sunday, July 2. between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m. Grab a lawn chair and snag a spot on the University of Iowa Pentacrest for the best view. More event details are available at
You can hear fireworks pretty much every night right now. This doesn't bug me, but it bugs a lot of other people statewide. To them, I remind them that this too shall pass in less than one week.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Public Cheers After Woman Runs Over Accused Purse-Snatcher With Her SUV

There's this news article circulating about an incident at a Walmart parking lot in Ashville, NC. A guy was allegedly caught rifling through a purse that was left in a woman's car. He was confronted by the woman (who's apparently pregnant, but whatever) and some guys. She chased him briefly before returning to her SUV and chasing after the guy. She then hit the man with her vehicle:
"Me being five months pregnant, I chased him a little ways and then come back, jumped in the car, threw it in gear, come across the cub and run him over. I was not letting him get away with it, it's not right, it's not fair," she said.

The guy ended up being treated on the scene for injuries. It was clear that he was injured and in pain and eventually needed to be hospitalized. According to news reports, the man was "treated for minor injuries."

It doesn't appear that the woman was arrested or charged for hitting the man with her vehicle. She was quite vocal and unapologetic about her actions. Maybe charges are pending. I haven't seen anything that indicates that.

However, people are having a field day with this story on social media. The woman is being treated as a hero. After all, he tried stealing a few bucks from her. But she sent him to the hospital with possible injuries to last him a lifetime, right?

One guy commented, "Great job lady... Back up and hit him again save the tax payers some money!!" I actually responded to that guy: "And then she'll end up in prison and cost the tax payers much more money."

It's days like this that I'm reminded about how I really don't relate to people anymore...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Anamosa, IA: Man Arrested for Tossing Fireworks in Local Walmart on a Dare

(Originally written on 06/27/17): Earlier this year (but late in the legislative cycle), Iowa passed a law that made it legal for people to purchase and use fireworks. Initially, there were controversies as various cities and counties barred the use of fireworks. But lately, everyone is grousing about the sounds of fireworks late each evening. There have been a small handful of house fires in nearby Cedar Rapids, but otherwise people are generally upset about the random popping of fire works.

That said, there was a great story in the news tonight involving an Anamosa man who tossed a bunch of fireworks in their Walmart on a dare. Two Walmart employees were taken to the local hospital "for loss of hearing." The 18-year-old prankster was arrested and charged with discharging fireworks inside city limits and disorderly conduct.

Frankly, I was shocked to learn that Anamosa has banned the use of fireworks within their community and yet you can still play with fireworks in Iowa City. Usually we have the reputation for such regulations. But not when it comes to fireworks. I'm still on the boat whether that's a good thing or bad.

I spent my early years in Nebraska. When I was growing up, there were tents all over town where you could buy all sorts of fireworks. My friends and I routinely biked down to the edge of town to purchase fire crackers, bottle rockets, and smoke bombs and then used them up within minutes. Unfortunately, I was dependent on my parents for my fireworks budget so I didn't get to waste too much money each year on fireworks.

It was pretty fun -- until the time that I had one blow up in my face. I was leaning over an explosive and the wick lit up quicker than normal. I didn't lose my eye, but I lost my eyebrows on that afternoon. I also was reminded that you need to light fireworks from the side, not by leaning over them!

Updated/Corrected on 06/30/17: Quick note: It's not legal to discharge fireworks in Iowa City. Read more about it here.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Catholic Diocese of Springfield, IL, to Deny Marriage, Communion, & Funeral Rites to Gay-Married Catholics

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, IL, has issued policies for how to deal with married gay people. Basically, he wants to bar them from Catholic weddings, funerals, etc. Earlier this month, he issued pastoral guidance to the priests that he oversees on how to respond to Catholics who are is gay marriages:
Marriage: No member or the clergy or employee/representative of the Diocese is allowed to assist or participate in a same-sex marriage, "including providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for such events." Our weddings cannot be held in any Catholic facility, including parishes, schools, charitable institutions, hospitals, etc. And God forbid that anyone uses any item in a gay wedding that is sacred or blessed, such as a liturgical book.

Holy Communion: Gay spouses will be denied Holy Communion. They will be denied Holy Communion until they repent of their marriage.

Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, etc.): Children raised by parents in a same-sex marriage may be baptized. Children raised by parents in a same-sex marriage may received First Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confirmation. A person in a gay marriage cannot serve as a sponsor for the Sacraments of Baptism or Confirmation. A person in a gay marriage cannot be admitted to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or receive the Sacrament of Confirmation until after he or she repents and leave his or her marriage.

Funeral Rites: To avoid scandal, a person in a gay marriage will be denied funeral rites, unless he or she repented and left his or her marriage prior to death.

Participation in Liturgical Ministries: People in same-sex marriages cannot serve in any public liturgical role within the Catholic Church.

Catholic Schools and Catechetical and Formational Programs: Children raised by parents in a same-sex marriage cannot be denied admission to Catholic schools or other educational programs. However, these children will be taught that their family and their parents' marriage are really, really bad.
Bishop Paprocki then advised that priests should smile nicely when they deny funerals and stuff like that to married gay people. And he reminded them that they could get in big trouble if they went against his instructions.

None of this should be a shocker to anybody who's lived in this society or paid attention to the Catholic Church's treatment of LGBT people over the past generation or so. The only potential bright spot is the allowance for children of gay parents to participate in Catholic schools. Except that the schools will most likely forbid both parents from actively participating in school events.

Might I suggest that self-respecting LGBT Catholics look into other options besides the Catholic Church? Especially if you're engaged, married, and/or a parent? If you want high church, check out the Episcopal Church. Otherwise, there are ELCA churches, Methodist churches, Disciples of Christ churches...

And, of course, there is the United Church of Christ. We have allowed for LGBT pastors for over 45 years. We've welcomed and affirmed LGBT leaders and members for the same amount of time. We have affirmed equal marriage rights and rites for over a decade. We have open communion. And we won't force your family to scramble for a funeral officiant or venue at the last minute.

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:

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!