Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bobby Drake Comes Out in Group Text in ICEMAN #3

A few years ago, Marvel Comics brought the original five X-Men from the past as a bunch of newbie teen heroes and permanently stuck them in the present alongside the current batch of X-Men. A few years later, Marvel Comics had young Iceman come out as a gay teen. Which begged the question: What about the adult Iceman who hadn't come out of the closet? I liked the idea of young Iceman as gay/older Iceman as not gay, but he was also eventually dragged out of the closet a few months later.

Since then, the older Iceman has been busy protecting the planet and trying not to die from the Terrigen Mists that poisoned the air. But now that the Terrigen Mist issue has been resolved, older Iceman has been given his old solo book and some breathing room to reconnect with his family and to figure out what it means to be a gay mutant in a world where your younger temporal clone is more together that you are.

In ICEMAN #3, Bobby plans to spend dinner with his parents, neither of whom are terribly happy about having a mutant son -- much less one who is pretty much out to the world. He still hasn't come out to his parents as gay, but pretty much everyone else is finding out.

Last issue, he realized that he hadn't yet come out to Kitty Pryde until she confronted him about it. Which wouldn't be such a big deal, but they were dating in the not-so-distant past. Which is probably why Bobby finally decided to come out to all of his super-friends and ex-girlfriends in one massive group text:


Which prompted several responses -- some by ex-girlfriends, some by inactive X-Men, and a few by non-X-people:


Which reminds me... Doesn't Spider-Man have a secret identify again? How secret is it when people like Iceman have his cell phone number?

Still, it's good to see that Northstar (AKA Jean Paul) wasn't killed by the Terrigen Mists. I've actually been a bit worried about this. Now, if we could only get him back with the X-Men again...

Justin Lee Removed as Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network // UPDATE: GCN Has a New Interim Executive Director: Isaac Archuleta // GCN Board Issues Updated Message

(Originally written on 07/19/17): Justin Lee started the Gay Christian Network back in 2001. It started out as a small discussion board where people had the opportunity to discuss what it meant to be gay and Christian. Or whether one could be gay and Christian. Or if you had to be celibate to be gay and Christian. Over time, the online community got huge. GCN began organizing yearly conventions. Small regional groups began meeting. Justin wrote a book. And then the GCN board participation shot down as more people turned to resources such as Facebook to connect with other LGBTQ people of faith.

That's just some background. The main point of the blog post is that Justin Lee has been removed as the executive director of GCN. In fact, he's been gone from the organization since early May 2017:
Joint Announcement from the Board of GCN and Justin Lee: Due to irreconcilable differences about the direction and future of the organization, Justin Lee and the GCN Board of Directors have agreed to his amicable separation from the organization. Justin Lee will no longer serve as the executive director of GCN, effective May 4, 2017. Neither Justin nor the Board will publicly discuss the reasons behind Justin’s departure other than to affirm that it was a practical business decision intended to allow for the growth of this important work.

Both Justin and the GCN Board of Directors remain committed to pursuing the mission of creating “…a world in which the next generation of LGBTQ youth will grow up fully loved and embraced by their families, churches, and neighbors; and where Christians worldwide will live up to their calling as instruments of grace and defenders of the outcast.” We remain allies in continuing our work for the LGBTQ Christian movement.

As announced at the 2017 Pittsburgh Conference, the Board reaffirms its previous commitment to changing the name of the organization to one that better reflects the diversity of the ministry and the community we serve. Recognizing the long history of Justin’s connection with the GCN name, the Board has chosen to accelerate the timing of the name change and will announce it at the 2018 Denver Conference.

From the Board of GCN: Dear Friends of GCN,

For 16 years the Gay Christian Network has been meeting the spiritual needs of the LGBTQ community throughout our nation. Justin Lee, our founder, has helped GCN become a vibrant and healthy community making a difference for those who have been treated unfairly by the church.

Through GCN and his excellent book, Torn, Justin has been a pioneer helping LGBTQ individuals accept the truth that God loves them, just as they are. Through GCN, he helped those people find a spiritual home. Because of Justin’s dedicated work, countless lives have been changed. The Board of Directors of GCN is grateful for Justin’s years of service. Moving forward, however, Justin and the Board have come to realize they have 
differing perspectives on the operational needs of the ministry. After much prayer and discussion, the Board of Directors and Justin have agreed to separate.

The GCN Board is pleased Justin will continue to speak, write, and produce content serving the LGBTQ community he so dearly loves. There have been no issues that would cause us to be anything but fully supportive of his continuing work in ministry. Those wishing to follow his work are encouraged to do so at JustinSpeaks.com.

Please join us in thanking Justin for his many years of service.

From Justin Lee: Dear friends,

I don’t have the words to say how grateful I am for all of your incredible support of me and of this work; the time, energy, and money you’ve committed to our shared mission has enabled us to accomplish things I never dreamed we could. Running this organization for the last 16 years has been absolutely the most incredible experience of my life, and I will always treasure the memories and the knowledge of how we’ve changed the world together.

As sad as I am to say goodbye, my hope and prayer for this organization is that it will always stay grounded in a passion for Jesus Christ and uphold an ongoing commitment to living out His light and love in all things. In Christ, anything is possible, and yet there are still so many people who have experienced the gospel as a hindrance rather than a hope, who’ve been led to believe that God doesn’t love them—or at least that the church doesn’t—and who feel all alone. They need to know they’re never alone.

As for me, I continue to feel a calling to change hearts and minds in the church for the sake of those who still don’t have that support. Even though I am no longer involved at GCN, I will still be speaking out on the issues that matter to our community and doing all I can to support those in need. I’m as passionate about this work today as I was back in 2001, when GCN was just a website I was running out of my apartment! In the days ahead, I will share more at JustinSpeaks.com about my future plans, and I would love to hear from you there.

Thank you again for your love and support. To those I’ve had the privilege of interacting with over the years, I sincerely hope our paths will cross again in the future. If not, you will certainly be on my heart and in my prayers. Love to you all, and may God bless you.

In Closing: The Board has hired an Interim Executive Director who will be introduced to the community soon. The Interim Executive Director will be in place while the Board commences a national search for a new CEO who can lead us into the future.

Constantino Khalaf, our Director of Operations, will continue to direct the GCN staff in preparation for the 2018 Conference in Denver, the October 2017 Youth Retreat in Wilkes-Barre, PA in October, and the other ongoing offerings of GCN. 

We ask for your prayers for Justin, and for GCN, as we all work to create vibrant spiritual opportunities for LGBTQ people of faith.
I have seen little else but shock, anger, and sadness over this announcement over on the GCN boards, on Facebook, and in other social media corners. The GCN Board is really going to need to step up and smooth things over before this winter's annual conference.

Updated on 07/21/17: Justin Lee's departure/ouster from the Gay Christian Network continues to rattle the GCN world. In addition to the shock, anger, and sadness; more people are starting to step forward and assert that maybe it is time for a change. After all, donations are down. As is participation within the online GCN discussion boards. It's still unclear what led to Justin leaving/being forced to leave GCN and nobody is really talking.

I did talk via Facebook Messenger with Costantino Khalaf, who pointed out to me that he is not the interim executive director. I totally misread that. But that conversation gave me the opportunity to tell him that GCN's Board of Directors really needs to get involved with this conversation and help people move forward.

And conversations began. First, I came across an updated statement from Justin Lee:
As you might imagine, the last 24 hours has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. After the statement went up yesterday afternoon, I spent some time responding to private messages and then took the evening away from my computer to spend time with some local friends. I haven’t yet had a chance to read all of the messages, but I’m truly grateful for the words of support and love, and I promise to read all of them as I’m able. 
Some of you have known me for a long time. I know that this work is personal for many of you as it is for me, and I know that this is emotional news for some of you (as it is for me). I can’t talk about the past right now, so I won’t. But there are some things I want to say about the future that I think are pretty important. 
First, we’ve got to show each other some grace here. None of us—not you, not me, not the remaining board and staff at GCN, not the other people posting about this stuff on social media, and not the people you trust and admire most in the entire world—none of us is perfect. We make mistakes, we see things our way, and we fail to live up to God’s calling for our lives. Every single one of us needs to be willing to forgive and show grace to others in times of conflict, because every single one of us has done things we need to be forgiven for ourselves. Besides that, none of us ever has the whole picture, because we never have the whole story of other people’s lives, and even if we did, none of us can see into other people’s hearts and know what motivates them. We superimpose our own assumptions onto others, and sometimes our assumptions are wrong. Grace, grace, grace. It’s one of the most important core doctrines in Christianity, and we need to remember it, especially in times of emotional challenge. 
Second, I want you to know that I’m not going anywhere. You’ll actually probably see a lot more of me on social media than you used to, and I’m hoping to have even more time available for speaking engagements, so that means more opportunities for me to travel and interact with y'all. I’m also finishing up the manuscript for my second book, which I’m really excited about. And on top of it all, there are a bunch of projects I had in the planning stages when I was with GCN that I’m still really passionate about, so I’m just going to keep working on them, even if it’s not my job anymore. Plus, being on my own, I might just have a chance to show more of the quirky, geeky side of my personality. Ultimately, this work still drives me as much as it ever did, and none of this changes that. I’m not stopping anytime soon. 
And finally, because people have been asking, yes, there will be a way to support my future work for those of you who feel led to do that; I appreciate your asking. I just didn’t feel like it was the right time to get into all of that stuff yesterday as this news was breaking, you know? I won’t pretend this hasn’t been an emotional time, but I am optimistic about the future, and I am constantly reminded that I am truly very, very fortunate, especially because of all of you. ❤️ Thank you for being you, as wonderfully diverse and passionate as you all are. I’m lucky to have such amazing friends.
And then I came across this statement from Susan Shopland, the chair of GCN's Board of Directors:
Friends, 
As part of the GCN community, and trustees of its mission, the members of the Board of Directors are aware of the shock caused by yesterday’s announcement. Transitions in leadership are never easy, regardless of the good will that may be behind them. We were sensitive to the concerns the announcement would raise, and have planned to reach out to you today. Out of respect for Justin and his legacy we decided to wait a couple of days to announce the name of the Interim Executive Director. We are looking forward to sharing that news tomorrow. 
We are not at liberty to speak about what transpired in recent months. But we are delighted to speak about the bright future GCN has ahead. We are encouraged by the success of the initiatives we have already launched—the Parents and Youth Retreats, and our devotional series, to name a few. I personally can’t wait to share more of what’s in store in due time. 
As our statement yesterday mentioned, some changes are coming. We look forward to better representing and embracing the full diversity of our community—the beautiful diversity of God’s creation. We want GCN to include more women and people of color, and we want our new name to reflect our full embrace of our trans and non-binary siblings in Christ. 
But we also want to reassure you that certain things are never changing. 
We will always be a Christ-centered, Spirit-led organization. Our Christian faith is what brought us together, and it will always remain the central focus of our work. We will thrive in the unity of the body of Christ, and our commitment to nurture and sustain the faith of all members of our community will not falter. To be clear, GCN will always be a spiritual home for both Side A and Side B. 
Please keep us in your prayers, especially as we meet at the end of this month for our annual Board and Staff retreat. Pray that Christ’s love and grace continue to guide us into the future.
She later asked some of the more upset commenters on the GCN discussion boards to reach out to her via PM to discuss their hard feelings about this separation. She also encouraged people to wait before making the decision to permanently quit GCN.

Then earlier today, GCN announced its new interim executive director: Isaac Archuleta:
“The Gay Christian Network has much to be proud of, and I seek to build on the incredible accomplishments of the staff, board, and volunteers. My desire is to fortify GCN's ability to empower LGBTQ lives as reciprocating beings with themselves, their loved ones, and God. I will approach my work with GCN with passion and conviction to strengthen your mission to create ‘…a world where the next generation of LGBTQ youth will grow up fully loved and embraced by their families, churches, and neighbors; and where Christians worldwide will live up to their calling as instruments of grace and defenders of the outcast.’”
Then Archulea, Khalaf, and another member of the GCN staff named Kyle Franklin released a video with the following message:
As three cisgender men, we are aware that our team needs more diversity—more people of color, more women, and more of our transgender siblings. And while GCN builds an internal structure that more accurately expresses God’s diversity we are also building an external structure: we are ever focused on creating a GCN community that will grow in solidarity, that will be transformed spiritually, and one that will fortify the stability of our God-given identities- whether we’re side A or side B. We believe, just as GCN always has, that all of us belong at the same table. We will continue to work as a Christ-centered organization with your essence in mind. . . 
. . .As the staff at GCN, we are committed to seeing you thrive relationally and spiritually. We are here to welcome our allies so that we can walk as one cohesive unit, teaching one another about Jesus’ love

The GCN guys promised a commitment to more diverse staff and board representation. And they recommitted to establishing a more diverse organizational name that better encompasses the entirety of GCN's membership, including lesbians, straight allies, transgender folks, and gender fluid individuals. You can watch the video here.

Here are my final thoughts (for now) on this situation as we move into these GCN-PJ months and years:

1. I hope the new GCN leadership avoids gimmicks that likely looked good in concept, but that really harmed GCN. I'm talking about stuff like secretly inviting Exodus International's Alan Chambers to one of the GCN Conferences. Or Justin doing outreach to Focus on the Family in hopes that they would become a safer organization for LGBTQ youth.

2. And I want GCN's leadership to have an active presence on the GCN discussion boards. Not just the new director, but the Board. Justin promised that he'd be an active member of the GCN boards much more each time they relaunched the boards, but that rarely lasted more than a few days. GCN is an online community. GCN needs its leadership to participate in that online community.

Updated on 07/30/17: The GCN Board has been meeting all weekend doing things that boards filled with gays and Christians do during the weekend (presumably praying, planning, and working). One of the things that they did this weekend was issue an updated statement about Justin leaving the organization:
When it became final that Justin Lee was departing from GCN, I was in a state of sorrow. I felt an overwhelming sense of grief and sadness that my friend who had helped me so much in my own spiritual journey was no longer going to be part of the organization I have grown to love. 
Then, when the announcement was finally made public, I relived my initial experiences of sadness and grief as I read and listened to all the comments from the community. I wanted to read each one that I could, because I felt each voice needed to be heard. And I want to acknowledge to the GCN community that we hear your grief and frustration. And we are saddened by it. 
I know there is a season for everything, and in this season, I not only want to reflect on all the good that Justin has accomplished through his service at GCN, but I also want to give myself space to grieve. I hope each of us creates that space for however long we need it. 
And we also hear that you’d like us to be more transparent. And we want you to know that transparency is important to us. But as it stands, we are legally prohibited from sharing more information with you. We unfortunately cannot reveal anything further regarding Justin’s departure. We grieve that this has caused frustration for you. 
As I stand here with my fellow board members, we can attest that the past few months have been extremely difficult. We are united in believing that this work that the Lord had begun through Justin, will continue to accomplish amazing things. And we will say that our mission has not changed. There are still untold numbers of marginalized people who suffer because of their identities. So we pray that through this period of hardship and grief, God will do even greater things—both through GCN and the new ministry of Justin Lee. May God be with each of us. 
On behalf of the Board, Danny Cortez
I'm not sure where this is all going. But it's nice to see the faces of the GCN Board.

Muscatine, IA: Mayor Diana Broderson Announced Run of Re-Election

I've been writing all year about the Muscatine City Council's efforts to impeach Mayor Diana Broderson. You can read all about it here, but there is the nutshell. They and the city manager and the city attorney accused her of bad stuff, including wasting city money, hosting "Coffee with the Mayor" chats, and speaking with city employees. They led a hearing against her. And then they voted to impeach her. She took them to court and quickly got reinstated a mayor of Muscatine. That court case is still in the works, but the judge hasn't been too sympathetic so far towards the City Council. Meanwhile, the Muscatine City Council has spent roughly $107,500 (since the beginning of July) over the past six months on this impeachment effort.

Yesterday, Diana Broderson announced officially that she is running for re-election. She discussed her re-election plans at one of her Coffee with the Mayor events. She stated that she doesn't plan to do much differently if she gets re-elected. However, she pledged to host even more Coffee with the Mayor events during her next term.

Which should really piss of the City Council.

I've stated this before. It appears from what I've read that Broderson made some really big rookie moves during her first term as mayor. But it also appears that the city manager and the city council did everything they could to allienate her from the city's leadership and staff and then they overreached by staging this spring's impeachment hearing. They've essentially galvanized the community around Broderson and done their best to ensure her next electoral victory.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

President Trump Creates Stir Following Speech at Boy Scout Jamboree // Updated: The BSA Leadership Apologizes

(Originally written on 07/25/17): News started circulating last night about President Trump speaking at the Boy Scout Jamboree last night. There was an article that he swore during his speech. He said "hell," which made me shrug. I then went to bed and learn more about the president's speech -- and the reaction from the crowd. Trump started out by saying that he would avoid talking about politics -- before he began talking about politics. He got the crowd booing former President Obama. He got the crowd chanting "USA! USA!" after threatening to fire HHS Secretary Tom Price if the ACA didn't get repealed. He went after former Secretary of State Clinton. He went all over the place.

And the Boy Scouts loved it.

I'm a married gay dad. The BSA recruited my son into the Cub Scouts back in 2009 (I wrote about it here). This private religious organization recruited a boy that (at least back then) actively exercised its right to exclude people like his father.

This is what I wrote back then:
The big introductory meeting was tonight. Husband Mark opted to go with D'. We warned him immediately that we had some questions for the pack leader before we made a decision either way. Stuff like, will it be a problem that D' has two dads? Is there a risk that he'll be kicked out after getting established because some busy-body parent or troop leader throws a snit about us? 
Mark learned that the troop is sponsored by a local Methodist church. About 6 years ago, there was lots of drama within both the church and the troop about how they would respond to families like ours. We learned that we cannot become official leaders within the organization. The church is opposed to this and the pack would be disaffiliated by the national BSA. Otherwise, we're welcome to come to meetings, to be involved with activities, etc. 
We've reluctantly agreed to give the group a chance. Mostly because many of D's classmates are in the group and we know most of the parents involved with our individual troop and generally get along with them. I'm hopeful that we won't regret this decision. If D' wasn't so gung ho about joining up and getting involved, I wouldn't have even gone this far into the group.
In other words, we stayed for our son. And we were warned that we would be allowed to participate unless another Scout parent -- any Scout parent -- complained about our presence. Fortunately, D' quickly grew bored with the Cub Scouts and we were able to quit before we got in too deep.

But it always bugged me that Mark and I weren't "morally straight" enough to officially participate in our son's Cub Scout troop. And it really bugs me that President Trump -- with all of his personal and moral failings -- is not only morally straight enough to get invited, but that he was easily able to turn a politically neutral event into a political rally.

Pushback has been hard against the BSA -- some for inviting the president in the first place, and some for not stepping in after it became clear that this nonpolitical speech was clearly becoming a political rally. Not that there hasn't bee a lot of support for the BSA for Trump's speech yesterday.

The Hawkeye Area Council of the BSA finally issued a statement about three hours ago:
We have received many phone calls and emails this morning from those expressing their concern regarding President Trump’s remarks at the National Jamboree in WV yesterday. The Hawkeye Area Council values your input & feedback. 
As you may be aware, since the inception of the BSA in 1910, each sitting U.S. President has served as the Boy Scouts of America’s honorary president, regardless of their political affiliation or popularity. Eight of the 11 U.S. Presidents who were in office at the time of a National Jamboree attended the event in person to address the group, while others addressed the group remotely by video message. Although National BSA representatives suggest appropriate talking points with all speakers, and reminded the President of the BSA’s non-partisan stance and our policy of refraining from political comments, as you can imagine, the BSA has no authority or control over the content of the comments made by the President of the United States of America. 
The Boy Scouts of America, and the Hawkeye Area Council is apolitical and does not endorse or support political figures or specific political platforms. The President’s invitation was a longstanding tradition, and in no way expresses an endorsement or support of his comments. 
The BSA as an organization has emphasized leadership, integrity, respect and service to others for over 100 years, and has a great history of teaching youth positive morals and values. We hope youth at the Jamboree use this as an opportunity and lesson in America’s politics, and will continue to work hard to reinvigorate our communities and country with the lessons taught in the Scout oath and law that all Scouts strive to live by: (Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent). America needs Scouting for our youth now, more than ever before. 
We appreciate your expressions of concern and take your messages as an important communication that will be shared with the National office headquartered in Irving, TX. 
*Anyone who would like to contact the BSA National Office directly regarding this topic, may contact them at 912-580-2489.
And there you have it. "Thanks for calling. We always invite presidents and they usually come. We tell them to keep it non-partisan, but obviously this one didn't listen. Thanks for calling, but why don't you call the national office instead?"

Don't get me wrong. I understand that my frustration is largely misplaced here. It was Trump's speech, not the organization's. Still, it really bugs me that they can throw their support behind this man so readily and yet it's still controversial that a pair of gay dads might actually want to be part of the BSA with their son.

Updated on 07/27/17: Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Scout Executive for the BSA, has finally issued an apology for this weekend's political jamboree:
Over the course of ten days, Scouts have taken part in adventures, learned new skills, made new and lasting friendships and completed over 200 community service projects that offered 100,000 hours of service to the community by young men and women eager to do the right thing for the right reasons.
These character-building experiences have not diminished in recent days at the jamboree – Scouts have continued to trade patches, climb rock walls, and share stories about the day’s adventures. But for our Scouting family at home not able to see these real moments of Scouting, we know the past few days have been overshadowed by the remarks offered by the President of the United States.
I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.
You can read the full apology here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Scouts For Equality (Along with UCC & Unitarian Universalists) Promoted LGBT Inclusion at 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree

I was listening to podcasts while writing this post and unexpectedly came across another story from this weekend's Boy Scouts Jamboree. I was listening to "Into the Mystic with John Dorhauer." Dorhauer is the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. "Into the Mystic" is a weekly reflection. Podcast episodes are typically a few minutes long.

This week's episode is called "The Rainbow Flag" and it talks about the UCC's Open and Affirming status. The UCC is an ONA denomination, which means that we fully welcome and affirm the gifts of others regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. It was pointed out that not all congregations are ONA, which leads many ONA churches to display rainbow flags somewhere on the church property.

Dorhauer then reported that the UCC and the Unitarian Universalist Church had a presence at the Boy Scout Jamboree this past weekend alongside the Scouts For Equality organization:
Almost two years ago, the Scouting organization signed an historic memorandum with both the UCC and the UUAs acknowledging that they would remain open to all for participation. 
What we have experienced, though, is something far less than the honor of their good word. 
Our booth was to be called the “Rainbow CafĂ©,” and we were ordered to change the name. 
We have been handing out sunglasses with rainbow colors to any who came by our booth. We have been told to stop doing that. 
We have had rainbow banners on display throughout the Jamboree. We have been ordered to take them down (as of the writing of this reflection, we have refused). 
Sometimes the simple expression of love and faith, of welcome and respect is heard as political speech and is resisted. This is one such time. 
I am deeply saddened that the mere expression of our genuine faith, something I learned was sacrosanct when I was a young scout, is being silenced and told it is too political. 
We will withstand this, as have all the churches who have waved with pride their rainbow flags – merely replacing them when stolen or damaged. So will the Spirit of the living God whose rainbow reminds us that love will prevail. 
For all whose mere expression of love is often met with resistance, anger, fear, and hatred – I give thanks to God who is the source of that love. And I remind us all that we walk with bold steps the pathways of God’s choosing as we share that love with all whom we meet on this, our journey Into the Mystic.
It's worth noting that the Scouts For Equality (along with the UCC and the Unitarians) hosted an alternative event for people to hang out if they were disinterested in the Trump speech.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Toni Topaz Rumored for "Riverdale" Season 2 Debut! Plus: When Did She Become Bisexual?? // UPDATE: Toni Topaz Is Indeed Bi!

(Originally written on 06/28/17): Regular readers might have noticed that I'm a fan of Archie Comics' character, Two-Fisted Toni Topaz. She is a relatively new addition to the Riverdale Pals & Gals. She was created as a tough-girl rival for Jughead, who enjoyed eating and sarcastic dialogue. She's appeared on more Archie Comics covers than you can shake a stick at, but other than that hasn't appeared in that many stories

It looks like the character will be appearing on Season 2 of The CW's "Riverdale" series in the fall. Audition tapes have surfaced, including one by an actress named Lorelei Linklater. I've never heard of her, but she was in some show called "Boyhood." Here is her audition tape. Personally, I wasn't terribly impressed.

But I did like this actress' audition tape. Her name is Arabelle Monet (sp?). I have no clue who she is or what's she's done, but I really hope that she got the job!


There was a curious bit of trivia revealed about Toni Topaz in this article. Apparently she's bisexual. When did this happen? I consider myself a fan of the character, but I don't ever remember her ever expressing any interest in other girls. In fact, I've only seen her interested in Jughead in the past. I'm not complaining, but this was completely new to me!

Did you know that Two-Fisted Toni Topaz is a bi girl? If so, tell me about it in the comments section. I really want to know!!

Updated on 06/29/17: Yes, Two-Fisted Toni Topaz is indeed a bi girl! Check out this tweet:


And just in case you're thinking that she's a lesbian, Toni Topaz has crushed on guys, including Jughead and Sayid. So there you have it!

Updated on 07/22/17: Looks like "Riverdale" has finally cast its Two-Fisted Toni Topaz!

Toni will be played by Vanessa Morgan, who previously starred in "The Shannara Chronicles." I've not heard of her or it before, but I'm super excited that we get to see one of my favorite D-List Archie Comics characters on Season 2 of "Riverdale!!"

According to the article I read, Toni Topaz will be a member of the Southside Serpent and she "might mean 'trouble' for Betty and Jughead's relationship."

Full Transcript of 5th Doctor Peter Davison SDCC Comments about the New Female Doctor Who

I wrote a blog article last night about news that former "Doctor Who" actor Peter Davison lamented the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor and that the casting decision was "a loss of a role model for boys." I went to bed and then woke up to a more complete, nuanced transcript of Davison's statements at the San Diego Comic Con.

So I took down my original post and decided to post Peter Davison's complete statement:
"I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for her and I think that it will be hard for some fans to adjust to it. As I said before, it’s difficult to adjust to any new Doctor, but I think the important thing is that those are uncertain fellows, those who are uncertain should be encouraged to watch it with an open mind. ... I don’t know, I feel... I think the time for discussion about that is past. They’ve made the announcement. Jodie Whittaker is the next Doctor and that’s great! 
[break] 
I feel.. if I feel any doubts about it, it’s the loss of a role model for boys, who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for. So I feel a bit sad about that, but I understand the argument that you’ve got to open it up, so that’s absolutely fair enough. So she has my best wishes and full confidence. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job. 
[break] 
As a viewer, I kind of like the idea of the Doctor as a boy, but then maybe I’m an old fashioned dinosaur. Who knows? But I think that’s irrelevant now. The time for discussion is over. We have a new Doctor. And let’s give her our full support. 
[break] 
I would encourage them to watch. I think there’s too much... you know on the internet... there’s too much bile coming from both sides. And too many people are being horribly sexist about it, and too many people are saying, ‘Well, we don’t care about you. You’re old fashioned. Go away and watch something else.’ I think fans who are doubtful, who are uncertain should be encouraged and welcomed. And just approach it with an open mind. 
[break] 
Oh yeah, of course. I mean, she’s a terrific actress. And you can absolutely understand it. Look, someone rings you up... I know this feeling... someone rings you up one night. You’re sitting at home and they say ‘how would you feel about being the next Doctor Who?’ It’s a fantastic opportunity, so of course, she grabs it with both hands. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job!"
So there you go. Much more nuanced response than you would have read in this article. And a much more positive and affirming reaction from Peter Davison.

I mentioned in the now-deleted post that Peter Davison was "my" Doctor. I watched the Tom Baker episodes when I first began watching "Doctor Who" in the late 70s, but I fell in love with Peter Davison's Doctor, as well as his initial team of companions (Tegan, Nyssa, and Adric).

I'm so glad that I did a little more digging and was able to clear the air about my favorite Old School Doctor Who!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ARCHIE #22: "Why Can't I Feel My Legs?"

The "Over the Edge" story line just wrapped up in ARCHIE #22. This was the story line that originally threatened to kill off one of the main five characters in Archie Comics. I then later realized that Archie Comics was being a bit sly and just implying that somebody would die. Sure enough, we learned last month that Betty Cooper was serious injured and on the brink of death after getting caught up in a drag-racing-involved car accident.

So did she die?

SPOILERS!!!...

MORE SPOILERS!!!...

EVEN MORE SPOILERS!!!...


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Not Appreciating #NotSpecialNeeds

There's this video circulating called #NotSpecialNeeds, featuring a cast of individuals with Down Syndrome.

The narrator says:
Special Needs?...

What we really need is... education, jobs, opportunities, friends, and some love. Just like everyone else. Are these needs special?
Interspersed between those two paragraphs are examples of how people with Down Syndrome might indeed have special needs. Such as if they could only eat pterodactyl eggs or if they needed cat massages everyday.

You are then directed to the NotSpecialNeeds website where they explain why it's important that we drop the term "special needs" when talking about Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities:
The phrase "special needs" is actually counter-productive in so many ways: 
1. By definition it “exceptionalises,” segregates and excludes. 
2. It stigmatises as it is associated with segregated settings (e.g. special schools, special workshops and special group homes), and accordingly for many, a “special needs” label is effectively a one-way ticket to a separate, segregated, low expectations pathway through life. 
3. Being a euphemism, it is increasingly considered patronizing, condescending and offensive by people with disabilities. 
4. It serves to distance people with "special needs," as it implies that their needs can only be met in a "special" way or by "specialists." This complicates inclusion of people with disabilities in regular education and employment. 
5. In “exceptionalising” disability and reinforcing attitudinal barriers, it hinders the recognition of disability as a part of human diversity, and slows the realization of human rights for people with disabilities. 
6. Recent research suggests that people respond more negatively to someone described as being or having "special needs," compared to someone described as having disabilities or a particular disability.
We're told by the website that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities might require extra assistance to meet particular needs, but that doesn't make their needs any more "special" than other people's needs.

Which seems to be stretching the point, in my mind. I get what they're saying in this video and on the webpage, but I don't fully agree.

Most people with Down Syndrome and other forms of intellectual and developmental disabilities do indeed have special needs that affect their everyday ability to independently meet their educational, vocational, self-care, medical, social, financial, home organizational, and even behavioral needs. Those needs vary from individual to individual, of course.

The list up above complains about special classrooms or special work-sites for people with disabilities -- usually more severe disabilities that prevent them from fully engaging in less expensive integrated classrooms or work locations. Without those segregated settings, we're finding that people with more severe disabilities are typically not becoming more involved with their peers and their communities. Instead, they're doing without.

For example, here in Iowa they shut down most of the sheltered workshops. These were work-sites at places like Goodwill or Rural Employment Alternatives where people with moderate to severe disabilities could work on basic job tasks with lots of assistance at their own pace and earn a little bit of money. Those sheltered workshops went away with promises that community-based employers -- stores, hotels, offices, etc. -- would step up and we would carve out fully-waged jobs with minimal job coaching for everyone. And for some folks with disabilities, this really worked out. But many others found themselves without any employment opportunities or wages because of the severity of their disabilities.

We are struggling to keep funding in place for special education classes and Medicaid-funded home-based and community-based services to help most disabled individuals stay out of more institutional services -- or worse. When you see disabled people working at a store like Target or Walmart with assistance from a job coach, that job coach is most likely being paid for with Medicaid dollars. When you have a disabled neighbor who gets a staff person to come to their home to help with their checkbook and their shopping, that staff person is most likely being paid for with Medicaid dollars. When you have a group home set up in your neighborhood that supports 3-4 intellectually disabled adults with staff who help with their cooking, showering, and behavior management needs, that group home is most likely being paid for with Medicaid dollars.

This website is quibbling over whether it's exceptionalising to note that people with disabilities have special needs. And minimizing those special needs makes it more difficult to make a case for the continued existence of those home- and community-based services.

I used to think that people had a basic moral understanding of the need for services for people with intellectual disabilities. These days, the states and the federal government are constantly looking for ways to slash spending for society's most vulnerable citizens -- and I'm not sure that people really get it until they find themselves in the position to need those special services.

So instead of fretting about when someone says the phrase "special needs," spend some time writing to Congress about the need for continue support for those with special needs. We've spent decades building up these various services. I hate watching them be dismantled. You should too.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Iowa City Man, Whose Cat Was Allegedly Tortured by Roommate, Now Charged with 18 Counts of Sexual Abuse // Updated Charges Below

(Originally written on 12/19/14): A local man was arrested two months ago and charged with torturing his roommate's 8-week-old kitten for at least three hours non-stop. This abuse was reportedly recorded by a video camera on the roommate's laptop.

Here is where everything gets complicated. Its seems that the Iowa City Police Department found additional videos on Nathan Schloss' laptop. Those videos led to his arrest earlier today. According to the Gazette and the Iowa City Police Department, Nathan Schloss faces 18 counts of third-degree sexual abuse for allegedly committing sexual acts with "an 'incapacitated' woman and recording those acts without her knowledge:"
Police said that while all 18 charges involve one victim, there are multiple victims involved and more charges are to come. Police have not given a definitive number of victims.
“We have identified and spoken to several of the victims involved in this manner and continue to identify others,” (Sgt. Scott) Gaarde said...

According to criminal complaints, the earliest incident occurred on May 13, 2012 and continued until September 8, 2013. The criminal complaints are sparse in details, but share in common traits. 

Police said that in each case, the victim was “incapacitated” and had no idea she was being recorded. 

Schloss is depicted in the videos touching and, in multiple cases, penetrating his victim or rubbing himself on her, according to the criminal complaints.

It appears that in at least one case, police had to inform the alleged victim that she was sexually assaulted.

“The victim has never seen this video and was unaware this ever happened,” one complaint reads.
Gaarde said he could not comment on how the women were incapacitated or what would account for their lack of memory of the events...

In one case, police said video shows the alleged victim waking up in the middle of the abuse and repeatedly telling Schloss to get off her.
According to the Gazette, Schloss told the police that the woman in the video was aware of both the sexual activity and that she was being recorded.

Schloss faces up to ten years in prison for each of those 18 counts of third-degree sexual abuse.

It goes without saying that he has been accused and not convicted of these charges.

Updated on 12/30/14: The Press-Citizen reports that Schloss has now been charged with 22 counts of invasion of privacy:
According to criminal complaints, Schloss video recorded or photographed himself with visibly incapacitated women against their consent. The videos and photos depicted Schloss having sexual intercourse with one victim, touching multiple victims' genitalia and using victims' hands to touch his own genitalia, according to criminal complaints.

Schloss had multiple victims, police have said, and it is possible that not all of the victims have been identified. Police also said some of the victims were unaware the abuse had taken place. According to criminal complaints, the abuse took place between May 13, 2012, and Sept. 8, 2013, at three Iowa City addresses...

According to the State of Iowa legal code, a person charged with invasion of privacy the charges Schloss faces is "a person who knowingly views, photographs, or films another person, for the purpose of arousing and gratifying the sexual desire of any person." According to the code, the victim must have no knowledge of the event, must not consent or be able to consent and must be in a state of full or partial nudity.
Schloss was released from jail yesterday after posting bond. The PC reports that he must remain within the state of Iowa and is not allowed contact with any of his alleged victims.

Updated on 07/13/17: It's been a really long time since I last wrote about this case. It's being reported in local media that Nathan Schloss will finally be entering a new plea next week. A plea hearing has been scheduled for Monday, July 17th. His trial was supposed to begin on August 8th.

Updated on 07/17/17: Nathan Schloss successfully entered a plea deal earlier today. He pleaded guilty to five counts of invasion of privacy and one count of assault causing serious injury. Under the plea agreement, Schloss will be sentenced to up to five years for the assault charge and up to one year for each of the individual invasion of privacy charges. The sentences will run consecutively for a period of up to ten years. Schloss will also be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years and will be placed on probation for 10 years following his prison sentence.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jodie Whittaker Announced as the 13th Doctor Who!

(Originally written on 07/15/17): It's been known for several months that Peter Capaldi is leaving "Doctor Who." I've heard much speculation about the identity of the next actor to take over the long-running science fiction program's lead role, but the BBC has remained tight-lipped about the new actor.

Until now. The BBC has announced that they will officially announce the new "Doctor Who" actor tomorrow (July 16th) afternoon!

Stay tuned!

Updated on 07/16/17: I've been running around being busy all day so I haven't had time for blog updates. I was convinced that the BBC was going to announced Kris Marshall (formerly of "Death in Paradise") as the 13th Doctor Who, but I was completely wrong.

Earlier this morning, the BBC dropped this major piece of video and people are going mad. The 13th Doctor is none other than... Jodie Whittaker!!

I know her from "Broadchurch" and "Cranford," but she's appeared in several other television programs and movies over the years. People have been craving a female Doctor Who for years -- decades even. I have a VHS fanfiction VHS program from the late 1980s (or was it the early 90s?) featuring a female Doctor. Of course, I can't watch it anymore but it was really good stuff!

Pretty much everyone I know is super excited about getting a female Doctor -- and I've purposely avoided the comments section of every video and news article out there to avoid the people who really hate the idea.

It's time for change. "Doctor Who" has been growing stale over the past few years. The new creative team -- both in front and behind the cameras -- promise to shake things up and take things in a very different direction.

I'm excited about Jodie Whittaker -- and I'm excited to learn more about her unique take on the Doctor, about her new companions, and about her new adventures!

Senator Caitlyn Jenner(??)

Remember last year when I wrote about my dislike for Caitlyn Jenner and the rest of the Kardashian family? That opinion hasn't changed at all. I continue to avoid stories that involved Caitlyn and I cringe when she puts herself out there as a representative for the LGBTQ communities. But this is too good to avoid:

Caitlyn Jenner is thinking about running for a Senate seat. It happened yesterday on a radio interview:
“The political side of it has always been very intriguing to me. Over the next six months or so, I gotta find out where I can do a better job. Can I do a better job from the outside? Kind of working the perimeter of the political scene, being open to talking to anybody? Or are you better from the inside, and we are in the process of determining that. Yeah but I would look for a senatorial run."
I guess she would be running against Senator Diane Feinstein in 2018. Or possibly Senator Kamala Harris in 2022.

One would hope that people wouldn't vote Jenner into office. Then again, people have voted much crazier people into political office in the name of celebrity.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Vatican Nixes Gluten-Free Communion Bread

It's being reported that the Vatican has officially nixed 100% gluten-free communion wafers when celebrating Mass. This directive was originally issued on June 15th, but didn't become widely know until last week when it was reported on Vatican Radio.

For some reason, it is crucial that communion be served with a minimal amount of wheat -- as opposed to breads made from rice, potato, tapioca, or other flours.

This is a big deal for Catholics who live with celiac disease, which is a gastrointestinal immune disease. Celiac disease causes stomach pain, diarrhea, and weight loss when they consume each small amounts of gluten.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Coming in October 2017: New ARCHIES Ongoing Comic Book Series!

A few months ago, Archie Comics announced a series of one-shot audition comic books. A few of them saw print. A few others were never published. One of those one-shot comic books was THE ARCHIES, by Alex Seguara, Matthew Rosenberg, and Joe Eisma. I have a confession to make. I'm looking for to that book. I purchased that book. But I haven't read that book. I've just been too busy recently.

Fortunately, it doesn't matter if I read it or not. What matters is that enough of us bought it. Which leads me to today's news that Archie Comics announced plans to publish an ongoing follow-up comic book titled THE ARCHIES! It's scheduled to debut in early October 2017. And it looks like the previous creative team remains intact.

For those who don't know, the Archies are a garage band featuring Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie. Which possibly spoils the "Over the Edge" storyline over in the main ARCHIE title...(?) According to MTV News, the Archies are heading out on a road tour in THE ARCHIES #1, but their first tour isn't without tension:
But has Archie learned to not take his friends for granted, or will the overnight fame start to get to his head? And when someone makes a decision that leaves the rest of the band scrambling, can The Archies keep it together? The new ongoing series will continue to follow the ups and downs that come with forming a band with friends. Only this time, Archie and the Riverdale gang will get to meet a few of their heroes along the way.
Also according to MTV News, THE ARCHIES will feature guest appearances by real bands in future issues -- instead of the Pussycats, presumably. Archie Comics is asking for suggestions from fans of bands that will appear in the book.

So how about it? Which real-life bands to do you want to see guest appear in THE ARCHIES?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"Degrassi: Next Class" Character Comes Out as Genderqueer in Latest Season

I was pretty excited this weekend when the latest season of "Degrassi: Next Class" dropped on Netflix. I managed to watch the entire season on Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon. Really great stuff. I'm sure that I will write more about the latest season soon.

But I want to write tonight about develops involving Yael, Degrassi's resident gamer girl/ feminist fighter. (Jon's Note: Sorry about that. I was just trying for some alliteration...)

Yael has always pushed the bounds of individualism on the show. She likes to game. She hangs out primarily with boys (up until this season). And she's never been one to hide behind gender roles. But this latest season of "Degrassi: Next Class" really shakes things up for young Yael. (Jon's Note: See? More alliteration!!)

It starts out in the first episode when Yael avoids various activities because of the size of her breasts. Her friend Lola susses out that Yael isn't getting enough support up front, which causes a lot of back strain. A shopping trip for better-fitting bras does the trick... except that Yael finds herself very uncomfortable with the way that her male friends continue to focus on her newly prominent boobs.


That's when she discovers binding. Yael begins compressing her breasts in an effort to deemphasize her breasts. She then quits shaving her legs and her underarms -- something that really bugs her boyfriend Hunter. But these acts begin leading her down the road of questioning both her sexual orientation and her gender identity.

Yael confides more to Lola about her confusion. She knows that she's not a lesbian. She knows that she's attracted to Hunter and other boys. And she knows that she doesn't want to become a boy. But she also knows that she doesn't feel like a conventional girls.

She feels in-between. She doesn't like make-up or other things that most girls like. She hates her breasts. But she also doesn't feel like a boy.

Lola introduces Yael to the concept of being genderqueer, or genderfluid. It's a former of gender identity for those who don't identify with either end of the gender spectrum. And -- in true Lola fashion -- she offers to give Yael a make-over.


The results were perfect.

In true Degrassi spirit, most of Yael's friends rally to her side and help her come up with the gender pronouns of her preference -- "they," "their," and "them." Sadly, her romantic life doesn't survive the journey.

But I really love the friendship that's developed over the past two seasons between Yael and Lola. They started out hating each other and now they're such great supports for each other.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

RIVERDALE #4: "We Need to Talk About Kevin..."

I just finished reading RIVERDALE #4. RIVERDALE is an interesting book. "Riverdale" is an adaptation of the regular Archie Comics, which RIVERDALE is a comic book adaptation of the "Riverdale" TV series. RIVERDALE #4 focused on America's favorite gay teen, Kevin Keller.

The story is titled "We Need To Talk About Kevin" and is features writing by Michael Grassi, art by Joe Eisma, colors by Andre Szymanowicz, and lettering by John Workman.

In this story, Kevin is moping around because he's the only gay kid in Riverdale. Which reminded me of Daffyd Thomas from "Little Britain..."

... Except that Kevin really isn't the only gay in Riverdale. We've already seen him hooking up in the "Riverdale" television series with Moose, plus we know that he's hooked up anonymously with other guys. Which is something that is brought up again in RIVERDALE #4.

Let's move beyond the idea that Archie Comics is currently publishing a comic book where one of the lead characters is a 16-year-old kid who cruises public parks and truck stops for sex with adult men.

But there are plenty of men-loving men in Riverdale, if this Sup app is to be believed. And more than a few of them attend Riverdale High. Kevin attempts to use the Sup app to find a date and ends up with one of the students on the water polo teammates -- not that anything came of it. The guy dumped Kevin before they had a chance to talk.


Keep in mind that Kevin is desperate for a boyfriend, but not desperate to try dating Billy the Fridge (as seen in RIVERDALE #2). Who seems like a nice kid, but he's not conventionally attractive, so why give him a chance?


In addition to looking for guys on Sup, Kevin looks for love at the local gay bar (with help from Veronica, Betty, and Reggie) and he even tries cruising for anonymous sex at the local park in this story:


"Tries" loosely. He gets freaked out over the idea that another student (Jason Blossom) was killed by... somebody. Also, there's some reference in this story to a "near death experience" during one of his past cruising encounters. Other Archie Comics fans are freaking out over Kevin's sexual exploits. I'm freaking out wondering what this "near death experience" was all about!!

Anyway, Kevin finally gets comfortable with the idea of being single just in time to meet the new British student, Devin (who just might be a twisted version of Devon from the old KEVIN KELLER series). Of course, Devin doesn't exist in the "Riverdale" TV series and I'm really curious how he might fit in a world that contains Joaquin.


RIVERDALE #4 ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but I'm not sure that we'll cross that cliff next issue.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Oklahoma City Man Arrested Following Fight Over "Star Wars" VS "Star Trek"

When I was a kid, I was completely into "Star Wars." I watched the movies. I had the action figures. I had the toys. I had the lunch box. It was great. Then I got older and began watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and I've been a Trekkie ever since (Jon's Side-Note: Don't lecture me about how I should call myself a Trekker. That's a stupid nickname. Just sayin'...).

But I don't hold it against anyone for enjoying "Star Wars" over "Star Trek." Case in point:
Police say a fight over Star Trek and Star Wars led to an assault in the metro... Oklahoma City Police Department reports show that (a 23-year-old man who should know each other) and another man were in the living room of an apartment... when they began arguing if Star Wars or Star Trek was better. The victim told police he became frustrated and stated "You're just a trick" before walking back to his room.

(The accused assailant) allegedly followed the man and shoved him to the ground. The victim got back up and told police he stated "You wanna replay that?" and was once again shoved to the ground. Police say (the accused assailant) then wrapped his arm around the victim's neck and began choking him. The victim was near unconsciousness when he pulled out a pocket knife.
The accused assailant was subsequently arrested and charged with assault and battery, possession of marijuana, and outstanding Oklahoma County warrants. All over an out-of-control debate about one science fiction franchise versus the other.

It's not clear from the article if the assailant was into "Star Wars" or if he was into "Star Trek." I'm guessing that he's into "Star Wars."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Coming in October 2017: HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA

Archie Comcis and DC announced a new six-issue comic book crossover mini-series: HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA:
The series will be co-written by Marc Andreyko and Paul Dini, with art from Laura Braga. Dini originally created Harley Quinn on Batman: The Animated Series, the show that also established the character’s flirty friendship with Poison Ivy. The new series will find them pitting their girl power against Riverdale’s most famous pair. When a proposal emerges to drain the wetlands between Gotham and Riverdale, Ivy sticks up for her beloved fauna by enlisting Harley to kidnap valuable heiress Veronica Lodge and her best friend, Betty. Chaos, you may assume, ensues.
You know me. I'm a huge fan of Archie Comics. I've enjoyed the new look. I've loved Archie Horror. I've danced with joy when they teamed the Riverdale Gang with the Ramones (and Predator and Sharknado, etc...).

But I'm not looking forward to this crossover. I know that people love Harley Quinn. I just shrug.

HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA is scheduled to premier on 10/04/17.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Utah: Freedom Festival Kicks LGBT Group Out of July 4th Grand Parade

Yesterday was Independence Day. I spent the holiday with my boys and several other family members (sadly, Husband Mark stayed behind because of work). We spent much of the weekend in the country side exploding fire crackers and other lite fireworks. But we also spent part of the July 4th at a small town parade celebrating our country's independence.

Fortunately, we weren't participating in the Provo Freedom Festival in Provo, UT. The group that organizes that celebration's Grand Parade decided at the last minute that the community's local LGBT center wasn't allowed to march:
The annual Provo Freedom Festival decided July 3 that a local LGBT resource center would not be allowed to walk in Grand Parade, according to Encircle: LGBT + Family & Youth Resource Center. The Festival, according to its website, "highlights freedom through bands, professionally crafted floats, giant helium balloons and local and national performers," while encouraging participants to "promote patriotism and traditional family values to around 300,000 spectators." 
According to a Facebook post by Encircle, the Festival revoked its previously approved application to participate because it is being classified as an advocacy group. Encircle disputes that classification, however, citing its status as a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
Encircle has been in operations since Valentine's Day 2017 and offers community services, skills training, and counseling.

Encircle ended up hosting a pancake breakfast on July 4th instead.

Meanwhile, the Freedom Festival's executive director has announced that he plans to meet with Encircle's leadership sometime next week to discuss the situation.

Moon Girl Meets Girl-Moon!

I haven't written about Moon Girl lately. There's this great story line in MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #19-20, where Lunella Lafeyette receives a distress call. She's deep in space and separated from her father. Lunella jerry-riggs a spaceship and goes out to help this frightened girl.

Lunella lands on a moon in search of the young girl, Illa, but cannot find her. It actually takes Earth's smartest person way to long to realize that Illa isn't lost on the moon. She is the moon!

It turns out that Illa is Ego the Living Planet's daughter. She briefly saw her father after her birth, but then rotated away from him so that she's constantly looking away from him! Being the nice guy that he is, it apparently never occurs to Ego to respond to her cries and turn her to face him.

The rest of the issue centers around Lunella's attempts to get herself home -- despite Illa's efforts to keep her new "friend" around. Can Lunella get back to Earth with a faulty space-engine and against the will of an angry Girl-Moon?


Hopefully you're reading MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR.It's fun stuff issue after issue!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day! // Remembering Dragnet's "The Big Trio!"

Happy Independence Day! 

I won't be spending too much time with the blog today, but wanted to share a July 4th story from the old "Dragnet" radio drama. This particular episode is titled "The Big Trio" and is premiered back on July 3rd, 1952.

In the story, Detective Sergeant Joe Friday is assigned to traffic detail during the Fourth of July weekend. "The Big Trio" features three weekend tragedies. One involves a teen who ended up in the hospital after leading the police in a high-speed race through Los Angeles. Another involves a supposed drunken hit-and-run victim. The third involves a careless driver who inadvertently crashes into a police officer, killing the man. Friday is then tasked with breaking the news to the officer's fiancee.

You can listen to the entire story here.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Check Out the "Marvel Inhumans" Trailer!

Late last week, Marvel Comics dropped the trailer for their new ABC television series: "Marvel's Inhumans." It features the Royal Family and their kingdom on the Moon. The show is scheduled to premier on ABC on September 29th, but fans can also watch the premier early on September 1 in IMAX theaters.

It looks pretty good. As far as I can tell, the entire Royal Family is there: Blackbolt, Medusa, Maximus, Crystal, Karnak, Gorgon, and Lockjaw. I haven't seen Triton, but I'm pretty certain that the character has been cast.

The trailer shows Maximus agitating the Inhumans and getting everyone read for a coup against his brother/their king, Blackbolt. For his part, Blackbolt looks constipated a lot. Don't believe me? Check this out:


Maximus is played by Iwan Rheon. You might know him from "Game of Thrones," but I love him for his portray of Ash Weston on "Vicious." He was also pretty good in "Under Mild Wood." He certainly gets the most dialogue and screen-time in the trailer. Then again, he's deposing a silent king so that goes without saying.


Not only will the Royal Family have to contend with Maximus and the mutinous Inhumans, but they'll find themselves running from the forces of humanity on planet Earth.

I'm interested in the show, but seeing Lockjaw in action is what sold "Marvel's Inhumans" on me!


You can watch the entire trailer here.