Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Dinner in a Can!

This image has been making the rounds on Facebook this week and there's no doubt that it looks pretty gross. But after I had my initial LOL and after I shared this on my FB feed, it occurred to me that this might actually be a great idea for Thanksgiving Day dinner!

Think about it. The average person consumers 4,500 calories during Thanksgiving Day -- and that's just dinner! Thanksgiving Dinner in a can might look gross when it's glopped out of a can, but I'd wager that it contains less than 500 calories -- if that!

Plus, meal prep would be reduced from hours -- if not days -- to a mere minutes. Just plop it in a pan and warm it up and Thanksgiving Day dinner is ready to be served!

Sadly, I don't think that Craig's Thanksgiving Dinner is an actual product for sale. But I would totally buy it -- if only to bring a can as a potluck item!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Coming in April 2018: "Rampage"

Remember the "Rampage" video game from the 1980s? Looks like it's being made into a move, sent to be released in April 2018.

It stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as some guy who really gets on well with wild animals -- especially gorillas. And then some corporation or rogue governmental agency drops some cannisters into his jungle, which releases mutagenic gas that transforms one of his favorite apes -- plus a wolf and a crocodile -- into a giant monster. Those monsters are then dropped in the middle of Chicago and we have one building-dropping motion picture!

You can watch the official trailer video here.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Who Is the Sugar Man and What Is His Connection to "Riverdale"? // Updated on 11/18/17: The Sugar Man's Identity Revealed!

(Originally written on 08/16/17): Remember when I shared my list of fantasy Archie Horror titles for Archie Comics to publish each month? Looks like I should have waited a few days for Archie Comics CCO/"Riverdale" creator Roberto Aguirre Sacasa's recent tweet featuring the Sugar Man!

The haunting character looks like something out of Elm Street as opposed to Riverdale, but he sure does look scary!

It appears that he has a dark connection to the Blossom twins' childhood. And it makes sense that a creepy monster named Sugar Man would haunt the dreams of Riverdale's maple syrup heirs.

Presumably, we will be learning more about Sugar Man in "Riverdale" Season 2. But I think it would be really cool if he showed up in one of Archie Comics' Archie Horror titles.

And wouldn't it be cool if the Blossom Twins got their own ongoing comic book title again after all of these years???

Updated on 11/18/17: I will admit it. I've been horrible in recent weeks about doing my weekly "Riverdale" check-ins. There are reasons for that, but none that need to be written about here.

Regardless, I got to thinking about this post from August earlier today. It's where we first learned about the Sugar Man. We finally met the Sugar Man in this week's episode of "Riverdale."

The Black Hood (or somebody pretending to be the Black Hood) has been reaching out to Betty Cooper by phone over the past two episodes, taunting her and placing responsibility for his string of terror on her shoulders.

In this week's episode, the Black Hood charged Betty with discovering the identity of the Sugar Man. He's apparently the chief dealer of drugs in Riverdale and the Black Hood wants him dead. He worked for Clifford Blossom and Penelope Blossom turned him into a boogeyman of sorts in order to frighten the Blossom Twins into staying away from him.

Betty manages to learn the Sugar Man's identity by the end of the episode, but finally takes charge of her twisted relationship with the Black Hood and passes that identity on to Sheriff Keller. She then publishes the Sugar Man's identity in the school newspaper instead of revealing this to the Black Hood.

It turns out that the Sugar Man is... Robert Phillips, Jughead's teacher at Southside High. He was also the adviser for Southside High's student newspaper. It turns out that he's been dealing jingle jangle and other drugs out of Southside High with help from the Southside Serpents' rival gang, the Ghoulies.

Mr. Phillips was arrested and jailed. Unfortunately, he was visited in his jail cell at the very end of this episode by the Black Hood himself. The episode ended with the Black Hood pointing a gun at Sugar Man. It's unclear if he killed Mr. Phillips or not... but I'm sure we'll find out in two weeks when new episodes of "Riverdale" return to the CW!

Incidentally, as far as I can tell there is no Archie Comics equivalent character to either Sugar Man or Robert Phillips.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Another Social Work Portrayal on Latest "Coronation Street" // Was This One Less Problematic?

During the past month or so, there were a couple different problematic TV portrayals of social workers on U.K. soaps "EastEnders" and "Coronation Street." Particularly, they focused on scenarios where social workers were introduced and subsequently removed children from characters' home in dodgy ways. The "EastEnders" story was particularly bad. The social worker showed up without notice and immediately removed the kids without talking with anyone or gathering any evidence of actual abuse. But these shows have led to renewed complaints about unfair TV portrayals of social workers.

I have to admit that the second report got me curious about "Coronation Street" and I began watching the program three nights a week on BritBox!

There's this gay male couple on the show (Billy and Todd) who are adopting a girl named Summer. Of course being a soap, their lives and histories are challenged. On tonight's episode, a social worker name Jeanette was doing a routine home visit and the issue of Billy's recent arrest came up. Of course, the guys had to scramble to come up with an excuse and Jeanette seemed slightly placated though somewhat skeptical. I'm sure that we haven't heard the last of this.

But this got me wondering.... Given complaints in the past about TV portrayals of social workers, what do you think of Jeanette? How might you respond if you walked into a similar scenario with one of your families?

Derick Dillard of TLC's "Counting On" Attacks Trans Teen Jazz Jennings of TLC's "I Am Jazz" // "Transgender Is a Myth; Gender Is Not Fluid; It's Ordained by God" // Updated: Dillard Attacks Jazz Again & TLC Has Had Enough

(Originally written on 08/03/17): It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the Duggar family. They are a Christian family that became popular for their TLC reality TV show about the parents' quiverfull lifestyle and their 19 kids. They wooed America with their cute kids while campaigning against equal rights for LGBT people and families. Then the Duggar family started crumbling after it was revealed that big brother Josh (and now former Family Research Council leader) had sexually molested a few of his sisters when he was a teen. Fortunately for them, the oldest daughters began marrying and having their own kids, which gave TLC the opportunity to create a spin-off reality TV show called "Counting On."

Cut to the yesterday. TLC did a promotional tweet for "I Am Jazz," featuring Jazz Jennings, a 16-year-old trans girl. Derick Dillard -- husband of Jill (Duggar) Dillard -- decided to snipe at TLC and Jennings with the following tweet:

It's unclear why Dillard decided to attack one of his fellow TLC reality personalities with the unprovoked tweet. But his tweet didn't pass without criticism. One person asked him, "Is it necessary for a grown man to throw shade at a teenage girl?"

Which prompted another unprovoked low blow against Jazz:

Jazz Jennings largely ignored Dillard, responding indirectly with the following tweet:

For its part, TLC isn't overtly defending Jazz or "I Am Jazz" from the Duggar husband, choosing to respond with a tweet that essentially says, "that's him, not us":

Updated on 11/15/17: Derick Dillard began hating on Jazz Jennings (and her parents) via Twitter again last week:


This time around, TLC decided that it had had enough with the Duggars' son-in-law and announced that he was no longer involved with the network or with the Duggar spin-off series, "Counting On" -- and it's possible that he hasn't been involved with the show for a while:
Meanwhile, Jazz Jennings continues to take the high road:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Muscatine Iowa: City Administrator Sues Mayor & City for Professional Defamation // Council Votes to Increase his Salary by 2%

Remember last month when Muscatine's City Administrator, Gregg Mandsager, threatened to sue Major Diana Broderson for professional defamation and the City of Muscatine because they are an insurance holder (i.e., have the money bags)?

Looks like Mandsager went ahead and filed his lawsuit this past Friday:
Mandsager accuses Broderson of five charges in the petition: defamation, infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with prospective business advantage, intentional interference with contract and respondeat superior or municipality liability. He is requesting Broderson provide compensation for "injuries" and cost of legal action.
He claims that he just wanted Mayor Broderson to issue him an apology and to retract claims that she has made about their initial meeting, where she's stated that he'd told her that he runs Muscatine and that he is the person that makes decisions. Meanwhile, Mayor Broderson claims that she's never been approached by Mandsager about the lawsuit or about his desire for an apology or for a retraction. (Which seems kind of disingenuous given that he's spoken about both the lawsuit and his desire for an apology recently in the news.)

Mandsager is seeking a trial by jury and unspecified monetary compensation.

Meanwhile, the Muscatine City Council unanimously voted to increase City Administrator's salary by 2% earlier today. His annual salary increased from $155,000 to $157,000.

Oklahoma: Mother & Daughter Arrested & Charged with Incest following Marriage // Updated: Daughter Pleads Guilty to Incest

(Originally written on 09/09/16): I learned last night about a mother and daughter who were both arrested and charged with incest after it was discovered that they were secretly married back in March 2016. The marriage involves 43-year-old Patricia Spann and 25-year-old Misty Spann.

It seems that Patricia lost custody of Misty and her brothers back when they were minors. They were adopted by their grandparents.

According to news reports, Patricia and Misty were able to reconnect two years ago and they "hit it off." Patricia reportedly told investigators that she didn't think that she was breaking any laws because she is no longer listed as a parent on her daughter's birth certificate.

News reports also note that Patricia married one of her sons back in 2008. That marriage was eventually annulled in 2010.

Of course, anti-gay culture warriors are already using this story to snipe at married gay couples.

Updated on 11/14/17: I was online yesterday when I came across this story. The women in the article looked vaguely familiar so I decided to check out my archive and found that we'd already visited this story. Here is the update: Misty Spann (who is now 26-years-old) was scheduled to go to trial last week when she suddenly pleaded guilty to incest. She has received a 10-year deferred sentence. She will remain under the supervision of a correctional worker during that period.

Misty was reunited with her birth mother about three years ago. She and her siblings had been removed from her mother's custody and parental rights had been terminated. News reports indicate that the women "hit it off" after they reunited and began a romantic relationship. The elder Spann had told the young Spann that "she had received legal advise indicating that their marriage was legal." Their marriage was legally annulled last month at the request of Misty Spann "by reason of illegality and fraud."

44-year-old Patricia Spann is scheduled to appear in court on her own charge of incest in January 2018.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Jean Grey's New X-MEN RED Roster Revealed

Over a decade ago, Marvel Comics killed off Jean Grey. Since then, a younger version of Jean and the original X-Men were brought to the present in an attempt to discourage a mutant civil war.

Over the past year, a series of new X-Men team have formed: X-Men Gold (featuring Kitty Pryde, Storm, Nightcrawler, Old Man Logan, Colossus, & Prestige), X-Men Blue (Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel, Jimmy Hudson AKA Son of Wolverine, Bloodstorm, Magneto, Danger, & Polaris), and the Astonishing X-Men (Psylocke, Archangel, Bishop, Old Man Logan, Rogue, Gambit, Mystique, & Fantomex). Of the teams, I tend to prefer the X-Men Blue team.

More recently, we've learned that the older Jean Grey will be resurrected within the next few months. And more even more recently, it was announced that Jean Grey will be heading up a team of mutants with a new X-MEN RED comic book title.

Earlier today, Jean Grey's X-Men Red team was announced and I'm... vaguely interested. X-Men Red consists of Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, All-New Wolverine (AKA X-23), her sister-clone Gabby, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Gentle, and a new mutant named Trinary.

Don't get me wrong. I like Jean. I like Nightcrawler. I like X-23. And I like Namor. I'm curious to learn more about Gentle, but not as a team regular. Gabby has X-23's powers so we've got a duplicate member. And we know nothing about Trinary. So we'll just need to wait and see what happens.

North Carolina Teen Catches Creep Recording Her as She Changed Clothes in a Store's Dressing Room // Culture Warriors Blame Trans-Inclusive Bathroom Laws

There's a story coming out of Matthews, NC, of a man who creeped on a 16-year-old girl with his cell phone while she was changing clothes in a dressing room at a Plato's Closet this past weekend:
Sixteen-year-old Samantha Argo was trying on clothes for about 15 minutes before she noticed a cellphone on the ground with the camera facing towards her. She said a man was watching her change in a dressing room at the Plato’s Closet store Saturday in Matthews on East Independence Boulevard. "I don't know if I'm going to sleep tonight if I'm honest with you, because who knows what that man is going to do,” Argo said. Argo hopes someone knows the peeper and will report him to police. She described the man as Hispanic with a with a chinstrap beard wearing baggy red pants and red and white Jordan sneakers. Argo said she is afraid a video of her naked may be posted online as she claims the man in the dressing room next to hers was recording her on his cellphone.
Of course, Internet commenters have become fixated on trans-inclusive bathroom laws. The problem is twofold. First... This wasn't a trans woman that creeped on this girl. It was a man who presented as a man. And Second... This store doesn't have gender-exclusive dressing rooms. They have a series of changing rooms next to each other that have always been accessible to both men and women.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Barely Feeling the Love with BBC's "Puppy Love"

I was poking around BritBox again last night and discovered a new (to me) BBC sitcom from 2014 called "Puppy Love." Frankly, the only reason I call it a sitcom is because they call it a sitcom. There's some humor in this program, in the way that something like "Clatterford" (or "Jam & Jerusalem," as it was called in the UK) has comedy, as opposed to "Are You Being Served? Again!" (or "Grace & Favour," as it was called in the UK). "Puppy Love" is described as a warm, hilarious comedy that features two women wrangling adorable dogs and impossible families.

"Puppy Love" was created by Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine, both of whom star in this program. Scanlan plays Nana V, a dog trainer who's chronically in debt and frequently scheming to catch up with one bill or another, and Pepperdine plays Naomi Singh, a case worker for some non-profit youth organization.

Their lives become intertwined when Nana V's grandson Eron (played by Aron Julius) was placed in her home after his mom was sent to prison and Naomi was assigned to his case. Very quickly, Eron and Naomi's daughter Jasmine (played by Selina Borji) become romantically connected. Additionally, Naomi's family now has a young puppy named Charlie who's largely out of control. So she begins attending Nana V's dog-training classes.

I finally finished all six episodes of their series. It grew on me a bit, but the first few episodes really annoyed me. Let's get this out of the way. Naomi Singh is a snob. She means well, but she's snobby. She's the type of social worker who's out to save the world, but is visibly uncomfortable interacting with the people within that world. And she's pretty judgmental about the clients that she serves. If I could do anything about her character, I would encourage her to boost up her pragmatic empathy a bit and learn to keep her mouth shut.

But I also really grew to dislike how everyone around her treated her, especially in the first two episodes. Nana V kept conning her out of money and judging her in her own way. Her daughter was rude to her nonstop. Her husband Ravi was ever-distant, preferring to put all of his energy into his biking friends and leaving her out to drive when he came to parenting Jasmine and caring for Charlie.

And then there was this police officer in the second episode that was downright hostile towards Naomi. For example, Ravi left open the door so that Charlie got out and chased a neighbor's cat. Naomi was the one who got the lecture and the fine and the threats of legal action. And then there was this big dog-safety awareness event that the police put on. Naomi's dog got sick on the sidewalk and that police officer popped up immediately afterwards with another punitive fine. I mean, she didn't even have the opportunity to pick up after her dog!

I get it that British TV shows like to make fun of their buzzkill "health and safety" laws. I'm assuming that they exaggerate for their viewers, but there's a point where you are so outlandish and where you pile onto one character so much that it begins to lose credibility.

Relationships eventually settle a bit. Nana V and Naomi gradually make peace with each other their dysfunctional families eventually merge into something new and potentially interesting towards the end of the first season.

One thing that got me excited about "Puppy Love" early on was the inclusion of Tony, Nana V's live-in disabled ex-husband (or "wasband"). He was played by Simon Fisher-Becker, one of the special guests from the 2015 British Fest. It was fun watching him in action.

"Puppy Love" never moved beyond the first season, but that's probably just as well. It ended on a fairly good note and a second season would just force them to shake things up again.