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.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Hawk Alert Sent Out With Reports of Gunfire in Iowa City from Black Car // Iowa City Police: "No Victims, Damage, Nor Evidence Has Been Located"

A Hawk Alert went out earlier this evening with the following message:
Report of shots fired from a black Camry with an Illinois license plate in the area of Linn and College. Stay clear of the area.
So this happened in Iowa City. Linn and College are right downtown.

It quickly became clear that there probably wasn't much of substance behind this report. One local television station sent a producers to downtown Iowa City and shared that there didn't seem to be any signs of gunfire in the area.

Sure enough, the City of Iowa City sent out a community-wide email not to long ago:
On 11/11/17, at approximately 5:13 p.m., Iowa City Police officers responded to the area of 100 S. Linn St. in reference to a report of the sound of gunshots. It was also reported that a black Toyota Camry was seen leaving the area at a high rate of speed. Officers canvassed the area and were able to locate several people who also heard what sounded like gunshots. As of now, no victims, damage, nor evidence has been located.
In other words, somebody's car probably backfired or something.

Friday, November 10, 2017

"Little Women: Atlanta" Cast Member Involved in Fatal Car Crash // Charged with DUI

I don't know that I've ever watched "Little Women: Atlanta," but I'm assuming that it's like the "Little Women: Dallas" program. In other words, it's a budgeted-down version of the various "Real Housewives" programs and that it features a cast of little women.

One of the program's regular characters -- a woman named Melissa Hancock -- was involved in a fatal car accident last Saturday night. According to news reports, Hancock was arrested and charged with DUI/maiming and driving the wrong way.

She was reportedly driving the wrong way on a one-way road and crashed into another vehicle, containing a 29-year-old U.S. Coast Guardsman. Police report that her BAC was well above the legal limit.

According to news reports, Hancock is being held in jail without bond.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mary Goes Too Far in Latest "Coronation Street"

So I got Britbox and then began watching "Coronation Street" because of this story line. Of course me being me, I got sucked into this program and now find myself wasting three hours of my week each week watching "Coronation Street."

I was really into the ongoing saga of Anna and Seb and Faye and they're various health and social services problems. But today I am all over the story of Mary and her relationship with her recently reunited son Jude and his new bride Angie.

Keep in mind that I'm still new to this show. I'm still catching up with the various characters' histories. I don't know what happened, but somehow Mary lost contact with Jude. But he's back in her life and she's all over him and her young grandson.

Of course, she's also just meeting up with her new daughter-in-law and has some concerns. And there's some merit to her concerns. Angie is a little bit off. She's stressed and exhausted and still adjusted to being a mother. Basically, she's struggle with postpartum depression.

But Mary somehow decided that Angie is a struggling alcoholic and is trying to drive that point home in passive-aggressive ways. Like hosting a small party and inviting one of her neighbors, who happens to be a recovering addict.

Anyway, Mary was caring for Baby Aidan in today's episode. And she's worried because Baby Aidan is feverish and crabby. She rushes off to get Angie and discovers that her daughter-in-law has a glass of wine in front of her. Angie tells Mary that she's going to take the baby to the hospital and Mary begins freaking out because of Angie's "drink problem" -- even after everyone assures her that Angie really hadn't had more than two sips.

Mary freaks out and ends up calling the police, accusing Angie of drunk driving. This results in Angie getting pulled over in front of her in-laws and forced to undergo a breathalyzer test. Of course, her BAC is well within the legal limit and she's allowed to take Baby Aidan to the hospital -- but not before she tells Mary that she'll never see her grandson again!

Mary gradually realizes that she's made a big mess of things, with help from her husband and friends. Unfortunately, things don't get any better when she's eventually confronted by Jude. Jude yells at his mother and tells her that she's a "freak" and unsafe to be around children. He tells her that she'll never see her or his family again.

Which, of course, was very upsetting for Mary.

But it's also a reminder that there are better ways of addressing concerns that your daughter-in-law might be an alcoholic than calling the police during a high-stress moment.

Muscatine, IA: Residents Overwhelmingly Vote for Impeached Mayor//Against Incumbent City Council Members

It's post-Election Day 2017 in America. Democratic voters throughout the country pushed back against last year's GOP gains, which is good. Hopefully we'll keep that momentum going during the next election. I was happy over all with the results of the election. And even though Iowa City had its own city council campaign happening, my eyes were focused down south towards Muscatine, IA!

Over the past year, we've watched as the Muscatine City Council has pushed through impeachment efforts against its Democratic mayor, Diana Broderson. They successfully impeached her last spring and then a district court judge overruled the impeachment process, arguing that the Council improperly acted as investigator, prosecutor, and judge.

Nearly one year after this all began, the voters of Muscatine overwhelmingly voted in favor of Mayor Broderson's re-election bid -- by 59%!

Not only that, but they voted against the two incumbents from the City Council who had been up for re-election. Councilman Scott Natvig lost his seat with only 35% of the vote and Councilman Michael Rehwaldt lost his seat with only 28% of the vote. Councilman Bob Bynum is also leaving the City Council, having chosen against another campaign for health reasons.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Amber, IA: Hula Hoop Tree Catches on Fire

I'd never heard of the Hula Hoop Tree in Amber, IA, until last night. Heck, I'd never heard of Amber, IA, until last night. It's an unincorporated community in Jones County that's somewhere between Anamosa and Monticello. It's small enough that wikipedia doesn't list the size of its population, but it's big enough to have hosted a successful pancake breakfast this morning.

Anyway, the community has rallied around its Hula Hoop Tree for months. Here is the story behind this unique tree: A storm passed through town and they noticed afterwards that there were two hula hoops up on the tree. According to one community member, they don't know if the hula hoops got blown on by the storm or if someone put them there. However, the community -- and the surrounding communities -- has embraced its Hula Hoop Tree. Apparently, there's at least fifty hula hoops on the tree -- as of 10/04/17.

It was reported that someone set the Hula Hoop Tree on fire Friday night, but fortunately it survived the experience:
Not a good morning for the Hula Hoop Tree in Amber. Last night someone set it on fire. Thanks to the Anamosa (Amber) Fire department they were able to save it. Everyone please keep an eye on the tree and call (911) if you see something suspicious. Keep the hopes and dreams alive!

As far as I'm aware, nobody has been arrested for setting fire to the tree. However, the community has rallied around their Hula Hoop Tree.

Oelwein, IA: Domesticated Zebra Shot by Unknown Assailant // Killed by Single Gunshot to the Stomach

The Buchanan County Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting death of a domesticated zebra near Oelwein, IA. The 2-year-old zebra, named Taz, was found on Halloween by his owner, killed by a single gunshot to the stomach:
One of Henninger's seven zebras was killed sometime around Halloween. It was two and a half-year-old Taz. He found the animal on the 31st-- his birthday-- dead, shot in the stomach. "The last three or four days I've been pretty consumed," Henninger said. Henninger believes he knows who did it. That's because for months he's been receiving threatening texts, photos, and videos. In them-- someone is seen shooting, even roasting a stuffed zebra. He reported everything to area sheriff's deputies. Now, he's hoping authorities can do something to prevent other animals from being attacked. Pets, he says, bring him and so many others joy.
According to KCRG, a man contacted the station and admitted to making the various harassing videos, but denied killing the zebra. He reported said that he struggles with mental health challenges.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

WND's Linda Harvey on "Andi Mack" Gay Story: Disney Should Share the Story of Cyrus' Sexual Molestation

Remember Disney's "Andi Mack" program and its second season secondary story line of Cyrus struggling with an emerging questioning sexual orientation? While this story line got me interested in the program, it also attracted the attention of various anti-gay haters.

One critic of the program was particularly jarring in a recent WND column. Linda Harvey is an Ohio-based hater who works full-time as a radio talk show host, as a WND columnist, and through a group called Mission: America to fight against LGBT people and issues.

Her latest WND column didn't necessarily push back against Cyrus questioning his sexual orientation. She just urged Disney to share the back-story of his sexual molestation in a future episode of "Andi Mack:"
America’s innocence-endangered kids deserve better than normalizing sinful, high-risk behavior. Yet there is a storyline that would be helpful. What if Disney told the truth about the frequent origin of same-sex attractions in youth? A heartbreaking but realistic angle could explore what happens when a boy is molested by an adult male or an older teen boy, and then finds himself with same-sex desires – feelings absent prior to the abuse. Hollywood certainly knows about abuse. Harvey Weinstein is the current bad dude who violates women. But what about children and same-sex incidents? This subject is too politically incorrect for Tinsel Town.
Harvey goes on to clarify that not all gay men were sexually molested as teens -- but she asserts that it's very common and that Disney would do well to share the story of a boy who developed unwanted same-sex feelings after being sexually molested.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Iowa City: Ped Mall Shooter Plans to Use "Stand Your Ground" Defense // Updated: Wilson Cannot Use "Stand Your Ground" Defense to Avoid Trial

(Originally written on 09/19/17): Iowa passed its own "stand your ground" law during the past legislative session. It states that law-abiding people do not have to retreat before using deadly force to defend themselves if they believe their life is in danger — even if they are wrong in perceiving the danger faced, as long as the belief is "reasonable." That law went into effect on July 1st.

Now the Ped Mall shooting suspect from late last month, 23-year-old Lamar Wilson, has indicated through his attorney that he will use Iowa's new "stand your ground" law as a defense in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Kaleek Jones. He also plans to claim self-defense, defense of other, defense of property, and defense against a forcible felony.

His trial has been scheduled for 11/07/17. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and intimidation with a dangerous weapon.

Updated on 11/03/17:  A district court judge ruled today that Lamar Wilson cannot use Iowa's new "stand your ground" law to avoid trial for his involvement in the August 27 Ped Mall shooting death of Kaleek Jones. Wilson's attorney argued that the shooting was justified since he was defending himself from gunfire from another group of people. Wilson had a valid permit to carry firearms at the time of the shooting.

District Judge Paul Miller appears to have left open the possibility that he can still use that as a defense during the trial.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Pat Robertson to Grieving Mother: God Allowed Your 15-Year-Old Son to Die So He Wouldn't Become an Atheist

Pat Robertson has been making the news lately. I won't get into his recent urging to President Trump to pardon everyone in his circle and the stop the Mueller probe. Most recently, he was doing one of his "Your Questions, Honest Answers" segments -- which appear to be a retooling of his old "Bring It On" segments -- when he was asked the following question by a listener named Cristina: "My 15-year-old son was killed January 26, 2017. My question for you is: Why does our Father allow us to go through this pain and torment? As a mom, I do everything in my power to protect my kids from this. What is the point? I am confused and angry. Please help me understand. I have been faithful to the Lord alone, so why?"'

Here is Pat Robertson's heartfelt pastoral response:
Listen, God looks upon your faithfulness. I was reading today about Peter. And Jesus said to Peter, "Peter: when you were young, you used to dress yourself and go where you want to. When you get old, others are going to dress you and take you where you don't want to go..." Signifying the death... He was going to act as a martyr. These things happen. 

We live in a world of wickedness and God does not necessarily spare us from these things. He will teach us. Once we're in the difficult situation, he will help us to overcome it. But not necessarily will he spare everybody. You say, "Why does my father allow this to happen?" The loss of a child is a terrible grief. But... that child is 15. Maybe he was living for the Lord at 15. I don't know anything about him... So what would have happened maybe ten years from now? Would he have started drinking? Would he have gone away from the Lord? What would have happened? So God who sees the end from the beginning knows what would happen to that child. And because he loves the child and loves him, He wants to bring him to Heaven forever and he wants to spare him some of the bad things that would happen down the road

I'm just speculating, but... God's in charge of everything. Believe me, he is not some big super daddy who will spare all of us from pain. We're all going to have pain. Through much persecuation, we enter into the kingdom of God through much pressure. We enter into the kingdom of God and there's not one of us that hasn't experienced some some kind of tragedy and pressure in our life. That's part of living. So don't ask "Why does God let this happen?" That's part of living.
So God allowed this child to die at the age of 15 because he might do something horrible in ten years, such as drink a beer or become an atheist. Nice....

You can watch the entire segment here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Shelter House Finds Location for Temporary Homeless Shelter in Iowa City During Coming Winter Months

Over the past three winters, Iowa City's Shelter House has operated a temporary homeless shelter that was capable of housing 30 people per night during the winter months. These temporary shelters were created to alleviate some of the overcrowding that happens each winter at the Shelter House. They were also used as a form of "wet shelter" (i.e., allowing individuals to access the shelter who had been drinking alcohol). Those individuals are turned away from the Shelter House. It was set up in the old Aldi's building in 2014, at the old TMone building in 2015, and at the former Unitarian Universalist Society Church building last year.

It was announced last week that the 2017 temporary winter homeless shelter will be located at 821 South Clinton Street in Iowa City -- the former Carquest building.

The temporary winter homeless shelter will operate from 12/01/17-03/31/18.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tegan and Sara to Appear in THE ARCHIES #5!

Archie Comics announced today its latest real life celebrity guest star to appear in THE ARCHIES: Tegan and Sara! The music duo will appear THE ARCHIES #5, which should appear on the stands in February 2018:
In The Archies #5, Archie and his pals face their toughest hurdle yet when one of the members unexpectedly quits the band, putting their entire tour in jeopardy. No one said being in a band with your best friends (and Reggie) would be easy. It's a good thing indie pop sirens — and sisters — Tegan and Sara are there to help Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Reggie navigate their first major crisis. And maybe they'll all become a little closer as bandmates in the process...
"Growing up we loved Archie comics," Tegan Quin said in a statement to MTV News. "We would read them in line at the grocery store and beg for them when we would go on vacation to Vancouver Island in western Canada every summer. I vividly remember passing back and forth copies of the latest Archie comics in the minivan as we made the 11-hour drive through the Rocky Mountains. We feel truly thrilled to be included — even in print form — in some small way with the comic..." 
"I love the mix of acts we've gotten to jam with the Archies, and Tegan and Sara are no exception," Segura said. "The fun part about writing this series is that the groups coming in get to meet the Archies at different points in their musical journey, and this issue will find the Archies at a major crossroads — one that might change the makeup of the band forever." 
I love this particular cover by Greg Smallwood. Check out all of the bands showing up on Archie's guitar case: Chvrches, KISS, the Ramones, the Monkees... All recent crossover band to the Archies!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Yet Another Kids Removed by Social Worker Story on TV -- This Time on "Coronation Street"

I recently got a subscription to Britbox. I've wanted to do it for a while, but I finally took the plunge. One of the first shows that I watch was "Coronation Street." It's a British soap opera and it's pretty addiction, though I'm still getting to know who's who. Last week, Social Work Tutor highlighted a current "Corrie" story line in which a social worker gets called to a family's home due to the mother's drug problems. And, of course, the children are ultimately removed from the family home.

Keep in mind that a similar event happened recently in "EastEnders." In that story, someone called social services after finding bruises on a baby and after the older sister lied that the mother had caused those injuries. The show was ridiculed because the social worker showed up that evening and immediately removed the children and placed them in foster care without interviewing anyone or even examining the children.

I completely understand the "EastEnders" criticism, but I don't get the "Coronation Street" criticism. Here's what happened. One of the characters is a single mom named Abi Franklin. She struggles with drugs, which means that her 16-year-old son Seb is pretty much bringing home money and caring for his younger siblings.

Following a rough patch, somebody called social services about the problems in Franklin home. She spoke with Abi and Seb and the other kids and gathered information for an assessment. She also offered to provide from family centered services to help out. Abi didn't appreciate the interference, but it's clear that Seb was happy to get the help.

That night, Abi took some hard drugs. Spice, I believe; which is a dangerous synthetic drug. But it's also possible that it was heroine. I was only half-paying attention. She was in charge of the young kids and ended up overdosing, resulting in her falling unconscious. The ambulance services were called and they managed to save her.

But the end result is that the social worker from social services was called back to the home by the police and the two younger children were placed into a foster home, largely because there weren't any adult friends of the family who could care for them. And Abi was in no state to care for the kids.

I've heard complaints that not enough support was offered to Seb. That the social worker wasn't empathetic enough. That she wasn't sympathetic enough. And that she didn't spend much time doing paperwork.

That's probably the realest complaint. In social work, there's never too much paperwork. But paperwork doesn't make for good TV. And it's true that the social worker was a bit cold towards Seb right before she left. He kept asking her to promise that the kids would be kept in the same home and she just stood there silently, staring at him.

But I didn't think that it was a horrible portrayal of social workers in the field. It would have been nice to see some attempts at services before things fell apart -- but I think that the young kids are probably better off in foster care while their mother gets herself some treatment.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Archie & the Red Circle Vow to Take Down the Black Hood in the Latest "Riverdale!"

Archie and the Red Circle
Husband Mark and I finally sat down yesterday to watch the latest episode of "Riverdale." There were some really great developments.

First, remember how the Black Hood shot and killed Moose Mason and Midge Klump last week? Turns out that reports of their deaths were highly exaggerated! Moose ended up shielding Midge from the Black Hood's bullets and even Moose himself survived the experience and now recovers safely in the local hospital.

Early in the episode, Hal and Alice Cooper received a dossier from someone claiming to be the Black Hood. He claims that he's attacking the hypocritical underbelly of Riverdale, including an adulterer (Fred Andrews), a child predator (Ms. Grundy), and two sex-crazed drug abusers (Midge and Moose). They turned the dossier over to Sheriff Keller -- but not before publishing a copy of the letter in their newspaper! This leads Polly Cooper to escape from the family home. After all, the Black Hood is after sinners and she's an unmarried teen mom who's pregnant with the children of her cousin!

Then there's this weird conflict between Veronica and Hermione Lodge over Hiram Lodge's attention. Honestly, I really don't get it. Both are being really petty towards each other. But this leads to a family dinner where Archie finally gets to meet Mr. Lodge. Hiram encourages Archie to more aggressive take the fight to the Black Hood.

Speaking of which... After learning of the attack on Moose and Midge, Archie organizes a vigilante group that he calls the Red Circle (the name of Archie Comics' old superhero line of comic books). They plan to keep an eye out for the Black Hood so that they can stop him from hurting more students and so that they can get the police involved more quickly in attacks. Sheriff Keller hates the Red Circle, but Principle Weatherbee gives it his blessing.

During one of their first missions, Archie and Reggie save Big Ethel from being attacked by somebody -- presumably the Black Hood. (I'm not convinced...) They're glad that they saved Ethel, but wished that they could have gotten there faster. After Mr. Lodge's pep talk, Archie decides to step up his game. He's tired of the Black Hood's fear tactics, so he and the other students post a video threatening to brutally (and possibly fatally) take down the Black Hood!

Meanwhile, Jughead is still going to school at Southside High School. He's busy avoiding the Southside Serpents and rebuilding the school's newspaper. However, the school's rival gang -- the Goolies -- won't let the son of FP Jones go unmolested and end up jumping him. This leads Jughead to allign himself the Serpents -- including Toni Topaz, Sweet Pea, and Fangs Fogarty. This promises to create problems with Betty, who doesn't want Juggy in the gang and who also now has a romantic rival via Toni Topaz!

Lastly, Kevin Keller is really struggling right now. It really sucks being the only openly gay teen at Riverdale High. We learn that he's been going on "night jogs" into the woods. Basically, he's cruising men for sex. It was during one of these night jogs that he heard the Black Hood shoot Moose and Midge and called for help.

Betty quickly realizes that he's hooking up with strange men and begins a campaign of convincing Kevin to stop cruising the woods. During one of those confrontations, he tells her to back off. That it's not her place to approve or disapprove of this option -- what he feels is his only option for finding connections. She ends up telling Kevin's dad about his night jogs, which leads to an emotional scene between father and son -- but it also creates a major wedge between Kevin and Betty. I'm sure that they'll get over it eventually, but he's pretty much pissed at her right now.

One last thing, we learned of the Goolies in this episode, but we don't know much about them. They are rivals for the Southside Serpents and they deal drugs at the school. But they also have their roots in an old "Sabrina the Teenage Witch Show" spin-off called the "Groovie Goolies!" You can watch their theme song here. Much like Jingle Jangle, I'm sure that the Goolies of "Riverdale" will have little to do with their namesakes.

Groovy Goolies