"HELLO, POLICE? I'M BEING TERRORIZED... I'M BEING TERRORIZED BY THIS HORRIBLE DOLL!"
The National Post
had an item about another "haunted" item being sold by an eBay
seller, and this haunted item is something close to my own heart...
It's Stitch, the diminutive alien voiced by Chris Sanders who was the star of the Best Animated Feature of 20021
, Lilo & Stitch
Since the National Post
article is registration only, I will link you to this Register (UK) article
about the item up for sale, but I'll just quote directly from the sellers' page
Since this thing is just much too long to quote in its entirety, the gist is that the guy and his fiancé, who live in Alberta, were visiting relatives in Florida, stopped by Disneyworld, bought several different Stitch dolls since they are such fans of the movie, and then stopped at another store
"We stopped at a little out of the way place while looking for a restaurant. This place was small, and kind of dingy, but they had food, and a 'gift shop', if you could call it that. I wish I could remember what it was called, but the only thing that seems to ring a bell is 'Leary'. Anyway, they had another Stitch toy there, which looked just as good as any we had picked up in Disneyworld, and was a quarter of the price. The person behind the till seemed a little too pleased to be making the sale, and now I can see why."
He comments that the shop owner seemed especially happy to be rid of the toy, and he soon finds out why.
"We displayed the toys on our TV stand, with some other stuffed animals my fiance has collected over the years. Nothing has ever moved them, except for when cleaning & dusting, and then they are promptly put back in place. After the new Stitch toys were put up, about once a week, we would find one or two of the other stuffed animals on the floor, on certain mornings when we would get up. Originally thinking nothing of the fact (we have a dog, who we thought maybe bumped the stand - more on him later), we would put the animals back up on the stand. This became a semi-regular occurance until early November, when we awoke to a loud slam in the middle of the night. I got my fiance to stay upstairs, and crept down to see what was happening. I had the light on at the top of the stairs, which meant I could not see clearly into the living room to see what had happened, but I did notice different things scattered on the floor. I turned the light on at the front door, and saw that the items on the floor were actually all of the stuffed animals, and other Stitch toys. The only thing left on our TV stand was the Stitch we had picked up from that store. That would have been enough, but the top of the TV was cracked as well - it looked as though something heavy had been dropped onto it. We still have no idea what happened there."
He fixes everything and throws out the toy, though he doesn't want his fiancé to be scared, so he tells her that it just became ripped when it fell off the shelf and he had to throw it out. Then, in the morning, he threw the garbage in the dumpster, thinking he'd never see the Stitch again.
"Later that morning, I got a call from my fiance, asking why I thought it would be funny to joke about throwing one of her stuffed toys away. I explained that I put it in the dumpster that morning, and she asked why it was still on the shelf. Both doors were still locked, and no windows or anything were broken. I left work early."
He had to tell his wife what was really happening, and they took it to a dumpster behind a Safeway supermarket, though it came back four days later completely clean.
"Trying to dump the Stitch in different places, on the other side of the city, etc. became a regular thing. Since no one believed us when we tried to tell the story, there was nothing else we could really do. Thankfully, neither my fiance nor I were seriously hurt at all - the only injury worth mentioning was it had tripped me (as far as I can tell) as I walked down our front steps one day. I didn't notice it there when leaving the house, and I definitely caught my foot on something, and when I turned back, it was there. Thank god I only got a scraped knee & palm."
Just before Christmas, he buried Stitch in a landfill, and Christmas was quiet, but the doll was back with a vengeance just after New Year's.
"In the early evening on a Thursday, I let our dog outside, just as we normally do all the time. After he had been outside for about 10 minutes, I thought maybe he had found some food, or something else to eat, as he usually does. I looked outside, and saw him laying in the snow, and he wasn't moving. I ran outside, and grabbed him, and noticed the Stitch toy laying beside him. Our dog was breathing, but unconscious. I rushed him inside, and called the vet. We were able to take him to the emergency clinic, and after examining him, we were told that they could notice nothing actually wrong with him. It appeared that he had just passed out, but his blood pressure was extremely high, and he was still having problems breathing. They kept him overnight for observation, which was good, because I wanted him kept as safe as possible.
When we got home, we decided to burn the toy in our fireplace, but we could not get it to light. We even tried lighter fluid, but as soon as it touched him, it was completely absorbed - he did not feel damp, and did not smell of the fluid.
If we could not burn it, we would incapacitate it. I grabbed a pair of scissors, and cut off each arm and leg, and the head. I took the 6 pieces, put them in a garbage bag, tied the top, and put it outside on the front step, to get rid of in the morning."
Wait, what does he mean "six pieces"? Shouldn't he mean "eight pieces", since Stitch actually has four arms, just like the original version of Grimace?2
"The next morning, I went outside to get the Stitch, and the bag was gone. I could not find it anywhere in our yard, or the parking lot. I went back inside, and there it was. The toy was back on the TV stand, and it looked like it had never been touched. Not a speck of dirt, not a rip or tear on it.
I grabbed the toy, ran to the car, went downtown, and ran into the first pawn shop I could find. The owner said they did not take used stuffed toys, as they can be dirty. I told him that he could have it for free - I just did not want it. He started to ask why, but I left it on the counter, and ran out of the store. I thought maybe if someone else were to buy it, it would stay with them, and away from us."
Fenruary was a quiet month, but, just like Ember
, Stitch was bound to make a reappearance sooner or later.
"2 days ago, it came back. I opened the front door to go to work Monday morning, and it was sitting on the front step, facing me. I put it in the house, pinned under our TV, and told my fiance about it, and to leave the house as fast as possible.
After discussing what to do for a few days, we have decided that we really have no other option than to try and list this on eBay, and get it as far away from ourselves as possible. We do not want to send it to someone who is not expecting it, and we want to send it to someone who is asking for it, this is why the opening bid is $0.01, and there is no reserve. We just want to get rid of it. Thankfully it has stayed under the TV up till now, with no real signs of change. I don't want to sound like a wuss, but this bear is the scariest thing I have ever experienced, and I am a horror fanatic. It may look like a regular stuffed toy, but it's evil."
He then adds this warning.
"Please, if you have children or pets, think twice before bidding. This is not a 'toy' for a child. I can not say with any assurance that you will have the same experiences as us, but there is a strong likelyhood that you will see what I mean, and I do not want to feel any guilt for harm coming to a child or an animal."
Yeah, I'd believe this more if this story wasn't an eerie mirror of Reginald P. Linux's own harrowing experience in Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka and Kevin "Fragmaster" Bowen's masterful horror tale of harrowing suspense, 2003's
Doom Hose Doom House
, since, of course, that was the first "movie" or any other form of fiction to feature an evil doll who keeps on returning no matter how many times it's destroyed or disposed of.
might just consider taking the
cop's helpful advice:
Cop: Hey, what are you still doing here? I told you to clear... out of the Doom House! Do you want to have... this horror?
Reginald P. Linux: Doom House?
Cop: Yeah, Doom House. You know that creepy doll? It's part of the Doom House mystique, and you've got it in spades, so you'd get out... (something garbeled, sounds like "i'dtah") my advice as an officer of law.
Reginald P. Linux: The doll that won't let me sleep? That doll?
Cop: You seem like a man of many words, but let me tell you this, how about? If you don't move out of the Doom House, it could spell your doom.
Reginald P. Linux: Doom House?
Cop: Yeah, doom!
Reginald P. Linux: Doom House?
(The cop just leaves, though he helpfully takes the door-blocking thingy and puts it in the door so the cat can't get out.)
Finally, I'll add that, if he's got a possessed doll that keeps on returning, I'd also suggest he'd be on the lookout for baggies, as baggies are incontrovertible evidence... evidence of a DOOM HOUSE!EDIT:
Forgot to mention, the bidding on this thing is at $11 000 and rising. I would not be at all surprised if a certain Montreal-area asshole spyware-infused online casino whose name I won't mention as I'm not playing into their free publicity game turns out to be the top bidder.
And why are all the articles I've read about this referring to Stitch as a "teddy bear"? Stitch isn't a bear, he's Dr. Jumba Jookiba's "Experiment 626" and resembles a blue chihuahua, not a bear. Everyone knows that. "It's common knowledge for Gals!" Idiots.1 Best Animated Feature of 2002 according to me and the Las Vegas Film Critics' Society. Everyone else, including "Oscar", voted for the bloated, unfocused, and overrated Spirited Away, bah!
2 "Four-armed Grimace" a.k.a. Evil Grimace, who terrorized a young Jodie Foster by stealing all of the cups from McDonaldland, forcing Ronald McDonald to disguise himself as a mailman to trick "E. Grimace" into thinking he's been accepted into a beauty contest, and Ronald, Jodie, and the boy-who-never-grew-up-to-be-anyone-important take the cups back whilst Evil Grimace puts on a dress. You can trace the evolution of Grimace, who is the character who represents "milkshakes", by the way, on this page, though be aware that there is some leftist anti-McDonald's claptrap.
JUST A COUPLE OF LINKS...
First, when I was preparing my 6000th post thread of random recycled crap for RottenTomatoes.com
, I came across this weird orphaned review of the Ah! My Goddess movie
that I had completely forgotten that I wrote. This was written when I was taking a break from Concordia and was at the animation college, so it wasn't done for The Concordian
, and it was well over a year after I stopped submitting reviews to Anime On DVD
, so I'm not completely sure why I wrote it. I must have just written it for the sake of itself, perhaps to submit to Anime News Network
, though ANN has a review of that movie written by Allen Divers
. It was actually written half a year after I wrote mine. I wonder why I never submitted it to them? Since I don't remember writing it, I don't remember my motives for not submitting it, so it's difficult to say, but it's rather well-written by my standards and fits nicely in my Rotten Tomatoes journal
has an article up
about a site called OurMedia, "The Global Home for Grassroots Media"
, which is run by the same people who run the Internet Archive
and which promises "free storage and free bandwidth for your videos, audio files, photos, text or software. Forever. No catches." I decided to put the site to the test... with mixed results. You see, I have this little Transformers
inspired animation that was the only thing I did at the animation school I went to before I ran out of money that I'd willingly show to other people. Everything else I did was such crap that I don't think I bothered saving it to CD. It's thirty seconds of insanity... albeit rather slow motion insanity (I slipped in a lot of "Easter Eggs" of things I like)... and the file size of the AVI file is almost 30 mb. I've been wanting to show you faithful readers this animation for over two years, but the file is large enough that there wasn't anywhere free and reliable with enough bandwidth so that more than a couple of people could download it a month, until now. Unfortunately, OurMedia.org does accept files larger than 10 mb, but you have to load it using an external programme similar to Hello, the thing that uploads pictures directly to Blogger rather than having to use a seperate hosting site like Photobucket (though I find photos uploaded using Hello make updating this blog very, very sluggish, for whatever reason, which is why I still use Photobucket 90% of the time). So I installed this external programme and then selected it from the Windows Start menu and... bupkis
. The programme just won't work on my system (Windows ME) for whatever reason. But, it's like v. 1.000000000, so I assume that, as the very first version ever, it will inevitably be really buggy and one of the versions with the bugs ironed out will actually show up when I start it, so I can upload my masterpiece, More than Meets the Eye
, and I will finally be a noted animation director who can teach that chump Hayao Miyazaki a thing or two.
Another thing OurMedia.org automatically gives you is a blog
, which is like my fourth or fifth blog. I'll doubt I'll use it much, as I have no intention of abandoning this blog, but I'll use that blog for when I want to post several large image files and don't want to nuke the bandwidth in my Photobucket account. And, I had the perfect opportunity to test it out: over at X-Entertainment.com
, Matt Caracappa
has posted an article in which he scanned some sticker album from the 1980s
, and, as someone who was born in the same approximate era as the former kid who collected the stickers for the album, I have a similar sticker collection myself (though collected in photo albums). Ripping off Matt's idea, I scanned three sample pages that are either retro cool or retro hilarious and did this OurMedia blog entry
. It works, though the downside is that you have to read the description and then click on the link to see the pictures. Here's how I sold the entry on the X-Entertainment "blog"
: "so you can see Transformers! More dentist stickers! A couple of stamps from the other doomed Royal Wedding from the 1980s! Lesbian fishes! And dated pop-culture references!"
Nothing to do with the rest of this entry, but, if you're wondering about Ember, my cat who went missing for a week and mysteriously returned yesterday, she's mainly been sleeping for most of the day yesterday and today. I guess she couldn't sleep too deeply outside, as she must have had to have kept one eye open at all times to avoid being chomped by large dogs or stepped on by people. We're keeping her inside for the next little while, which pisses her off a bit, but we don't want her wandering off again as she has proven that she won't always come back in a couple of hours, and she might have been fed by someone else while she was away, and, if that's the case, we don't want her to seek him or her out again. And, yes, in terms of being a pet who disappeared and reappeared just before Easter, I have made a tasteless mental comparison to the Christian animated special, Easter Is
, where a kid named Benji is going to do some sort of religious production but his dog, Waldo, is kidnapped and held for ransom for (put Dr. Evil pinky to mouth) "Five Dollars", but why real life isn't ripping off television is because:
- she's a cat, not a dog.
- no one was holding her for ransom.
- no kids have come up to me and started talking about Jesus for no particular reason.
Well, have a good Good Friday to anyone of an applicable religious affiliation.
I kind of wanted to get up a bit earlier today because I wanted to go to the doctor, so I decided to go to bed at my usual time to go to bed should I want to get up early:
plus a whole bunch of minutes...
Anyway, at around 4:30 a.m., my dogs came downstairs in a very agitated mood, wanting me to get upstairs. Usually, if they're acting like this in the middle of the night, that can only mean one thing. They really, really, really have to pee. Scratch that, they also act like that when there's a snowplow outside (as one of the peculiarities of living in Ottawa seems to be that they only plow overnight, no matter when the snow fell during the day), but, since there hasn't been any significant snowfall in a couple of weeks now, the "need to pee" option seemed to be the most likely one. They got especially excited when they got near the door, so I turned the porch light on, unlocked all the locks on the back door, and guess what?
Put the title of one of the three films in Disney's most recent wave of Region 1 DVD releases of Studio Ghibli films
into the past tense for the answer.
It was Ember
! She had come back after being missing for over a week! She looked a little thinner than she did before, but otherwise looked healthy.
I called out to my parents, and then I emptied an entire can of Fancy Feast Trout Feast cat food into a bowl, but, strangely, she didn't seem all that hungry. I think she ate a little, but Luke and Sam polished up the rest. My father got up and then my mother. We were petting her and stroking her and she was purring very loudly, though, otherwise, acting like nothing had happened. I got the carpet-covered cat (it's a tube with a rectangle window just big enough for a large cat to rest in, and the tube is on two legs with a base and a cube-object for batting hanging down between the legs) perch from the living room and put it on the small living room table to give her a place to escape from the dogs, who were giving her an inordinate amount of attention, partially because I think they genuinely missed her, and partially because she had been romping around large parts of the neighbourhood, perhaps encountering all sorts of creatures, and she probably has all sorts of interesting scents on her. They're both good natured dogs who would never do anything intentionally to hurt her, but they're both very large and they can intimidate her, though she usually just swipes at their snouts with her paw.
Weirdly, Ember wasn't too interested in hiding out in her perch and resting. She sat in there for a few minutes, while my mother was making tea, since we were all up anyway, but then the cat jumped off her perch and the table and actually walked back towards the back door, expecting us to let her out again. Uhh... considering what she's put us through over the past week, I don't think she'll be going outside again any time soon, so she went downstairs to rest on the green ottoman (footstool), but, when the dogs surrounded her there, she got off and lay down on the plush carpet in the little corner of the family room between the ottoman, the TV unit, and the record shelves with my anime DVDs on them, where she stayed for a good fifteen minutes, though she was still getting attention from my dogs and my father. My father went upstairs, I went to the downstairs washroom, and, when I was out, she wanted to go back upstairs again. I think she ate a little more and then I put her in her perch and brushed her a little bit. Although she was a little wet from the melting snow, her fur wasn't abnormally matted in any way. I think she stayed in her perch for the rest of the "night", though, by the time we all went or returned to bed, the sky had already become the medium-shade of blue that is the morning twilight just before dawn.
So, all's well that ends well, I suppose. We were expecting that, if we were ever going to see her alive again, it would be because we got her from the pound or someone saw one of the flyers we were distributing and called us, and, even if she was found dead by animal control, at least we'd have the piece of mind of knowing which direction she was headed, but, since she seemingly returned home by herself, we'll likely never know what she was doing for the past week, whether someone did take her in for a few days before letting her go when it was a bit warmer out to find her own way home, or whether she was just sheltering from the cold in outdoor nooks and crannies, like under pine trees or between rocks, perhaps sustaining herself by catching field mice and chickadees and drinking from puddles. I like to think that, even if she didn't come to me when I called for her and made squeaky kissing noises those many times I walked around the neighbourhood, perhaps, when I walked the entire length of my road doing that on Monday night, she actually did hear me and could finally figure out the way to go to get home. I guess she is more canny than we gave her credit for.
In other, unrelated, happy news, my sister and her boyfriend just won a trip to a Club Med! Yes, this was a legitimate contest which they entered, courtesy of Coca-Cola, not one of those "free vacation" thingies where all you'll actually be doing is sitting in a hot room, listening to a high pressure sales pitch for a time share resort or some "Belgian Lottery"-type scam where you'll get the prize they promised, you just have to send this nice man at an untracable brokerage firm in Eurpoe thousands of dollars to handle the processing fees.1 Incidentally, "The Cat Came Back" wasn't actually written by Fred Penner, as a lot of Canadians believe; the original version of the folk song seems to have been written in 1893 by someone called Harry S. Miller, an American songwriter, though various people had modified and added to the lyrics over the years. Fred Penner's version seems to be the most famous version of the song in this part of the world, however, the version of the song used in Cordell Barker's famous 1988 The Cat Came Back animated short is from John McCulloch. I wanted to link to the Cordell Barker cartoon, since I thought that I had seen it online somewhere once, but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere on the Internet, although you can buy it on DVD in Animation Greats collection from the National Film Board. But I did find a blog entry that linked to a pretty amusing flash animation by "chesirepus", which is inspired by the Cordell Barker animation, but it's not a total rip-off (the same things happen, but that's because the song lyrics are straightforward), and, in this version, the singer is indeed Fred Penner.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS, AND OTHER ASSORTED CRAP...
The bad news is more like "lack of news"... nothing to report about the cat. No one's called to say they have her, nobody's found a body, nothing. I did another walk up and down our long, long street last night, but saw nada. I'll still do this for at least the next few nights, but it seems that, if she's still alive, she's no longer in the area immediately around our house as I think I might have seen her by now one night or the other.ITEM!
The good news? I got a job interview! At a certain store I'm not going to name here as I don't want to jinx myself! They made it for Wednesday next week. I guess it's too hectic being Easter week to do any interviews this week.ITEM!
Another bit of pretty good news is that my parents found a family physician who is actually taking new patients, since there is a severe doctor shortage in Ontario. They registered at the clinic on Monday, I may do it tomorrow. Obviously, I am not going to give details about the doctor other than that it's quite a fair trek to get there.ITEM!
In other news, the "Jon Heder from Napoleon Dynamite died in a car crash/of an overdose"
rumour, or "rumor" for those of you south of the border, has been widely debunked
, but now, according to many recent Google hits I've been getting, the same kind of rumour seems to be circulating over the Internet, just "Jon Heder" has been replaced by "Morgan Spurlock", the director and subject of the pseudo-documentary Supersize Me
. I think the film is less a documentary and more a glorified "stupid human trick" and all it proves is that "eating excessive amounts of the food at McDonald's isn't particularly healthy", making it a "well, duh
-cumentary", and I don't care much for how the nanny state "Nutrition Gestapo" types who want to regulate the food we eat have seized on this film as though it's revealed truth that Spurlock came down from the mountain with, but, still, I don't wish any harm upon the guy (especially considering that the guy's system is apparently so delicate that he was puking after eating McDonald's for the first day or two of his "experiment"). Morgan Spurlock's blog
hasn't been updated since the Oscars, but, apparently, that's because he married his vegan girlfriend and he's been on a honeymoon somewhere. It's another case of "If he died, I think it would have been reported somewhere by now", and the rumours seem to have started before his most recent blog entry, so I'm putting zero stock in any of this. Just use a little critical thinking, the same critical thinking that ought to make you realize that making a film with the point "junk food is bad" isn't quite as insightful as some of those critics made it out to be.ITEM!
After almost 2½ years, I hit the 6000th
post mark at the RottenTomatoes.com forum
, and six-thousand seems to be the big number at RT, not five-thousand, so I decided to commemorate it with a special thread, but one that wouldn't take much "new" work, and the result is a thread entitled "Post #6000: A Selection of Reviews my Student Paper Entertainment Editor Rejected."
It's a bunch of reviews I wrote from 1998 to 2001 that I submitted to The Concordian
but which were rejected, some, particularly many of the anime reviews, rejected obviously because I wasn't writing them for a general audience and crammed in too much esoteric information, but others, like my Toy Story 2
review, I suspect were rejected because the entertainment editor at the time was devoted the lion's share of space in the section to crappy local bands that you'd never hear from again and whom you'd likely never have heard of in the first place if it weren't for her articles. These reviews were lost to the world for four whole years until I retrieved the Microsoft Word documents and text files from the hard drive of my old computer shortly before moving. After the reviews, I've added new notes talking about things I got wrong, where I changed my opinion, updates for dated information, and anything else I feel like adding. It's a weird idea for the thread, but I like the randomness of it all. Among the highlights for me were my long lost alternate review of Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer
, my all-time favourite anime film, which I thought I had written somewhere but I wasn't sure what it was for. I think it's actually better than the review of it I wrote for Anime On DVD
. And I had completely forgotten that I had written a review of Charlie's Angels
, which is honestly my favourite film of 2000, though I concede that it was a rather weak year. (It's not up yet, I'll post it when I finish the thread.) Because of some technical problems with the RT forum, the link will take you to the last post on the page; know that it's a problem with the forum and I did not link you to the last post by accident.ITEM!
If you're a spoiler-lover like I am, scans of the last few pages of the novelization of Star Wars Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith
can be read here
and you can also see some climatic moments from the graphic novel here
. Hopefully, if the film is as cool as it comes across being on paper, people will appreciate the other two prequels more, since I feel that the prequels, especially The Phantom Menace
, are somewhat unfairly maligned compared to the original trilogy. I wonder how long it will be before Lucasfilm's lawyers notice? (I'll probably buy the graphic novel, at least.)ITEM!
If you're like me and can't afford a shiny new Sony PSP right now, fear not, much cheaper videogame salvation is here: From the amazing world of Homestar Runner
, the future animé version of Strong Bad introduced in the "sbemail" short "japanese cartoon"
, has his own "Videlectrix"
videogame, Stinkoman 20X6
(pronounced "Twenty-Exty-Six"), which is kind of a parody of Megaman
for the Nintendo Entertainment System, though the NES couldn't really handle the multiplane parallax scrolling in the background. It also has intentionally clunky language that reads like it was poorly translated from Japanese, just like the translations many Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System games got. ("I want to eat a nut of Laerma" itself is a "Japlish"
quote from the English translation of Phantasy Star
on the SMS.)
I made a fake introduction screen in "Press Start" font to promote the game. All errors, like "humanities" instead of "humanity's", are quite intentional.
is the official name for the 20X6 version of Homestar.)
You can read more about the game here
, and here's some more info on Videlectrix
Oh yeah, speaking of Flash games, I've almost doubled my high score in Nanaca Crash
. 16049.88 metres!
TONIGHT'S KING OF THE HILL...
...was a rerun, of "Yard She Blows" a.k.a. the "Winklebottom" episode
from January, meaning, I guess, that the well of episodes that were supposed to have aired last autumn but which were pre-empted by NFL football has finally run dry. I'm happy that they aired the "Winklebottom" episode again, because it gave my blog an impressive 28 unique visitors for the hour of 7 to 8 p.m.
Incidentally, there was a new episode of King of the Hill
last weekend, and I was in the room while it was on the screen, but I made the mistake of having my AOL Instant Messenger open while it was on and a bunch of people were talking to me while it was on, so I didn't absorb enough of the episode to have been able to write a review.
THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH I CAN SAY ABOUT A COMIC STRIP I DON'T NORMALLY READ, BUT...
seems to be a comic strip somewhat akin to being an American version of Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse
, that's a dramedy that initially started off mainly being an observational take on typical family life but which, over the years, evolved or degenerated, depending on your point of view, into being almost like a three-panel-a-day didactic melodrama serial, with story arcs stretching over weeks or even months and a whole slew of supporting characters and various in-laws that one as to be a long-time reader of the strip to be able to make heads or tails of without a roadmap. Well, I don't know if that's the path that Funky Witherbean
followed, since it was carried neither in the Montreal Gazette
nor the Ottawa Citizen
, maybe it was always like that. (For Better or For Worse
used to be a lot less "messy" in terms of storytelling in that you could pick it up in the middle and be able to get the gist of what's going on in a week or two, without having to read volumes after volumes of the old strip collections in order to understand the backstory.)
Like Lynn Johnston, Funky Winkerbean
creator-and-or-current-writer Tom Batiuk also likes dealing with the occasional "ripped-from-the-headlines" issue-based storyline. The current storyline has to do with a comic book store owner, Tom Howard, who sells a pornographic hentai manga comic to an adult, not realizing the adult in question is some kind of crusading anti-smut city councilwoman of some sort, Roberta Blackburn, who gets him busted with obscenities charges. (You can see the strip where the legislator character buys the comic on the official site
, which doesn't seem to have been updated in a couple of weeks.) AnimeNewsNetwork.com alerted me to this storyline with a short article entitled "Funky Winkerbean Looks at Adult Manga Censorship"
, so I wrote the following reaction to the strips I looked at in the forum:
Not that I particularly approve of people getting jailed for possessing or selling drawings, but I hope the writing gets a little better as the antagonist is the same old cardboard cut-out loudmouth-narrowminded-fundamentalist-Christian-concerned-parent-cum-anti-smut-activist-or-legislator they always drag out anytime they need a conservative whipping boy.
As someone who would be a "South Park Republican" if I was American, I don't usually agree with those people, at least when it comes to "art", but I recognize their sincerity and I realize that they are more than one-dimensional bad guys.
Someone pointed out to me that the Roberta Blackburn is a major supporting character in the script, so she's not a cardboard cutout antagonist that Tom Batiuk created just for this particular story, she's a stock cardboard cutout antagonist, so I stand corrected. Also, reading the comments in the thread and the past couple of weeks' worth of strips, there are evidently personal reasons why she wants to get the owner in trouble and the store shut down, though I don't get the strip in the newspaper, and, as such, I don't care enough to research in-depth why this would be or explain the other parts of what little of the strip I did read today.
People are also saying that this story is primarily based on the real-life case of Jesus Castillo
, a Dallas, Texas comic book store employee who was arrested, charged, convicted, and given a probationary sentence on obscenity charged for selling a pornographic hentai manga to two undercover police officers. A local city councillor was apparently trying to get a zoning re-draft passed, and the store at which Castillo worked was just across the street from a school, which had conveniently warned parents against many of the adult comics being sold there. After his conviction, his lawyers submitted his case to both the state courts and Supreme Court, though, it should always be noted that high courts only ever hear a tiny fraction of cases submitted to them, not because the other requests lack merit but just because time is limited and a court can only hear so many cases.
Certain free speech groups, particularly the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
, which paid for Castillo's legal defense, use the Castillo case as a rallying point. Unfortunately, the CBLDF, whether they admit it or not, have a hard-on against social and political conservatives in general (I discussed one specific instance of this briefly here
), and, as, in recent years, conservatism has been on the upswing, the way they tell the story of the Castillo case is rather apocalyptic, making it tough to cut through the Howard Stern-ish levels of hyperbole and armchair lawyery.
So, as a public service to anyone who is reading the current Funky Winkerbean
storyline, hears people mention the Jesus Castillo obscenity case, and decides to Google the name themselves, I shall link to trial lawyer William J. Dyer's (a.k.a. "Beldar") excellent and lengthy breakdown of the Castillo case
, a balanced look putting the case in the proper perspective, showing that, among other things, while it was unfortunate that Castillo was brought up on charges in the first place, Castillo could probably have been acquitted had his CBLDF-provided defense team been more aggressive, and that the law doesn't treat comic books any differently from more highbrow forms of culture, and that the Texas v. Castillo
case will never be used as a legal precedent anywhere. The Castillo case is very much like a modern day Inherit the Wind
where people with good intentions have taken the case and made it into a morality play showcasing the ignorance of those who brought up the charges and then convicted him, but, when you actually look at the facts, the truth is a lot more mundane.
Also, just as an aside, the Funky Winkerbean
strip from Friday or Saturday has the defense attorney mention that she had "been doing a little boning up on Japanese animé and manga, and it's clear that the books that were bought in [the] store are regarded as classics of their genre". I'll let the fanboyish complaint of manga comics being a medium, not a genre, pass, but I've been an anime fan for over a decade now and I've never heard of Demon Beast Invasion: The Fallen
, wherein, among other things, a woman has sex with a tree, being called a "classic". Maybe a classic of hentai tentacle rape. :P
But that's only assuming that Tom Batiuk is using the Castillo case as inspiration; Batiuk doesn't seem to have any kind of blog, so I really don't know one way or the other what he's basing this story on.