Saturday, April 20, 2019

Back To Sports, Back to the NBA: This is how you rig a playoff series...

Watch the actual foul on this, not the skirmish afterward, for which two players WERE ejected!
That's a Flagrant 2 on Embiid.  That hack was both unnecessary AND excessive, and should've resulted, especially after review, in his ejection from the contest.

Embiid: 31 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists.

14 of those 31 points were after his Flagrant 1. 

9 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block.

Philadelphia wins 112-108, 3-1 up in the series.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Another update on the Mignogna story: Forget the summer. It just exploded. He sued everybody.

I have always, as it relates to some of the sports stories in this blog, talked about what I call the "Rafael Palmeiro Principle" -- if you are being accused of a level of malfeasance which should end your career and you do not believe you committed the acts, you have one and but one recourse.

I have tried to be careful with the Vic Mignogna story, not because I liked the guy, and not because his allegations do mirror basically my entire first college and the first at least 12-15 months of the second.

Yesterday, Vic Mignogna just invoked the Rafael Palmeiro Principle.  He just sued his accusers within the voice-actor community, and the company he basically was the #1 anime voice actor for two decades for before being fired for these allegations, Funimation.  (Anime News Network)

And, in doing so, I think he has successfully killed the United States anime convention scene, because he's going to force other victims to not only sue him, but the companies he's worked for and the conventions who have not only employed him as visiting talent, but probably covered up and excused his conduct.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Update on the Mignogna story: This summer is going to be explosive...

There's a cover-up going on here, and I think it about to split the convention scene asunder.

Monica Rial's charges are quite severe (forced kissing, at least one incident where Mignogna is alleged to have pulled Rial by the hair and forced-kissed her every time they met for a significant period of time).

Again, and I'm not saying this vs. Rial:  WHY HAVE NO CRIMINAL CHARGES (or even complaints) BEEN FILED HERE?

I have an answer to that question, and it's not a pleasant one.  It also comes from a period of attending anime conventions on a large scale for about six or eight years surrounding the American DVD Boom Era of anime -- and, on a smaller scale, since to about three years ago.

The answer is two-fold:  The number of people who would want to see Mignogna is so large that booking him (or not doing so) may be a tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars (in revenue to the city) decision by a convention.

(A second answer may come from the Texas (the home of most of Funimation) statutes.  The crime Rial may be charging is a low-level misdemeanor assault (though many states do view sexual assault as encompassing hugging and similar non-consensual acts, all sexual assault laws in Texas require action with the sexual organs or anus), meaning the statute of limitations is only two years.)

Second?  The "no rules" culture.  That the #1 anime voice-actor guest (and by a LARGE LARGE margin) is accused (within and outside the industry) of sexual assault and harassment really comes across as little surprise to anyone who's been to more than one or two conventions, or even who's been to just one huge one.

Following backward on Anime News Network:
  • Kamehacon, a Dragon Ball universe event held last weekend, lost FIVE of it's guests (including Rial) within two days of the convention welcoming Mignogna back as a guest.
  • On February 18th, Samantha Inoue-Harte's rental home was damaged after she was reportedly told she would be SWATted.  Word is, Inoue-Harte charges that, in fact, the perpetrators were fans of Mignogna.
  • An incident from 2014's New York Comic-Con had one female attendee report that she had her picture taken with Mignogna with at least one of his hands inside her jacket.  (The picture, with the face of the victim blurred out, is here.  It's below the first anecdote, and relates to it.)  Mignogna requested a second picture, at which he kissed her non-consensually.  That could be ruled Forcible Touching under the New York Statutes, a one-year-in-jail Class A misdemeanor -- but the statute of limitations for that crime is only 12 months.
  • Another incident in the same article comes from 2013's ColossalCon in Ohio.  An 18 year-old lesbian fan was actually repulsed when Mignogna hugged and kissed her at the event.  Another state which would probably rule that simple assault, and the statue of limitations has, again, expired.
  • But a far more disturbing story -- even outside the concept of statute of limitation -- comes from an event I attended and a Mignogna autograph line I was actually almost-certainly in!  2006 Anime Expo -- the last Anaheim year.  The girl was 15, and Vic gave him her cellphone number after a second private meeting.  A number of phone calls followed.  Since Mignogna made a sexual reference to the girl's cosplay at AX 2006, it could well be interpreted as a misdemeanor violation of California Statute 288.4, if it could be proven that an eventual sexual meeting with Mignogna could be inferred.  Almost certainly, again, outside of statute of limitations, but...
  • At the height of the DVD Anime Boom (2006), Vic's fan club, the Risembool Rangers, was over 40% underage, according to an ANN investigation for that late-January article.  A survey of fan photos of that time relates a very high number of potential further victims.
  • A 16 year-old 2008 Animazement volunteer also relates being suggestively kissed by Mignogna after working for his CD table at the event.
  • Jessie Pridemore, a prominent cosplayer, also charges Mignogna attacked her at Anime Next 2011.  The charges appear to mirror Rial's.
Oh boy. And I haven't even gotten back to more articles from about that late January time period ...

Someone probably just asked the Million-Dollar Question in one of the forum threads:  "Where were you when the Anime Voice Actor War started?"

We are about to hit the main summer swath of conventions.  The largest Midwest con, A-Cen, is one month from now.

A quick cursory look at a screen-cap of Vic's bookings page on AnimeCons.TV, a website which keeps up with that kind of thing, showed sixteen scheduled appearances for Mignogna from late February to early November of this year.

As of that screen cap, only five still exist -- KamehaCon was a sixth, and previously one of eleven cancelled appearances, ten by the conventions themselves.

It's on, people.  The day the convention scene (anime, sci-fi, video games, etc.) is going to be able to avoid the sexual harassment question on female attendees is DONE.

At BEST, you probably now have a schism between those voice talents and fans who support Mignogna and those who do not.

At WORST, something's going down and damn soon.  Two major incidents against female voice talents who have already spoken out against Mignogna have been detailed already.  More are almost-certainly coming.

Stay tuned, people.

Just some side research: Banned For Life, and what some of their stories mean...

Just as a matter of killing time today, I decided to check out a Wikipedia list of over 70 pages of athletes thrown out of sports for life...

A few of the stories become interesting...
  • It may not have been only the 1919 World Series that was thrown.  1917's appears to also have been a throw by the losing side, and it's one of the reasons that, even though Heinie Zimmerman was not proven for the 1919 fix, it is believed by baseball historians he was involved in a 1917 fix, and was banned as a member of the Black Sox as a result.
  • A number of match-fixing and spot-fixing life bans, including several soccer referees, a couple of tennis players, and at least one rugby player.
  • Six members of the 2014 Russian Olympic Women's Hockey team were among the Sochi drug busts -- all banned for life.
  • February 23, 2017:  22 players from the national soccer team in Laos banned for life for match-fixing.
  • Ajay Sharma, an Indian cricketeer.  Banned for life in 2000 for match-fixing -- cleared 14 years later of all relevant charges by the Indian courts.
  • September 20, 2013:  14 El Salvador football players banned for life for a mass match-fixing scandal.  Several tried to continue to play in countries not under the FIFA umbrella.
  • Ibragim Samadov:  Banned for life from weightlifting competition after throwing down his bronze medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics, a crime against the Olympics itself -- for weighing about 1/3 of an ounce over the other two competitors with which he tied.  (Under the rules then, first tiebreaker is the lightest body weight.)
  • Damir Ryspayev:  Thrown out of the KHL for life in 2016 for starting a mass incident, prompting an exhibition game to be thrown out within three minutes after he effectively challenged anyone in the place.  The ban was ended in 2017.
  • In hearing the story of Swede Risberg's involvement of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal reads much like some of the e-sports stories I've read of the last few years:  Risberg apparently was given $15,000 to fix the World Series.  He didn't even make $4,000 for the season playing fairly.
  • Gordon McKellen:  Banned for life in 2001 from figure skating for sexual harassment of young female skaters.
  • Angel Matos of Cuba:  2000 gold medalist, 80 kg Taekwondo.  Banned for life at the same event 8 years later for kicking the referee in the face after being DQ'd out of the bronze medal match for taking too long of a medical supervision just seconds before winning the match.
  • Shame Hmiel:  Banned from NASCAR for 3 failed drug tests by 2006, paralyzed in a lower-level racing incident in 2010.
  • Dick Higham:  The only umpire known banned from baseball for life.  Association with a well-known gambler, passing information on the fixing of games in 1882.
  • Horace Fogel:  The owner of the Phillies from 1909-1912, banned for life for insinuating the umpires favored the New York (baseball) Giants and had it in for the Phillies.
  • Billy Coutu:  The only player banned for life from the NHL -- referee attack, 1927.  Lifted two years later for minor leagues, five years later for the NHL, never played in the NHL again.
  • John Coppolella:  Front office member of the Atlanta Braves, banned for life in 2017 for mass tampering of prospects.  He is the most recent person to gain that sanction, the forty-seventh to receive the life ban.
  • This includes some surprising non-Pete Rose names:  Ferguson Jenkins (drugs, reinstated by an arbiter, Hall of Fame in 1991), Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle (conduct unbecoming the game, they both were hired as greeters and autograph-signers in Atlantic City casinos in the 1980's, and Bowie Kuhn ruled that a ban offense.  Peter Ueberroth reinstated both in 1985.), George Steinbrenner (tampering/extortion to "dig up dirt" on Dave Winfield, reinstated by Bud Selig three years later), Marge Schott (racist misconduct in 1996, reinstated two years later).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

And now, Mr. Bettman, you can start the investigation...

19 points, 9 1/2 games clear of everyone else in the league...

LOVE - FOUR SWEPT in ROUND ONE.

This has the earmarks of a dive.

Non-Sports: I Didn't Think I'd Find A Bigger Anime Convention #MeToo Story Than The Cosplay Stalker This Year

... but I've stumbled, in the last 12-24 hours, on a story which is no less than what is being called a "day of reckoning" for anime conventions.

And depending on it's truth, it may well end them all.

And the mainstream media (even that more akin to anime) isn't reporting on this much.  (One reason is the man involved is considering lawsuit legal-action -- as well he should if his name is clear.)

That said, let me take you back to 2013 to a small anime convention in Fresno -- one of the last anime conventions I have attended.

I remember that con for three things:
  • Fresno is not the kind of place you want to spend much time.  (Apologies to any person reading this blog who has to live there.)
  • Cynthia Martinez, Sora Naegino in the two Kaleido Star seasons -- my favorite anime.  As such, I told Martinez that she was on my Bucket List, which made her all but squeal!
  • And a disturbing moment in the final panel of the convention.  I finally got the opportunity to attend a convention of the one of the Ayres brothers.  I want to say this was Greg...  But what I recall clearly was, later in the panel, he absolutely takes one of the biggest names in the anime industry and just throws him under the bus.
Attending that convention, I was pretty clear that, between what he was talking about and the implications, he was talking about Vic Mignogna.

For many, many years, Mignogna was THE go-to guest anime conventions wanted to get.  He was, and NOT CLOSE, THE most popular anime voice talent in the United States.  His autograph lines were often massive.  I should know -- I was in more than a few of them and loved the guy.

So, last night, I checked out his Wikipedia page, more to see if his relationship with actress Michelle Specht was still going (it fizzled out last year).

In doing so, I literally opened Pandora's Box.

#MeToo

Vic Mignogna is in the process of being blackballed (and whether it is justified or not is going to have to be a matter for the courts -- almost-certainly both criminal against him and civil actions sought by him -- to decide) from the American anime industry.  He has been fired in February, 2019 from Funimation Pictures (for whom Mignogna worked for two decades -- it's now a Sony derivative who basically is the near-extent of the current American anime localization industry), and many other companies and conventions have not only cut ties with him, but one February Florida anime convention actually threatened to call the police on fans who still supported him!  (No joke!)

A couple of months ago (and I'm not sure if I covered the guy's spreadsheet on this blog), Kotaku reported that a spreadsheet of accused sexual harassment complaints was being circulated among anime conventions and fans. 

It is now clear that Mignogna's name was all over that spreadsheet, and that it appears as if Mignogna himself is (allegedly believed to be) the same Dark Secret in the anime-convention community that the previously-referenced Magic player was to his.

Given the allegations, it is hugely difficult for me to believe someone has not filed criminal charges against Mignogna.  There is the belief, obviously, that someone has planted these allegations to destroy him -- and, if that's the case, they have succeeded.

But the charges read as if his entire career was a farce.
  • The charges span a period of 30 years (including 10 previous to his anime career), according to three articles referenced on Vic's Wikipedia page.
  • They include kissing fans, groping fans, and unwanted sexual comments toward them -- some of them underage.
Just my experience with Mignogna indicates that there is plausible credibility (no proof, but credibility) to at least ask these questions.  Mignogna was greatly affectionate with his fans, especially the female fans -- without question.

Groping them, however, takes that to an entirely different level and a very dark place.  Especially because all outward appearances (and more than a few of his panels) indicated he was a very religious man -- though quite accepting and tolerant.
  • Two prominent voice actresses, Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi, added their charges against Mignogna to the list.
  • There have also been charges of homophobia.  (These, to my understanding, are NOT credible.  Mignogna, because of his religious beliefs, has been asked a number of times on this subject, and has consistently said he openly supports the LGBT community.  The Polygon article which outlines some of the charges indicates that some people attempted to present him homosexual representations of characters he's played which have existed outside of show canon -- and it is that "outside of show canon" which has had him refuse to sign them.)
  • Mignogna attempted a public apology at a convention in Bakersfield, CA within two weeks of his Funimation firing, but many conventions have axed Mignogna from their programming.
There's two very disturbing thoughts on this situation.

The first is:  It's not even a matter of "Why didn't you come forward before now?"...  It's "How can Vic Mignogna not -- and, to date, he has not -- be arrested for this kind of a track record?"  This is 30 years, people.  Some of the stuff may be outside statute of limitations, but it almost certain, given the allegations, that a good portion of it is not.

But the second is why this is such a large story.  Anime conventions, to their benefit for many years (but to their increasing detriment now), have been largely a "no-rules" environment.  This kind of conduct is rampant at these conventions.  Part of this is why the "Cosplay Is Not Consent" movement has been gaining traction.

It is becoming clear that no less than a complete re-examination of the American anime culture is going to have to be taking place, regardless of the merit of the specific allegations against Mignogna.  And this is up to and including pulling the plug on the conventions -- from the one-day college and high-school club events to the major anime festivals such as Otakon, A-Kon, Fanime, and Anime Expo.

I have said (and much to the consternation of both the anime fan community and the anime convention community) that, if the police and the authorities ever caught full wind of what REALLY goes on at these events, they would no longer be held, regardless of the cost to the cities involved as such.  (A couple of those larger conventions literally bring tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue -- and, on more than one occasion, it has appeared that and ONLY THAT is the reason the conventions are allowed to continue!)

This is another one of those "stay tuned" events.  Mignogna is considering civil action against his accusers, as he well must.  But the facts also are that, if these charges have sufficient traction, criminal action must also be sought against him.

And I don't know the anime fandom and culture in this country can afford that.  I am reminded of one convention I attended in 2008 in Las Vegas.  In one day, two voice actresses were openly attacked and groped in their autograph line, and a third was nearly attacked by a girl who wanted to grope her chest in hers!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Gary Bettman: You've got an investigation in one more Lightning loss in this series...

I'm not going to say, necessarily, that the Tampa Bay Lightning are throwing the series with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

YET.

I do, however, think that Commissioner Bettman might want to look into all this.

Three major pieces of evidence:
  • The Lightning finished with 128 points, a full 19 points (9 1/2 wins) over any other team in the National Hockey League in the regular season.
  • The regular season series:  8-2 (Oct. 13), 4-0 (Jan. 8), 5-1 (Feb. 18) -- the February 18 game was in Columbus, all three won by Tampa Bay by a combined margin of 17-3.
  • So the postseason comes around, and Columbus wins in Tampa 4-3, then wins 5-1 in Game Two and 3-1 in Game Three.
That, to me, is enough to ask some questions.  Not more than "ask questions", but questions do need to be asked here.