One of our formerly semi-regular "innanet" crowders has recently stepped up to full-on regular status. He's a guy I call Cleveland, who now comes in at least once a week to spend several hours with us at a stretch. Cleveland is a mentally handicapped man, at least to some degree. He's pretty functional but is clearly in some way just not quite right. I call him Cleveland because he strongly resembles the character of the same name from Family Guy in both look and voice. What makes Cleveland stand out beyond appearances, though, is his penchant for using our patron computers to do nothing but watch old video clips of the 1980s cartoon, She-Ra: Princess of Power.
You remember She-Ra, right? It was a spin-off of the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, with She-Ra being He-Man's sister from another dimension. (And for you trivia buffs, He-Man was the cartoon on which writer J. Michael Straczynski got his start writing for television, before moving on to the Real Ghostbusters, Captain Planet, Murder She Wrote and a little show that he created and for which he wrote most of the episodes called Babylon 5. But I digress...)
From the time Cleveland arrives to the time he leaves—which, if recent visits are any indication, can be upwards of five hours—he sits at our computers and watches clip after clip of She-Ra. Often he watches these clips sans headphones, which means he's only getting the visuals. One might assume he was getting some kind of sexual thrill from this, and perhaps that's the case, but I somehow don't think so. He simply sits and stares and, presumably, is entertained. At the end of his broadcast day, he always thanks us, wishes us a good day and heads out, on foot.
I haven't had any real reason to even think of the character She-Ra in years. In fact, the only other reason she has popped up on my radar at all was a recent appearance on Robot Chicken in which She-Ra decimates most of her arch-villains and several of her friends because they dared to disturb her while she was on the rag. But, as a child of the 80s myself, I was a big fan of He-Man's show and I remember She-Ra from that time period.
Where I grew up, in North Mississippi, She-Ra: Princess of Power was not broadcast on its own, like He Man's show. Rather, it was broadcast as a sub-section of a locally-produced afternoon kid's show called Fun Time with Uncle Bunky. Uncle Bunky was Robert "Uncle Bunky" Williams, a big, friendly, rolly-polly sort-of-guy, who I believe was actually a local policeman in Columbus, MS. He came out, wearing a Fun Time with Uncle Bunky T-shirt and entertained a small peanut-gallery of local kids. After about 15 minutes of that, he'd cut to a half hour episode of She-Ra and then back for another 15 minutes of entertaining at the end. Cutting out the commercial time and She-Ra, Uncle Bunky probably only recorded about 20 full minutes of show per day. And, usually, he would pass that 20 minutes by drawing bizzare animals for the kids on a big paper pad mounted on an easel. I say "bizzare" animals, but even as a kid I used to refer to them as "abominations," for they were like something out of a Hugh Lofting fever-dream.
Uncle Bunky would start by asking the kids what sort of head the creature should have. They'd shout "Elephant!" or "Mouse!" or some such and Uncle Bunky would draw it on the board. Then he'd follow with the kids' choice of animal body, legs, tail, wings (where applicable) and any other odd-assed body parts necessary, (though rarely actual odd asses). Soon there would be some kind of a crazy mythological beastie on the board, at which point Uncle Bunky would rip the page off and give it to a kid and then they'd start all over. He wasn't the greatest artist in the world, but it was entertaining enough for the peanut gallery.
I hated Uncle Bunky's act. It was way too babyish for me and my ever-so-mature middle-school mindset, so I quickly learned to find something else to do for the first 15 minutes of the show and would tune in only for She-Ra, (which was the far more mature thing).
Cleveland seems to like She-Ra pretty well, though I have seen him branch out to other cartoons on occasion. Whatever he's watching, he seems so mesmerized by it that we often can't get any sort of communication through to him. This becomes a problem when he's been on for more than an hour and we need his computer for a new patron. Mrs. B tried on and off for twenty minutes one afternoon to get him to relinquish his computer. I don't know if he simply wanted to finish his episode or genuinely didn't understand the situation, but no matter how she explained it he would just smile and nod and continue watching. When I went over to give it a try, he did get up, but it still took me nearly a minute of spelling it out in triplicate, with him nodding understanding the whole time, before he actually rose from his seat.
Maybe if I'd promised to draw him an animal abomination he'd have left sooner?