i do believe i can take you, michael jordan

Dear Mr. Jordan,

Hi.  My name is Josh.  I am a cartoonist and a blogger.  You have been retired from the NBA for, what, a decade now?  Pretty close I think.  My point is, I bet I could beat you in a little game of one-on-one.

I challenge you, Mr. Jordan, to a game of basketball, winner take all. You may have been “all that” back in “the day,” but today is a new day, and your ship has sailed.

Looking at promotional material for Hanes and Gatorade, it is clear you have let yourself go since you retired.  Your bloated wreck of a body would be no match for me as we squared off on the court.  Perhaps you are spending too much time selling underwear and not enough in the gym?

You might think that, as a blogger, I am nothing more than a skinny white kid with mediocre writing skills and a two-inch vert.  You’d be wrong!  I happen to be in prime physical shape.  I ride my bike to work, a grueling 40-minute trek that takes me through two of Portland’s four quadrants (northeast and southeast).  I have two silver medals from the Blogger Olympics.*  I am practically the Michael Jordan of blogging, which makes our potential match-up all the more enticing.

Better still, I’ve been practicing.  Through my connection to Esperanza Spalding, I have been able to get b-ball training from Prince.  And everybody knows what an awesome player Prince is.

I challenge you to a game of basketball, but not just any old game: the gentlemen’s game.  H-O-R-S-E, or (as it is known in the Midwest) Around the World.

So come on, Mr. Jordan.  You, the over-the-hill star versus me, the up-and-comer.  Put on your best pair of Nikes and show me your best.

Game on.

*Making Sh*t Up & Self Aggrandizement

Blog friday robot

friday robots

I was trying to make two images tonight and ended up with one.  I wanted a new “face” for my email (you can see it on the right sidebar), and of course I needed some Friday Robots.  When I made these robots, it seemed only natural to insert my fat face right in the middle of them.


Here are your Friday Robots, complete with noted cartoonist.  Let’s hope these robots are the friendly kind or I’m in real trouble, because I’m totally surrounded.


phantasm saga

Phantasm was released a year before Friday the 13th, predating the 80’s horror craze.  Unlike Friday the 13th and all its demented children,
Phantasm is not your typical slasher film.  Like Alien (also released in  1979), Phantasm took its cues from monster movies and added a modern
sci-fi twist.

The story of Phantasm belongs to two brothers whose parents died a few years ago.  The younger of the brothers, Mike, discovers weird happenings at the local cemetery – the tall man who runs the mortuary is able to lift a body-filled casket without the slightest effort.  Mike’s older brother, Jody, and Jody’s buddy Reggie (who operates an ice cream truck) don’t believe Mike at first but soon see for themselves that all is not right where the bodies are buried.

Or are the bodies buried?

Phantasm is a low-budget movie that really, truly benefits from the lack of polish.  If this had been shot on 70mm film stock with state of the art effects, we’d be forever reminded that we were watching A Movie.  Instead, Phantasm feels more like the modern faux documentary horror films Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity – two low-budget horror movies that scared the pee out of today’s audiences.

What effects there are come off pretty darn well.  The flying silver ball is scary even before we find out its purpose.  And when Mike gets a glimpse of what the Tall Man has been doing with all those bodies, the shock is genuine.  I never could have imagined the story would go where it did.

If Phantasm is like Alien, then its sequel has much in common with Aliens.  Phantasm is the low-budget, quiet, spooky introduction of the boogeyman.  Phantasm 2 (1988) is chummy, explosive, bigger.  It reduces the myth that the first movie built up so effectively.

Phantasm 2 uses a different actor for the part of Mike.  Was A. Michael Baldwin really that busy?  His IMDB credits say no.  He was fine in Phantasm, and fortunately he returns for parts 3 and 4.

There is more gore in 2, more exposition, more uses for those mysterious silver spheres.  Phantasm 2 kind of makes me wonder why a sequel was even made.  If taken as a stand-alone it makes Phantasm that much more original and scary.

I’m not totally down on Phantasm 2.  The Tall Man does not spout cheesy one-liners, there are more unexpected deaths, and the setting remains (as in part 1) in Oregon.  Also, Reggie and Mike get a sweet black HemiCuda to drive around in.  Did I mention this movie was a product of the 80’s?

This brings up a larger point about horror movies and endless sequels – I don’t think those franchises (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween) are even supposed to be frightening.  People see them for other reasons.  They begin rooting for the boogeyman instead of the hapless victims.  Does that negate the scariness of the originals?  I hope not.

In fact, I will find out.  I’m set to watch Phantasm 3 and 4 next (thank you Netflix Instant Watch!), so I’ll let you know.