№30: CJ McCollum Player Spotlight | Interesting Book Find | This Week’s Comic Book Haul | Funko! Mystery Minis: The Suicide Squad (2021) Part II | The Long Halloween Part II (2021)

August 7, 2021

Welcome to the tedi.substack.com weekly newsletter! At the beginning of each week1, this newsletter will touch on any number of entertaining, informative, or (possibly) useful topics.

This week’s newsletter is really late. With our third nationwide lockdown taking effect last Friday, I had to prioritize a number of errands before I could finally find time to sit down and work on the newsletter. But no more excuses, I will do better.

Before I segue to this week’s topics, I wanted to bring up a very nice article that I read this past week. It was based on a 1982 interview with renowned novelist Gabriel García Márquez(†). I found it to be well-written and can’t recommend it enough to those interested in the fields of writing and journalism.

For newsletter #30, I talked about the Portland Trailblazers’ CJ McCollum, an interesting book find, my latest Comic Book Haul, Part II of my Funko! Mystery Minis: The Suicide Squad (2021), and a short summary (as well as my thoughts) on The Long Halloween Part II (2021).

More on this below.

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The concept behind my Player Spotlight segment was inspired by the writings of the late Zander Hollander (Sportswriter, archivist, and author of the ever informative The Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball) wherein he would write short and insightful entries on—then 20 something—NBA teams and their players for that particular season. With over 30 years of basketball knowledge under my belt, I decided to come up with my own short, free flowing, and non-linear/viewpoint narrative on a featured player. 

CJ McCollum

Born Christian James McCollum (September 9, 1991). As an undersized 5’2” freshman guard for GlenOak High School Golden Eagles, CJ McCollum had two growth spurts between his sophomore and junior seasons which—in addition to his stellar play—caught the attention of a number of college recruiters. Ultimately, McCollum decided to attend Lehigh University, a private research school, where he completed a degree in Journalism. In a distinguished four-year career with the Mountain Hawks, CJ was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year (2010), Patriot League Player of the Year (2010, 2012), and Patriot League Tournament MVP (2012). McCollum also finished his collegiate career as the Patriot League’s all-time leader scorer (2361 career points).

2018-2019 Panini Immaculate Shadow Box Signatures #SS-CJM (28/49). Back in the days when teams only had one alternate uniform, Portland’s dominant red uniforms were one of my favorites.

Drafted 10th overall by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2013 NBA Draft—if they were going to redo the same draft today, McCollum would most likely go third after two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and reigning 2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert—CJ McCollum played sparingly as a reserve in his first two NBA seasons.

But after the Trailblazers lost four starters (LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and Robin Lopez) prior to the 2015-2016 season, McCollum (20.8 points per game) made the move to shooting guard and started alongside the Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard (25.1 points per game). By season’s end, the duo became the first backcourt in franchise history to average 20 or more points per game. For his efforts, CJ (20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists) was awarded the 2015-2016 NBA Most Improved Player Award—the third Blazer to receive the honor after Kevin Duckworth(†) (1987-1988) and Zach Randolph (2003-2004).

Prior to the 2016-2017 season, CJ McCollum signed a four-year contract extension worth a reported $106 million dollars. The deal allowed Portland to secure its potent backcourt until the end of the 2023-2024 season. Unfortunately, the Blazers were unable to capitalize off their Western Conference Semi-Finals appearance the season before and stumbled out of the NBA Playoffs with an opening round loss to the Golden State Warriors.

The Trailblazers would again be eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs in three of the next four seasons. With the lone exception being their loss to the Golden State Warriors during the 2018-2019 Western Conference Finals.

Personal Notes:

If there is one thing that I like about CJ McCollum, it is that he is willing to take chances and walk through the proverbial doors afforded by his celebrity. As an active player, he is already preparing for his next career as a journalist, sideline reporter, or even a television analyst.

Currently, he hosts a weekly podcast called Pull Up with CJ McCollum (along with co-hosted ESPN analyst Jordan Schultz) and if he is free, CJ patrols the sidelines for TNT during NBA All-Star Weekend.

McCollum also considers himself as a wine enthusiast and has established his own label, McCollum Heritage 91–derived from his surname, the street he grew up on, and his birth year.

Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich [Hardcover] (July 31, 2021)

Released 19 years after the sudden death of Peter Press Maravich, author Mark Kriege chronicles the early beginnings of the Maravich family starting with Pete Maravich’s father Press as a young boy growing up Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The elder Maravich would go on to have a 28-year career as a basketball coach. Arguably one of the career highlights was to coach a generational talent—his son, “Pistol” Pete Maravich in Louisiana State University (LSU) from 1967-1970.

When I was younger, I would religiously go from shelf-to-shelf looking for my next big find. This particular book was the one that found me.

Now, I confess. I’m not even halfway done with this one nor is it in my current reads pile. However, the paperback version (originally released on February 5, 2008) has been sitting on my bedside table for a couple of months now.

You know, just in case.

This past Saturday, I happened to find a hardbound copy (originally released on February 6, 2007) just as I was about to leave the used bookstore.

It’s really true what they say, “you’ll never know what you’ll find.”

This Week’s Comic Book Haul (July 26th - August 1st, 2021)

And then there was one… Due to shipping delays, none of my reservations arrived. So, I decided to pick up this exclusive—no doubt as a means to justify what was about to be a fruitless trip to my LCS.

Here is a breakdown of this week’s lone title:

1) Something is Killing the Children #16 (SSCO Raymund Lee Monster Variant) - The mystery has been solved! Turns out that my LCS has partnered with Sanctum Sanctorum Comics & Oddities (SSCO) Store on a number of exclusive variants. Well, that’s certainly one way to get regular access to these limited edition covers.

Review: Funko! Mystery Minis: The Suicide Squad (2021) Part II - Ratcatcher II with Rats (1:24), Javelin (1:36), and The Thinker (1:36)(July 31, 2021)

After looking at how cool the King Shark (Nanaue) and The Polka-Dot Man (Abner Krill) Minis looked standing side-by-side last week, I caught myself wondering if the other Mystery Minis that I passed on were still available.

As luck would have it, they were. Seeded one-in-every-two-boxes (1:24) and one-in-every-three-boxes (1:36), Ratcatcher II with Rats (1:24), Javelin (1:36), and The Thinker (1:36) some of the harder fingers to procure from the line.

As I plan on watching The Suicide Squad (2021) soon, I’ve stayed as far away (as humanly possible) from any information related to the upcoming movie. I still look forward to being surprised every now and then. Here is what I know of these C, D, and E level criminals.

Ratcatcher II with Rats (1:24) - Has the power to communicate and control rats.

Javelin (1:36) - Read up a little bit on the comic history of this guy: An Olympic-level javelin thrower who decided to use his skills to illegally enrich himself.

The Thinker (1:36) - With all of that stuff sticking out of his head, it is safe to assume that he is smart.

An added bonus…

Turns out I met the incentive criteria for a free Funko POP! There really wasn’t that much to choose from but I knew if ever I got the chance, I would get Loki’s (Season 1 | 2021) Ravenna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) with Miss Minutes (Tara Strong).

Ms. Minutes, one of my favorite characters in the recently concluded Season 1 of Loki, was the one that I really wanted.

Any takers for the Ravonna Renslayer?

“Welcome to the Time Variance Authority. I'm Miss Minutes, and it's my job to catch you up before you stand trial for your crimes. So let's not waste another minute. Settle in, sharpen your pencils, and check this out.”

Movie of the Week: The Long Halloween, Part Two [2021] (August 2, 2021)

Taking place three months after the events of Part One, we find a hapless Bruce Wayne under the influence of Poison Ivy in Wayne Manor. Catwoman (Selina Kyle) intervenes and is able to free Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. Selina informs Bruce that not only has he signed over a great deal of stocks and assets over to Carmine Falcone, the Holiday killings (Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, and April Fool’s Day) have continued in his absence as The Batman.

Holiday strikes again on Mother’s Day (covering tracks by retiring the weapons supplier) and Father’s Day (taking down Luigi Maroni). Between these two events, the Scarecrow (Dr. Jonathan Crane) and The Mad Hatter (Jervis Tetch) escape from Arkham Asylum. Batman attempts to stop the Scarecrow but is incapacitated by the fear toxin that Crane injects into his abdomen. Where Crane was able to procure his signature concoction and full costume so close to his breakout remains a mystery.

Heeding his father’s last words, Sal Maroni meets with District Attorney Harvey Dent and offers to testify against Carmine Falcone in exchange for prosecutorial immunity. Later on, during the Fourth of July celebration by a Gotham City boardwalk, Falcone is apprehended by the police. As he passed by Harvey and Gilda Dent, Falcone goes out of his way to greet Mrs. Dent. This is a subtle scene that viewers should keep in mind towards the end.

Carmine proceeds to signal one of his nearby assassins to take out Harvey. Catwoman—who always seems to be in the right place at the right time—intervenes to save Dent. A chase ensues and Dent is knocked unconscious by the assassin. As an undisclosed time passes, Dent regains consciousness only to find the assassin dead seemingly by his hand. A confused Harvey then starts to hear his inner (yet unfamiliar) voice telling him to run as Gotham Police search parties move towards the crime scene from above.

Prior to the Maroni trial, Batman breaks into the home of Harvey Dent and finds damming evidence (an Oxford pennant and the presence of Holiday’s guns in the family basement) which seemingly links Dent to the Holiday killings. Batman then turns this evident over to Captain James “Jim” Gordon on the roof of the courthouse.

During the trial proper, Dent—who’s inner voice grows louder and louder—is double-crossed by Sal Maroni on the stand. Maroni—acting on behalf of the Carmine Falcone—throws “acid that would eat though concrete”—onto the left side of Harvey’s face and his left arm.

This section on The Long Halloween gave me an opportunity to bring out my DC Direct Batman: The Long Halloween (Series 1 | 2006) flanked by American Mcgee's Alice (Series 2 | 2000) Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee (The big guy) Collectible Figures. These are incredibly hard to find and purchased (out of the box) with the help of a good friend.

While recovering in the hospital, Dent wakes to find that not only has he been disfigured, he has also been implicated in the Holiday killings. At this point, Dent’s Two-Face persona takes over and he flees the hospital after receiving a phone call from Carmine Falcone. Now I’m curious, is the District Attorney’s cellphone number public knowledge?

Without dragging this along any further. Two-Face takes care of Carmine’s thugs and in an amazing turn of events, ends up meeting and befriending Solomon Grundy somewhere in the sewers of Gotham City. Batman then visits Gilda Dent with the hopes of obtaining any information that can help him find his friend, Harvey Dent.

Now aided by the help of Grundy, Dent proceeded to break-in to Arkham Asylum and freeing all of its relevant inmates like The Joker, Penguin, Poison Ivy, and the recent Arkham returnees Scarecrow and The Mad Hatter. To be honest, freeing them all was really unnecessary. As unstable and untrustworthy as they are, why would these inmates readily follow the agenda of Two-Face? They are in Arkham for a reason.

There are still other twists that I won’t elaborate on, best that you guys watch it for yourself.

In the end, Batman’s Rouge Gallery provides enough interference for Two-Face to eliminate Carmine Falcone. Later on, Dent, Batman, and Captain Gordon find themselves on the roof of the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD). Two-Face declares an end to The Long Halloween and in the process confesses to the Holiday killings. As Gordon leads Two-Face towards the roof’s entrance, Batman asks both men if their promise to one another to end the Falcone Crime Family regime was worth it.

Gordon turns and says, “They won’t know for a long time.”

Now I didn’t sit through all of the credits for this one and it turns out that there WAS a post-credit scene. Watch out for it!


Tedi Gustilo Villasor, Ph.D. is a former columnist for Baby Magazine (Philippines) as well as a past contributor to NBA.com/Philippines. His other works include the indie comic books Lindol and OBIsessions.

Click here for more information on his work as a psychologist.

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