A Thousand Monkeys At A Thousand Typewriters

"It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest that I go to than any I have ever known." These are perhaps my favorite lines in literature, uttered by Sydney Carton at the end of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles…

"It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest that I go to than any I have ever known." These are perhaps my favorite lines in literature, uttered by Sydney Carton at the end of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. They give the book an extremely powerful ending. (You hear that, Omeed? Important … literary … quote. If indeed you do have any influence on flavor text, you must try your all to find a place for this quote. I charge thee!)

Many people quote this line (or at least the first sentence) without ever knowing from where it came. And many people quote it knowing very well from where it came. Also frequently quoted is the very first line of the same book: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . ."

However, when C. Montgomery Burns set up a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters with the dream of one of them writing a best-selling novel, he was horror-stricken to read, "It was the best of times, it was the BLURST of times." Needless to say, his monkey-writing escapade came shortly to an end (thus allowing an excess of monkeys for Wizards to buy up and put into Monkey Cage).

And this example segues nicely into my point. (Well, if every other writer on Star City can use the word, surely I can!) Many of us are just like the monkeys at the typewriters. Just as there is an ample amount of prestigious literary quotes for monkeys to mistype, there is also a voluminous quantity of Magic slang that I’m sure many people misuse. Allow me to elaborate.

Star City’s "Magic Dictionary" defines mise as the following:

Mise – verb

1. To win when one shouldn’t.
2. To get lucky when one needs to.

"I was going to lose next turn, so I figured now would be a good time to mise."

Now in all the context in which this word has been used, it’s usually NOT following these definitions. Who knows WHAT it’s supposed to mean? The answer: Only a select few. I’m sure that the pros up in Worlds are bantering to each other in a completely different language where "mise" is as second-nature to them as "Parallax" is to most players. However, the average player has a very small clue as to what the word means. This doesn’t stop its wide usage, though. People all over are starting to say "mise" when ever they feel like it, and that’s why it’s attained such an all-encompassing definition.

Here’s another example:

Jank – noun

1. A White Weenie deck that splashes red for Bolts, originally titled "The Richmond Gun."
2. A substandard deck or card.

My sealed deck was nothing but jank, but I tried to make the best of it.

Now, I don’t know about any of my faithful readers out there, but I’m sure that at least some of you have had the same experience that I have with this word. I’ve heard it used as a replacement for "junk" ad nauseum without ever referring to Magic. For instance: "What’s on TV?" "Nothing but jank." To the person using the word, it has become a complete substitution of the word "junk," and it’s also become to mean anything negative. In other words: Bad stuff = jank. But, according to the Magic Dictionary, this isn’t right.

I’d give some more examples here, but I’m planning to make this a double-article in the space of one, so this’ll do for now.

So, what does that leave us with? A bunch of people misusing words or words that are constantly gaining new definitions. It depends on whom you ask. If you ask the person who exchanges "bad stuff" for "jank," he’ll tell you that the word has gained a new meaning. However, if you ask Random Pro #426, he’ll tell you that many people are misusing the words. So, does that make the casual players monkeys on typewriters and the pros C. Montgomery Burnses? That’s for you to decide.

And speaking of people mindlessly blundering through trends, my next topic is of Internet writing. It’s obvious that on various websites, one trend is usually predominant at any one time. For example, if anyone looked at Star City’s front page, he’d see multiple articles about Masques Block Constructed. As I’m writing this, there are six on the front page and eighteen in the last week (not including today). That’s over three articles or reports per day. For those of us not participating in the Pro Tour or their qualifiers or who just don’t care, that’s a lot of excess baggage.

But, it wasn’t always this way. Internet writing evolves as the issues that people are interested in do. For instance, there was a time when there were many articles out about the effect of Pokemon on Magic. (Even I wrote one, back in the abyss of time when I wasn’t featured on Star City (so you won’t find it in the archives).) Although Pokemon remains the number-one best-selling CCG, and things haven’t really changed all that much since those articles were written, people aren’t writing about the bad omen Pokemon portends.

There was also a time when Extended was the topic about which to talk. Everyone wrote articles about Extended, including me. whom you know to be a loyal Type II player. (You can view them at http://www.starcitygames.com/mustread/000201crane.shtml and http://www.starcitygames.com/mustread/000214crane.shtml.) Eventually, that fad died down, and people took to writing about Type II. Only time will tell what will come next.

So in this void of repetition, where can solace be found? Sanctuary can be taken in the articles of writers such as Michael Granaas, Josh Bennett, Anthony Alongi, the Ferrett, and, of course, myself. Also, there are several submissionists who don’t follow the flow of normal writing: David Phifer, J.D. Hill, and Israel Marques are some that can be found recently. And I’m sure that I’m missing lots of people.

Of course, to get a complete scope of what’s going on in the Magic world, one should go to all of the multitudinous Magic sites (the Dojo, Mindripper, Magic Campus, Neutral Ground, etc.). However, not having the time or energy to do that myself, I rely on good ole’ Star City to supply me with the best articles on the ‘Net! (Was that good, Pete?)

Well, that’ll do it for this week. If you can’t wait until next week to read my writing, you can check out http://tolkienreader.8m.com/index1.htm. It’s a cool J.R.R. Tolkien site for which I write. (If Sean Erik Ponce can do it, so can I!)

Daniel Crane
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