Blog Fanatic: Five Short Stories of the Bleiweiss Kind

Join Ben as he recounts brief, comic tales from his Magic history. If you’ve never heard”And then I hit grandpa with a Flowstone Brick”, then this is the article for you. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, perhaps the story of how Snapple made the entire Neutral Ground staff fat might be more appealing. Then again, maybe you like hearing about incredibly bad plays made by people on their way to the top 8 of a Pro Tour instead. Regardless of your interest, this article has something for everyone!

Welcome to the new and improved StarCityGames.com! The reworked shopping cart should be up by now, along with the best spoiler generator in the internet, and several other great new features on the site. I’ve been working untold hours over the past month to do my part in making the cart come to life, and this past week has been the major crunch. Because of this, I haven’t had the time to write the response to the playing-to-win versus playing-to-play article from last week. Fear not! I’ve been compiling notes for that column, and it’ll come next Friday. In the meanwhile, here are five short stories from around the horn.


Jeff Taylor, Eric Lewandowski and I were driving back from Houston to New Orleans. We had just attended one of Tim Weissman’s PTQ’s during Tempest block season, though none of us had made the top 8. Eric was beat, and so he crashed across the middle seats of my van. Jeff and I contented ourselves to talk about Magic. Just as we were getting out of Houston, we hit a red light. As my car rolled to a stop, Eric suddenly blurted out”And then I hit grandpa with a flowstone brick!”

Jeff and I turned around, astounded. Eric eyes popped open with an expression of horror.”Did I just say anything?””Dude,” Jeff replied,”you just said you were gonna hit your grandpa with a flowstone brick!” Eric looked to the left, looked to the right.”We will never talk of this again. Never mention this to anyone else as long as you live.”

Sorry Eric!


Speaking of Eric, we had arranged to go with him to Grand Prix: Atlanta in 2001. However, Eric started to get sour on the luck involved in Magic, and decided to pull out of the trip at the last minute – and by the last minute, I mean that me, Jeff and Dustin Flora showed up at his house and he refused to come with us. Eric was pulled tight under his blanket, and wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep for the entire weekend.

I’d have none of that!

I picked up one of Eric weighted bowling pins and started beating him in the kneecaps with them.”Ow! Stop that, those hurt!,” Eric cried.”I’m not stopping until you get in the car, dude.” I proceeded to continue my assault on Eric along his knees, shoulders, back, and legs. I tossed the other two juggling pins to Jeff and Dustin, who joined in on the beating. All three of us were raining blows down on poor Eric.

“Will you guys quit it? I’m not going!”


“We’re not stopping until you go!”


“I’m not going! Just stop already!”


“Then we’re not stopping, cause you’re not getting up.”


I grew desperate – we really wanted Eric along on this trip. Suddenly, inspiration hit. I grabbed his completed Rubik’s Cube from the shelf.”Dude, if you don’t get up, I’m going to mess up your entire Cube.””You *bash* wouldn’t *oof* dare *pow*” I dared. To this day, I don’t think that Rubik’s Cube has had its colors united.

After fifteen minutes of beatings, Eric finally relented and dragged his sorry butt into my van. We sped off to Atlanta, with Mr. Lewandowski moping and grumbling the whole way.

“See Eric, isn’t this a fun road trip?”

“NO! All I want to do is sleep!”

“Come on, aren’t you having a little fun?”

“NO! I hate you all.”

It would only stand to reason, that after the entire weekend was over, only one of the four of us made day two.

24 – Lewandowski, Eric – $250 – 1 Pro Point.

“Aren’t you glad you came,” I asked, on our way out of Atlanta.

“No! I hate Magic. Leave me alone.”

Sorry Eric!


Carl James used to come from Houston, Texas to stay with either me or Eric in New Orleans whenever Weissman held a tournament in our neck of the woods. Conversely, we began staying at his apartment whenever we traveled to Houston. On one trip to New Orleans, Carl, Eric, Joel Tempas and I decided to go to Bucktown to get seafood for dinner. I drove, and the sun was in my eyes at the last couple of intersections before the restaurant. Carl was riding shotgun, and played navigator when I couldn’t see.

As we pulled up to another intersection, I squinted at the front window, unable to see the traffic light.

“Carl, is it safe to go yet?”

“Gun it!”

I stepped on the gas, and nearly pissed myself as cars from both sides of the two-lane-in-each-direction intersection slammed on their breaks and horns as I ran the red light into oncoming traffic. I pulled off the side of the road just past safety, my heart beating a mile a minute.

“Carl, what the **** was that? The light was red!”

“We made it through, didn’t we?”

Ah, Carl James.


Sean Fleischman, Adam Wasserman, Mike Mikaelian (now editor of Undefeated Magazine), Alex Garamvolgyi, Kalo and I were all allowed to have, for free, as many snacks and drinks as we wanted as long as we were working a shift at Neutral Ground. This was met with a large consumption of Snapples, of which we carried dozens of varieties. If one of us tried and liked Passion Fruit, the rest of us would have to try Passion Fruit. Everyone cultivated their tastes in Snapple, and different flavors became favorites of different people. I really liked the Orange-flavored Snapple the best.

One day, Karla David-Marshall, who is very much into health and fitness, stopped by the counter on the way into work.”You guys are all getting fat, you know that?” We stood and stared at her, a bottle of Snapple in each of our hands, wondering what prompted this frank critique of our physiques.”Well, we are putting on a little weight, but all we’re drinking is Snapple – they only have 100 calories each.”

Karla looked at us like we were completely retarded.”Did you check the number of servings per container?” Uh oh. Was there such an animal? Apparently so – and each bottle of Snapple, at that time, had 2.5 servings per container.

Each bottle had been contributing 250 calories to each of our diets each day.

Each of us had been drinking 8-10 bottles of Snapple each shift.

10 Snapples times 250 calories per Snapple = 2,500 empty calories of Snapple per day.

Folks, you don’t need me to tell you that this does not constitute a healthy diet. The weight gain fiasco had two direct effects. First, all the employees began drinking bottled water instead of Snapple. We drank a lot of bottled water from that point onward. Second, Karla must have figured out just how many Snapples we’d been drinking in the first place to have every one of the employees gain that much weight. Shortly after the Snapple fiasco, all employees had to pay half price on all of their food and drinks.

That’s fair enough – we were probably eating poor Neutral Ground out of all their daily profits in tasty teas and lemonades. If only I’d known about the effects of Snapple sooner, I’d be a svelte Bleiweiss today.


I like Adam Katz. He’s a former New York area player who made his way on the Pro Tour for many years, although he was widely considered, in the Northeast, the luckiest and most hapless gravy trainer in the region. The stories of how he would make literally dozens of mistakes in a match and still win are legend. Adam finished fourth at Pro Tour Los Angeles 1998. What the Sideboard doesn’t tell you is that Adam played Living Death at that tournament, which was Tempest-only Constructed. That’s Tempest Constructed, without Stronghold or Exodus. Cursed Scroll ruled the scene, but Darwin Kastle had built a Living Death deck which many players rode to a good finish. Adam got a copy of the deck from Darwin the night before the tournament, and proceeded to have the best finish in the field of anyone who ran Darwin’s Death deck.

Adam ran the tables, and needed only a single win in his last three matches to make the top eight. He threw away the first match, but looked ready to win the second. The games were tied one to one, but Adam sideboarded in Altar of Dementia – the secret weapon Darwin added to the deck in order to win against slower decks. In the third game, Adam dropped a second turn Altar, and proceeded to stalemate the game. His opponent, becoming desperate, began using removal on Adam’s creatures hoping to get through some damage before Adam would mill him to death. With a sign, the opponent Kindleded Adam’s Gravedigger

…and Adam let it go to the graveyard.

All the spectators were stunned. Darwin, who had finished his round early, buried his head in his hands. The game continued, but Adam’s opponent kept killing creature after creature, and started to get some damage through. Adam responded by casting Living Death, bringing back several dozen power worth of creatures. His opponent, who had only about half a deck left at this point, kept the assault coming with Cursed Scrolls. Adam kept chump blocking, trading creatures, but never using the Altar. The game ended with Adam being run over by creatures, his opponent with only a dozen or so cards left in his deck.

Darwin confronted Adam after the match.”Why didn’t you ever use the Altar? You could have decked him a dozen times over!” Darwin was visibly upset, because he knew that he had given Adam the perfect card for this match, but that Adam had blown it in a spectacular fashion.”Well, I wasn’t sure how to beat this deck, so I looked at my sideboard and saw that I hadn’t sided in the Altars all tournament, so I figured I’d bring them in for this game and see what they did. I had not clue how to use them but I was glad when I drew one in my opening hand.”

Adam was serious.

Adam finished fourth at that Pro Tour.

Darwin swore he would never give another person a deck of his to play ever again. (To be fair, Darwin’s since overcome his phobia of a repeat performance).

Ben can be reached at [email protected].