How are you?
My name is Ben Bleiweiss. I’m twenty-eight years old, and live in Roanoke, Virginia. I grew up on Long Island, in the town of Great Neck (along with one Toby Wachter). My mom and dad are divorced – my mom now lives in California along with two of my aunts, two of my cousins, and my grandmother (and Jimmy, who has been with my Aunt Sharon for as long as I can remember). My dad remarried and moved to Oregon with his wife Deborah. My brother (who is my only sibling) is a police officer in Broward County, Florida (just north of Miami).
I spent my high school years in New York City, attending the Dwight School, and performing internships at various institutions, including Marvel Comics, Valiant Comics, Rodgers and Hammerstein Music, BMG Music, the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, and the Museum of Natural History. In 1993, I moved to New Orleans to attend school at Tulane University under a full scholarship. I left Tulane in 1995 to move back to New York, and moved back to New Orleans in 1997. I finished my degree in English in 2001 at Tulane. In that time, I worked several part- and full-time jobs, including work as a short order chef at Cooter Brown’s Bar and Grill and as a pizza delivery boy for a local Italian Restaurant named Figaro’s. If you’re ever in New Orleans, I wouldn’t recommend eating there – though it’s on quaint Maple Street, recent ownership has lessened the quality of the food.
After I graduated from Tulane, I spent a couple of years doing freelance and part time work, including database work for the National Center for the Urban Community. While I was there, I helped this public foundation find housing for people in the New Orleans community. During that last year in New Orleans, I spent a lot of time exploring gender and race politics, two topics which I am very passionate about even to this day.
Currently I live in Roanoke, Virginia. I live in an apartment about five minutes from work – it’s a nice modern place with two bedrooms, a living room, one and a half bathrooms, a kitchen, and a balcony. My computer (where I’m typing this from) is set up in the guest bedroom (the bed being a twin I inherited from my mom when she moved from New York to California last year – she also left me a big screen television, two book shelves, and a desk).
Sir Charles is asleep on the guest bed – he’s one of my two cats. I adopted both him and Jean Luc while I was in New Orleans. My friend Stefanie worked at the Prytania Veterinary Hospital and knew I was looking for an older cat. On my 26th birthday, she and her fiancé (one of my best friends, Nick DiNatale) brought Xialou to my house. Xialou is my second cat, and his story is as follows:
Fred the custodian at the vet had a really bad case of diabetes, and needed to move into an assisted living center which does not allow pets. Fred had to give all five of his cats up for adoption, and Stefanie and Nick gave me Xialou – he was about five years old at the time and is a purebred Persian. A week later, I stopped by the vet to pick up food, and noticed Sir Charles. He was one of Fred’s other cats, and the ladies at the vet insisted I adopt him as well – and how could I resist? Charles is a Himalayan and a lap cat – all he wants to do is lay on top of people and fall asleep. Xialou (pronounced Jean Luc) is more reserved, dignified, and likes to bask in the sun and ignore me unless he needs food. My girlfriend Kate wishes that Xialou would ignore her too, but cats always flock to the most allergic person in the house. Kate’s enjoying time off from work in Maine this week, so she doesn’t have to worry about my cats – but I’m sure they miss her as much as I miss her.
Why am I telling you all this?
Look at all the different writers on this site. Many of them talk great strategy. Others post insightful set reviews. Still more engage the community in discussions of the issue of the day. There are antagonists, intellectuals, the avant-garde, comedians – all sorts of people writing all sorts of words for the audience at large. They all share one passion – a love of the game of Magic: The Gathering.
I too share that passion.
If you read between the lines in the outline of my life, I can filter the Magic out from between the cracks – but that would not do my life justice to this point. In my sophomore year of college, I was introduced to Magic by a couple of guys named Neil and Dave in Butler Hall at Tulane University. A year later, I would be compiling a set of Alliances for Brian David-Marshall on the floor of Pro Tour: Los Angeles (aboard the Queen Mary) which would lead to a year of employment by Neutral Ground. I’ve attended eight Pro Tours, finishing in the top 32 of Pro Tour Mainz. I wrote a weekly column at MagictheGathering.com for a year, wrote a puzzle column for Inquest magazine for six months, and have been a frequent contributor to StarCityGames.com website. I spent the better part of a year doing tournament coverage for Sideboard.com, traveling to Japan, Australia, France, and all across the United States in the process.
The above you know. You know Ben Bleiweiss as the guy who made a bet with the Magic community regarding how many White cards would be played at an Extended Pro Tour. He’s the guy who writes those top 50/100 lists on MTG.com and SCG.com. Ben Bleiweiss reports on the Pro Tour. Ben Bleiweiss types decklists faster than anyone else on the planet. Ben Bleiweiss assaults the Type 1 community. Ben Bleiweiss fights over the direction of the game, fights for the direction of the game, and fights with the direction of the game.
But how many of you out there know anything about me beyond what’s written about Magic? What do you know about Jon Finkel life beyond Magic? Have you ever stopped to think that Zvi Mowshowitz has feelings like everyone else? What did Aaron Forsythe think when he’s moved from editor of MTG.com to member of R&D?
I cannot overstate the importance of Magic: The Gathering in my life at this point. It is a central focus around which other things revolve – job, friends, leisure time. It is not the only thing in my life, but it is my sun to the orbiting satellites. Yet I choose for it to be this way – just as many others thousands out there have done the same. I could be successful in any number of other ventures, but Magic keeps a magnetic pull on me. It is a game of strategy. It is a game of skill. It is a game of luck. It is all three of these, but it is also more – it is a social binder. When you go to Friday Night Magic at your local shop, you share the game with the other human beings around you. When you attend the Pro Tour, you are sharing an experience with hundreds of other people who also travel the world – whether they are fellow Pro Players, Wizards of the Coast staff, freelance journalists, family members, or well wishers.
It is the social bond that keeps so many people coming back to the game. The game can and does stand on its own, but if the game is brick, then the social interaction is the mortar which holds together the construct of Magic. For every spell that is cast, there is a bond between two people – whether close friends, acquaintances, or dreaded rivals – that keeps us coming back to Magic for just one more game.
Blogg Fanatic is my new daily column here at StarCityGames.com. In it, I’ll explore the lives behind the game – the people, the personalities, the relationships. Sometimes I’ll tell stories about my past, sometimes anecdotes I’ve picked up over the years. Sometimes this column will be a podium for a pressing issue of the community, and other times it will be purely a celebration of the game itself.
I am Ben Bleiweiss.
This column is about the love of Magic.