I had no idea that Ferrett was going to write his column on the topic of The Quest last week; the fact that mine was posted the next day is nothing but coincidence. Or was it? Maybe the Magic Powers-That-Be were at work. Or something.
The winner in the "identify that reference" contest is Bill Colgan of Wilmington, DE, who correctly identified Ben Vereen’s character (named O’Connor Flood, for those who must know) in "All That Jazz" as the source of the quote. Bill was the first of only two correct respondents. Strangely enough, I received about a dozen answers who said "Frank Sinatra, when he received the Congressional Medal of Honor." It’s ironic, because it’s obvious that the character in the movie is parodying Sinatra-types. It’s weird because there’s no such thing as the "Congressional Medal of Honor," it’s simply "The Medal of Honor," our nation’s highest military award. I’m pretty sure that Frankie was crooning when patriots were dying, so he’s not eligible. And that’s enough pedantry for this week.
Without real transition, let’s talk about something that I loathe: The endless postings of Johnny Topdeck’s "Planeshift Picks" that currently infest the ‘net. It happens every Rizzo* set. I couldn’t care less what random.pro.wannabe thinks about the Battlemages. Rarely have I seen an insightful or completely correct assessment of a new set, anyway. I remember very good players saying "Cursed Scroll sucks" or "Simian Grunts will rule." So much for the sixth sense, Nostradamus. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Armadillo Cloak is "some good."
Such articles/postings/rants are just indicative of the flotsam and jetsam clogging the mighty river of internet Magic writing. I blame the editors and site architects. They have the power. Do they solicit feedback? Well, here’s some: Why on God’s green Earth would I want to read, in 142 parts no less, about a deck that will never get played again? Articles authored by pros might generate hits (do they? Ferrett? Anyone?) (Even the worst pro article routinely pulls in more hits than any mid-level non-pros – The Ferrett), but skill at playing doesn’t always translate into skill in writing. From what I’ve seen, I’ll even venture to say "rarely." Of course, we live in a world where the lines of what makes sense frequently blur.
Random Rules Stuff, Part 1: "Gating" is a triggered ability that doesn’t target. It’s perfectly fine to return an untargetable or card with the appropriate protection to your hand. When the ability resolves, if the creature that generated the ability is the only appropriate one in play, then it must be returned to your hand.
It’s all part of a madness that grips our society. We seem to think that some level of fame, even micro-niche celebrity, qualifies someone to actually open their mouth about any random subject. So what if Lola Falana uses Dentu-Grip? What’s next? Gary Wise bumping Kathie Lee from the Carnival gig? Tom Guevin for Mentos? I’m surprised we have yet to see any number of slick-handed pros shilling for a sleeve maker. "With the new ‘tacto-grip,’ palming a card is easier than ever!"
What’s even worse is that obviously someone out there is buying it. Advertisers wouldn’t be using recognizable (translation to The Queen’s English just for you, Mr. Boydell: "recognisable") faces if John Q. Sheep wasn’t swallowing it whole. I challenge any reader to summon the courage to say that they have actually been convinced to buy a product because Mr. Fifteen Minutes expounds its endless virtues. My email is still [email protected] You will earn both my endless respect for your bravery and honesty and my endless scorn and derision for being part of the problem.
Before I start ranting about the omnipresent institution of celebrity, let’s get back to the point. I don’t want to listen to Tony Siragusa break down the Art of Pass Rushing to an atomic level. Why? He’s barely literate. Same goes for some of the Magic pros and other soi-disant experts running around.
Random Rules Stuff, Part 2: You announce your intention to pay kicker at the same time you choose modes, which is before choosing targets.
Of course, I’m not one to expose the soft underbelly without suggesting how to armor it. Off the top of my head, here’s one: Learn to speak English. Another comes rushing forward: Take a course on constructing a coherent thought.
Random Rules Stuff, Part 3: Land cards have a converted mana cost of 0.
That’s not to say that there aren’t quite a few lucid and/or entertaining writers that also happen to be good Magic players. Wakefield comes to mind (where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?), as does our own Aaron Forsythe. Darwin Kastle may not be exciting to read, but he sure knows how to make his point. For my time, which is infinitely more valuable than my money, I’d much rather read the well-constructed and entertaining insights of relative scrubs like Alongi, Rizzo, and Phifer, or even the raucous humor of a certain uber-scrub editor, than the mise-laced, frat-boy humored, sporadically-punctuated, aimless ramblings of (insert any of the locust swarm here).
Random Rules Stuff, Part 4: Familiars can help pay the generic mana portion of Kicker costs (as well as Buyback, etc.).
In addition to being a contributor to the wealth of ‘net Magic writings, I’m also a consumer. While I understand that there might be certain fiscal realities to the situation, I’m hereby serving notice to content providers and editors: I want fewer peanuts and more cashews. Give me more worth reading and less to pick through to find it.
And that’s my Final Judgement.
Sheldon K. Menery
* – So much more elegant than "friggin’"