Mixed kNuts: Pretty Little Hate Machine

There’s a lot of crap out there in Magic land, and there are a lot of things that I’m not fully satisfied with. People keep telling me it’s not good to keep things bottled up, and I’ve been feeling a bit ranty lately, so I figured I’d try and get it all out in one big lump of bile and filth – including Rob Dougherty’s articles, the lameness of certain forum bitchers, and the quality of internet writing. Oh, and Mary Van Tyne guest stars for a female take on how much women hate my weekly cheesecake photos!

So I was going to write about Block this week… Until I realized I didn’t know anything about Block Constructed outside of what you’ve probably already learned from Detroit. And Type 2 was right out because, well… Because I said I wasn’t writing about it any more last week (even though I was right on target when I profiled Wolfgang Eder’s Goblin Bidding deck, a deck that showed up three times in the Grand Prix: Bangkok Top 8). And Limited strategy is out as well, for reasons listed below… So what could your fifth favorite Magic author (I figure I have to be at least this low on your list of favorites or you aren’t reading enough other people) and notable crank write about this week to keep things interesting? Read on and see! (And don’t miss the special Guest Spot at the end for your weekly dose of objectification…)

I like a lot of things about the game and the community, and I think that in general, I’m pretty good about drawing attention to those things and delivering praise where it is deserved. For instance, I’d have to say that TOGIT has been better than good lately, with amusing articles from PTR and Mike Stein mixing well with some solid strategy from the Big O to drastically improve their offerings. Well done!

On the flip side, there’s also a lot of crap out there in Magic land, and there are a lot of things that I’m not fully satisfied with. People keep telling me it’s not good to keep things bottled up, and I’ve been feeling a bit ranty lately, so I figured I’d try and get it all out in one big lump of bile and filth.

Before I get started, though, a few disclaimers: 1) These are the opinions of a single moron, and they should be taken as such. 2) I’m sure I do things that people hate all the time, and since I’m a big target, you should feel free to fire back. With regard to last week’s column, I’m a weekly friggin’ screwup for various things including a) the fact that it’s Beyonce’s video that’s so hot, not Jay-Z’s, b) Gilded Light is used to counter Haunting Echoes, and c) the women I”blatantly objectify” for the sole purpose of getting extra hits each week are apparently not hot enough. I shall endeavor to do better. Anyway, there’s always a lot of material for you to rip me to shreds with (like dangling prepositions), so be my guest.

And now…. On with the show!

I hate the fact that ninety percent of Rob Dougherty decks come to you untested. Yes, I know that Rob is a Pro Tour God and those of us out here in scrubville will cut Pros some slack just to see what they are thinking, but would it be so hard to get some of the better kids in his store to test five to ten matches each against a gauntlet? Any idiot can come up with a decklist that looks clever, but the proof of the pudding is in the taste – er, testing – that goes along with it. At least Zvi gives you matchup info beyond how to sideboard the deck and shows that he puts a lot of work into his writing, but with Rob it’s like,”Here’s this decklist that I thought up while sitting on the pot; feel free to test it and tell me what you think.”

What I think is that that sort of writing is non-useful. Do some testing, tweak the deck based on that, test a little more, then give us a real deck that won’t take me a week just to get rid of all the crappy cards and find their replacements. Right now, Rob’s decks just waste my time, and I’m no longer willing to look at his writing as some sort of gift to the rest of the Magic world. The most frustrating aspect about all of this is that Rob is an excellent writer – but when he’s busy producing crappy decks that don’t go anywhere (but often initially look good), he’s not producing anything interesting, fun, or strategically insightful. The slack is gone, Rob, so give me more things like the Elvish Succession deck that I can actually use… That, or count yourself as having one less reader.

Turning that lens on myself, I hate the fact that my readers are astute enough to notice when I slack off (even just a little), and complain about it in the forums like they did last week. Honestly, I actually respect that trait – but the practical application means that I don’t get much space to ride on my supposed laurels, meaning that I either produce quality material that is comparable with my recent run of good form (that phrase feels so very British) or I get to hear about how I’m sucking again. You guys are a tough crowd, but you’re generally a fair one as well, at least with regard to my own writing.

Speaking of”slack”, I hate the fact that Geordie Tait hasn’t written an article in like a thousand weeks. And I hate that Ferrett doesn’t play enough Magic any more to actually write about it. (Not much, anywayThe Ferrett). Oh, and I hate Tim Aten supposed lack of self-esteem, and if you aren’t reading his work and Joe Crosby’s on the Sideboard, then I kinda hate you too.

And Thomas Rosholm and Tomi Walamies? You need to write a helluva lot more or the hatred will flow your way too, if only just a little.

Another thing that I hate is the whole chip-on-your-shoulder attitude that the community has. Yes, we play a competitive game… But does that mean that every aspect of the game has to be competitive? Yes, I’m the guy who wrote about wanting to see more edge on the Pro Tour, so this may come off as hypocritical, but as far as I’m concerned we can leave the bad boy stuff to the Pros, while the rest of us should just work on getting along.

The whole freaking community needs to attend a seminar on how to give and receive constructive criticism (yeah, yeah, including me), and then everybody needs to step back and remember that all the other players/scrubs/morons are in the same boat as you. They all want to qualify for the Tour, and they all want to win money, product, or whatever. Therefore, there’s no reason to be such antagonistic jackasses to one another. Lighten up a bit, enjoy the game, and make a few friends that are outside your circle of comfort, and you’ll improve the game and the community as a whole.

I have news for you: We’re all the same jerks. We just wear different throwback jerseys.

Speaking of hypocrites, every time I see some random who doesn’t write articles trashing an author on a forum, I want to punch them in the nads. As far as I’m concerned, if you aren’t producing material for publication, you don’t get a license to bitch either. Sure, if you want to be constructive about things and have an actual discussion, that’s perfectly acceptable; but far too many forum comments are made just to try and tear somebody down, and I’m sick of it.

If you want a license to bitch, it comes in a little package delivered to you by the community when you pay your dues by writing a few good articles each year. Put your own balls on the line and let people criticize you first, and you get free reign. Until then, be nice, be constructive, or STFU.

Oh, and while I’m at it, if you can’t take constructive criticism about what is and is not good about your articles, I hate you too. If you don’t want your writing to improve, then you suck. It’s as simple as that. And yes, I know this first-hand because I’ve taken plenty of lumps lately from the likes of Mike Flores, Geordie Tait, Toby Wachter, Gary Wise, and certain people who have told me I need to”focus” more in my writing, and I’ve chosen to try and learn from what they’ve said, even if I don’t agree with them.

I hate the misuse of the term”barn.” Barn is short for barnacle, and is a derogatory term that should only be used if you know what the hell you are talking about. If you can’t point to a”hull” for a”barn,” then it doesn’t apply. I hate the fact that saying you like someone else’s writing immediately makes one a”barn” in some people’s eyes. Morons.

Oh, and to all you teenagers out there: There are probably thousands of words to replace the use of the term”Gay” to describe something that sucks. Look a few up and put them into rotation, please.

I do not hate the fact that Jordan Berkowitz is no longer a member of TOGIT-CMU, because I kinda like the TOGIT guys. I do hate anyone who apologizes for JB and his actions, as he’s had his chances to learn and has clearly chosen to go a different direction.

I hate the fact that Charles Mousseau (or The Moose!, as I like to call him) never made the leap with me over to StarCityGames. He’s still producing thought-provoking rants (which all indicate that I am patently immoral, since I will freely concede to friends, ID, and split prizes); I just think he’s doing it for the wrong team.

I hate being in a position where withholding tech is actually important to me and my friends. Here’s the dilemma: I’ve been winning on MODO a lot lately (when I’m actually paying attention for long enough not to randomly throw away games), and feel I understand the environment fairly well. Therefore, it would be natural for me to write articles on OLS Limited detailing what you might be missing, right?

The problem here is that if I tell all of you guys how I’ve been winning, you will horn in on the those strategies – and if you do that, you’ll push me and everybody else who already has this information out, thus causing us to possibly lose more and affecting the whole”MODO pack” situation. If, on the other hand, I keep this info to myself, I am assured that you either have to hear about the strategies from another source or you’ll have to figure them out for yourself, thus guaranteeing myself and my teammates more winnings for a longer period of time.

I was actually annoyed with Gary Wise for telling people how good Wirewood Symbiote happens to be; that’s how silly things are. It’s annoying for me and if you are losing, it sucks for you, but MODO is hard enough without giving away all your secrets.

I hate admitting that Will Brinkman is occasionally right.

I hate the fact that Phil Samms really really likes show tunes. It drives me nuts.

I hate inside jokes. Check that; I just hate when I don’t get other people’s inside jokes. Feel free to hate mine.

I hate that no matter how enjoyable Magic writing happens to be, it will never pay the bills for anyone except maybe Zvi. This means that we, the fans (first and foremost I’m a fan), will always be shortchanged a little because the guys you love to read have other things they need to do with their time in order to put food on the table. The Sports Guy, Rob Neyer, Peter Gammons, Mike Lupica, and the like exist because there is enough money in it to let them make money doing what they love. Magic may never be big enough to let that happen.

I hate when Ferrett edits things right out of my articles like [THING THAT HE EDITED NOW]. I hate it a lot more when it takes me almost a week to realize it. (Read your own articles, punkie – The Ferrett)

I hate that some moron out there thinks this is so much better than the previously-stated rumor:”Dear Sir. I am a friend of Josh’s, and I can’t believe you would publish such inaccuracy and slander. For the record, Josh did not steal a car – he broke into a car and stole stuff out of it. There’s a difference.” (Yes, I did receive this email – The Ferrett, who told everyone at Detroit)

I hate the fact that after sixteen months, forty-five articles written, two Grand Prixs covered, and a million articles read, Magic writing is still hard. Articles still take longer to produce than I want them to, they still aren’t as good as I want them to be, a lot of people are still better than me, and I’m still not that funny. Fortunately, I’m stubborn, and therefore will continue to write in spite of all of this.

In case you missed the real implication of that last one, let me repeat it: Magic writing is hard. So in spite of everything I’ve said above, if you are a writer, and you are legitimately trying your best to do produce good work, then I applaud you, even if I think you suck. Keep doing your thing, try to get better, and I’m bound to come around. Besides, who gives a flying f**k about what I think?

Lastly, I hate the fact that I still suck at the game, even after three years of pounding away and trying to get better. What makes it worse is that I now think I know what it takes to try and get to the next level (as I watched Jim do it for Regionals), and thus far haven’t been willing to sacrifice the time necessary to get there. In other words, it’s no one’s fault but my own.

The Guest Spot, featuring Mary Van Tyne or…

The Obligatory Beefcake Section

So you think that objectifying women is wrong, do you? That females are some sort of helpless kittens who can’t take certain expressions of appreciation for their form? Do you also think that women don’t objectify men and their many forms? Maybe you still believe that weenie size doesn’t matter either?

*Sigh* So many myths to dispel, so little time…

Anyway, after the louder-than-usual bitching from the peanut gallery last week about the content of the cheesecake section and whether it belongs in Magic articles (don’t worry kids, I’m not dropping it for good), I decided to turn the tables and see what the fairer sex had to say about things. I asked MVT if she wanted to guest on this week’s column and discuss the whole”being a female in world of male gamers” thing, but she had a better idea that she wanted to pursue. Here’s her idea, completely unedited and uncut by yours truly…

The Five Hottest Pro Tour Players

By Mary Van Tyne

Some of you may think that I am trivializing my reputation by making this list; I say that my writing’s pretty trivial already. That, and I figure I’m in the best position to pick the Hottest Men in Magic. I mean, you could ask Brian Hegstad instead, if you really wanted to.

#5. Jussi Salovaara

This man is a sexy Finn who doesn’t need to smile to look hot. I’ve never actually heard of him before, but I was flipping through the European Championships coverage and there he was. And from the looks of this picture, he clearly knows how to please the ladies.

Jussi, if you’re reading this, you should come to America sometime. You can crash on my couch.

#4. Zev Gurwitz

Well, I think he looks cute in this picture. It’s the dimples. However, this was Day Two of Nationals, where I’m sure he had had a chance to shower beforehand…he didn’t look nearly as nice on Sunday morning, when I spotted him sleeping on a couple of folding chairs.

Zev, do all your female fans (me) a favor and shower before you show up at the site. Oh, and get yourself your own hotel room, too. It’s much more fun to hug men who smell nice and don’t look so rumpled.

#3. Jon Finkel

I guess this pic’s all right…Jon has the exact opposite problem of Brian Kibler – where Kibler has an affinity for the camera, Jon Finkel is much hotter in person than he is in photo coverage. I have verified this on multiple occasions.

Young Finkel in a tie.

Am I the only one who caught the Finkel-on-Kibler action from the not-serious Nationals Top 8 photo? Ask yourself.”Why is Kibler grinning like an idiot, and why is Finkel’s tongue so close to his ear?” Now, I’m not normally a huge fan of hot guy-on-guy action, but Kibler is the reason that Finkel made Top 8 at Nationals, after all…Maybe Jon’s just repaying the favor. *wink*

#2. Brian Kibler

Speaking of Brian Kibler…*sigh* I know I’m not the first to swoon all over Kibler (I looked for the Fan Club page already) but he still looks really cute in this picture. Anyway, he does look much better on the Internet. Photo coverage is kind to Brian.

Brian Kibler about the closest thing we have to a spokesperson for the game. Ever since Nick Eisel was suspended, Kibler has stepped into the poster-boy role… But I can’t figure out which celebrity he resembles most.

Ben Affleck?

Young Christian Slater?

I just don’t know. If anyone has any ideas, you should tell me. Kibler’s still hot, though.

#1. Ed Fear

I met Ed Fear in Pittsburgh, but it was more like we said hi than anything else. I met him in San Diego…in the full bear hug sense of the word”met.” I’m still convinced he had to restrain himself from grabbing my ass.

Sorry, but I just can’t resist the sexiness that is Ed Fear. Maybe it’s his disturbing similarity to many of the men I’ve dated. Maybe it’s the fact that he was suspended for a year, that rebellious bad boy. Maybe it’s the long hair and the goatee, which make him look like Magic’s Jesus.

Either way, all of these things combine to make Ed Fear my personal pick for the Sexiest Man in Magic.

Honorable Mention: Kai Budde

Kai is on this list because, well, he has lots of money. He’s still a portly German, though a really, really nice guy. He was gracious enough to submit to being interviewed for Scrye, and I’ll admit, when he smiles, he looks kind of cute. However, I have found no good pictures of Kai.

Why are there only five? I only found five hot Magic players on the Pro Tour. If you want to volunteer yourself, or someone else you know, go ahead and send them to me at [email protected]. If you send me a picture of yourself, and you are not hot, I will reserve the right to mock you mercilessly.

Knut – Thus endeth the lesson.

So that’s it for this week. Next week: actual strategy, the return of cheesecake (though not necessarily chosen by me), and perhaps a story about how the best man at my wedding has lived the ultimate male fantasy recently with real, live models and Hooters girls. What does that have to do with Magic? Well, nothing, you nimrod – and that is exactly the point.

The Holy Kanoot

Ted Knutson

[email protected]