Mixed kNuts: Sabermetricians And Magic

The discussion is deeper than anyone has talked about. In fact, it relates directly to the advancement of knowledge for our game. And aside from Ben Bleiweiss complaining to me over AIM, nobody else is discussing it. So it looks like it’s up to me to eat the parfait, and explain why not having decklists for every deck played at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour is the biggest problem in the game today.

The subjects of today’s article will be varied, but the primary discussion will be about the science of Magic, with a little side rant on decklists, and then I’ll switch over to finishing the Miss Universe photos and end with The Kitchen Sink. There’s a lot of theory inherent in today’s discussion – but if you stick with me, free dessert is provided at the end.

Can I kick it?

Yes I can!

I mentioned on IRC last week that the primary topic of my next article was going to be a rationale for posting decklists when the eternally pithy Josh Bennett replied”Does your argument simply say ‘Duh?’ Because if not, it’s too long.”

Well, that’s one point of view…

My point of view is slightly different, and it starts here: The discussion is deeper than anyone has talked about. In fact, it relates directly to the advancement of knowledge for our game. And aside from Ben Bleiweiss complaining to me over AIM, nobody else is discussing it. So it looks like it’s up to me to eat the parfait, and explain why not having decklists for every deck played at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour is the biggest problem in the game today.

Bear with me for a few moments while I explain where my opinion comes from and why I feel as strongly as I do about this subject. Most of you probably feel I’m overreacting here, and I can’t blame you. Without a valid explanation, I would probably feel the same way – but perhaps if I give you the background details on how I came to this opinion, I’ll win you over and you’ll agree to be my date for the Sadie Hawkins’ dance. Or something.

Hang on, we’re about to shift gears…

In 2001, the Oakland A’s had a payroll of $34 million. The New York Yankees had a payroll $114.5 million. That year Oakland went 102-60 while the Yankees went 95-65. Therefore, the A’s paid $333,333 per win while the Yankees paid a little over $1.2 million per win – or about 3.6 times what the A’s paid. If this happened just one time, it wouldn’t be that notable. You could simply say Oakland had one extraordinary year where the overperformed compared to their financial output, and that would be that.

However, Oakland’s record has been approximately equivalent to that of the Yankees since 2000, a span of almost four years now, and a trend that currently shows no sign of stopping. During that time, only the Yankees, the Atlanta Braves, and the Seattle Mariners have been as successful as Oakland – and all of those teams have vastly outspent the A’s.

Those looking for an explanation might say that Oakland simply had a good (and consistent) team of players over those years, and use that to explain their success while also stating that they will be less successful when those players leave. Those people would in large part, be wrong. Oakland has had to consistently deal with losing their star players to free agency because they cannot pay them. They have gradually developed a strong young pitching staff, but it too has changed radically from 1999 through 2003.

So what is responsible for the success of the A’s? Michael Lewis’s new book Moneyball would have you believe that Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s, deserves most of the credit for their success. From a certain perspective, the book is probably right. However, it’s Beane’s systematic implementation of existing ideas that provide the real keys to the success of the team, and those ideas are transportable; not only to other areas of baseball, but to other aspects of life, and specifically to Magic: the Gathering.

Lewis’s book (which comes highly recommended by yours truly) contains a great deal of discussion as to what Beane’s radical ideas actually are and why they are successful… But I’ll try to boil them down into some bullet points for easy access.

1) Money matters. In order to be competitive with a payroll that is consistently half or less than any of their rivals, the A’s have a much lower fiscal margin for error. Therefore, they not only need to limit the amount of money that they spend on players, there also needs to be a high probability that the players they hire will continue to perform.

2) Information matters. Information is the key to everything the A’s do as a franchise. The only way they feel they can get ahead is by making better decisions than the competition, and the only way to do that is through superior information.

3) Statistics matter. Baseball has a culture where scouts are sent out to view players and decide if they are good prospects for the major leagues. These scouts have a natural tendency to overrate players with athletic skills who look like athletes, while undervaluing players that do not fit the typical athletic mold. Beane has changed things in the A’s organization so that the statistics that a player produces matter more to how a player is evaluated than whether the player looks athletic or performs well in workouts.

This sort of analysis of players has been done frequently since Bill James pioneered it in 1977 – but strangely enough, it was never really applied to organizational decisions by Major League Baseball teams until Sandy Alderson began doing it in a limited capacity with Oakland in the early 90’s. Beane then succeeded Alderson and decided to take things a few steps further.

4) History matters. One game is random. One month is random. Even one season can be random. However, when you can chart a player’s performance over the course of three or four seasons, you can be reasonably certain that they will continue to perform at that same level.

This applies to good as well as bad. It is extremely difficult to take a guy who gets on base thirty percent of the time and teach them how to do it forty percent of the time. However, a guy who gets on base forty percent of the time is equally unlikely to have a sudden drop to thirty percent. Now there are players who learn new tricks late in life, but in general these trends hold true, and they flaunt the idea that anything can be taught in the game of Baseball.

The problem comes when you only have one or two years of data on players (like in High School or when a player is injured for a long period of time). This decreases the amount of certainty you have that a player will continue at a high level of performance while increasing overall uncertainty (see Drew Henson for baseball and Akili Smith for football). You can therefore come to the conclusion that information is good, but consistent information is better.

The interesting part about all of this is that Beane didn’t develop any of these ideas on his own. He simply chose to take the science of sabermetrics (the study of baseball statistics, or more accurately,”the search for new baseball knowledge”), a discipline that has been alive and well for the last twenty years and pioneered by the likes of Bill James (now a consultant for the Boston Red Sox) and disciple Rob Neyer, and apply it fully to personnel and organizational decisions.

Beane was the first to wholeheartedly accept the new knowledge that the sabermetricians were discovering and apply it to running a baseball team. Long ago, the sabermetricians discovered that getting on base and hitting for power were the two most important elements in making runs, while stolen bases, bunting, and hit and runs were comparatively unimportant. Therefore he decided to structure the A’s minor league teams around those two principles. They drafted players that were slow, walked a lot, and had the potential to hit for power. They also drafted players on which they had solid information about how they would perform, meaning they chose to eschew the common practice of drafting High School players in favor of drafting good college players. In doing so, he has been rewarded with unprecedented success for a small-market baseball team in the era of free-agency.

Enough with the preamble, Kanoot! How does this have anything to do with a card game?

Peep this as I grab the microphone, and let my words rip…

The majority of Magic knowledge is inherently subjective. People play the game, gain experience and knowledge, and then write articles to share their wisdom with the community. Knowledge from Pro players is most highly valued because Pros typically have the most experience with the cards. These are the guys with proven track records of winning, so it makes sense to believe that they know what they are talking about. Sounds simple, right?

Here’s the problem: What if that knowledge is wrong? What if Pros, just like baseball scouts, are influenced more by what they see, and not by what is real. The human memory is fallible, therefore it is entirely possible that what we think is important is not the same as what is important.

Subjective knowledge is an opinion. Generally it’s based on anecdotal evidence, but it is opinion nonetheless. Therefore the opportunity exists for it to be wrong.

Additionally, what are we missing? Magic is a game of nearly infinite possibilities. There are too many places to focus your attention for one person to know everything.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: Ignoring print runs for the moment (and the fact that the guy on your left will be very happy to dip into Red from whatever you pass), say you are drafting OOL at Grand Prix: Boston and your first Onslaught pack contains a Sparksmith, a Lavamancer’s Skill, and a Lightning Rift. Which card do you take? As a player, you want the greatest chance of winning, so that’s what you want to know: Which card will increase your chances of winning the most?

Not certain? Me neither. I can give you rationales for why you would or would not take each card, but I can’t definitively tell you which card is the right pick. It’s simply my opinion and you have to decide whether I’m right or not.

Not particularly enlightening, is it? But we’re faced with this sort of scenario every time a new set comes out. All the Limited writers (excellent though they may be) whip out their keyboards and give you lists of pick orders that you should follow in order to maximize your chances of winning. God forbid they disagree, because then you suddenly have to choose who you think is correct. Are you a disciple of Wise? Eisel? The last surviving Ramone and possibly the best Limited writer around, Tim Aten? In a world full of opinions, who has the right one?

Nobody knows.

Say instead that you’ve traveled back from the future and you read my Grand Prix: Boston analysis article (ignore the Pro Tour: Chicago jibber jabber, all the info is from Boston). You look at the aforementioned pack again and realize it has a Pacifism in it. You know that by drafting White, you will increase your average win percent by nine points simply by going White in the draft. Now which card do you pick?

Now let’s back up for a second and flip the script again. Say you’ve got a database full of decklists from Pro Tour: Chicago sitting around. It contains every card that was played in every maindeck throughout all four drafts in Chicago. It also contains the records for each of those decks. You, in your infinite curiosity, have done the research for Pro Tour: Chicago and know for a fact that decks containing at least one Sparksmith won 52% of their matches, decks containing at least one Lavamancer’s Skill won 55% of their matches, and decks containing at least one Lightning Rift won 58% of their matches, while decks sporting White cards won 57% of their matches. (Note: These aren’t actual percentages from Pro Tour: Chicago; they are fictional examples. Osyp did have a deck containing a Sparksmith, a Shock, a Solar Blast, a Lightning Rift, and a Starstorm and managed to 0-4 the table, though, so as you can see, anything is possible.)

Now which card do you pick?

Do you see how this kind of information can change things? Magic goes from a game of opinions and estimations of card value to a game where factual information helps you maximize your chances of winning. Instead of being dependant on your own experience and the advice of your favorite pro, you can now do a little research and know what has worked in the past and apply that knowledge to the future.

With this information, you could legitimately answer questions like”What is the best Pit Fighter Legend in Limited?” Just look up the win percentages for each deck playing a king of smash-facery and there’s your answer.

“Which board-clearing spell really rules the roost: Akroma’s Vengeance, Decree of Pain, Starstorm, or Slice and Dice?” Once again, hit your trusty database, look up the win percentages, and there you go. Riddle solved.

Yes, you can bring up issues with the questions themselves, as what you are really answering is”Which of these cards is most likely to help you win?” and not“Which card is the best?” as the former is dependent on everything else in your deck while the latter remains difficult to answer objectively. Also, the Pit-Fighter and Wrath of God questions aren’t as interesting from a strategic point of view because they mostly involve rares, and therefore you’ll never have to make a choice between any of them. But they do sort of capture the imagination, don’t they?

What else could be done? Well, with the right analysis, you can do what I did for Grand Prix: Boston and discover which colors are over and under-drafted. Or you can ask other questions:

  • What is the win percent for seventeen-land decks?

  • How about for eighteen land?

  • What’s the average mana curve for all decks?

  • How does the Limited mana curve affect the odds of winning and losing?

If you had all the historic decklists (the information from Limited is unfortunately lost because it was never collected), you could do comparative analysis of the value of any card in any set against one another, and see which ones had the greatest effect on whether a deck could win. You can also do that within a set to determine which cards maximize your chances of winning within a specific color, and which colors maximize your chances of winning within a specific format.

Don’t think that’s enough? We’re just scratching the surface here folks, so hang on.

For the most part, decklists for Constructed events already exist. If you were to put those in a database and mash some numbers, you could find out:

  • What are the most dominant Block, Standard, and Extended decks of all time (at least at Grand Prix and Pro Tours)?

  • What is the most dominant creature in each format?

  • What is the most dominant Sorcery/Instant/Enchantment in each format?

  • What is the most dominant Creature/Sorcery/Instant/Enchantment across formats?

  • In all Constructed events over all the years, what color has seen the most play?

  • What color has seen the least?

The list of possible questions that you could answer goes on and on and on… Granted, some of the questions take some real ability with numbers and a solid methodology to answer properly, but others are easy enough that any kid with an understanding of fractions and percents could come to the correct conclusion.

But wait! There’s more…

What I’ve proposed so far is an El Dorado of information, but it doesn’t stop there. Unfortunately, the next steps are comparatively non-simple in how you would go about executing them, but if you were to setup the requisite devices to answer my earlier questions, you could, with a little dedication, continue on this path as well.

Say R&D really wanted to break the game down into its component parts. Granted, the text on the cards is important and differs on every card, but it’s also easy to see that Deep Analysis and Concentrate share a lot of similarities as well. Therefore, if you wanted to, you could begin to classify cards by their similarities.

You could tie the decklist database to a card database that has all the information about a card (color(s), casting cost, spell-type, power, toughness), and additional classification categories like Spot Removal, Board removal, Life Gain, Card Drawing, Direct Damage, et cetera, and then supplement those categories with sub-categories that tell things like how much life is gained, how many cards are drawn, how much damage the spell does, is it a cantrip, key words, yadda yadda yadda?

Once you have the database setup, you could begin to do analysis on what the actual value of different abilities are. You can then do regression analysis for the card and look at how often decks sporting the card win in a particular environment. This will allow you to give an estimated value for the card, and also allow you to extrapolate probable values for other cards like it that may see print.

You could even figure out the value of specific types of cards, and in what multiples they are most successful. Example: In Limited, decks with five spot removal spells won X percent of the time, while decks with only two spot removal spells won Y percent of the time. The possibilities are pretty much endless, and the knowledge is extremely useful. The only question is whether this sort of analysis would be cost-effective (or deemed useful) for Wizards to entertain.

As a point of fact, R&D already does this sort of thing, but they do it less scientifically (and it costs them less than contracting a company to run regression analysis). How many times have we heard discussions about how much a 3/3 creature will cost on average, and how that cost is adjusted according to what additional abilities it is given, along with its place in the set? Those discussions are all about assigning value to creatures, spells, and abilities, the only difference being that regression analysis does it mathematically while R&D’s current method is a bit more, um, Magical (or if you prefer,”less precise”).

The last sort of analysis that I’d like to see is something that looks at events in Magic sequentially. Sequencing can be applied to both Limited and Constructed events and takes the game to a level of granularity that is currently impossible to obtain in real life. Having done match coverage for both StarCityGames and The Sideboard, I am well aware that no single human being is capable of keeping up with everything that goes on in a game. Unless you are covering a match between Dan Clegg and Trey Van Cleave, the players play too fast, and there is simply too much information to keep track of to accurately reproduce game states. I have toyed with the idea of creating a specialized scoring template to try and do such a thing (like a baseball box score except specific to Magic), but haven’t really gotten anywhere with it so far.

Regardless, if sequencing were possible, then game states could be reproduced, and we could begin to examine game-specific events in detail. Ever wonder how often a player who Upheavals and then attempts to cast a Psychatog loses? If we had a reliable way of tracking the game, and then entering it into a computer, you could find out. Hell, you could even see what percentage of the time the”nut draw” for U/G Madness (Island, Forest, Wild Mongrel, Wonder, Arrogant Wurm, Circular Logic, Roar of the Wurm) loses. Now that would be fascinating.

Play? Or Draw? Oy, the possibilities make my head spin faster than an old 45′ of Pac-Man Fever. (Yep, there really was a song called that, and it was frighteningly addictive. If you know what’s good for you, you will avoid downloading this song from Kazaa. You have been warned.)

With regard to Booster Draft, I’d specifically like to see the average pick order of different cards. How much would it change the behavior of drafters to know that the average pick order of Mistform Dreamer is eighth (meaning it’s relatively likely to come back around to you), while the average for Mistform Wall is four? These are the first examples that I thought of, but you can see where I’m going here. By studying what other players are doing within a draft, you could maximize your own draft picks accordingly and possibly build better decks. That’s the theory anyway. The actual application of this theory is currently unknown because there’s no outlet to try it.

Unfortunately, because of the difficulty we have tracking the game state during a match, none of that sort of analysis is currently possible.

Or is it?

Doesn’t a Magic program exist that tracks your every play and is even capable of replaying the specifics of a match in order? Doesn’t a Magic program exist that enforces the rules so that cheating within the gameplay isn’t possible? Doesn’t a Magic program exist that knows every single card in every single player’s collection and could be setup to track how often specific cards see play (presumably only in big events though), as well as keeping track of pick orders within a Booster Draft?

Why yes; yes it does. MODO does every one of those things and it does it quite well.

Now I’m not sure how MODO is structured behind the scenes, but it currently represents the only realistic method of sequencing the game so as to allow for the examination of specific in-game events. If it’s structured so that play information can be saved and extracted from it, we might just be able to find out how often a turn 2 Sparksmith actually results in a win, as opposed to how much we think it does. Unfortunately, the only people who can answer this question are the folks at Wizards and Leaping Lizards. Maybe they already thought of it and decided it isn’t possible. Or maybe the had overlooked the possibility of gathering this information completely. Or maybe they are already tracking the information and using it to influence the development of future sets.

Whatever the case, if it is possible, I hope the guys at Wizards let us know, and let the public somehow have access to the information. Wrap it up in a bow and send it to me, Christmas-style. I promise I’ll write you a nice Thank You note. If nothing else, it would leave me too busy doing analysis to bitch about things for a while, and really… who doesn’t want me to stop bitching?

Now before anybody goes off all half-cocked and says”But Kanoot, that sort of information will destroy the mystery of the game!” let me explain some things.

First of all, science isn’t concerned with preserving mysteries; it’s concerned with discovering information. Has the science of sabermetrics destroyed the fans love of baseball? No. Arguably, it has given an even greater appeal to the game for a whole generation of fantasy baseball owners and egg-headed fans that consistently made The Bill James Baseball Abstract a bestseller (James stopped writing it in 1988 and let Random House take over its publication). In fact, many of the fans can point to legitimate evidence that they are indeed smarter than the General Manager of their local baseball team, because anybody who reads the Baseball Abstract would know that Neifi Perez is the worst possible shortstop that they could have hired, and your GM just spent $2.5 million dollars a year for him. Feeling smarter than the Pros is a reward unto itself.

Additionally, just because you have superior information about the game does not mean you have solved it. You still have to draw the cards, sling the spells, endure the mana screw. You are simply smarter in how you go about it. There’s nothing wrong with maximizing your chances of winning through the use of information. Anybody who breaks a Limited format is doing exactly that. In Constructed, rogue deckbuilders do it all the time. Everyone who puts in the work is capable of gaining”new” knowledge about the game that other people don’t have. In a game that relies on you to use your brain in order to be successful, information and skill are what separate the winners from the losers.

All I want to do is remove some of the uncertainty from the game. How can that be wrong?

So why can’t we do this now? What’s the problem?

Problem number one is that we still aren’t bring provided all the decklists for Grand Prix and Pro Tours from the folks at Wizards. I understand that hand-coding decklists into a computer seems like a complete waste of time to some people (it is painful, but not a waste of time), but at the moment that’s the only way we are able to record the decklists, and the truth is: Decklists from an event represent one of the few hard and fast historical facts of the game. Without them, you miss out on key information, like how Astral Slide actually performed in OnBC against Goblins. Or how Goblins might have been able to deal with the Beast deck.

Example: Without the decklists for Pro Tour: Venice being released, you can’t verify whether statements like this, made by one Peppermint von Lebedowicz, are true:”Although Huey managed to defeat Nassif’s goblins in the quarterfinals, if you look at the overall record of the deck versus Goblins you’ll see how bad the matchup is.”

We have no idea how bad the matchup is because we don’t know what the decks looked like. Sure, it looks bad on paper, but we don’t know the matchup data. It is absolutely ludicrous that we are rapidly approaching the full Block season and we don’t know much of anything with regard to the metagame from the Block Pro Tour outside of the decks that made the Top 8.

Here’s an unconfirmed rumor from Pro Tour: Venice for you: There was a Wall deck in the Top16. Honest. A deck that ran both Wall of Hope and Wall of Mulch (Ageless Sentinels weren’t released yet), and that deck is rumored to have made it to the Top 16… But we can’t freaking confirm that this is true because as far as we’re concerned, there aaaaaare no decklists.

Now Venice was a Constructed event, but the same principle applies to Limited events. For Pro Tour: Chicago I was given hope because somebody took the time to record all the decklists for draft 3, supplying us (for the first time since I’ve been paying attention) with a large amount of Limited data. The data flow was squelched to a trickle at Grand Prix: Boston, but it was still enough for me to discover that White was severely underdrafted in the first Premiere OOL Booster drafts.

I thought it would be great to follow this information with an examination of whether the Pros learned from this and changed their behavior for Pro Tour: Yokohama (which used the same format and sets as Boston), but unfortunately Wizards didn’t provide any information whatsoever on deck color archetypes and which decks won, making it impossible to continue with my earlier analysis.

Problem number two for the sort of analysis that I’d really like to do (is Magimetrics too silly a name to use?) is that even if we get the collected decklists, there is no centralized repository (or database) for the information. Without being able to run queries against this sort of information, you are reduced back to the pencil and slide rule days of yore, which isn’t all bad – it’s at least something to analyze – but it limits the questions that we can find answers to and makes asking them much more painful.

The fact of the matter is, if I could work with a reasonably skilled programmer, we could probably devote enough time to figure out how to convert the sort of decklists you would find on The Sideboard into something immediately useful to a database. Then every time a new event took place, you would simply import the data and go to work. Unfortunately, this sort of solution would reside on a private computer that would not be available for public consumption, but at least it could be done. What I cannot do, however, is provide the decklists. That task resides solely in the hands of the folks who run the events and The Sideboard, and we are at their mercy.

After talking to some sources inside Wizards, it appears that they may have found a solution for both problems if they implement their new system properly. There’s a rumor that Wizards is developing a Scan-tron or bubblesheet style of deck registration form that could be read by portable readers at sites, which would then ship the data over to a computer for easy uploading to The Sideboard.

Not only does this look like an ingenious solution to the long-term problems caused by hand registering decks, it also looks like the start of a two-in-one solution for posting decklists and then making them available in a database. You’d simply need to upload the decklist information in a format readable by your database of choice (tab or comma delimited is pretty standard), and then tie that information to the result information produced by the DCI Reporter for each player’s DCI number. Voila! You now have decklists and results collected in the same database. From there, it’s a relatively simple matter to make it available to the public, and you will have brought the science of Magic into the computer age and advanced the search for new Magic information (or Magimetrics) by fifty years.

Ideally, I see this sort of analysis as a third layer to Magical knowledge. The base layer (or Game Layer) is knowledge of the Game, which entails knowledge of the rules, the cards, and their interactions. This is by far the most complicated of the three levels and the most difficult to learn.

The second layer of knowledge is the Metagame, or the knowledge of how matchups between decks affect their success rate. In draft, you could also add the knowledge of over and underdrafted colors to this layer, since that is something that is technically outside gameplay, but has an effect on your chances of success. The metagame layer is intrinsically affected by the base layer (what good does it do you to understand what decks will probably be played if you don’t know how to play the game itself?), and therefore lies naturally on top of it.

The third layer of Magic knowledge is the layer of Objective Information that is compiled from studying the results of the first two layers. Success of a specific deck is affected by the player’s ability and knowledge of the game, and it is affected by the metagame. There are times a deck will simply be hated out of the metagame, leading to a lack of success. If you have no understanding of how the metagame works though, you won’t be able to tell the”Why” of things when looking at the OIL. You’ll simply see that a particular deck/color combination/whatever failed to win and that is all.

Technically, this isn’t a big deal if you are using the information only for historical purposes, but if you are trying to use the information to help you predict future success, you will have real problems.

Three layers, one on top of another, and each one affected by the ones below it, but able to be detached from the layers above it.

So that’s my take on where we can go if we are provided the data and develop the tools. There is a vast expanse of untapped information ready to be discovered and used by players across the world, we just have to figure out how to get at it.

It also my argument for why a lack of complete decklists for Premiere level events is the biggest problem in the game today. The possibilities for analysis are vast, but without the decklists there is nothing to analyze.

Or, in the words of the esteemed Josh Bennett:


The Obligatory Cheesecake Section

Just in case you missed her, here’s your winner, clad in only a white bikini.

Last week I left off with Miss Germany – she of the dreaded one-piece swimsuit. This week, we’ll kick things back off with Miss Hungary, who is attractive and nicely built, but also has that instinctively bitchy look about her. My assumption is that this is what you get when you’ve been a model since age fourteen, but unfortunately I haven’t been around enough of them to know.

Iceland: Home of rocks, Bjork, and curvy nineteen year-old women who wear fishing nets for National Costumes. Not a bad resume, really.

India: Last year India was my favorite contestant of the pageant, so I knew that they weren’t likely to top things this year. Unfortunately, they didn’t really try. Sure, she’s pretty, but I expect better.

Ireland: Yeah, the Irish girls are still hot and still just a little bit trampy. Huzzah!

Israeli girls are not only hot but they also have mandatory military service, which means they can kick your ass and they know how to fire an MP-5.

Italy: Hey, look! It’s Fran Drescher with an Italian accent!

Korea: Skinniest. Contestant. Ever. Her National Costume looks like a Disney movie, which is cool and unsettling at the same time. Time to lay off the psychedelics again.

Mexico: Waterbra flag #2! Remember what I said about Korea? The same thing applies here, except now she has a C+ sized chest. These mammaries are not found in nature!

Netherlands: Yes, I am a lot of fun… Why do you ask?

New Zealand: Apparently there are only three things that come from New Zealand: Lord of the Rings movies, sheep, and emaciated women. It’s like she stopped eating a month before the competition and nobody noticed. I think I’m going to try her out in OnBC Zombies; she looks like good recursion material. (Best. Line. Ever. – The Ferrett)

Peru: Senator Amidala, we will assign Hayden Christiansen to bore you to death. Please act like you are falling in love with him or there will never be a third movie… (Yeah, Episode 2 started airing on HBO recently, and it’s worse the second and third times.)

Don’t miss the rare peeking tattoo in the swimsuit pic; Bennie Smith caught it before I did.

Philippines: Women from the land of Oscar Tan dressed up like pineapples. Insert joke here.

Poland: Naughty Schoolgirl Alert! Note to self: Visit Poland at earliest possible convenience.

South Africa: Who knew South African women were hotties?

Spain: Remember how hot Famke Janssen was as Xenia Onnatop? This girl has that same delicious vibe.

Thailand: Nothing to see here except the cool exploding costume. Move along.

Ukraine: For all you Goth readers out there: Mmm, pasty white!

USA: I placed this one last, not because it belongs there alphabetically, but because it is so awful. Miss USA… She can’t look bad, right? Looks decent in a swimsuit, right? But Wonder Woman as the National Costume?!? Say it ain’t so!

Just to makeup for that, I now have to put in a preview of next week’s OCS, featuring the absolutely ridiculous Kelly Brook.

The Kitchen Sink

Big Pimpin’.

I hear this has happened before, but congratulations to me main man Tomi Walamies for becoming the Finnish National Champion. He remains the sickest kid on the Fjord, and take heart ladies… word has it that he will be spending some time this fall in the United States and is up for causing some”International Incidents.” That said, don’t miss his Nationals report, which I found to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Tara Reid: Utterly beyond fashion redemption.

Mountain Dew: LiveWire has been named the official summer soft drink of the Holy Kanoot. (Translation: I’m unemployed, send me sponsorship money please!)

Mmmm, smart girls (like Claire Danes) are hot.

Angelina Jolie clearly has the best body in all of Hollywood, so can we please see more of it? Thanks…

Is it just me, or is Antonio Banderas starting to look legitimately scared that he’s still with Melanie Griffith?

So I was walking down the frozen foods aisle when I saw these Hot Sub things with Italian Sausage and Peppers. This sounded good, so I bought a box and low and behold, they were good. On the label though, it clearly states”In Fresh, Oven-Baked Bread.” Now this is a frozen food. You take it from the freezer, and put it directly into the microwave to cook it. At what point exactly is the bread on this thing Fresh or Oven-Baked?

Speaking of food, Ben and Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Dough ice cream has been placed on the FDA’s list of addictive substances.

Since it’s summertime, anyone who dislikes reality TV and hasn’t found any good books to read is probably pretty bored. Therefore I would like to recommend that you rent any of the following TV shows on DVD to fill up the long summer hours: 24, The Shield, Six Feet Under, Band of Brothers, Star-Gate SG-1, and to the two people who haven’t seen it yet, The Sopranos. Sex and the City is also recommended for the delicious Kristin Davis, but be aware that there is not nearly as much Sex going on for the lead characters as the title would suggest.

My wife would also like to recommend Queer as Folk for the ladies because”The guys are hot, there are plenty of steamy sex scenes that do not show a penis, and the show features powerful characters, acting, and writing.”

Even if I had something to say about this, I wouldn’t say it here.

Recommended reading for any of you who care about what’s going on in the Supreme Court.

Oh, and if your significant other ever asks”Honey, why are you recording a program called G-String Divas?” do not lie. The correct answer is”Well, it’s a documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the life of strippers, so I thought it would be interesting.” (Technically, this statement is true.) Whenever confronted with a tricky question regarding porn or strippers, feign scientific indifference and say you were researching. It is your only hope.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I left my wallet in El Segundo.

Ted Knutson

The Holy Kanoot

[email protected]

I’m gone.