No… More… Zardoz

To be honest, I had no sense of danger looking through the Sci-fi section of the local video shoppe. I had already picked up Michael Moore’s "The Big One", but there was a deal that promised free popcorn if I rented another flick. It was the perfect opportunity to finally see the Outer Limits episode…

To be honest, I had no sense of danger looking through the Sci-fi section of the local video shoppe. I had already picked up Michael Moore’s "The Big One", but there was a deal that promised free popcorn if I rented another flick. It was the perfect opportunity to finally see the Outer Limits episode "The Architects of Fear" (which probably influenced Watchmen).

Unfortunately, ‘O’ is near enough to ‘Z’ alphabetically that when I bent down to retrieve my choice, my peripheral vision was filled with the unmistakable countenance of Sean Connery in a hilarious moustache.

Yes, there’s just something about "Zardoz". Somehow I ended up watching it twice back-to-back, which cost me more of my sanity than I’d care to relate. Like running into Cthulhu, even if you pass your Sanity Check, no way are you escaping with your mind.

Remember, Cthulhu eats 1D6 adventurers per round of combat.

Thing is, being able to sit through this awful film is a point of pride among those strong enough to withstand it. It was once seen for rent with a number of pieces of paper tacked up beside it. For the uninitiated, the box of Zardoz says:

"Beyond 1984,

Beyond 2001,

Beyond Love,

Beyond Death."

Underneath which someone had affixed a huge sticker screaming, "BEYOND GOOD!". The sheets of paper turned out to be an essay proclaiming the merits of Zardoz.

If you need an idea of how bad this film is, the director (John Boorman) also wrote and produced the film. This means that not only is this his personal pet project (and he is NOT a writer), but also shows that no one else was willing to foot the bill for this debacle. We joke that it must be his dream movie from when he was ten years old, but after this week’s mind-destroying scrutiny it seems like truth. For crying out loud, it’s a future society of ninety percent women, all of whom feel the need to walk around in see-through tops.

Okay, so maybe he was fourteen. I promise this is all going somewhere.

Two weeks ago, I suffered a debacle of my own, mismanaging a very nice MBC deck to a 3-3 finish. On the ride home, Adam turns to me and says "So we’re playing this again next week?". I had to shake my head and say "Waters.".

This wasn’t only because Falcon Boy played wrecking ball with the competition and Rising Waters was his deck of choice. Sure, when there’s only two Rising Waters decks at the tournament and they both Top-8, it’s something to investigate, but it was more than that.

Two-thirds of my opponents had a controlling bent to their decks. Looking around the top tables (though there were a number of W/G Rebel decks doing well), it seemed that slow and steady was winning the race. In an environment like that, with few of the B/G and R/G big fat beatdown, Waters is an excellent choice. It functions best against expensive, slow decks that lack acceleration. The only fear was sideboard retaliation, and with only two Rising Waters at that qualifier, it could hardly be expected.

Done. The deck of choice is marked.

However, I was called away unexpectedly to my current locale: My lovely hometown of Burlington. Because of this I was absent from the week of testing only to be unable to attend the qualifier anyway.

Nick Page: Rising Waters, Second Place.

Adam ended up choosing a very experimental U/W control deck, playing it to an unsatisfying finish. I’m certain that if I had been in Waterloo for that week, the only difference would have been that BOTH Adam and I would have played that deck, my finish making his seem downright heroic.

But it all gets me blue, having the correct deck for a particular tournament all picked out, and then having what passes as my "Real Life" these days strong-arm me out of that option. Never mind the nagging suspicion that I wouldn’t have done anywhere near as well as Nick.

Never mind further that Nick Page just narrowly missed his second Pro-Tour appearance. I wonder how that feels.

Stay with me. Big finish.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the English language lies with the word "is". Before Masques Block was recognised as a wide-open and interesting format, there was a drought in Magic writing, pockmarked with articles about the role of internet writers. Specifically, the articles drew attention to writers’ portrayal of their opinions as fact.

When I read something like that, I can’t help but place the blame squarely on you, the reader. Don’t you know better, I think to myself, than to believe everything some hack scribe manages to drum out of his keyboard?

But I catch myself from time to time reading something some jobber has managed to put within my daily reading routine and thinking "Well, you’re an ape-sized idiot," and this is where I fall into the same trap. And all because of "is".

There’s no way to know for certain if a statement is intended as fact or opinion, barring the use of an obviator, as with "It is a factual statement that you are an ape-sized idiot."

When reading something, keeping in mind that what is written is only what someone *thinks* will maintain your perspective. Something only sounds like a statement of fact when you interpret it as such. Believe me, I doubt the existence of a single scrap of fact on this electronic wasteland.

Except for me. I hand out the straight goods. You all know that.

What this mish-mash all comes down to is FORTITUDE.

Back-to-back Zardoz: FORTITUDE.

Not getting down because it’s apparent that Nick is a better player than I: FORTITUDE.

Nick withstanding Boyd Hardie’s belly dance after he takes the slot away from you: FORTITUDE.

A dash of restraint and the benefit of the doubt: FORTITUDE.

It’s just this sort of dedication in the face of hard times that I need to practise. I refuse to believe that IDIOCY can be substituted in its place.

Josh Bennett


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"It is the year 2000, but where are the flying cars? I was *promised* FLYING CARS! I don’t see ANY flying cars. WHY? WHY?!? Why?" — Avery Brooks