SCG Daily – Wax On, Wax Off

Teddy Card Game is a martial arts fanatic. He can move as silently as a cat, and can strike like a cobra. Me? I can move as silently as a rhino and can strike like a badger… but that’s about it.

How, then, did I ever become a Karate Instructor?

Today, I got an excellent message from one Ben Bleiweiss

Apparently, while working hard in the StarCityGames.com laboratories, he fielded a rather bizarre phone call. The man at the other end of the line asked a series of confusing questions on mole repellents, adamant that that StarCityGames.com were in the business of providing such pest control to an eager public. The main thrust of the man’s call? Why StarCityGames were so cheap at providing such a service. The cheapest available, apparently.

Ben was, understandably, confused.

The man’s English was a little impenetrable, and the phone line wasn’t the clearest, but Ben did his best to clear up the misunderstanding.

“Sir, we’re a card company. We sell collectable cards, not vermin repellents.”

The man, however, was adamant. He’d visited the site, he said. He’d seen the products there in black, white, and color. Products for ridding his garden of the moley menace. They were cheap, too — the man wanted to buy. And of course, the Customer is Always Right.

Finally, after much gnashing of teeth, Ben located the troublesome root of the problem.

The man had visited the site, yes. Looking for mole repellents. He’d found…

Mole Worms.

He’d mistaken the Fifth Edition Uncommon for actual worms, used in the hunting and killing of actual moles. A snip, I’m sure you’ll agree, at fifty cents apiece.

On the face of it, you can appreciate his mistake. After all, just look at them! A few of them fed down a burrow or two, and the moles would scarper faster than OJ.

It’s an untapped market, I feel. StarCityGames should branch out, providing cardboard alternatives for real-life products…

About to propose to your long-time lover? She’ll swoon for your Mox Diamond Ring. If that fails, try saying it with flowers… a Cadaverous Bloom may send the wrong signal, but a Black Lotus? She’d be putty in your hands. Hell, you might even splash out for a Mox Pearl Necklace… a sign of true love if ever there was one.

There’s no point to this story, by the way. It just made me laugh a great deal.

While I’m doing the whole Ask the Editor thang tomorrow, I thought I’d round off today with an answer to a question sent in by Josh Bell.

During the Romeo interview series, you mentioned that you had been a Karate instructor, yet you said you don’t know much about Karate… what’s the story behind that ?

Cheers for asking, Josh. The story is an odd one. I’ll do my best to tell the tale…

Teddy Card Game is a martial arts fanatic. He’s just at home in the Dojo as he is in the Card Store. His wondrous fighting prowess is a sight to behold, or so I’ve heard. He can move as silently as a cat, and can strike like a cobra. He can kill a man between his thighs, but that’s unrelated to his fighting technique.

Me? I can move as silently as a rhino and can strike like a badger… but that’s about it. The only way I can kill a man is with an overpowering stench.

How, then, did I ever become a Karate Instructor?

When I first left the Computer Games industry (where I was employed as a Games Tester, then a Games Designer), I was unemployed for six months. This was fine: I had a large redundancy package, and a healthy savings account. I was content to rest awhile, try my hand at writing, and watch Rugrats cartoons in my pants when rising each day at 2pm.

Even though I was (largely) supporting myself, the British Welfare State requires those without a job to declare themselves and sign certain forms. Forms that allow the “claimant” to legally refrain from paying insubordinate amounts of Council Tax, for example.

One day, I was signing such forms at a local Job Center with a couple of Magic-playing pals. As we left the building, we were approached by a bloke in a natty suit.

“Hi guys,” he said, brandishing a clipboard. “Would you like to be Karate Instructors?”

I mean, what do you say to that?

“No,” said my mates, in unison.
“Yes,” I said. Why the hell not?

My friends stared at me as the suited man nodded.

“So, are you interested in karate?” he asked.

“Very much so,” I answered, without a trace of sarcasm. “I’ve seen Karate Kid One, Two, and Three.”

He looked at me.

“I even saw the one with the girl in it… y’know, the one without Ralph Maccio.” The man was staring, a trifle scared. “That was a rubbish film,” I finished lamely.

“Right,” he said, rallying. “Have you any training?”
“God no,” I answered. “I’m a fat bloke. Do I look like a ninja?”
He signed something, unseen, and pressed on with a glassy smile.

Cutting a long story short… a week later, I had an official interview.

I trundled along to a local sports hall, where a karate demonstration was taking place. The first part of the interview involved simply watching the other instructors go through their paces.

The sports hall was dank and dingy. It was November, in the north of England, so this was nothing untoward. Outside, the rain battered the windows. Inside, the instructors battered each other. With fists at first, with foam sticks afterward.

The actual interview took place an hour later, in the bar of the sports hall. It was a casual, group affair. The other two candidates looked the part — they wore sporting clothes and trainers, and were so muscled they resembled condoms full of walnuts. Me, with my grubby t-shirt and floppy belly, looked out of place.

So I did the only thing I could do. I took the piss.

As they reeled their spiel, I nodded in excitement. I laughed, too loudly, at their lame karate jokes. At one point, I even said “Hiiiii-ya!” in my best Miss Piggy voice.

I was hardly listening, of course — I hadn’t a cat’s chance of landing this gig, and to be frank, I didn’t really want it. It was just too silly.

Apparently, the job title was a little misleading. As well as teaching karate, the successful candidate would be learning it. And, and this is the important bit… selling it door to door.

“Any questions?” asked the Sensei, whose name was Terry.
“I’ve a few,” I said, mischief in my voice. “As a door to door karate salesman, would I need to show examples of our product at the doorstep?”
“At the doorstep?” Sensei Terry was confused.
“Yeah… like, would I have to show them a kung-fu grip, or something?”
“No,” said Terry. “You just sell the lessons.”

I carried on.

“I’d be wandering the streets practicing martial arts, right? Like David Carradine from Kung Fu… Would I be required to protect people from muggers and/or vigilantes?”
“I could be like the A-Team of Leeds! Only with karate instead of guns, and without BA Baracus.”
“Can you teach me to kill a man with my bare hands?”
“I THINK,” said Terry, raising his voice, “that we’re getting a little off-topic here.” Everyone nodded. I lapsed into silence. He continued. “Okay, carrying on…”
“Or my feet!” I blurted out. “Could I kill a man with just my foot?”

Sensei Terry looked at me. There was a long pause.
Then he burst out laughing.

A week later, I received a phone-call. It was Sensei Terry. He offered me the job. Was I still interested?


I accepted. I even went so far as to purchase some loose training clothes. However, when it came down to it, I just couldn’t. Before I actually got the job, it was all a big joke. When it was made real… me, selling karate, door to door? You’re having a laugh.

I told him I’d see him the following Monday, and promptly ran away.

In the following weeks, Sensei Terry phoned a couple of times, each message sounding more and more irritated. Eventually, he stopped calling. They always do, in the end.

I suppose I was lying when I mentioned I’d been a karate instructor. But the intent was there, the possibility. Who knows? With a little more backbone, perhaps I’d be snapping necks by now…

So how does this relate to Magic, I hear you ask… In truth, it doesn’t. But it’s a Magic site, so I suppose I’d better try and make a point.

In Magic, as in life, it pays to take risks. Sure, this particular story didn’t end with me as the undisputed karate master of the universe, but it did give me a good tale to spin, and I still laugh to this day when I think of poor, confused Sensei Terry.

Next time you’re playing Magic, and you’re debating over which deck to take to your tourney, or what that first Draft pick should be… do something unusual. Take the card you’ve never played. Run with the color you hate the most.

Who knows? Perhaps you’ll surprise yourself.

Until tomorrow… wax on, wax off.

Craig Stevenson
Scouseboy on MTGO
Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2