The Corruption Of Kurt Hahn And Other Assorted Sundries

Why nobody will never ever stop the cheating, a response to the Bennie Smith uproar, and the degradation of the 5 Color format. Film at 11.


No, a brother didn’t get mugged, raped, or otherwise pillaged (that I’m aware of), but he did get violated. I think. Or maybe that was just me. Yeah, it was just me, but I get to write about it.

Everyone and their two-panty granny knows about the baby that Kurt birthed, Five Color, by now… And many have even enjoyed a game or six. And it’s all good. But not really.

I remember the first time I saw a game of Five in progress: PTQ: NY, 1/15/2000. There was this life-size guy, with this life-size deck, with this life-size voice, with this life-size beard, slamming down fatties and weenies and foily lands with writing on them like it ain’t no thang.”Um, them’s some big goddamned decks there, chief,” thought I upon spying the highest pile o’ cards I had seen to date,”And those dudes are like, having fun and stuff.”

Yes, it was Kurt – although when I eventually found out he was from Wisconsin or some other butter-churning state, I was saddened when I realized that the entire time I watched him play he didn’t once utter”yer darn tootin’,” or”real good then.” I guess those friggin’ Coen brothers lied and stuff, dammit!

At the same tourney, I ended up playing Mike Turian in a trial for GP: Philly. I remember sitting down and thinking,”Hello, my name is Johnny Badass, you are just some random, prepare to die.” Little did I know. Ah, I weep at the tender mercies of nostalgia. And I bet Mike does, too. (Or at least snickers silently to himself – The Ferrett)

I also recall going home and adding between twenty and fifty cards to all of my casual decks, capping most of them off at around a hundred and fifty cards. Sure was fun, even if the decks did lose a little (read: a ton) of consistency – but what the heck, it was fun as all hell to say”I really should Crop Rotate this thing, but I’m too damned lazy and it will take too much time.”

Big Decks: Fun times.

After a few weeks of playing Big Decks, I began to streamline a few here and there, which, coincidentally coincided (again, coincidentally) with my beginning to win too many games of four-player Chaos. So, I saw Five, yet I rejected it. Sort of. At least initially.

I believe it was Adrian Sullivan who wrote the first Five article that I ever read (on Star City, of course).”So, that’s what those guys were playing at the PTQ!” said I, aloud, with no one around,” to which I retorted,”Well, why don’t you give gigantic decks another go?””Shut up, you little bitch,” I spat back, but eventually I caved in to the desire to rock the fattest deck on Earth.

There was a funny thing though: no one else in the Pittsburgh area had a Five. What the hell good is building a Five if the only decks you can play against are Gauntlet Net Decks at CMU? Turns out that it was hella fun to break that bad boy in half (or even thirds, giving everyone an equal carrot) and swing from these. After seeing and fiddling around with my Big Deck, Aaron Forsythe (as opposed to the multitudes of other Aarons that I mention on a regular basis) brought forth his own Five unto the illustrious walls of The Original Hot Dog Shop.

While mine was filled with fatties and Elder Dragons and assorted brainless combos, such as Megrim/Ill-Gotten Gains, Aaron’s was an evil, Pro-Tour inspired Land Killa deck, complete with Avalanche Riders, Wasteland, Sinkhole, etc. No, it wasn’t that much fun to play against, unless of course, Chief held the land kill in his hand and let a brother actually play – which he ultimately started to do, partly out of pity, but mostly out of longing to have some goddamned fun, goddamnit.

The next week, Aaron’s deck was retooled into a RecSur type beatstick of a beatstick machine. Allowing my lands to live was good times, even if I eventually succumbed to three of four hundred fatties a-comin’ and a-going and a-beatin’ on Johnny Mintman like a snare drum filled with milk like in that old video. Becky’s Times were so good that Andrew Cuneo and Chas Tressler decided to build their own fat-assed decks.

Cuneo’s deck sported a lot of 187 dudes and Living Death, so good times were to be had when he cut for ante. You have never played a game of Five until you have witnessed Cuneo cast Living Death on about turn fifty. He spit out about forty dudes from his yard, while Aaron ended up only bringing back about thirty. Oh, and since Cuneo’s dudes had comes into play abilities, even Good Ol’ Uncle Sheldy’s melon would’ve been taxed at that ridiculous and impossibly endless stack. But it was a friggin’ laugh riot – amusing to watch, let alone play.

So amusing, in fact, that even Mike Turian, The Most Evil Elitist Pro Ever (or is that just what a few people who sent me mail think?) was taking ten-minute turns with a big deck and loving it. Yes, it took the combined muscle of everyone present at CMU, including, but not limited to: All the CMU guys, all the fry cooks at The O, seven CMU security guards, four lifeguards from the adjacent Olympic-sized pool – oddly, no one else seems to benefit from voyeurism as much as I do – and a dozen random passersby to subdue Mike and get him to try something for – *gasp!* – fun.

Mike’s essentially a bucket of love, so refrain from thinking he’s an elitist jerk. If you must use the word”jerk” in description of Mike…Well, don’t, ’cause a brother don’t even know where the Jerk Store is. In return, I promise, I mean I promise, that I will never again drop any Seinfeld references on all y’all, k?


“He doesn’t do… everything.”

“Stuff your sorrys in a sack, Mister.”

“Serenity now!”

Promises, schromises.

Chas’s deck went with serious beats, however, and I don’t think I survived past turn ten in the half-dozen games we played. But it was still fun. Even if Chas seemed to cast a Sengir on turn five. Every friggin’ time.

Then Andy J. built a Five.

Yes, that Andy J., he of the 24-2-1 (or some other ungodly statistical anomaly) Sealed Deck Grand Prix record this season fame, was as impressed as I was when he found out that Eric Taylor had a Five with only blue and/or black cards that could be cast, with the rest of the deck comprised of cycling cards in the other colors, which, while it undoubtedly met the required minimum build rules, seemed, well, just plain mean or something.

But while Uncle Eric sneaky underhandedness was certainly clever as all hell, and I admired the effort from afar, our intrepid little collegian’s mind was set a-spinnin’ on a mission of Five dominance – and we were going to pay the price for our impudence! I could almost hear Andy’s wheels a-turnin’:”You tell ’em my Five’s comin’, and hell’s comin’ with it. Hell’s comin’ with it!”

Let me just say that a Five with a heap of counters is in no way, shape, or cuneiform (or is that Cuneo-form? See, even us uneducated hacks can bring the obscure reference now and again) fun to play against. A turn three Efreet backed by a handful of counters and card drawing is not enjoyable… For the opponent, at least. Counters should be restricted. Or not.

By this time, a full two or three weeks after he had debuted his Sex-Type Five, Aaron took it apart. Yes, grasshopper disassembled. After another week, Cuneo did as well (or at least stopped bringing it), and so did I. That left Andy J with only Chas as an opponent, but since Chas doesn’t appear every week, Five pretty much up and died at CMU. It died because the magic of Five was rapidly dwindling – because the fun was rapidly dwindling. A fun format that was no longer fun?”Whatta loada crappa,” said the little Dago up in my dome.

This has nothing to do with anything but is nevertheless hysterical if you get it:

Aaron and I were playing a little Extended, he with Something Janky and I with The New CMU Blue Revue, when he finally got out a Scroll and was ready to use it (with only two cards in hand). He flittered the cards about, to and fro, back and forth, when he finally called out”Hunted Wumpus.” He successfully dealt two damage to me. The next turn, he lays a land, and shuffles up his hand, again calling out”Hunted Wumpus.” While I stared at my hand in wholesome agony, Aaron was starting to bring the noise:

“Wumpus, Wumpuses, Wumps, two Wumpuses… The Bumpus Hounds!’

After a few seconds, I broke out in little bitch-like laughter. And if you get it, then you should be a-chucklin’ and a-chortlin’ right now.

Meatloaf, schmeatloaf, double beatloaf.

We now return you to wherever the hell you were.

Elliot Beck, a young whippersnapper of a whippersnapper who also plays at CMU – and earned a draw against Mikey P at a recent Neutral Ground Grudge Match making me insanely jealous – showed up one day with a Five full of proxies – and I mean full of proxies.”If you see a Forest with ‘Plains’ written on it, it means it’s a Mountain,” and other fun phrases like that were frequently overheard when Elliot shuffled up his Big Deck. But his deck was fun. A bunch of weenies and really old, awful blue cards made up most of the deck, with comes into play dudes as his utility. ‘Twas a blast to split it in half and fight it out, even if I had to reveal my hand after every card drawn to ask,”Is this Foil really a Foil? ‘Cause if it is, I’ll counter that.”

I ended up giving him a bunch of cool cards for Five usage, but the interest was forever waned. And here’s why:

Five – and Kurt can correct me if I’m wrong – is supposed to be a fun format, not a two-hundred-and-fifty card Net Deck that sports eleven infinite combos, the Power Nine, and every pitch counter known to man. To me, Five is about big stupid creatures, cards that you probably never put into any competitive deck, and opponent interaction. The ante is only about what cards you could’ve won if you were really playing for ante.

Perhaps I have the wrong idea, but what originally intrigued me about Five was the fact that”playing to win” was not the primary, secondary, or even tertiary objective – in fact, the solitary reason to play Five was for the pure enjoyment of it all. It was a spectacular throwback to the days of innocence – the days when 8/8 green men were God, and 20/20/20 was the gospel. We were all there once, and Five allowed us to take a brief journey (not a”sojourn,” but a plain ol’ journey – Johnny could’ve been uppity but chose not to) back to our roots. And probably laugh out loud about it. Or, for you Net-savvy emoticoners – LOL! 😉

Five was about what hooked us on the game in the first place: fun. Winning was just an incidental occurrence that begat shuffling up for another game. Winning was akin to an orgasm – it let us know when to stop. And that was all it was. Hey, someone has to, um, finish first, right?

But after Andy J. built a good Five, it became less of what it should be and more of what it shouldn’t. Of course, that’s only my opinion…

What in the world can they understand? Oh, girls, girls just wanna have fun.

(This now completes our”Flashback to the days of when we really, really wanted Cyndi Lauper,” Captain Lou Albano notwithstanding.)

I actually put together another Five for Grand Prix: Detroit, mostly in hopes of killing some of the considerable downtime by having a blast playing an”it could be fun again” format with new people (and maybe even beating Randy Buehler, too!).

Buehler’s deck is nuts, but he thinks it’s”not bad.” Turns two and three shadows, then a turn four Negator, followed by a turn five Armageddon seems pretty good to me. Oh, but it’s not very much fun. However, it was kind of funny when my ante consisted of Ancestral Recall and Gaea’s Cradle, while Randy cheerfully plopped a City of Brass into the mix on his side. Good thing he had to return them. Hey, now there’s the fun aspect rearing its head in a match that was nothing but a slaughter.

I also played a few games against Corporal Jarhead Dante Rowland, one of which went like this: I’m about to kill Dante and make it hurt, with infinite dudes and Forbidden Crypt in play, with him sporting a bunch of lands and no hope. His draw phase is very loud. Then he slowly reveals Tormod’s Crypt. I was cool, but he was cooler. And that was fun, even if Dante will never let me live down the top deck to end all top decks.

Then I bumped into some guy who”challenged” me to a few games. The first few turns are all about getting’ to know ya, but then he decides to kill one of my dudes. He uses the patented”Scott Teamann Method” of dispatching: he puts his Bolt under my dude, making sure he has a firm grip of said Bolt, and super flicks my dude into the stratosphere. Wow, do I hate that. A lot. Especially when someone you just met does it. Is it just me, or should you actually know someone a little before you do that? I know, I know: Hi, I’m a whiny little bitch, nice to meet you… But that did throw a damper on my Five revival.

I don’t blame, nor am I mad at anyone where the corruption of Five is concerned. We all want different things from Magic, and Five seems to be no exception. So, all you Randy and Andy fans ease up on a brother. Heh, Randy and Andy – the newest kids show on ABC’s One Saturday Morning.

I want to play Five for the stupid cards and make cool plays. I don’t care one iota about winning your ante. I want to have fun with my Big Deck. I want to see you play stupid cards and make cool plays with your Big Deck. Who cares who wins?

Sadly, many do indeed care who wins. While they maintain that their decks are”fun,” I fail to see the mutually happy times in filling your deck with 4x Oath of Druids, Morphling, Feeder, Hellion, and a bunch of godly cards. Perhaps it’s not as consistent as a well-tuned Extended Oath deck, but it’s not off by much; it’s tweaked enough to take most of my fun away. Five Net Decks; who would’ve guessed?

Maybe I’m just being a wuss about all of this, but Five is for fun, first and foremost. And the fun is gone because many players have taken the format and made it competitive. Um, isn’t there enough competition in tournaments? Do you really need to violate a format that seems to have been created with no ulterior motives? Do you really want to win that badly? Do you really need to win that badly?

I like to think of Kurt Hahn as an ambassador of fun; he, along with seemingly precious few others, appears to be the type of guy that would often utter the phrase”Hey, I just want to play some Magic, chief.” Even though Kurt up and did like, good, at GP: Boston (and I would be amazed if anyone could’ve watched any of his matches without cheering for the guy, especially against Kyle Rose, who I hear is the antithesis of fun), he still symbolizes the purest motive for taking up the game: Fun.

Perhaps he isn’t Mr. Fun Times in reality (although he sure seemed like it in a ten-minute chat we had in Detroit), but I can’t believe that others haven’t attached the same title as I have to him. And he did develop a format that I have constantly heard referred to as”the best format in Magic,” presumably because you’ll have fun oozing from every orifice on your body as you play Five.

But I, a guy who finds the fun in the game – even when there doesn’t seem to be much around, haven’t oozed much of anything lately where Five is concerned. Because it seems that Five has become corrupted, and this appears to be one of the purest example of irony that I can imagine. But, never mind, I’m just being a whiney little bitch again, right?

Or am I?

I play Magic because I enjoy it; it’s a hobby; it’s a pursuit; it’s a fun as hell endeavor. I don’t picture myself as some thousand-year-old wizard fighting another thousand-year-old wizard – I play because it’s fun. It’s an escape from the regularity of life, much like virtually any other pursuit one could, well, pursue. And Five is an escape from the escape – a reserve parachute for when the primary chute fails – when the fun of”regular” Magic seems to be taking a siesta, there’s our buddy Five, waiting patiently in the wings, looking very much like the girl of our dreams, and offering a hammock in the shade and a tall one that is always full.

And it’s all about parachutes. Oh, and dinosaurs, too.


Get Out Of My Game

Sol said it, Gary Wise said it, and I think I remember a few others saying it as well:”Get out of my game” sends a clear message to cheaters everywhere: we think you suck and we no longer wish your presence here. And good riddance too, damnit. I doubt anyone would disagree with those sentiments. I also doubt that there’s been a run on Kleenex since Casey McCarrell’s three-year banning; apparently no one has, nor will, shed a tear for the exiled creative shuffler.

If there’s ever been an issue that everyone should jump on, then it would have to be cheating. It shouldn’t be tolerated in any respect, and it deserves to be treated with the utmost import. How obvious is that, though? Didn’t we learn that in First Grade? However, the fact that we still feel like we have to say it speaks volumes.

“You cheat, you gone, you bastard” should be the official flavor text for the DCI, and with good reason. It seems that sometimes cheaters do win, and that’s a load of crap that we all need to be aware of and attempt to rectify in any reasonable manner. How obvious is that though?

But how do we eliminate cheating from our game? The consensus seems to be that you should call a judge at the slightest hint of impropriety – if something smells fishy, call a judge immediately, or risk the repercussions. Again I ask, but how?

-If your opponent seems fidgety when shuffling his deck, should you call a judge?

-If your opponent nervously presents his deck, should you call a judge?

-If your friend or teammate is being creative with his sealed deck, should you call a judge?

-If your opponent accidentally flips over a card in your deck while cutting, should you call a judge?

Some may answer yes to the above questions without hesitation… But I’m here to tell you that I believe they’d be wrong to do so. Why? Because there is too much gray. When everyone jumps on the bandwagon of”I’ll catch yer cheatin’ ass,” an inevitable backlash will occur. Crying wolf is ass, just like the story says. And no one likes a tattletale, right?


The questions again:

-If your opponent seems fidgety when shuffling his deck, should you call a judge?

  • Yes! It’s likely that he’s trying to stack his deck.

  • No! It’s likely that he’s being careful so he doesn’t break a sleeve or bend a card.

  • Maybe! It’s likely that he’s just fidgety, but he could be trying to cheat.

-If your opponent nervously presents his deck, should you call a judge?

  • Yes! This is a clear-cut case of someone who forgot to de-sideboard or has altered his deck in some way trying to pawn it off as legitimate.

  • No! This is a clear-cut case of someone who is simply anxious about this game.

  • Maybe! This is a clear-cut case of an opponent nervously presenting his deck, and may mean absolutely nothing, or maybe it means everything.

-If your friend or teammate is being creative with his sealed deck, should you call a judge?

  • Yes! Friend or teammate aside, he’s cheating.

  • No! You have to support the decisions of friends and teammates, or at the very least keep your mouth shut.

  • Maybe! While he’s cheating, he’s still my friend/teammate, and that has to be considered.

-If your opponent accidentally flips over a card in your deck while cutting, should you call a judge?

  • Yes! Perhaps he’s trying to glean information about my deck, and maybe he’s been warned about this before.

  • No! It didn’t appear to be intentional.

  • Maybe! I’m not sure if he’s trying to cheat, but it looked like it could’ve been an accident.

Grayness abounds.

Get out of my game? Damn straight.

Always call a judge? I’m not so sure.

There are probably a few things that are worse than wrongfully being labeled a cheater, but I can’t really think of any right now. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be booted out of a tournament for an infraction such as”insufficient randomization.” I guess the DCI has guidelines as to what constitutes”random,” but I’d sure hate to shuffle any deck any number of times and have it be subjected to a”randomization check,” because determining what is random seems like a preposterous notion.

Now, I don’t want to get into an argument on the probability of the first seven cards winding up”land, spell, land, spell, land, spell, land,” or even the entire deck ending up in that pattern – but as far as evidence goes, I’d hate to take a deck in that exact configuration and present it to a judge as prima facia evidence of cheating.

And I’d hate to be the guy who has to issue a game loss for”marked” sleeves that could very well have been the result of a packaging imperfection. I can’t imagine it’s a load of fun being the guy who has to bang the gavel on the guy who accidentally flipped over a card in his opponents deck during rounds one and six. Who wants to be the guy who issues a game loss to the dude who seems to be taking just a little too much time doing the pre-attack phase math?

Nah, none of those situations sound like fun to me.

I imagine that, if I play long enough, I’ll get penalized for insufficient randomization. That just seems like the law of large numbers kicking in – it’s likely that it gets everyone, and just think of how many game losses (or worse) have been handed out that may have been just plain wrong. But, they’ll have to drag me out of there under lock and key when that day comes, or maybe they won’t. Either way, the wheels of justice must chug along.

So, how do you really eliminate cheating? I can think of two options: 1) use computers to play Magic, and 2) you can’t, ever.

As long as human beings are the ones who flop the cards, cheating will occur, and to think that you, or I, or any number of watchdogs, can wipe cheating from our game is wishful thinking indeed. If the DCI instituted a”zero tolerance” policy of executing all those convicted of cheating, it would still occur.

So get pissed when you hear about cheating. Write an article decrying cheating and all those who would smear our game. But one thing you should not do is expect people to rise above the fray and play like they just brought in religion from the board.

I have personally witnessed two episodes of cheating, yet I didn’t feel compelled to go find a judge.

Does this make me part of the problem? Johnny Secret Sauce gotta keep it on the down low? Should I shoulder part of the responsibility for what Casey did? Or what happened at Japanese Nationals? I don’t think so. Not that I believe that cheaters should be left alone to eventually munch on their own karmic pies (although I do believe that everyone gets to take their bite), but calling a judge isn’t the only way to contribute to cleaning up the dirt.

I brought it to the cheater. I called a cheater a cheater and let it be. I think that’s enough, because I think it worked. For now. I think.

Two things are certain in this life: Death and taxes. I think it’s safe to say that we can add another dose of reality to that well-worn slogan of lamentation: People will cheat. Chief, seriously, they will, often, and thinking they can get away with it isn’t the only reason they skirt the rules and fly by the seats of their pants.

What I am basically getting at is this: Denounce cheaters, but don’t get your goddamned panties in a bunch. Every instance of cheating is different, and regardless of the groupthink ideology that says that calling a judge is prerequisite step number one, there are alternatives. Think for yourselves. Take matters into your own hands. And call a judge if you think the situation warrants it, not because you think you’re supposed to. And not because a bunch of guys who are pissed that the integrity of our game keeps taking hits told you to.

How pissed is every judge on Earth right now?

Probably a lot.

Peer pressure works. All Magic players, no matter how old or young, are our peers. Only when we can successfully police ourselves will we make large strides to reduce (but not eliminate) cheating. Those habitual cheaters aren’t going to sweat the judge as much as they should, but if a bunch of their peers surround them and tell them to play clean or play alone, I think more than a few would straighten up and fly right.

Who the hell would go to a tourney if all of their friends ostracized them? Who wants to be branded a cheater and rejected (which is a double kick in the ‘nads, considering that many Magic players may already feel disenfranchised as if they somehow don’t really fit comfortably in real life)?

Being rejected by a bunch of people who may be frowned upon in real life for playing such a stupid game might work wonders for one’s complexion. Being relegated to the title of”that lonely guy in the corner that no one will associate with” would be difficult for many to overcome. How sick would it be to be the guy who was rejected by a bunch of nerds? How’d that look on your resume? And I believe that could be one serious deterrent.

Oh, and if there are still judges that are all jacked up, consider what Uncle Shecky Menery has to say about your friendly neighborhood cheater (perhaps taken out of context and manipulated just to further my point – but hey, who doesn’t twist the words of a Level IV judge now and again?):

“Stop being on their team. Stop drafting with them. Stop putting up with them. As soon as they lose their social acceptance, they’ll change their ways or go away.”

Shelly Shel and the Funky Bunch

The judges are there to help maintain the integrity of the game, but they aren’t the most powerful influence on the players – the players are. Strap ’em on and bring it, or just sit tight and wait until another high-profile guy gets the boot. Then you can get all mad again… Which will be about as effective as all the”We must take steps to guarantee that this never happens again” editorials that spring up en masse after yet another school shooting.

And we all know that those work wonders.


Ethics, Moral Responsibility, and Rants

What a can of worms we have here. Let me see if I have this right: it’s not okay to write a humorous, yet introspectively semi-bogus tournament report that also happens to be a mini-commentary on the state of professional-level Magic… But it’s fine and dandy to demean a gigantic segment of the Magic community with this:”As you sit at home and play your group games…”

Grayness abounds. Who the hell needs to get up on their soapbox and come correct with the high moral ground? The funny thing is that a whole bunch of us do feel the need to throw in our moral two cents.

Don’t cheat. Always be courteous to your opponent. Don’t be a jagoff. Play hard, but play fair. Take things seriously, but don’t let your ass pucker up tighter than a snare drum.

Um, this is a friggin’ game. Yet there is much more going on than pure gaming. While I’m glad that I’m not the only one who bitches about things that I think are wrong, or at least morally”iffy,” it seems that a few people take these bitching matters too closely to heart.

Is it the Magic player’s responsibility to stand up and be heard when they feel that there’s some goofy crap going on in Denmark? If it is, then is it the Magic writer’s responsibility to report to the community instances that appear to be shady, offensive, or otherwise distasteful?

Should players bitch about things that peeve them? Should writers? Should anyone if they can’t offer up some viable alternatives or fixes? Yes, bring forth the bitching; where is it written that if you can’t fix the problem single-handedly then you have no right to complain? Um, nowhere that I’ve ever seen, although some would have us believe that there is indeed a highly visible tome that starts out”If you cannot solve the problem, shut your goddamned mouth.”

Where it once seemed that only scrubby guys would bother to explore the ethical quandaries, we are now quickly filling to the brim with input from guys who are, well, on the inside – namely, them wacky CMU guys – the side where many of these issues originate, but where only a select few have the backstage all-access passes. Heck, you could sort of say that a lot of pros are ranting. Uh oh, the”R” word. I have tainted the well, haven’t I?

Hey, you know those”rant” things that a few guys here and there denounce as utterly useless? Well, they’re wrong; rants rule. How else can you get lazy ass readers to separate themselves from the bag of cheese curls, stand up and move away from the computer, and throw their hands in the air (waving them like they just don’t care in the process) – with a well-reasoned, logic-based discussion that offers viable alternatives or methods to eradicate said topic of said rant?

Um, yeah, that’ll work. But not very often.

Sure, calmly explaining your side and offering your ideas to fix the problem works wonders. But only in the movies. Or in Dear Abby columns.

In fairness, it does work once in a while… But give me the guy who screams”[edit] yeah!” at his monitor. You can have the guy who silently nods agreement whilst chewing thoughtfully on his wire rims – we’ll see who gets off their ass first, k? I bet it’ll the guy who was pissed at something he read; so pissed that he had to voice his opinion. Right, Andy? Rants rule.

“Taxation without representation is tyranny” is a simple statement that planted the seed of revolution. Those words gave birth to a nation, but are we really supposed to believe that a few guys giving levelheaded, logic-based speeches in the town square was what motivated a bunch of farmers to take up arms and kick some ass? Or maybe a few guys took up the soapbox and screamed,”Are you really gonna let a bunch of fat, lazy Brits take your money without a fight? How many people wanna kick some ass?” I’d bet that many a weary farmer responded with”I do!” followed by an”I do, too!” or two.

Rockin’ the suburbs can just, well, rock. And I’d rather do what I can to make all y’all run out to the barn in search of Daddy’s old pitchfork than have you nod along in a state of suspended animation. Hey, that reminds me of the old Twilight Zone episode where the guy has a watch that can”freeze” everyone on the planet by putting them into a state of suspended animation. What’s the first thing he does – he goes to a bank and clears out the vault! Pardon me, but if I ever find that watch, all y’all hotties better watch out, ’cause you’ll be waking up very sore. And so will I.

Let’s face it: The days of proper civil discourse are all but a footnote in Dale Carnegie’s”How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Throwing blood on fur wearers works better than calmly sitting them down and asking if they know just how many poor, defenseless animals had to die so they could look fashionable. The Unabomber would not have been nearly as”effective” if, instead of sending exploding packages, he sent polite little”Um, I believe this thing to be incorrect, please listen to me” love letters.

(There was a big ol’ paragraph here about Tim McVeigh, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Stalin that attempted to further my point, but I thought it too unseemly and worthy of deletion. But I think you can do the math on those guys as related to rants and emotion-based decisions, right?)

We, as um, Magic”writers,” have a responsibility…blah, blah, endless drone…whatever. We have no responsibility whatsoever to anyone but ourselves. If we were, heh,”journalists,” then I would concede that a modicum of responsibility was warranted, but we aren’t. We write opinions.

For those guys who write match reports for Sideboard Online: You guys have a responsibility, but we don’t. Nyah, nyah.

Okay, I’ll give you that us non-match report writers are obligated to a) ease up on the slander, and b) watch out for the slander, chief, but that’s the full extent of our”responsibility.”

And in the end, we are not responsible to anyone but ourselves. Sure, we are subject to the scorn of the Magic community, but aside from our beloved editor bringing out the red pen for anything that might not quite be fit to print (I deleted one thing in this article already – write Rizzo for the unexpurgated text! – The Ferrett) we write for ourselves – but we can usually squeeze ourselves into the community because we are all basically viewing the world through Magic-colored glasses; the fact that parts of what we feel may be shared by others in the community is more than pure gravy.

Even the guys that write tech are not obligated to bare their souls and dish out top-notch ideas. And it goes double for the guys who permanently reside under the”Issues and Opinions” banner. How many people reading this truly believe that I have a responsibility to you?

Try this on for size:

One of the editors (as Pooh Bear would say”I disremember who”) at The CPA replaced the word”hell” on the front page with”h*ll.” Yes, he edited the word”hell,” while I’ve typed the word”goddamned” at least a half-dozen times so far in this article alone. He friggin’ edited”hell.” Is that an example of responsibility? Of ethics? Of morality?

The Ferrett told a tale of how he was, um,”deflowered.” Chad Ellis told us about”the vibrator incident.” Wakefield referred to many things as”ass.”

Peter Szigeti brought us a gangster-rap laden tourney report. I’m sure that some people were offended by those articles, but does that mean the writers tossed all sense of responsibility out the window, burned the Big Book O’ Ethics, and imposed their disgusting morality on us all?

Know what – who really cares?

If the idea of Alex Shvartsman being busted with a planted vibrator in his bag offends you, then you’d better pull Aunt Penny’s enema bag out of the closet, ’cause you are way bunged up in there. Although, of course, mentioning The Plight Of Alex in a public forum was amazingly irresponsible of Chad, and he should be immediately executed for making a mockery of our game and of those who stand tall and support it.

Hey! Chad’s an attorney, isn’t he? Oh my god! He must be one of those scumbag attorneys that do nothing but pervert justice for fun and profit. After all, would any normal person (or anyone who really cared about our game) convey such an ethically bankrupt story in a forum that children can access?

And it all happened in New Orleans, which, in case you weren’t aware, is full of sinners and drug dealers and nymphomaniacs who only want to destroy what we – The Moral and Just – believe in. Chad should get himself to church immediately, for he is an immoral sexual deviant who is obviously devoid of any sense of responsibility, ethics, or morals.

Lettuce spray for Chad:

Dear Lord, please deliver this son of a bitch from evil, for he has sinned against all that is pure and just and fair and lovey-dovey in the world of Magic. He knows not what he does, for he is a lost and confused soul in need of guidance. Amen. Now give us your friggin’ money!

Or was that just me being irresponsible again?

My responsibility begins and ends with my desire to share with you my Magic-related (and other tasty sexual) experiences. Your responsibility begins and ends with your desire to read or ignore what I have to say. The idea that Magic”writers” must stay up all night pondering what their latest article might mean to the fragile gaming ecosystem is ridiculous at best.

Perhaps some writers do think that way, but I’m from the school of”Spill your guts and let others try to differentiate between the kidneys and liver.” The readers are not children; where did the idea that we nuzzle the reader to our bosom and let them sup upon our collective nipples originate?

Cool new slogan:

Internet Magic is a big nipple – give us this day our daily milk. (We’ll get that right up on the front page for ya – The Ferrett)

You’re all big boys and girls, and to assume that we need to put on the kid gloves before we even type word one is insulting to anyone who has ever written. Accept or reject what we have to say, and feel free to bitch as much as you’d like about it, but expecting us to live up to some asinine doctrine of Gamer Dogma is not only asking too much, but it’s also completely irrelevant.

So, if someone writes a rant (or some other piece that”appeals to the prurient interests” – heh, that’s how they define pornography) they have forever altered the genetic blueprint of Magic? After all, a rant is simply useless drivel that serves absolutely no purpose to anyone at all, for it

offers no”solutions.” And anyone that doesn’t offer solutions is just

another example of a random loudmouth contributing to the problem.


People respond to rants, and just because the”rants suck” type of responses see a bunch of print don’t assume that the majority of the population is pissed. But the word”rant” has been applied much too liberally to any article that seems to have a bitching tone. Just because an article states a dislike for a current situation or trend doesn’t mean that it isn’t worthy of discussion; even unadulterated bitching has its merits.

People respond to rants because everyone, and I do mean everyone, sometimes needs to let loose. For those who chose to read articles instead of write them, a rant that hits home (in the negative or positive) can justify everything they are feeling. They become more than just a reader – they become a participant. And that is kick ass times for everyone’s ass.

I know I said I was going to stay out of the way of this one, but I just can’t. Must…have…water…In addition, since many of you have written me fishing for my side, I figure I’ll kill birds with stones.

Bennie’s Matrix tourney report was intense. No, he didn’t offer any solutions (although they were implied if you took the time to actually delve into his piece)… But did it qualify as a rant? My”Enter the DCI” seemed like rampant bitching with an”I hate this game” kind of feel… But was it a rant? Andy J’s treatise on morality and responsibility offered solutions (albeit with a tone that could be considered, well, inflammatory) to things he deemed problematic, but if Bennie’s and my article were rants, then so was Andy’s.

Consider this (and also consider if anyone really takes the time to click away

from an article to check out a seemingly [in the author’s mind anyway] relevant link, then bothers to read the whole damn thing, then bothers to think about it in context relating to the current article, then actually clicks back on said current article, then wonder why the hell we bother to put in links in the first place):

“The DCI is a crack-slinging, whore-mongering, bitch-slapping, nameless, faceless abomination of all that is just and good because it purports to give us what we need. Or not. But it can be if you so choose.”

-Me http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article=1596

Then consider this:

“Maybe you don’t really want the red pill. Maybe your mind refuses to see it.”

-Bennie http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article=1579

Finally, throw this into the mix:

“Before anyone else takes a break from morality and contributes to this wasteland of human jealousy and vindictiveness, take a step back and consider what you do.”

-Andy J http://magic.mindripper.com/Index.cfm?ArticleID=1539&SectionID=1&Show=All

Three excerpts that say the same thing.

All of us were bitching, but with underlying tones of”please, people, wake up and figure this stuff out.” However, while Bennie and I used”interesting” literary”techniques” as a”tool,” Andy J chose to ignore the deeper aspects of what we were actually saying and singled out the way the message was presented instead of the message – which is odd, considering that we were saying the exact same things that he was. The exact same goddamned friggin’ things that he was.

Why didn’t he see it that way? Well, Bennie’s thirty-four or so, and I’m thirty-two, while Andy J’s nineteen or twenty. I’m not the kind of guy to often utter”You damned kids,” but it seems to me that the age gap might be partially responsible for the misunderstanding. Well, it seems plausible, doesn’t it?

However, it’s more likely that we just see things differently. We share a like hobby/pursuit, but that may be where our similarities end. And who knows which one of us is right? Maybe we’re all wrong; perhaps we are all so far off base that we couldn’t find our way back with a roadmap and a truck full of guys from Triple A. But isn’t that part of the fun: differing opinions on the same subject – stuff’s makin’ the world go ’round, baby.

Rants rule, but who the hell defines rants? From now on, whenever you see someone refer to another’s article as a”rant,” take it with an entire saltshaker; one man’s rant is another’s impassioned plea for change. Or maybe everyone sucks. But that is up to you to decide.

Rants get people talking – rants get the blood boiling, and perhaps enough so that people do get off their collective asses and do something about it. Like it or not, emotion sells more than reason. Call it a lowering of societal standards if you must, but I’ll vote for the guy who has the balls to call ’em like he sees ’em. Every time. The guy who says”[edit] it!” gets more pats on the ass from me than the guy who writes a friggin’ term paper because that’s the way you’re supposed to do it.

No one holds the patent on morality.

Responsibility is an objective term.

Don’t be a sheep.

And quit reading so much John Locke.

Because he’s dead. And you aren’t.



John Friggin’ Rizzo