The Daily Shot: Don’t Call Me “Mister”

Let me tell you right now, friends (and I’m speaking, one somehow assumes, in the dynamic polytone voice of a backwoods Wonder Tonic huckster): This fellow Randy Buehler is a decent human being. But who is this so-called”Mister Buehler”?

It’s a short column today, guys – but hey, I have to write five per week. I can’t churn out”War and Peace” every day.

But this one’s a little different.

I needed a break from writing my Nationals report (trying to find one more synonym for”I suck” probably had something to do with this burnout – a bone-deep weariness you can only get from describing a string of grinder losses in intimate detail), so I thought I’d write a little bit about how the thrust and riposte of Magic discussion is sometimes done wrong. It doesn’t happen too often – if you’re honest, if you have something to say, and you can back it up with something compelling, you’ll almost always get it right.


Sometimes the tone can be all wrong… And that will sink a writer in the end.

People write haughty rebuttals all the time nowadays. I read most of them, but some don’t make the cut. If it’s obvious you’re talking out of your ass, I don’t read it. These are rare, as most ass-talkers don’t stand up to the scrutiny that comes hand-in-hand with web-publication. I also don’t read discussion on issues I don’t care about, but these are few and far between – I care about almost anything that’s Magic-related.

But I don’t read them if the writer calls his query”Mister.”

I’ll tell you why; it’s like clockwork. First, someone will run his mouth on a big website – MagicTheGathering.com, Brainburst, StarCity, The Sideboard… You know, someplace of that nature. The person who gets the ball rolling in this manner is usually a famous player, a famous writer, or (probably most often) a member of Wizards’ Research and Design. These unlucky souls (despite some measure of fame) are human, just like anyone else. Like most humans, they have areas of expertise – and, it stands to reason, areas of what I’ll refer to for now as”not-so-expertise.”

Remember when Randy Buehler wrote that green wouldn’t be getting good weenies anymore? The rebuttals started to pour in – and Randy, a onetime member of Team CMU and one of the better players of years past, wasn’t Randy anymore.

At least, not all the time. He’d become”Mr. Buehler” to some folks.

Let me tell you right now, friends (and I’m speaking, one somehow assumes, in the dynamic polytone voice of a backwoods Wonder Tonic huckster), this fellow Randy Buehler is a decent human being.

But who is this so-called”Mister Buehler”?

“Mr. Buehler” works for what Stephen King called”the Dallas police.” He’s the 5-0. He’s”The Man.” He has his thumb on you from high places. He’s the official voice of”the powers that be.””Mister Buehler” covers up the truth.”Mister Buehler” is the cigarette-smoking guy from the X-Files, with his finger in every pie (and keep your smart remarks to yourself). He’s a fly on every wall… And when the new CEO of Wizards goes to bed at night, this Mister Buehler is in his ear. When the CEO gets up to use the washroom at about 3 a.m.,”Mister Buehler” hands him the toilet tissue.

That’s a lot of connotation for one word – and that’s why writers use it.

I never want to be”Mr. Tait.” Mister Tait seems to think he knows everything. I don’t like the guy and I’ve never even met him.

The problem comes from the word”mister.”

When people call you”mister” in a reply to whatever dumb thing you decided to pontificate about, they’re not paying you a compliment. They call you”mister” like people call Jack Kevorkian a”doctor.” Rebuttal writers call you”mister” in an antiseptic, sterile way, as if using your real name would get their hands dirty. I can just imagine the self-righteous, petulant grins on their five-o-clock shadow festooned, armchair quarterback faces.

“Mr. Tait saw fit to espouse his opinion that…”

“Mr. Tait wrote an article last week saying that…”

“Mr. Tait seems to think that…”

That”mister” is about 25% standing on ceremony, 25% contempt, 25% bemused irony (“I think this guy’s an idiot, but I’ll address him respectfully anyhow”) and the last 25% is that mistaken belief that calling a mortal enemy (at least in the battlefield of opinion)”Mr. Something” will somehow lend credibility, class, and maturity to the rebuttal.

Unfortunately, you can’t manufacture those things in a plastic way – you have to have dignity and class to go with it.

I have no patience for such shenanigans. If I reply to Randy Buehler because I believe him to be smoking those funny cigarettes again, I will call him Randy Buehler. Or Randy. Or”that guy.” Or”he.”

“Mister” is too rococco. It’s a piece of unbearably overdone ornamentation that needs to get the boot the next time your brain has a garage sale. Take a look at Randy’s picture when you next read his column. Does that look like a”Mister” to you? Miser, maybe.

I will never call him Mr. Buehler. It just seems ridiculous. That’d be like starting some rebuttal piece with “Mr. Brinkman seems to think I’m an idiot.” (This much is true – Kurt Hahn teammate and frequent drafter Will Brinkman does in fact think I’m sh*t – mostly because I played Zombie Infestation in a Prerelease sealed deck and then boarded out Prismatic Strands instead. I plead ignorance – it was my first time playing with Prismatic Strands and Treacherous Vampires, which I thought needed lots of graveyard food, hence the Infestation…whoops!)

How pompous do I sound saying “Mr.Brinkman seems to think I’m an idiot…”?

Pretty pompous, I think.

(Hell, I still won a box. Better lucky than good.)

What you need to find is a nice compromise, somewhere in between”Mr. Buehler” (of the Dallas police, remember – with a finger on the button of 1,000 nukes) and”that dumb ass at R & D.”

That reminds me of Team Academy and the stuff they see fit to print – much of it the product of an overworked bile duct with a sense of humor.

Sometimes it’s much more than rudimentary. Sometimes, the stuff is so far over the top that you can’t help but have a good laugh. The best part about Team Academy is that they don’t call anyone”mister” when they vehemently disagree. Were they calling Scott Johns“Mr. Johns” when they tiraded against the Brainburst premium service? No – Alex Borteh called him something unprintable. (And at length!). Given a choice, I’ll find the aforementioned middle ground between unprintable epithets and stodgy, choking condescension.

I hardly ever give advice to other writers because, well… I myself am sh*t. In this case though, I feel compelled to do so.

The next time you feel impassioned, fired up, ire-risen, or dander-raised by the words of another hack, don’t call him”mister.” It makes you sound like you believe the target of your reply is beneath contempt. I mean, come on – it’s a fifty-fifty shot that your own ideas are just as dumb, if not dumber, than the ones you were incensed about. (Hey, don’t get all indignant – you know it’s true. We’re not rocket scientists around here.)

So here it is. No calling people”Mister,” that’s what Toby Wachter would call”cheap heat.” You’ll get mileage out of”Mister” that you don’t deserve, because that’s what people have to call their bosses, teachers, and other hated authority figures. Stick to what you know and just be honest. If you have something to say, it will show through in what you write – and before you know it, you’ll have a spellbinding response on your hands that people will read and say:

“You know what? He’s right. He knows what he’s talking about.”

That’s all, I’m done. See you tomorrow with the harrowing tale of the first Constructed Grinder – where I made my exit so fast that even Dodgers fans were saying”Man…That guy left early.”

Geordie Tait

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