Picture this: It’s Friday afternoon. You are driving around, quote,”the armpit of America” due its being the weekend of a Grand Prix to which you are traveling. All should be well… a cadre of European PT standouts is supposed to show so you can start barning a whole new continent of IRL fantastic creatures, you Alpha Barn you, this time with foreign accents from exotic locales. All should be weller… you have that super sexy Dragonmaster Brian Kibler at your side as you tour the highways of the East Coast; he turns a sexy scale does that Dragonmaster. All should be wellest… you look down at your vibrating mobile phone and caller ID tells you that the incoming is from none other than your hero, your hull, the man you just proclaimed the finest writer in the history of Magic: Michael J. Flores.
But well it is not. Soon, you are illin’ like, yes, the villain you are.
“Revenge will be sweet.”
“Picture this: ‘The Ted Knutson Dilemma: Bag or Barn?'”
“I’m clearly a barn.”
“I think so… but BDM shotgunned ‘Bag’ anyway, and quickly.”
“What? I’m no bag.”
“You called me a ‘big, fat idiot.'”
“By the way, New Jersey is an armpit.”
“If you’re hurting for things to do before the rest of us get there, I hear that the governor is looking for a date.”
“It’s ‘Ted Knutson: Bag or Barn’, not ‘Ted Knutson: [censored] or Barn’!” [Completely inappropriate on my part, but it rhymes. – Knut]
“I can’t believe you called into question my enlightenment on my blog last week. That is so making it into the article.”
“Fine. But don’t forget that I’m editing.”
“Not if I send it to Brainburst! Ting!”
Many of you might not know to what we refer when we say”bag” or”barn”, so before we continue down the lines of argumentation, it may be helpful to ensure that we are all speaking the same language as it were. Because we are not a professional linguist but merely a brilliant wordbender, we cannot be sure if”bag” and”barn” are properly metonymy (“sword” for”military power”), synecdoche (“steel” for”sword”), or just some sort of unaffiliated abbreviations without fancy four syllable names.
Bag: short for scumbag.
Barn: short for barnacle.
In Magic, there are far too many bags. Ranging from cheaters to welchers to money draft card-adders, to associates who owe us hundreds of dollars in borrowed sums and don’t pay us back even when they finish in the money at the next event, all the way to bags who take credit for other people’s decks, designs, and innovative ideas, Magical scumbaggery is a tradition well-established. Being a barnacle is a younger one. In real life, a barnacle is”any of various marine crustaceans of the subclass Cirripedia that in the adult stage form a hard shell and remain attached to submerged surfaces, such as rocks and ships’ bottoms,” such that in Magic we refer to barnacles or”barns” as lesser players who tag along to the”hulls” of popular players or other such figures of the game or its community.
Many players dislike the term barn because they consider it pejorative, even when accurate. We rather like the term and use it liberally. For example, in draft, we will tap Auriok Bladewarden and call him Auriok BladeBarn, because he is just hanging around Skyhunter Cub or whatever other hull, fairly useless without something solid to stick to. One night, we were calling everything and everyone a barn. At Katz’s Delicatessen that evening, our solicitor”Papa” Jon Becker did something or other that was very barntacular and we were prompted to utter”shut up barn!” or some such, causing Becker to become incensed.
“Look, I’m not a barn!”
“You are too a barn.”
“Oh yeah? Prove it. Who do I barn?”
(PAUSES.)”Well… he’s a good hull.”
You will notice in this sequence that Becker is at first quite angry when we”accuse” him of being a barn, but then softens to the idea when we indicate that it is to millionaire and visionary philosopher Skaff Elias’s kindly hull that Becker’s hard shell is attached. In this article’s initial sequence, Ted Knutson is quick to call himself a barn because he knows that it is to Michael J Flores’s expansive hull that he would be, in context, connected. It is in this sense that the term”barn” has been for the most part reappropriated by the barns themselves: they take it as a point of pride to be associated with quality boat bottoms. Consider the related pejorative, Queer. In the immortal words of Homer Simpson,”Yeah, and that’s another thing! I resent you people using that word. That’s our word for making fun of you! We need it!”
By embracing their status, the barns have successfully brought their hulls in line while simultaneously removing much of the negative force that the term previously had when directed towards them. Previously responsibility fell solely on the barn… he had always to fetch water, sleeve decks in the morning, groom the horses, keep the non-barn non-hulls from bothering the hull too much with their silly requests for autographs, have fun storming the castle, and even lie down to non-qualified teammates of the hull during the Swiss (in the Midwest during the mid-90s, anyway). But today, hulls must also treat their barns well, or risk losing them. Masters of good hullsmanship are kind to their barns and keep them loyal, many times even reversing the barn / hull relationship to the untrained eye. Masters, they are.
With definitions out of the way, let us return to the remaining question: Is Ted Knutson A Bag Or A Barn?
We believe Ted to be a barn. He is, by his own admission, a barn. Much of the time, as we saw in the above Becker story, a barn will at least initially deny his barn status. Ted instead not only accepts that he is a barn but embraces it.
Furthermore, we have the case of”[author name="Mike Flores"]Mike Flores[/author] is a Big, Fat Idiot“. Sure, Ted paints a picture that includes Michael being not only an”idiot”, but a”buffoon” and other less than stellar titles… But all of this smacks of”the lady doth protest too much” school of insult. Clearly Ted’s main thrust here is to paint the aforementioned Michael J. Flores as The Greatest Magic Writer. He heaps many laurels upon the head of one already revered by countless Magicians, pointing out Flores’s facility with language, the natural flow of his words, as well as his significant contribution to the Magic canon and consistent popularity. How can the worshipful adulation of such a hero, even when ostensibly spoken with a forked, even farcically insulting, tongue be considered the work of a bag rather than that of a barn?
Sure, it is somewhat bagtacular for Ted to have made any sort of mention of his hero’s foibles. BDM will tell you that it is unseemly for a good barn to do things like point out his hull’s errors in play… But what about the flip side? Does it not contribute to the so-called”bad player” mystique that surrounds our subject when Ted does this? Does it not in fact give rise to yet another layer of this sophisticated legend? How can we call Ted a bag when he serves his community – not to mention the glory of his hull – so?
Perhaps most tellingly, Ted calls Michael a”Big, Fat Idiot.” Though BDM would have you believe that this would inspire negative thoughts in those who merely scanned the day’s headlines rather than those who delved into the article to learn of the subject’s writing glory, he is mistaken. In fact, Ted actually invokes the mainstream writing canon in a way that is perhaps too sophisticated to address in full here. Ted was not blindly calling his hull and hero names, but instead calling upon the title Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations by contemporary commentator Al Franken.
Is Ted likening Flores to controversial media giant Rush Limbaugh? Is he in fact predicting a late night syndicated talk show or a populat daytime radio show for Magic’s finest writer? We know from a Geordie Tait interview last year that the production company that produced the Men in Black franchise and Showtime’s Jerimiah that Flores’s creative abilities have been tapped by mainstream media outside the circle of Magic… Perhaps it is Franken himself upon whom Ted is calling. Does he envision Michael as a contributor to longtime variety show Saturday Night Live or some similar? What has the cogs in Knutson’s head running we cannot know, but certainly their drive was not born in Bag End.
Lastly, bags are known for grubbing money, being misers in no good sense of the word. Bags who cheat are driven to steal the money and prizes that belong to the players of whom they take advantage. The all too common bags who owe people money literally take food out of the mouths of honest players’ children. But Ted? He is not this sort of miser. If his hand is full of coins, it overflows with Modular tokens. See here an image of Ted graciously giving Flores a grip of quarters:
These quarters could be used for whatever Flores wanted. Though we believe Knutson intended them to increase the size and ferocity of Arcbound Ravager, the scope and power of Aether Vial, witnesses say that Flores mised an ice cream using some at a RexPlex vending machine. Is giving a hull cold, hard, cash the act of a bag rather than a barn? [He didn’t give me my money back, dammit. – Knut, taking his medicine]
In sum, [author name="Chad Ellis"]Chad Ellis[/author] was right. Liar though he may typically be, YMG scum though he definitely is, Ellis was correct. Gray Ogre, at least in the Top 8 of GPNJ, seems to have performed better than the no-show Survival of the Fittest. To this we can only claim that it is all BDM’s fault. We told BDM that summoning Trinket Mage quickened our pulse – not to mention our clock – but no, BDM was all”Trinket Mage is a low power card in this deck. You want to maximize your mid- and late-game draw quality.” We were dazzled by his big words and sophisticated diction. The idea of looking through our deck for whatever answer we needed reminded us of simpler times before the Affinity mechanic, and Goblin Warchief, and Upheaval, and ubiquitous multicolored cards, to a Golden Age where no Green creature was safe. Ever. Though we are loathe to say it, this time around, it seems that Ellis was no liar.