Warning! This Article Contains No Strategic Value

He’s written umpty-million strategy columns, so we guess it’s okay to just let Bennie go berserk, Larry King-style. We’re not sure we get it, either.

[A quick note to those of you who read my column about Torment’s Dreams – as originally submitted, I made two statements in error due to my misunderstanding of the timing of Madness spells, specifically regarding Sickening Dreams and Insidious Dreams. The error was pointed out by a couple of sharp readers early on and Ferrett added the corrections, but for those who may have read my article before the corrections were made, please go back and check out the corrections. I’d hate for my ignorance to have misled you, and I apologize for the mistakes.]

I was tempted to call this column”Beating a Title to Death for Fun and Profit.” I mean, seriously – since my article on madness (“Discarding for Fun and Profit”), in which I chose the oft-used”Fun and Profit” cliché because it seemed very appropriate, I’ve seen Fun and Profit popping up in Magic column titles here and there. A week after my column, I got this email:

“Hey, Bennie,

“I independently came up with the ‘Discarding for Fun and Profit’ line to use as a subhead for Anthony’s article on mtg.com. Only now did I realize you used it last week. So I wasn’t exactly stealing. I guess in the end, my site looks bad, but not bad enough to change it. Hope that’s cool.

Aaron Forsythe

“Content Manager


Well, I didn’t exactly coin the phrase”For Fun and Profit,” but… it was nice that Aaron took the time to write me about it. Especially since I get the distinct impression that Aaron thinks I’m an idiot. Not that he’s ever come right out and called me that, it’s just the feeling I get from the limited interaction (or lack thereof) I’ve had with him over the past year or so.

Maybe he’s still pissed about my irreverent Nationals Report? Who knows? I mean, he used to be teammates with… Well, someone who didn’t have much of a sense of humor.

Then, over on Brainburst, Michael Clauss publishes a column entitled”Whistleblowing for Fun and Profit.” Hee hee! Hey, maybe I won’t make it past Round 2 of the Writer’s War, but it appears my columns might at least be insidiously creeping into the Magic community’s subconscious! Mwua-ha-ha!!

Andy Johnson must be freaking out.

So then I’m curious – how often does the phrase”For Fun and Profit” show up in Magic columns? I go over to mtgnews.com’s Magic Spider search engine and check it out, but unfortunately even though it claims”only searches the Magic part of the web” it actually only searches www.magictraders.com. It returns pages and pages of stuff from that site. I try and use the Spider’s advanced search and specifically exclude”magictraders” from the search, but Magic Spider ignores my pleas and buries me in hits from that site. My guess is that Magic Traders must kick some serious cash to mtgnews, but what do I know? I may just be Search Engineeringly Impaired.

Stymied, I go to a more generic web search engine and find some interesting hits:

* Test for fun and profit, Part 1

—Um, sure… lotsa fun!

* Creating Disruption for Fun and Profit at Amazon.com

—Hey, that sounds like fun!

* Hacking URLs for fun and profit

* Use Dynamic DNS for fun and profit!

—Geeks only need apply for these two

* Me-Zine journalism for fun and (Sometimes) profit

—For the best in navel gazing

* Golf Betting for Fun & Profit – Discover golf betting excitement!

—Forward this to Seth Burn

* How to Pick Pockets for Fun and Profit: A Magicians Guide to Pickpocket Magic at Amazon.com

—Just make sure you don’t practice this in Arab lands

* Mindreading For Fun And Profit

—With or without psychotropic drugs?

* Lying For Fun and Profit: The Truth about the Media

—They say the truth *is* out there

* Downloading Porn For Fun and Profit

—Actually, I made this up just to see if Ferrett and Rizzo were paying attention (Hey! Get out of my hard drive! – The Ferrett)

Yes, I actually used the word”Stymied.” Isn’t that a great word? Here it is again (sorta):

“It might choke Artie, but it ain’t gonna choke Stymie!”

If anyone gets the reference, congratulations – you’re a fogy, too!

Actually, going back to the Magic Spider search engine, I came across this one link here called Pet Cemetery FAQ, check it out: http://www.mtgparadise.com/~dlow/FAQ-PetCem.txt

I was half expecting something like this:

Q. How do I find an old Indian graveyard to bury my dead cat in so that he comes back to life and skulks around the house, creeping everyone out?

A. It’s hard as hell to find, so give it up.

Q. And what happens when I bury my dead kid and dead wife there?

A. I said, give it up! For God’s sake, don’t do it!!

The real site was almost as weird, here’s some excerpts:

Q: What will the prizes be?

A: As always, there’s a T-shirt for first place with ‘QUICKENED’ and the tournament date on the front.

— I’m sorry, but I can’t help picturing some big guy my size wearing said T-shirt and having people wonder just how he was”Quickened.”

Q: What’s the ruling on Exalted Dragon?

A: Exalted dragon reads something like: ‘Cannot attack unless you sac a land?’ (from memory)

— There’s a format where Exalted Dragon shows up in a FAQ?!?

Q: What was ‘sympathetic mana’?

A: The sympathetic mana ability was used up until this tournament. It meant that when you played a mono-coloured card as a Quickening, you could tap it for either the colour mana of the card, or the mana to either side of it on the Colour Pentagram: BRGWU. ie: if you had played a White Knight as a Quickening card in a previous tourn, you could tap it for White, Green or Blue.

— <insert your favorite confused expression here>


Methinks I’ve stumbled into a Casual Play Realm. Check with Anthony Alongi for further instructions. Evidently, anything related to casual or group game Magic is actually written by Anthony Alongi – at least according to Sean McKeown, the Sultan of Serious Magic. Just check out his latest column over at Neutral Ground. Obviously, Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar is just a pen name Anthony uses on MagicTheGathering.com to get two paychecks from Wizards, but don’t tell anyone! (Now, be fair – he apologized in his next column… – The Ferrett)

Speaking of paychecks, I get the weirdest stuff in the mail at work. How about you?

The other day I got a letter from WHO’S WHO Historical Society in Boston MA.

WHO’S WHO! Isn’t that a listing of, like, Filthy Rich People?

The letter reads:

“Dear Mr. Bennie Smith:

“On behalf of the WHO’S WHO Historical Society, I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a possible candidate for the 2001-2001 edition of International WHO’S WHO of Professionals. This is definitive work on the world’s leaders in commerce, economics, policy and trade.”

All right, so my full-time job ain’t bad, but on a scale of Lowly Worker Bee on one end of the scale, and World Leader on the other end, I fall on the end of the scale that contains 95% of the working class. Let’s just say I’d be much more likely to be part of the Mob cheering on a lynching of the Enron execs than I would be lamenting my sagging investment portfolio at the local country club.

So how am I getting this letter? I look a little further. Contained in the envelope is an Abbreviated Biographical Data Form that asks for Personal and Business information, Employment History, Associations, Educational History… suddenly suspicious, I glance back over to the letter and note the”possible candidate” clause. The clause that’s loaded with subtext that says”Give us all your relevant”biographical” data on the off-chance we might put you in this elite publication!”

Why do I have the sneaky suspicion that I in no way would actually make it into the WHO’S WHO, but my biographical information would certainly be collected into some sort of database and sold… For fun and profit. Am I being paranoid?

WHO’S WHO! Doesn’t bring to mind the refrain from the Stones”Sympathy for the Devil.” Kinda fits, too…

Pleased to meet you, won’t you guess my name? Who-who! Who-who!

Then I get this other thing in the mail that says,”You are cordially invited to attend the first session of the Dale Carnegie Course – Free!”

First hit’s free, right?

Inside the pamphlet is this:

“Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book contains a set of principles that can change your life forever. We guarantee that implementing these principles will make you a success in business and in your personal life. And we have 4,500,000 success stories to back up our guaranty. Now experience the power of these principles in action for yourself! Win friends, influence people, speak persuasively, lead with confidence, stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Why do I envision 4.5 million businessmen walking around like some poor slobs caught up in a pyramid scheme? All smiles and that weird Way Too Happy attitude. Like my neighbor, who answers the standard American greeting”How’s it going” not with the standard”All right” or”Fine” but with an enthusiastic”Outstanding!”

Weird, right?

I don’t know, maybe I’m paranoid, but… I feel like I’d be selling my soul if I walked into that free Dale Carnegie class. Pleased to meet you…

On the other hand, maybe that’s what I’d need to do to actually make it into WHO’S WHO. Were these two letters related and somehow the keys to my skyrocket to the top of the food chain? Is my paranoia keeping me down in the ranks of the working stiffs?

The truth is out there. Somewhere.

Bonus Non-Strategy Tidbit!

For those of you, my hard-core fans (all three or four of you) who actually made it this far, I’d like to share something with you – my wife and I are expecting another little rugrat to our family, due in August! Yes, I know we just had a baby – Anna Marie is fourteen months old now. We wanted to have another baby, but the”plan” was to shoot for getting pregnant this year sometime. I guess God and Mother Nature had other ideas. Those of you who’ve had to care for two children under 2 years old please send me and my wife your sympathies, but beyond a little apprehension we are both very excited about it!

Next week: Magic Strategy. I promise.