Wasabi and Graham Crackers

Is Magic flexible enough to withstand a couple of gratuitous potshots? Bennie fires back at Andrew Johnson’s review of his Nats report.

Ever since writing my mock Nationals Report and getting tons of positive response to it, I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond. I replied to the emails that came in, but I wanted to do a little more in the public arena, to show my appreciation for all you who took the time to write. But standing around hugging each other and patting each other on the back wouldn’t make a very exciting read. Where’s the drama? Where’s the excitement?

We needed a villain for this story.

Luckily, Andrew Johnson stepped up to the plate to fill that role. Thanks, Andy! I mean, with the looming actor’s strike and everything, how very noble.

Why do I have the feeling he’s gonna hit the roof when he reads that paragraph?

We all know the best villains are those who don’t think they’re evil; they don’t run around cackling madly and twisting their thick black moustache. The best villains are those who think they’re doing the right thing, that they’ve got the moral authority, that they’re taking the high road.

Andy wrote:

“To clarify my stance, let’s take a look at some of the writings surrounding US Nationals and other recent articles. Any piece of writing that only serves to inflame or to harp on the lack of integrity or to cheapen the meaning of anyone’s accomplishments violates the human rights of Magic players.”

To paraphrase a certain Hollywood movie great… Whoa.

Violation of human rights. Heavy stuff.



BENNIE walks on, a little nervous. Ferrett is reading his last article, frowning and shaking his head.


I know it’s a little different from what I normally write. What do you think?


I’m worried some people aren’t going to GET IT, chief. But I’ll post it anyway.



Bennie walks in, and suddenly there’s a crowd of people around him.



There are balloons, party favors, and a mule. Everyone cheers. There’s John Friggin Rizzo, Chris Senhouse, Josip Gudic from Fantasy Slovenija, Doug Beyer from WotC, David K. Dyer, Paul Emerson Leicht, bpshuler, Mike McFadden, and the gang from the Star City mailing list. They liked it. They GOT IT.


Thanks, guys! You’re the best!

Group hug. You know the drill.

Suddenly, the mailbox door gets BLOWN off its hinges. Dust and smoke pour in. Everyone takes three steps towards the back door, but curiosity keeps our eyes riveted to the front.

A shadowy figure steps in. Dressed in black Puritan robes. Stern eyes flash righteous anger.


I am Andrew Johnson! Of Team CMU!


Heh heh… He said Johnson… heh heh…


SILENCE! I have come for the blasphemer named Smith! He stands charged with anti-Magic writings, writings without purpose, without thought, and completely without regard to his social responsibility.


Social responsibility? Andy, Magic is a game–


SILENCE! Behold, I read from the Book of Greater Thinkers Than Myself. I quote:”Any piece of writing that only serves to inflame or to harp on the lack of integrity or to cheapen the meaning of anyone’s accomplishments violates the human rights of Magic players.” So it is writ, so it is law.


Hey, man… it was a humor piece. Poking a little fun, guy. Get it? Lighten up, man.


SILENCE! Drivelmonger, know this – one cannot mask inflammatory and slanderous writings in a guise of humor or entertainment! You must fall prostrate before your Magic betters, lick their boots and show reverence for their accomplishments!

Drivelmonger? Wait a minute!!!

Bennie reaches into his pants and pulls out a huge shotgun with the words GET IT YET? written on the side. He aims it at Mr. Johnson. Pulls the trigger.


Now, hand me my wallet. It’s the one that says…

Evidently, in the world where Andy Johnson comes from, there’s no room for criticism, or humor, or fun. It’s all solidarity and sugarcoating. How dare writers <GASP> stereotype people? Or write such”erroneous” reports? Or poke fun at Magic greats? In Andy’s world, all this type of stuff leads down a slippery slope towards the destruction of Magic.

Gimme a break.

This game and most of its players aren’t so fragile that they cannot survive a little fun leveled at their expense. Magic is huge, dynamic and growing, and can survive even the most vitriolic unfounded rants against it. And the giants of the game are celebrities. They travel the world over, win large prizes and get tons of press. Celebrities get heaped with praise and reverence, but they also get lampooned, closely examined and criticized. That’s the way it is in any sport or spotlight. Get over it. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the friggin’ kitchen. I dare say that most everyone I took a poke at in my article either deserved a little ribbing or had enough of a sense of humor to take it in stride.

Still not getting it, Mr. Johnson? Maybe someone else can better explain it.

“Part humor, part indictment, part self searching, part Jimmy Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life = damn fine work. Great stuff.” – John Friggin Rizzo

This was the first email I got the morning it was posted, and boy did it make my day. Rizzo GOT IT! I wasn’t trying to slander the game of Magic; I was tickling its ribcage, holding up a mirror to the game. And myself. Why was I playing the game? What role does it have in my life? I take the game seriously at times, but ultimately I’m looking for a good time with some good friends.

I took the blue pill. Like the vast majority of you. Magic is a damn fine game, but it’s still just a game. However, unlike Mr. Johnson and the other Red Pill takers, we are the ones who keep the game going. Jon Finkel and the other professionals are the celebrity faces, the ones we root for or against, the ones we turn to for inspiration and deck tech. But we are the meat and taters of the game. We are the guys who support the game with purchases of boxes, boosters, and participation in local tournaments. The guys with full time jobs, spouses, children, bills, mortgages, car notes. And not enough time to invest in the game to reach the professional level. WE will keep Magic around a long time.

Most of We will never be like Thee, Mr. Johnson. I don’t write my articles for you. I write ’em for us Blue Pill takers. The ones who love the game and are grounded in reality enough to appreciate a little fun.

Magic is a Game. Remember what games are supposed to be? Mr. Webter’s can break it down for you:

game – n. An activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime.

Whoa. Whatta concept!

Now I will say that Andrew Johnson means well. His heart is in the right place. He loves the game and doesn’t want to see anything hurt it. In his mind, Magic is a fragile, precious thing that needs to be protected and nurtured; I have a six-month-old daughter, so I can appreciate that instinct quite well. But I have to strongly disagree with his notion that Magic is in danger of extinction due to slanderous remarks or cheap shots. Or even fake tournament reports. Variety is the spice of life, and Magic and its community are full of flavor. Wasabi or Graham Crackers. Take your pick. It’s out there. Lighten up and enjoy.