Entries Tagged 'Writing' ↓

Haven’t Used a Single Wish Yet, and Not Planning on It by Patrick Chapin

One of the most compelling voices in the Magic community, Patrick Chapin “The Innovator” is a member of the Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame and the author of Next Level Deckbuilding.

“Haven’t Used a Single Wish Yet, and Not Planning on It” was originally published on another website; it appears, now, on Five With Flores at the author’s request.


A while ago, I was at RIW Hobbies getting ready for an event. Some friends of mine were discussing a philosophy question one of them had been asked recently in a class.

“If a genie gave you one wish, and you couldn’t wish for more wishes, what would it be?”

The two of them had been debating the “best play.” Others chimed in with suggestions; by far money was the most popular wish, though how much seemed to be a matter of debate. Other suggested wishes include “Living as long as one wants,” “One’s parent to still be alive,” and “Finding the ‘perfect’ girl and having her fall in love with you.”

With all of these ideas of how to spend the wish, the guys in the conversation were initially shocked and then quite skeptical when I replied, “I would not use the wish.”

“Call!” They were not only surprised, but initially a bit disappointed, thinking that I was only resorting to this answer out of laziness or lack of imagination.

“Seriously, I would not use the wish, not on anything, not at all.”

At this point they began to suspect that I was attempting to look “too good for a wish.”

“It’s not about being too good, it is about the universe already being the best possible way for today and that I am continually bettering my life though my own will, though my efforts. Why would I trivialize my life, what I am done, what I will do, Who I Am, by using a wish to get what I want rather than getting it myself?”

They mocked me at this point, claiming that if I were in that situation, I would surely wish for something.

“Whatever I would want is already mine if I take it. The Universe is the ultimate wish granter. The difference between the genie granting my wish and the universe is that the universe gives me an opportunity to be it myself, plus it gives me what I really want. The genie merely lets me “witness” it, as oppose to be the cause of it, plus the genie can only give me what I think I want. I already have essentially unlimited potential, but if I take the genie up on his offer, I am basically a slave to him, as it is him that is the source of my experience, rather than myself and the Universe.”

They continued to be skeptical, claiming that it sounded all well and good to say that, but why would not $100 extra be better than not using a wish at all?

“Money is a means, not the end in and of itself. The point is to know yourself, the Universe experientially. To wish for $100 may give me a $100, but what have I really gained? If I was $100 short, if I wanted $100, I could just go get it. If I found myself with $100 extra, I would find a way to give away an extra $100. The thing is, if the genie gave me the money, it would devalue both money and my human experiences. You and I both know what it is like to trade hours of actual work for a single digit worth of dollars. That builds character, character that if I could just wish for money, I would not have.”

Adam was appalled by this answer, “You are concerned about building character? Is this a joke? Who cares about building character, go do whatever you want with the money and build character that way! Are you really telling me you wouldn’t have used a wish to get out of going to prison? What about losing all the money you had made back in the day?”

When I was younger, I lived a strange life, one of excess and riches, mindless self-indulgence, and adventure. I was making a fairly absurd amount of money for a kid living so dumb. I decided to move past that life, giving it all up. Unfortunately, these types of things have a way of catching up with you, and eventually it did. It felt like I lost everything.

My money, my cars, my material possessions, my power, all gone. I let it go, though, and tried to move on with my life. I took a job with Wizards of the Coast R&D, my literal dream job. It was the most satisfying work of my life at that point and by no small margin. Then, however, my past continued to revisit me. My freedom was stripped from me, taking me four years to regain. Was I a victim? No sir, and any perceived individual injustices can be written off to having made mistakes that can have unpredictable side effects.

It wasn’t just my freedom that I lost, however. My dream job obviously disappeared, as I could certainly not make it to work each day. In addition, the first girl I ever loved was under a great strain. We were together for three-and-a-half years, but the prospect of years and years of waiting, as well as the stress between us over how difficult both our lives had become was too much. After I was down 18 months, she left me and while I was broken-hearted, I can hardly blame her.

I had lost everything. Didn’t I wish I didn’t lose everything? Don’t I wish I didn’t feel that pain?

First, obviously if I really thought I had lost everything, then it would show a lack of understanding about what it is I really have, but outside of that, it is easy to look back and see how each and every one of those forks in the road has lead to a better life than I would have had if I had “used a wish.”

The money, the cards, the self-indulgence? What was that worth? I make a lot less money now then I did when I was a kid, but I have more wealth. Not only do I have more to show for it, but it means more to me. I value things that I would never have valued when I was a kid. If I buy flowers for a girl today, it means something very different to me then it did when no amount of flowers would “cost” me anything.

I think about all of the things I have accomplished that I never would have, had I not had the motivation of “needing money.” For instance, isn’t it very likely that I never would have written a book? Writing a book is very difficult, but needing to keep a roof over your head is strong motivation. Now that it is written, however, I find it one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. If I had unlimited money, I likely never would have. I hardly was staying sober for a week straight, let alone in a position to finish such an undertaking.

What about my freedom? I didn’t value my freedom ten years ago, the way I value it today. I truly did go to the “School of Hard Knocks.” I experienced strange, dangerous, bizarre, difficult, painful, enlightening, moving, and joyous moments in life that I never would have if I had gotten out of it by way of a wish. It is almost as if I had received a wish a year earlier, as I had almost mystically gotten out of a bad situation. What had changed? Not much, not nearly as much as what was different now, after this four year education.

It is not just about valuing my freedom, my life, though that is a big part of it. It is about how strong I am now, as the trials and tribulations I have endured have giving me priceless experience points, so to speak. If not for the four years I spent behind barbed wire on top of that mountain, I would not be the man I am today. I really like the man I am today.

What about losing my dream job? Well, the truth is, at the time, I wasn’t as good at it as I could be. I was immature. I was used to being an overachiever and did not pour all of my effort into it, or rather I didn’t know how to. It has been nearly eight years since I had that job. I have continued to educate myself, practicing design, pushing myself everyday. I want to do that kind of work again some day, and I have spent the last eight years perfecting the craft, becoming the best possible designer I can be. I am going to keep pushing myself to be better and better, striving to some day have an opportunity to do that kind of work again, as I truly love it and if I have a second chance someday, I will have the benefit of years and years of strengthening of my skills to make me better, as well as added maturity.

What about losing my first love? Well, now I am in Love with the woman of my dreams, an unlikely connection that I never would have made had I “used a wish” so many years ago. My first love? I will always have love for her and I am thankful for our time and experiences together, but there is no question that my girlfriend today is a better fit for me than I ever realized there could be. Surprise, surprise, the Universe knows what I want better than I do! It isn’t just finding a girl that is better for me, it is also about learning to be a better man to a woman. It is about learning Who I really Am, and what Love would do.

Everything I have ever experienced leads me to believe that the Universe doesn’t make mistakes. Everything that happens is the best possible thing to happen. I know it is easy to debate or dispute this, I am merely saying that everything in my life points to this as Truth.

Each and every human experience that I encounter is a blessing that helps me evolve and Know Life. It took each and every experience I have had to bring be today, and it will take each and every experience I am to have to make me reach my full potential. I wouldn’t wish to give up a single one, not for anything.

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”


Editor’s Notes:

Thanks very much to Patrick for this contribution!

For those keeping score, Patrick is 1) currently and happily working in game design and 2) got married to his dream girl last summer.

LOVE
MIKE

Weekend Update

weekendupdate

Concerning:

  1. The Moral Victory of 16 Thumbs and 7 Toughness
  2. The Destiny of 4 Kalonian Hydras
  3. The Next Level of The Next Level

So I was gone at the Star City Games Invitational in Somerset, NJ Friday through Sunday, and basically missed a whole bunch of stuff. Some of it is important; other stuff, simply awesome. Hence, this after-the-weekend Weekend Update.



Top8Magic on ManaDeprived Update

First of all, thank all of you cats who went over and liked our first podcast on ManaDeprived, “Save or Delete”.

In case you didn’t know, we posted another podcast last Friday.

Let me ask you a question: DO YOU WANT US TO DO THESE EVERY WEEK?

Is that like asking if the world needs more TAUNTING JON BECKER?

Answer in the comments below but I assume the answer(s) is / are em effin’ yes. If so, I need y’all to click over to ManaDeprived and Like the bejeezus out of this. Our first podcast over there got 10x the usual likes of a ManaDeprived podcast, but “The Moral Victory of 16 Thumbs and 7 Toughness” has to date garnered a pathetic 3 Likes. I don’t know what kind of Up North operation KYT has at ManaDeprived but I assume his servers are made out of maple tree twigs and run on a hydraulic system of syrup and snow. Go click over to ManaDeprived and break that thing! Come on BDM fans! Let’s go!

And / or…

Listen here:

Download and listen later…

But most definite, DEFINITELY, subscribe on iTunes:
http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/mana-deprived/id489782347



Kalonian Hydra Update

In case you were wondering what happened to those four Kalonian Hydras I picked up [but did not play] for the Invitational, they found a fine home in the Zvi Mowshowitz-designed G/W Elves deck piloted by our good friend William “Baby Huey” Jensen:


William Jensen with YT’s four Hydras!

G/W Elves

4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
4 Kalonian Hydra
4 Elvish Mystic
2 Loxodon Smiter
4 Wolfir Silverheart
4 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Gavony Township
4 Arbor Elf
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Elvish Archdruid
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Temple Garden
10 Forest

Sideboard
4 Strangleroot Geist
2 Ranger’s Guile
3 Garruk Relentless
3 Tree of Redemption
3 Acidic Slime

Huey Made Top 8 of last week’s Standard Open with U/R/W Control but did poorly in the Invitational. He switched it up to the G/W deck for the Somerset Standard Open and crushed his way all the way to second place. I have thought about playing against this deck with a variety of strategies and I think it is both counterintuitive and tough from the control side. At first glance this is the classic deck you crush with Ratchet Bombs and Supreme Verdicts but I don’t think it is ultimately that cut-and-dried. You can’t screw up. You can’t give them operating mana for too long. You certainly can’t let them level up repeatedly with Garruk, Caller of Beasts. I played a Quicken + Planar Cleansing deck in the Invitational and Open specifically to crush Jund decks that had been accumulating Planeswalker-based battlefield advantages but I don’t think that works against Garruk-six. The last thing you want to do is to tap for Planar Cleansing, clearing their board… But leaving them with seven cards in hand (most of which are sweet threats).

I actually think that you want both lots of sweep but need Need NEED permission to fight Garruk, Caller of Beasts here. I would consider siding in Negate just to fight that six. The creatures are not particularly resilient exclusive of dealing massive damage in one big attack. You really need to keep them off their combination of acceleration and card advantage or you are going to eat a Craterhoof, I fear.

Anyway, great weekend for Huey, who made back-to-back Standard and Legacy Open Top 8s.



NEXT LEVEL DECKBUILDING Update

Are you living under a rock or something?

Biggest of the big that happened this past weekend was the release of Patrick Chapin’s new book NEXT LEVEL DECKBUILDING on Star City Games. Patrick is one of my best friends and as a writer, an inspiration. He was one of the driving forces that got me off my butt to do THE OFFICIAL MISER’S GUIDE and I wish him all the luck with NEXT LEVEL DECKBUILDING.

NEXT LEVEL DECKBUILDING is huge — some 472 pages — but I haven’t been able to put it down all day. It’s beautifully laid out by the ebook elves at Star City Games; the content is one-of-a-kind and often quite hilarious (more on that later in the week). I haven’t read it all yet but I am absolutely loving much of what I have so far. Don’t go out and immediately buy NEXT LEVEL DECKBUILDING before you buy THE OFFICIAL MISER’S GUIDE or anything silly like that; but if you are in the market for awesome Magic books… This one is pretty awesome. I’m going to be recommending this for years I think. Again, more deets later.

Okay friends!

Lots of stuff to do!

Action Items!

nldb

LOVE
MIKE

DVD Extras: “How About Astards-Bay?”

Today was the last ever episode of Top Decks. I’d ask for a moment of silence for the most popular column in the history of the Magic Internet, but instead I will moan and wail about censorship.

The bastards.

Bastards!

This is how “Ten by Ten by Four” opened on the digital presses:

punks

This is how nature* intended:

As I said last week, this will be the final edition of Top Decks. If we had gone two more weeks, it would have been nine years. Nine! Years! The bastards. Can I say “bastards”? It’s my last Top Decks. I’m saying “bastards” at least three times.

/ mic drop

I was actually a bit surprised editor Mike McArtor wouldn’t let me get away with “bastards”; just thought I’d throw this out there that Act 3/3 of “Ten by Ten by Four” was my Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame ballot; on that topic my good friend and former Lead Developer Brian Schneider used the quote “100% ballplayer. 0% bullshit[,]” in his write-up of Dave Price in Year One. Don’t believe me? Go check and ctrl+”bullshit”

bschneid
100% ballplayer. 0% bullshit.

bschneid gets a “bullshit” and I don’t get a three “bastard”[s]? Come on! This was my swan song!

Mike gave me an option of softer curse words; I initially selected “astards-bay” but that didn’t pass muster either. Peruse at your pleasure:

email

Good journey, Top Decks.

LOVE
MIKE

* “nature” = your hero, michaelj

Brought to you by, well, me:
omgslim

Facebook 4 – Achievement Unlocked: Win-a-Box!

Tom Stiteler and I have been corresponding a bit on Facebook; Tom is a happy OMG customer who has shared some of his recent successes with me.

Most recently… Happier than ever I hope!

Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 11.11.33 PM

I posted a Gruul Ramp deck including — you guessed it — Molten Primordial on Star City Games last Flores Friday. I am very happy to report the big Ramp deck with, you know, Molten Primordial helped Tom unlock not one but two Win-a-Box achievements!


You know, Molten Primordial

It would be gauche to post my deck list here so soon after sending it up on Premium, so I will refer you there. I am super happy with Molten Primordial and squad, but have to admit I am intrigued by Tom’s black splash and will test that this week.

Thanks for reading!

LOVE
MIKE

Facebook Week 3 – OMG It’s the Top 8!

This one was actually from late last year, but I was always meaning to put it up (and this week’s “theme” gives me a good window).

I loved Collin’s Top 8 deck, which I talked about in The New Hotness. I had no idea at the time that I — or rather The Official Miser’s Guide — had any positive impact on the ascendant GP Top 8 competitor.

Facebook03

Wanna knock down a GP Top 8?

I didn’t say it! (though I’m sure you know I would)

GP Top 8 competitor Collin Morton did!

The OMG is worth every penny!

LOVE
MIKE

The Official Miser’s Guide at Star City Games.

Facebook Week 2 – Official Honesty Guide


Earlier this week my new Twitter biographer @MrsSharkLady thought it odd that I would buy a years-old Taylor Swift album I was already listening to on Internet radio. I didn’t think it weird at all; no more weird than supporting a comic book I like to read or contributing to the Veronica Mars Movie Project on Kickstarter.

Is it so odd for someone who enjoys a piece of media to support the people who created it?

I was hanging out with Josh Ravitz and Thea Steele when I got this message from Ryan Hiller; in a world where so many fans just steal music, tv downloads, etc. his email was truly heartwarming. Suggesting the donations was Josh’s idea.

Facebook02

If you are in Camillus, NY and want to visit the LGS of an obviously honest man, check out Ryan’s store, Legacy Gaming Company.


LOVE
MIKE

Facebook Week 1 – Ke$ha Envy

A jealous envious conversation with my editor had me thinking it would be fun to copy and paste some funny, heartwarming, or otherwise emotionally interesting Facebook chats. This is the first of four.

Facebook01

50? I wish! At the time of this writing, Ke$ha by my friend Patrick Chapin has garnered 116 Likes on Star City Games.

LOVE
MIKE

Words Mean Things by Patrick Chapin

One of the most compelling voices in the Magic community, Patrick Chapin “The Innovator” is a member of the Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame and the author of Next Level Magic.


Warning:
This article contains profanity, including gay and racial slurs.

“Don’t be a faggot.”

When we communicate, it is not just some trivial exercise. It is not about repeating words in familiar patterns, like a machine.

Real communication is about conveying meaning.

I generally don’t use the word “nigga” (or its various analogues)—not because it is taboo, but because it tends to obscure meaning, rather than convey it.

I spent a number of years in prison. During my time there, I dwelt in an awful lot of circles that used the term very freely. In public settings, it would have been inappropriate to use this language. However, it is a term that has taken on many ironic reversals and additional meanings over the past thirty years, and when it was just me and people I knew, it was generally acceptable for Caucasians, such as myself, to use the term and be referred to by this term.

However, just because the group had accepted this language doesn’t mean it promoted healthy thought patterns. If I can say it another way, a way that is clearer and contains more real meaning, why would I cling to a word that can cause misunderstanding and confusion?

“Don’t be a faggot.”

We can go on about how that word doesn’t mean what it used to, so people shouldn’t be offended by it, but in the real world, that hurts people, particularly ourselves. It influences how we think, and not necessarily for the better.

Words mean things.

Many boys grow up in environments where they are pushed around or otherwise made to feel inferior. Sometimes they are bullied. Often, fathers, brothers, or other older boys will assert themselves as “the dominant males” over the younger ones.

These older males provide the models that the younger ones use to formulate their worldviews and their strategies for interacting in life. If a boy’s role models use bullying and abusive behavior to try to control the people around them, this provides a blueprint for the boy to follow, often long before they are even aware of it.

The Magic community contains quite a few adolescent boys. A common phenomenon in adolescent boy cultures is the use of rape slang, which reveals a lot about the nature of rape.

Rape is about power.

Some men treat or see other people, usually women, as objects rather than as human beings: trophies to be fought over and won; dogs to be commanded and punished for misbehaving. At its core, rape is about power over an individual, making someone submit to one’s will and transforming that person into an object or an obedient animal.

Part of it is an attempt to release anger and frustration, but the release is only temporary. Because of this, the rape mentality generally leads to repeated behavior.

What does this have to do with using the word “rape” as slang for “won by a large margin?”

When someone uses the expression, “He got raped,” they are generally just repeating something they’ve heard someone else say. After all, if you or a loved one has been raped, the expression is a lot less funny.

“He got raped.”

I used to do commentary for the Top 8 of Pro Tours sometimes, way back about ten years ago. Back then, there was a rotating cast that included Chris Pikula, Brian Weissman, Brian Hacker, Brian Kibler, Randy Buehler, Michael Flores, Matt Place, myself, and more.

During the Top 8 of a Pro Tour, I was in the booth, in a role not unlike the one I adopt from time to time for SCG Opens. Between rounds, a WotC employee pulled me aside and asked me to watch my language. I was taken aback. What had I said? I wasn’t swearing.

“It’s not cool to describe one player as raping the other.”

I hadn’t even been thinking and obviously didn’t mean anything by it, but here I was, a dumb kid who didn’t know anything about anything, and I was using rape slang in the official WotC commentary.

Now here is the part that makes me look back and cringe.

My response was to try to explain to this person—who was only representing the interests of a company that sells games to people of all ages—that “rape” doesn’t always mean forcing someone to have sex. It is also “slang” for beating someone badly.

It’s amazing how much you know when you are 18.

“Words mean things. If that is how you talk when you are with your kid friends, that is your business, but if you want to interact with the adults, you are going to have to face the reality that words mean things. You aren’t talking to hear yourself speak. Whenever you talk, whoever can hear you is your audience. Remember what it is you are doing.”

I felt like an idiot. Despite knowing everything (I was 18, so kind of a given), I realized that just as chronic swearing is a symptom of a shortage of intelligence, so too is the inability to adjust one’s language to the situation at hand. Looking back, I didn’t even consider at the time just how inappropriate that kind of language was in an official capacity, let alone in any kind of public forum.

However, it is not just being mindful of the language we use in public. The language we use behind closed doors influences our thought process.

“Don’t be a faggot.”

The expression is said to have nothing to do with sexuality, a way of saying, “That’s not cool.”

At its core, this expression means “Homosexuality is so not cool, the most powerful way I can condemn your action is by suggesting that it is as bad as being homosexual.” That may not be one’s conscious thought process, but that is what they are saying.

The use of “faggot” as a derogatory term stems from hateful origins towards both women and homosexual men. Eventually this led to its popularity as a term boys say to each other in an attempt to assert their own masculinity by challenging the masculinity of other boys (following the example of those around them). In this context, “faggot” is not a permanent identity, such as one’s ethnicity or name. Rather, it is fluid, an identity that one seeks to avoid, such as being “it” in a game of tag. Many boys play this game of tag for years, back and forth with other boys.

“You are a fag!”

“No, you are!”

That’s adorable, but words mean things. If that is how you talk when you are with your kid friends, that is your business, but if you want to interact with the adults, you are going to have to face the reality that words mean things. You aren’t talking to hear yourself speak. Whenever you talk, whoever can hear you is your audience. Remember what it is you are doing.

When we are at a Magic tournament, we are confronted with a whole lot of people, many of whom we don’t know all that well. It can be very tempting to try to assert our masculinity by challenging the masculinity of others.

Want to know a secret?

If you are actually secure in your masculinity, you have no need for such petty tools.

What’s more, use of this language speaks volumes about a person, and the people around them pick up on the message between the lines.

Do you think Brian Kibler uses those words? What about Luis Scott-Vargas?

The words we use shape who we are. They influence our thought patterns and steer how we approach things.

The reasons to avoid such language in public settings, such as a Magic tournament or Facebook, are obvious. After all, when you are talking, everyone who can hear you is your audience. We did not come to this game accidentally. We are intelligent. We have more effective ways of communicating.

However, reconsidering hateful speech publically is only part of the equation. It’s not about the word itself; it is about the thought process. This thought process is toxic, and if you indulge in it in private, it will influence you in public.

You know why rape and hate slang continues? The same reason all slang does — because of people repeating it. From experience, I can tell you, it is relatively easy to clean up a circle’s language. If you resolve that something isn’t cool, it doesn’t take long for it to impact the circles you run in. That circle reflects who you are but also leaves impressions on you. If you do not impress on it, it will impress on you.

I am blessed with a number of close gay friends who have greatly enriched my life. Each of my experiences leads me to believe that potentially shutting out a percentage of people from my life by using hateful language is a huge mistake.

We all have our own path to walk.

There is room for an awful lot of people to live lives that are not identical to our own. What is right for someone else is not necessarily right for us, and what is right for us is not necessarily right for them. Why not give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if they are not hurting someone else?

No matter how tempting to try, we can’t make everyone else do what we want. What we can do is decide who we are, right now. It might not be the same as who we were yesterday, and that is okay.

When we see someone making fun of someone else at a Magic tournament for being different, we have lots of options. Are we someone who joins in, attempting to assert our masculinity? Are we someone who just tries to fit in with the crowd? Are we someone willing to stand up for someone who is outnumbered? Are we someone who is just afraid to say something, fearing becoming the next target? Are we someone who believes it is wrong to treat someone badly because of their race, sexuality, or gender?

Obviously none of this is to say that censorship is the answer. Words mean things, and if a given word is what you really want to say, more power to you. Rather, I’m trying to dispel the naïve notion that just because you might not be offended by a word, it doesn’t mean it’s not harmful and needless. Look, I am always touched when a straight, white American male is not offended by something, but maybe we are forgetting what it is we are doing.

There is a real temptation to defend slurs by arguing that the burden is on the other person to not be offended. After all, can’t anyone just say they are offended by anything? The thing is, asking someone if they are offended by something isn’t particularly fruitful. You don’t think it just puts all the pressure on them and risk being hated more? Likewise, a single person saying they are offended by something doesn’t make it offensive. It is a piece of evidence that helps build a case, but declaring something offensive does mean other people are offended by it.

Using slurs is harmful, not just because of the possibility of offending someone. It is harmful because of the implications. It makes people uncomfortable; it’s disrespectful; it’s bullying; and sadly, it leads to influencing the victims to go out and find victims of their own.

Words mean things.

Whenever people do something differently, someone is going to lash out against them. Maybe they’ll laugh at them, ridicule them, or hate them. People are scared of change, and they fear what is different from them.

Recently, I heard a young man, who considers racism obviously stupid, verbally attack a transgender individual he had never met.

“Faggot.”

What had this individual done to earn scathing slurs in front of countless people?

They had succeeded at something the boy wished he could succeed at.

Here we have a boy who considers himself a moral authority, who realizes the foolishness of racism; and yet when confronted with someone different from him, he didn’t even realize what he was doing.

Just as any woman who Top 8s a major event is greeted by some percentage of boys who hurl degrading remarks about her gender, someone transgender and successful is greeted with hateful slurs. Why?

It’s hard enough to live a transgender life. What do we gain by making their life harder, more painful? You don’t have to agree with all of someone’s choices or even understand them. However, if they aren’t hurting someone else, why attack them? Why be cruel?

In my experience, an awful lot of young men playing Magic have had some experience with racism. They’ve come to realize that it is not useful and not who they are; not as many Magic players have interacted with transgender individuals, so perhaps looking to broaden our perspective is worthwhile.

Imagine what it is like, everyone telling you that you are wrong about who and what you are. It can be a pretty tough spot to be. Imagine a bunch of people telling you what you should or should not be, say, or feel, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s going on inside of you.

Being transgender can be like that.

You may disagree with the actions someone is taking, and it may not be something that meshes with your worldview, but are they are hurting anybody? There is no question the life they are living is potentially fraught with hardships and pain, and you are certainly not obligated to do anyone any favors. However, do you really need to torment them and make their life harder? What does that accomplish?

Maybe they will eventually evolve their views. Maybe you will eventually evolve yours. Still, if neither of you changes your views, so what? No one needs to be hurt.

Picking on people in a position of weakness (such as being different from everyone else and having to deal with a world that is not built for them) is an act of cowardice. Whether using slurs because of anger or hate or using them out of ignorance of the implications of slang that carries with it pain and negativity, you have the choice to decide for yourself if that is who you are, or if you are better than that.

You also have the choice to act when you see someone else repeating this noise, without even thinking. I know I am so thankful for that individual who talked some sense into me all those years ago. People may push back, as confronting the truth can be scary, but they may thank you someday.

The signals you send to the world dictate what the world brings you. Make a statement to the world that you are full of kindness, courage, or love, and the world will bring you experiences to match. Make a statement that you are a coward, insecure, or full of hate, and the world will bring you experiences to match.

You want to win more at Magic?

You want to succeed more at anything you do in life?

Be strong. Be open-minded. Be courageous. Be a force for positivity. Be the greatest version of yourself you can envision.

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”

#TheOMG on Yo! MTG Taps!

What heretofore untapped outrageous force of nature could knock the cobwebs off of BigHeadJoe Panuska, prompting the return of legendary podcast duo Yo! MTG Taps!?

The Official Miser’s Guide of course!

The Official Miser’s Guide (aka #TheOMG) is a labor of love that represents my every spare minute for over a year of my life. It is late nights hunched over a laptop keyboard, cross-state commutes tapping at the iPad screen, and hours upon hours crammed physically into a closed-in closet recording audio eps. The Official Miser’s Guide details most of what I know about Magic, and tons of new things I learned about myself (and lots of other kinds of people, actually) over the course of writing it. It includes everything from basic Magic concepts like card economy, to visualizing the end game (of a duel or where you want to go in life, it makes no difference), to the how-tos of selling your opponent on your version of reality.

You can read The Official Miser’s Guide in e-book form, or you can listen to it while you do something else, like play MTGO, run on the eliptical, or pretend to pay attention in class / at work.

Early reactions seem to be pretty good, like so:

And the testimonials from names you know… I’ll let you go read those yourself.

I am thoroughly proud of this, and I think you will like it. Go listen to the first chapter over at Star City Games for free :)

LOVE
MIKE

Desperate Ravings #7 – All Good Things…

Thanks to everyone who has participated in Desperate Ravings so far.

We’ve given away $150 in prizes, but still have more to go! Remember, you have until June 12, 2012 to get all seven Desperate Ravings assignments done in order to qualify for…

  • One $50 gift certificate from GatheringMagic
  • One $50 gift certificate from LegitMTG
  • One $50 gift certificate from ManaDeprived…
  • … or a one-hour coaching call from YT!

Well, what are we waiting for? Here goes the last Desperate Ravings assignment, from Neal Stephenson’s The Confusion:

The day then dissolved into a long sickening panic, a slow and stretched-out dying. Jack rowed, and was whipped, and other times he whipped other men who were rowing. He stood above men he loved and saw only livestock, and whipped skin off their backs to make them row infinitesimally harder, and later they did the same to him. The raïs himself rowed, and was whipped by his own slaves. Whips wore out and broke. The galleot became an open tray of blood, skin, and hair, a single living body cut open by some pitiless anatomist: the benches ribs, the oars digits, the men gristle, the drum a beating heart, the whips raw dissected nerves that spun and whorled and crackled through the viscera of the hull. This was the first hour of their day, and the last; it quickly became too terrible to imagine, and remained thus without letting up, forever, even though it was only a day—just as a short nightmare can seemingly encompass a century. It passed out of time, in other words, and so there was nothing to tell of it, as it was not a story.

They did not begin to be human again until the sun went down, and then they had no idea where they were. There were not as many men in the galleot as there had been when the sun had come up and they had dipped dry oars into the whitecaps as the bugle played. No one was really sure why. Jack had a vague recollection of seeing bloody bodies going over the gunwales, pushed by many hands, and of an attempt that had been made to throw him overboard, which had come to naught when he had begun thrashing around. Jack assumed that Mr. Foot could not have survived the day, until later he heard ragged breathing from a dark corner of the quarterdeck, and found him huddled under some canvas. The rest of the Cabal had all survived. Or at least they were all present. The meaning of survival was not entirely clear on a day like this. Certainly they would never be the same. Jack’s similitude about trapped beasts gnawing their legs off had been intended as a sort of jest, to make Dappa feel less guilty, but today it had come true; even if Moseh, Jeronimo, and the others were still breathing, and still aboard, important pieces of them had been chewed off and left behind. That night, it did not occur to Jack that, for some of them at least, this might amount to an improvement.

You Know What to Do:

  1. Copy the above selection from The Confusion by hand and in triplicate, and
  2. Upload to the Desperate Ravings HOMEWORK page. You can get there via http://on.fb.me/DesperateRavings or http://facebook.com/groups/DesperateRavings (my homework is already up!)

Whips wore out and broke.

Whips wore out and broke – are you kidding me?

How much damage do you have to do with — and to — a whip to wear it out in one day, let alone one hour?

These two paragraphs from Stephenson are basically my favorite two paragraphs in all writing, in terms of writing. Stephenson does everything well that you can do well. He blends love and violence and authority, queering the relationship between master and slave while laying everyone out.

He stood above men he loved and saw only livestock.

… Then he whipped the bejeezus out of his friends; had the bejeezus whipped out of him.

This passage is a great “lists” passage, too. I am of the belief that list-writing is the best kind of writing. Yesterday’s from Gravity’s Rainbow was also superb list-writing… But surely when you read over the two passages you could see how different they were. Pynchon made you go fast with his run-on sentence. Pynchon’s passage was a relentless rush of snowballing madness… Stephenson’s here is slow, rolls out and develops at the pace of ice or glass, forces you to live through, maybe relish, each syllable of violence and triumph.

I have copied this passage more than any other in my own practice, pre-Desperate Ravings. Maybe someday I will be able to write nearly as well as Neal.

I would like to thank GatheringMagic, LegitMTG, ManaDeprived, and all of the Desperate Ravings participants for humoring me all week. I’d think it just dandy if you gave them a visit:

LOVE
MIKE