Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grixis teachings, part 2

A supplement to my article here, for all you Magic folk.

I am not a fan of Teachings in Pauper for this reason: there is no need for such specialized answers. The best part of Teachings is just being able to go get multiple answers.
But is that enough? I don't think so. Unlike formats where Teachings was popular, there is no one overwhelming card you can go get that will send you over the top with card advantage. In other formats, you would be able to go get a Tendrils of Corruption and, with an Urborg in play, generating an immense tempo advantage in the form of life gain. No such combo exists in Pauper.
So what is the appeal about Teachings? It is for all those Blue control players who want to survive in a field of aggressive strategies but also for those who don't like to yield to formats. To me, Teachings lacks the ability to dominate against the field, but rather has the ability to be slightly above average or slightly below average to everyone out there. This does not suit my style of play.
Yes, those with great skill and perfect knowledge will succeed in a given metagame, but even the top Teachings deck at the recent Premier Event, I felt, was not well prepared for a field with a healthy dose of aggro- only one Echoing Decay main, for example. Teachings, rather, is strongest in a field on control, where the counters fetched represent a real advantage.
Why is this the case? The flat power level of Pauper means that getting one, or two, or even three cards does not really matter. Instead, it is when these advantages begin to stack that they actually matter. Teachings requires a huge mana and time investment to make such an advantage possible. In a format with a fundamental turn of four, this is just too slow for my liking. There are no big game changing plays, aside from Corrupt, that come after that turn.
This is why I favor aggro with disruption and midrange control decks. They have the ability to apply consistent pressure across the span of the game. They react to the flat power level of the format with an even amount of pressure, which serves me well.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

I got called old yesterday.
I was called old because I was listening to punk rock.
I was at work on a Saturday night, helping the students put on the rock show. It was a blast, although one of the bands showed up an hour early. Seriously? What kind if rock band shows up an hour early for a show? Aren't they supposed to show up late, and snort cocaine off of the penises of transvestite prostitutes? I mean, an hour early? It's a good thing they rocked (the Looking Glass Wars).
So in between sets, I set up my iPod to play some tunes and I switch on "Ruby Soho" by Rancid, and the guys from the second band, Searching for Skylines, basically go "Holy Shit, how old are you? I mean, this song is way too old for these kids to listen to!"
Fuck, listening to Rancid makes me old? I'm 25 (coincidentally, the song "25" on the latest Bomb the Music Industry! album is nothing short of fantastic.
Working at a college, things are interesting. I am constantly surrounded by people that, if I were a few years younger or in a different profession, I could easily be their friend. However, given my role, I am actually a supervisor and administrator, even if I am only three years older than some of the students.
Fuck, I am old..aren't I?
No, no I'm to old, I'm just dealing with the fact that I'm older. I mean, everyone goes through this at some point- learning how to cope with life after college (or grad school, or whatever).
You know, the media has a ton of movies and shows about life in college or the early 30's, but nothing in between. You know why? That time tends to be rather boring if you're just a cog in the machine.
Oh, I'm just complaining again. I just did not like getting called old.
Now I'm going to bed and going to watch CBS.


EDIT: Man, I was so depressed, I forgot to talk about nerd stuff. I picked up the second volume of Moon Knight, and it was pretty amazing. I mean, I am a sucker for characters who are based around vengeance (see Ghost rider). But this guy, Moon Knight, takes the cake. A former mercenary, he ends up dying, but gets resurrected by an Egyptian deity of revenge. Of course, we don't know if he actually talks to the god, of if he's just fucking nuts. Either way, it makes from some great character study.
The "god" appears to our hero in the guise of a dead nemesis, of who MK has relieved of his face. It's pretty graphic but also adds a hint of black comedy to an otherwise bleak, and character driven piece.
Unlike the other books I've picked up, this one feels like it rests squarely on the shoulders of our lead. Iron Fist has the entire history of the Iron Fist and really seems to focus on the mythology of the piece and the relationships of our main character to the world around him. Ghost Rider, well, again, with the mythology but also the internal struggle between justice and vengeance. But Moon Knight, the greatness is, we're not sure whether or not some of these characters are real or just fractured parts of MK's psyche. Coupled with amazing detailed and brutal art and pulp story telling, the entire book feels as if you are along for the ride on this mental roller coaster.

Friday, February 20, 2009

So last week I came into possession of a Squirtgun album. These guys are a ton of fun. I was brought into punk by the left coast style of bands like MxPx and the saccharine like tunes of The Ataris. While I still listen to these bands once in a while, I have problems relating to the lyrics the way I once did. Squirtgun, somehow changes that- they play the same pop sensible music but manage to mature it like a fine wine. The lyrics are older and the rhythm section is absolutely fantastic. For all those who are embarrassed by some of the lighter records in their collection, I recommend you dive into this band- quality stuff.
Speaking of rhythm, (Shit's Fucked" by The Copyirghts has one of the best drum and bass interludes I have ever heard. I mean, I must have listened to that song a hundred or more times, and only this past week did I realize how absurdly tight and explosive the breakdown was. Being a total sucker for drums and bass, it comes as no surprise, but I'm pissed at myself for missing such awesome stuff for so long.
Way to be guy, way to be.
I have recently discovered a love of comic books. I've picked up the three most recent volumes of the Immortal Iron Fist, and I have to say I think I'm in love. The art is wonderful and the writing has this impeccable sense of timing. It manages to blend cheesy kung-fu flicks with dry wit and the Venture Bros. Total classic.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Stupid things I say

::in an office full of women::
"That webpage is good, but it doesn't scream Female Orgasm."
My Junior year I had this roommate. We knew each other pretty well and thought that living together would be swell.

I was wrong. He was rather nutty.

I knew I was in for a long year when I came home one day to find him spread eagle on the floor of our room, moaning "I am a blade of grass."

Apparently he was practicing for a monologue. I think he was just trying to flirt with the tree outside our room.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

25 Shuffle Songs (from facebook) [OMGWTFBBQ]

Still recovering from this cold:

1. "Do No Wrong" - The Planet Smashers: I have a lot of simple laid back ska in my library for those times when I want to just attempt to relax. This song lands on the simplistic side and I have it more or less to keep the album complete. The rest of the album is more enjoyable to me. My roommate Junior year liked this band, but he put his head through my wall- what a tool.
2. "Steamer Trunk" -Alkaline Trio: A band I consistently enjoy, even if they were ruined for me for a little while by non-music related things in my life. The one time I saw them live at Warped Tour, the sound was miserable and ruined the experience.
3. "Dog"- Lemuria: I am so pissed at myself for not getting into this band earlier. They're from Buffalo, where I spent two years of my life. If I had known there were Lemuria shows going on, I totally would have had a better time that first year under a boss who just did not understand.
4. "Over the Eggshells"- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: A band I passed up to see on multiple occasions, only to regret those moments later. This is a band I love more each time I listen to thier music.
5. "Run Rudy Run"- The Toasters: I never have seen a full set from The Toasters. When my friend opened for them I got to watch them play"Weekend in L.A." during sound check, and it blew my mind.
6. "Two Left Feet"- The Copyrights: A band i have to see live. I first heard "Make Sound" two years ago and have not been able to get my fill of this band since. No matter how simple or repetitive their pop-punk gets, it never tires on me.
7. "P.M.R.C"- The Fad: I saw this band for five dollars at Binghamton. They were amazing live and I later picked up their full length. They just broke up, which was a shame because they did the entire punk rock thing right.
8. "Rathead"- Teenage Bottlerocket: These guys just make music fun. It's not complicated or elitist- it's the Ramones for a modern generation, only without the revolutionary impact.
9. "Hungry Like the Wold"- Reel Big Fish: Man, what happened to these guy? They have put out some of my favorite songs and albums of my formative years, but everything is the same. They have such incredible talent, but it's all starting to blend together. Come on guys, show me something good!
10. "Dead and Gone"- American Steel: This song was once part of an epic event: three songs in a row played on my iPod while on shuffle, all titled "Dead and Gone," and by different artists! Another band I should have been listening to long before I began.
11. "Murderous"- I am the Avalanche: The Movielife defined the end of my high school life and the start of my college career musically. I remember being devastated when they broke up. I came into possession of this album a few years ago, and although I rarely listen to it straight through, I always appreciate the music.
12. "Answers"- The Ataris: My friend once swore this band was called "A-TAUR-US," no knowing about the video game system.
13."Sunshine Highway"- Dropkick Murphys: Nope, no story for this one.
14. "Call in Sick"- MxPx: I don't know why I keep getting their stuff. These guys helped me get into punk, but everything for the past ten years has just been a disappointment to me. This is on one of those albums.
15. "Dead Girlfriends Can't Break Up With You"- The Flaming Tsunamis: The perfect song for when you're violently pissed off or just want to laugh your ass off.
16. "I Want To Conquer the World"- Bad Religion: I love this band, but only for short spurts. Now is not one of those times.
17. "Strawberry"- Everclear: For a long time I loved Everclear. I had all their albums, before UPS lost my CD collection. Before that though, I saw them live at Binghamton, and the lead singer called all the moms in the audience on stage to sing some song with him. It kinda ruined the band for me.
18. "Summer Wind Was Always Our Song"- The Ataris: I keep stuff like this on my playlist for when I'm feeling depressed. I don;'t know why- it just makes me feel like a teenager all over again, which is not a good thing.
19. "Cavalier Eternal"- Against Me!: What an amazing song. Simple, punchy, and to the point. It has a danceable rhythm and a catchy hook. Tom Gabel's voice still sounds so smooth here.
20. "Head Count"- The Copyrights: I love running to this album. "Make Sound" really cheered me up in Summer 2007.
21. "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts"- Less Than Jake: The song that got me to love this band, and I'm glad it happened. I am happy their latest release did not suck, and look forward to enjoying them as long as they are out on tour. I have far too many great stories tied to this music, but I'll go back to when I was in a band and we played this song, and it always got people dancing, no matter how bad we were.
22. "Nothin'"- Reel Big Fish: I can remember the exact moment I rediscovered this song. I was waiting outside my sister's high school graduation and this came on my iPod. I must have listened to it ten times in a row, causing my iPod to freeze. I quickly learned how to reset my iPod.
23. "Seventy Times 7"- Brand New: Nothing screams my first year of college like this album. Hanging out with Long Island kids and trying to understand the opposite sex. I as a real winner back then.
24. "The Inefficiency of Emotion"- Grade: A great song that is kind ruined for me by the hurling of a couple of slurs during the outro.
25. "Absentee"- Banner Pilot: Amazing band. If you like punk rock and are not listening to them, you are doing something wrong. I am upset it took me this long to catch on.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I was looking at the release date of some of my favorite albums. "Evildoers Beware!" was released in 1997; "losing Streak" in 1996. I mean, I am listening to old music, which is kinda cool.

What the hell was up with Bruce's introduction during the Super Bowl half time show? "Put down your guacamole"? I mean, it wasn't so much that he said guacamole, but rather how he said it, like he was having a painful spike ripped from his ass on the "uac" syllable. Like a duck having it's nuts squeezed---'gwACK! a mo LAY." Then he goes up at the end like he just hit puberty. I mean, Bruce is the man...but that really made me sad.

It's weird, I never used to get dressed up, but I find myself tying a tie for work more and more, which to me, is pretty cool. But it makes some people I encounter very uncomfortable, like I'm trying to steal their thunder.
Sorry, no, just trying to be dapper.

I placed 29th out of 132 at the most recent Pauper Premier Event. I am pleased with my performance, but hope to improve in the future, obviously.