Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Single Shot, No Chaser -- 7/28/2012

The very first version of this website, which I am fairly certain no one ever read--you owe it to yourselves to check out the archives, I left them there--included short little essays about writing, characterization, plot, and all of that.  Now I'm going to do more.

When a famous, even not so famous, writer talks about style, they tend to focus on crafting a natural sounding tone and method of expression that grows organically from the writer's deep rooted literary sensibility.  Basically, if you ever find yourself in one of those seminars, you get handed a copy of Strunk & White, maybe a Manual of Style or two, and told to figure it out for yourself.  While this is useful in its own way, it doesn't actually help someone trying to transform their flaccid prose into query-slaying priapic textual genius.  There does need to be a starting point, though, so for this first post, I'm going to share a few of my rules for writing, and later on, I plan on making fun of them mercilessly for your amusement.

* "You have to know what the rules are before you can break them."

* "Avoid conjoining conjunctions."

* "Present tense, active voice."

* "God hates serial commas, and so should you."

* "There is nothing that can be said in a thousand words that can't be said in a hundred."

* "If it doesn't make you laugh, cry, poop, or scream, and it's supposed to be entertaining, get rid of it."

* "Thought-provoking digressions are fantastic if you are sitting around a campfire high as a kite or if you are hanging out in a coffee shop looking to get laid, but otherwise, keep that shit to yourself and away from your manuscript."

* "The deus ex machina was invented in the days before Michael Bay started blowing things up and a kid in a garage could design decent sfx.  This is important: it was used because it was awesome, and you don't need it to be awesome anymore, all you need is more NPH."

* "Cliches are cliche for a reason, but that doesn't mean you should use them.  In fact, just don't.  Except in dialogue, if the character would."

* "By the same token, if a character would do something, don't stop them just because it doesn't make for good writing.  Being honest with yourself means letting someone drop a few more f-bombs than you would prefer, because the motherfucker fucking loves swearing."

And, I figured out that my list is longer than a single blog post, so we'll make it fun for next time.  More rules, and more commentary, and maybe even a few more pictures with funny captions.  I know the Internet loves humorous captions.  It told me so once.

A Double, Neat -- 7/28/2012

In honor of the London 2012 Olympic Games, I am currently operating on a twelve hour tape delay.  Or not, really I may have just lost Internet service and couldn't upload yesterday.  Or I forgot.

* Milwaukee Brewers' starting pitcher Zack Greinke has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels.  At first, many among Zack's closest friends were nervous about the prospect of a guy who lost multiple years of million dollar plus earning potential due to social anxiety moving to one of the most crowded cities on the planet.  When they found out that the Los Angeles Angels are not actually from Los Angeles, however, they were relieved.  Just like Zack after the seventh inning of most games, right?
Fortunately, Zack's wife seems, uh, prepared, to live on the West Coast.
* The largest online retailer for Magic: the Gathering has a complete set of dual lands waiting for you.  At the time of this posting all four sets are still available, although the Unlimited package either didn't actually exist, or someone took time from speculating in real estate to pay the price of a decent used car on forty pieces of cardboard.  Don't fret, you can still spend the cost of a brand new car to ensure that every Legacy deck you ever play will not be lacking in duals, just click "add to cart" and check with your credit card company to make sure they will accept a $10,000 charge.

* The 2012 Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame class was revealed on Friday, with renowned deckbuilder Patrick Chapin taking the last slot with 44.91% of the vote.  William "Baby Huey" Jensen missed by essentially one ballot, causing him to immediately pick up the phone.

Best scene ever, or bestest scene?
While the Hall of Fame remains a rather impressive murderer's row of Magic's greatest competitors, it does not exist without controversy.  The most curious thing from this year, which I will only allude to because I imagine there has to be some sort of legal reason why it goes unmentioned, is the treatment of Chapin by Wizards of the Coast.  Brian David Marshall wrote over a thousand words about him (more than any other entrant) without touching on a rather major element of Chapin's back story.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Double, Neat -- 7/26/2012

* Google unveiled Google Fiber today, a revolutionary new breakfast cereal that promises to dethrone long-standing favorites like Fiber-One and Wheaties among the 55+ crowd and those women who appear in Activia commercials.

She's so happy she can't even...nevermind.
* Actually, Google Fiber is the United States' introduction to the kind of Internet the rest of the world has been enjoying for years.  There isn't even a way to make a joke about how fantastic it is going to be for gamers in Kansas City to be sniped by "god-damned camping assclowns" and no longer be able to blame it on lag.

In my day, all we had was a nuclear powered Pistol that could
 kill anyone at anytime from anywhere on the map.  It was the starting weapon.

* In fact, within hours of the announcement, home values in Missouri jumped almost a thousand percent (citation needed) and neighbors started complaining about the tech crowd that jumped down from their flying cars and immediately started buying everything in sight.  They relaxed, however, when it was revealed that Warren Buffet was the one financing the purchases, and he never screws people over, ever.

Artist's rendition of Kansas City real estate value.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Double, Neat -- Quick Hits from Around the Internet

* Undoubtedly the next subject of the various "20 Tweets"-esque articles that have cropped up like particularly annoying fungi around the major Magic websites, the issue of "fake geeks" exploded on Twitter to the tune of about nine hours of conversation.  The "bad guys," as far as this subject is concerned, appear to be the anti-feminist "pretty girls" who have drawn the ire of "real geeks" by not actively memorizing the characters from the Star Wars EU or mastering the art of shouting louder during arguments about whether or not Iron Man could beat Batman in a fight.  Either that or the enemy is the exclusive geek crowd who refuse to believe someone can do geeky things in their spare time and still self-identify as a card-carrying TCG fan.  Or it's the inclusive geeks who don't mind seeing gorgeous women pretend to be interested in the same things that they are in order to feel attractive and desired.

Because every guy who watched this knows what Jimmy Choos are.

It may not be a popular opinion, but I happen to think that women that can hold a conversation with me about the use of conjugations in Tolkien's two Elvish languages are not actually figments of my imagination.  I also could not give less of a crap about whether or not anyone "sells out" in order to make a few dollars.  I can't believe this conversation is literally still going on as I write this.

* Cole Hamels received a $144 million dollar contract extension to remain with the Philadelphia Phillies, who announced, via a spokesperson, that the $80 million dollars they plan on paying just four players next year is actually Monopoly money, due to a cleverly worded proviso in the contract documents for Cliff Lee, Roy Holladay, Hamels, and Ryan Howard.  When asked to comment, Hamels remained silent, but his nephew brightened up, convinced that he would never again lose the game by having to pay his evil step-sister $20,000 for landing on Boardwalk.

* Kristen Stewart allegedly cheated on Robert Pattinson, which is heartbreaking to none of the people who care about this sort of thing since nearly all of them wanted Tinkerbell to be single so they could get back to fantasizing about glittery love-making with a few shades of bondage sprinkled in.  Sadly, when asked if he noticed a change in her demeanor that could have clued him in to her infidelity, Pattinson was forced to admit that, like the rest of us, he still isn't sure she even has a personality. "And, maybe, you know, it was another K-Stew, I'm pretty sure they make them in a factory somewhere," Robert did not add.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Decklists, Decklists Everywhere

Potting Soil:

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Quirion Dryad
4 Snapcaster Mage

12 Creatures

4 Gut Shot
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Ponder
4 Mental Misstep
4 Vapor Snag
4 Mana Leak
4 Gitaxian Probe
2 Apostle's Blessing

26 Spells

4 Hinterland Harbor
3 Evolving Wilds
6 Island
3 Forest
2 Cavern of Souls

18 Lands


3 Beast Within
1 Cavern of Souls
2 Talrand, Sky Summoner
1 Island
1 Forest
4 Devastation Tide
3 Temporal Mastery


4 Restoration Angel
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Thragtusk
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
1 Phantasmal Image
2 Fiend Hunter
3 Cathedral Sanctifier

21 Creatures

4 Cloudshift
1 Ghostly Whispers
4 Ponder
2 Vapor Snag
3 Gut Shot
1 Beast Within

16 Spells

4 Cavern of Souls
3 Hinterland Harbor
1 Shimmering Grotto
1 Razorverge Thicket
3 Seachrome Coast
2 Sunpetal Grove
4 Forest
3 Island
2 Plains

23 Lands