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Magic: The Gathering

About 15 years ago I picked up a game called ‘Magic: The Gathering’ This was about 1997, or 98. I was in Jr High. At that point the game had been out for around 5 years, it originated in 1993. If you don’t know anything about the game, it’s a card game played with 2 or more players. Each player has their own custom 60ish card deck. When I picked up the game there were more combinations to make a unique deck than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy. No kidding.

There are five colors that people use to make decks, and they build off a payment system. Using up the Mana (ie: inherent magic) of the corresponding land to cast spells and creatures.

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Plains = White Mana, it is order and tranquility. Angels, humans, and Knights are big in this. As are protection spells.

Islands = Blue Mana, and this is the color of the wizards. Pretty much anything water related goes with blue, and fickle spells are common.

Swamps = Black Mana, this is the color of corruption, and death. Zombies, ghosts, and other monsters belong to this color.

Mountains = Red Mana, these are the dragons and goblins. Fast acting, and destructive is the order of the day.

Forests = Green Mana, and like you can guess, it represents nature. Beasts and elves are very common, and the spells that Green uses usually boost creatures.

The goal is to take your opponent(s) from 20 Life to 0 before they do the same to you.

Now, this blog isn’t really about the history of the game, but my experiences that I’ve had with it.

One of the things that attracted me to the game was its portability. All you really need is 40 to 60 cards to make up your Library (deck). How awesome is that? You can put that in your back pocket and go anywhere! Side note: There was a print advertisement that exemplified just that. I know I saw it in a magazine, but I can’t find any record of it on the internet. It was of a person standing facing away from the camera. In the back pocket of their jeans was the top of a Magic deck. It got me intrigued. So to that end I set out to get more information about it.

One of the other things that got me was the artwork. All cards have a color picture on the top half that depict whatever the card says, but it’s more story orientated. Even the grim ones are fantastic.

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I remember I purchased a Black deck off a guy in my math class for $10. That’s actually common. I knew a friend or two that played and I learned the game through them. Pretty easy once you get the hang of it but it can be difficult to learn. Mostly because of the amount of things that can happen.

After I began playing casually for a while and got the hang of it, I moved up to play in “tournaments” I use this term loosely because it was still mostly for fun. Actually, it was in a comic shop run in the back of a carpet store in Agawam. I know, bizarre. But I had a lot of fun, and I could ride my bike there.

I got a bit deeper into the lore and found myself liking certain aspects more than others. The designers over at Wizards of the Coast developed their own mythology in the game. It wasn’t just a rehash of other fantasy elements anymore, it had it’s own storyline and characters. Awesome! Two species in particular caught my attention: Slivers and Phyrexians.

Slivers are a animal species much like bees. I always figured they were directly inspired by the aliens in ALIENS. But, beyond that, they make each other Sliver in play stronger with the simple phrase “All other Slivers get…”. It makes them very hard to beat when they all have the same terrifying abilities. Side note: I’m actually playing a Sliver deck now.

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The Phyrexians, on the other-hand, are intelligent. Lead by the monster Yawgmoth, they are part machine, part alive. Cyborgs….or the Borg from Star Trek. The main storyline when I originally played was the preparation of the Phyrexian Invasion. I mean, this story took place over several expansions and a good number of years. They are monsters who’s plan is to make ALL life “perfect”, being like them.

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I don’t now why I took a fascination to these two groups, but I did. Still do. They are just cool.

Eventually, the comic store shut down, and I got a bit older. Didn’t think sitting around playing a card game was “cool”. Or it got too expensive. Something. Doesn’t matter. I didn’t play for a long time, through most of high school and after.

More recently, I got back into the game with the help of friends. At B&N I talked to Jason, who is deep into the game. And he’s really good at it. He’s my go-to for rulings and help with anything. I think it came up with me trying to make plans to hang, but he had a tournament to go to. And I mean a real tournament. Like with cashy prizes. I remember being shocked that the game still existed, it had fallen off my radar, and impressed. I wanted to go and watch, I wanted to play again.

Then I found out that Mike and some of his friends played. It was settled, I was going to play again. It was daunting. There were so many new mechanics to learn, and the card art had changed! It was almost like a completely new game. Most of the mechanics that I had learned were gone. And so were the Phyrexians and Slivers!

I’ve tried making many a deck in the meantime, and when I first got into it, they didn’t really work. I’ve gotten better.

Then they released the new Mirroden expansions. Scars of Mirroden, Mirroden Besieged, and New Phyrexia! This was awesome news to me. I also found that Wizards of the Coast were releasing “Duel Decks” which pitted character vs character, or species vs species. Also they were releasing premium “Theme” decks, and Slivers were part of it!

The newest block is all horror characters, with the Magic: The Gathering twist. Which I love, vampires, ghosts, zombies, and werewolves!

So now, I’m back into the game, fully. I’m running a New Phyrexia themed deck, a Red/Blue deck, and I’m working on a werewolf themed deck. I have a few boxes of cards sitting on my bookshelf in my room, a few decks just laying around. I love this game, I just play it for fun, but it’s a blast. I feel competent enough to teach other people how to play, and hopefully get them to love it.

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New Tattoo

So for a while now I’ve been thinking about a new tattoo. I know I want it on the inside of my left arm, bicep part. Probably some color, too. Thinking some rose work and stars, connecting to my back tattoo. The rose is from The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Now for the part I’m having trouble with. The Quote. It needs a quote. Just NEEDS one. So here they are. Let me know what you think. Seriously, I like them all. HELP ME!

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

Go then, there are other worlds than these.

The Tower. Somewhere ahead, it waited for him — the nexus of Time, the nexus of Size.

Only equals speak the truth, that’s my thought on’t. Friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of regard. How tiresome!

I do not aim with my hand;
He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I aim with my eye.

I do not shoot with my hand;
He who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I shoot with my mind.

I do not kill with my gun;
He who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.
I kill with my heart.

Ka like the wind

Time is a face on the water

It seemed to him that the most horrible fact of human existence was that broken hearts mended.

If you love me, then love me

True love, like any other strong and addicting drug, is boring — once the tale of encounter and discovery is told, kisses quickly grow stale and caresses tiresome… except, of course, to those who share the kisses, who give and take the caresses while every sound and color of the world seems to deepen and brighten around them. As with any other strong drug, true first love is really only interesting to those who have become its prisoners.

“Do’ee say the world will end in fire or in ice, gunslinger?” Roland considered this. “Neither”,he said at last. “I think in darkness”

Time is a face on the water.

We deal in lead.

It was the possibility of darkness that made the day seem so bright.

Anger is the most useless emotion; destructive to the mind and hurtful of the heart.

And so will the world end, I think, a victim of love rather than hate. For love’s ever been the more destructive weapon, sure.

You are the grim, goal-oriented ones who will not believe that the joy is in the journey rather than the destination no matter how many times it has been proven to you.

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I’ve recently gotten into Green Lantern comics. Mostly because I knew only the basics of the character (and not even the first Green Lantern). With the release of the movie coming soon I decided it was time to get see what the fuss was about. And why even make the movie.

I started with Green Lantern: Secret Origin, and I was impressed. Geoff Johns is an amazing writer. He really brought the character to life. The storyline idea of writing to his brother was brilliant. Seeing a bond between Jordan and Sinestro was smart. Also, Jon Stewart’s appearance was a great nod to the future, especially because this is the Lantern I know of.

Then I read Sinestro Corp Wars vol 1 and 2. This is the cream of the crop here. The writing is spot on. The ending will blow you away.

But all this leads into Blackest Night, along with Rage of the Red Lanterns and Agent Orange, which were good, and some really cool concepts here, but just a prelude.

The problem, though, is that everything seems to lead into Blackest Night, and I do mean everything. There are so many connections to everything else DC related that it’s hard to get a grip on it.  Flash’s return from the dead, while an important story piece, is something I was not aware of.

I think I loved Secret Origin the most, but because it is an origin story, and I do love those. And DC does them excellently.

So beyond all this, I am excited for the film now, and I even went as far as to get a Power Ring (from Toys R Us) keychain. It’s pretty sweet, it a little too big for my fingers.v

Also, I am thinking on a Green Lantern costume for Halloween/NYCC11. I think it’d be fun. The idea is to make it light up a bit, the ring and the chest symbol. I will keep this updated with my progress.

I need to get back into the blogging aspect of this. There is much going on, though.

Moving to Southwick, gearing up for a new summer season of swimming, preparing for a camping trip to Maine.

Been working on art, filled up a sketchbook, started a new one.

More to come.

And I got new glasses.

Sinterklass the Red

So, this is going to seem a little ridiculous, but Santa Claus is a Istari. Like Gandalf.

To the facts:

Both are thousands of years old. Both are “elderly chaps, big grey beard(s) pointy hats.” Also, Santa is “never late….nor is he early; he arrives precisely when he means to” being midnight on Christmas.

This is the semi-joking version of my theory.

In reality, Both Santa and Gandalf are amalgamation of mythological characters, cheifly: Odin of Norse mythology. This is where the elderly bearded thing comes from.

In Middle-Earth, the Istari (or Wizards) generally wandered the world, helping mankind (and Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits) This seems to be exactly what Santa does. Wizards have incredible powers, and can do amazing things. Santa very much does this every year.

Older myths of Santa, when he was still mostly Dutch, said he rode a small cart pulled by a goat.  Very much like Gandalf’s Cart. Also, Santa is good with animals. Much like Radagast the Brown. So, perhaps in the 6,000 years since Middle-Earth, Radagast stayed and became something else.

I’m sure Tolkien didn’t want to make an direct correlation between the two, but it is there if you look for it. But there is a lot of correlation between Tolkien’s works and mythology.

This is just a little theory that I have come up with this Christmas season.

Also, if we’re going with Middle-Earth beings, then Santa’s Elves are not Elves. Elves are tall and fair, not short, and stout. So to that end, Santa’s “Elves” would most likely be Hobbits or even Dwarves. Dwarves are good workers.

Santa Claus in tengwar:

Merry Christmas all.

I used to draw. I used to draw a lot. Like all the time. Through Middle School, Jr High, High School. A little At HCC. I got Art Student of 2003, I would have gotten Class Artist if people had known I drew. Hell, when other students were making sculpted cats lying down I sculpted a Terminator head. I’ve looked back on it and seen some pretty good stuff. Stuff I’m proud of, some things not so much (They could be better).

Then came the ‘Dark Years’. I dated a girl, she shall remain nameless, who was ‘the artist’. What she did was so much better, or at least that’s how she made me feel. So I gave it up, relegated my drawings to doodles and shapes. Essentially, regressed to my 5 year old drawing self.

Now, many years after that relationship I’m in a new one, one that makes me want to be better in many ways. One of them is drawing. She encourages me. Do you know how good that is? Even when I think my drawing suck, she doesn’t. And believe me, I think they suck a lot.

Not a cry for attention, mind you. Just I think that each artist (feels good to call myself that again) doesn’t see their work as perfect ever. I know that in each of my drawings I can see the little imperfections, the eye is a half a millimeter to much to the left, the button isn’t perfectly round, there is an extra line in there. Just little things, you probably wouldn’t even notice. But I do.

Anyway, the real point of this is that I’ve been working on my drawings for the last few months, sketching things I like to get myself used to the pencil again. Kinda sucks knowing I have to work myself back to where I was 5 years ago. But alas.

So, for your consideration…Art:

...and the Gunslinger followed.

This is a sketch based on The Dark Tower’s opening line: “The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”

Obviously, Boba Fett. I’m most proud of the cape. But still sketching it.

This is the beginning sketch of my Colt Navy Revolver

Noble Six from Halo: Reach

Here’s a couple shots, of the beginning and current sketch.

Beginning:

Shape of the head and hat are right, not a lot of details though. At this point I’m figuring out how I want to make him.

Currently much better, shading on the hat is better, the face works. I’m pretty happy with it.

An Alien. I like the drool. But where there are Aliens there are….

….Predators. The helmet looks fantastic to me, if a little off. (This is the half a millimeter one). I think I’m going to finish him up decloaking.

Stitch! Who doesn’t love Stitch?

This tree is way not done. I like the twisted nature of it though.

Self portrait….if I was Boba Fett. I’m not. But if I was.

And finally, the reason this post didn’t come sooner. One of my birthday presents to Tanya:

I’m actually really impressed with this. Shows that I can work on a deadline and still do something I’m proud of.

So there it is, my art from the last couple months. I’m fairly happy with it, there is still work to be done. It’s a good start. And none of it would be physically possible without:

Moleskine Sketchbook

My Moleskine.

Or Tanya.

The List

Starting off, everybody needs a list. Something to guide what they do, when they do it. I’m not talking about a big formal thing, just something to keep your thoughts down on.  I, personally, use a Moleskine.

But to the list.  This list is totally personal, nothing professional about it. That’s a separate list.

1. Fix up my Office: We’ve been living in this new house for a couple months now and I haven’t done much with the office. Sure, the carpet got ripped up, sure the furniture is in there and my stuff is unpacked. It doesn’t feel like home yet. I’m workin on it. Seriously. Working on it. The plan is to adjust some of the furniture, fix up the shelving. There will be room for my LEGO sets, and my movie/video game collectibles. I want shelves. I probably don’t have to build them. When I’m done the place will not be the same.

2. On the porch I want to make a little reading nook. I have an armchair that can either go up to the attic or stay on the porch. I’m good with it on the porch. It’ll allow me to escape a bit. Also out there will be a lamp (adjustable), a couple small tables for whatever, a few blankets for those cold nights. During winter I’ll put a heater out there, just a little portable one. Something to keep the toes warm.

3. I need to finish Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  Just needs to be done.

4. My messenger bag is a little frayed. I need to fix this, to do so I’ll patch up the rips. Need to learn to sew…

5. But as one project leads to another, I also want to learn to sew good enough to make a new messenger bag….from scratch….out of leather. Ambitious, I know. but I think with patience I can do it.

6. Finish up my “Book List” This is unfinished books. This includes The Strain, The Passage, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Maze Runner, umm….I’m sure there are others.

So, the list. There are always more to add, hopefully some will be taken away. I’ll keep this list updated.