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Posts Tagged ‘Magic the Gathering’

It’s the end of the year, the end of the decade, so it’s time to look back and see what I wrote in 2019, as well as what happened with my two most recent books.

cinemaps & geek culture

Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies was translated into German (and was reviewed here). This follows it winning “Best Illustrated Book on Film” at the Frankfurter Buchmesse Film Awards, as well as its being translated into Japanese and Spanish. But whatever language you choose, Cinemaps makes a lovely gift! (Thanks to Andrew DeGraff‘s amazing art.)

My most recent book, I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture, also makes a lovely gift, being more timely than ever! (There’s a new Star Wars movie out, in case you’ve not heard.)

I also published a short story with Conjunctions: “Sandy Szymanski,” which is about a young woman who’s worried that she’s turning into a duck (and that nobody cares). This follows two other stories I’ve published with that magazine: “You’ll Be Sorry” and “Days of Heaven.” And I’m pleased to announce that Conjunctions just accepted another of my stories: “Thirteen Short Tales about Monsters,” which will appear in issue #74, “Grendel’s Kin” (now available for pre-order).

Beyond that, I devoted a lot of the year to working on two new books—a novel, and another critical book. More about which soon, I hope…

As for this blog: first, I added two pages to make it easier to find both my fiction and my non-fiction. (You can access these pages through the tabs at the top of the site.)

I also published a bunch of new stuff:

Beyond that, two older posts have been receiving a lot of traffic:

If you haven’t read them yet, why not check them out? And remember, you can find all my fiction here, and all my non-fiction here.

In conclusion, I hope you had a terrific 2019. If you want to share any of your own writing or other work, please do so in the comments!

Happy Holidays, and see you in 2020!

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ody-198-kamahl-pit-fighter

Dear Cedric Phillips and GerryT,

Having listened with great interest to the “Change Worth Fighting For” episode of the Cedric Phillips Podcast, I felt compelled to reply. On that episode, you wondered why professional Magic players have seen their fortunes decline so precipitously over the past ten years, and what they can now do to improve their situation. I believe I can help explain this reversal of fortune, and offer some relevant advice. What follows is a little on the long side, and perhaps a little depressing, but I hope you will nonetheless find it edifying. If you like, it would be my pleasure to discuss these matters further.

About me, briefly: I’ve played Magic on and off since the release of Fallen Empires, and am a regular consumer of Magic content. Among other things, I’ve watched every Pro Tour since PT Los Angeles (October 2005); I’ve watched countless LSV draft videos and Twitch streams; I’ve listened to hundreds of episodes of Limited Resources, Mark Rosewater’s Drive to Work podcast, and various other Magic podcasts; and I’ve read just about every column that Mark Rosewater has ever written. At the same time, I’m also an English Ph.D. and author whose research interests include the economics of fantasy artworks—for instance, my most recent book, I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture, tells the story of how geek culture went from being an underground phenomenon to a mainstream demographic. Given that, I tend to view Magic from a financial perspective—by which I don’t mean living the dream of playing on the Pro Tour, or making a fortune by speculating on Magic cards, but rather trying to understand why Wizards of the Coast makes the economic decisions that it does.

I am hardly a Wizards insider. But I believe that my research into Magic’s financial history, coupled with my broader knowledge of fantasy franchises, enables me to understand why Wizards has chosen over the past decade to disinvest in its Pros, even if that decision appears baffling and counterintuitive to those players. For years now I’ve watched Pros complain about their situation, wondering why, if Magic is doing so great, then why are the Pros suffering? Shouldn’t their fortunes rise and fall with Wizards’? As you yourselves put it on your podcast, “the stars sell the cards,” by which logic if Wizards wants to succeed, then it needs to build stars. Just like how the NBA promotes LeBron James, and not simply “hoops,” Wizards should promote, say, Reid Duke, and not simply “Siege Rhino.” By that same logic, if Wizards doesn’t build stars, then it won’t sell cards, and everyone’s fortune will decline.

I sympathize with your argument. I love watching professional Magic, and once attended a Pro Tour as press just so I could blog about it. But at the same time, I think that your logic is mistaken, and I suspect that your arguments will fail to impress Wizards. Because while it appears to you that Wizards is behaving irrationally, or foolishly, the fact remains that the company long ago settled on a business plan that involves investing less in its Pro players, not more. This is because Wizards has already tried the strategy that you cite—promoting Magic by championing its Pros—only to find that it didn’t work out that all that well. Indeed, it proved nearly catastrophic. And because of that, as well as for other reasons, Wizards has spent the past ten years rebranding Magic as something other than a competitive tournament game.

(more…)

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After lifting weights at UIC, I hurried to the Loop to catch a screening of Iron Man 3 at the River East 21. Actually, I wanted to see Star Trek Into Dorkness, but the Reader had given me the wrong times, and IM3 was the next non-3D screening.

So I watched that. (Brief review: I thought it the best of all the recent Marvel movies.) Emerging from the theater, I discovered that I’d just dodged a sudden downpour. After grabbing an iced latte at Fox & Obel, I walked along the lake, listening to a Magic podcast and worrying that the storm to the south might overtake me:

Lake Michigan 1 (30 May 13)

Lake Michigan 2 (30 May 13)

Lake Michigan 3 (30 May 13)

But it swung out east, over the lake, and I got to see some pretty lightning. (Nature trumps superhero movies.)

When I reached North Avenue Beach I headed into Lincoln Park where I ate supermarket sushi and got a haircut, then headed home.

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1.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a puppeteer (actually, a Muppeteer). And when I was in college, I played Magic: The Gathering. So, somewhere in between, working on the (very unauthorized) production Magic: The Gathering: The Musical would have been my dream job:

From the description there:

You guys have been waiting and now here it is. The official trailer for the upcoming adult puppet musical Magic The Gathering The Musical. This film and trailer do have cursing in them so beware, may not be appropriate for children.

For more information see here or here.

2.

My pal Elf made a cameo in the most recent Walking the Planes:

(He’s playing chess 50 seconds in.)

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