Playing Magic Regionally

There was a pretty big conversation on twitter yesterday which arose out of the angst about PastTimes making GPATL and GPCHI $50 events. One of the threads was a demand for greater regional support to alleviate the pressure from GPs. And while I think that’ll help, I’m not sure if such a structure is viable for Wizards to support at the moment.

So I was thinking why don’t we as players make something happen?

For example, the LGS in Dover, DE I’m playing at now is starting up a monthly series they’re calling “Standard for Power.” Each month they’re looking for 20 people to play standard at $25 so they can put a Mox in the prize pool. This month–this Saturday, even–is a Ruby and I know an Opal and Sapphire remain as well. On the smaller scale, they play Vintage (proxies welcome) on Tuesdays and EDH on Saturdays. I know other stores have to be having similar events, so why not network?

If your store holds weekly events, let me know here or on twitter (@darkr3x). I’ll work on boosting the signal for them with the goal of building stronger regional communities.

Home from Stonecoast

20140124_210257It feels weird, knowing that (right now, at least) I won’t be packing and traveling up north next Summer. I’m done, I’ve graduated.

Now what?

Well, I still need a job, but I’m much more inclined now to just work on things instead of worrying about something I only have marginal control over. I’ve got stories to write, comics to draw, and games to cast.

Speaking of, I’m likely going to work on launching a new blog to support LOLRVA, the League of Legends community down in Richmond, VA. I’ve got a fair number of friends down there that play and since I’m shoutcasting for them anyway, I might as well boost the community a bit. More on that at a later date.

I’m going to keep playing Magic, even if I’m not going to be at the top of my game with being unable to buy all the cards I need to play on the bleeding edge of competition. So those articles aren’t going to go away, but there’ll likely not be very many tourney reports.

Above everything else, FourFold. I’m closer than ever to a finished manuscript and I have to capitalize on that momentum. There’s about three to four more major plot points between where I am and the end (of the first book) I just need to write the terrible sketch versions of the chapters and then tear everything post-thesis apart and explode it out to a fuller size.

Anyway, I’ve put off putting this up long enough and while it’s rather anemic, something is better than nothing.

’til next time!~

I am a writer

20140107_114009…and saying that feels liberating. Above anything else, being able to look a stranger in the eyes and tell them that with pride in my voice is a massive accomplishment.

Background: I was called a couple weeks back to come in for an interview with a company I’d never heard of. Since I’m ethically bound by receiving unemployment to not refuse work, I said sure–even though I was a bit creeped out by the whole exchange. (I still don’t know how he got my contact information.)

After I hung up, Renee and I did a little looking around and it turned out said company was one of those which got you to pay money up front for training and products to sell, like Amway. Hilariously, I knew about such schemes thanks to a certain anime about NEET culture in Japan (Welcome to the NHK), and knew not to fill out anything or agree to anything. But I still had to go, ethically.

When I got there, I was handed a questionnaire and left alone in an office, presumably to fill it out. The man I met with didn’t want to talk until I had filled out the multipage form that wanted all sorts of information I wasn’t keen on sharing for just an interview–especially one I hadn’t applied to*. So I waited and looked around at what was visible in the office. His name, along with a few others, were on a whiteboard. There were tallies next to each name (my guy had one). On the wall across from the board was a pair of plaques for excellent performance for the past two quarters. I didn’t see a name on them. I made the reasonable assumption that the office was used by which ever of the names behind me brought in perspectives-and that proved to be right later.

The man returned and looked at my blank form askance.

I leaned forward, “So what kind of position am I being interviewed for, exactly?”

“Well, you’ll be helping families find financial security by providing them with term life insurance.”

“So…sales then? I was thinking you were looking for a developer or something.”

“Nope, we’re looking for salespeople.”

“I’m not sure if sales is what I want to be doing.”

He looks at me, he knows I know this position is a trap. “I thought you said you wanted to do something different on the phone.”

“Yeah, different from what I was doing, but still in my wheelhouse. I can barely talk to people now as it is and you expect me to just cold call people and then hard sell them?”

“I know. It seems daunting, but I was just like you a few months ago and now I’ve got my own office and everything!” He smiles, like that’s supposed to be THE THING to convince me that a position with absolutely no security what-so-ever was worth jumping on.

“Look, I’ll be straight with you. I’m a writer, or trying to be at any rate, and a position like this, with virtually no separation between work and life, is probably going to consume my, already strapped, free time.”

He looked stunned and was quiet for a moment. Finally, he shrugged and opened the office door. He looked disappointed, but I kept the phrase I am a writer firmly fixed in my mind as I walked past him and out the front door.

Though I’ve put off posting this, more from a lack of remembering to finish it than anything, the encounter really has set the tone for the year. I will be more creative, I will finish projects, and I will be a writer.

Writer. Me. :D

*Really not sure where this mistrust of the use of my personal information came from with regards to businesses. Maybe it was those articles about big firms “opening” positions just to trawl for resumes or maybe its that I have to make an account to apply for every job I come across. 

Where Things Are and The Fear of Soapboxing

It’s been nearly two weeks since I was let go. In that time I’ve:1212sketch

  • Finished my master’s Thesis.
    • There’s just one signature and some time in the mail between it and the 12/20 deadline.
    • I still need to reread my 3rd semester project to figure out my presentation and figure out where from my thesis I’ll be reading
  • Been to two interviews.
    • One for a position I was working on before I got laid off and the other at my LGS.
  • Applied all over the place
    • Seriously, I’ve got apps in places I’ve wanted to work at in all parts of the country. Haven’t heard anything back yet though…
  • Played some games of Magic with Steam Goblin an Izzet tempo build which is pretty close to the Izzet Fae I’m playing in modern.
  • Started a fresh run through Dark Souls as a Tanky Knight with an eye on PVE.

Even so, I don’t feel like I’m making any headway.

The job search still feels like I’m just shouting into the internet and hoping to be heard. I think it’s because I don’t look all that outstanding on paper and in an interview setting I’m a terrible bundle of nerves. Although I’m sure not updating this or forgetting about my other outlets/platforms/what have you isn’t helping. I’ve just never really been a huge social person and social media doesn’t really improve that. I don’t feel that I am any more worth listening to now than when I didn’t have a blog, or an MFA, or when I was employed. To me, I’m not living a life that will provide some massive insight to others. I suffer and scrape by, just like any other college grad that’s looking for work.

And, sure, I realize there’s a chicken/egg paradox about becoming someone that has a reason for people to  listen to them, but it’s hard to get past the cynicism that wells up when I see people who have no idea what they’re talking about get up in front of millions and spout nonsense. I might have smaller, perhaps even non-existent, audience…but I don’t want to be that kind of person. When dealing with strangers, it’s far more in my nature to listen, to observe, and maybe ask some questions to better understand, but I’ll typically just move along–especially on the internet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed out what might as well be the introduction of a ten page research paper as a comment only to say to myself, ‘Nah, not worth it.’

Maybe the realization that, in some small aspect, I’ve got a set of things I can talk about with authority will sink in once I’ve given my presentation. Which I need to go work on.

Unemployed

Got a call this morning to let me know I was being let go. That my last day is November 30.

I wish I could be excited, but all I feel is numb. I’m so scared right now.

More to come.

…and we’re back!

So I’m working on my Master’s thesis. Which, in July, seemed like it would be cake since I already had the pages done. It would just be a couple months of some editing, some fleshing and, some small plot adjustments…

Was I ever wrong. 

Whole swaths of the story don’t make sense any more as I’ve ironed out the set-up and, aside from Lysander, it feels like no-one has a point in the story any more. I’m sure it’s just my state of mind, but the entire project looks hopeless right now. There are so many glaring flaws from how I first put this together and it feels like I might be worse off for having 125 pages done instead of ahead.

Like, take Rex’s plot line.

Originally, I had him sealing his memories in an attempt to sever connections with Shadow–which he thinks is a dark reflection of himself created by using magic to kill. While Rex still feels that Shadow’s influence on him is what caused the explosion that destroys Thenas–because in part it is, deJean forces Gar-Neil to attack Rex and the fight does damage the reactor…but it’s deJean that pushes the button to cause the meltdown–he doesn’t commit mind suicide to try and separate himself now, mostly because Marvm won’t help him with it (and because amnesia is a shitty story mechanic AND I already have one amnesiac who sort of has to be.

However, I still want that tension that he’s using great amounts of his energies to hold back what he thinks is a great evil within himself, but without Rex forgetting things, his whole state of mind in the investigation sections makes no sense. He knows what’s up, or at least thinks he does. Worse, he knows he’s the only one who knows and I don’t think that comes through anymore between changes in perspective and his relationship to Shadow.

In many ways, Rex’s plot line is like Bruce Banner’s. Both of them have a power inside they can’t control and it comes out under stress. They spend a lot of time trying to find an answer to what they are without endangering those around them and I think that’s the direction I need to go to some extent.

So what if Rex is still trying to apply some kind of seal and is using his Ebb to do it (Ebb being the magic of perception of reality). Perhaps he’s traveling around, selectively cutting memories out and just happens to keep stumbling into deJean’s preparations–except that shadow is leading him to these places to stop what is going on.

Perhaps I should elaborate on what Shadow is…Like his “sister” Arcanna, who represents Ebb, he is a living construct of the Flow (magic borne of memory and connection) and he is as much Rex as he is any individual in the rest of the world. He exists as a guardian of the Inner World–a tangible representation of the Collective Unconscious, essentially–and to guide the High Mage. He is present in the minds of any who might become an Oracle and it usually he who summons someone to Magken to take the seat. How Shadow appears to each High Mage potential is different and at sometime I need to figure out what Cerra sees.

And that’s just the plot issues. Switching the Rex chapters from first to third person means I’m losing all of his filter and there’s just this huge void left that I’m not sure how to fill. Maybe I’m just rambling at this point, but at least I feel a bit better…

 

[Ramble] The Breaking Point

I often get frustrated–mostly because of how easy it is to distract me. Most times I can deal with everything going on, but if I get interrupted too many times when I’m focused on getting something done, I quickly lose my patience. And once I’ve lost it, that’s pretty much my default emotional state for the rest of the day. Suddenly, everything is frustrating. Not just ‘Oh, bother’ irritating, like fury of the gods smashing things. A typo begets mashing on keyboard. Another ‘One more thing…” from a developer has me throwing things. I literally have to shut down to avoid breaking things and it can take all day to recover.

UghCG

Typically, this isn’t a problem. I can manage to avoid getting to frayed nerves of rage levels on most days–but lately that’s not been the case. I’m at wits end by ten am and can’t get away to calm down, I spend the whole day with a pounding headache and tingling fists from hammering the wall to avoid snapping my work laptop in half. I’ve spent the last two weeks in either a blind rage or an apathetic slump. By time five rolls around, if I’m actually able to get away from the computer and I’m not being bombarded still. I’m so exhausted from the day that trying to write anything, much less involved stories is near impossible.

I think this is in large part why I’ve fallen off creatively and why I spend so much of my time now just working on things that are half finished instead of creating new things. Editing is a different section of my mind, a part that’s more resilient to the effects of frustration. Editing lets me refine an idea and get out of my head, but is still grounded enough that I can stop doing it on a moment’s notice and come back to it later. Or at least it did, I can’t speak for how I’ve been recently.

That’s actually what I’m trying to figure out, why am I so uproductive of late? Is it really just that day after day is getting blown entirely by being pushed past my frustration limit before it’s even lunch time? Or does the lack of hard deadlines just reveal how little initiative I’m in possession of? Is my depression to blame? Likely, its some combination of the above. Which begs the question, what can I do about it?

The obvious answer is to get another job. Which is, I think, where a lot of my anxiety is coming from. I keep finding myself lacking for any position that might be interested in hiring me. Sometimes by just a little, other times by orders of magnitudes, but I don’t know what to do to fix it. I figure most of the jobs that are entry level won’t hire me because I’m a semester away from finishing my masters and have three years experience. Jobs that are looking for someone with my level of experience in my field typically want an active security clearance since I’d be dealing with classified systems. Other jobs in my grade outside of my field are…well beyond me really. I have a non-zero amount of UX knowledge, but not enough to pass myself off as a designer and don’t really know what to do about getting better on that front. The same can applied to web-design, networking, project management, event planning, teaching, technical writing…the list goes on. It might be easier to find a direction to go if that list had fewer elements, or if I was any better at one thing over the others–but that’s not the case. In fewer words: I need to figure out what I want to do so I can move on.

Failing that, I need to figure out where my burst of productivity came from, harness it in some form or another and get creative again.

Anyway, ’til next time!

 

[Ramble] Long time no see

IMG

Hey! Long time no see! I haven’t really been around much lately and that’s all my fault. I’ve let myself get caught up in struggling to accomplish and I’ve lost sight on getting anything done at all. So I’m going to try and get back to putting up a column once a week–it might not be on the same day, but I need to rebuild my habits.

Also, I want to get back to arting. Part of my process used to be sketching, doing something else creative while I’m stuck on a draft and since I’ve let that slide, my ability to write has dropped quite a bit. I just keep getting stuck and then frustrated and then not sitting at the computer typing lest I snap my keyboard in half. Which, of course, means getting over that my style is abhorrent. I mean yeah, this torso is really long, the legs are laughable, and the eyes are kind of “off”, but I did this in three hours from sketch to CG and I need to realize that’s something of an achievement. Sure I can hardly draw anything else, but the basics are there if I can ever get over being the suck.

Anyway, watching #PTDGM so I’m around. Prolly going to sketch some more and put it up on my tumblr while I try to resolve plot holes in the Curse rewrite.

’til next time!

 

[Magic Mondays] Return of the Split

Spoiler season for Dragon’s Maze started last night and among the first things WoTC dropped was this baby:

Needless to say, I am stoked. I loved the split cards first reprinting in Dissention and then the craziness that was Planar Chaos and this new iteration feels like an evolution of a Magic mainstay since Invasion. Granted Fire//Ice and Boom//Bust are probably the only two splits that see any regular play at Comp Rel, but there’s plenty of them that have pretty solid uses–and I’m betting this one will be seeing serious play:

Why?

See, there was this card in Champions of Kamigawa called Glimpse of Nature. For those not familiar, it was a sorcery for G that had rules text to the effect of whenever you cast a creature for the rest of the turn, you draw a card. Sadly, it was banned almost immediately when Modern was first formed because of decks like this one played by LSV in the community cup just before WoTC replaced Extended with Modern. The the main concept was build into an Elf-powered ball of mana and then hardcast Emrakul. It could do this on turn 2. Turn 2.

Beck is cut from the same cloth. The extra mana cost makes it a bit harder to combo off on turn two with, but it works with ETBs and not on cast. Which makes me wonder if RUG Twin will make a come back over Raka (WUR)–I know I’m certainly going to give it a try–I can definitely see Combo Elves trying to make a come back in Modern with it.

Beyond that, the rest of last night’s spoilers were pretty much around were I expected. Ral’s a solid walker with some neat abilities that are 110% Izzet. Malek is going to be one heck of an EDH general. I am surprised Resto’s ability is staying in standard, albeit at a lower power level.

Can’t wait for tonight to see what new goodies get spoiled. We have 8 guild champions left and who knows what else waiting to see the light of day.

’til next time!~

 

[Magic Mondays] Dega Midrange

MY co,umn about Magic: The GahteringLast week I mentioned a Dega build–that wasn’t The Aristocrats–that was putting up results on MODO. I can say after some testing that this fact isn’t a fluke. The deck has answers for days and having Rites as a means to extend the usefulness of your fatties places the deck in a position that allows it to take on all comers.

Testing

Prime Speaker Bant 

Did a couple test hands against Renee’s build for PS Bant. Of course since it was the first hand since either of us put the deck together, game one was going to go to whomever was less mana screwed–which ended up being Renee. Game two was a similar affair, only I won the land screw draw. Game three through, game three showed off. I started with a Faithless looting that put both Unburial Rites in the graveyard. Renee dropped a Smiter  and proceeded to beat down. Lingering souls held the line for a few turns until she got an Angel of Serenity online. A timely ultimate price into Olivia Voldaren seemed like it was going to stabilize me, but a Zaganna ETB got Renee ahead. I stole Zaganna and then I swung…right into an Azorius Charm. Renee got her Zaganna back and killed me.

I realize I lost because of misplay. I should have have activated Vault of the Archangel and gunned down both creatures, but that’s the advantage of hindsight.

GR Werewolves

Hung out at Kaboom down in Va Beach on Saturday while visiting the fam and played a couple games.

My first couple of hands were against a GR Werewolves build that pushed me very hard game one. Post board, with more removal and more rites, I outclassed it and both games two and three went heavily in my favor.

UWR Flash

My second match was with UWR flash and geez did their build have a pile of answers. Game one was what felt like an endless torrent of negate, counterflux, rewind, and snapcaster mages. Game two was a brilliant looting into Rites, Obzedat followed by Lingering Souls and Lilianna of the Veil. Ended up a win off the back of two Boros Charms. Game three was another amazing looting (Rites, Aurelia). Won on Souls, Obzedat and Lilianna.

Knowing that this UWR Flash was more worried about counter and lass about burn, its hard to get a good feel for where I am in the more global match-up. I feel like I shouldn’t have won off of Lingering Souls twice, but its how the games played out. Going to get some more testing tonight and I’ll update when I get back.

 

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