Sunday, November 28, 2010

Guest Post - Top 4 - 64 Man SOM Draft Premiere

This is going to be the first guest written post here at Lep's Corner and I couldn't be happier than for it to be from orangerhyming.  He has been on a tear on MTGO of late, in particular in Scars of Mirrodin 8-4s and today he is going to share is account of how he top 4ed a 64 man Scars draft premiere.  Enjoy.

Janking Into Top Four

A) Draft Janky Deck in Draft One
B) Barely Grind Out Wins
C) Begin Top 8 Draft on Pick 18

At first glance, this may seem like an unorthodox recipe for a Top 4 berth. Your first glance is correct;
however, this is exactly what happened in my first ever premiere event experience on Magic Online.
Had I known that I would have had any success at all in this event, I would have taken notes on each
round. As it stands, I will do my best to recap the highlights.

The event was a 64 player SOM draft premiere. Following the initial draft, it was single elimination. The
Top 8 drafted again.

Here is the deck I drafted:

Acid Web Spider
Alpha Tyrranax x2
Bonds of Quicksilver
Carapace Forger x2
Chrome Steed x2
Dissipation Field
Flight Spellbomb
Gold Myr
Leaden Myr
Perilous Myr
Screeching Silcaw
Slice in Twain
Stoic Rebuttal
Strata Scythe
Tangle Angler
Turn Aside
Untamed Might
Volition Reins

Island x9
Forest x8

Now, as you can see, there are some questionable choices in this deck. (Who plays Silcaw? Turn Aside
maindecked? 2 Tyrannax??) I wish that I had some incredible insight or tech to explain my choices. The
truth is that these were my only playables. The signals were so ambiguous and mixed that I never really
got a read on what the players to my right and left were drafting. I first picked the Voliton Reins, second
picked the Slice in Twain, and from there it got ugly. That being said, I did 3-0 with this deck.

Great limited card....or greatest limited card?!

The MVP of the deck was Tangle Angler, followed closely by Strata Scythe and Slice in Twain. My proudest/most shameful moment came when, for the win, I cracked a Flight Spellbomb to give my
Tangle Angler flying, attached the Strata Sythe for +4/+4, and played Untamed Might for 5 to win the
game via poison. There was a good, full minute pause by my opponent, which is understandable, before
he conceded. If I had been on the losing end of that game, I may have put my fist through my computer
screen. Alas, a win is a win is a win. I only drew Volition Reins once, to steal a Razor Hippogriff at a
timely moment for a win. I honestly don’t remember much else from the first three rounds of the
premiere. I’ll try to keep better track for the next big event I do.

Top 8 Draft

I was pretty psyched to make the Top 8 of a big event. As I was recounting the events thus far to my
friend uwgeric, I noticed that it was taking a long time to move into the second draft. I didn’t think
much of it at first, but I relogged twice just to make sure I wasn’t missing the draft.

Funny story—I was missing the draft. I don’t know what happened in Modo, but after completely
exiting the program and starting it back up, I was able to see my draft…AND THE 18 CARDS THAT IT
AUTOPICKED FOR ME. Clearly pissed, I tried my best to finish the draft with a positive attitude, with
varying results. All things considered, I actually had a semi-playable deck to work with. But before we
get to that…

My autopicked cards:

Instill Infection
Tel-Jilad Fallen
Withstand Death x2
Fulgent Distraction
Swamp x2
Oxidda Daredevil x2
Corpse Cur
Furnace Celebration
Golem Foundry

I think we are all glad this didn't make into the maindeck

(Really, Modo? 6 lands?)

The closest thing to a first pick in the entire jank pile was corpse cur. Not exactly how I wanted to start
my first Top 8 draft. Seeing as the only viable option that my autopicks gave me was to force infect, I did
my best to oblige for the remainder of the draft. Here is the deck I played.

Bellowing Tanglewurm
Carapace Forger x2
Carrion Call
Copper Myr x2

Corpse Cur
Genesis Wave
Golem Foundry
Grafted Exoskeleton
Infiltration Lens
Instill Infection x2
Myr Galvanizer
Myr Propagator
Tel-Jilad Fallen x2
Trigon of Infestation
Tumble Magnet
Withstand Death

Forest x14
Swamp x4

Going into round one, I didn’t like my chances. I mean, I did miss my first 18 picks. But, I am a fighter,
so I went for it tooth and nail.

Game One:
I get slightly mana-screwed early on, stalling on 3 lands. He is playing a U/W metalcraft deck, but it
might as well have been a straight artifact deck. He lands a couple of Chrome Steeds before I can get
anything going and then drops a Tumble Magnet. That’s all she wrote.

Game Two:

This was a crazy game that was over fast. The short version:

My side: Painsmith, Tel-Jilad Fallen
His Side: Tumble Magnet, Gold Myr, Myrsmith

On my next turn I play Tumble Magnet, giving the Fallen +2/+0 with the Painsmith, tap down the
Myrsmith, and swing for 5 poison.

His turn: Chrome Steed, creating Myr token.

My turn: Wall of Tanglecord, again giving Fallen 2 more power, tap down the Myrsmith again, and swing
for the poison win.

At this point, I feel like I have a shot. If it can win one game…

Painsmith...thwarting MTGO autpicker since 2010

Game Three:

This one was a hard fought battle. I got through for 3 or 4 poison early in the game and he stabilized.
Late in the game, I finally draw the Tanglewurm, making my Tel-Jilad Fallen unblockable. I am able to
hold off his assault and push through for enough before he can get me to zero.

Top Four:

I’m ecstatic that I made it this far, especially considering the circumstances of Draft 2. I realize that I
got pretty lucky in the first round, so I wasn’t holding my breath for a win in top four. It’s a good thing I
wasn’t, because I would’ve died a painful death by asphyxiation.

No need for details here. I lost to a much better Infect deck, 2-0. I remember both games beginning
with turn one Sylvok Life staff, turn two Ichorclaw Myr, which is just bad news. I lost to the better deck,
and I’m quite alright with that.

So, all in all, it was a crazy event. With my original draft deck, I was not expecting to Top 8 at all. Some
strong play got me through and I was proud of myself. Draft two was a mess. . I do wonder what
would’ve happened if I had been able to make all of my picks. Still, it was a lot of fun, and I walked away
with more packs than I had when I started…which, in the end, is what matters.


Monday, November 15, 2010

My Musings - My Worst Movies (and why I love some and hate others)

During the course of my life, I have long had a fascination with movies.  This has had little to nothing to do with the movie-going experience.  For much of my childhood and even early adult life, I have been dirt as a result, paying more money for popcorn and a soda than I did for the actual movie ticket wasn't exactly something that drove me to the theater.  Moreover, while I do enjoy watching movies "on the big screen" with sweet special effects and stadium is also true that douchebags seem to enjoy the same thing and they always seem to sit directly behind me (no matter how many seats are open) and either prop their feet up on my seat or are obnoxiously loud during the whole movie.

"That will be $37.00 please"

Now, it would be bad enough that I have spent more than I care to share at the concession stands at movie theaters.....but I have also seen some TERRIBLE movies in addition to some truly spectacular ones.  Now, I could try to share how some movies (see: Turtles Can Fly, Schindler's List, What Dreams May Come) continue to this day to blow my mind with their awesomeness, its a lot funnier to tell my tales of woe and how I came to watch some of the worst movies of all-time.  Admittedly, I haven't seen ALL of these movies in theaters and I will distinguish those accordingly.  I thought about doing some sort of Top 10 list, but these movies really all contribute to the same pile of excrement that I choose to discuss them as an aggregate while only differentiating them to both explain specifically why they are awful as well as to add any funny anecdotes I may have.  These are numbered, but only in terms of the order that they appear to my recollection.

1.) The Fountain

Alright, I want to be absolutely clear....this is more than just ONE bad movie.  Somehow, and really this was a bit of an achievement (the only achievement that this movie managed), the writers managed to combine the worst space monk movie they could think of with a terrible romantic drama and a nonsensical short film about a Spanish conquistador.  The resulting shitstorm of a film had my brain about to implode only to end with a scene involving Hugh Jackman ingesting tree semen then shortly thereafter crashing himself into a star.  Does that sound potentially awesome...maybe, but the execution had myself and several others confused as to how we were ever convinced to go see it in the first place (the answer being that we were persuaded by a harpy of a woman that from here on in will be known as "It")

2.) Battlefield Earth

This one was truly my fault that I went to (I even convinced a friend to go to it with me).  I honestly and truly thought that a movie starring John Travolta and Forest Whittaker portraying aliens that took over Earth while adhering to much of the mythology (there I said it) of Scientology was going to be awesome.  Suffice it to say...I couldn't have been more wrong.  Aside from the fact that John Travolta's good performances on-screen have turned out to be the exceptions to the rule, the rest of the cast was terribly cast, the story was horrifically predictable and transparent, and the special effects were less than exciting.  This one haunts me to this day.

3.) Spice World

This one was only partially my fault.  You see...I was extremely awkward in middle school and I found myself with a rare chance to go on a date with a girl who hadn't lost a bet.  She proclaimed that we had to go see this movie because it was going to be "amazing".  The resulting first 25 minutes of this film made me realize a couple things.  First, while the Spice Girls were extremely attractive, I was amazed that they had survived as long as they had without killing themselves trying to figure out VCR instructions (combined IQ of 45...max).  Second, I was perfectly fine being alone, without a girlfriend, so long as I never had to watch movies as bad as this again.  Seriously....this set my dating life back a couple years.  I left her after those 25 the theater....and called my parents to pick me up.  She never spoke to me again.

4.) Epic Movie

Now, it does sort of go without saying that most, if not all, of these parody movies are terrible (a couple of the Scary Movie parodies weren't awful).  However, what made this a particularly memorable moment was I went with the UWG debate team to this the middle of the blizzard.  We took a cab to the theater (because the blizzard had delayed our flight) and afterwards, we were unable to find a cab back to the hotel which was 2 miles away.  So what did we do?  Yes, we the middle of a Chicago.  It was like our own little Trail of Tears where we almost lost one of our debaters to a rather steep hill and my shoes began dissolving due to the toxic slush that was on the streets of Chicago.  All of see Epic Movie....sigh.

5.) Tomb of the Blind Dead

This is the first movie on the list that I did not see in theater...mainly because it came out in the 1970's and is a Spanish film.  First of all, the premise of movie is laughable.  You see...the zombies/mummies/whatever they are are awakened and kill people.  Thats simple enough....but you see, they are, as the title alludes, blind.  Just wrap your head around how stupid the victims have to be to be hunted and killed by blind zombies and you can begin to understand how bad this movie is.  Its terribleness is capped by the fact that not only is there a rape scene that is comically bad in terms of its timing ("We are running from the blind zombies...I will now take this opportunity to rape you") but also by some of the worst subtitle translations I have ever witnessed.  Fun fact:  This movie was viewed with a couple good friends of mine on the same night as the next movie on the list (we actually watched three movies that night...the other being the timeless cult classic "Slugs")

6.) Dollman vs. The Demonic Toys

Now, far be it for me to disparage the storied Dollman franchise (and when I say "storied"...I mean that watching Dollman's adventures actually can cause someone to want to jump off a ten story building), but this movie is just awful.  Bad special effects (as per the usual in the early 1990's) combined with terrible acting and a laughable plot makes me honestly wonder who thought that both "Dollman" and "Demonic Toys" ACTUALLY warranted a crossover sequel.  Then again...they did make Rocky 5, so I guess folks just liked making sequels 20 years ago.

7.) Twister

If you have read my previous Musings, you may have come across my hatred for one Bill Paxton and this movie is a primary reason why.  See, I wanted SO badly to see this movie in theaters.  The special effects looked awesome, tornadoes are cool, and the combination of the two seemed like an unbeatable combination.  What did we get?  Paxton staring at tornadoes and trying to channel their feelings into some sort of predictive prowess.  I had hopes that he was going to get impaled by a high-speed chicken or getting launched by high winds into the horizon, but sadly he survived and my dreams of watching the greatest films EVER were dashed.  There were some other shortcomings (watching Helen Hunt try to appear scientific knowledgeable is awkward at best), but my primary hatred revolves around Paxton as the "tornado whisperer".  Curse you, Bill Paxton!

One day, day....

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Musings - My Love's Evil Plan

Words cannot describe my love for my Katie.  She is hilarious, smart, beautiful, and the best life partner a person could ever ask for.  However, this morning....she unleashed her wrath upon me.  You see, from time to time, I forget to do things she asks me to do.  Not everything, not even most things....just I will forget to do a household task or to run an errand.  Its just my nature and I try my best to not do so and I am actually fairly productive around the house.  Katie, it appears anyways, decided to take matters into her own hands and make sure that I understand who the boss was around the house (hint: its not me).  I wasn't sure at first that the events that unfolded were nothing more than an unfortunate sequence of coincidences.  However, I have unearthed her manifesto and have put it into pictures.  Be warned....the following is a plan of, quite simply, pure EVIL!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Have you caught it?: Why homophobia is a disease and being gay isn't

I'm not entirely sure what has gotten me thinking about this as of late.  I suppose its possible that it has something partially to do with the recent discussion about suicides due to the bullying/harassment of gay people, or maybe it has to do with the general tone of discussions from this new "conservative movement".  These are serious discussions of a serious topic and serious people need to be having them.  Sometimes....I count myself amongst those serious people.  I have at least tried to be a source of well-informed opinions on such matters in the past and I do have opinions regarding this issue (I may or may not overtly reveal those opinions during this post....but suffice it to say it won't be hard to guess them from the general flow of this post).  However, there has always been a funny undertone regarding the discussion of homosexuality that is also fascinating when you think about it.  The running joke in some circles is that some people don't want to be around homosexuals because they don't want to "catch the gay" as if watching an episode of Will and Grace will somehow make an adolescent boy/girl want to go out and become a cross-dressing deviant or something.

Become one of of us....

Why being gay isn't a disease

I do think this should go without saying but I'll go ahead and throw this out can't "catch the gay".  You can't be infected with it by enjoying the company of a gay person or having an affinity for musicals.  You can't come down with some sort of homo-ebola by having a homosexual as a close friend or feeling the need to finding the finding accessory to go with your scarf (if you are male) or having a shaved head and wearing pants (if you are a female). Whether or not you are born gay or choose to be gay (and it doesn't matter all), ultimately who you are is who you are.  Who/what you are attracted to simply just doesn't matter and you certainly can't somehow be tricked into it or "catch it" without severe indoctrination/conditioning that flat out never happens.  If we are being honest, you are actually far more likely to be trapped by fundamental Christians and indoctrinated into their belief structure and made a 14th wife than being trapped by a group of drag queens and forced to watch the "Sounds of Music" and "Mama Mia" on a loop.


I do think that there is entirely too much attention given to the "is being gay a choice vs. not a choice" discussion by both sides.  It doesn't....F***ing...matter.  As long as all parties are consenting adults, then why should anyone care? (FYI this is why comparing gay people to pedophiles and bestiality makes me so mad...the question of consent is simply the only thing that matters)  However, that isn't what I'm here to discuss.  I am here to discuss an epidemic that makes malaria, bird flu, SARS, bubonic super AIDS and gonorrhea combined seem...well...."gay".

Why homophobia is a disease

Oh yes, faithful readers, its true.  You can catch the "anti-gay".  Homophobia is just like the flu, except with less fever and more hatred.  Consider the following.

1.) Its contagious - Whether it be from your family who has long been subjected to the infection and yells at the TV every time they see an advertisement for "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (in syndication) to even pundits on Fox News making tenuous connections between homosexuality and crime, if one is not careful and does not take the required vaccinations (for the purposes of this article, we will call these vaccinations "common sense", "rationality", and "intelligence"), you can catch homophobia.  Really, its worse than a simple air-born/water-born pathogens...because it can be caught via digital/electronic/radio mediums.  High-profile members of the infected include Christine O'Donnell, Rush Limbaugh, and Pat Robertson.

Gay people are the devil

2.) It is symptomatic - Now, this does at some level go without saying, but there some less noticeable symptoms of homophobia so we will explore it.  The obvious symptoms are fear/avoidance of physical contact with gay people, misappropriating religious doctrine to justify shitty behavior, appearing on or avidly listening to Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, or "The 700 Club" talk about social issues, voting for propositions that ban gay adoption/gay marriage/gayness, or, in severe cases, inflicting violence/vandalism/harassment on homosexuals or those who actively support homosexual rights.  However, there are less apparent symptoms such as feeling faint at the sight of rainbows/men dressed in pastels/women holding hands, recalling a summer camp experience as "just an experiment" followed by irrational outbursts about the state of American values today, nausea brought on by the thought of having to shake a homosexual's hand, and strong urges to watch hunting shows and Charlton Heston movies after watching "Say Yes to the Dress" for 5 minutes and finding yourself enjoying it.

"This happened because a gay person hugged me."

3.) There is treatment - Fear not, there is a cure....although it is a difficult treatment, is not 100% successful, and requires constant maintenance.  Its called "understanding that we are talking about people and not judging them".  So often in our long and storied history as human beings have populations determined that a certain subset of the population was undesirable and unfit to have the same rights as the majority or those in power (this has been based on race, gender, religious beliefs, etc) and it has never ended well.  Do I see something on the scale of the Holocaust or the Trail of Tears on the horizon for the gay community? No...I do not think that will happen...we as a whole have moved that far forward.  However, I do think that a lot of time and energy is wasted rallying against what is ultimately private behavior that could be used doing, oh I don't know, some actual good in the world.  Countless religious fanatics give millions of dollars and thousands of man hours to fight and rally against rights for homosexuals that could be going towards things like education and actual disease prevention.  In the end, the epidemic is ongoing and while the spread isn't as far as it once was, it is still ever-spreading, pernicious threat to, in my humble opinion, a more productive and, in general,  heightened societal well-being.  So until next time, as they say, a little understanding every day keeps the homophobia away.  I'll end with something I will now reveal the REAL homosexual agenda.  Be warned, your mind may be blown.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Musings - My Less than Ordinary Life

Well, my sleep schedule is semi-screwed up and after surveying the fairly depressing election results as they have rolled in (thank god Christine O'Donnell didn't get elected at least...its the little things that I must find joy in), I decided that I would give you all, my avid readers, a little taste of the less than ordinary life that I have lived thus far.  Now, at first glance, I have a fairly normal and happy existence that seems to be in line with many mainstream life goals.  I have my Katie with whom I plan on living a long and happy life with, a hilarious and awesome baby daughter, and a stepson who constantly amazes me with his gifts and his view of the world.  I have a house and a job like many others, but there have been other things that I have done that have made my life, at least in my mind, unique and hilarious in its own sort of way.  So behold, my hilarious existence in bullet point form (in some cases I will remove context for comedic effect or because I am lazy).

- After eating as many donuts as I could in 3 minutes with a fake plastic pirate hook and dancing in a cocktail dress to the classic 1980's tune "Mickey" in front of 1,700 people, I was awarded a plastic tiara which I lost several hours later.

Dramatization (not pictured: me)

-   I was racing another car heading back to school from spring break on what can only be described as the most boring stretch of road in the history of mankind.  Suffice it to say, I was pulled over for going 100 in a 65 mph zone.  Did I get a ticket or lose my license? No, but only because the OTHER vehicle refused to stop behind me, drove along the shoulder, and the driver proceeded to tell the very concerned officers that we were TRYING to get pulled over because a white Honda with personalized license plates ran us off the road and we didn't have cell phones (my cell phone was sitting in the passenger seat).  Suffice it to say, after recounting this tale to the officers, they sped off, and I was sitting there dumbstruck while thanking this man for saving me.  I saw no less than 9 white Hondas pulled over on that stretch of road after that.

Sorry dude...but it was me or you

- After extensive training and practice, I can safely say that I can speak at a higher rate of speed than the Micro Machine Guy and Twista.  I did this to compete in high school and collegiate debate.

I ownz youz guyz

- I have engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a hawk and a bat (successfully defeated the bat, got owned by the hawk.  See previous Musings for details)

- In a misguided attempt to find an outlet for my athletic competitive urges, I participated in a mixed martial arts club that had tournament scrimmages.  What was surprising is that I actually performed very well given my lack of formal training and, in general, lack of any discernible physical prowess.  What is less surprising is that my last fight, I was basically squished into a near death experience at the hands of a 250 former Army Ranger.

Not actually this guy....but scarily close

- In high school, I was on a very well-regarded and successful Model UN team and during my senior year, we raised enough money to attend a huge conference at the University of Pennsylvania.  Despite my urgings (only from a strategic perspective....I didn't want to go into a big conference with a bullseye on me), we chose to represent Palestine as a team in various committees.  However, my trepidations proved to be unfounded as we won fairly handily.  However, this was January 2002....just months removed from the Sept. 11th attacks and airport security was understandably high.  However, in the haze of our win, I thought it would be a good idea to wear a Palestine t-shirt with Arabic writing on it while carrying a plastic box (which contained only a couple books and some file folders with research in them).  Now normally this isn't a problem, but my appearance did get me randomly searched.  The problem came when they opened my box and it contained folders with things written on the tabs like "Al-Qaeda" and "Terrorism".  Suffice it to say that I got everything I have had with me swabbed and checked and their search of my person was very....thorough.  I did, however, manage to make it to my flight.

This nun got off easy compared to what I had to deal with

- While working as a night auditor at a hotel in Savannah, at around 3 am one night a bunch of (then) WWF wrestlers came in wanting to check into their rooms.  They introduced themselves as their wrestler names and, seeing as how I didn't have any "Edge"s in my database, I just checked them into empty rooms, no harm, no foul.  However, as I was getting their credit cards I realized something terrible had happened.  You see, if you make a hotel reservation and don't get charged at 2 am of the night you made the reservation.  And these guys, as it turns out, didn't have parents that hated them and had real, not ridiculous names.  I charged them twice.  Now I didn't want to be murdered by a bunch of a professional wrestlers, so my next 6 hours consisted of my trying to rectify this problem (which was compounded by the fact that I had already run the audit so the previous day had already been closed out).  I did manage to fix it...and one of the wrestlers (who shall remain nameless....but he was well-known) showed his thanks by shitting all over his room.  Not being metaphorical....his feces was strewn about the room.

Picture these guys...only real and scary

- I believe I am the unofficial master of roadkill bingo.  I don't know what it is, but it seems like any member of the animal kingdom who is suicidal will inevitably find me while I'm driving and use me as the means of their demise.  So far the list consists of dog, cat, squirrel, opossum, armadillo, raccoon, woodchuck, chipmunk, dove, seagull, snake, turtle, rabbit, and fish (yes, a fish).  However, I am one of the few people in my family who has NOT hit a deer, although I have had a couple near misses and I also almost added a cow.

Not sure what "urk" is....but I would still dominate with this board

There are other stories out there floating around, but I have ideas for future musings based on them (although with some killer artwork by yours truly).  Hope you enjoyed this week's Musings!