A History of …… Magic The Gathering

In which I get on my hobby horse and ride off into the sunset to tilt at windmills.

 

Magic_card_back

Back in 1995 a friend down the road introduced me to a new card game he’d discovered at his public school. It was called Magic the Gathering and was this fantastic card game full of math and fantasy, things both of us enjoyed. It had started in 1993 and had several editions already.

 

4theditionstarterpackI started my collection by buying a 4th Edition Starter Deck. It had everything I needed to start playing and had a wide variety of cards.  I bought several of those and then would haunt the local comic/hobby shop spending a lot of time looking through their boxes and boxes of bulk cards that I could pick up for as little as 10cents a card. When you are 17 and a diabetic paying for your own supplies, money isn’t something you spend profligately.  I had so much fun that I introduced it to a couple of friends at church and I remember one epic Saturday we had 7 of us all playing in one big group around the dining table.  It was a blast!

 

mirageboosterbox

I remember buying my first booster box. A booster box had 36 packs and each pack had 15 cards. When you measure the cards you own by the 60’s, well, that is a lot. I had to split the box because I couldn’t afford to buy it all by myself. I think it was $75 at the time? They now sell on Ebay for around $1100-1400.  Anyway, the cards had a very strong Dungeons & Dragons vibe and one of the parents took a look and decided their kids weren’t going to play that. He also was a regular speaker at our church and one Sunday talked about the game. He didn’t name the game or put blame on anyone but himself for allowing it into his household, but as I sat there in the front row, I knew who had introduced his kids to it and I knew that he knew. When you are 18, devout and taught to respect spiritual authority, it was as good a killing blow for my playing the game as it was for his kids. My parents didn’t care, but I did. So I gave up playing, got rid of all my cards and figured that my memories were all I was going to have from that time forward.

 

3ed-274-sol-ring

My memories of MTG were anchored on one particular card. Pictured above is a 3rd Edition (also known as “Revised”) Sol Ring.  When I thought “Magic”, that picture and the picture at the top of the post were what sprang to my mind.  That was the face of Magic to me. It still is in fact.

 

industries_in_2014_landing_page

Speed down the highway of Life to 2014.  I began working with a new coworker and it didn’t take long for us to realize that the way we thought and the way we handled the job was so different that it made life super difficult. To the point where I was ready to push him in front of a bus if the opportunity ever presented itself. Thankfully, for both of us, he mentioned that he had recently gotten back into Magic the Gathering. He brought in 2 decks and we began playing at lunch time.

 

By this time in history, Sol Ring had gone through various changes and had had special editions and premium versions, etc, etc.  I began collecting again so I could play with my coworker and keep the peace. Magic the Gathering gave us a common bond that allowed us to work together when it wasn’t really feasible.  He eventually moved on to other companies but we stayed in touch and kept on playing a couple of times a month at a local library.  By the end of 2019 I had tens of thousands of cards and over 16 Commander decks (Commander is a variant that has 100 cards in a deck instead of just 60, plus some other rules that make it the best version in my opinion).  Then my former coworker’s personal life took a dramatic turn for the bad and he had to retrench and move out of state. Then Covid19 hit and really put the kabosh on finding any new players who I could get along with at the local game store. My interest in Magic was on life support.

The following paragraph is where things get political. After the “Rest in Peace” card is where I go back to non-political stuff.

 

safespacefinal

Then in June of 2020, Wizards of the Coast, the company that owns and produces MTG (under the auspices of Hasbro) decided that their Social Justice Warrior Virtue Signalling hadn’t been enough.  They came out with the statement we will be removing a number of images from our database that are racist or culturally offensive,…”.  What this means is that any card that they deem to be culturally inappropriate they will ban from competitive play and will remove them from their online database. With this criteria being such a moving target, it means that any card, at any time, can be removed “because reasons”.  The only people who think that the cards being banned are problematic are the wokescolds who already think everything is racist.  This doesn’t make me angry, it makes me sad, because this signals the end of Magic. There is a reason for the quote “Get Woke, Go Broke.”

 

restinpeace

So this is the end of my playing Magic the Gathering yet again. I have the feeling this time it will be for good, mainly because I’m not having any desire to continue. However, MTG is what is known as a Collectible Card Game, or CCG, and that means that acquiring cards is as much part of the business model as playing. In that regards I do plan on continuing.  I currently own a complete set of 4th Edition (378 cards) and I plan on collecting Revised Sol Rings and storing them away in a nice binder.  My initial goal was 100 but since I’m almost there I think my next goal will be 500.  So feel free to blame me if the price goes up to $20 a card (which is outrageous by the way, but considering I’m seeing outliers at $15, it could happen).

solringbinder

My Pretties….

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

A History of …… Shaving

Back when I was a mere stripling, I didn’t need to shave. Oh, those carefree days. Little did I know the master I would soon come to serve for the rest of my life.

 

sensorexcel

My first razor was a Gillette Sensor Excel. Two pure blades of goodness sliding over my downy cheek, I was sure I would never need another razor for the rest of my life.  I mean, how can you possibly improve on 2 blades? I plead the naivety of youth and ask my gentle reader to forgive me for such dunceheadedness.

 

mach3

Because the obvious way to improve on 2 blades is make it 3 blades! The Mach3 was when I moved from being a boy who shaved to a man who thought long and hard about his shaving options and chooses the best.  When you are 16, these kind of things are very important. It starts you down a path you can never turn back from.

 

mach3turbo

Of course, once I was a man, it became important for me to stay abreast of the latest shaving technologies. So when gillette came out with the Mach3 TURBO, I started using that. Look at that picture. That razor is practically flying at supersonic speed! And for almost 15 years I used this razorblade. It was a workhorse, a champ. In 2010 or ’12 I began shaving my head due to thinning hair and joining a private security company. The Mach3 Turbo kept my dome pretty chromed and made me as aggressive looking as one can be at 5’3″. It did its job without complaint and I was satisfied. Until one Christmas at a church Yankee Gift Swap.

 

fusion5

Somebody brought a Fusion5 giftset to this particular Yankee Gift Swap. If you don’t know what a Yankee Gift Swap is, here’s a link to easily and concisely explain it:

Yankee Gift Swap Explained

I had my eye on this and when some poor lady ended up with it, I knew it was time to strike. I opened a box of chocolates and exchanged that for the razor set. Both of us were happy.  5 blades! The head on this thing was a veritable monster and even the handle was pretty hefty. I wondered if it could double up as a riot control baton! The only downside was that the replacement razor heads were relatively expensive but with judicious shopping around and drugstore brand replacements, it was doable.

 

proglidepower

Of course, it was the profusion, and hence confusion, of names in said drugstore that led me to my next step on this journey. It was time to buy some blades for the fusion5 and CVS had some storebrand options at half the price. I picked up what I thought was the fusion blades. Turns out, what I picked up was the Fusion Proglide blades. Those blades don’t fit the handle of the Fusion5. Is gillette sneaky or what? It ended up being cheaper to just buy a Proglide handle than to deal with the hassle of returning the opened blades to CVS.

If you had asked me if I would ever use a powered blade (powered by a AAA battery), I would have told you to feth off. But in the last couple of weeks of using it, I must admit, I am liking it. My  head has never been smoother and I don’t have to go over my face multiple times. I have fully embraced the Gillette Fusion Proglide Power.

 

bookstoogedamus

What does the future of shaving hold for me? Not even Bookstoogedamus knows. But I am sure that change is as inevitable as the hair in my beard going white. Whatever the future holds, I will embrace it and rejoice. Because when it comes to shaving, Bookstooge is SERIOUS!

 

 

A History of… The Hobbit

 

Lashaan recently wrote up a review of his first time reading The Hobbit. Great review and I highly recommend you read it. But it got me to thinking. I literally grew up with the Hobbit and thought I’d try to remember my life as defined by the experiences I was going through when I read and re-read the Hobbit.

I believe that my experience with the Hobbit started before I could even read. My mom used to read to me in the afternoons before I started going to school and I know she read me Narnia and the Little House on the Prairie series. I can’t remember her explicitly reading me the Hobbit but my familiarity with it in later years leads me to believe she did. I don’t remember too much of that time overall except for a warm fuzzy sense of “rightness”. 

The next instance of the Hobbit is an explicit memory, one very well defined. I believe I was in middleschool and our family was going up to Canada to visit the Grands. I went to the library and got the Hobbit so I would have a book to read. Even then I knew to always have a book handy. It was one with the faux-leather green cover.

Not sure it was this exact edition, but if not, it looked almost like it

I remember this so well because on the way home we stopped in Maine at some relatives and I got a wicked bad sunburn on my whole back (didn’t use sunscreen) and we had to travel for 12hrs in the car the next day. You don’t forget experiences like that!

In highschool I wrote a paper on the Hobbit and Tolkien. I don’t have that paper handy nor do I remember anything about it, except, I got to read the Hobbit and use it to do some school work. Score!

Jump forward in time to Bibleschool in the late 90’s. One of our professors read through the entire series on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons to us students in one of the rooms that had couches and comfy chairs. When you are 19-22, having a chance to just hang out with everyone and not actually do anything is great. Add in that we all liked the story, the Professor had done this for years and so had a fantastic voice for reading, well, it was all a nerd could ask for.

Aye, aye Captain Professor Sir!


In 2001 the SFBC came out with the omnibus edition of the Lord of the Rings. I bought that and the Hobbit at the same time. Why should I pay for 4 books when I could pay for just 2? Small print didn’t mean a thing to my eyes then and being thrifty meant more than anything.

Teensy tiny print



In 2006 I met Miss Librarian at a friend’s wedding (Miss Library and I had been friends online) and we exchanged books. I gave her a copy of the Hobbit.

It was this edition

2 years later we were married and suddenly there were 2 copies of the same book on our book shelves. 2008 was a year for surprises, that is for sure!

Fast forward 3 years to 2011. I was on Goodreads and loving it. I had book friends and was writing reviews left and right. One of my online friends re-read the whole series every year. I wasn’t as much into re-reading then myself, but he inspired me to go through them all. I was simply blown away by how well written the Hobbit was and at how it could still appeal to my mature 30’something self. You’re Mature at 30 and after that you’re just Old and who cares what Old People think.

And now we come to 2019. Devilreads is a bad memory, 30 is just a stage that I grew out of (into a much more Mature stage I must say!) and yet here I am reading the Hobbit again and still loving it.

Bad Memories Indeed

What do you call a book that enthralls a 4 to 5 year old (no matter how precocious), a middleschooler, a highschooler, someone in college, a mid 20’s man, a 30 year old in his prime and then a 40 year old with the wisdom of the ages under his belt? If Classic doesn’t fit, then I don’t know what would. As sagacious as I currently am, I suspect in another 10-15 years that I’ll STILL love this book.

I’d like to take the time to thank Lashaan once again. He’s inspired several of these A History of… posts. The more years I collect, the more memories tag along, except for when I forget them. So it is good to write them down before they disappear 😀

A History of ….. Reading

Recently,  Lashaan did a post about how people get into reading and he asked people to share their experiences. That was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I decided to jump on the wagon and make a post out of it. Last year I had done a post on my History of Journaling, so I decided to continue in that same vein.

babybooks

I’m definitely one of those who grew up reading. I can vaguely remember my mother reading the Little House on the Prairie books to me before I could read and I definitely remember the Bookmobile. The bookmobile that came to our apartment complex was bright orange, and a bit newer than the one in the picture below, but in 1985, not much newer! We didn’t have the money to go driving about whenever, so if I wanted books, I had to get what I could when it came every two weeks. I remember once I got a picture book that had a story of Baba Yaga in it and I had nightmares about the house with the chicken feet for days afterwards. My parents were a bit more vigilant about what I got after that.bookmobile

When we moved to Pennsylvania, we were in a small town at the edge of Amish country and the library was only a mile away, so it was within walking distance. By my late teen years I was helping out at the library and had developed my love of SFF due to the 2 small shelves of SFF hardcovers and 1 spinning rack of paperbacks of that genre.

It was at this same time that I realized my dad had several boxes of books packed away in the attic, mainly consisting of Heinlein and myth and fairytales. It was always a special treat to be allowed to go up in the attic and pick one of them out to read.

Once I started working in highschool and had some money, I also began joining up with the Science Fiction Book Club every couple of years.

sfbc

Those were the days when you could join, pick 6 books for $5 and then buy 2-4 more at regular price over the next two years. You also could get referral bonuses of 2 free books if you convinced someone else to join. I regularly double dipped using my brother. I’d join up, get all the books. Then have my brother join up and get the 2 free books myself AND it would actually be me choosing all the books under his name. I was rolling in hardcovers! That’s how I ended up with so many of Terry Brooks’ books that I eventually (un)Hauled.

In 2006 when I bought my condo on the 3rd floor and had to haul up all my books, I swore I’d not move for at least a decade. 12 years later, still living here and quite content.

My days with the SFBC are done, as their business model changed and my income changed. Also, I was just getting into ereaders and they didn’t offer ebooks. Today, except for vary rare occasions, my reading is almost exclusively on my kindle Oasis. My eyes really like the adjustable font and having such a light device I can use one handed while lounging on the couch, thus enabling my free hand to deliver energy drinks or small snacks to keep me nourished. A veritable paradise!

Back in 2000 I was reading 40-60 books year and I was heavily into anime. That yearly number has climbed until I’ve plateaued in the last 5years or so at between 150-200 books a year. I expect to stay within that range as long as reading is my main hobby. Should it ever be displaced, I suspect I’ll be back down in the 50’s range. I’m a reader and it’s what I’ve always done.

readabook

A History of ….. Journaling

I WAS going to title this post “A History of Violence” where I detailed my mis-spent youth kneecapping old ladies for protection money but since that Illegitimate Rat Aragorn already made a movie by that name I figured the self appointed guardians of all things legal, or goons, would knee cap me. So better safe than sorry. Also,  this mention about said movie is in no ways an endorsement of it. It is a “real” violence filled movie [as opposed to John Wick] and I found it extremely disturbing.

Last year I posted about my Book Recording and the journey that has been and continues to be. Today I want to talk about journaling and the various kinds of journals that I’ve used over the years. I love this kind of thing to be honest and is probably the closest I’ll ever come to being all arts&craftsy.

I started my journaling back in middle grade. I’d scribble in an 8 1/2 x11 spiral notebook for a couple of pages, then tear them out a week or 2 later, throw them out and not write again for months. It never even occurred to me to write in something more permanent. Of course, I suspect most of my writings was about girls anyway, so no big loss 🙂

However, when I began attending Bible School in the fall of ’97,  I began writing every evening in this little guy:

j1Little 4×5 inch notebook. I ended up writing in 5 of these suckers

 

j2Corn and potatoes. I was well on my way to a Pulitzer, even back then!

 

 

After awhile, I felt my needs increasing and I moved up the Classy Scale a step. Not a lot, but I was definitely upwardly mobile.

j3You think I’m obsessed about journals, you should see some of the entries I made about various pens I try and what works and what doesn’t. And that hasn’t stopped. I just did an entry in my latest journal about 4 months ago about the joys of using the Pilot G2 premium gel roller fine tip pens.

 

Then I graduated in 2000 and life got real. I had a job, a car, I was renting a place of my own, I made my first proposal. After that it was time to start expressing my inner torment and utter pain in a journal that meant business. I wanted something that would last the ages and remind me in years to come just how much suffering and anguish I had gone through. Yeah, I was that guy.

j4Pure black, like the pain and misery deep within my soul. Sense a theme yet? 😀

 

Oberon Design to the rescue! I’ve used that cover for 4 of the black blanks and it is still as good condition as when I bought it back in ’05 or ’06.

j5But a journal looks even cooler and more soul’y when it has a real leather removable, re-usable cover on it.

 

Then I met Mrs Bookstooge [well, she wasn’t Mrs Bookstooge at the time, obviously!] and once I’d filled up my latest tome of despair, I quit journaling for almost 5 years. But getting married makes one a hostage to fate and once again life hit me in the nads and I had to write. But I was beyond black, I wanted something to express how mystical and above the common man my thoughts were.

j6There are CLASPS! and lots of shiny lines! The “Common Man” does not write in such a tome as this.

 

Nowadays I write in something that opens, and stays open [VERY important when writing while sitting in a pew], and will look cool on my shelf.

j7The text on the flap is “Arthur Conan Doyle”.  No clasps, but the flap makes it easier to write in in public.

 

j8My journaling now is usually a gigantic bitch session, where I vent on paper so I don’t vent in public. Names of jerks and super-jerks blurred for reasons. I AM that grumpy old guy, whooo!

 

What does the future hold? Well, I’m glad you asked  *grin*  I am currently writing in this small leather journal as a medical journal, keeping track of my blood sugars, food eaten, insulin taken, with times and amounts. It’s a lot of detail but it is what I have to do to keep my diabetes under control. I like the tie, but sadly Barnes&Noble only has it in 5×7 [which is pictured] and nothing larger. If you know of a nice leather, tie down journal that is in the 7×10 or preferably 8×11 range, please let me know in the comments. Lined or unlined doesn’t matter.

j8 (1)This leather one travels with me everywhere now.  And it has its own G2 roller gel pen *wink*

 

And there you have it. More information about Bookstooge and Journaling than you ever wanted, thought possible or even knew existed. Remember folks, I am a Dichotomy [make sure you say “dichotomy” in an appropriately sepulchral tone of voice]. I use a machete or a pen with equal ease and familiarity.  Except for when I’m tired, then I’m just a problem.

bookstooge

16 Years of Book Recording

In April 2000 I began tracking what I read. I started with a little Mead 3×5 spiral notebook, much like one of these:

 

In it, I simply noted the date/day, title, author and genre.  Mind you, this was before Goodreads was even a thought [that I’m aware of] and reviews tended to be either word of mouth or by professionals in a newspaper. I wasn’t reviewing but simply recording what I’d read, so that I wouldn’t spend “precious” reading time reading the same thing over by mistake. That had happened several times in Bible School. As my mortality was now within my gaze (I did a lot of growing up during those 3 years], I realized that I didn’t have time to accidentally re-read books, and this was before the plague of indie dreck inundated the reading world. It was also a natural outgrowth of my journaling every day during those 3 years.

 

In 2004-5, blogging hit my social group and we all began our own blogs and for about a year it was an explosion of words. Things began to wind down and I thought about how else I might make use of blogger. It was also at this point that my notebook began falling apart and I realized I needed to replace it. The thought of writing it all down, AGAIN, was not a nice prospect. So I decided to start typing it, at least that way it would stay online.

 

In 2007 I joined Goodreads but didn’t really start utilizing it until 2009. Even then, I never made more than a literal handful of friends and I think it stayed in the single digits. However, in ’13, with the free speech ban, I left GR. I came to booklikes, along with a lot of other people and made my home here.

 

And let’s be honest. In the 2 1/2 years that I’ve been here, I’ve dealt with and dealt out, more drama than in the last 13 1/2 years. People I’ve insulted, people insulting me. Some on purpose, some by accident. Seeing people come, seeing people go.

Making friends. Making a LOT of friends. For those who are introverted, you know what I mean.  Of course, with the uncertainty of recent times here at Booklikes and with Leafmarks shutting down, I’ve been wondering if I’d have to move again.

 

Thankfully, that won’t be the case as long as Booklikes stays open. I am starting to backup my reviews using a separate Calibre Library filled with empty books, so I’ll be able to back them up and not have to worry about losing them online.

 

So to wrap up this little maudlin interlude, a lot has changed in 16 years and a lot has stayed the same. And please ignore me as I go up and down here at Booklikes. I review the books I read, everything else, well, I guess that is part of being human.