The Evolution of Magic Keywords

Advertisements

Preliminary Work on Euro Goals Analysis

I’m working on a white paper looking at goals scored across leagues and various other metrics based on what turned out to be a really funky English Premier League season. I’m not going to add any analysis here, but some people asked to see the stats I’ve compiled so far (which should be correct this time), so here they are.
(Before someone says it, yes I know La Liga is basically Top 2 and then everyone else – Barcelona and Real Madrid are rather incredible outliers.)
Avg Goals Per Game
Prem La Liga Bundes Serie A

2011

2.8

2.74

2.92

2.51

2010

2.77

2.71

2.83

2.61

2009

2.48

2.9

2.92

2.6

2008

2.64

2.67

2.81

2.55

2007

2.45

2.48

2.74

2.55

Scored by Bottom 3rd

2011

1.2

1.065

1.19

0.97

2010

1.01

1.055

1.03

1.1

2009

0.96

1.155

1.01

0.96

2008

0.945

1.06

1.08

0.95

2007

0.88

1.03

1.1

0.98

Scored by Top 3rd

2011

1.67

1.87

1.76

1.61

2010

1.97

1.88

1.79

1.56

2009

1.61

1.88

1.82

1.67

2008

1.74

1.79

1.76

1.65

2007

1.59

1.56

1.68

1.62

Dif T3rd_v_Bot3rd
Prem La Liga Bundes Serie A

2011

0.47

0.805

0.57

0.64

2010

0.96

0.825

0.76

0.46

2009

0.65

0.725

0.81

0.71

2008

0.795

0.73

0.68

0.7

2007

0.71

0.53

0.58

0.64

Musical Guilty Pleasures

I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from  music recommendations on Twitter lately, which obviously isn’t unique to my writing, but seems pretty welcome regardless of what genre of writing you are reading. We live busy lives, so anything that introduces you to new music at little or no personal  effort is a positive.

For today’s update, I wanted to dig in to a subject that is truly love or hate – musical guilty pleasures. These are songs that you know are bad or that you should probably dislike them or that have a definite societal stigma – and yet you can’t help but love them anyway. Now given that they involve the word “guilt” and music, these are deeply personal items that are almost invariably created by the environment around us. What you feel guilty about liking could obviously be very different from what I feel that way about, and what kids today feel guilty about liking differs dramatically from guilty pleasures for someone like my mom. (Now that I think about it, I think my mom’s generation just called guilty pleasures “music.”)

There’s also an element of catharsis about discussing guilty pleasures, and especially in the sharing of them. On a personal level, it gives me a chance to explain the ridiculous and awful areas of my musical tastes and hopefully connect to you guys at the same time. To enhance that connection, I asked you guys to share some of your own guilty pleasures, which you did in volume. Brilliant. Let’s get started, shall we?

This is Michael Bolton’s Fault
If he weren’t singing about Jack Sparrow, and then Zaiem Beg hadn’t commented on how Bolton had a great voice but sang horrible songs, I wouldn’t be writing this update. But he did, so Z did, and here we are. The first guilty pleasure of my own I want to discuss is not Michael Bolton, but instead semi-contemporary songstress Celine Dion.

But first, story time.

“Knutson is probably gay. Look, he’s tall, he’s tidy, he likes show tunes, he gets along well with women… I’m not sure if he’s gay or not, but he’s certainly the most likely among us to come out later in life.”

This might be what you are thinking at this very minute, but it’s actually a quote from one of my best friends in college. Being gay wasn’t a bad thing here (we’re both strong supporters of gay rights), he was just stating the obvious (and was probably slightly bitter about me cockblocking him by making jokes at his expense in front of cute girls) – if gay were a disease, I displayed all the symptoms. This was especially true when you looked at my music collection from the early 90’s. Yes, Pearl Jam and Bush were there, but so were Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand’s Greatest Hits, as well as the ubiquitous Hootie and the Blowfish and Counting Crows. (I’m completely skipping over the showtunes.) I never chose music because I thought it was cool – in fact, throughout my life, I’m pretty sure I have failed completely at ever being a barometer for cool – I just chose music I liked.

And I really liked Celine Dion. With regard to most pop music, the better/cooler/more unique the voice, the more I like it. Eddie Vedder has an amazing voice for a man. Celine Dion has an amazing voice for anyone. So what if she sings cheesy love songs – I was a young romantic, she had a ridiculous voice, and I loved to listen to it. Am I slightly embarrassed by this? Hell yeah, but some of these songs are timeless, cheesy classics, and I love them. She’s since proven herself to be batshit crazy, but her talent is undeniable. Hell, I even like the occasional newer song (though admittedly, this might be Lea Michelle’s fault).

Celine Dion? Guilty as charged.

The greatest hits from Roxette fall in this same vein for me. I’m pretty sure I’d be free and clear if I were European, but since I grew up in America, I feel like I’m not really supposed to like these, even if I can’t quite pinpoint why. (Then again, watching the male half of this duo dance on stage makes me think it’s his fault, since she’s clearly attractive and can sing.)

This next one is a childhood love I never quite managed to escape – Martika’s Toy Soldiers.  Back when I was a kid, there was a program called Kids Incorporated that was like an independent version of The Mickey Mouse Club. MMC ended up churning out Timberlake, Spears, and Aguilera. KI gave us Fergie, Jennifer Love Hewitt and
the Twins, and Martika. I’m pretty sure Disney won that, as they have every other battle of child starpower since. (Except maybe Melissa Joan Hart on Clarissa Explains It All, which was on Nickelodeon. They liked her enough that they stole her and put her in Sabrina on ABC instead. I had the biggest crush on Melissa. Aaaanyway…).  Speaking of Fergie, if you like Fergalicious (ahem*runningmix*cough) or especially London Bridge, you should absolutely feel guilty. I’m just sayin’.

Make no mistake, Toy Soldiers is a terrible song. It’s a fake, moody, whiny power ballad with awful lyrics, an awful video, and mediocre singing. But I still like it, and I’m at a loss to explain it. If someone came up to me on the street and said, “Do you like Toy Soldiers,” I’d answer, “Of course.” as if there were no other possible answer. At the same time I could critically tear it to pieces. A different type of guilty pleasure from the Celine Dion one, but a guilty pleasure nonetheless.

I was also going to mention Christopher Cross in this section, but instead I’ll just link to the Yacht Rock archive on youtube and say they’ve covered that entire wonderful guilty genre in detail. Oh, and this episode made me view Lee Sharpe in an entirely new light.

This last one is modern and proves that my intelligent brain has absolutely no control over my musical tastes. Worth Wollpert and I have discussed the merits of the Beeb (the remix of Somebody to Love was the best pop song and video of 2010 by a country mile), and he’s pretty easy to justify musically. This guy, however… I’m 20 years too old and the wrong gender to like his music at all and yet Leavin’ and How Do You Sleep? are undeniable for me. Fuckin’ Jesse McCartney of all people has my guilty pleasure number. I am so ashamed.

Maybe Stoakley was right – maybe I am gay…

Not Guilty, ya’ll gots ta feel me.

Your Guilty Pleasures
My copy and paste of your guilty pleasures from Twitter was 13 pages – 13! Since I have been pressed for time lately, I’ve had to cut these down to a manageable size, but know that you are all awesome for participating. Here we go!

@witzo Not sure how obscure it is but it sure makes me feel guilty. Dee Lite:  http://youtu.be/C4D1HSL7P98

Knutson: To me, this is a great one-hit wonder (in the U.S anyway) and it remains a classic dance tune 21 years later. There is no guilt in this at all, it’s just fun.

Jim Ferraiolo: If you want to have a talk about guilty musical pleasures, I’m your man. You know this. How about a little Go West, “King of Wishful Thinking” or my Whitney Houston obsession (How Will I Know, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, I’m Your Baby Tonight, etc.) or my ULTIMATE slow jam, Gregory Abbott’s “ShakeYou Down”?

Knutson: Jim and I have had a musical love affair since we met (via Magic) over a decade ago, and I completely share his early and middle career Whitney Houston obsession, but Shake You Down…, man that’s just timeless. Then again, teenagers playing this as booty call music for a girl would probably get laughed at so hard, they’d have permanent erectile dysfunction. Ya gotta understand your audience, kids, especially if the song has a lot of synthesizer.

@yankee_dave Small Town by Johnny Cougar Mellancamp – I grew up in the area in the video!

Knutson: Full disclosure – I grew up in Indiana and like to sing Pink Houses at karaoke. That said, Small Town definitely skews toward the cheesy ultra-Americana side of Mellencamp, so I’d say it qualifies. I think I prefer Jack and Diane and *gulp* Hurt So Good.

@epic_travisty Weird Al – All About the Pentiums

Knutson: Weird Al was important when I was young – he was one of the few funny things we could get past cursing/sex joke sensitive parents and obviously he’s super clever. This particular song is painful to me, but there are others I can’t get enough of (Amish Paradise comes to mind).

@thedaneevent i been rocking http://bit.ly/7u1JLh since i was in diapers. also http://bit.ly/7JJSz8.

Knutson: Palmer’s Addicted to Love isn’t my least favourite karaoke song ever (unlike some songs, people rarely hurt my ears with it), but it’s one of the most overplayed. That said, it probably leans more toward classic than guilty pleasure. As for Rich Astley, like I told the Hawaiian beach bum here, I’d definitely pay good money to see Dane perform this at karaoke complete with dance moves.

Aside on Rick Astley: Ridiculous voice. Seriously- big, booming, unique, solid control, decent range. Sure, he made some bad hair choices, but if he were playing live nearby, I’d probably go see him sing. Fun fact: He was only in the music industry for six years before he retired to spend time with his family.

Rich Hagon: Cascada – Evacuate the Dancefloor  Yes, I’m neither 9 years old, nor a girl. Either or these would be a potential excuse, but there it is. 39, male, likes Cascada. Oh the shame. And oh, the cathartic release. Thank you Ted, thank you. Maybe all that undiscovered flair can now rise to the surface untouched by dancemusicloveguilt.

Knutson: Can a club hit that isn’t truly awful (see: Like a G6) be a guilty pleasure? I think Rich is just ashamed he likes some modern music. Would love to see him dance to this though.

Seth Burn: Yanni – Within Attraction
Chris Wong: John Tesh – Roundball Rock

Knutson: It’s an open question as to whether liking Tesh or Yanni is worse, but these two are fucking Charles Manson levels of guilty. The fact that Tesh knows this (he was on Entertainment Tonight for ages – he has to understand what’s cheesy and what isn’t with regard to entertainment) and then crushes anyway (nice tuxedo vest) at least makes him likeable.

@DonnieNoland Detroit Rock City by Kiss

Knutson: See, this one has to be generational. When I was a kid, everything by Kiss was cool. I know this sounds absurd – these guys wore ridiculous makeup and costumes and played heavy hair metal, but trust me on this – for most of their career, KISS and everything they did were fucking cool. Nowadays kids see their act and think they are a half-step short of being a musically superior GWAR.

While on this topic, each and every one of you needs to read Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City. It’s fantastic.

@wmap Ashlee Simpson L.O.V.E.  Ashlee was my running music of choice.

Knutson: This works in every way. The slightly musically-and-looks inferior younger sibling of a musical family producing a heavily auto-tuned semi-rap song with no real artistic merit aside from a decent beat. Perfect and terrible.

@bmkibler I have rocked out to Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA” on occasion.

Knutson: I missed most of the Miley phenomenon for various reasons. The first time I ever saw her sing anything was on American Idol when she performed on the same episode as Jennifer Hudson – talk about opposite ends of the talent scale. Never, ever listen to Miley live. As for the song, the first time I heard Party in the USA was when the girls who lived downstairs from our apartment in Curacao – aged 9, 7, and 5 – were playing it on some speakers at the pool. Again. And again. And again.

If you like anything at all sung by Miley Cyrus, you are guilty. Speaking of music enjoyed by young girls…

Evan Erwin: Here ya go, dignity be damned

@mtgaaron My oldest’s fave singers: 1) Katy Perry 2) Miranda Cosgrove 3) Ke$ha 4) Lady Gaga 5) Pink. She’s 7.

@mtgo_dwayne To be fair, those are my favorites too.

@maro254 My 7 year old girl’s faves: Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez & the Scene and Miranda Cosgrove.

Knutson: I like how Aaron includes the $ in Ke$ha and Rosewater knows that it’s Selena Gomez & THE SCENE. (I did not know this – The Scene is never included in pictures of Selena Gomez on the celeb sites I follow.) I think the lesson here is that having children will force you to hear some awful music along the way, whether it’s the theme song to Barney, or the repetitious playing of Katy Perry’s version of Firework over and over and over again. (Her boobs produce fireworks in that video. I think of this as an allegory for her career.) Obviously this version of Firework is superior, but mostly because Lea Michele can actually sing all the notes.

@tomreeve I don’t really do guilty about music anymore, but I did own this album when I was a little Reeve.

Knutson:
 Yes, that is Billie Piper. The same adorably cute and rather sultry Billie Piper that was part of Doctor Who and also Secret Diary of a Call Girl. The song Tom first linked (Honey to the Bee) is terrible and typical of the worst stream of UK drek-pop. It is gloriously bad. BUT… it’s not as bad as the second video he introduced me to.

Watching this actually makes me appreciate the early career of Britney Spears that much more.

@ridiculoushat the entirety of Aqua’s catalog. Also eff you, find your own links to Cartoon Heroes.

Knutson: No need to get testy – I haven’t made short or leprechaun jokes about you in weeks (though I kept expecting you to pop up when I was in Dublin last weekend). I had never heard this song before, though I was familiar with Barbie Girl. I think my life was better for having been able to say that. Ben Goodman has ruined me. The lead singers for Aqua have to be two of the stranger voices to ever appear regularly on hit songs, and are made that much weirder by appearing together. The backstory behind Aqua has to be entertaining stuff, I am sure.

Fun fact: Lead singer Lene Nystrom has apparently gone on to have a small career flashing her bits in films. I have no idea what happened to Ken.

Fun fact 2 (from Thomas Rosholm): They are apparently into S&M and have been seen frequenting certain fetish clubs in Copenhagen. As Thomas notes, it puts the Barbie Girl lyrics about spanking and tying up in an interesting light.

ROSHOLM I’m A Blonde Single Girl In The Fantasy World Dress Me Up, Take Your Time, I’m Your Dollie You’re My Doll, Rock And Roll, Feel The Glamour And Pain Kiss Me Here, Touch Me There, Hanky-Panky You Can Touch, You Can Play You Can Say I’m Always Yours, Oooh Whoa

ROSHOLM Make Me Walk, Make Me Talk, Do Whatever You Please I Can Act Like A Star, I Can Beg On My Knees
ROSHOLM actually think its hilarious
ROSHOLM that their music was more or less targetted at children

@blaiwitchgreen Southern Culture on The Skids – Camel Walk

Knutson: I’m not 100%, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that this song is more cool and less guilty. It’s sort of like loving the B-52’s before Love Shack –you have a kickass guitar riff, nice beat, and moderately non-sensical lyrics. Depending on what era this came out in originally, it could have been a top 10 hit with the right promotion.

@geraintdmorgan  Elton John/Kiki Dee Don’t Go Breaking My Heart = my Birthday #1

Knutson : This song is unabashedly terrible, but is supported by two excellent voices, which makes it something you can totally listen to. Well done.

@rtassicker Quiet Riot – Metal Health (Bang Your Head)  is my most played song in itunes

Knutson: One of the things I learned during my two visits to Russell’s wonderful country is that Australia is where bad music never dies. That said, Metal Health was considered very cool by my 8-year-old self. This is still very listenable cock rock.

Speaking of Australia and cock rock…

@rbuehler luckily for me there’s no known karaoke footage of AC/DC’s Shook Me All Night Long to link to

@top8games Not even a cel phone vid? Are you certain?

@blisterguy I had heard it was spectacular

@rtassicker In Australia it’s far more embarassing to NOT like “You Shook Me All Night Long”. Practically the national anthem.

Knutson: Everyone except Randy is right on this one. There was definitely a cell phone video of this performance. (There was also one of an orange-hoodied Aaron Forsythe doing what I believe was Fight the Power with Scott Johns tagteaming.) It was spectacular. And You Shook Me All Night Long is a fantastic song. That said, Randy took it one step beyond with a performance that included all the high notes and sliding on his knees + air guitar at the appropriate parts. That was an amazing night of entertainment – one that included the legendary Jose Barbero literally stepping out of an alleyway when we were walking home and saying this classic line, “Man, these Japanese girls are crazy. I was with one earlier this weekend and I couldn’t tell if I was fuckink her or keeling her. I love Japan!”

@allanhowls
Rupert Holmes, Escape. Pity me.

Knutson: This gentleman wins the prize for most egregious guilty pleasure of all time. I loathe this song for so many reasons and yet have been clearly overruled by it’s unfortunate popularity. If you were playing the girl drink drunk game, this song has 15 umbrellas, whipped cream, and is served in a coconut carved in the shape of a tiki girl. Terribad in every way. (Yes, even worse than Yanni and John Tesh. Though maybe not Kenny G.)

I’ll close by saying I used to like Bing Luke – now I am not so sure.

@prolepsis9 – the reason I know you’re off base is the Final Countdown is playing in your head now

Good Stuff to Read – May 2011

I am a modern man, which means my basic quest in life beyond procreation is to stave off boredom. As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, this has been one of the most impressive entertainment months I’ve ever experienced. What I mean by that is almost every single thing I have watched, played, and read has been a platinum hit. Not only that, but most of them have been a little off the beaten path, which in and of itself isn’t that unusual, but quality plus unusual is… uh… well, it doesn’t happen very often and for the past month it has been happening all the time. The “Damn, this is cool” areas of my brain have been stimulated for weeks, putting me well past the point where I should go see a doctor.

I’m going to assume you guys are hip to the big stuff in pop culture, which means I’ll skip discussing Portal 2 (excellent), Game of Thrones (also excellent, though in a case of TV jibing almost directly with the books, I’m a little sad any time Jamie and/or Tyrion aren’t on screen), and Glee (which you either love, hate, or profess to hating while it’s secretly a wicked guilty pleasure for you. This last one is not unlike having Nicole Kidman and then Joey from Dawson’s Creek as your succession of beards. You apparently have excellent taste in women, but maybe you should stop jumping up and down on couches and hating yourself).

Note to the kids at home : Don’t write paragraphs where 70% of the words are contained in vaguely clever asides. This shit does not fly well with your teachers and professors, even if you actually manage to be funny. I know this from experience.

Right, books… The recommendation to read Patrick Rothfuss came from a few directions, but mostly Becker and Ferrett first, and then BDM, Joey Pasco… and eventually lots of people were banging the Rothfussian drum. They were absolutely correct – when it comes to writing, Patrick Rothfuss is a golden god. I’m in the process of (slowly) compiling a (large) list of books worth reading in Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Rothfuss’s name now goes all the way at the top. Yes, even above George R.R. Martin, Guy Gavriel Kay, Stephen Erikson, and Robin Hobb. Certainly above Tolkein and Robert Jordan. Rothfuss’s world is brilliant, his writing incredibly vivid, characters compelling, dialogue wonderfully spiky and clever, and he’s damned funny. With In The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fear, he’s telling the epic tell of Kvothe, but eschewing all the narrative and perspective skipping of so many other epic fantasy writers in favour of just telling an awesome fucking story.

Thus far in two incredible books, Rothfuss has managed to gloriously employ all of the narrative hooks that readers like me typically love (teenage angst, training, a sense of discovery, worldbuilding with different cultures, rivalry, magic + mystery), and avoided the common pitfalls that so many of his brethren hit again and again. The books were so good that I started re-reading them two weeks after finishing the second book, which for me has only ever happened with Ender’s Game, which remains my favourite book ever. That is the rarified air that Rothfuss achieves.

If you like fantasy at all, you need to read these books… and then wait another five to seven years for the third one to come out. Sorry, it can’t all be good news.

I’ve also been reading quite a few comic books since my return to civilization, mostly based on recommendations from friends and you fine people on Twitter. I used to read a ton of comics when I was young, but since comics have a high cost to value, I’ve stopped reading them at various times in life, most recently when I moved to Curacao and no comics were available.

The Umbrella Academy was a recommendation from Justin Treadway that turned out to be an amazing one. I’m a big fan of Gabriel Ba’s work on Casanova, and it turns out UA has all of the good trippy bits of Casanova, plus better storytelling with less drug-fuelled haze. (I’m not sure how Matt Fraction is the writer of Casanova and the excellent Iron Man reboot, but after following him on Twitter for a while, I’d have to just say drugs. Lots of drugs.)Don’t get me wrong – I like Casanova, but I don’t always get everything that is going on there. UA shares a similar look (Ba has a very recognizable and wonderful style), with a slightly darker color palette and storyline about seven super children who are dealing with life as grown ups. The art is brilliant, the stories are good and yet really out there, and the dialogue – while not Bendis calibre – is enjoyable. I was initially rather sceptical that a member of My Chemical Romance could pull this off, but so far I’m quite pleased with the results.

Powers is another comic I have been reading lately, and one that has really won me over. The premise is that it follows two homicide detectives who only cover super-hero related crimes, which is a pretty damned good premise. I only read trades these days, and I have to say that the first Powers hardcover didn’t impress me right away. I thought the story started a little slow, but the bigger problem was that I was somewhat turned off by the style of art Oemming uses for the book. I’ve mostly gotten over that, but it does hold the book back a little in my opinion. However, things picked up in the middle of the first story arc and I found myself really enjoying things by the end.

Hardcovers 2 and particularly 3 are even better. In book 2, Bendis really hits his stride in two different outstanding story arcs, including a government conspiracy involving a major super group, but book 3 was where I found myself having ‘Holy shit, did he really just do this?’ moments. These are good things. I dunno, maybe everyone holds off on publishing the secret origin for one of the main characters until twenty or thirty books in these days, and kicks that off with a book that heavily involves monkey fucking, but I found it original and awesome.

So yeah, Powers is great and should definitely be read.

Stuff to Avoid
Most of the comic recommendations I have received in the last year have been great, but one that sucked was Blackest Night. Depending on how old you are, you may remember the early days of Image comics where books were 22 pages of generally great art and sparse stories – Blackest Night was just like that, except it was supposedly the biggest comics event of the year. The art was great and the story was basically the most boring event story imaginable. I found it super disappointing, especially given how good Geoff Johns other Green Lantern work has been. The repercussions have been pretty hit or miss as well, with Morrison’s recent Batman work turning out to be really flaky (though I have enjoyed most of Batman and Robin).

I also enjoyed the first couple books of Chuck Dixon’s G.I. Joe revival and definitely liked the Cobra series, but book 4 of G.I. Joe was total pants. I’ll probably give the main series one more shot to not suck before I call it quits (mostly based on how much I liked trades 1-3).

Quotes – May 9, 2011

Richard Feldman – ‎”Using Therapy to beat hate cards is straightforward: think of the card you fear, picture it in your mind, then say its name out loud. Do this as Cabal Therapy is resolving.”

Mr Fridays- 1̶.̶ ̶O̶s̶a̶m̶a̶ ̶B̶i̶n̶ ̶L̶a̶d̶e̶n̶ 2. Waldo 3. Carmen Sandiego

David Williams -You’d think I’d learn my lesson ordering my Thai food super spicy. Fire goes in…fire comes out.

Russell Tassicker – Starting to worry that my PS3 goes through my wallet while I’m asleep.

Gavin Verhey – First impression of @Card_Kingdom Richard Garfield just casually hanging out in the cafe, having a drink and playing games. Seriously.

Mark Leggett- I think a lot of the appeal with Dame Helen Mirren is that you can’t get her pregnant, no matter how hard you and your friends try.

Matthew Rubin: I eat at IKEA three times a week.
Mr Fridays: They serve food at IKEA?
Matt: Yes. Tasty and cheap Swedish meatball sandwiches.
MrFridays: Do they make you put the sandwich together yourself?

Michelle Tait: I hate getting my picture taken though, which is kind of a drawback
Knutson: wedding day should be all sorts of fun for you
Michelle Tait: I might have to kill someone. Someone with a camera

Knutson: do you still have that brain + gorilla clip you linked me to?
mrfridays: Nigga, I still got my lunch money from the 3rd grade
Knutson: Lies! Yo mama was on welfare and you only had a lunch card.

Courtney DelVecchio- has been laid off three times in one week from the same job. That’s gotta be a record.

Dan Barrett – (Re: The burgeoning PV + Lauren Lee relationship (which, much like #conleyhasdiabetes is probably a complete fabrication)): “The only thing she had yet to qualify for… was his heart”

SamStod – Little known fact- Ichor Wellspring is both a magic card, and the nickname for @witzo’s heart.

Jason Meyer -Sometimes I’ll turn off all the lights and leave the cat in the dark for fifteen minutes, just so I can turn on the lights and see how cute he looks with big dilated pupils. He doesn’t seem to mind.

EDT – You can’t humiliate a Lakers fan because if their team loses, and you call to taunt them it’s always the same “Sorry I’m not here, I’m at the BEACH”

Aaron Forsythe – I have to wait for the plumber to finish before I can head to the prerelease. I didn’t think it was possible for New Phyrexia to be ruined by a leak AGAIN!

Matt Weber – Cicadas are your average suburban teenager. Sheltered for seventeen years, only to play terrible music in hopes of attracting something to screw.

Richi omg the 63 card guy beat me in g1
jfc noob.
Richi monored w 63 cards
Richi ¬¬
jfc extra burn obv
Richi obvobvobv

<brimstone> I remember this one time I played vs Evan in the finals of an 8-4 and he asked to split. And I said no because I watched Drafting with Evan

mrfridays (Re: Michael Bolton and this video) He’ll probably become the natural successor to the throne that Nate Dogg left bare

The Top 5 MMA Fighters of All Time and More – MailBag for May 5, 2011

Mailbag for May 5 2011

Greetings and welcome to another Mixed kNuts Mailbag. In general, since I asked for them in the first place, I try not to turn questions away. Thus you will occasionally find me answering awkward ones – don’t blame me, blame your fellow readers.

Eugene Harvey, Dancing Machine

I heard you broke a woman’s foot at some Christmas party? – @OsypL
That is a filthy lie! The real culprit of this story is former U.S. National Champion Eugene “Dancing Machine” Harvey. I have it on good information that Eugene has taken quite a few dancing lessons, but that didn’t stop him from accidentally stepping on his dance partner’s foot at the Pinnacle Christmas party and breaking it. The entire party had to stop while the ambulance came and collected this poor lady from the dance floor. Being the sensitive creature that he is, Eugene was nearly inconsolable for a whole week.

Feel free to dance with the Yooge, ladies, but watch your feet.

Who’ll be a favourite on Wembley, MU or Barça (assuming MU don’t embarrass themselves tomorrow)? – ZXSphynxx
(I answered this before the lines came out after the Schalke game.) Barcelona will likely be favourites, probably by at least a quarter goal. The three best tacticians in football right now are Pep, Mourinho, and Sir Alex Ferguson. Despite how amazing Barce have looked over the last few years, Sir Alex is still the best manager there is. That said, Barcelona have a rather large talent advantage in the midfield and on the wings, and they are now a HUGE public team, so the line will have to be solidly in their favour.

If Barce actually open a half goal favourite, I think you’ll find most sharps betting Manchester United simply for value. (The Champions League final is like the Super Bowl, except with even more money wagered on it worldwide.) At the Nou Camp, Bracelona -.5 might make some sense – at a neutral site, no way.

(Checking the line, Barcelona did open up a half goal favorite. You’ve got to really really love Barcelona at the price to bet on them.)

What was it like to edit one of Rizzo’s articles? – chpwright
I love Rizzo, but that man hated his editors like no one else, despite the fact he was a clean writer! The articles weren’t just challenging because they were long, they also had cursing, dick jokes, and ridiculous tangents. In fact some articles were just one giant tangent – how do you edit that to help it make the greatest possible sense?

One comeback article was literally 150 pages single-spaced in Word. I think it was outstanding, but man alive it was miserable to edit.

What are the Top 5 pound-for-pound MMA fighters of all time? – Sean Peconi
Judging this one is hard because the eras are so different. Royce Gracie was an amazing pioneer, but he did what he did when no one else actually knew jiu jitsu. Dan Severn used to take people down and then beat the crap out of them with his shoulder of all things because the UFC had awful rules back in the day. So in judging this, I’ve tried to err towards skill set and overall dominance during the fighter’s prime.

Top 5 (no order) : Fedor, Georges Saint Pierre, Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, Bas Rutten
Honorable Mention: Matt Hughes (Machida would go here but it’s still early.)

Fedor is the most dominant heavyweight ever. In his later career he became a big pussy with regard to who he chose as opponents, but for almost ten years in Pancrase and Pride he couldn’t be touched. This is in a sport where you expect most good fighters to lose at least one out of every five fights, and he never lost until the end.

GSP is ridiculous and there isn’t anyone in his weight class that comes close to him. BJ Penn is an outstanding, if sometimes lazy fighter, and GSP has completely manhandled him. He even managed to avenge his loss to Matt Hughes twice. He might be slowing down a little because he’s almost 30 and his recent fights are always going to decisions, but I don’t know who has enough talent to beat him in that weight class.

Anderson Silva seems pretty obvious, but Wanderlei is at the end of his career and is pretty punch drunk at this point. Once upon a time, he was the most ferocious and unstoppable fighter on the planet. When he was in his prime, he beat everybody around him and terrified guys to boot.

Bas Rutten was a beast

Bas Rutten is perhaps the most controversial of the choices. He’s the smartest fight commentator by a mile (Joe “retard strength” Rogan, while fine, is a troglodyte compared to Bas. Rogan was a stand-up comedian and yet Rutten is far funnier), but his MMA career was equally impressive. The problem is most Americans never got a chance to see him outside of his brief time in UFC. His losses came to Shamrocks (both Frank and Ken) and some random Japanese dude (who just happened to be a Pancrase World Champ) when he just started out in Pancrase and didn’t understand ground fighting.

Even though Bas was somewhat old when he moved to UFC, he was still awesome, and he’s definitely one of the smartest MMA guys you’ll ever encounter.

Dear Teddy,

They say the worse you are at MTG, the better you are at trading.  As you’ve probably already heard, I bought a $1.2Mil Mexican Villa in Cabo off of my trading profits last year.  Why do you think a player can’t be simultaneously good at the game and at trading?

~ Jonhny M, Ohio

It’s notoriously difficult to multitask and do both things really well. If you are at a tournament to play, you should be locking in on that and relaxing between rounds. If you are at a tournament to make mad bank by trading, that is obviously your focus, but being in the tournament will cut into your profitability, sometimes dramatically. Just look at Saito – how did he ever expect to get trades in when he was playing so damned slow? In general, these Magic economy guys spend a little too much time thinking about numbers and not enough time attacking for two.

Enjoy the Villa – hope you paid off the local drug dealers and cops, or you probably won’t get to keep it.

What was your nickname for Millionaire Playboy Pete Hoefling when you first met him? – B. Bleiweiss

*Looks around sheepishly. Kicks some dirt.*

“Little Hitler.”

Don’t judge me, you guys didn’t see him. We were at an IPA Block PTQ in the old SCG building’s basement, and before play started, Pete stood up on a chair and shouted a bunch of rules to the 75 of us in attendance.  The short stature, the bossy demeanor, the crazy salute at the end when he wished us good luck for the rest of the event… Little Hitler seemed appropriate.

That was also the PTQ where Richie Proffitt absolutely demolished the lone bathroom in the store, making it unusable for two rounds. I, however, did not know this and really needed to go. I don’t know if it was a trait inherent to Richie’s dumps or if the ventilation in the old building was weird or what… but this was a backdraft dump. I couldn’t smell anything as I approached the room, so thought it was safe to go in. Then as soon as I closed the door, the smell exploded out of the floorboards and I wanted to die. Unfortunately, I was stuck until my bidness was done. I tried breathing through my shirt, but that caused gagging, so in order not to puke, I just held my breath. It’s too bad I didn’t know Dan Barrett then, because I might have set a world record for human breath-holding before I was done.

When I opened the door, three of my friends – who had seen Richie crush the bathroom earlier, but failed to tell me about it – were sitting nearby and gave me a round of applause, laughing at my horrible fate. Magic players are bastards. That said, I’ve had/made bad first impressions with a number of guys who later became some of my best friends.

Ravager felt like cheating. Jace feels like owning a nicer car then your neighbor. – @witzo
They both kill you the same amount of dead, but it certainly feels different. Ravager was like Ed Norton in American History X in its punctuated brutality. You sit down for a match, see artifact lands, know what your enemy is, and probably die within four turns. Skinheads aren’t exactly trying to hide their beliefs, are they?

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is just as good at fucking people up, but he’s so much more patient with it. Jace is the type who drugs your food, strips you naked and climbs into a warm bath with you while you are aware, but totally helpless. He’ll then slit your wrists ever-so-gently and hold you while you bleed, waiting for your pulse to stop and the light to leave your frightened eyes.

Is Jace to blame for Sunderland’s injury woes in 2011? – Russell Tassicker
Speaking as an Arsenal fan, a team that usually has so many injuries you’d think their field of battle was somewhere in Afghanistan instead of on the football pitch, I feel your pain. The positive elements you can focus on are that you are staying up, you have a rich owner willing to bankroll future star acquisition, the Stadium of Light is a modern facility with supporters who actually show up, and Steve Bruce generally seems to know how to coach a defense.

The negatives are that your squad might be very injury prone, you don’t have too much depth, one of your most important players (Lee Cattermole) is extremely prone to stupid tackles and red cards, The Premiership is extremely deep in talented teams with big revenues now and Sunderland are not one of them, and Steve Bruce generally does not know how to coach offense, especially away from home. If everything goes right next season and all your players stay healthy, eighth is about the best you can hope for.

Sorry.

If you could snap your fingers and get a new way to play Magic Organized Play what would you add? -@sunmesaglenn
This one is hard because I’m almost too far removed from attending regular MTG events to have a decent opinion. Back in 2006/2007 I would have said WotC needs to start supporting EDH – it’s just too cool not to. It took them a few years, but they got there. Now I think WotC absolutely needs to start supporting real Cubes online (not some namby-pamby WotC standard cube), but that’s not so much OP as a Magic Online thing.

Back when I was a regular player in the U.S., I really REALLY wanted more competitive, big money Standard events. Standard was always my favourite format, and it was tragically undersupported by Wizards of the Coast until Forsythe and co. got wise and changed all that. Now SCG has huge Standard events all over the U.S. there are a bunch of Standard Grand Prix, and Standard makes regular appearances at the Pro Tour, so I can’t complain about that at all.

Honestly, I’m really hoping for what I mentioned in the MTG and WWE post – I want the production values on the Pro Tour to go way up and turn those events into a more entertaining spectator’s sport. I know the audience has been booming there, but I know there’s a lot that can be done to make it better. 

“What is the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make moving to England?” “How difficult did you find the immigration process?” – @michelle_tait
Wellllll, to answer your second question, I got kicked out of the country for about two months. To cut a very long story short, I’ll just say it was difficult and at no point should you expect someone to ever apply any common sense to this process.

There have been a few major adjustments I needed to make here in the UK that I didn’t expect. The first is that all the shops close by 6PM (grocery stores stay open a little later), so you definitely need to take care of your bidness during the day. The second is that I can’t drive here, so despite having driven a car with no accidents since I was 16, I haven’t driven here at all since we moved. I need to go get my UK license, but obviously I’m not in any real hurry to do so. The other really annoying thing about being here is the fact that the vast majority of my friends are American, so we don’t get nearly as much crossover time to talk as we used to.

Note to People Magazine: Cheryl Cole is hotter than J Lo.

The big adjustment that probably makes me the happiest has to do with the language. The Queen’s English and American English overlap, but are definitely not the same. I find this to be quietly hilarious. I just love all the differences in word choice and linguistic nuance, and I’m not sure it will ever grow old to me.  When I speak here I definitely use a lot of different words that I wouldn’t use in the same context in the United States, and I do so to be understood without having to repeat myself three times. Plus, a lot of the celebrities here have ridiculous accents here that cause me to giggle every time they are on TV (like Cheryl Cole and Wayne Rooney… and they’re English! Scottish, Welsh, and Irish are two steps beyond) .

How often do you run afoul of Magic writer egos or hurt feelings when working as a content manager for a Magic website? – Geordie Tait
All the time. Hell, there’s still potential for it to happen even when I am writing. If you express an opinion, you give people the opportunity to overreact to something, and writers are a sensitive lot.

Working as an editor for a site that doesn’t have a strict publishing schedule means herding cats is a large part of your job. Look at current SCG – they had four articles up for a Thursday, despite the fact that they have a huge writer corps and we have a new set coming out. To avoid this you need to plan, communicate, badger, cajole, and sometimes beg people to write articles when you need them to write, even if they aren’t particularly in the mood.

The other thing you have to do is provide regular feedback for what is good, what isn’t, and particularly, what really works and what really sucks. Some writers thrive on this, others will end up hating you for it but it must be done.

Shortly after I took over SCG, I did a general review of all the writers on the site, clipping and pruning stuff I felt needed to go away while making space for new additions. One person’s work was really terribad, the kind of work you see submitted only when someone isn’t really putting any thought whatsoever into their writing, and instead just churning out articles to make a few dollars. I sent an email saying this (politely) and received a response that I needed to have more respect for the writer and what they’d accomplished. Now I’d just explained in detail how their last eight articles were poor, culminating in an article that was so bad it looked like something I would write if I were making a parody article of bad tournament reports… how do even you respond to that?

Dear sir,
Your recent articles have been the equivalent of you taking a giant shit on a plate and offering it up for pay. Unfortunately, we only accept shit when it’s been properly garnished. Add some microgreens and herb-oil infusions to your next article and we can talk about respect.

Sincerely,
Teddy CardGame

So yeah, editing a big website with big-name writers who have big egos to go along with it? Big pain in the ass. You have to make sure the site/owner gets value, the needs of your schedule get met, the readers and writers both stay happy, and your budget doesn’t end up looking like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon.

I still loved it.

Have you ever considered, now that you’re coverage-retired, qualifying for the Pro Tour? – blisterguy
I have, but I work in sportsbetting. That means weekends, and basically all of them. I’m reasonably certain I could qualify here in the UK with the proper amount of work, but finding the time to actually attend tournaments is basically impossible. So I’ll just sit over here on the sidelines and continue to heckle people in the meantime.

How much of an edge do you need to take a prop bet? Examples ? – torerotutor
The basic answer to this one is you need to have a bigger edge than the vig. Our soccer product has a neutral line of -103/-103 or .97/.97 depending on what odds format you prefer. That works out to a 1.5% buffer of protection for the house (which isn’t much. American-facing books typically charge a minimum of -110/-110, which is 5%). In order to win against lines like ours, you need to be right about 52% of the time. That’s actually not that hard to do. (Sportsbetting is absolutely, positively a game of skill at low-vig books.)

With regard to prop betting, it’s a bit tougher to figure out. If you are looking at sportsbooks, props will have much higher vigs because they have much higher degrees of uncertainty – your edge still needs to overcome that. If you are just betting with your friends, the barrier for wagers goes down, but your edge now becomes predicated on the consequences. If it’s just money, you need to have a large edge to bet large. If it’s embarrassment stakes, then you need to either not care about the consequences OR have a very large edge. Also, be very careful when making drunken wagers, since regardless of what you might think your edge was at the time, these rarely seem to pay off. (Unless you are betting against Chris Lachmann, in which case they always pay off. Lachmann is the worst friendly prop bettor the world has ever seen.)

Dear Mixed Knuts, what is the length of your erect dong, in inches? – @#1Geordie_Tait_Fan

Aaaand I’m out.

–Teddy CardGame

@mixedknuts on Twitter

3D Time Stop Photos

I promised these to someone last week and finally got around to taking new pictures. It’s literally the only thing I saved from my MTG collection when I moved to Curacao.

I also washed this one out with some flash to give you a better sense of the layers.