My wife lost her job in May.

I won’t go into the sordid details, but I will say this:

First, we’re fine. Money’s a little tighter than we’d like, but everybody’s got clothes and food, a bed and a roof.



I took the spendy bits of my Magic collection to the excellent fellows at Mythic Monster Gaming and I now have an embarrassing amount of store credit. I won’t be playing any Standard for the foreseeable future.

I’ll be drafting.

I love drafting.12365254_f520

Rather than continuing to hit you with anecdotes about my return to the game after OH SO MANY YEARS away, I’m going to post decklists and fun and exciting stories about my drafts so you can live vicariously through me while you do dorky stuff like go to parties and kiss girls. I doubt any of my fellow drafters will be patient enough for me to walk you through every pick of every pack, but I’ll do my best to make sense of it all. Plus this means my wife doesn’t have to listen to me ramble on and on about it.

So without further ado:

Draft seasons have a natural rhythm to them. When a new set comes out, everyone is excited to play but no one has any experience with the format, so it’s pretty wide open. Players experiment with color pairs, watch how the pros draft to see which cards they favor, see if there are any hidden interactions. It’s a good time. By the time the next set is about to come out, everyone has plenty of experience with the format and no one is as excited to play. All the options have been explored, the archetypes have been ranked, the great cards and the poop cards are all settled. It’s not boring, exactly, because it’s still Magic, but the thrill of discovery is basically gone. There’s a sweet spot somewhere in the middle, and we’re long past that with Dragons of Tarkir/Dragons of Tarkir/Fate Reforged draft. Modern Masters 2015 exists, but it’s such an expensive set to draft that most people aren’t willing to do it. Magic: Origins is scheduled for release mid-July, and it can’t come soon enough for me.

DTK_PlayerChartWhen Dragons of Tarkir first came out, Blue/Black seemed like the best color pair to draft. The colors had lots of synergy (both colors have creatures with Exploit and a bunch of creatures like Palace Familiar, Youthful Scholar, Sultai Emissary and Shambling Goblin just begging to be exploited). I still think it’s one of the best pairs, but I don’t try to force it like I used to. Partly, this is because I think there’s a better color pair (Black/Red); partly, it’s because I think all the color pairs are basically playable, so I’m more likely to read signals than to force colors. The poster children dragon clans are probably the best (Black/Red, Blue/Black, Green/White, Red/Green, White/Blue – roughly in that order, I think), but if you go into the other pairs, you can get rewarded with cards in the Fate Reforged pack that nobody else wants (Grim Contest, Harsh Sustenance, War Flare, Ethereal Ambush, Cunning Strike – again, roughly in that order). I’ve had fun, and won, with decks in pretty much every pair (I don’t think I’ve ever tried Blue/Red, but it was very strong in Khans of Tarkir/Fate Reforged draft, so I bet it could be good).

That said, I’m really happy to see the red and black cards flowing like I did last night.

6/18/15 Dragons/Dragons/Fate Draft Red/black

Creatures (13)
Atarka Efreet
Atarka Pummeler
Flamewake Phoenix
Goblin Heelcutter
Hardened Berserker
Humble Defector
Pitiless Horde
Sabertooth Outrider
Screamreach Brawler
Sprinting Warbrute
Summit Prowler

Spells (10)
Bathe in Dragonfire
Collateral Damage
Draconic Roar
Foul-Tongue Invocation
Tail Slash
Ultimate Price
Wild Slash

Enchantments (1)
Berserkers’ Onslaught

Lands (16)
Bloodfell Caves
10 Mountain

The rare in my first pack was Ojutai’s Command. It’s a fine card in the right deck, but I don’t want this card for two reasons. First, I don’t want to commit to two colors right off the bat. Second, White/Blue isn’t somewhere I necessarily mind ending up if all the best cards for the deck just jump in the boat, but it’s not something I want to try to make happen. The uncommons in the pack weren’t particularly exciting either, so I went with the best common in one of the best colors. I first picked a Tail Slash. It’s a very powerful piece of removal, but it’s extremely dependent on having creatures in play. Fortunately, limited is all about creatures. We don’t want a whole stack of cards like this, but I’ll happily take two to three of them.

A Pitiless HordeSprinting Warbrute and Ultimate Price later, I’m definitely hoping to be Black/Red. This early, either of these colors can dry up, but I’m good with being mostly red or mostly black and splashing the other color. The black dries up just a bit, and I pass some good black cards like Hand of Silumgar and Blood-Chin Rager in favor of good red ones like Atarka Pummeler and Atarka Efreet just to make sure I’m prepared to jump out of black if necessary. Red/Green can be a very strong archetype, too, and I get a late Aerie Bowmasters to keep me guessing.

bonslaughtPack two, I’ve got my eyes open for a Swift Warkite to pair with my Pitiless Horde, because that is outrageous. I never see one, but I do see some more solid red cards, so I stock up on Tail Slashes, Hardened Berserkers and Summit Prowlers. I let Ambuscade Shamans and Reckless Imps go, as much as I’d like them, because there’s a similarly-powerful red card in the pack and I know I’m red for sure. Berserkers’ Onslaught comes around eighth pick, and I’m very happy I committed hard to red. This looks like a bad card. It costs 5 mana, a fortune in Limited, and it doesn’t do anything on its own. You need something to pair it with for it to be effective, but if you have literally any creature, it will take over the game. The upside is so high, it’s worth the risk that sometimes it does nothing. This card should never go that late, so I can infer one of two things from this: either no one else at the table is drafting red (very unlikely), or no one else at the table knows how powerful this card is. I guess there’s secret intersection option three: the people at the table who know how powerful the card is aren’t drafting red. Either way, I’m snatching this thing up and not looking back. I have a bunch of 4- and 5-power creatures, some of which even have trample, and they love having double strike.

All I want in the Fate Reforged pack is an endless stream of Goblin Heelcutters. I only see one, and that’s in my opening pack, so I’m sure someone passing from my right is also red. I get the wombo combo of Humble Defector and a pair of Collateral Damages, though, so I’m not sad about how things end up. I also snag a Bloodfell Caves for just a touch of mana fixing, and a confusingly late Wild Slash.

Round one, I played against a Green/White deck. I like this combination, since bolster can really get out of control. I don’t think Sandsteppe Scavenger is a particularly good card, but it’s downright terrifying in multiples if you can’t keep it in check. We took giant swings at each other’s life totals for three games, but I ended up winning the match. In game 3, I hard cast my Pitiless Horde fairly early, hoping to just remove any blockers and trade 5 damage for 2 for four turns, but that didn’t quite work out. I had a Collateral Damage in my hand as an insurance policy, figuring I could get the Horde out of play before it really threatened my life total, but I didn’t draw much land so my resources were choked most of the game. It worked out better in the end to just shove damage by dashing in Sprinting Warbrutes and not try to leave up a red mana for the Collateral Damage, but I’m pretty sure I was dead to anything the turn before I won. My opponent was at 5 life, and he had 9 power on the board. I was at 12 life with no untapped creatures. If he had attacked with everything, I would have gone to 3, and my Pitiless Horde would have dropped me to 1 on my next upkeep. If he had anything that could push one extra damage through, I was dead; if not, he was dead on the return swing. He was conservative and didn’t attack. I ended up going to 10 on my turn, then I attacked to force a trade with the Horde to get it off the table. I finished the game by attacking with a top-decked Flamewake Phoenix to drop my opponent to 3, then a Collateral Damage, sacrificing the Phoenix, to drop him to dead.

humbledefectorMy round two opponent had a White/Blue deck with a splash of black, probably for Exploit tomfoolery. We traded wins the first two games. At one point I went for the Humble Defector/Collateral Damage combo (tap the Humble Defector to put his ability [draw 2 cards and give control of him to your opponent] on the stack; before that ability resolves, cast Collateral Damage, sacrificing the Humble Defector — net result: draw 2 cards, your opponent does not gain control of the Humble Defector because it is dead before the ability resolves, you deal 3 damage to your opponent or one of his creatures).

My opponent wasn’t sure if that worked, so he called for a judge.collateraldamage

Important Lesson #1: Don’t hesitate to call a judge.

The point is to make sure the game plays out correctly, and that you and your opponent understand everything that’s happening. If something seems off or doesn’t make sense, call someone. Get it clarified. They’ll either explain it to you if you’re confused, or they’ll correct it if your opponent did something wrong (intentionally or not).

Important Lesson #1a: Don’t be offended when your opponent calls a judge.

It’s not an accusation. No one’s calling you a cheater. Magic is a complicated game, and that’s why judges exist.

Important Lesson #2: Be gracious.

In game three of round two, my opponent mulliganed down to six cards, then never got a second land into play. Winning like that feels miserable, but not as miserable as losing like that feels, so it’s best to just pack up your stuff and be gracious whichever side of it you’re on. It happens.

My round three opponent was Black/White, with at least one other splash color thrown in for good measure. He also had the downright terrifying, damn near unbeatable Sunscorch Regent, so I knew I had to win fast if I was going to win at all. I was beating down pretty hard game one, but I was frustrated at only drawing one Swamp most of the game. I was down to 3 life, but I attacked to put my opponent to 4. I had lots of damage on the board thanks to a Sabertooth Outrider and a Berserkers’ Onslaught, and my opponent had nothing but land.

Important Lesson #3: Remember cards your opponent has revealed. Write them down if necessary.

ambuscadeshamanI used to track my and my opponent’s life totals with 20-sided dice, but a better player explained to me that dice can get bumped and it can be really tough to reset the game if that happens. So I started using pen and paper. It was hard at first, but now I’m much more comfortable tracking those things with paper. Despite having pen and paper right there every game, I’ve never gotten in the habit of taking other notes as I play. My opponent had an Ambuscade Shaman in his hand. I knew about it. He dashed it in and hit me with it earlier in the game. I went to 3 with no blockers against an opponent with a 4/4 haste in his hand.

Important Lesson #4: Play your lands.

ultimatepriceI wanted that second Swamp all game to dash in my Pitiless Horde, so I was annoyed to draw yet another Mountain on my final turn. I didn’t want another Mountain. I wanted a Swamp. So I didn’t play a land on my turn. I kept the stupid Mountain in my hand, because it was a jerk and not a Swamp. And I died to a dashed Ambuscade Shaman with one untapped Swamp in play and an Ultimate Price in my hand.

I ended up winning the match, but you can’t get better if you assume that winning glosses over mistakes. Those were two huge ones, and parts of my game I need to tighten up.

Thus endeth my recap. I took my five Dragons of Tarkir packs home, opened at least one valuable rare (Thanks for paying for the draft, Collected Company!), and unsleeved my deck to get ready for next time. Every card of any value that I open will eventually be traded back in for store credit. For now, I don’t collect. I just play. It’s a nice, zen approach to the game.

This is basically what I plan to do with these Magic posts for the foreseeable future. If you dig them, let me know. If not, let me know that, too. But, y’know, gently. I’m fragile.

And seriously, don’t worry about the financial situation. I know most of you are very kind and generous. Point that generosity elsewhere. It’s an adjustment, to be sure, but we’re worse off than some, better off than most.

Point the kindness this way, though. I like the kindness.

Last time, we discussed the wonderful Magic decks that can be built by rummaging through boxes of commons and uncommons. I built one for my daughter, and she played it after school and at the local card store while I spent my time drafting. When I was drafting Khans of Tarkir every week, I became very fond of the Jeskai clan. Each clan in Khans of Tarkir has its own keyword, which is Magic-ese for a word that appears on cards and has a load-bearing rules meaning. The Jeskai keyword is Prowess. Prowess appears only on creatures. A creature with Prowess gets +1/+1 until end of turn whenever you cast a spell that isn’t a creature.

Here is one of my very favorite creatures with Prowess:

Image (1)

Not only does this guy get +1/+1 until end of turn whenever you cast a noncreature spell, he also gets lifelink, an ability that causes the creature’s controller to gain life points equal to the amount of damage he deals. For instance, if I am at 17 life and my 3/3 creature with lifelink deals damage, I go to 20 life. Gaining life isn’t usually a good strategy to pin your hopes on. Magic is essentially a game of resource management, and since you start with 20 life and 7 cards, cards are, by definition, worth more than life. I’m not sure how much life is worth an entire card, but it’s an awful lot. But creatures are different than one-shot spells because they stick around and continue to affect the game after you cast them, and life is a finite resource in Magic — running your opponent out of it while keeping some of yours is the most common way to win. A 3/3 (or bigger) lifelink creature is much more powerful than a spell that just gains you life. It can kill most cheap creatures in combat (and even some more expensive ones) in combat while padding your life total, and if it hits the opponent directly it causes a 6-point life swing (you gain 3, they lose 3).

I didn’t think much of playing Standard for my first few months back in the game. I was pretty content in the “We’ll head to the game store and I’ll draft while you play Standard or more likely I’ll drop you off at your friend’s house for a sleepover on the way” arrangement the kid and I had reached. But then, one fateful day, everything changed.

A brand new game store opened right around the corner from my house. And they were planning a GREAT BIG GIANT GRAND OPENING SHINDIG BLOWOUT FEST-STRAVAGANZA TOURNAMENT. First prize would be a box of booster packs and $100 in store credit.

And that tournament would be Standard.

Now it was time to build a deck of my own.

Competitive Standard decks can cost hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Here. Look.

Esper Control by Gerard Fabiano

For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t interested in building a $500-$1,000 Magic deck. The easiest alternative to that madness would be to duplicate the deck I built my daughter. It was a fine, respectable, noble deck, and we had made it better and better over the weeks. But I wanted to build something new, and since her deck was mono-red, I wanted to look in different colors for mine. Jeskai, my preferred draft clan, was white, blue and red. Strip out the red and you’ve got blue and white, a very favorite color combination of mine from Once Upon a Time. I knew what blue and white cards Khans of Tarkir offered, but Standard includes the last two blocks and the latest core set (Magic 2015), and I didn’t know much about anything except Khans. I started looking through common boxes and card lists of sets from the Theros block, the one that immediately preceded Khans of Tarkir, and I found a mechanic that I liked quite a bit, probably because it reminded me of Prowess: Heroic.

Some Magic cards have special text called ability words. Ability words are printed in italics and have no actual game meaning, but they serve as an anchor to show you how seemingly-unrelated abilities are, in fact, related. (Before ability words, players sometimes missed entire set mechanics because they weren’t labeled.)  Heroic is an ability word — it tells you that when this creature is targeted by a spell, it gets some kind of bonus. What that bonus is varies from creature to creature, but that bonus always triggers on being targeted by a spell.

The mono-red deck I built my daughter had a couple Heroic creatures in it. Here’s a fine, upstanding example:


Now, as far as I’m concerned, +1/+1 counters are pretty great. They make your creatures permanently bigger (as opposed to Prowess, which gives +1/+1 until end of turn). I knew there were cool white and blue Prowess cards, and I found some very nice blue and white Heroic cards to add to the mix.

Know what both Prowess and Heroic creatures love? Cheap non-creature spells that target your guys. Feat of Resistance had been great for me in draft, so I figured it might work out well here. Theros had a better, cheaper card that did something very similar:


Prowess and Heroic seemed like they could be best friends if I glued them together with cheap, non-creature spells that targeted my guys, so I started fiddling around with something.

Poor Kid's Revenge 1.0

Creatures (18)
Battlewise Hoplite
Favored Hoplite
Phalanx Leader
Seeker of the Way
Jeskai Elder

Spells (22)
Defiant Strike
Feat of Resistance
Gods Willing
Ordeal of Thassa
Triton Tactics
Treasure Cruise

Lands (20)
10 Plains
Tranquil Cove
Sideboard (15)
Glare of Heresy
Stubborn Denial
Ordeal of Heliod
Treasure Cruise

I was off to a pretty decent start on a playable, competitive deck. Triton Tactics seemed great in a deck with Heroic creatures, since it targeted two creatures at once. Jeskai Elder was my second favorite Prowess creature, and it seemed like she and Battlewise Hoplite would do good work filtering away useless cards, and she would do extra good work stocking up my graveyard to make Treasure Cruise nice and cheap. I wasn’t satisfied with the deck, though, mostly because I wasn’t confident in my very rusty deckbuilding skills. I hadn’t played Standard in a decade and I didn’t play during Theros block at all, so I checked online to see if there was some obvious take on this strategy I was missing. Lo and behold, this deck was on its way to becoming a thing. I read what Tom Ross was doing with the deck, and I tweaked mine and came up with this.

Poor Kid's Revenge 2.0

Creatures (20)
Battlewise Hoplite
Favored Hoplite
Hero of Iroas
Heliod’s Pilgrim
Seeker of the Way
Eidolon of Countless Battles
Lagonna-Band Trailblazer

Spells (18)
Defiant Strike
Gods Willing
Ordeal of Thassa
Feat of Resistance
Ordeal of Heliod
Aqueous Form
Stratus Walk
Ajani’s Presence

Lands (22)
Flooded Strand
Tranquil Cove
Temple of Enlightenment
Mana Confluence
Sideboard (15)
Stubborn Denial
Glare of Heresy
Treasure Cruise
Ajani’s Presence
Aqueous Form
Eidolon of Countless Battles
Heliod’s Pilgrim
Lagonna-Band Trailblazer
Ordeal of Heliod
Singing Bell Strike

Let’s take a minute to talk about the power of tutoring in Magic.


Demonic Tutor is one of the most powerful cards ever printed. (It also prompted more than its share of mom lectures.) For the low, low price of two mana and a card, you can go get any card in your deck and put it straight in your hand. Obviously, this was too powerful, so a few years later, a cycle of “fixed” tutors appeared in Mirage.

enlightened tutor mystical tutorworldly tutor

These are fixed, right? Each color can get only a specific card type or two (despite all that blather on Mystical Tutor, under current rules it gets only instants and sorceries — interrupts and mana sources are instants now), and that card goes on top of your deck instead of right into your hand.

Wrong. Still busted. Well, at least the white and blue ones were. Creatures weren’t very good back then.

A sorcery (like Demonic Tutor) can be played only on your turn (there are more technical rules governing when you can play a sorcery, but let’s leave it at that for now). An instant (like any of the Mirage tutors) can be played pretty much whenever you want (again, not really, but basically), including on your opponent’s turn. So instead of putting the card directly in your hand on your turn, you can put the card on top of your deck whenever you want — for instance, right before you’re about to draw your card at the beginning of your turn. The “drawback” of putting the card on top of your deck instead of putting it right in your hand isn’t really a drawback at all, and it’s even an advantage sometimes.

Oh, and they saved the black one for later in the block.

vampiric tutor

Arguably even stronger than Demonic Tutor. An instant instead of a sorcery, one mana instead of two (and two life, but life doesn’t matter until you’re out of it — amazingly overpowered cards like Necropotence were made early on by naïve designers (and ignored early on by naïve players) who didn’t understand the Life-to-Cards exchange rate was absolutely not 1:1).

Even the red one, which didn’t come along for two more years in Urza’s Saga and appears to have a fairly significant drawback, is incredibly powerful.



Don’t even get me started on Entomb.

Long story short, tutor effects are very, very strong.

Which brings us to this little gem from Magic 2015:

heliods pilgrim

The creature itself is nothing to write home about: a 1/2 for 3 mana is a pretty bad deal. But that tutor effect is worth a love letter or two. Lots of the powerful cards in this deck are Auras — Ordeal of Heliod, Ordeal of Thassa, Stratus Walk, Aqueous Form. With a few copies of Heliod’s Pilgrim, you can include just a couple of these in your deck and go get whichever one you want. Even limited to one card type and even tacked onto an overpriced little creature, a tutor is still a mighty, mighty thing that lets you build a toolbox of different options instead of filling your deck with four copies of the same few cards. It also lets you add one-of “silver bullet” cards like Singing Bell Strike to the sideboard (the cards you can swap into your deck between games of a match to try to improve your chances once you know what your opponent is playing) to deal with big scary monsters.

Venturing outside the commons box a little (and staying on the Aura theme):


To sum up:

1. Tutor up whichever Aura I need

2. Play it at a discount

3. ????

4. Profit

I was ready. My deck was ready.


I started off 2-0, but ended the night 2-3. It was the first Standard event I’d played in roughly a decade, and it was literally the first five matches I played with the deck. It was strong, but I wasn’t. I bashed off to a great start, then sputtered on play mistakes and mental fatigue. Still, it was good to feel like I was actually playing competitive Magic again, and it was pretty cool to see the level of competition in my new home store was very high.

For the first time in a very long time, I wanted to match that level of competition.

Hey, Dad. Remember that Magic game you used to play?”

10e_inv_forest_avon_lgIn 2000, I played in a Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour Qualifier in Columbus, Ohio. The format was Extended. I played a mono-green Stompy deck that used Natural Order to turn a Llanowar Elves into a Thorn Elemental. I finished in 32nd place.


Sorry about that.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me back up. Magic: the Gathering is a collectable card game. Players build their own decks, then they get together to stomp each other’s faces. You can read more about it here, but basically, you play land cards that produce different colors of mana, and you spend that mana on creatures and spells that do good things to you and bad things to other people.

“Yeah, kid. I remember it.”

My daughter is 13 years old. She was born August 3, 2001.

My last competitive Magic event was a Friday Night Magic on February 22, 2002.

I can’t imagine how I got out of the house that night.

“My English teacher is starting a Magic club at school. I think it looks like fun and I want to go.  Do you think we can get some cards? And do you think maybe you can help me build a deck?”

We hit Target after school and snagged a Clash Pack — a boxed set of two decks with good cards for a decent price. I figured I’d use one to teach her to play, then maybe grab her a booster pack or two and combine them all into one deck for her to play after school with her friends.

My next competitive Magic event was September 20, 2014.

Every fall, Magic releases a new expansion set. The week before its official release, they hold a Prerelease Weekend, where players can get their hands on the new cards a little early and play in a tournament with them. Since it coincided so nicely with my daughter’s newfound interest in the game, Khans of Tarkir Prerelease Weekend seemed like a great way to introduce her to the shallow end of the competitive pool and see how she liked it. And while she understandably found it a bit overwhelming, she did enjoy it.

And oh, man, did I ever enjoy it.

“There’s a bunch of cool old cards in this case. Do you have any cool old cards?”

I was 25 years old in 2001. I had a decent enough job, but not a career. Almost immediately after our daughter was born, my wife and I moved to be closer to her parents. I didn’t have much, but I had a pretty good Magic collection. Since I was now a new parent living in my in-laws’ basement hunting for both a new job and a new apartment,

I decided that the Magic collection was the first thing to go. It was the right move, and I got good value for my cards at the time, but [insert investment lecture here]. Cards in that case that I sold for $20 in 2002 are tagged over $150, I notice, gulping slightly and wondering if she really needed all those diapers.

“I don’t. But we can get new cool cards.”

booster_givewayI rummage through the card store’s boxes of commons (Magic cards are sold in 15-card booster packs, and they have different rarities — 10 commons, 3 uncommon and 1 rare (or mythic rare, which is even rarer than rare) appear in each pack; commons, naturally, are the cheapest cards, usually around 15 to 25 cents apiece) and I come up with the makings of a pretty solid mono-red deck for her to take to her after-school Magic club. If there’s one thing that never changes, it’s that mono-red decks are cheap, fast and good (the one rare in the deck came from the $1 box). When I finally meet him, my daughter’s English teacher reports that she is the scourge of the play group. “That deck you built her is mean.”

Yes. Well. These times call for men of cruelty.

Men of Cruelty

Creatures (23)
Akroan Crusader
Firedrinker Satyr
Monastery Swiftspear
Satyr Hoplite
Valley Dasher
Frenzied Goblin

Spells (19)
Coordinated Assault
Dragon Mantle
Ordeal of Purphoros
Titan’s Strength

Lands (18)
18 Mountain

While we’re at the Prerelease tournament, I see that the store runs a weekly Friday Night Magic event. The atmosphere at these events is usually pretty relaxed, especially compared to bigger events like Pro Tour Qualifiers, but they’re still competitive enough to know that if you win a few matches, you’re doing pretty well.

There are two basic types of Magic tournaments: Constructed and Limited.

In constructed tournaments, players show up with their decks already constructed, built out of whatever pool of cards is legal for that specific format (Standard, Modern, Legacy, etc.). The decks can be very powerful because players can use any legal cards they want. The decks can also be very expensive, for similar reasons.

Hordeling-Outburst-Khans-of-Tarkir-SpoilerThe constructed Friday Night Magic event seemed like a good place for my daughter’s mean deck to help her learn the ropes. Winning the whole thing wouldn’t be a realistic early goal for her, but learning how to play and seeing how other people build decks and make decisions all seemed like great things for her to learn, and every now and then, that mono-red buzzsaw would just steal her a win. And she did steal some wins here and there, and she’s gotten steadily better at the game. She doesn’t go to Friday Night Magic every week, but since she’s 13, I’d be pretty sad if she did. She has other interests, but this has definitely become one of them. I like the balance.

Me? I go every week.

As someone returning to the game after a long absence, constructed was not a great plan for me. I didn’t need to learn to play, and I didn’t have access to the cards I’d want to build the kind of deck I enjoy playing. Also, I didn’t know the metagame — the fancypants term for the types of decks that are popular in the format. Without knowing what kind of decks other people are playing, it would be hard for me to build something competitive enough to keep up with my psychotic need to win at all costs healthy desire to play well.

Limited, though . . .

In limited tournaments, players build decks on the fly from a limited pool of cards. The two most popular types of limited events are Sealed Deck tournaments and Booster Draft tournaments. In a Sealed Deck tournament, players each open six booster packs and build the best deck they can from what they find inside. In a Booster Draft tournament, players sit at around a table, usually in pods of eight. Each player gets three booster packs, which he or she opens one at a time. The player selects a card and passes the remaining pack to the adjacent player; this goes on until all the packs are gone. Then each player builds a deck from the cards he or she selected.

I got pretty darn good at Khans of Tarkir booster draft.

Most weeks, I’d win two out of three matches. Some weeks, I’d just win one; rare weeks, I’d win all three. But between the packs I drafted and the packs I won as prizes, I started to rebuild a pretty solid collection. I was starting to have a pretty good pool of cards.

Know what you can do with a pretty good pool of cards?

*cracks knuckles*

Time to build another mean deck.

Does it piss you off when people call genre fiction escapist? They’re usually kind of assholes about it, right? Don’t they get that the stories we tell ourselves about monsters are metaphors for the deep, unspoken horror of being human? Why do they say that?

This is why. There’s no escaping this.

I’m gonna spoil some things. This is your warning.

True-detective-1x02-7There were enough breadcrumbs (some more obvious than others) to lead suitably geeky viewers to see Elder Gods poking their tentacles through the holes in the unraveling lives in “True Detective.” And when Rust Cohle followed Errol Childress into his creepy labyrinth, you could almost hear Cthulhu rumbling under the stones. Instead, Rust took a knife to the gut and Errol took a bullet to the head and everyone was just a fucked up sack of meat trying to process all that mythology that swirls like a vortex in the theater of our fever-addled brains.

No escapism here. Fuck you, Ambrose Bierce.

And fuck escapism, because if you give in and follow that vortex, you don’t get to push through the pain and horror and reach epiphany.

true-detective-treeThe supernatural world is so close you can just see it out of the corner of your eye. That’s what makes “True Detective” so real. We can almost see it, too. We live in it, pretending we don’t. The stories we tell ourselves are so unreal they’re overpoweringly real. Our willingness to let them overwhelm us gives them power. Errol Childress is the moldering fruit dangling from one branch of a rotten tree, focused on myth, wallowing in generational evil — horrifying, delusional, monstrous.

Rust and his partner Marty Hart are absolutely fucked up, but they’re grubby, earthy, human fucked up. And they both suffer plenty for it. But they got a damn near happy ending because in the end, their humanity almost kills them. It’s that brush with death that redeems them as much as any of us can be redeemed.

Darkness, yeah!


March 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

It’s been nearly ten years since my mother died.

It’s been nearly ten years since I’ve spoke to my father.

This one is raw. Posting it is nervous-making. I’m sure other people remember some of these events differently. These are my memories.


L’enfer, c’est les autres.

I am six years old. I lie on my stomach on the braided rug that covers the living room floor, eyes fixed on the red-faced man screaming from the television set. My parents ask me if I understand what he is saying, and I want to tell them that he keeps saying the h-word but I know I’m not supposed to repeat it. So I shake my head. They seem sad, but they call me over to sit between them on the couch, and I do.

“He’s talking about Hell,” my father explains. I guess he’s allowed to say it. He’s a grown up, after all.

I nod.

“Hell is a real place. It’s where people go when they die if they don’t believe in Jesus. Do you believe in Jesus?”

I nod again.

“It’s not enough just to believe he exists,” my mother adds. “You have to believe believe. You have to accept Jesus into your heart.” I have seen pictures of Jesus. I imagine his beard would itch if he were inside my heart.

“Demons believe he exists, too, but they won’t go to Heaven.” my father says this, but my mother lays a hand on his arm.

“Don’t scare him by talking about demons.”

“But he should be scared. This is real. Do you want him to spend eternity in Hell?”

I sit between them, looking from one to the other as they talk. The red-faced man is still yelling.

“Jesus came.” My father is talking to me again. “Jesus came so we wouldn’t have to go to Hell. Hell is an awful place. It’s full of fire, and demons, and sinners – but most of all, it’s full of loneliness. That’s the worst part. Being alone. Jesus wants us to live with Him forever in Heaven.” I can hear him capitalize Him.  “That’s where He’ll be, and that’s where your mother and I will be. Don’t you want to be there with us?” I nod yet again. I want to be with them forever no matter where they are. They seem very happy, and I know I’ve done something right. They kneel in front of the couch, and I do, too. They close their eyes and my father says some words that start, “Dear Jesus.” My mother nudges me, and I repeat them. When we’re done, my parents sit down on the couch again. They are crying. I crawl up between them, and I am very happy.

I am twenty-nine years old. It’s late – or early, depending on your point of view. My father left hours ago, and my sisters and brother are sitting in my mother’s hospital room. The small table in the corner is buried in snacks. Ruffles and Coke, my mother’s cure for everything from the common cold to a broken heart. My sister brought those. I know without asking. Add a puzzle and a cat and it’s every Thanksgiving and Christmas morning I can remember.

I don’t think we’ve ever spent this much time together as adults. I am the youngest, my parents’ only shared child. No one else in this room is biologically related to my father. They talk about his failures, his get-rich-quick schemes, his correspondence-course need to tack title and degree after meaningless title and degree to his name. About his inability to hold a job.

When I was born, he worked at this hospital. In fact, he was at work when my mother went into labor with me. They paged him to the maternity wing, and everyone had a good laugh. But something happened a few years later. No one really knows what. He always said he quit because he couldn’t get along with his boss, but some people tell different stories. Some of those people still work in this hospital. And they would remember. Maybe that’s why he’s never here.

My sisters and brother talk about all this and more. To them, he was a usurper, a man who married their mother and replaced their father. They can criticize him fearlessly. I cannot.

And I am alone.

I am ten years old. My brother has just locked me out of the house, and I want to get inside. He’s home on leave. My brother is ten years older than I am, and I want nothing more than to impress him. Well, except for him to let me back in the house. I pound on the door with my fists, but he ignores me. I pound harder. Still no response. I kick the door as I punch it, and finally he appears in the window. He is smiling.

“LET! ME! IN!” I scream at him, not because I want to be heard but because I am angry. He smiles at me and shakes his head. I hate that smile. I am angry and frustrated; what right does he have to be so cheerful?

I flip him off.

His smile vanishes. The doorknob turns. I have won. But he is not letting me inside. As he bursts through the doorway, I turn and run as fast as I can. I’m lucky to get halfway around the house. He catches me and pins me to the ground.

“You’re a douche,” I say. In for a dime, in for a dollar. I have no idea what a douche is, but I’ve heard people say it, and it sounds really insulting.

I don’t get up for a long time. Any fight between a twenty-year-old sailor and a ten-year-old overweight bookworm that doesn’t end in death is full of mercy, but I am on the ground, and I am hurt, and he has gone back inside and locked the door.

And I am alone.

I am twenty-nine years old. I am sitting on an old vinyl couch, its metal arms rusty, its padding tattered. My sisters are sitting in similarly ratty chairs, both crying. My brother is sitting on the other end of the couch, his face unreadable, but I can read plenty of anger into it and it’s all pointed at me. My father is between us, his head on my chest, his tears soaking my shirt. Down the hall, my mother is dying.

I shift my weight, telling my father that I want to get up. Slowly, he pulls away from me. “Thank you,” he whispers. I walk into the hallway. My sister follows me.

“He just wants some time alone with her.” She hasn’t accused me of anything yet, but I am defensive. “With his wife. How is that wrong?”

“It’s not,” my sister says. Everything but her words screams that it is. Very wrong. “It’s just . . . what do you think he’ll do in there. With none of us there?”

“You think he’s going to smother her or something?” I say it. Somebody had to.

“Well, no . . .” Well, yes.

“Whatever else he might be, he’s a man who’s losing his wife.” You treat someone like a monster long enough, maybe that’s what they become. He’s not her father. She doesn’t understand how deeply his failings cut.

“I know what he is.” She’s ice cold now. “I live here. But you show up and start speaking for everyone.” I’ve been watching my mother die by proxy, half a country away. Never there to help, never there to see her. Her illness moves in giant leaps for me, but in tiny drips for my sister.

“How was I supposed to know ‘Can I spend some time alone with my dying wife?’ needed to be put to a vote?” It’s almost the end now, and my father wants to be here. For days, we’ve practically had to bar the door to keep him near her. Or maybe I was the only one who wanted to do that.

“You weren’t. No one expects you to know what things are like here now.” This isn’t your fight, stranger. Don’t you have somewhere else to be? She turns on her heel and walks to the nurse’s station outside my mother’s room.

And I am alone.

I am twelve years old. I have a feathered headdress on my head and a sour expression on my face. The other students parade back and forth across the stage, singing songs, gesturing gestures, speaking speeches – but I am Indian #2, and I am singing no songs, gesturing no gestures, speaking no speeches. I wanted nothing to do with it, and I have my wish.

My mother teaches at this little private school in the basement of a Baptist church. I am supposed to do something great with my life — we all are. We are supposed to change the world for Jesus. When you think about it, it’s the least we can do.

Last year, I had a lead role in the school play. It was exhilarating, terrifying, almost too much to bear. Almost. I was thrilled by the attention, ecstatic to play such an important part. But this year, they expected it of me. How dare they just assume I would join in? So I refused.

I’ll be in it if I have to, I told my teacher. But no speaking parts. She seemed disappointed. I was worried she’d tell my mother. My mother might force me to do it. Maybe I wanted that.

But I am Indian #2. I have no lines. I have no songs. I am part of the scenery.

And I am alone.

I am twenty-nine years old. I am sitting in my mother’s hospital room. It’s been two days, but none of us has left. Except my father. He comes and goes frequently, staying only long enough to check on her, then running off again. Maybe he needs to be at work. Maybe all of us need to be at work.

“He’s selling the house.” My sister can read my face as my father walks out the door. “Moving to Mississippi, from what I hear.”

“Are you sure?” I ask. Of course she’s sure.

“He had a ‘For Sale’ sign up the other day. He took it down when he saw me looking at it.” She wouldn’t have to go far. She lives right across the street, in the field where we used to fly kites. All of that land was divided up years ago when I was still in high school. What would I want with any of it? I wasn’t ready. No one asked.

“I thought . . .” It doesn’t matter what I thought. My thoughts are selfish. The only plot of land left on the beautiful old New England farm where my grandfather was born – that he and my mother and I each grew up in, generation after generation – was the one my father was selling. The only one that he could still leave to me. The one he had let go to shit around him. The one I had dreamed of caring for the way my grandfather used to care for it when he would visit, the way my father never cared for it. I am sitting at my mother’s death bed as my father sells off her memory.

And I am alone.

I am eighteen years old. This is my first week at the Baptist college my parents chose for me. Well, that’s not true. It is my first week, but my parents didn’t force this on me. I chose it. Granted, they made my options feel limited. Some of the schools they recommended were more conservative than this one, but I’ve spent my entire life with Jesus, God, and the Bible ringing in my head. I don’t know any other way.

My roommate is at church. Church is mandatory here. We have to fill out a form saying where we went. But this is Ohio – right where the Bible Belt buckles – and there are so many churches with so many people in them that no one would ever know if you went or not.

So I don’t go.

It’s all starting to ring false to me. All the sermons, all the politics, all the guarding of hearts, all the marching and signs, saving lives, saving souls. It’s phony, or at least I’m phony for claiming to believe it. With so many truths swimming around, who could be arrogant enough to claim to know which one had a capital T?

My roommate, for one. I can’t talk to him about any of this. Jesus may have come to bring us freedom, but one of those freedoms was absolutely not the freedom to question him – sorry, Him. Jesus, God, and the Bible are real to my roommate the way air is real, and anyone who thinks otherwise should have his head examined, and should definitely be very, very far away from the good people who know better. So my roommate spends his Sunday mornings in church, and I spend mine going through all the motions with him – up bright and early, dressed in Sunday best, lock the room, head down the stairs . . . and off to breakfast as soon as he’s out of sight.

I’m a phony.

And I am alone.

I am twenty-nine years old. I just got off a plane from Chicago, and I haven’t seen my mother in months. She’s dying. No one doubts it. But I haven’t seen her, so none of it is real to me. My sister yanks the baseball cap off my head as I approach my mother’s hospital bed. Her face is sunken, her eyes dim, and I see only the barest glint of recognition in them. She moves her mouth as if to speak, but I hear only moans.

“Oh, she recognizes you!” My sister is in tears. So am I, but hers are happy. “She’s so happy to see you. Look.” I look. I wish I could see what she sees. I kneel by the bed and hug my mother, and my sister joins the others on the far side of the room.

I’m sure each of us has had this moment, one by one, arriving at her bedside and holding her motionless body, whispering words of love, of sorrow, of fear, of guilt and sadness and shame. To her, the moments must blur together, child indistinguishable from child, face from face, love from love.

We are together.


Days later, we gather around her bed. My sister is a nurse, and she recognizes the signs. Mom’s about to go. We hold hands and encircle her bed. One by one, we break the circle and walk to her bedside. Some of us talk to her quietly. Some just hold her. No one makes any speeches. After some timeless amount of time, my sister starts to sing.

We are together.


Mom doesn’t die then. She lives several more days, in fact. The doctors say her body is too healthy to die. Her heart won’t stop, even though the cancer has spread from her uterus to her lungs to her brain. My sister apologizes, as if any of us would want that moment back.

We are together.


The next day, my sister walks into the room hand-in-hand with my four-year-old daughter. My wife has driven through the night to be with me, and my sister has taken my daughter off to explain the idea of death. Better her than me. When they first walk in, I think my sister is leading, but it quickly becomes clear my daughter is driving this train. She drops my sister’s hand and marches right up to my mother’s deathbed. Fearless. She doesn’t hesitate the way I did when I first walked up to that bed four days ago, and I feel a little shame, but my pride in her washes it away.

“I took her to the cemetery,” my sister tells me. “I wanted her to see . . . I don’t know, something she could touch.”

I nod.

My daughter reaches up, and I think she will take my mother’s hand. Instead, she puts something on the bed, then closes my mother’s hand around it. A pine cone. “This is from where you will sleep,” she tells my mother.

We are together.

My mother has waited her entire life for Jesus to come and take her away, but she doesn’t have to die for Heaven. As we stand around her bed, loving her, being her children, crying openly both for sorrow and for joy, we are all together. We are Heaven. And this is eternity. I look at my daughter, at my wife, at my sisters, at my brothers, at that pine cone, at my mother’s hand, and I accept it all into my heart. This isn’t the Heaven my parents taught me about, but for me, it’s better. It’s one I can see. One I can feel. One I can believe. And I don’t just believe. I believe believe.

Hell is a real place.

Hell is the absence of this.

Hell is alone.

The World Needs The 33

January 31, 2014 — Leave a comment

The World Needs The 33. And so do you. And today, you lucky so-and-so, you can get it.

If you know me at all, you know about J.C. Hutchins’s work. You probably got a copy of 7th Son: DescentPersonal Effects: Dark Art, or both for Christmas one year. Hutch spins a hell of a yarn, and he’s back with an absolute gem in The 33.


How do you stop a cabal of baddies from jumpstarting the apocalypse? You assemble a group of 33 misfits with unusual skills, that’s how. The 33 is a sci-fi/supernatural thriller series — think The X-Files meets Hellboy — and after reading the first episode, I was jonesing for more.

But stop listening to my casual addiction metaphors. Get over to and see for yourself. The 33 is an episodic tale with new episodes coming monthly. Each story is available in both text ($1.99) and audio ($2.99); you can snag a bundle with both directly from Hutch’s site for $3.99 (What a deal!)

J.C. Hutchins is a hell of a talented writer, and I’m proud to call him a pal. I’ve had glimpses and peeks at this story world for a little while now, and I’m super excited to watch this story unfold.

The World Needs The 33.

And the world is in luck, because the first episode is available today.

So go get it.

I can’t fault you for thinking Alfonso Cuarón’s GRAVITY is about astronauts and space. It totally looks like it is. All the ads show George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in space suits. Magazines are interviewing astronauts to ask how accurate the science is. Neil deGrasse Tyson is all up in Twitter’s business about how inaccurate the science is. You’d almost be crazy not to assume the whole flick is about astronauts and space.

Not even close.


I’m about to spoil the hell out of this movie for you, so if you haven’t seen it, you might want to go handle that now. IMAX, if you can. It’s worth the extra couple bucks. Swear.


Now, if you’ll indulge a personal anecdote and a little wound opening . . .

My wife was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2004. Our daughter was three years old. You’ve had loved ones diagnosed with things — maybe you’ve been diagnosed with something yourself — which means you know that a diagnosis isn’t when you find out something is wrong. A diagnosis is when you learn the name of the thing that’s been destroying your life. Sadly, naming a thing doesn’t make it magically disappear like some kind of Reverse Beetlejuice. The thing making my wife stare off blankly into the middle distance while holding our infant daughter, the thing making her sleep for hours or even days on end, the thing making her look at her wrists and face and wonder how to get everything on the inside onto the outside — learning to call that thing BIPOLAR DISORDER did not make her face light up, did not get her out of bed, did not remove everything sharp from the house. Medication didn’t do that, either, but it helped. Finding the right mix of pills, sunlight, rest, activity, sleep and food is a daily struggle. We’ve nearly divorced twice because she knew something was dragging her down and I was right there, holding on tight enough to be guilty.

GRAVITY is a movie about depression.

If you’ve ever lived with someone who’s depressed (I mean really depressed, not just down), you probably recognize it in Ryan Stone’s behavior. Flat. Monotone. Distant. Sick all the time (dig those sniffles). She snaps out of it in a crisis, as you do, but swings right back to distance as soon as things calm down. No hope. She’s going to die up there, and no one will mourn her. When she finally does open up, it’s to tell the heartbreaking truth that sits on her chest like an elephant: her four-year-old daughter died in a playground accident, and since then Ryan has shut down. Back home in Lake Zurich, Illinois, at 8:00 p.m. Central time, she just drives. Just drives.

She wishes she could have saved her daughter. She knows she could have if she’d just been there. She sees a chance to save mission commander Matt Kowalski and there’s light in her eyes as she screams, “I’ve got you!” But he knows she doesn’t.

“You’ve got to learn to let go, Ryan,” he tells her as he sets himself adrift.

“I had you,” she mutters. “I had you.” But she didn’t. And now she’s lost someone else that it should have been in her power to save.

Gravity_bullock_asleepHe guides her, almost from beyond the grave, to the airlock of the International Space Station. Once inside, she rolls into a fetal position. The metaphor seems heavy-handed for a second. We get it. She’s in the womb and ready for a rebirth. But everyone doesn’t make it out of the womb alive. Birth is traumatic. Birth kills people. Nothing about this is going to be pleasant.

Tense crisis after tense crisis chase her into the damaged escape pod of the I.S.S., and there she finds that both she and the Soyuz are out of fuel. She picks up a transmission from Earth and as she listens to dogs bark and babies cry, she decides she’s had enough. No one will mourn her. No one will pray for her. She shuts everything down and waits for death.

Hope comes instead. And not from a devastatingly handsome superman, but from her own mind. Her little four-year-old daughter Sarah and her fellow survivor Matt, both of whom died so senselessly and whose deaths she just knows she could have prevented, are her totems now. She leaps out of despair into faith and hope, asking them to take care of each other. She’s given herself permission to exist, and if you know what depression is like, you know that’s a hell of a thing.

Ryan Stone gives herself the best chance she can to survive, but as she prepares to descend she knows it’s a crap shoot. And that’s fine. Because accepting the possibility of death as a consequence of living ain’t the same thing as embracing death. “I’ll just sleep while you sing to me” and “I’m either going to make it or I’m going to die” both sound fatalistic, but they’re damn near opposite sides of the coin when your brain is constantly out to get you. Alive or dead, she’s alive.

I’ve heard GRAVITY described as more of a technical triumph than a storytelling triumph. I’ve seen endless lists describing its scientific or procedural inaccuracies.

Here’s how I’ll describe it: when the credits rolled, I sat in my seat and cried my eyes out.

It’s October! Halloween is in October! Halloween is scary!

In honor of the scary awesomeness of Halloween and because Julie “The Witch Doctor” Hutchings asked me to and I basically do anything she asks me to do, I wrote a scary story.

I don’t have the time/energy/talent/false modesty to write fiction very often. It was fun. I hope you like it, and that it creeps the hell out of you.


Daddy’s Little Girl, by D. C. Perry

Years are sneaky little bastards. Before you know it, they’ve turned into decades and started smoking drugs and wrecking the family minivan and YOU GET BACK IN THIS HOUSE RIGHT NOW


Anyway, I’m in grad school now. There was a time when I didn’t think I’d go at all, then I thought I’d go a year after college, then I got married and had a daughter and got a job and moved and got another job and moved again and got another job and . . .

It’s 15 years later. I’m the old guy. But I’m there.

I’ve worked in education in some form or another for almost all 15 of those years, but I’ve spent just a little bit of that time teaching. This semester, I get to hang out with my One True Love Flannery O’Connor, but I also have to learn about literary theories that weren’t even a thing when I was an undergrad and hear about how some theories were current in the late ’90s but have since faded and realize that maybe I am one of them.

Impostor Syndrome is kicking my

And sometimes I wonder if I’m just trying to recapture something that is gone forever. Am I Jay Gatsby, desperate to push a giant reset button on a game that can’t be reset? Is grad school my ostentatious mansion, some mythical teaching job the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock?

And one fine morning —

endersgameI love Ender’s Game. It’s one of the books that made me love reading.

I love Speaker for the Dead. I wrote my final paper in college on it, a 20-page academic blusterfest about its function as a piece of metafiction.

I love Maps in a Mirror. It contains some of my favorite pieces of short fiction. I bought a replacement copy when my original was ruined during a move.

I do not love Orson Scott Card’s politics. I was ignorant of them when I learned to love his fiction. The only thing I knew about Orson Scott Card was that his name was on the cover of some of my favorite books.

Orson Scott Card is a bigot. There’s no two ways about it. Every time he opens his yap, bigot falls out. He thinks homosexuality is unnatural. Which is fine. Stupid, but fine. He’s free to think whatever he likes. But then he goes the next step. He actively works against the legalization of gay marriage. He actively works against gay people.

A movie adaptation of Ender’s Game is coming this fall.

I said I wouldn’t weigh in on this. I said that art is not the artist. I said that his politics are his, but his books are ours.

And then he opened his mouth again.

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

Orson Scott Card

Son of a bitch.

Let’s take this paragraph-sentence by paragraph-sentence.

1. If he thinks that gay marriage wasn’t a political issue in 1984, he’s crazier than I thought. Gay marriage was not an issue in 1984 in the same way that women’s suffrage was not an issue in 1901.

2. Well, at least he recognizes that this is an avalanche even he can’t stop.

3. Oh, for shit’s sake, that old chestnut? “Can you be as tolerant, for a completely different value of ‘tolerant,’ to me as I never ever ever was and in fact told others not to be to you? Because if you can’t somehow avoid treating me as the jerk I was and basically still am, I get Moral Highground points for life. Stickyouty tongue!”

So what do we do with this movie? I’m going to be super reductionist here and posit three groups of people who might want to answer this question.

Group 1: People who love Card’s politics.

Frankly, I don’t care how you feel about Ender’s Game or what you do. You’re a bunch of jerks. Go watch the movie. Or don’t. Don’t sit by me.

Group 2: People who hate both Card’s politics and Ender’s Game.

Seems pretty easy for you guys. Don’t go. Don’t give him your money. Don’t watch a trailer. Don’t look at a poster. Don’t buy a kid’s meal at whatever fast food franchise offers the Bugger Burger.

Group 3: People who hate Card’s politics but love Ender’s Game.

Here’s where things get tricky for me. This is my group. I’ve been excited about this movie since before I knew gay people existed. In my mind, there is no connection between Card’s politics and this story. But the jackass keeps trying to draw one for me. By opening his yap.

I still plan to see Ender’s Game. For me, there is still a strong enough separation between the art and the artist that I can see this movie with the joy and anticipation of childhood intact.

Every time — every. single. time. — Orson Scott Card says some-politically-stupid-thing between now and the release of Ender’s Game, that joy and anticipation gets dented. And the odds that I boycott the movie because I can’t untangle it from this bigot increase.

Of course, this swings both ways. Psst. Hey, Scott. (Can I call you Scott?) An apology would go a long way. Not with some people — you’ve done a lot of damage — but with some of us. Maybe with most. With me. You’ve come damn close to saying you were wrong already. Go the next step. You can still believe homosexuality is wrong. But say you were wrong to work so hard to deny rights to others. Say you’re sorry and mean it.

I can’t emphasize strongly enough, though, to everyone, that you should not eat the Bugger Burger.