A Breath Of Fresh Air

Posted in Serious Fun on December 28, 2004

By Anthony Alongi

School's out. Why aren't you?

After I wrote this in July, I got a couple of irate Australians writing to tell me how selfish and north-hemisphere-centric I was for assuming everyone on earth could go play outside. They were suffering from winter in July, of course. At first, I wanted to tell them they were idiots for not realizing they could still play outside in the snow; but then I figured their point still stood - nicer weather is easier to enjoy.

Then I realized I hadn't heard from any Americans (or Japanese, or Russians, etc.) who took the time to bother me because it was raining in their part of the northern hemisphere, or too windy, or just plain overcast. I mean, honestly folks - all of us site writers understand that the weather may differ in your neck of the woods. (Well, I'm not so sure about Forsythe.) Maybe I don't need the global weather report.

But that's churlish, isn't it? We're in the holiday season - at least we are in this country (and a bunch of other countries whose residents may now get upset because I didn't endorse their existence). Plus, I'm an elected politician now, and God forbid someone copy and paste this mess into some opposing campaign literature when I run for Prime Minister of New Zealand, or wherever. So I should be more charitable, right?

So okay, okay. For all you Australians, South Africans, Antarcticans, and everyone else in the southern hemisphere whom I don't really want to hear from if you just want to tell me I forgot your country - this one's for you. Happy holidays.

To the rest of you in the northern hemisphere - go jump in a lake. An icy, wintry lake.

Unless you live near the equator, I suppose. *Sigh.*

Anyway, don't miss the hidden link to the "extra article". It's in paragraph F.

This article originally appeared on June 29th, 2004.

In addition to strategy, card preview, and play format articles, I do provide the occasional public service to my readers. This is one of those times.

Last week was summer solstice. July 4th weekend is coming up, a milestone holiday for Americans. Those of you in high school or college are well into summer break. Birds are singing, flowers are in full bloom, days are sunny and bright.

So why the heck are you inside playing Magic? Knock it off! Get outside!

Oh, I know what you're going to say. “You're a writer on magicthegathering.com! Wizards pays you to encourage readers to play Magic! Not to mention, my computer isn't portable and can't go outside – so if I leave, I won't even be reading your web site! Aren't you going to lose your cushy writing gig for saying this?!?”

Those are, er, all good points. But give me a moment here to think, and I'll come up with an excellent reason why today's article is telling you to stop playing Magic. Meanwhile, if our esteemed editor will play some thoughtful music…

…thank you, Scott. Er, nothing's coming to mind yet. Carry on…

Okay, got it. Here's why Wizards won't fire me. By telling you to stop playing Magic today, I am giving your physical, emotional, and intellectual center a rest. I am, in essence, telling you to go recharge your batteries so that you can play a better game of Magic tomorrow. Yes, that's right: a Magic-free today, for a better Magic tomorrow!

Cue the inspirational music, Scott!

There, that oughta keep me under contract. Following, in ascending order of you people taking me seriously, are your potential “outside options” for the rest of the day:

A. Play Magic outside, instead of inside.
Okay, see, here you're just cheating. I'm glad you're getting fresh air and all, but don't try to tell me you're actually getting into the spirit of this exercise. Even if you find a suitable porch or flat patch of wind-free back yard and start playing, I'm not buying it. Nature is happening all around you, but your head is down in the cards and every time a bird flies overhead, you're scooping up your cards so they don't get pooped on. Try again, bozo.

B. Bring your collection outside to reorganize it and/or build new decks.
Well, this is a touch better. It's a bit like reading a book while taking in the blessings of summer. If you've been meaning to do this for some time and haven't found a free moment, this is a nice way to introduce yourself to the outdoors. Try it for half ten minutes at first and then hurry inside again. If you did't catch fire, try it again in a few minutes and see if you can stay an hour.

C. Enact your favorite battle scenes from last night's Magic game, on the lawn with your friends.
Call it Outdoor Magic Theatre, or OMT. (Not to be confused with Magic writer extraordinnaire Josh Bennett, also known as One Man Crowd or OMC. I expect OMC would be quite good at OMT.) An evening of OMT can be entertaining not just for the actors, but for the accidental audience as well. See them cheer as Multani, Maro-Sorcerer grows to enormous size and ploughs through a pair of Yotian Soldiers while Lightning Bolts bounce off his chest! See them gasp as Braids, Cabal Minion forsakes her love for Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary and sacrifices him to the grave! See them laugh with glee as Memnarch turns wave after wave of Relentless Rats into robots and makes them dance the Macarena!

You may even decide to take it to Broadway. Which would get you back inside, to be sure; but for such a creative enterprise, I'm behind you all the way. And so is OMC.

D. Take your pet for a longer walk than usual.
It's okay to think about Magic here; you're pretty much alone. Come up with the three legends your pet most reminds you of. (My dog Turquoise does an excellent impersonation of Crosis the Purger, after she eats too much grass.)

E. Attend a Renaissance Festival with your Magic group.
The annual Woodstock for craven swords-and-sorcery geeks, this is often the only reason any of us even know what sunlight is. Renaissance Festivals are excellent places for Magic players to do all sorts of things:

  • replenish your odd-sided dice collection;
  • buy a bunch of tiny little pewter sculptures for $30 each to serve as insect tokens;
  • acquire a lovely wooden box inlaid with an image of a barely clothed woman swinging a sword upon a faithful dragon steed, so you have someplace “cool” to keep your decks; and/or
  • stand with your friends in a pentagram outside the turkey drumstick shack, chant some unintelligible lines about the second coming of Volrath, and hope to recruit new Magic players by sheer force of your outgoing, energetic personalities.

Eh, maybe just buy a hooded woolen cape instead. Whatever works.

F. Keep skimming through this article angrily and miss the link I'm about to provide.
I know today's overall message won't click for all of you. So to be responsive to those patient readers who are all desperately hoping today's article is some sort of cruel joke involving naturally occurring oxygen and ultraviolet radiation, I've provided this subarticle with deck ideas I've been trying out for emperor format.

I guess this compromise makes me an enabler of sorts, for your indoorsy types. But I feel better keeping Magic content in every article.

You should still get outside, you know. Let's get back to the original list for more inspiration.

G. Take your Magic group to a barbeque, or on a boat, or hiking, or to a little league baseball game.
Celebrate all the good times you and your Magic friends have by solidifying your friendship(s). That means doing something completely unrelated to the game. More importantly, it means not (openly) reminiscing about the time you played Insurrection and beat so-and-so up with his own sliver army. And using code words (e.g., “get you another soda pop?” means “trade you Chrome Mox for two Arcbound Ravager?”) is not allowed.

H. Play a little Magic Online. Kids, make sure you get your parents' permission!
Hey, that's not outdoors! I think Scott's sneaking in a corporate line or two, here. Conspiracy alert!

I. Learn a new sport today.
Add jogging to your exercise routine. Buy a football and practice your spiral toss with a friend. Learn how to dribble a basketball left-handed. Ask your girlfriend to show you those jujitsu moves she learned last semester while you were sitting on your ass.

This suggestion is meant to last a while. Try to add some weekly physical activity to your life! Summer's a great time for it. If you already do something physical on a regular basis, bully for you – now pick up something else. Magic will always be a ritual for us – it's an awesome game and, let's face it, we're all addicted to the endless little mind puzzles it creates – but other things can become rituals, too. Some of those things will balance the intellectual exercise with a little physical exercise. And who knows? Better stamina might help you the next time you're at a Prerelease and need to sit in a chair for eight hours straight.

So go outside! Give Magic a rest. When you come back in 24 hours, we'll all still be here. Chad and I will be in the “recent articles” section, still market fresh. Adrian will have a column breaking Vizzerdrix, or whatever. Brian will be clinging to those parts of his soul still resistant to the Pro Tour bug. And Mark Gottlieb will begin his desperate weekly ritual refreshing his Internet browser as of noon EST, hoping to see his name at the top of the web site again. Catch all the indoor action on his new interactive web cam feature!

Anthony cannot provide exercise-based consulting services.

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