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Killer Joe's Magic Blog
By Mark Ortego
I have NO idea what a "Blog" really is but I'm gonna post one here!

I suspect that I'll mention some life stories mixed in amongst Magic stuff so here I go:

First, my life and how Magic fits in it. I am married (18 years) with two daughters (10 & 7). I am band director at an elementary school but used to be a high school band director where was the club sponsor for the "Magic Club". At one time we had over 60 members and the administration had to assign me another teacher to help me keep things under control. The year I left the high school no one stepped up to the plate to be a sponsor and the club died.

But during those years (5) I also ran a club after school on Firdays called "Friday Afterschool Magic" or "FAM". I gave away a ton of cards and we drafted with commons from every set for years, it was a lot of fun.

So what's going on now? Currently, I am the assistant marching band director in my district which has put a tight noose on my magic playing time. I usually play once-per-week which is my negotiated playing allowance agreed to with my wife. I mean, I suppose taking care of my family has to fit in there somewhere, right?

I also adjudicate (judge) competetive marching band shows on Saturday nights during the fall except on days when I'm judging Magic Tourneys with Moosie. By November, it'll come to halt for marching band altogether, YEAH!!!!!!!!!!

Now I am aware that alot of Magic folks may not have the opportunities as I have but if I could, I would play Magic on almost any night of the week.

Mondays: Nothing sanctioned but I could go to several places to play casually - Mr. Nice Guy Games, Superior Sports, CCGs & Cards, Comics and Games, Legions, & Game Master's

Tuesdays: Superior has sanctioned formats, currently it's extended.

Wednesdays: Mr. Nice Guy Games has its DCI sanctioned games (extended right now)

Thursdays: Kind of like Mondays except add in Blue Star Games

Fridays: Phantom of the Attic (Oakland), FNM at Mr. Nice Guy Games (draft), Game Masters (Draft), CCGs & Cards, Comics and Games (Draft), Superior Sports (Draft) and though not FNM but Blue Star Games runs "Casual" magic formats on these nights, I used to run them there last year and we did all kinds of formats. I'm not sure what they do now .

Saturdays: Legions has DCI sanctioned formats (currently extended) and all the other places I mentioned have either open gaming or drafts.

Sundays: I'm not sure

So let's review how many places I could go to in one weeks time in the Greater Pittsburgh area:
~Mr. Nice Guy Games (Oakmont)
~Superior Sports (Tarentum)
~CCGs & Cards, Comics and Games (Bloomfield)
~Legions Game Store (North Hills)
~Game Masters (North Hills - 3 minutes away from legions)
~Blue Star Games (Sarver)
~Phantom of the Attic (Oakland - inbetween CMU and Pitt Universities)
Not to mention Hobbytown, USA near Greater Pittsburgh International Airport and another Phantom of the Attic in Carnegie.

All within 45 minutes of my house.

When my wife is at work and I'm with my daughters, I dabble with my cards but mostly I do stuff with them. But when they go to bed and wife's *shows* are on, I go to my cellar and that's where I really dabble with my cards.

I have a cellar that I couldn't call it a "finished" cellar but it's close enough for me. I have a couch, a desk with a couple of tables next to it with all Magic/game stuff. An office chair with wheels, an overhanging lamp (like those ones above pool tables in shady bars. I also have enough room in my cellar to have two 6' gaming tables that I bought from Scorched Earth Games when they went out of business and two more kitchen tables for holding food and drinks for when I host "Magic Night" at my place. Both Youngbeard and Mooseman have been there.

I am always in pursuit of the "perfect" multiplayer Magic deck. It has to be controllish, minimal creature count and subversive. Recently I have been steering away from Counter Magic as it leaves me vulnerable, that is to say that i could use those Counter Magic slots for more utility like spot removal and mass destruction.

When my wife and I first met (circa 1986) the only gamer type game I really knew was Monopoly and its not really a gamer's game. I had heard about D & D and knew what any other normal person knew; that it was a game where morons ran around town at night sacrficing babies and worshipping the devil, right? That's what the news told us anyways and I bought it just like any other "NormaL person whom I now refer to as the "Walking Dead". Rizzo's article from several years ago really struch chord with me on this topic.

18 years ago I was into 80's music and clubbing, it's funny, because during those times I used to tell folks that this was the greatest music ever and that there would someday be radio stations with 80's formats just there were "oldies" formats at that time playing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. I bought Cassette Singles by the dozen,.....yes, cassette singles, just like 45's of my older brother's time. I liked the Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, ABC, Huey Lewis, REM, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Men At Work, The Police, DuranDuran, The Cure, In a Big Country and a ton of other groups!

After we married I still collected these cassette singles and that was "My Thing", even when I was in the Army (late 80's). After that I went to college and I was still into it but my hobby became teaching Drum & Bugle Corps and I was really into that since teaching music was my profession. For the next five years or so i did that, HEAVILY!!!!!

Then when I got my first real teaching job, I busted one my students with a,.....comic book! He was reading it behind his music book. WHATINTHEHELL was THIS!?! A comic book, how childish (the student was like 11 yrs old and I thought it very childish of an eleven year old to be reading a comic book (yes, I was a walking dead person at that time).

See, I didn't know that that incident would trigger events that eventually would lead to my discovering I liked reading comic books and playing wierd games.

I put that comic book (X-Factor) in my brief case where it sat for a week before I gave it back to him, but the day I decided to give it back to him, I read it,..............I used to like the X-Men when I was a kid. At that time the X-Men were in hiding in Austrialia or something like that in the storyline. Anyway, there was this advertisement for a card game called "Over-Power" with X-Men characters in it. Whatever.

A couple weeks later I was driving home and my wife was at her Mother's house and wouldn't be home until late at night. I just planned on going home and watching TV but I drove past comic book store and looked at it and thought, just for a second, I'd stop and go in. nah, i kept driving, but at the next stop light I changed my mind and turned around and went in. It was called Bad Guy Comics in Penn Hills.

I felt *dirty*, I went in, it smelled or the clerk smelled, but something or someone smelled like sweaty arm pits. The was typical, imo, he was fat wearing a black t-shirt too short and tight for him to wear and UNSHAVEN, heathen! Did I mention unkempt hair, too?

I stayed for over an hour and then bought a starter deck of OverPower. I made some lame-ass excuse that I was buying it for my nephew but as you know, I wasn't. I got home with my heart actually thumping like I had bought something I'm not supposed to or something that is not for normal polite people to look at, like, well, you know what.

Well, by the end of that school year I all of the starter decks of OverPower that were available at that timne (I still have them, opened but intact!). It was that next year that I had busted two kids in my study hall playing this demonic card game called, Magic: the Gathering.

Thanks for reading, maybe I'll re-tell the story of my first Magic adventures next time.


Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

 - Wednesday (July 18. 2018)
 - Thursday (May 17, 2018)
 - Tuesday (Aprl. 24, 2018
 - Monday (Apr. 16, 2018)
 - Friday (Apr. 6, 2018)
 - Wednesday (Apr. 4, 2018)
 - Monday (Apr. 2, 2018)
 - Friday (Mar. 23, 2018)
 - Thursday (Feb. 15, 2018)
 - Thursday (Jan 25, 2018)

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