Whether you Winfrey or Losefrey, some games shouldn’t be played.

Would I like Oprah to be the next president of the United States? Most definitely not. Would she be leagues better than Trump? Most assuredly so. Is there more to it than that? Well I’d hope so.

A few months back I realised that I knew very little about Oprah. I knew she was part of the elusive Single Name Club with Prince and Adele. I knew she once gave away cars to the audience, and took another audience to Australia. I knew she was immensely popular, enough to have her own magazine, television network and book club. I knew she often shilled products, perhaps not as repulsively as Gwyneth Paltrow, but enough for it to bring in significant amounts of cash each year. I knew where Oprah had gone, but I didn’t know where she’d come from. Was she ever Jenny from the Block?

It turns out Oprah’s rise to fame was actually badass. Born to a broken home, she was tossed around various family members throughout her childhood. Over this time she was molested by multiple family members. After she’d had enough, she left home at the age of 13. She became pregnant at 14, but her son was premature and passed away shortly after. She eventually moved back in with a family member who pushed her back towards education. She flourished and got top marks, earned a scholarship, etc. She went into communications and entered a career first as a radio newscaster, then onto television news. This led to talk show work and I’m sure you can guess the rest.

Oprah struggled throughout her life and learned resolve. She had to fight to get to where she is and she’s become an industry. Donald Trump probably never even learned to spell the word adversity. He was born into a family of excessive wealth and ushered through life on a figurative palanquin. Even when the Vietnam war loomed, he managed to dodge being drafted multiple times, no doubt because of family connections greasing the wheels. Trump started his adult life with a loan of one million dollars.

Oprah is an articulate and experienced public speaker. She’s experienced real loss and met others who have. She’s had to be compassionate and warm to get to where she is. Trump is an ageing buffoon who stumbled his way through a presidential run, buoyed by the mantra of “anyone but her.” He’s in no way fit to lead the Western World’s economic superpower.

You know what though? I still don’t think Oprah should be president. I don’t think Kanye should be president. I don’t think we should be looking to celebrities and opinion leaders to the head of a nation. Of course it’s not unprecedented (unpresidented? -Ed), but that doesn’t entirely justify it. Politics, like any other career, has steps of experience and skills to learn. I’m sure Oprah has a vast array of skills at her disposal and, at her prime, would’ve had the thrust to take on such a role. Thing is, Oprah isn’t at her prime. She’s become too large. She’s too much of a persona with the constant drone of yes-men buzzing around her. She’s a corporation and, as we’ve learned with Trump, a corporation should not be President of the United States. I have tons of respect for Oprah and her journey. I just don’t see it leading to The White House.

Frankly, I don’t know if she’d want to take the pay cut.


What kind of change was I expecting?

I feel quite bushed. Worn out. Flattened. Wrecked. Ruined might be stretching it a bit far, but in any case I’m feeling under the weather. Easy sentiment when it’s snowy and gross out. I stayed home from work today. I tried, oh God did I try. I got on a crowded bus down to the station. The train platform was wall to wall people. I felt sweaty and achy. Slightly out of it. I’ve felt a little off all day. I’m still not right as rain. I wish I could blame all the tired and cliché expressions I’m tossing out on that, but really they’re a part of who I am. In any case, I headed back to work from home, but on the way realised I was quite possibly unwell. Temperature of 96.5°, which isn’t crazy far off, but neither is it a picture of perfect health. I tend to feel guilty taking sick days, but end most years with an abundance of them. They’re there (there, there) for a reason right?

This weird thing has happened in the past few years, that if I’m just butting around at home I have a hard time doing zero productive things. I tried to take it easy today, but still kept pottering around, doing washing and the like. At some point I resolved to take it easier and tooled around on the internet. I watched a couple of episodes of Lovesick‘s new season. The show is fine, watchable and totally mindless. In short, it’s basically the perfect kind of sick day TV.

I could’ve picked up my malaise from any number of convalescent pals. Hell, my girlfriend has been feeling a bit run over lately. It would surprise me zero at all to discover that the dastardly keto flu was still hanging about. I knew I had to increase my sodium intake, but most days I’ve been getting up to one or two grams. Apparently for the first little while I should be at three or four grams per day. Six days in, I still have no idea if I’ve entered ketosis. I do know that (unlike the first few days) I’m actually getting hungry around meal time. That could also be the fact that I’m hovering around 1400 calories per day. It’s not a huge amount, especially on gym days.

One thing that hasn’t sorted itself out yet is my digestive tract. I’m still not pooping like I want to be pooping. Let’s get one thing straight, before trying keto, pooping was one of my legit skills. I read a great article years ago about someone who created a blog where she’d do absolutely everything Oprah suggested for a year. The logline (seriously, no pun intended. You’ll see) was about doing “S” shaped poops. Oprah had a guest on who talked about stool health (maybe this show is up my alley). They said that a poop with two curves was an indication of a great digestive tract. Since then, I’ve prided myself on my ability to create lengthy and curvy poops in all manner of shapes. “S” was almost too easy. I’ve made “M/W”s, pretzels, ampersands and maybe even the Prince symbol. Once I discovered coffee, I’d poop even more. I’d drop heavy loads many times per day. I felt transcendent. Lighter than air, even.

As for the last few days, it’s dwindled to rabbit pallets and fun size bars. I expected that I’d lose weight on this diet, but I didn’t think I’d lose such a massive part of myself. I feel like I’ve lost a part of my core identity. Still, I’m not gonna take this sitting down. I’ve been continuing to drink coffee and eating a ton of fibrous foods. While I wasn’t sure if they were keto, I’ve discovered that I could fold chia seeds and nutritional yeast back into my diet. I got a bag of psyllium husk powder, so we’ll wait and see if that penny drops (though I’d be happier if it were a pound).

At the end of the day, it’s all about the bottom dollar.

It’s their fault I can’t look at corn without imagining a typewriter.

I talk about rewatching movies all the time. No doubt because I endlessly scour the internet and live in a cosy bubble of nostalgia. I’m a colossal child (both in scale and mass. If I were actually a child in this body it’d be some André the Giant shit) and the notion of getting back in touch with the media that influenced and informed my adult persona holds a certain allure. The ratio, however, of talking about it and delivering on it is notoriously one-sided. So much of my viewing is mood dependent. Hell, sometimes I just can’t bring myself to engage with a narrative. If I’m not paying attention to what I’m watching, why watch it at all?

What I’m saying is, last night I watched Space Jam with a group of friends.

You know what? I’m willing to go on record and say it held up. Not as landmark cinematic genius. Everything it did, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? did better a decade earlier. It wasn’t a phenomenal film or anything, but I wasn’t viewing it as I did as a kid. I was peering at it with adult eyes and looking for how it would’ve appealed to children. Shitting on a kids’ film as an adult is a certain amount of unnecessary roughness (says the guy who recorded a podcast series about the Airbud Cinematic Universe) that leaves us all as lesser. Space Jam didn’t have the most coherent plot (as evidenced in this accurate nine minute song). It was obviously a cynical attempt to capitalise on late game Michael Jordan’s popularity and to keep the Looney Tunes relevant for another generation. Jordan is absurdly lionised throughout. He’s not the best actor, but to his credit he looks like he’s having fun. There’s a spectacular montage of Charles Barkley et al dealing with their lost talent. The film has a buttload of jokes for kids and a bunch that’re pitched way over their heads. It has all those characters you love, more cameos than episode of Entourage (oh yeah), plus Bill Murray shows up to save the day at the end. A silly but entirely defensible way to spend 88 minutes.

My biggest takeaway from the whole endeavour was how great Looney Tunes have always been. I guess I just forgot. Do you realise just how many conventions were drilled into your head by the adventures of Bugs and co? When Lola Bunny was introduced in Space Jam, Bugs swoons and there’s this small musical sting of sexy jazz. It’s so familiar to us now as a sort of language, but those conventions needed to be created somewhere. Cast your mind back to the original Looney Tunes. How instrumental was it in the formation of these tropes? You can see how necessary they’d be, right? These zany (never thought I’d see the day I used that word unironically) cartoons had out there plots, and the more shorthand they could use to instantly convey meaning, the better. I rewatched The Rabbit of Seville and it’s astoundingly creative. Animation unhinged these creators from the need to obey formal logic, so they created their own sense of it. It’s a clever play on an opera that would go way over the heads of kids, but still relates to them on their own level.

Not only were the cartoons clever as fuck, well animated and spectacularly voiced (thanks Mel), but the characters were so diverse and interesting. Can you imagine Bugs being a protagonist these days? He’s a cruel, manipulative sociopath, but we all love him. Daffy Duck is a total narcissist. The Sylvester and Tweety dynamic is a one note joke that somehow spawned years worth of scenarios. Most everyone is at each other’s throat, just trying to get the best for themselves. Loose, unscrupulous morals all over the show. In other words, they’re a total blast to watch.

What’re you still doing here? Go and Tune in already.

Firing them off one after one.

I have evening plans, but I need to get this out of the way before I get there. So this is gonna be one of those entries where I basically plagiarise little scraps of writing I’ve been doing all day. You could say I’m… scraping the bottom of the barrel? So in that vein, I’ve been in a punny mood today.

It all began at the gym. For some reason lately I’ve gotten into a habit of having to poop when I arrive. I put my phone on airplane mode, chucked it in my jacket, threw my jacket in a locker and went to do my bizzniss. Then for some reason the word “incendiary” popped into my head. Then I realised that incendiary contained the word “diary”. I started thinking of what kind of fiery character would write their journals in an incendiary. My first thought went to a phoenix, but I realised the rebirth aspect was far more significant to their persona. I flopped back and forth over whether it fit, or if there was something in the idea of a phoenix’s New Years’ resolution every year being to get back into journaling. I decided there wasn’t. I thought of fire elementals, then settled on Johnny Storm. The resulting status being “Does Johnny Storm write down all of his feelings in an Incendiary?”

Then I had the word “diary” stuck in my brain. I thought about that show Secret Diary of a Call Girl with Billie Piper (who to me will always be of “Honey To The Bee” fame). I had a flash in my mind of some Japanese word or phrase to describe a certain kind of fashion style. Was it “kogahl” or “khogal” or “kougal” or something? I tried googling, but to no avail. So I thought about other words that sounded similar and landed on “kugel”, a type of Jewish pudding. I started out with that and felt sort of satisfied, but felt there was more to this. Over the next while I kept writing them as they came to me:

  • Why is there no Jewish cook book called Secret Diary of a Kugel?
  • Or a bird-watching guide called Secret Diary of a Caw Gull?
  • Or a Chimeras for Dummies style ‘how to’ called Secret Diary of a Paw Gill?
  • Or a Star Wars political thriller called Secret Diary of a Porg Earl?
  • Or a vegetarian BBQ book called Secret Diary of a Corn Grill?
  • Or a mortician’s memoir called Secret Diary of a Pall Girl?
  • Or Lena Dunham’s Behind the Scenes book called Secret Diary of Recall Girls?
  • Or a cis male dating guide called Secret Diary of Appal Girls?

Then a couple of hours later I realised the Japanese word I was looking for was “Kogal”, a type of Japanese fashion that sorta emulates the Valley Girl aesthetic. They often use fake tan and dress in short skirts mixed with schoolgirl chic as some kind of counterculture move. I assumed they’d have a fashion blog called Secret Diary of a Kogal somewhere.

Thinking back on my Johnny Storm pun, the Bruce Springsteen song “I’m on Fire” popped into my head. So I did one of those ‘laying the breadcrumbs’ jokes asking “What would Bruce Springsteen say if he got immolated?”

I wonder if he wrote that song in his Incendiary…

All them pirates must’a stolen my heart.

You know how I said to come back tomorrow if you didn’t want to hear about more Magic the Gathering stuff? Too bad. The whole set was spoiled, so I’m gonna chat about some things that stuck out or looked sparkly to me. Good? It is for me.

  • Charging Tuskodon – Not a format defining card by any stretch, but it’s kind of surprising that this effect has never been printed. Throw double strike on this dude for some kind of savage beating.
  • Pitiless Plunderer – I pity the foo who underestimates this card’s combo potential. I could see some Marionette Master shenanigans afoot, or unfair things being done with all sorts of commanders. Ghave, Guru of Spores, Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest or even subsidising Chainer, Dementia Master (I know Abhorrent Overlord is gonna get a kick out of him).
  • Mastermind’s Acquisition – Okay, who wished for a strictly better Diabolic Tutor? Could this have implications for Standard (grab that Solemnity out of your sideboard)? It’s gonna run rampant on kitchen tables, that’s for sure. Nice flexibility that seems well costed.
  • Blood Sun – I like that it hoses a ton of utility lands in EDH and shits on fetches all day in Modern. It cantrips, so it’s hard to feel totally bad about it. There’s obvious combo potential with Scorched Ruins, Lotus Vale or any of the Ravnica Karoos. The name’s a little bit clunky, but the card is cute enough that I’ll give it a pass.
  • Azor’s Gateway – Anyone who gets this working deserves the mana. Sure, you could use it as straight up looting and it won’t be awful. I guess it gets Misthollow Griffin or Eternal Scourge into exile so you can dig for Food Chain. I dunno. Smarter people than me will assemble this deck, then probably use it to go off with Baron Von Count. Seems like a gateway drug for any aspiring Johnnies.
  • Dire Fleet Daredevil – “Snatchcaster Mage”? As per the norm, red’s version of card advantage isn’t up to snuff with blue’s but this thing is gonna be a star. Rampunap Red gets access to opposing card draw or kill spells. Things start getting dire if you’ve left a modular spell in the yard. I think this gal has it in her to be a multi-format all star.
  • Rekindling Phoenix – Ashcloud Phoenix was alright, this one’s better. A one time cost that makes your opponent have answers for two creatures. 2RR for a 4/3 flyer isn’t terrible in the first place. I’d love to see it get play. Phoenixes have traditionally had a hard time getting to the pro tables, maybe this one can rekindle that flame.
  • Dusk Legion Zealot – Sometimes you just know when a new staple has been created. I reckon this vamp has it in him to be a visionary common. Shaving one mana and p/t from Phyrexian Rager and you have a very reasonable card. Colour-shifted Elvish Visionary is still a solid creature.
  • Warkite Marauder – Two mana for a 2/1 flyer with the ability to Ovinize a defending creature. You herd me right! Seriously though, this gets beats in quickly and, aside from vehicles, screws up combat something fierce. This is pretty fucking solid.
  • Baffling End – I don’t think it’s good removal by any stretch. Silkwrap wasn’t exactly overpowered during its time in standard. The one thing I wanted to point out about this card that could confuse you at first glance, is that “target opponent” gets the 3/3 dino. Not only is this a weird little piece of removal, but it plays the political game too. Now that’s something I can stomach.
  • Ravenous Chupacabra – Remember what I was saying about obvious new staples? It doesn’t have the cute old school idiosyncrasies of Nekrataal (First Strike, hitting non-black creatures), but it’s solid, if boring. I’ll still keep running Shriekmaw (cause the Evoke cost is cheap and a 3/2 Fear helps close games more often than you’d think).
  • Tendershoot Dryad – Five mana for a 2/2 seems expensive, I know, but in a four player game if nothing happens to your tokens you’ll most likely have 14 power worth of creatures by the time it gets back to your upkeep. How? Well if you have five lands when you cast it, triggering Ascend is pretty damn easy with a card that sprouts tokens. This verdant fellow could easily take over games if you keep it protected. Or, I mean, just play a Saproling deck. He’ll be an overrun that grows. A Growverrun?

It’s nice to be excited about a new set, and you know what? I was pretty stoked when Ixalan was spoiled, but I think this one Rivals it well.

Is there anything a seven year old boy could love more than dinosaurs performing fatalities?

Because I want to write about anything but keto today (it’s… going. At least I had a couple of lil’ baby poops today), I’m gonna turn my attention to some of the new Magic the Gathering spoilers for Rivals of Ixalan. If Magic ain’t your thing, come back tomorrow (when I’ll most definitely mention poop again).

Dinos, pirates and… vampire conquistadors? Oh my. Rivals of Ixalan is a mere week or two away and I’m excited to dig into these EDH goodies. While standard will no doubt continue to be relatively stale while Scarab God and the full energy suite are in the format, Ixalan is at least buffing up Commander with some fun new toys. In sublimely selfish fashion, I’m gonna look at some nifty gains for my Primal enRage deck helmed by Marath of the Wild. Let’s get into it!

I talked about what the deck would resemble here, but as a basic primer for what the deck does, it tries less to be a boring Marath toolbox and more to enable Enrage shenanigans (or legacy Enrage style abilities like Stuffy Doll, Boros Reckoner, Spitemare, Sprouting Phytohydra, etc). Most everything in there passes the Aether Flash test and if I ever get out Pyrohemia, it’s a good time (for me, not others). It’s been playing alright, but has needed a couple more cards to eke out wins. What does Rivals bring us?

First up we have Zacama, Primal Calamity. This big ol’ dino comes in and stomps the world around him flat. Have you got a fancy robot or aura? Dead. What about your precious tiny critters? Taste Zacama’s heel! Nine mana is a ton. There’s no getting around that. However, my Marath deck does a fair bit of ramping thanks to the usual complement of staples (Kodama’s Reach, Cultivate, format all star Fertilid, etc) and the deck’s MVP: Ranging Raptors. Getting to 11 mana isn’t uncommon or difficult, so Zacama will do its fair share of work. Thankfully I don’t run Temur Sabretooth or Cloudstone Curio. I’m not interested in winning with cheesy infinite mana combos.

Forerunner of the Empire isn’t a dino, but he grabs them. The card isn’t amazing, but it has a couple of features I like. First off, he passes the Aether Flash test. Secondly, he grabs dinos while enabling them. That static ability not only does work (especially with a Rite of Passage in play) with getting Enrage online, but it’s a “may” ability to prevent me from destroying all of my own stuff. I expect that Raptor Hatchling will be BFFs with this dude (after it gets a +1/+1 counter or two from Marath).

Forerunner’s next best friend is bound to be Polyraptor. This silly bulk mythic is a pumped up version of Sprouting Phytohydra that can actually attack and makes 5/5s, which have a habit of ending the game. I’ve gotta watch out for its interaction with Aether Flash, which creates an endless loop if I don’t have some way of ending it. In goes Impact Tremors, so I can at least burn out all my opponents while I’m at it. If this thing costs eight to cast, I’m alright with an unwieldy three card combo to close out games.

Another fat, splashy dino is what’s being translated at the moment as Silver-Armored Ferocidon. The ability could work out to be pretty mean, or at the very least help me end games. Running Pyrohemia, this could put the kibosh on my opponents’ boardstate, especially with Seedborn Muse on the table. These are the kind of large scale Enrage effects the deck was missing.

Speaking of large scale Enrage effects, “Trapjaw Regisaur” is a doozy. There are some serious Deepthroat shenanigans going on with this lizard. Does it have a black hole for a stomach? In any case, while I don’t expect it to survive forever, it should manage to keep a couple of my opponents’ creatures at bay while the rest of mine slay. It’s competitively costed and sized and earns its slot. God forbid if I manage to give it indestructible or hexproof. Or what if I pinged it a bunch of times in response to a wrath in order to save my other dinos?

Like this lil’ guy. Siegehorn Ceratops. It starts out tiny, but gets massive pretty damn quickly. It’ll need help from Marath to survive Aether Flash, but if it does I’ll have gained a 4/4 for 3 that’ll only grow. Imagine having a 5/5 Marath and this, having the capacity to make a 12/12 at will? Seems sweet as fuck.

The last dino I’m considering is less fierce, but a useful roleplayer. Also it saves Siegehorn Ceratops from Aether Flash. Temple Altisaur. See, my favourite sweeper in the deck is Blasphemous Act (for good reason. It’s like dropping a Brick… House on the board). It plays very well with all of the Stuffy Doll variants. It does, however, kill my critters, even if my Enrage dinos give off a parting shot. In other words, it’s a saur spot. The Altisaur doesn’t survive Blasphemous Act, but it’s pretty much dino Jesus, sacrificing itself for the rest of the herd. Or, y’know, it just puts on Darksteel Plate and goes to town. If Boros Reckoner gives its life by dealing 13 damage, I’m probably okay with that.

I’d always hoped that Rivals would give Primal enRage the boost it needed. In a few weeks, there’ll be no more need for dreams. The set isn’t even all spoiled, but I feel like I have been.

Could you call this a cholesterole playing game?

Day two of keto. No, this isn’t gonna become a constant diatribe about what I’m eating, but two days in I have very else going on in my life or brain. I’m telling My Fitness Pal everything that’s going down my gullet, and it’s spitting the macros back at me. Today, that’s what I’m gonna look at.

This will be a process. While I’ve known for years that the basic notion of “fat is the devil” was foolish and naive, it’s pretty damn tough to flip that on its head. Dismissing cholesterol and sodium intake is troubling for me. There’s so much intentionality involved in hitting macros that I’m sometimes having to eat for the sake of eating. Dropping down my carbs isn’t tough (I may not even hit 10g today), but lowering my protein and upping fat has me in the upside down. My body feels weird and lethargic. Despite tons of cabbage last night and a bunch of coffee both days, everything in my lil’ tum is staying put. I’m bloated and not nearly as gassy as I’d like. At least that’d be a sign that something was in the works. Maybe in a day or two I’ll shit my pants and the relief will be my silver lining. Maybe I should start pre-emptively lining my underwear with tin foil.

It’s not my first time on low carb, but I wasn’t wild about it last time either. As a teenager, the concept of eating all the sausages and bacon my heart desired was bliss. In the execution I discovered that I really just missed fruit. This time around I’m really struggling with getting fat in. It’s gotten to the point where I went to the supermarket and purchased a couple of bricks of cream cheese. I measured them into 30g portions and have periodically just eaten straight cream cheese. While this sounds like someone’s dream, it’s not mine. It’s heavy food when I’d rather just not eat. Everything is so filling, but I’m eating too much protein and need to balance it out. Hence the supplemental snacks. Coffee has become a coconut oil delivery service. I haven’t noticed a huge difference, except that the texture is a little smoother and thicker. On an aesthetic note, the top of my coffee now glitters with all the bubbles of fat.

Me in a week, amirite?

Something I’ve been hugely thankful for is friends who’ve come out to support me with advice. It turns out a bunch of my mates have done it in the past. One of them lost around 45kg. It’s inspiring to know that I’m not walking blindly into this, that there are others who can shed light. A few have given solid tips on what to eat, changes to my cooking habits or different ways to look at foods I already consume. I might even need to cut down on my lunchtime tuna in order to keep my protein macros lowered. Who knows? Keto could even be the last line of defence against my inevitable mercury poisoning.

I wonder if there’s a way to cook broccoli and cabbage in mayonnaise…