25. My First Magic: the Gathering Tournament

Last night, I participated in my first Magic: the Gathering tournament. For those who don’t know, Magic: the Gathering is a collectible card game. When you collect cards, you can build your own deck and play a strategy game.

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Magic the Gathering is like a cross between chess and poker (chess in that the cards you use have specific abilities, poker in that you want to hide your cards from your opponent). VERY FUN!

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I didn’t realize so many took Magic: the Gathering seriously. For me, the game is simply a fun activity to do with friends. But at the tournament, it was a lifestyle. Some had been playing between 10 and 15 years! So naturally they knew everything, including the fact that half my deck was illegal.

Despite my vigilant battle efforts (pun intended), I didn’t win a single game. My opponents had too many great cards and too much experience for my amateur abilities. Despite losing everything, though, I still graciously accepted my participation award (1 booster pack/15 random cards).

My take-home from last night was the experience. I was exposed to great players in a beautiful (but geeky) atmosphere. Untamed Worlds was a great host, and for those of you who like comic books, board games, or collectibles, Untamed Worlds is the place to be.

They host weekly Magic: the Gathering tournaments, and I plan to compete in as many as I can.

So what do you guys think? Should I consider Magic: the Gathering only a hobby? Or should I make it a lifestyle?

I encourage comments.

 

 

24. If You’re Bored, Read This…

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Have you ever been stuck somewhere with nothing to do? Has it ever crossed your mind that dying of boredom might actually be possible?

Last weekend, it snowed in my city. By Saturday afternoon, fifteen inches of powdery white fluff glazed our property, and I was forced to remain indoors.

Believe me… I know boredom.

When boredom consumes me, I sometimes fall into limbo. I try to think of things I enjoy, but the boredom sucks the creativity from my mind, leaving me helpless.

Here’s some surprising advice that has helped me a lot: don’t fight it, because boredom is good.

“WWWWWHHHHHAAATTTT?!?!?!?! NO, LOGAN! DON’T SAY THAT!”

“Hmmm… Let me say it again. BOREDOM IS GOOD!

Let’s face it, Lingering Lamb subscribers! Although frustrating at times, boredom can be a tremendous blessing. How would I have developed a love for writing? Or learned to play Magic: The Gathering? Or get the idea to start a video game club? Or even decide to author this blog had in not been for boredom?

When boredom is accompanied by diligent thinking (and a pinch of motivation), it turns into an opportunity to learn something new. And believe me… I have tried MANY new things, and a lot of these things have turned into lasting hobbies.

You obviously know that I love to read, write, and play video games (that much is obvious).

…But did you know that I’m a drummer?

…Did you know that my high school basketball team won the East Coast Championship my junior year?

…Or the fact that my partner and I were ranked second in the USA for beach volleyball?

…Did you know that I can solve a rubix cube in 28 seconds?

Throughout my life, boredom has given me opportunities to experience new things and to meet new people.

So my advice to you is this: Never take a moment of boredom for granted. And when you’re bored, force yourself to do something you don’t like. It may end up being one of the best things you ever do.

So what do you guys think? What are some advantages or disadvantages of boredom? I encourage comments.

 

 

 

23. What is Good Writing? …

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Good writing is essential for everyone. Whether news columns, blogs, or fictional stories, authors should always abide by three basic rules to convey vibrant messages.

Rule One: Understand Grammar Concepts.

Regardless of writing style, authors must use correct grammar. Sentences — even entire paragraphs — can easily be misinterpreted when the writer does not execute proper grammar. Commas, semicolons, and periods are critical for separating thoughts and even for emphasizing key points.

Rule Two: Less is More

Many write to impress rather than to accurately inform. Instead of writing a clear, straight forward message, they try to impress readers with long sentences and “fancy” vocabulary. These writers don’t realize that the best way to convey anything is to explain it simply, using few words if possible.

Rule Three: Appeal to the Senses

This rule mostly applies to creative writing. When someone is reading a creative story, he wants to feel involved. It’s the writer’s job to interpret the scene as if he is actually seeing, smelling, and hearing everything.

According to the historical fiction writer, E. L. Doctorow, “good writing should provoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

A beautiful example of appealing to the senses is found in The Great Gatsby, one of America’s most famous novels.

“Gatsby asked me to wait until he was free and I lingered in the garden until the inevitable swimming party had run up, chilled and exalted, from the black beach, until the lights were extinguished in the guest rooms overhead.”

In this passage, Fitzgerald identifies what his protagonist is seeing (gardens/guest rooms) and feeling (chilled). Such writing brings the reader deeper into the story, convincing him of another reality.

To summarize, good writing consists of three main rules: proper grammar, simplicity, and appeal to the senses. Without a firm grip on these basic concepts, writers will struggle to tell their story effectively.

What do you guys think? How important are these rules? How can writers effectively execute them?

I encourage comments below.

22. Donald Trump, Crippled America, and a Signature

Fantasy is my favorite genre of literature. And when I can’t read fantasy, I fall back on Young Adult novels. This past week, however, since things are heating up politically, I decided to purchase Donald Trump’s new book Crippled America.

The book is actually very interesting and well written. Trump outlines his plans for America and spends intricate detail on issues like illegal immigration, the Department of Education, and the idiocy of “political correctness.”

When I realized that the multi-billionaire presidential candidate was going to speak at my University, I quickly decided to begin reading the book.

Yesterday Trump spoke at my school, and throughout his speech, he remained consistent with the literary message in his book. That is something to give him credit for: Trump may say outrageous things off the top of his head, but at least he’s honest and consistent with his purpose.

Before leaving the auditorium, Donald Trump greeted people, took selfies, and gave signatures. I was lucky enough to receive Trump’s signature, which he scribbled on my copy of Crippled America.

Trump signature

While some “Trump Haters” may consider this signature garbage, I personally think it’s pretty cool. No matter which presidential candidate you associate with, you cannot deny the awesomeness of a famous person’s signature. A signature gives a book a dual purpose; when signed, it is no longer only a reading material, but a collectible artifact.

Crippled America may reside outside my preferred genre of literature, but books like this (and autobiographies) can actually be very interesting. I definitely recommend Trump’s new book; it’s fast-paced, motivating, and Trump fills its pages with the usual “Trump Enthusiasm.”

21. Alan Rickman, an Artist of Character

A couple days ago, the world lost a great actor. The countless tweets from his cast members were evident that Alan Rickman was endeared by everyone he came into contact with. 

As a Harry Potter fan, I enjoyed watching Rickman play the part of Severus Snape, a sinister potions professor at Hogwarts School. Snape was my favorite character in both the books and movies. And I say this with full confidence: the movie industry could not have picked a better actor to portray Severus Snape than Alan Rickman.

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I figured that blogging about Alan Rickman would be appropriate since his death has moved so many people. According to the Harry Potter cast, Rickman left a legacy that will never be forgotten.

My favorite Snape moment was in The Prince’s Tale (chapter 33 of the final volume) when Snape’s true purpose was finally revealed. Throughout the series, Severus Snape was portrayed as one of the “bad guys.” He even professed to be a death eater (evil follower of Lord Voldemort). But in The Prince’s Tale, you find out that Snape was actually working undercover for the “good side.” The brilliance of J.K. Rowling simply astounds me every time I read that chapter.

Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.

“After all this time?”

“Always,” said Snape. -The Prince’s Tale

For the Lingering Lamp, January 14 will be known as Alan Rickman Day, a day where we will remember those who portrayed such beautiful characters.

“Albus Severus,” Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to Rose, who was now on the train, “you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin (Severus Snape) and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.” -The Deathly Hallows Epilogue

 

 

 

 

20. Three Tips to Enhance Your Reading

Do you ever find yourself unable to read? Maybe it’s because you’re in an uncomfortable position. Or maybe you’re stressed. Whatever it is, something is stopping you from reading… And the stopping needs to stop.

More than once, I’ve found myself in this unfortunate scenario. It’s actually quite common with many readers. I’m sure there’s a proper term for this condition, but for now, let’s just call it readers block.

Regardless of the author, genre, or length of the book, people with reader’s block can’t seem to find inspiration to keep turning pages.

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These three tips have helped me tremendously with my reading, and because of them, I have been able to comprehend faster and more efficiently.

Three tips for successful reading:

ONE: Read Alone

When I’m reading, I need to be distraction free. Nothing upsets my reading more than another person’s voice. The mixture of their words and the words on the page splits my concentration, and I’m forced to put my book down until the person is gone.

TWO: Softly Pronounce What You Read

Reading out loud combines both my visual and hearing senses. The more senses I use, the clearer I think. This doesn’t mean I shout… I just gently mumble the passage to myself.

THREE: Always Have a Pen in Your Hand

Occasionally, books will have important messages buried beneath its pages, and it’s important to remember these messages after the book is finished. More than once, I’ve forgotten to highlight key sentences in a book, and in doing so, get confused with the plot and characters later in the story.

The way I see it, taking notes is similar to taking a photo. Photography is used to capture a moment. Likewise, taking notes and highlighting is used to capture key passages within the text.

THE END

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope this was of some help to you. I hate reader’s block, and I want to get 100% out of anything I read.

So pick up that book you’ve been dying to finish. Use these tips, and see how much smoother your reading is. 🙂

 

 

 

 

19. This Blog Post is Number 19. See On The Left? NINETEEN!

A lot has happened the last three months; yet nothing has happened. Although active in books, my computer, and hours of class, my brain doesn’t feel any smarter than it did when I started school.

I have recently finished my first college semester; and I can honestly say that it was the most boring three months of my life. I didn’t make many friends, and I definitely didn’t take full advantage of the resources I had (completely my fault).

I started this blog because my youth pastor noticed I wasn’t getting enough “Logan Time.” which consists of the things I love to do (reading, video games, ets…) He knew that homework was draining every minute of my time, drawing me closer and closer to MADNESS (slightly overstated). He told me that unless I found some free time, I would explode.

But how can you only read for “a few minutes” per day? In my opinion, a book or video game can only be enjoyed when at least two hours are spent. I knew I didn’t have two hours to spare; it would have been impossible to do that PLUS get good grades.

My solution: spend an hour per week writing about what I wished I could do. Yes, it might not be as fulfilling, but it would suffice.

Fortunately, I survived my first semester with a good GPA and was able to write in this blog (usually) on a normal basis. I’m thrilled that the Lingering Lamb has almost 800 views, and it means a lot that you guys continue to read and take interest.

Now that homework is out of the way (for the next three weeks), I’m free to read and play whatever and whenever I want. …BUT… Despite having all this free time, I’ve decided to continue blogging.

Here are a few things I’m doing:

  • I’m reading 100 Cupboards.

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It’s a pretty good book so far. It isn’t Harry Potter or Narnia, but it’s worth it…. I’ll write more on 100 Cupboards soon…

  • I’ve also been playing the Nathan Drake collection for PS4.

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I’m almost done with Among Thieves, the second game in the series, and it’s fabulous…

THE END

After I finish the Nathan Drake collection, I want to start either Tomb Raider Definitive Edition or Shadow of Mordor. Which one would you guys recommend?

 

 

18. Character Will Always Beat Visuals

As a kid, I enjoyed Star Wars for its light-saber duels and the super cool thing called the force. In fact, the action was the sole reason I liked the movies…

Episodes I, II, and III naturally contained better action and visuals than the original Star Wars trilogy (duh). But the original trilogy is better at one thing: classic quirky awesomeness.

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Yes… When I say classic quirky awesomeness, I’m referring to the numerous scenes with R2-D2 and C3PO and the amazing contrasts between Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker. As fantasy author Brandon Sanderson said, “It is better to have great characters and a dull plot than vice versa.”

I truly believe this is why so many people prefer the original Star Wars trilogy over the new one. Because although the new Star Wars movies have better action and visuals, the original movies have more in-depth character.

I feel like Hollywood is losing its grip on great character development. Instead it is being substituted for action and visuals.

Last night, as I watched Episode IV, I nearly cried due to the lack of choreography. Honestly, the fighting from Episodes I, II, and III are head and shoulders better than the fighting in IV, V, and VI. However, though the choreography stunk, I thoroughly enjoying the movie. But why?

Because visuals will never be able to tell a story as well as a character…

 

17.Video Game Club Beginning in 2016

Lingering Lamb Update: As my first college semester comes to an end, I feel like it is appropriate for my blog to take its first break. After a long three months of school, I feel the need to spend some quality time with my family (away from the computer). The Lingering Lamb will return on December 22, 2015 (next Tuesday).

As I was painting the new youth room at my church, my fellow painters and I discussed ways to reach out to the community and how to help fulfill the Great Commission. I was immediately reminded of something I’ve been wanting to do for a while: I’ve wanted to host a Video Game Club.

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Video games are incredible ice breakers. Honestly, if two people have a common love for video games, then nothing, not even religious or political affiliation, can separate their friendship. I personally believe that evangelizing should be done casually, and without an extremely awkward approach (*cough cough* street evangelizing). Since friendships are easily created through video games, then why not use video games as a means to evangelize?

Come 2016, I will be co-hosting a gaming club that will feature all kinds of gaming systems. We will probably primarily be playing modern consoles (PS4, Wii, etc). But every once in a while, I want the club to feature the Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1, and other classics. I want to include the old consoles to celebrate the old stuff and to give the senior attendees something more familiar. Hehe!

All in all, though, I just want it to be a fun time of fellowship and gaming… and to hopefully meet new people who have as much of a passion for video games as I do.

(I will announce official dates on this blog once the Video Game club is fully organized, so BE READY)

So what do you guys think? Is a video game club a good idea? If so, what would make the club exceptionally fun? More so, how might someone use video games as a means to evangelize or get to know people? You’re feedback is much appreciated.

Again, the Lingering Lamb will take a one week break and return on December 22, 2015. However, although I won’t be posting until the 22nd, I will definitely reply to any comments.

 

 

16. Master Greenleaf and Two Eager Wizards

I was in the Library the other night, in the restricted section, and I came across something rather odd about a piece of rare magic… But before you get any thoughts… NO! I did not discover how to make a horcrux. My friend and I only found a stack of Magic: The Gathering novels.

I knew that the books were based on a trading card game, but I hadn’t really given the game much thought. After all, trading card games are for nerds… right?

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After seeing the stack of books, my friend, whom I will call Edmond Dantes, suggested that we purchase two Magic starter decks, and teach each other how to play.

Slightly skeptical, I agreed…

NOW I’M LITERALLY OBSESSED!

Magic: The Gathering is basically like chess, but with more strategy. Each card has a different ability, and the player can use the ability to weaken his or her opponent.

A great part about Magic: The Gathering is its focus on fantasy. The art on the cards is beautiful, and the names of the various creatures are very creative (heart-stabber mosquito, it that betrays, eldrazi drone, etc…).

Thankfully, Edmond and I had a friend who mentored us in the ways of Magic. I will refer to him as Master Greenleaf.

Before Master Greenleaf voyaged back home to South America, he graciously taught Edmond and I how to play the game. As beginner wizards, we were unfamiliar with the game’s magical terms… “Mana? Huh? How do you un-tap? And what the heck is a freakin’ UP-KEEP?!” Patient, yet persistent, Master Greenleaf continued to teach us the fantastical ways of the game.

Now, almost three weeks later, I’m beginning to understand why it’s the most popular trading card game in the world.

 

Hobbies normally come and go… The boring hobbies slip away as our brains adapt to newer and cooler things. Will Magic eventually slip past my interests and become legacy? (pun intended)

I doubt it…