Angry Magic Geeks: We're Cool and We Don't Stink!
The good news: Your lead story about Magic: The Gathering ["Do You Believe in Magic?", by Alex Hecht, September 4] actually contained occasional outbursts of literacy and insight. The bad news is that overall the article reflected negatively and unfairly on Magic.

The main flaw was the constant labeling of Magic players as "losers," "rejects" and other derogatory terms. Magic has its share of these, as does any hobby, sport or profession, but the generalization in your article is offensive. The author also seems to have focused on some particularly immature examples of Magic players. If you think players like Bob Coonce are "cool," then your definition of cool needs serious revision.

Tony Drew
via Internet

While the article on Magic: The Gathering was of overall higher quality than I have come to expect, I feel I must take exception to your descriptions of the "average" Magic player. No disputing that the majority of players are male -- possibly 90 percent, which is an awful shame. But the "twentysomething ... Coke-bottle glasses ... tube socks ... Birks" description is no more the norm than in any other segment of our population. In the many Magic tournaments I've attended as player and judge, the cross section of players (aside from the general lack of females) is pretty much like any other gathering: rich and not, blacks, whites, blue-collar, idle, elite, Ph.D.s, all sorts of working stiffs, on and on.

The remark about being unclean and/or smelly was uncalled for. Once again, this game-playing segment has no more or less of those crude, dirty, smelly aberrations of humanity than you'll find in attendance at a wrestling match, the corner market or any other place. I bet you have at least one employee somewhere in your building that has problems in that arena.

Grant Irwin
via Internet

Editor's reply: At least one.

Overall, I think the feature on Magic: The Gathering was pretty well on the mark. However, I do take offense at the description of the "average" Magic player in the first paragraph. I have played primarily in New York City, and I will point out the following: 1) Most of the players are college age, 2) Many of them are pre-professional, with a few lawyers thrown into the mix and 3) Fashion is a must.

However, I will concede that the average Magic player has horrible sleeping habits.

Ben Bleiweiss
via Internet

Thank you for your wonderful story on Magic: The Gathering. It was truly inspiring. From now on, no matter how depressed I am, no matter how dark my day is, no matter how hopeless things may seem to be, in my moment of need, I will honestly be able to say to myself, "Cheer up! Things could be worse. You could be playing Magic."

And for that, I will ever be grateful.
Jason Ginsburg
via Internet, Houston

As a casual Magic player, I read with interest Alex Hecht's story on the Magic card-playing phenomena. Hecht does a great job of illustrating how obsessive some hard-core individuals are about the game. Unfortunately, his article may leave some readers with the impression that to get into this enjoyable game is like being thrown to the wolves. For example, Hecht faithfully reports the extent of annoying "trash talk" many Magic players who are bereft of social skills spew at their opponents.

While these individuals no doubt possess a high degree of strategic acumen, they win because they $pend. Those of us with a life outside of Magic are probably more congenial, and have actually spent less than the national debt on cards. We welcome persons with an interest in collecting, nice artwork and strategy to join us in this neat game.

James M. Bjork

Weekly Rainer Roundtable
If I used Peter Rainer as my guide to the movies I would go see or miss, then I would have had one boring summer. I read his review on Cop Land ["Shoot the Sheriff," August 14], then read Peter Travers's review in Rolling Stone. You would have thought they were talking about two different movies. Rainer is an idiot. No one agrees with him on anything. I respect Siskel and Ebert (as well as the aforementioned Mr. Travers), but gentlemen, this guy Rainer is making your rag look ridiculous. And even though it may be his opinion, everyone attributes it to the Houston Press. Get this guy out of there, or you will lose even more readers than you already have.

Joel Buckley
via Internet

I think it may be time for the boss to take Peter (I've never seen a movie I liked) Rainer into the office and explain to him that not every movie he reviews is going to be a Dr. Strangelove, 2001 or Citizen Kane. I have attended most of the movies that Mr. Rainer has stabbed in the back recently and, while I didn't go thinking I was going to witness cinema history, I was entertained and received good value for my bucks. Sometimes the moviegoer just needs a little diversion and escape from our down-sized, when-is-it-my-turn work world.

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