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Pook's Place and Jaelove's Journey
Lately, I've been going back to the sections of older retired Featured Writers to re-read their articles. It brings back good memories and helps me gain a bit more insight on things.
I read Ryoga's Puzzles section yesterday. I remember years ago not being able to solve any of his puzzles, even the easy ones and how I would give flat-out give up after 10 minutes. Not much has changed, in that regard, since then.
I do want to talk about two writers on Pojo that particularly stood out and were my favorites of the website. Pook (from Pook's Place) and Jae Kim (from Jaelove's Journey). They don't write on here anymore. Maybe they'll come back again. Slim chance but who knows.
Pook: The Fun of Yu-Gi-Oh!
Of all the writers, Pook's probably been the most influential to my column despite me never meeting or talking to him before. I always enjoyed his writing, but I enjoy it now more than I did before.
Back then, I was looking for tips on how to be more competitive and an Ultimate Baseball Kid FIRE deck just wasn't really in my interest. He also had the policy that he wouldn't build or fix Chaos Decks (by far the most dominant meta deck-type of the time). Now though, I don't read Pook's writings to get better at dueling. I'm as good as I'll ever get. I read them to lift my mood and spirits.
Things got pretty absurd, with posts like "Yu-Gi-Oh The Musical", contests for a cartoon mascot of his column, an entire post dedicated toward slang words like "MST (Mystical Space Typhoon)" and other things. But that's what I loved about him. It was totally unpredictable and you never knew what you were going to get. He delved into territory that no one else will dive into.
Looking back, it's the personality, passion and spirit of his articles that just remain timeless in a game that has changed so much. He had a child-like innocence and humility toward the game that's admirable. When I say child-like, I don't mean immature or naive at the slightest. But instead the ability to have fun that is often washed away from us as we become adults. He made FUN a factor in Yu-Gi-Oh!
I don't just read writing only for the content that the writer delivers (though that aspect is very important). I also read the writer's work to piece together a story. In his articles, I learned about who Pook was as a person and what his life was like. It was a story, starting from him being a college student with a closet dueling obsession to a grown-up with real life responsibilites who still has that same "itch" for dueling.
His later writings became somber and were sandwiched in between hiatuses, effectively finishing the story with a theme of sometimes having to abandon that child-like innocence to attend to real concerns in the adult world. I wish it would've ended on a brighter note, but sometimes you have a calling and need to move on from one thing to the next. What else could I say but the fact that Pook's writings had an undeniable charm? And that I loved him for every single one of his idiosyncrasies.
Jaelove: Growth and Evolution
Jaelove was the Pojo writer I read the most of as a kid. Short of a quick dialog I had with him about a Blue-Eyes White Dragon deck, years ago, I never really knew him personally either. But you could tell a lot about a person by reading their writing regularly. I feel like him and Pook were in the same room with me when I read their respective material.
Jae embraced more of the competitive side of things. He topped a couple of big tournaments, I think. I know for sure, he topped a Shonen Jump with a deck largely constructed from Structure Deck commons. It was a real motivation to people who had lots of heart for the game, but perhaps not a lot of money to spend.
Jaelove's Journey also shows Jae's growth and evolution as person. Like he wrote, we went from an angry high school kid, to a lazy college kid to a career-oriented professional. His articles, as they pertain to YGO, have also changed over the years. He began building theme-based decks, largely avoiding the meta. But then, as he got deeper into the mechanics of what made cards competitive, his articles gradually became more tournament oriented.
He had complex systems for rating cards like like ABAD (Advantage / Best draw for situation / Attribute-effect / Dependability) and FORCE (field presence/flip-effect management ; on-field removal/on-field presence ; removal (spell/trap)/resource replenishment ; counter-defense/counter-disruption ; enemy disruption/energy). You can categorize cards in many different ways, but I particularly liked his meticulous eye for analyzing cards.
I never got fully into the competitive scence, but I read his write-ups on high-profile tournament matches just to capture the spirit of them anyway. One thing I always liked about him was his blunt honesty of not being afraid to say controversial things related to the game if they needed to be said. But during the last few articles of his column, he went full circle. He stated that his drive to be competitive overwhelmed him and he returned back to his roots of just teaching people how to play.
Full circle, like I often say.
Jaelove embraced the competitive hunger I had when I was younger. Pook embraced the nostalgic fun I now crave. The differences between their writings sometimes felt like night and day, but still had a lot in common too. Jae tackled on more serious things, but his fun sometimes-irreverent personality still shined throughout. Pook was way more light-hearted in his articles, but you could still tell that there was a mature person beneath the writing.
Both were undeniably important parts of Pojo history. They inspired me to write about YGO. They lit the torch of featured writing on Pojo, and in their absence I now carry it.
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