Pitch Perfect. He's that new breed of Scot more comfortable sipping on a light and airy white wine spritzer than a tumbler of 25 year old single malt Glenmorangie.
Xander Phoena is a genial cunt. He's a spiky haired bastard who many affectionately refer to as The MacTani. It has been said that Xander is a man-specimen the equal to his Yank counterpart, The Mittani.
Xander Phoena is also the host of Crossing Zebras (along with Jeg Elsker.) The preeminent EVE Online podcast for people looking for more than just two hosts (and their assortment of guests) hitting the record button and then talking about whatever comes to mind. Xander does crazy, off-kilter things like having topics, remaining on topic, and something called critical analysis.
Xander intends to use his skills and gifts as an orator and interviewer to bring CSM candidates more intimately to the community. Every CSM8 candidate has a standing offer to a thirty minute interview with Crossing Zebras. This is the sort of interview neither candidates or voters should pass up on. Each promises to be an insightful reveal into the platforms and thinking of each and every potential representative.
Although every single interview is going to be interesting and revealing unto itself, the two I'm most looking forward to at the moment are the Ripard Teg and Mynnna interviews. These two are definitely top-runners for CSM8 seats. Both are slippery chaps. I've found it hard to nail down their opinions on specific topics, especially regarding highsec.
Ripard Teg is definitely someone that does not like to make clear and concise opinions known. He's maddeningly oblique anytime he writes about controversial topics. He gives himself the out, in the event he comes down on the wrong side of a debate he can claim he was trolling, not being serious, or that nobody understood the real point of his argument. As an example, a commenter recently called him on a particular point on a particular post, and Ripard responded "[I'm] also exaggerating like crazy. [I] say so right in the post." Except what Ripard actually wrote was "Am I exaggerating to make a point? Maybe just a little. But... just maybe I'm not exaggerating at all." He gives himself the opportunity to step away from an expressed opinion, if necessary. He does this in nearly every post he writes, if he suspects it might lead to any amount of controversy. This waffling can also be found in his Garth, alter-ego, posts. He uses Garth for his most incendiary topics, stating that Garth may or may not reflect the opinions of Ripard Teg. Whether Garth is a reflection of Ripard depends on the level of agreement (or disagreement), by the general EVE playing public, to the point being made.
I certainly think Ripard will make a great CSM8 candidate, even when I don't agree with his positions. But he really needs to take a recognizable stance on particular issues. We have already spent an entire year with Hans Jagerblitzen, who became well-known for bending whichever way the winds of popular opinion were blowing. I don't think we need somebody to replace Hans in that regard.
My hope is that Xander can nail down some positions from Ripard. Not let him get away with evasiveness.
And then there is Mynnna (aka Corestwo). About all we know of him is that he's Goonswarm's candidate, and that he's particularly good at crunching numbers, to the point where he's able to find flaws in game mechanics and exploit the hell out of them. Beyond that, it's hard to know exactly where he stands. He seems to come down easily on both sides of an argument. It's great that he can see issues from the position of the players as well as from the position of CCP as a business, but it hardly tells us which way he's likely to argue at the end of the day.
Given the latest CSM7 minutes and verbiage coming from CSM7 representatives in recent interviews, it is not looking like nullsec is going to get much love in 2013. Mynnna is looked upon as a nullsec candidate. So if nullsec is not going to be a focus for the next two expansions (things can change though, and Mynnna's role here will no doubt be crucial), it is important to know his stances on issues outside of nullsec.
Like Ripard, my hope is that Xander can pull more concrete ideas and positions from Mynnna during his session.
There are, of course, other important sessions. With Malcanis. Marc Scaurus. Mike Azariah, Roc Wieler, and Mangala.
So watch for The Xander Phoena Sessions coming February/March 2013. Or pay attention here, because I'll likely be blogging my reaction to each and every interview.
 What is clotted cream? I know what a blood clot is, which happens to be something else the British enjoy; see blood pudding.
 In the Scottish vernacular, cunt is as common a greeting as is hello in more civilized cultures.
 Perhaps only I refer to him as such. But this certainly needs to be a thing.
 This sort of discourse suggests that Xander may have been educated outside of Scotland. He certainly digresses from what usually accounts for Scottish debate: "Ach, McDonnall! If ye dinnae chaynge yer mynd, ah will batter yer heid in wi' this 'ere rock."
 Xander has stated that every interview will run 30 minutes. No more. No less. Hopefully he doesn't stick to this limit unnecessarily. If the questions and follow-ups push an interview to longer, then so be it. He should really give himself the time necessary to get through the topics he wants to cover with interviewee, and not let time constraints hamper quality. Imagine if Hans were running again? At best, Xander would get three questions answered in a thirty-minute time period. Some candidates are going to be more wordy and evasive than other candidates.
 Well, Mynnna is all but guaranteed the top spot on the council. But Ripard is certainly a top-runner for one of the remaining Iceland Seven seats.
 Mynnna's role in breaking wide open the loyalty point payout system for faction warfare during the summer of 2012 is now legendary. He did eventually report the exploit to CCP, but only after breaking the system for trillions of ISK.