Update on the Oncoming End of the World

so, I had what you might describe as “two weeks”

Shortly after my last post, I had a long conversation with my father, who is a doctor and sees the worst-case scenarios of the COVID-19 pandemic with frightening clarity. On the same day, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly advised all New Zealanders travelling overseas to return home as soon as possible, since commercial flights might not be available for much longer. Now, that advice was clearly meant for tourists and people who were spending a few weeks in a foreign country, not so much people like me who have a home and a foreign bank account and so on, but our confidence in the United States’ ability to handle this crisis is… sufficiently low that the idea of getting stuck there was still worrying. Besides, all of my university’s courses are now being taught remotely and our libraries are closed, so all my teaching and research has to be online until further notice anyway. Long story short, in the space of 48 hours I went from sitting in my apartment in Ohio, talking to my parents about whether maybe I should fly back to New Zealand, to actually landing in Auckland. I am now quarantined alone in my grandmother’s empty house (she’s staying with my parents) and New Zealand has entered a full month-long lockdown. Frankly I don’t know what happens next, but in principle I’ll return to the US in August.

Anyway, I’m fine! How are you?

I’ve written an article on Hau, Lillie and Gladion, which I’m very happy with and will go up later today (the mood among my mysterious dark Patrons favours finishing up some more Alola stuff in preference to diving into Galar Pokémon reviews – if you want to influence those decisions, you can always join up; nudge nudge, wink wink). I’ll also be returning to reader questions in the next few days and mayyyyybe to A Pokémon Trainer Is You next week? IN OTHER NEWS, Jim the Editor is once again posting things on his Youtube channel, for the first time in, like, a year. He’s started a playthrough of Final Fantasy X, one of his favourite games of all time, with discussion and commentary, and he’s also posting videos of some kind of cricket-related game which frankly I don’t understand, playing with avatars of all the players in his university cricket club in St. Andrews (who have had to call off the rest of their real-world season on account of… y’know, the plague).

Oh, and if you foolishly pay attention to my Twitter you will have seen this already, but I’ve also recently written an article for PokéJungle about how Sword and Shield approach the history and mythology of Galar, which touches on some stuff I’ll probably continue to talk about if/when I write a character study of Sonia. It’s a bit shorter than a lot of my articles here, but talks about some themes that I really think Sword and Shield handled well, and might be a jumping-off point for future discussions of how other Pokémon games have handled their regions’ ancient past. If that sounds interesting, take a look!

Good luck, everyone, and remain indoors!

jeffthelinguist asks:

Are you safe? I know you’ve been taking a break but it’s also been a few weeks since I’ve seen any activity from you and the world is possibly ending, just want to make sure you’re surviving into the apocalypse.

There is no cause for alarm. My university is shutting down all in-person classes, I have warded my apartment against the demons of plague by means of the sacrifice of an infant chupacabra, and I have purchased enough lentils to make soup for the next hundred and fifty years. Although I am presently showing no symptoms, there is a strong possibility that I do in fact have the plague, since my department has had several visitors from northern Italy in the weeks immediately preceding the Italian lockdown. Nonetheless, my general good health (I am young with no preexisting respiratory conditions) and my assorted pacts with Dark Forces from Parts Unknown will likely sustain me, so my main concern is to avoid infecting others. I intend to enter a period of silent meditation and work on my PhD thesis (and, uh… hopefully Pokémon stuff too, which should resume shortly). Furthermore, I have constructed a powerful ritual such that, in the event that the plague does claim my life, the entire human race will perish along with me, and none of you will need to suffer the burden of living on in my absence. I know this is what all my devoted readers would want.

State of the Blog: January/February

It was fine.

It’s been a fine month.

I dunno, should I say something else? I posted articles on Chairman Rose and Hop, we continued the epic saga of A Pokémon Trainer Is You by venturing into Viridian Forest with a group of bug catchers, and there were a bunch of reader questions about things like Dynamaxing, trainers fighting Pokémon, Acerola’s shiny Mimikyu, the nature of Ghost Pokémon and what I would do with a Pokémon gym. There are, as always, more to come. However, some sad news: I need to take break from Pokémon writing so I can put more time into my research (yeah, if you’re new or don’t pay much attention, I’m sort of doing a PhD in Roman archaeology; it’s a whole thing, I miiiiiiight write something about that since people usually seem to like it when I talk about my work, but no promises), so for the next month, don’t expect to see much from me. I’m working to answer all the questions currently in my inbox, so that those can be posted slowly over the course of the month. Also, Jim the Editor has suggested that he take over weekly updates to “A Pokémon Trainer Is You” for the moment, and we aren’t quite sure how that’s going to work yet, so there may or may not be one this Friday, but stay tuned. I’m thinking long-term I may have to bump that series to once every two weeks, since I have all my generation VIII articles to work on now, and it’s fun but it also can’t be my main thing – let me know if you have any opinions on that. I haven’t yet decided what my next article topic will be when I return, but the whims of my mysterious dark patrons are currently swaying me vaguely in the direction of cleaning up the tail end of generation VII by writing something on the rivals of Sun and Moon – Hau, Gladion and Lillie.

Thanks as always to my noble Patreon supporters – Don’t Call Me Bradley, Leo M.R., James Crooks, hugh_donnetono, Esserise and Hamish Fyfe – for their continued self-sacrifice in the face of cosmic oblivion. I posted about this on the Patreon page already, but in case some of you haven’t seen it, I’m suspending donations for this month since I’m not going to be writing, so Patreon won’t take any money from you at the start of March.

Right; that’ll do.

You can go.

State of the Blog: 2019

sweet bird jesus christ, now what

oh, yeah, um… happy… new thing or whatever to all my readers who use the Gregorian calendar

So, we made it through 2019… seems like the world might end soon, so I’m looking forward to finding a new planet to terrorise and conquer… although frankly when I sold my soul to Dark Forces from Parts Unknown I was promised a much better return on investment than this. Still, I think it was a pretty good blog year, all things considered. We finished generation VII (…mostly… I think I actually will try to get some short pieces done on some of the major human characters I missed out – Hau, Lillie, Gladion – and I want to come back to Alolan forms when I do the Galarian ones), we saw and discussed Detective Pikachu, we started a new interactive/collaborative(?)/choose-your-own-adventure-ish story, A Pokémon Trainer Is You!, I started writing for fansite PokéJungle (and, by the way, if you don’t pay attention to my Twitter – well, first of-ly, good for you, Twitter is the path to hell, but secondwise, my latest piece there is up, looking at my favourite new Pokédex entries for pre-gen VIII Pokémon in Sword and Shield), I made this extremely ridiculous cake, we endured the hype period of the new games and even survived the games themselves, and I wrote my first big article on them – a character study of Marnie, Piers and Team Yell. The next one, on Chairman Rose, is finished and awaiting editorial approval, so it should be up later this week.

I also started a Patreon page! And people actually gave me money, which is bonkers; I mean, I’m not exactly going to become a full-time Internet Pokémon Personality any time soon, but I now get more than enough donations to cover the cost of hosting this thing on WordPress, so I’m not actively losing money out of it. Thank you, as always, to my mysterious benefactors, the patrons: Don’t Call Me Bradley, Leo M.R., James Crooks, hugh_donnetono, Esserise and Hamish Fyfe. If you want to support what I do (…whatever you think that is, exactly), consider joining their ranks for as little as a dollar per month. And even if you don’t, thank you for reading, commenting and submitting questions – this blog is an objectively terrible use of my time in several ways, but I kind of love that there seem to be hundreds of people all over the world who seem to enjoy it, which is honestly a bigger audience than I’m ever likely to get for anything I publish in my real-life academic career.

As for upcoming Things, let’s see… I think my next article is going to cover Hop, and hopefully be a bit shorter and less complex than what I’ve written for Team Yell and Chairman Rose (we’ll see how that turns out…). I probably need to skip this week’s episode of A Pokémon Trainer Is You, because I’m flying back to the US this weekend and… well, things are a bit hectic. It’ll be back next week, though (with the polls running on US Eastern time again). Topics of upcoming reader questions include rebalancing types to work more like the TCG, a new take on the Grass-Water-Fire starter triangle, how I would design a Pokémon gym, and how on earth Ghost Pokémon are supposed to work. For the whole year… well, I want to try to review all the Pokémon of generation VIII this year, but given how long and detailed my reviews are these days, I’d be satisfied with getting through, like, half of them; that should leave me with plenty of time to finish the lot before those BASTARDS who CONTROL MY LIFE announce generation IX.

well… here goes nothing

happy 2020, b!tches

No “A Pokémon Trainer Is You” this week

…as I am still recovering from my recent death and reincarnation, which, believe it or not, remains the most efficient way to travel from North America to New Zealand, provided you know the appropriate spells to deal with the skull goblins of the underworld dreamways, and have agents on site at your destination to perform the correct ritual.

Technically you can also take a plane but it’s terrible for your carbon footprint and obviously leaves you vulnerable to aerial attack from void geese. Also those long flights just suck, y’know?

State of the Blog: October

uggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

hello

This month didn’t exactly go according to plan, because I lost most of a week to illness (I’m fine now, don’t worry; I had a bad fever for a while and spent a lot of time hobbling between my couch and my bed, calling down dire imprecations upon the eternal forces of disease that assail the mortal form) and then had to catch up on real-world work. Which, well, people seem to like it when I talk about my research, so – I’ve been hanging out a lot in the X-ray lab at my university’s geology department, preparing the ancient glass samples I brought back from Caesarea Maritima over the summer for chemical analysis. Each piece gets ground up in an agate ball mill to create a fine powder, I wear a sort of gas mask thing so I don’t get silicosis from breathing in glass dust for hours, then we mix a tiny bit of powder from each sample with a lithium borate flux and melt it down so it turns back into glass, but now it’s a nice neat disc of glass with no air bubbles. Also all the discs are a sort of faint brownish colour, whereas most of the glass I started with is blue-green; I think that’s probably the result of iron in the glass being oxidised from Fe (II) to Fe (III) in the fusion process. Then we zap those discs with X-rays, 10 at a time, each batch for one day, and the pattern of absorption and re-emission of the different wavelengths shows the elemental composition of the sample. Very exciting in principle; some of the thrill gets taken out a bit by the fact that it takes weeks. I’m interested mainly to see whether these window glass samples I’ve taken are different in composition from what’s typical for Roman vessel glass, and also whether there’s any clear variation over the lifetime of the site.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Anyway, I wanted to have an article on Team Rainbow Rocket done by now, and it isn’t, but I am working on it and it should be good to go in another couple of days. We’re running out of time before Sword and Shield come out, and I have preordered one so I will be starting the game pretty much immediately, which I have never actually done before (honestly I think the whole idea of needing to have the game on launch day is a bit weird, but I suppose as someone who produces #content on the #internet I should keep up to date). I’ll try to get something else out between now and then, probably on the Alolan forms, and then once I start the games I’ll produce some kind of “first impressions” series along the lines of what I did for Alpha Sapphire. And… oh god… then the Pokémon reviews will start. And then they will continue until I die. And then once my remaining mortal servants have succeeded in reanimating my shattered body and conjuring my soul back from beyond the veil, maybe we can get on with literally anything else.

Things I have done this month include rambling about Socrates, talking about Galarian Ponyta and Fairy-type life force, rating the moons of the solar system according to rigorous scientific standards, writing two articles for PokéJungle, trying to explain Mimikyu, and continuing my… interactive fan-fic(?) “A Pokémon Trainer Is You!“. Some upcoming questions from readers include: what I would be doing if I weren’t a classicist, how I decide between Pokémon game versions, and what are some of the weirdest of Pokémon’s worldbuilding inconsistencies.

As always, thank you to my Patreon donors whose generosity pays the upkeep of this site, and whose dark will animates the mystic artifices that sustain my wretched material form: Don’t Call Me Bradley, James Crooks, hugh_donnetono, Esserise and Hamish Fyfe. The fact that anyone is willing to donate anything at all as thanks for my ridiculous work is a continuing source of joy and spiritual fulfilment, so thank you! If anyone else out there thinks that my brand of nonsense is deserving of a little monthly tip, please consider taking a look at my Patreon page.

I think that’s everything! The tension is building! Excitement is in the air! The doom of worlds approaches day by day! Help!