James Crooks [Patreon cultist] asks:

Sirfetch’d. Reaction?

It is a very stabby duck.

Yeah, I don’t know… I think it was very unlikely that any hypothetical Farfetch’d evolution could possibly stick the landing, given how long it’s been anticipated, but this is not bad. Farfetch’d’s “leek” is actually a spring onion, which is a more common vegetable in East Asian cuisine, whereas Sirfetch’d seems to have an actual leek, which is a nice touch, given that leeks are an emblem of Wales. The “shield” also seems to be made of leek leaves, and that’s quite nice. If Sirfetch’d is supposed to be based on any specific type of wild duck native to Britain, then I can’t find it (though I’m admittedly no birdwatcher). Ducks live on lakes, and I remember some minor legend from Britain about some local folk hero who received a magic sword from a lake, but as connections go this one’s a bit of a stretch for me. Besides, Sirfetch’d’s leek is more like a lance than a sword, and it seems to wield it like a lance in its animations. A lance is a bit of a rubbish weapon if you aren’t mounted, but it’s a Farfetch’d evolution, so I suppose we can’t make life too easy for it. The fact that Sirfetch’d is apparently exclusive to Sword version makes me wonder if there could possibly be a split evolution, with the other form being exclusive to Shield version (à la Lycanroc); otherwise, there’s a good chance its counterpart is some other older-generation Pokémon, probably single-stage until now, with an evolution unique to Galar. Unclear to me why Sirfetch’d isn’t a Flying-type, but then, I have a fairly long history of thinking that the Flying type makes no damn sense anyway.

Patch asks:

From now on you’ll have to sustain yourself on one type of Pokemon treat, e.g. beans, blocks, curry. Which one do you pick, and why?

Hmmmm… surely it’s gotta be the curry, right? Like, just nutrition-wise, I don’t know if anything else would have everything your body needed. Maybe the beans, but there’s only so much you can do with beans. Man cannot live on beans alone. Even rainbow sparkle beans. On the basis of what we’ve seen so far of Sword and Shield‘s curries, it seems like you can put a lot of different meats, spices and vegetables in there (including beans!). Now, unlimited Poképuffs in all the different flavours for the rest of my life? Sure, that sounds great. (Incidentally, one of these days I gotta try to make Poképuffs and write up a recipe) But Poképuffs and no other food for the rest of my life? You’d get to feeling pretty gross within a couple of days, I think, to say nothing of the iron deficiency that would set in after a few weeks.

jeffthelinguist asks:

So, as an archaeologist, can you answer the age old question of how much time needs to pass before grave robbing becomes archaeology? What’s the appropriate time period for looting the dead to become acceptable?

I’m assuming you’ve seen the screenshot of an archaeologist commenting, in answer to this question, that this is actually a super awkward and uncomfortable question?  I’m fortunate enough to work in an area where it doesn’t really come up much – we’re all pretty sure that two thousand years is comfortably in the safe zone.  Even then, though… it would be a mistake to think that archaeology can be a pure science, that our study of the past can remain detached from the present. It’s all grave robbing, in a way. The only difference is in how pure your motives are… which is a matter of perspective.

Continue reading “jeffthelinguist asks:”

Herald of Opera asks:

Do you like penguins? (Same question goes for Jim the Editor; I always ask this whenever an opportunity for an unbounded question arises, including careless wording.) (Also, whenever speaking up in favor of Sword & Shield’s National Dex removal, I make sure to mention the absurdly slim chances of Piplup getting in as proof that it hurts me more than it probably hurts them)

Penguins are fµ¢£ing great (and this is our shared opinion, by the way).  They’re birds, but instead of flying they swim!  And on land they’re so waddly and dumb and cute, but in the water they’re so… so… M A J E S T I C.  Piplup remains to this day my favourite Water-type starter, for reasons that I’m not even going to pretend are based entirely in sober design analysis.  And there are gay penguin couples who adopt eggs and chicks, acting as aspirational figures for the LGBT community and filling the hearts of the entire world with warmth and fuzziness.  As long as we’re on penguins, I’m going to direct readers to the Instagram account of the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, home of a colony of New Zealand’s native little blue penguins (scientifically proven to be the smollest and most adorable of all penguins), one of whom each month is designated “good penguin” or “naughty penguin of the month.”  And, of course, I would be doing you all a great disservice if I didn’t tell you that New Zealand is also where several of the oldest species of fossil penguins come from, some of them gigantic fossil penguins as tall as humans, like the new species Crossvallia waiparensis described just a few weeks ago from fossils found in Canterbury.

…so I guess what I’m saying is the answer to your question is “yes.”

James Crooks [Patreon cultist] asks:

Now that you’re at the end of the Alolan Pokédex, can you tell us your favourite Pokémon, least favourite and one that you liked more after reviewing?

Tricky.

Spending more time on each Pokémon and each review tends to make me appreciate almost all of them more, because I come to see the references and the meaning in each design, and my feelings about the Pokémon itself come to be bound up with anything interesting I’ve learned during the process I generously call my “research.”  The exception, of course, is when there seems to be simply nothing to find, but I think those are rare in Alola.  And in another direction, over the course of doing the Alola reviews I’ve started trying to incorporate the anime’s portrayals of each Pokémon a bit more, so even if a design is ‘meh,’ I can develop some positive feeling towards it if that Pokémon’s episode is a good one.  I just put out my Zeraora article, and Zeraora’s frankly not a very interesting Pokémon, but it’s one of the stars of the 21st movie, The Power of Us, which I am not going to stop talking about because I think it’s easily the best one (aside from Detective Pikachu), and there is a certain degree of affection that just… well, rubs off on Zeraora.  Having said all that, of course there are winners and losers.  With some designs, I feel “rewarded” for the extra work I do in trying to break them down, because I feel like I’ve solved a puzzle that the designers have left for me; other times it just seems like there’s not much to find.  So there are Pokémon for whom my opinion of them, or at least my affection towards them, increased a lot as I reviewed them, and I don’t know if I can pick just one, but some good examples are Celesteela, Oranguru, Tsareena and Minior.

My favourite Pokémon of generation VII is a tough one, because there are a lot that I’m generally well-disposed to, but few that really stick out to me as brilliant.  It may actually be just one of the Pokémon I’m attached to because I used them on my first playthrough of Moon, probably Golisopod, Salazzle, or my starter, Decidueye.  Other than that… well, actually Dhelmise sticks out to me as a really weird and creative design that speaks to me on a kind of “what even is this?” level, and Wishiwashi has an interesting concept that creates a great moment in the game’s story.  As for least favourite… I’m sure I’m being very predictable here, but I’m still very down on Togedemaru, and to a lesser extent Gumshoos, for not doing enough to break free of Game Freak’s persistent habit of template-based Pokémon design (as Talonflame and arguably Diggersby did in generation VI, and as I think Toucannon more or less does in generation VII).

Anonymous asks:

Re-reading your old Genesect review, I noticed “this doesn’t look like a Pokémon” was a complaint you had with it. Which got me wondering; are there any other cases of Pokémon that might have been better suited to being part of other IPs, free from the expectations and restrictions The Pokémon Company imposes on the franchise?

Uggggggggggghhhhhhh I knew I would have to deal with that one someday

even as I was writing it, all the way back in the Year of Our Magic Space-Deer two thousand and eleven, I knew I would eventually have to say something about it

So, just to cover my own butt for a minute, I’m going to point out that I prefaced that complaint with the words “I know this is a cheap shot and even thinking something so blatantly subjective makes me feel dirty inside.”  It’s a fairly drastic thing to say, and it’s not a comment I was willing to make about any other Pokémon in my reviews of generations V, VI or VII.  Anything older than that has had over 10 years to burrow into my conception of what a Pokémon is, so it’s difficult for me to separate them off anymore – even the ones I don’t like.  The only exceptions are some of the Ultra Beasts, and… well, in their case, not looking like Pokémon is kind of the point.

Having said that… well, when you mention being “free from expectations and restrictions,” there are a bunch of Pokémon, particularly in the Ghost-Dark-Psychic sort of area, which, while not exactly un-Pokémon-like, do feel a bit stifled by the kid-friendly ratings that Pokémon has to maintain.  You know what I mean, I suppose – Pokémon like Spiritomb, and Hypno, and Yamask, and Cacturne, and Shedinja, and so on, whose Pokédex entries hint at incredibly sinister abilities and behaviours that can’t be fully explored in official Pokémon media, because Pokémon has so much trouble with serious long-term consequences.  And of course there’s fan-fiction for that, but 98% of fan-fiction is either unfinished or terrible (or both, in the case of my dramatized Nuzlocke of X version). Still, that isn’t even really “these would be better if they were part of something other than Pokémon” as “I would like Pokémon to be something different.”