Hello from Athens!

Don’t worry, I’m not vanishing into an archaeological dig for a month; I’m just here for a week to attend a top-secret cool-kids-only seminar on ancient glass, my speciality (and, uh, take some photos of the Arch of Hadrian to catch some angles I missed the last time I was here). It’ll be a bit of a slow week on account of the program being fairly intense, but I’m still aiming to get my next Pokémon review (Celesteela) written and posted in accordance with the 10-day schedule I seem to have adopted. So, speaking of that… it seems to be working well? I’m posting things consistently (3 Ultra Beast reviews in March), I’m answering questions (14 over the course of the month), I made a ridiculous cake that people seemed to like, and… well, to be honest I don’t really know what all the numbers on my stats page mean, but the ones for March are the biggest yet, by a fairly impressive margin (more than double those for January), and we seem to be getting more people coming in through links on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc – so, to anyone who’s shared any of my writing over the past month, thanks, and keep doing what you’re doing! And, y’know, keep the questions coming; I know I whine about the difficult ones sometimes but interesting questions are kinda this blog’s lifeblood in a lot of ways, and I literally couldn’t do this without you.

Special thanks are due as always to my Patreon supporters, James Crooks, hugh_donnetono and Esserise, whose contributions pay for the upkeep of this WordPress site. If you enjoy my writing, want to see more of it and have exactly $US 1 too much money per month, consider clicking that link at the top of the page to browse the perks I currently have on offer for my patrons. At the moment, all proceeds will go towards upgrading my WordPress plan so the site can do more interesting and flexible things. Anyway, I should get back to doing glass stuff – until next time!

pokemaniacal maniac asks:

fwiw i really really love the first half of the pokemon reviews. I would read entire books about what you had to say lore and inspiration-wise on pretty much every pokemon. i dont play competitively, so the second half is always Just Info to me, but even that has helped me understand the meta as it is, which is also interesting! personally, i would rank the reviews as my favorite thing (and like you said, the sheer scope and the worldbuilding analysis you extrapolate from the pokemon themselves should make you proud) and your If I Ran The Zoo type stuff my second favorite. this is long and rambling but i just have been a long time fan and youre a bright spot on a dark internet and thanks!

[This submission is a response to this]

That’s actually really helpful feedback; thanks!  After frankly kind of flubbing generation VII (due in part to unavoidable real-life circumstances, but also due to mismanagement on my part) I want to revise my approach to generation VIII.  The first thing is that I don’t think I should write a full narrative-based playthrough journal the way I did for White 2, X and Moon – because that’s fun, and I know a lot of people did enjoy them, but it takes so long, and I think the Pokémon reviews ought to be the highest priority.  It would be better, I think, to start those within a month or two of release.  And then the reviews themselves I think have become too expansive, and don’t play to my strengths.  If I could cut down the competitive stuff (there are better places to go on the internet for that kind of advice; no one needs me for that), and limit that side to just discussion of signature moves and abilities, or moves that cast a particularly interesting light on a Pokémon’s character design, then that, I think, would be a worthwhile economy to pursue.  I really want to commit to making sure that this blog’s future includes more of the theoretically dense worldbuilding and games-as-storytelling stuff that inspired “If I Were In Charge,” so trying to slim down the Pokémon reviews and “get them out of the way” is probably a good idea, as long as I can keep the parts of them that my readers value.

N asks:

Did you leave tumblr because they removed the porn?
(But seriously why don’t you like it anymore)

There’s no “anymore” about it; I don’t think I ever really liked Tumblr.  I started using it in the first place back in 2012 because a friend recommended it as (I’m paraphrasing) the hip and happening place to be, but frankly it was never very well-suited to the style of my blog.  Over the course of 2012-2017, it somehow managed to lose functionality and become harder to use every goddamn time the platform was updated.  It’s like the development team were moving backwards in time, starting with a passable, albeit idiosyncratic, blogging platform and gradually breaking or removing every useful capability.  For about a year before I left, I’d had to copy-paste my writing into the post editor via my e-mail inbox because if I tried to do it directly from Microsoft Word, Tumblr would decide to convert the text into an image, for some inane and impenetrable reason of its own.  The final straw for me (early in 2018, some months before the announcement of the pornpocalypse) was when they arbitrarily changed the HTML editor in a way that broke the captions of every single image I’ve ever put in a text post.  WordPress isn’t perfect either: I have to pay for it, I’ll have to pay more if I ever want CSS editing or anything else even remotely interesting, and redoing all the formatting that I lost in the transfer from Tumblr has been (and continues to be) a headache and a half.  The editing process is so much less broken and dumb that it’s frankly comical, though. I no longer feel like I have to fight against a platform that wants to impose a contrary vision of what a “blog” is supposed to be. Also, I have to admit that there’s something appealing and official-sounding about having my own .com domain name.

James asks:

Is VikingBoyBilly still alive?

[For the benefit of newer readers, VikingBoyBilly used to be one of the more prolific submitters of questions to this blog, often in a fairly demanding tone; if you peruse the 2016-2017 zone of my archives you’re bound to meet him sooner or later]

Personally, I choose to believe that VikingBoyBilly is alive and well, but has returned to his home planet in the distant Valhalla system.  His people doubtless missed him very much during his time on Earth. 

Long time; second time asks:

So you’ve been at this a while…. What are you most proud of?

That’s a tough one…

To be honest, I don’t much like thinking back to things I’m proud of, because most of them are quite a long time in the past and it just makes me feel as though I peaked a while ago.  By the time I finish reviewing all the generation VII Pokémon it will have taken me almost two years, and there’ll probably be precious little time left before I have to start doing something about generation VIII (which is coming; you know it’s coming; there’s always another bloody one coming).  In some ways it’s sort of justified, because my Alola reviews are twice as long and much better researched than my Unova ones, and I wasn’t taking regular questions from readers when I did Unova, so of course it takes me longer, and there are quite a few more new Pokémon in Alola than in Kalos, so of course it’s longer than that generation too.  The trouble is that Pokémon reviews feel very routine, very business-as-usual, and they’re a bit formulaic in format (especially the mechanics/competitive second half).  They’re good, and frankly I am proud of how much better they are than the Unova ones, but they don’t make me feel like I’ve written something important and challenging, like when I used to write about the ethics of Pokémon training.  I think the most important and significant thing I’ve written recently was a couple of months ago, when I wrote about why Pokémon may need – may have a moral obligation – to embrace a more pessimistic worldview than has always been its preference.  I don’t feel proud of that, though, because I don’t feel like it accomplished anything – just set out something that needs to be accomplished, that perhaps I need to find some way to do myself.

Continue reading “Long time; second time asks:”

Blog Status: Normal??

We haven’t talked in a while.  We should do that.

I spent most of the last year in Greece, participating in an intensive study program for PhD students in classical studies that takes us to archaeological sites all over the country and gives us opportunities for “backstage access” that would be impossible for almost anyone else (culminating in the incredible opportunity to spend three nights on the holy island of Delos – since there’s no modern town on Delos, any normal group would have to take the afternoon ferry back to Mykonos every day).  A priceless experience that I wouldn’t trade for almost anything, but… less than ideal for blog productivity, I have to admit.  Continue reading “Blog Status: Normal??”

Not Squidward Tentacles asks:

I hope I don’t inspire a thought…because I love your writing!!!

But…just as vinyl records will one days produce nothing more than scratching noises, and the tv will one day return to just being a square plastic box…will you one day stop writing on here?

Well, I probably will die eventually, as have the majority of humans in history.  Obviously I have set certain mystical contingencies against that event, whose details I shall not divulge for the sake of readers’ sanity and/or plausible deniability.  But ultimately, the Endless Void claims us all.

I don’t think I’ll stop writing before that though.  I might stop writing for this blog, and I might even (stars forbid) stop writing about Pokémon, but I don’t think I can stop writing altogether.  It’s in my nature.  And after all, someone has to shriek at Game Freak whenever they do something stupid.