Pokémon: Is This Real Life?

20 years ago Pokémon was introduced in the United States with the release of Pokémon Red and Blue.

At the time I was 15 years old and probably skewed a little old for the games target audience. (Nintendo was clearly trying to corner the 10 year old asexual Venusian subterranean crabling demographic, of which I was obviously not a part of.)  Regardless I quickly came to love the game and its concepts and have been a huge fan ever since!

The original Gameboy games were genius, entertaining, strange, and fun.

The first cartoon series was goofy, endearing, and hilarious. (Also quite a bit was lost in translation which only seemed to make it better.)

The wave of countless Pokémon merchandise which followed was impressive, of course including some great toys which I also partook of.

The Team Rocket Meowth Balloon vehicle.  Which I personally own.

My personal interest in Pokémon can be traced back to a single specific moment which I distinctly recall.  I was in my bedroom at my childhood home and was reading a magazine or comic book (most likely an X-Men title) and I turned the page to a distinctive full page ad.  On that page I saw a crowd of small impish animals clustered together while a giant cartoon net was falling down over them.  In parenthesis the phrase ‘Got ya!’ was scrawled nearby and in the bottom corner of the ad was the (now synonymous) title and phrase, ‘Pokémon: Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

I instantly found the image very intriguing and I actually remember stopping to examine the ad, which was very odd for me at the time.  As a kid when I was reading comic books the ads would, at most, get a brief aggravated eye roll as I disappointedly realized that my storyline had been interrupted.  But there I was inspecting the cartoonish designs of these unknown creatures.

At the time I had no idea what any of them were.  There was a little barking rat, a squat yellow squirrel, some sort of floating rock creature, a fire breathing dragon, an evilly grinning purple spiky thing, giant insects, a tortoise with guns on its back, and a large stoic faced teddy bear.

I immediately loved the designs and style of these things and whatever Pokémon was, I was already sold.

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Pokemon really made me appreciate the aesthetic of ‘Demented Pet Shop’ 

That image was particularly difficult to find online and I have still been unable to find a clean image of it anywhere.  Everything I can come up with is either a scan, or like the image below, a picture of the ad itself.  (It is still one of my favorite Pokémon images and I’d love to one day get a print of it to hang in my office.)

Looking it over in my youth I saw that Nintendo was listed in the small print at the bottom of the ad I realized it was a video game of some sort which was exciting, however at the time I didn’t have a console, only the handheld Gameboy.  So alas I thought I’d have to wait until a friend picked it up in order to see what it was about.  Thankfully of course, that wasn’t the case.

From there it was a whirlwind of Pokémania!

I picked up Pokémon Blue first.  However once I realized I’d have to trade between the Red version in order to follow the mandate of the game, and indeed catch them all, I wound up buying the Charizard emblazoned Red Version as well.  (And although I eventually had several friends who played the game, initially I wasn’t sure I’d find anyone who was interested.)

Soon the Pokémon cartoon was in full swing as well, which became my first real experience with anime and the various tropes and staples of that animated genre.  I found the show really zany and hilarious, I loved all the characters, and it helped to flesh out the pixelated world of the games.

For years Pokémon was steadily on my radar.

1998 – Pokémon Yellow launched, essentially combining the continuities of the cartoon and the first two games.

August 1998 – Pokémon Stadium hits the Nintendo 64.  Probably my favorite Pokémon spin-off game ever made.  Not only could you upload and battle your Pokémon with friends on glorious 3D rendered battlefields, you could also play the Gameboy games on the big screen.  All that AND there were a ton of GREAT mini games that were fun, challenging, and really quite funny.

December of that year the Pokémon card game made its way into the mix joining the other card games I geeked out with, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Magic, and then Pokémon!

1999 – Super Smash Bros. hit the scene featuring the quintessential Pokémascot Pikachu.  With whom I would regularly use to provide a Smash Bros. smack down.

November 1999 – Pokémon Gold and Silver hit the scene and a new Pokémon adventure was under way, beginning a regular pattern of Poké games which have found success and innovations to varying degrees through the years.

With the most recent Nintendo 3DS games the handheld Pokémon world has been completely rendered in 3D and fully animated.  Pokémon are traded across the globe on international servers.  And friends can talk smack directly through their 3DS, in real-time, from across the country when battling online!

It really is impressive to see how the Pokémon franchise has . . . . EVOLVED! (Get it?)

Well now we have Pokémon Go, the franchise’s first foray into the mobile gaming market.

At first glance Pokémon Go appears to be a bit of a downgrade in terms of gameplay, essentially a simplified cell phone version of the Pokémon Card Game.  However upon closer examination it is much more than that.

From my experience with Pokémon Go so far, it appears to be a real world expression of the long established Pokémon universe and the best kind of fan service.  I mean this property is now 20 years old and there are very few people, children and adults alike, who don’t at least know who Pikachu is and Pokémon Go lets you bring that world out into the real world.

Part of the enduring appeal of the Pokémon games is the universe in which the game and show take place.  Across the various islands of the setting Pokémon and Pokémon training is a prevalent way of life and a common bond which the citizens of that world actively embrace.  The Pokémon are fantastical companions, champions, and partners in that world.  In the games there are people around every corner eager to show off their favorite Pokémon and put them to the test in battle.

Throughout the adventures of the games there are clumps of NPCs waiting to square off against you and your Pokémon team.  There are ill-prepared school kids with weak little Rattatas and Caterpies that they’ve caught in the school yard.  There are construction workers in hardhats working around cities with steely Magnemite companions.  Groups of swarthy leather clad punks may try to jump you with their poison types.  Cyclists and swimmers will challenge you along the way.  Criminals, old folks, librarians, shop keepers, EVERYONE has Pokémon in the Pokéworld, and because everyone has them everyone has something in common.

It’s just one of those quaint, fun, fictional universes where any individuals who try hard and do good will win, and eventually defeat the evil shadowy organizations like Team Rocket and others who secretly work against the ideals of that world by exploiting Pokémon for their own greedy ends.

I’ve had several conversations with friends over the years that involved, in some form or another, the phrases “Wouldn’t it be great if Pokémon were real.” OR “If I could live in a video game universe, it’d be the Pokémon universe.” OR “If I could just have one actual Pokémon it would be X, Y, Z.”  And watching the show those feelings are reinforced as you see the young idealistic trainers go off and adventure across the globe.

Now let me tell you a little story about Pokémon Go.

The other night at around 10pm I was letting my dogs out (my real life Pokémon, apparently I’m a terrible trainer though because they never battle for me.) and as the puggles were sniffing around I flipped out my cell phone and switched on Pokémon Go just to see if I might catch a Weedle or Bellsprout while I stood there in the backyard watching them pee.

Looking through the game I noticed a Pokémon silhouette nearby (for those who aren’t in the know that means there was a type of Pokémon lingering around which I had not yet captured.)  Being the Pokémaster I am I immediately knew that shadowed figure was the shape of an Electabuzz, a fairly rare find and something I hadn’t even seen yet in the game.

After the dogs had completed their business I ushered them back inside and set off to find this fabled electric type Pokémon.  Although navigating the in-game radar of Pokémon Go can be a bit tricky I was able to determine that the Electabuzz seemed to be on the next street over.

So I briskly began walking down the street and around the corner.

I could see the Electabuzz footprints diminishing, meaning I was moving in the right direction and getting closer.

As I approached the darkened corner I saw two other guys on bicycles come racing toward me up the street.  They were maybe in their mid to late twenties from what I could tell and their sudden appearance put me slightly on edge.  Although there wasn’t anything necessarily threatening about them, it was 10 at night, dark, the middle of the week, and I was now outnumbered.

However before I could let my fears get the best of me one of the guys held up his cell phone and circled around the end of the street on his bike.

“You playing Pokémon?”  He called out to me cheerfully.

“I am actually!”  I said relieved.

“Are you looking for the Electabuzz too?”  He followed up.

“I am!”  I quickly replied.

Both of the cyclists chuckled and again held up their phones.  “It’s about three houses down this street!”  They informed me.

I thanked them and they rode on their merry way while I marched down the street, ran into that Electabuzz precisely where they said it would be, and captured that sumbitch right then and there!

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My Electabuzz cries himself to sleep every night because he knows he’ll never capture a gym

As I was smugly walking back to my house checking out the stats on my most recent catch I had a thought.

“That was a very Pokémon-esque interaction.”  I thought to myself.  “Just walking down the street hunting rare Pokémon, when suddenly I run into a pair of other trainers on bicycles, we have a brief encounter that sets me up for the big catch at the end.”

It was like something straight out of Pokémon Red/Blue like riding down Cycling Road or climbing the Pokétower.

“Maybe Pokémon finally is real?”  I concluded.

Well done Niantic.  Well done Nintendo.  Keep it fun fellow players.

The Meme Awakens

With so much Star Wars stuff going on this week (The Force Awakens on Blu-Ray!  First Rogue One trailer!)  There was no way I would be able to restrain myself from making at least a short Star Wars post!

Seeing as how I am eager to continue my ongoing “Voided Warranty” meme campaign I decided the next logical step would be to add another droid to the meme, this time from The Force Awakens.  So after going through the movie and taking some random screen caps I came up with the next installment below.

AND if you’re not familiar with the voided warranty meme of which this is a part of see the previous posts about it HERE and HERE!

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“Do not drag your BB unit around in a net, this may bend its antennae and void any active warranties.”

That is all!

UPDATE: The New Hit Meme

So you may remember a few weeks ago I had a post showing off the new Star Wars/droid related meme I had created featuring the phrase I Think I Just Voided The Warranty.  If you don’t recall that entry of Mindless Philosophy you can check it out here!

In that blog I encouraged you the reader(s) to take this meme and put it to good use beyond my initial Star Wars referencing.  It has some solid meme potential  and if we can just get a few outlets for it the Voided Warranty meme just might spread across the entirety of the interwebs as any good meme does.

As it turned out one dedicated reader (a student of this particular brand of Mindless Philosophy who is now earning top marks) by the name of Tim McFarland submitted the first few additions to the Voided Warranty library of memes!

Below are Tim’s creations, and if you’d like to hear more from this Tim McFarland character you can expect to learn more about him in an upcoming addition of our ongoing People I Know segment!

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A late entry from the meme manufacturer himself.

 

That is all!

It Came From My Notebook!

Bonjour mon prouts!

So over the past year or so I realized that I simply wasn’t happy with the amount of writing I was doing at home, it simply wasn’t enough.  So I decided to put some effort into writing during my work hours as well.  So during my lunch breaks I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a few writing exercises to increase my output and experiment with different styles.  Whether it’s some badly written poetry, a few paragraphs about random thoughts, or a short stream of consciousness story; I’ve tried to spend at least a few minutes of my break everyday writing something.  If nothing else it at least helps stimulate my mind between the long bouts of cerebral drudgery that is my desk job.  Now my pocket notebook is filled with pages of crazy nonsense, fragments of greatness, interesting concepts, and profound thoughts in need of expounding.

As I was looking through my notebook searching for ideas or topics for this very blog I came across one of these exercises I wrote which I had completely forgotten about.  The concept for the writing was simple enough, I would sit down and begin writing the first thing that popped into my head and just go with it until my lunch break was over.  So with nothing much else to share this week I present to you the results of that writing exercise:

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There was a man who ordered a cheeseburger.

“No pickles.”  He asked.

With a nod the cashier complied, punched in his order, rang him up, and the man paid with cash.  

As the man stepped down to await his food another server pointed to the end of the counter and asked him to step down further and wait just around the corner.

With a shrug the man complied.  His shoes squeaked as he walked.

Around the corner was a short narrow hallway.  There the man waited for a moment, another moment, and longer.  Soon he began to worry he would be forgotten. (But don’t we all worry about that?)

As his worry really started to mount a heavy looking utility door at the end of the hall slowly opened outward.  From the doorway another server peaked out and looked at the man, waving him over.

“No pickles?”  She asked in a whisper.

The man nodded reflexively.

“Follow me.”  She told him.

Looking around the man slipped in behind the heavy looking utility door and followed the server in.  He just really wanted a cheeseburger.

The room beyond was dark and soon completely so.  The man lost sight of the woman he was following and began simply following the sounds of her steps through the murky space.  The path through which she guided him was long and twisted and the man bumped into several walls and corners in the dark.  (This must be a very large burger joint.)

Eventually the footsteps halted and in the silence the man stopped too.

As he stood there a single wood torch was lit in front of him and the small flame burned brightly in the recent total darkness.

“That is odd.”  The man thought.  With the scent of the burning flame harsh in his nostrils he stepped forward into the glow of the torch.  There on the other side of the flame sat an enormous cheeseburger the size of a small garage.

That is probably more odd.”  The man concluded.

Which is when the cheeseburger opened its eyes.  Three large human looking eyes inset atop the upper bun of the cheeseburger.  Looking down at the man, the bun-eyes narrowed.

“No pickle?”  The burger asked.  It spoke with an invisible hinge, like a mouth with three lips.  A lip of bun.  A lip of burger meat.  Followed by another lip of bun.  

The man nodded.  “Yes, that is correct.  I ordered no pickle.”

And then the burger spoke again.  The cheeseburger regaled the man with countless hidden secrets of reality.  Occult knowledge which shapes out perceptions and which can alter the very fundamentals of existence.

The man listened wide-eyed and intently.  His mind was like a balloon full of mayonnaise and about to burst.  How long the cheeseburger spoke can not be accurately determined but when it finally finished speaking the chamber was filled with a deep silence the likes of which have not been experienced since the seconds before the Big Bang.

Slowly the man raised his hand and commented, “I just really want a cheeseburger.”

To which the giant cheeseburger closed its eyes and replied.

“You are the cheeseburger.” 

The man looked down and it was true, he was a cheeseburger and as he realized this he saw the enormous tri-eyed cheeseburger slump forward, open it’s bun and burger mouth, and eat the man up in a single gulp.  At that moment the man became the giant cheeseburger and the giant cheeseburger was him.

“Well this has been weird.”  He thought to himself before he decided to leave the chamber.

With a heave and a thrust the gigantic cheeseburger exploded into the sky, through the planet’s atmosphere, and into the majesty of the stars beyond.  For what else is there to do for a giant cheeseburger with an insight into everything but to take to the sky and wander the cosmos for the rest of eternity?

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That is all!

People I Know: David Tavolier

 

One of my favorite regular segments of this blog has always been the interviews I conduct with various people I know which I like to call People I Know!  Several nights ago I sat down with a good friend of mine, David Tavolier, in order to bring this glorious segment back to the resurrected Mindless Philosophy!

I have known David Tavolier for over 10 years now and in that time we’ve worked on several things together not least of which have been the internationally acclaimed Reginald Sterling series of videos.  Mr. Tavolier has also been a regular source of inspiration and criticism for several of my long form writing projects.

For reasons that will become apparent during the course of the interview we decided to record this interview and post it here for you to enjoy!  So for the first time ever you can hear the sultry tones of my voice as I conduct one of these interviews now broadcast across the interwebs for all to hear!  Allow me to apologize in advance for being so loud and repetitively saying “yeah” throughout the interview.  Trust me I’m aware of my faults, that’s never been a problem for me!

Below are some teaser images from several of the topics we cover during our talk.  I may transcribe this interview in the days to follow but it’s really time consuming and I currently have a sick two year old in the house so it can wait for now.

     In the meantime click HERE to enjoy the interview of David Tavolier!

 

The New Hit Meme

Bonjour mon prouts!

We’ve got another blog for you today and if you’ve been waiting for a Star Wars related post, well you didn’t have to wait too long!  As you may or may not know one of my favorite aspects of the Star Wars universe are the droids.  C-3PO and R2-D2 are the absolute best of course but where would that far, far away galaxy be without the ubiquitous gonk droid?  And who could forget the menacing Imperial probe droids?  Even the group of notorious bounty hunters summoned by Darth Vader to find the Millennium Falcon was comprised of two droids; IG-88 and 4-LOM!  Hell I even enjoy the comically inept antics of the prequel’s battle droids!  Roger, roger!  And now with the Force Awakens we’ve got the spunky and loyal BB-8!  Which I’m fairly certain is just a small robotic puppy inside a robotic puppy play ball.

Droids!  They’re awesome!

In the intervening time I’ve been away from this blog I’ve still been trying to leave my mark on the world and these days there is no better legacy then creating a meme!  Right??

I mean meme creators are probably some of our most well-known internet celebrities!  I think we’re all familiar with the creator of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” meme, the British Government.  I’m no expert of course but I’m guessing it was that gem of internet masterwork which made that Empire what it is today.

Then there’s the photographer behind the “Ermahgerd” meme whose name escapes me at the moment of writing this but I assure you I know their name and speak of them often, as I’m sure you do as well.

And of course let’s not forget the big daddy of them all the Trollface meme!  I don’t think I even need to tell any of you who created that heavy hitter, they are after all a household name!

Anywho so several months ago I was struck with the idea for a hilariously immortal meme which I could combine with one of my favorite elements of the Star Wars movies!

You:  “Wait Josh does that mean it’s a droid meme?”

Me:  “You’re damn right it’s a droid meme!  Now get out of that oil bath and take a look at what late night ideas in conjunction with boredom produces!”

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You see the joke here is that the droid has been used in a way that might void any type of theoretical warranty the manufacturer would have provided which may have been stipulated in the fine print of some long discarded user agreement

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Protocol droids shouldn’t have their parts swapped and used in battle, it’s all there in the user agreement

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Tusken Raiders shoving the droid off a cliff instantly voids the warranty.

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A droid chassis to carry your guts around should not encounter blaster fire.

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“Use aboard starships” does not mean “trudging through swamps”!

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I hate sand.

 

So go ahead and take the “Voided Warranty” meme out into the world and spread it throughout the interwebs, repurpose it, reapply it, and make it your own.  Put it on a picture of you and your toaster or maybe plaster it on a picture of Michigan’s governor next to Flint’s water treatment facilities!

The important thing here is that by cannibalizing the hard work of the creators of Star Wars I’m sure this’ll finally bring me the creative recognition I’ve soooooo longed for!

AND if you’d actually like to learn the origins of the memes mentioned above OR any meme ever thus ruining the entire premise of the above set-up make sure to visit: knowyourmeme.com

EDIT:  There have been two updates to this post along with some new additions to the meme!  Check them out HERE and HERE!

That is all!

Return of Friday Funny Pages!

 

When John Stewart tells you to get your pants on, you know he means business.

 

Yes I know, I’ve been away for quite some time but I assure you it has been for good reasons!  I have however been itching to get back to doing more Friday Funny Pages!  I’ve come across several new sources for some great comic book goofery and I am eager to start sharing them here once again.  As for the specifics about what has been distracting me from my duties to Mindless Philosophy look for a post soon detailing the interweb diversions that have kept me away!

Here’s a sneak preview: Mindless Philosophy Jr.

More to follow soon, and expect more weekly installments of Friday Funny Pages!