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Kill Me Now: Solving The Mysteries of Pokemon...and Wendy's Fast Food.
Matt - 4/24/01

We're gonna attempt something very special tonight, if of course your definition of special lends itself to descriptions like 'ridiculously confusing' and 'outright stupid.' Nonetheless, I tread on, because its past midnight and there's nobody online to tell me what an awful idea this is. Yes, this will be our very first ever 2-for-1 article special. Spin the wheel, make a deal! You'll see what I mean in a few minutes. Then you'll ninja kick me in the nuts for it.

The Focus: The poor readers of this site have been subject to an endless stream of Pokemania for months, and today, it continues. Frankly, I feel the show easily ranks in the top 5 animated programs ever, and since its created such an enormous string of continuity with the 65,764 episodes to date, its highly unlikely that the fans'll forget about it even when the kiddies stop buying the games. Mark my words, in 10 or 15 years, they'll be a whole new slew of nostalgia sites on the net, and Pokemon will totally take the helm.

I haven't seen every episode out there, but I'd say I've seen 95% of 'em. Of that 95%, I've seen at least 60% of them around 50 times each. I've watched a lot of Pokemon. More Pokemon than anyone could stand. My point is, having delved deep into this little world of cutesy creatures who beat the shit out of each other, I've garnered what I'd like to think as an Expert Understanding of the Pokemon world. You say Eevee, I say multiple evolutions. You say Hypno, I mention the little kid waddling in a puddle like Magikarp. You say Tracey, I say fuck off. Despite that, there's still some things I could never quite understand about the show. Tonight, we're going to explore the five biggest mysteries of Pokemon, and make a soiled and sullied attempt to answer all the questions burning holes through our brains every time we make the mistake of forgetting that we're not eight years old. Tonight is a night of CLOSURE, my Pokefriends.

The Catch: Now believe me, I fully understand that not everyone reading the site is a Pokemon fan. So, in my eternal effort to make everybody happy, this article will be assisted with a review of the glorious fast food of national dirty restaurant chain, Wendy's. That's right. Pikachu and Dave Thomas, together at last, joining forces and complimenting each other to the point where this very post will ultimately end up as a cultural dynasty of everything stupid and annoying. And there you have it - don't like Pokemon? Skip to the Wendy's stuff. Don't like Wendy's? Good, me neither, they slap way too much friggin sex juice mayo on everything. Let's roll - Pokemon first.

Pokemystery #1 - Why Do Pokemon Want Trainers?

This is something I could never quite grasp. On the shows, in the game manuals, and so on, its pretty clear that these Pokemon creatures actually want kids to use their Pokemon to beat the crap out of them and entrap 'em in 5" Pokeballs. Does that make sense to anyone? I could understand if Pokemon were only found in dirty pet stores where they were forced to wallow in their own filth and eat a steady diet of whatever animal died on a particular day, but let's face the facts here - all the Pokemon are wild, they live in a gorgeous, almost perpetually sunny world where even the law goes out of their way to protect 'em. Why on Earth would they want to be enslaved and forced to exist solely to battle other Pokemon?

I read some handbook stating that wild Pokemon are jealous of trained ones. Huh? They're jealous that they can't spend their days stuck inside a ball and getting their asses beat at every God-given opportunity? 98% of these Pokemon look like hamsters and other cute animals - not boxers or pro-wrestlers. I don't think fighting is part of their hereditary bloodline. So what's the deal? Do the Pokemon really want trainers, or is this just clever hyperbole to get kids not to notice that their heroes literally beat up animals and trap them in little cages for a living? I think you know the answer. Remember, the only thing Pokemon can say are their names. So if any manual or handbook says that Pikachu wants a trainer, always remember that they're just loosely translating 'Pika. Pika Pikachu.' I'm relatively sure that if Pokemon could speak for themselves, they'd tell us we're complete bastards for buying this situation as a good thing. Pokemon aren't stupid, they don't like to bullfight and sit inside tennis balls.

Loads of fun, right? Pokemon is essentially glorified cockfighting, only the chickens get bigger cages. You've really got to wonder what happens when a Pokemon comes out and labels itself a pacifist. Do all the other Pokemon hate it? Do trainers force it into slave labor if it won't fight? What other roads to success are open for the creatures besides beating the other ones up? Are they unionized? I don't know, I just really feel bad for the things. They're cute. This is like buying a kitten and a puppy and locking them in a closet till one of 'em mauls the other to death. It ain't right. Now I'm all flustered, so let's take a break. A fast food break, bazam!

Going to Wendy's is sort of like watching old episodes of Family Ties - the ones when Courtney Cox played Alex's girlfriend. You're watching the show knowing full well that your Courtney fix situation would feel a lot more comfortable if you just watch Friends, but since that's 45 channels away, you just stick with the Keatons. Likewise, the world is way more apt to accept the fine wormburgers of McDonald's and Burger King, but since they were miles upon miles from me, I opted for Wendy's. I'm by no means a health nut, but I get this really icky feeling when I eat fast food, so its limited to a few times a month at best. This is partly because its bad for you, but mostly because I've rarely seen a person working in the kitchen of these places that I'd wouldn't be frightened to shake hands with. I swear to God, its like they purposely hire these filthy, dirty people to flip the burgers so you'll be too preoccupied worrying if they're touching your food to notice what you're actually eating.

With that, I set aside my personal differences with disgusting food and pulled into the drive-thru window. You know, I'm a bit pissed that I waited so long to start driving, because I missed the glory days of fast food chains when they didn't make you go to eighteen different windows before completing your order. Plus, now with all these combos, its literally impossible to order anything without getting haggled to order more. If you want a cheeseburger, you're not getting it till they convince you to buy the combo. Then you're not getting that until you agree to super-size the fries and soda. Little tip for ya. NEVER do that. Especially in a drive-thru. Who can drink that much soda, anyway? And the fries? Please, we all know that a good 30% of them remain at the bottom of the take out bag. Stop super sizing. Just stop it already.

First up, the drink. Yes, its super-sized. I'm telling you, they wouldn't let me order unless I agreed to get a combo and make it so large that I couldn't possibly get the drink home without spilling it all over the car. In effect, I paid an extra 30 cents to get the passenger seat soaking wet. But Wendy's is the clear victor of the Soda Competition of the fast food wars, and up above you'll see why. Dave Thomas. Dave is probably the greatest, most gregarious human being on the planet. I don't care what you say, nobody can just act that friendly. This is the kind of guy who everyone wants on a job interview. He's the man. And now, he's the man of a thousand cultures. Yes, to celebrate something or another, the Wendy's drink cups come complete with pictures of Dave in various worldly costumes, smiling his face off as only he can. Now I ask you: would you rather drink Coke from a cup with a McDonald's logo, or several insane pictures of Dave Thomas wearing painter's caps and playing guitars? We have a winner, and that winner is Wendy's. Back to the Pokemon!

I told you this would be confusing. :)

Pokemystery #2 - What's Inside Those Pokeballs?

When a trainer makes a catch, the Pokemon is trapped inside an official 'Pokeball.' Pokeballs are great for trainers, since they won't have to deal with rounding up their little creature slaves everytime they want to take a walk, nor will they have to have their intimate thoughts constantly drowned out with endless cries of 'Squirtle! Squirrrtle!' and the like. But what goes on inside those Pokeballs, anyway? Do the Pokemon shrink down to microsize and just sit around waiting for the next time they're forced into battle? Are they transferred into a parallel dimension? Sent back to the Pokemon lab until needed? Strangely enough, these are the things that keep me awake late at night. I mean it, they really do. And because of that, I honestly feel terrible for people who think about the existence of religious deities or that episode of All In The Family where that guy tries to rape Edith while trying going to sleep at night. They must really be insomniacs.

The most amazing thing I've found about this phenomenon is that, generally speaking, Pokemon don't seem to mind chilling out in Pokeballs. You'd assume they'd hate it the same way dogs hate travel cages, but they almost seem relaxed when they come out of 'em. This leads me to believe that there's more than meets the eye with these crazy balls. Obviously, if a Pokemon just gets crammed into a 5" ball for hours on end and comes out happy, there's gotta be more to it than the surface suggests. So, I've narrowed the Pokeball Fiasco down to three potential possibilities. And they are...

My first instincts told me that the Pokemon probably just get shrunk down to microsize and rest comfortably in the Pokeballs until they're needed out in the open again. But I dunno, that explanation seems lacking somehow. If that's all there is, you'd think the Pokemon would be so unbelievably bored that they'd be unflinching in their efforts to stay the Hell out of 'em. But they don't, so let's move on to the next potential answer. Maybe entire cities are inside Pokeballs. You know, little, tiny, micro-cities. Like that thing the cat wore in Men In Black. I envision a wonderful little world where the Pokemon can exist without kicking the crap out of each other. A modern day utopia for the cute little bastards. If this was the case, it'd explain why Pokemon want trainers. Who wouldn't want to get inside a Pokeball if it had all sorts of great Pokemon Pubs and movie theaters for 'em?

But, I think the final potential answer is likely the truest. The Pokemon are shrunk down and inserted into their own little apartments. Each one differs depending on the particular Pokemon's tastes, but basically each of them gets a bedroom, bathroom, living area, and the ever-crucial Zen room. Unfortunately, we'll probably never know the real answer till a Pokemon learns to say more than 2 or 3 syllables. I'm also a little concerned about what would happen if Ash or Brock accidentally stepped on a Pokeball-in-use. Would the Pokemon die, or just get really pissed off? Another mystery. Such is life. Continuing...

Pokemystery #3 - Why Do Some Pokemon Bother Evolving?

One of the neat things about Pokemon, especially the Game Boy games, is that when one of them hits a certain skill level, it'll evolve into a presumably more-powerful version of itself. In some cases, its a natural progression. Charmander starts off as a cute little fire-breathing lizard, and eventually turns into the majestic, flying dragon-like creature, Charizard. But not all of the evolutions are so matter-of-fact. Take Exeggcute for example. He starts off as a set of five beat-up seeds that look like demented eggs. When he evolves, he turns into a three-headed walking palm tree named Exeggcutor. In most cases, the evolutions make sense. They make the Pokemon more powerful, an all-around better creature. In some cases though, I can't for the life of me figure out why some of 'em would want to evolve.

Take a look at Bulbasaur. His best friend Squirtle probably wouldn't mind evolving - when he completes the process, he'll have giant metal water guns growing out of his back. But what does Bulba get in exchange for giving up his absolute paragon of attractiveness by evolving? The chance to morph into a fat, ugly, Jabba-like creature with a big pink flower tree on its back. Is it any wonder that the poor thing ran like Hell when it was supposed to evolve? I don't care how much more powerful it'd make him, there's no way going from Bulbasaur to that could be construed as a success.

There's other particulars that could potentially make Pokemon fear evolving as well. Look at Caterpie, for instance. He's a pretty cool little bug who can get the job done. But if he wants to evolve into the beautiful Butterfree, he'll first have to spend a few weeks stuck inside a green pod as Metapod, one of the few Pokemon who have the great distinction of being unable to move. I dunno, maybe I'm just too into the aesthetics of these stupid things. Maybe they don't really care if they're cute or not. Maybe they just want to do anything and everything they can to avoid getting their tails kicked. All I know is that I wouldn't put on 75 pounds or grow pottery on my back just so I could win more bar fights. I'm pretty sure Bulbasaur would concur.

Speaking of evolution, let's move on to Phase II of my Wendy's experience - the fries.

Truth be told, I can NOT eat a burger from Wendy's. Its hard enough swallowing down the ones from the other fast food joints knowing full well that they contain earthworm protein, but fuck me if you think I'm gonna even attempt to eat something absolutely drenched in mayonnaise. I personally believe that mayo was implemented in fast food restaurants to keep the social level down and the eat-eat level up, because I can't even look at someone eating the stuff. And forget about it if they manage to get some of it on their face. That's grounds for death. But what they lack in the burger cleanliness department, they more than make up for with the fries. Bigger than the rest, saltier than the best.

Best of all, Wendy's ripped off the various McDonald's promotions and started running their own little peel-off-and-win contest. My prize? Free fries with my next purchase of....oh fuck...a burger. Oh well, at least they made an attempt. I'm betting dollars to Dugtrios that this is the ticket on all the fries, because I doubt I'm alone with my Wendy's burger boycott. Dave, listen, I love you. I really do. But can it with the mayo, its fucking disgusting. Ugh, too much to handle, let's fly back to Pallet Town.

Pokemystery #4 - Why Bother Catching All The Pokemon?

A Pokemon trainer's mission statement clearly indicates that he or she is supposed to 'catch 'em all.' Why? Half the Pokemon suck. Why not just catch the good ones? And even if all the Pokemon were fantastic, who's got time to train 6,000 of them anyway?

Seriously, some of the Pokemon are definitely credits to their team, but others are just flat-out awful. Take a look at some of the worst possible choices a Pokemon trainer can make...

After Brock and Misty berate Ash on the small amount of Pokemon he's been able to capture, the poor kid runs off to the beach in search of more. With this clouded judgment, he decides to do battle with probably in the top three most useless Pokemon ever, Krabby. Yes, its just a crab. Regular old crab. What couldn't beat a crab? What could Ash possibly have to gain from carrying around this thing? Its a waste of a Pokeball! You have to understand, there's a lot of big ass Pokemon out there. Onix is this 13' long snake made entirely of rocks. Dragonair is an almost-as-large sea serpent who can shoot ice beams out of its mouth. Yeah Ash, stick Krabby in there against one of those guys. I'm sure he'll do real well. Christ I sound like my friggin nephew. But really, this is logic for all ages. WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A CRAB?!

I'm going to totally let go of the fact that Ash goes against Pokemon rules and fights the crab with a stick himself, because its only fair that the crab shouldn't have to do battle with a real Pokemon. We don't want the thing to die. But it begs the question - why not just get the powerful ones? If you're picking up shitty Pokemon left and right, what good will that do you in the end? Less is more. One Ninetails is gonna beat 600 Bellsprouts everytime. Know why? Because Bellsprout is a god damned plant. If I was a Pokemon trainer, I wouldn't be wasting my time picking up all the useless ones just to boost my count. I'd just let my stronger Pokemon eat them.

Actually, shitty Pokemon do have some merit. In battle, send them out first and let your opponent waste all his good attacks on him. If you can get a Dragonite to run out of his thunder waves on a stupid Krabby or Bellsprout, the rest of the fight'll go a lot easier for you. So yeah, I guess they do have a purpose. They're good cannon fodder. Speaking of fodder...

No burgers for me, so I got the Pita. The Garden Ranch Chicken Pita, if memory serves. You know, because if there's anything Wendy's is known for, its their attention to the organic and healthy eating habits of America. Ever since that Simpsons episode where Maude and the gang start up their own pita delivery truck business, I've been obsessed with the things. I think I just really enjoy the word 'pita'. Its a fun thing to say. And you've got to admit, there's something inertly satisfying about telling people you 'ate a pita today.' It just sounds so much classier than a filthy burger.

Much to my delight, this very special pita didn't just include chicken and soft bread. It also included more mayonnaise than every Hellman's factory on the East coast combined. Yes, absolutely drenched in the shit. Dave, you had me with the soda, you had me with the fries. But you royally fucked up in the all-important pita department. Its getting to the point where I feel like I'll need to tell them to hold the mayo when I'm just ordering a Coke. I really can't stand it anymore, so let's score Wendy's at a 7 out of a possible 11.5 and move on to the fabulous final mystery of the Pokemon world.

Pokemystery #5 - Which Pokemon Would Win On The Weakest Link?

Anne Robinson: I believe you mentioned that you were a fire-type Pokemon, correct? Funny that, as a fire-type, you didn't know the correct elements needed to create it. May I ask if you know anything? Statistically, you are the weakest link, but I'd like to add that you haven't given the audience or myself any indication that you actually had a brain to begin with. Goodbye.

Just kidding.

Pokemystery #5 - Which Is The Best Pokemon?

When I first got into Pokemon, I'd often ask my sister's kids for their opinions on which was the best all-around Pokecreature to battle with. None of them could agree. My niece said it was Blastoise, but considering that she's got three pet turtles and approximately 47 turtle posters in her room, I'm not ruling out a little personal bias. My nephew said it was Dragonite, but his reason for the choice lacked solidity: 'he breathes fire.' I just smiled, not wanting to disagree with a testy three-year-old by informing him than about a fourth of the Pokemon breathe fire. Believe me, if there's anything you shouldn't do, its piss off a little kid about Pokemon.

Still, the question remained unanswered. Who is the best Pokemon? Is it Mew, the ancient psychic little pink cat thing long thought extinct? Or maybe its Mewtwo, the super-enhanced genetic Mew clone. Maybe Lugia, a giant white bird fish who likes flutes. The possibilities are endless. Pikachu's probably won the most battles on the he the best Pokemon? I don't think so. I believe the best Pokemon would have to be one that's virtually impossible to defeat, an infallible creature of grace and dignity, and in the best case, a transvestite eggplant. I think we've found our winner.

Jynx: Four feet and seven inches of unadulterated insanity. Jynx is the only Pokemon who's special attack consists of blowing kisses at you. 90 pounds of crap, she appears to be a wig-wearin' eggplant in quasi-viking gear with breasts the size of microwaves. Why's she the best? Think about it - you've got Jynx, your friend has any other Pokemon out there. You release them from the Pokeballs to do battle. You're telling me your friend's Pokemon won't just sit there in complete silent shock for 15 minutes staring at what you sent out? By the time your opponent gets his bearings back, Jynx will have successfully knocked him on his ass with six or seven ice punches to the throat. Its a modern day Tortoise and the Hare story, only Jynx isn't racing anybody and she looks nothing like a turtle. Still, I'd say she's easily the best Pokemon, if for no other reason than because she occasionally dresses like Santa Claus.

Five Pokemon mysteries and a debate on Wendy's food quality solved in one shot. I think that's all I can stand for one night. See you tomorrow, and don't forget what we've learned!

- Matt
AIM - xecharchar