Monthly Archives: March 2015

Luffy’s True Power

Luffy.  He has taken down opponents that are the size of buildings, stopped a coup (or two) completely in its tracks, and has declared war on the World Government.  This guy is insane.  His unusual feats are credited from his indomitable will and his strong, durable body.  Many foes have fallen to him based on these two strengths alone.  But would it surprise you if I said that wasn’t his greatest power?  That there’s an even bigger power that lies within Luffy that he himself does not fully realize?

This was first brought to my attention when the events of the Summit War were brought to their peak when Luffy was rescuing Ace.  As Luffy was running to save Ace, Mihawk was about to kill Luffy when he was stopped by 5th Division Commander of the Whitebeard Pirates Vista.  Upon which, Mihawk remarked this little gem.

Luffy has an extraordinary gift to recruit allies and make friends despite his rudeness and inability to listen to people’s backstories.  This gift has manifested in various forms throughout One Piece such as

-Recruiting crewmembers who originally find him annoying but are won over by his charm in less than a day

-Making friends with sailors and high ranking officers of the navy

-Stopping a large, stubborn whale from killing itself

-Temporarily recruiting Princess Vivi despite her initial goal to kill Luffy and his crew

-Swaying towns and islands from hating the Straw Hats to adoring them

-Melting Boa Hancock’s cold heart and becoming the first guy she fell in love with

-Allowing the Franky Family and the Galley-La Company to join the Straw Hats in rescuing Robin and Franky despite the three groups mistrust towards each other

These are all small to moderate examples but the last one needs further mentioning as it was a mere taste of the events to come for the Summit War.  The fact that Luffy didn’t have any issue fighting alongside the Franky Family, despite them beating the crap out of Ussop, speaks volumes of his character.

Of course, the best example comes directly from the Summit War itself.  Luffy was able to bust out of the super prison Impel Down along with a whole bunch of powerful enemies-turned-allies pirates.  Buggy, Mr. 3, Mr. 2 Bon Clay, Mr. 1, and Crocodile; ALL of these guys helped Luffy break free of the jail and try to save Ace from the World Government.  The thought at the time that Luffy would even think of allying with Crocodile is amazing.

Then, Luffy and co. arrived at Marineford which had the largest gathering of sailors, captains, vice-admirals, and admirals yet.  Not only did he have them at his back but Whitebeard was also charmed by Luffy’s ferocity to the point that he commanded his entire crew to help and protect Luffy to ensure that Ace’s lineage will live on.

At this point, I want to stop and stress the fact that Luffy would not be able to achieve all the feats he had done if it weren’t for his friends.  Despite his will and strength, he would not have been able to escape Impel Down or get anywhere near Ace in Marineford if it wasn’t for his ability to form allies.

Even now, with the manga currently on the Dressrosa Arc, this ability is once again shown in full strength as Luffy helped the coliseum-gladiators-turned-toys into allies.  They have been tremendous help to Luffy and his crew in fighting Doflamingo’s powerful family.  Again, it’s thanks to them that Luffy was able to get as far as he is now.

But what does all this mean in the long run?

It’s hard to say at this point as Oda, author of One Piece, is very unpredictable when it comes to One Piece’s plot.  However, if I were to (punk) hazard a guess I would say that somehow, this is going to play into Luffy’s continual rise towards Pirate King.  We first saw inklings of this back at Fishmen Island where Luffy swore to protect the island and we will probably see it again here.  Luffy needs an army is order to protect his islands and his friends.  The Dressrosa Arc has given him the ability to do so as he has made friends and allies with not only powerful fighters, but captains, admirals, and even kings and princes of other kingdoms.  They’ll provide Luffy the army needed to take on the Navy, the World Government, and the Four Pirate Warlords.

Now whether or not Luffy will act on those resources is hard to say.  He might do it if one of his crew members or someone wiser than him, like Jinbei, suggests it to him but I think he would want to keep his life simple and just keep on adventuring with his nakama.  Still though, wherever he goes, Luffy will continue to make friends and allies in the most unlikely places and they will help him through times of trouble when he is not able to do it by himself.

Does Columbo’s Wife Exist?

Columbo is one of the greatest characters to grace the small screen and is definitely among the top five detectives of all time. His soft personality combined with his loquacious attitude mixed with his attention to detail makes him a standout among other, harsher detectives. He lulls you in a sleepy sense of security and then nabs you with your guard down. Through his bumbling appearance, absent minded persona and his cheap-looking cigars, Columbo can trick the murderer into revealing details and lies that would otherwise be unnoticed.

One of the ways he does this is through his constant conversations about his adored wife, known simply as Mrs. Columbo. Columbo finds someway to bring up his wife to the killer when they are discussing about the victim, the murderer, or anything in general. This usually agitates the murderer and can then lead them to tripping on their own lies.

But let me ask you this, does Mrs. Columbo actually exist?

The answer seems easy to answer at first but once you think about it, you really have to question about her supposed existence. Just like last week’s article on the conundrum we faced towards the Batman-villain Poison Ivy and her diet, there’s more to this than it seems.

The thing is, we have never witnessed Mrs. Columbo before. We never see or hear her and yet she is one of the few reoccurring characters on the show due to her sheer presence brought by Columbo’s detailed descriptions of her life and personality. And it’s because of these intricate details that many have speculated that Columbo has made her up. It’s almost too coincidental that Mrs. Columbo happened to be a fan of Chef Paris or Maestro Benedict for instance. Columbo always has a right scenario for her to relate to the murderer’s life.

Unfortunately, to answer this riddle, we would have to dive into Columbo’s personal life, which is quite difficult given the show’s reluctance to allow us to accomplish that. It’s pretty funny actually. Many modern detective shows give us sooooo much information on the detective’s private life. They’re like an open book to us.

As such, it is these precious few moments of Columbo at his relaxed state that we must rely on. Particularly, before he meets the murderer and builds the slippery slope that will lead them to their demise.

One moment that we see this is in “A Stitch in Crime,” where Columbo briefly talks about his wife to a police officer before examining the body. Now, I find it hard to believe that Columbo would continue the Mrs. Columbo façade to a fellow officer. However, you could argue that he’s constantly on guard, so to speak, and he wants to be prepared when even a police officer murders somebody (which actually did happen in one of his episodes). Therefore, he can continue his shtick relentlessly without missing a beat.

A little bit more proof comes in the “Troubled Waters” episode where we see Columbo talking to his wife via a telephone. This is where we are getting into crazy territory if we were to assume that Columbo’s so devoted to having a non-existent wife that he keeps up this elaborate lie by talking to her on a telephone and lying to everyone on board that his wife won the both of them a pair of tickets to go on a cruise.

Thankfully, in that same episode, other characters have admitted they had seen his wife several times during the course of the episode. Granted, this is not total hard proof but I’m willing to be convinced by the evidence given in the examples I have mentioned and other that I haven’t. Columbo has a wife.

Poison Ivy, Harley and Ivy

So….what does Poison Ivy Eat?

In the pre-Batman television series, Gotham, we were treated to a small but amusing scene between teenager Salina Kyle (Catwoman) and street urchin Pamela (Poison Ivy). Despite Pam’s starvation, she will only eat vegan food even when she and Salina are raiding Barbara’s bountiful pantry brimming with food of all kinds.

I found the scenario quite funny but as Mary pointed out to me, why is Pam eating just vegan food if she’s a plant lover?

At first I was able to justify the situation but the more I think about it the more it was bothering me. Shouldn’t Pam, and in general Poison Ivy, eat meat if she’s a lover of plants? This question is harder to answer than you may think because we rarely see Pam eat, if she does at all, so trying to find direct evidence of her diet is pretty difficult.

Asking this question did not prove very useful...and was probably a bad idea

Asking this question did not prove very useful…and was probably a bad idea

This question can easily be answered if we are in a more fantastical version of Batman’s world such as the DC Animated Universe or the Arkham video games. In those magically inclined worlds, Poison Ivy’s relationship with plants is so extreme that she becomes part plant herself. Her green tinted skin and her love for sunlight propagates the idea that she may be photosynthesizing energy from the sun.

But Pam’s diet in a real world setting like Gotham or Nolan’s Dark Knight is bit trickier to discern. How can a bioterrorist, who goes stark raving mad when she sees someone pluck petals off of a flower, justify eating a salad? She could go all meat but I couldn’t imagine her justify a carnivore lifestyle since it would support domesticated crops for livestock use.

Poison Ivy, Batman, Salad, Poison Ivy's Diet

From “Harley and Ivy” in the Batman: The Animated Series

Thankfully, we witness Pam’s diet in the original Batman: The Animated Series. In the episode “Harley and Ivy,” we see Pam eating a bowl of salad with beet juice.  She serves a plate filled with carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and what looks like the top of some peppers to Harley.

Okay, she eats vegetables, but why?  Again, I say, doesn’t she hate the destruction of anything plant related?

Let’s take a step back.  What I want you guys to do is separate all sense of logic from reason.  Let’s think like a Batman villain.  Let’s think like Poison Ivy.

Poison Ivy believes she can communicate to plants.  Whether or not this is true is hard to say but one thing for sure is that she believes it.  I believe she has found plants, by communicating to them, who were willing to be eaten by her.  Her goal in saving plants from humanity can only be sustained if she eats other organisms.  I think she has convinced herself that her diet is for the greater good.  She can fuel herself by sacrificing a small amount of plants in order to save the greater biosphere.  I think in this case, when she eats plants she knows they don’t mind being eaten by her because they have accepted it.  A rose with its petals being pulled out, on the other hand, is unnatural and has no overall purpose.  It’s similar if you were to slaughter a cow for the hell of it and not for the nutrients it can provide you.

Does she feel bad?  Very likely.  It’s probably the main reason why she’s trying to become a fully photosynthetic organism.  She wants to eliminate that final connection to her humanity and embrace that final step to plant hood.  In doing so, she will no longer have to sacrifice plants, by eating delicious salads, to complete her quest of plant domination.  And when she does, she and us will no longer have to ponder and worry about her unusual diet.

Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar Series is Among the Best Alternate History Stories

Aliens invade Earth during World War 2.

So is the basic, and awesome, concept behind one of Harry Turtledove’s greatest novel series, the “Worldwar” series. First published in 1994, this 8-book series is one of the most famous alternate history stories written and poses one of the most delightful what-if questions ever asked. What if aliens invaded Earth during World War 2?

Now, WW2 is like a magnet when it comes to alternate histories. Soooooo many authors have written about this war posing various what-if questions but they’re usually about what if Nazi Germany won the war.   No other topic in history, not even what if the Confederate States of America won the American Civil War, comes even close to matching the popularity of this topic. As such, alternate historical WW2 stories oversaturate the genre and make it hard to find good stories from this small pool.

What Harry Turtledove does to differentiate himself from other writers is focus on the point of divergence (the point in history where something happened differently than from our own timeline). It’s not Roosevelt or Hitler that gets assassinated, it’s not Nazi Germany refraining from declaring war on the U.S.S.R., it’s not Japan refraining from bombing Pearl Harbor, it’s an alien invasion. Freaking aliens.

Now at this point, you might be saying to yourself, “but they’re aliens! Shouldn’t they be able to steamroll over us and conquer Earth no problem?” You might be right, BUT, these aliens are practical…sensible…and not farcical. These aliens have technology similar to ours right now but with an added bonus of say…50 years from now or so. They have interstellar but slower than light travel, they have large spaceships for holding armies, and they have cryonics to preserve the soldiers during the long flight. So their technology is not too-farfetched.

More importantly though, the aliens, known as “The Race,” were not expecting this degree of advancement from the humans. When the Race sent their first probes to Earth, they sent back pictures and videos of humans riding horses while wielding swords and bows. The probes painted an image of the human race as relatively backwards and not a threat to the more technology advanced the Race. As such, when the Race arrived to the war-torn world of Earth, they were expecting an easy conquering of a backward species.

This is one of the reasons why the Worldwar series is a great series of novels to read. We are presented with a believable science fiction setting that offers a conflict that is not one-sided and can be viewed from multiple protagonists. Oh yeah, the protagonists. In typical Turtledove fashion, we are presented many different protagonists to follow from various walks of life, both human and the Race. They offer us a glimpse into their world and paint us a picture on what events are affecting them and what events they are affecting in return. My favorite POV is probably Molotov though Atvar, the Fleet Overlord of the Race, is a good character as well.

The second reason why this series is so great is that it does not overly rely on parallel historical events to tell a story. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Some authors, like Harry Turtledove, like to use events in their storyline as analogous to the actual historical events. In Harry Turtledove’s other famous series, Timeline-191, where the C.S.A. won the American Civil War, we see A LOT of parallels between the C.S.A. and Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s and in the 1940s’ war between the C.S.A. and the U.S.A. In all honestly, it’s kind of annoying. I like my alternate history stories to progress like they naturally would and not just on some parallel track that was already determined by our timeline. This is why I like Timeline-191’s storyline during the Great War more so than the rest of the series because those parallel events are played down to the point of nonexistence.

Now, to be fair, the Worldwar series does have analogous events but they are portrayed as events similar to what has already happened in human history. Many of the human characters compare the Race’s colonization of Earth relative to British Imperialism in the 19th century. Topics like Social Darwinism and racism are prevalent in the Race’s attitude towards humans. The humans disgust the Race with their non-seasonal mating, long-term romantic relationships, high amount of liquid waste, and ability to handle change easily. But these events do not directly portray one or two significant events that happen during the course of history. In fact, many fans of the series more often than not compare the Race War to that of the Vietnam War. Even then, this is more of just a point of observation rather than directly comparing battles or weapons that the two wars may have.

As such, we are given two strong reasons why the Worldwar series stands out from other alternate historical novels. An original concept combined with a story that is unchained from our own history provides a delightful read that can keep the readers on edge. When I read the Timeline-191 series or other similar stories, I can get a relative idea what may happen and who might be killed at the end of the story. Worldwar pushes this to the side and keeps us guessing what may happen in each exciting new book.

And finally, in the television world where more and more companies like Netflix or Hulu are providing us with original, unhindered shows that can give us exciting and new series, I say this. The Worldwar series would be phenomenal if it was adapted into a television show. We already have shows with multiple protagonists, such as Game of Thrones, and there hasn’t been any good, strong science fiction shows in recent memory. What’s more, the tagline that I gave you at the beginning of the article is enough to entice anyone to at least check out the first episode

Aliens invade Earth during World War 2.

Someone has to make it. This series is awesome.

My only request is that you make the aliens chameleon-like cause god damnet, sooooo many book covers make them just reptilian-like. Make it happen!

Rise of the Poison Type

The latest Pokémon game I played was ORAS and for the first time ever, I seriously trained a Dustox.  Let me just say right now that Dusty is quite a cutie.  I especially love feeding him in Pokémon Amie and bonding with him in general.  My team roster may see powerful members come and go, but Dusty stayed with me until the end.

But Dustox is by no means a strong Pokémon; in fact, this is the first time I decided to train one.  Dustox always struck me as weak, with a poor move distribution and a bad type match up.  What changed?  Why have I now bonded strongly with a Pokémon that before I didn’t take for granted?

Here’s something that many of my Pokémon friends know about me, Poison is my favorite Pokémon Type.  There are so many great and cool Pokémon that I have loved and trained throughout the years.  Just about every game I play in Pokémon has seen at least one Poison Type Pokémon on my team.

My Haunters are usually named Strawberry or Cherry.  Image from http://www.ign.com/wikis/pokemon-red-blue-yellow-version/Haunter

The Poison Type was probably at its peak in Generation 1 when 22% of all Pokémon were Poison Type.  Out of 15 types too!  That’s ridiculous!  You can find them everywhere from the Starter Bulbasaur, to the swarming Zubats in caves, to the swimming Tentacools in the oceans, all the way to the Safari Zone.  You could easily make a team of just Poison Pokémon in Red and Blue.

But the Poison Type has suffered setbacks since Generation 1 that has dropped it to the okay zone.  In Generation 2 it was no longer super effective against Bug (leaving just Grass) and the newly introduced Steel Type was immune to any poisoning.  And from Generation 2 on only a few Poison Type Pokémon have been introduced in each generation dropping the abundance to just 8% of the total Pokémon population (and now, even five generations later, over half of all Poison Pokémon were introduced in Generation 1).

I have had many Crobats, two that stand out to me are Calcite and Leofsig.  Image from http://maestropkmn.blogspot.com/2014/03/estrategia-pokemon-crobat.html

But I remained a steadfast and loyal Poison Type fan.  I just love these guys, they are so much fun and they can be quite versatile as well, especially if they have a second typing.  Gengar, Nidoking, Crobat, Tentacruel, Dragalge, Toxicroak, and of course Bulbasaur are all Pokémon that I loved and trained for more than a decade.  They are like the underdogs in the Pokémon world; they may get the short end of the stick at times but man do I love them.

Poison Type’s position as a sub-par type began to change in Generation V when it, along with many other types, were given new moves and hidden abilities.  Nidoking now had Sheer Force, many of the moths got Quiver Dance, and Toxic’s accuracy rose to 90%.

My Nidoking was called Aragorn. Image from http://pokemondb.net/pokedex/nidoking

But Poison Type finally got to shine in Generation VI.  Poison became a Type to be feared, respected, and used.  Not only did a lot of Poison Type Pokémon got a small boost in their stats, such as Dustox, but an even more important event happened that made Poison viable for both the games and the metagame.

When the Fairy Type was introduced I was beyond excited.  Not only was this a new type, but now the dynamics between type relationships would be shaken.  In the Fairy Type’s introduction video, Gamefreak showed that Fairy would be super effective against the powerful Dragon Type.  Already this was big news but what was not revealed was what was Fairy weak against? Would Poison be good against Fairy?

Thankfully, my prayers were answered and I rejoiced.  Poison was only one of two types super effective against Fairy Type and one of three that resists it.  Now, Poison Type was good against the now prevalent Fairy Type and many Pokémon benefited from that.

But more importantly, Poison cemented itself as a great defensive type.  Immune to poisoning with resistance to Fighting, Bug, Grass, Poison, and now Fairy, the Poison Type is now a good type to use when inflicting statuses on opposing Pokémon.  And with Toxic now 100% accuracy for Poison Types, they are able to excel at it.

My Bulbasaur was sometimes named Cretaceous. Image from http://pokemon.wikia.com/wiki/Bulbasaur

The Poison Type is a great example how things change for each passing generation.  Sometimes, a few Pokémon may become worse, but most of the time, every Pokémon becomes slightly better, slightly more usable, slightly more appealing.  New moves, new abilities, and maybe even a stat or type change makes this so.  So when the remakes come out, such as ORAS, Pokémon that you may have skipped the first time around now gravitate you towards them.  Dusty is one of them, he is amazing and I’m glad I caught him.  He’s is one more Pokémon I can add to my most favorite Pokémon Type ever.