On Games 1: Poké Problems

Like the rest of the world, I’ve been enjoying the magic of Pokémon GO, with its power to put a pissed-off Bulbasaur on my toilet. It’s fun, it’s addictive, it’s utterly broken.

No seriously. On top of the facts that it heats my phone like an extra 10 degrees, devours battery and data like a combo bowl of M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces, it also breaks more often than it works. As a trained professional, I’m providing this troubleshooting guide to what might be stopping all of your GO.

Problem 1– The Loading Screen:

I think eLoginFailvePlayerInfoFailryone’s aware of this problem. Pokémon GO is currently the world’s most downloaded app, and the servers are under tremendous strain. While there are plenty of complaints about how Niantic should have prepared for this level of success I honestly can’t blame them. It’s hard to prepare for what looks like unprecedented success. Trust me, humans– they want you to buy more Poké Balls. They’re working on it.

That said, the most common versions of this problem are the errors “Failed to log in,” “Failed to get player information/game data from server,” and the ever popular “just shows the load screen forever. Should I restart it? I… I think the bar moved… crap, crap, crap, my eyes are drying out, crap.”

Solution: Tapping the green “Retry” button usually works for the failed login error. It’s to the point where I’m actually relieved to see that error, since it’s basically self correcting 3/4 of the time. “Failed to get player information from the server” means it’s time to close the app and restart it… many many times. Maybe you’ll get it! Maybe the servers are down!

(On an iPhone or iPad, double-tap the home button and swipe up to close the app, return to your desktop and tap the app to relaunch it.)

Problem 2– Location Updates are Forever:


Now you’re in the game, you can see your little duder running around on a map and HOLY CRAP THAT’S MY STREET but in cartoon form, still that’s pretty cool! Why is there a white Poké Ball in the top left corner of my screen… just rolling and rolling, never moving? My wife just caught a Pokémon, I can’t see it. Everyone’s pointing and laughing, I’ll never catch ’em all, is this a nightmare? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Solution: Oh, that’s just the game not being able to locate you via your GPS signal. And since everything in the game is based on your physical location, you can’t encounter Pokémon, Pokéstops, etc. You can now play the game, you just can’t experience any of its content.

At a guess, this problem is usually server side– you’re in the game but it doesn’t really have room for you. It could be on your hard drive, though, or on the network. So I’ve really narrowed it down to “…problem?”

Close the app and relaunch it, with the understanding that this is probably either a problem with your signal or the Niantic servers. Hope you really liked Problem 1, you’re about to see it again.



Problem 3– Touchscreen, Schmuchscreen

Suddenly, your phone buzzes– there’s a Pokémon! Some kinda little worm guy. That’s crazy funny. Okay, now I just tap him. And tap him. Crap, why can’t I… my map doesn’t move when I touch it. I can’t look at my Pokédex or anything. The touchscreen is frozen!

Solution: As far as I can tell, this either happens when your touchscreen has been latent for too long– which can mean minutes after launch, apparently– or when your phone detects a Pokémon. Which, you know, is when you’re most likely to touch your screen. The touchscreen works fine in other apps– feel free to put on some music or whatever– but not in Pokémon GO.

Probably a local problem.

Close the app again, hope you can log back on (you can’t).

Problem 4– Being On Any Network Ever

If you decide to get your Pokés on at home, odds are good you’ll be on your own wireless network. Makes sense– why pay for data when you don’t have to? It’s an exercise app, though, and you’re going to walk around outside. This is the job you’ve signed up for. Unfortunately, one of the best ways to trigger problem #2 or #3 seems to be switching networks.

Wireless networks can be a problem. I also like to use Xfinity hotspots in my travels; they experience the exact same difficulties.

Equally fun, being in the app seems to make me lose networks– or at least notice it every time the network drops me– and keep me from acquiring new networks, cellular or wireless.

Solution: Well, feel free to restart the app. Sometimes it works and when things work they’re awesome. Alternative therapies include listening to a podcast and walking back home.

Problem 5– Visiting Pokéstops

Pokemon Go Pokestop

Pokestops have worked for me 4 times. 4. The single digit. Either I get one of the above errors or the image won’t load; I spin the spinner, it says try again later. Sometimes it turns purple.

My theory is that Pokéstops require a little bit more memory loaded onto my phone than ‘Mons do. This somehow breaks reality.

I do not want to pay money for Pokéballs, man. Don’t make me do it.


Problem 6– Catching Pokemon

My favorite thing that breaks the game is the core element of the game. Most of the time the screen just freezes (return to Problem 1) but sometimes the Pokéball will just roll past the Pokémon… forever. If I lift my camera I can just watch it disappear over the horizon. On my favorite occasion, a Spearow escaped the Pokéball, flew into my camera and just stayed there, snapping at me, the Pokéball trembling behind it.


So this is the best as well as the worst. But, y’know, also the worst.

Solution: HAMMERS



On Entertainment 1: Regretflix

Immediately after the anniversary of our nation’s birth, we’re now basking in the afterglow of horrible events. Police manslaughters or murders in two different states; a war veteran sniper murdering police officers at a peaceful protest in a third. Hopefully we’re taking a moment to look at our lives, look at our choices.

A light distraction is in order.

What are Regretflix? Well, now that I’ve written this article I see that they are both an entry in Urban Dictionary and a Twitter hashtag so GOOD LUCK CHANGING THE ACCEPTED DEFINITION, ME! (With confidence) Regretflix are the movies and series you regret not watching, the films that came and went in your Netflix queue, movies you wanted to watch but never quite pushed the button on. So they vanished, unannounced and unviewed. Alas.

They could as easily be films and shows that you regret watching, but I’m making up the word here, I make up the rules. It’s always more interesting to think about the ones that got away.

Here’s a list of my greatest “shoulda, woulda, coulda” movies that silently vanished from my queue.

Top 10 missed Netflix regrets:

10) For All Mankind (2013)


This documentary about pro wrestler Mick Foley, the sensitive souled writer who portrayed Mankind–a frighteningly deranged schizophrenic in leather mask– in the ring. Foley is an eloquent crusader for children’s charities and for victims of sexual abuse and should cause even dumbasses like Scott Adams to reconsider what it means to be a Social Justice Warrior.

I didn’t know any of this until my wife told me about Foley. I put it in my queue so the two of us could watch it together, where the 2 hour 14 minute film languished and then disappeared into the wilderness of *shudder* Amazon Prime. Actually, we could probably watch it on my in-laws’ Amazon account.



9) A Town Called Panic (Panique au Village) (2009)


When I was living alone I actually watched about 20 minutes of this surreal French stop-motion adventure about plastic toys Cowboy, Indian, and Horse attempting and failing to live fairly ordinary lives in their picturesque village. I’d gotten into the bad practice of trying to read the internet while I watched movies, and that made the subtitles too difficult for me. Then I was working on my Master’s thesis. I blinked and it was gone.






8) Kill, Baby… Kill (1966)


The creepy image of a doll’s face staring through a window on Netflix previews arrested my attention. Speaking as a horror fan, though, good horror films are so hard to find. I was afraid to take a chance. It turns out that Kill Baby… Kill, the story of a murderous little girl ghost apparently embedding silver coins in her victims’ hearts, is one of the most influential films in the history of horror. Even Fellini cites it as a major influence, as do Scorsese and Lynch. A surreal occult murder mystery that is almost always in the top 100 list of the greatest horror films ever made.





7) Man on a Wire (2008)


In 1974 high-wire walker and artist Phillipe Petit somehow strung a tightrope between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and illegally performed– suspended in space– for nearly an hour. He was arrested and released; all charges were forgiven after he did a free show for children in Central Park. And guess what? Petit and his cohorts filmed the preparation, the smuggling, the performance, the aftermath. Complete with recreations, this is a valiant attempt to recreate the complete experience of what it was like to be Petit that day, or at least what it was like to be there when he committed his great guerilla art crime.

Guess I shoulda watched it.



6) The Station Agent (2003)


We all know him as brilliant drunk Tyrion Lannister, but The Station Agent is the film that launches Peter Dinklage’s film career. A comedy-drama about a little person who tries to isolate himself to grieve after he loses his only friend only to find that his overly friendly neighbors make isolation impossible.

I think I saw a trailer for The Station Agent when I went to an arthouse showing of Lost in Translation (2003– that long?). I recognized Dinklage from Living in Oblivion (1995) and was interested to see what he could do in a starring role. The film entered theaters, left theaters, made it to Netflix, exited Netflix.

We now all know what Dinklage does in a starring role– he owns it! This is another one that’s meandered over to Amazon Prime if you’re interested.


5) Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)


Of course I’ve seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit, both on video and in the theater. Of course I have. I loved it and love it still. The classic Toontown Noir about washed up private dick Eddie Valiant uncovering a Chinatown-like plot to displace and destroy the minority Toons by destroying L.A.’s streetcar system and profiteering off the creation of the suddenly “necessary” highways that now plague L.A. with traffic jams.

You know, a genuinely funny comedy where a cartoon rabbit being framed for murder is small potatoes next to the crime that… actually happened in real life.

I’ve seen the movie, I know the movie and– again– I love the movie. I haven’t seen it in over a decade. Somehow it sat in my queue for 2 years, often considered but never viewed. Just knowing it was there made me smile. How much more would I have enjoyed actually watching it?


4) Wild Style (1983)


For the past year or so I have enjoyed the Ed Piskor’s mesmerizing multi-volume comic book history of hip-hop, Hip Hop Family Tree. Incredibly well researched but also somehow built entirely out of anecdotes, the series repeatedly references Wild Style as one of the great break out moments in hip-hop culture. Breakdancing, graffiti, and– yes!– Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels o’ Steel. The story in this film doesn’t matter to me– this was my chance to see Lee Quinones with a spraypaint can, to see the Cold Crush Brothers in their prime, to see the Rocksteady Crew rock steady!

I noticed it on Netflix in early June, didn’t watch it right away. It vanished and I can’t even find it on the “Leaving Netflix” lists now. Like a ghost, man. Like tears in the rain.



3) All-Star Superman (2011)


Forget the big screen portrayals of the Man of Steel– literally. Obliterate them from your mind. Earth’s future may depend on YOUR HEROES, the heroes you personally hold to and believe in, the heroes we will become. That’s what comics writer Grant Morrison wants us to know about superheroes.

His portrayal of Superman in the mini-series All-Star Superman is one of Morrison’s great achievements. A pastiche of Superman’s Silver Age tropes– Jimmy Olsen trying on identities and superpowers like new suits, Lois Lane loving Superman while trying to unmask his deceptions, Lex Luthor consumed with arrogance and brilliant murder plots, Bizarro Superman leading an entire Bizarro World– combined with an image of Superman as a nearly perfect, loving god. It’s not one for the history books, it’s one for the mythology books.

The direct-to-video animated film– like many of the DC animated films– is so much better than any version of Superman to grace the big screen. I watched this movie, once. Along with the lesser light Superman vs The Elite I wanted to watch it again and again, to share it with my wife and friends. Nothing lasts forever, but with a script torn directly from Morrison’s comic pages, I still want this film to last forever.

It makes me want humanity to last forever. I’m a born misanthrope, so think about that for a while.


2) Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)


My wife loves So You Think You Can Dance. We watched a season together and, as almost always happens when she shares something with me, I was an easy convert. A documentary about elementary school kids training for and competing in a frantic ballroom dance contest seemed like a perfect follow-up. However, we watch TV together less than either one of us would like– a side effect of having a toddler– and when we do watch something we usually don’t have the energy to go through any kind of decision making process. It’s usually a sit-com, something we’ve watched together before. And I like New Girl, I like Parks and Rec.

I just think we should have shaken things up and watched this is all.



1) Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-2011)


Some are born to the manor; my little girl is born to the nerdhouse (which is metaphorical, not a real thing). She hasn’t really seen any Batman or read any Batman because she’s not quite 3 years old. She’s finally at the point where I think she could really enjoy this Batman series– the funny, lighthearted animated series where Batman may be serious-faced all the time, but almost everyone’s funny. Here Batman is as comfortable patrolling near space in a Batrocket or secret Nepalese temples as he is prowling the mean streets of Gotham. When it’s good, it’s the funniest Bat-Thing since the Adam West series, it’s a great gateway to comics geekery for an inquisitive kiddo. It features Neal Patrick Harris hisownself as a musical villain in a light opera episode for Crikey’s sake! I want her to love superheroes, not to take them seriously.

She’s watching old Powerpuff Girls now, lighthearted cartoon violence and funny superheroes. She want to be Blossom when she grows up. She’s finally ready. Now I can share this with… where? Where’d it go?