Tag Archives: Mario

Of Spinach and Shrooms

The secret to Popeye’s strength is not a well-kept one. Everyone knows that he’s “strong to the finish ‘cos he eats his spinach”. But the reason for his affection for this leafy green is more obscured. One popular myth claims he’s in it for the iron.

The myth goes like this: a 19th century German chemist misplaced a decimal point on a nutritional table, prompting the iron content of spinach to be grossly over-rated. This putative ferric potency of Spinach then convinced cartoonist E. C. Segar to make it the go-to food for his character Popeye.

This story has been promoted by many well-respected journalist and scientists as an example of the influence small mistakes can have, and the importance of checking your facts. Ironically, the story itself is spurious. It has proliferated because none of it’s promoters bothered to fact-check their allegory about fact-checking. James Sutton has the full story here.

Vitamin A, Exhibit A!

Vitamin A, Exhibit A!

But there’s another popular working man with a vegetable super food. It’s a-Mario, and he always eats his mushrooms. While not as widely cited as the Spinach story, Mario’s penchant for fungi does come with its own popular myth. Like Carroll’s Alice, people seem to think that Mario is on drugs. Continue reading


Survival of the Fleetest: Mario vs Sonic

One of the biggest playground debates of the 90’s was Sonic versus Mario. The old plumber had finally met his match. Even though Sonic games were buggy as all hell, they were fresh, fast-paced, and on the cutting edge of graphics and sound. It didn’t help that Mario looked like somebody’s fuddy-duddy old uncle, while Sonic’s outfit, attitude and spiky hair channeled Michael Jackson or Bart Simpson.

Although Bart himself was more into Bonestorm.

Although Bart himself was more into Bonestorm.

Granted, this argument usually boiled down to whether the kid owned a Sega or a SNES. But nonetheless, for the first time Mario was losing his monopoly on quality platforming. The times kept a changin’, and soon enough the march of technology forced a clear winner to emerge.

The technology I speak of is the advent of 3D platforming. Sure, both had isometric games – Sonic 3D Blast and Super Mario RPG – but those are only pseudo-3D. I’m talking about the real deal. Fully 3D platformer action, with sprawling stages and a rotating camera. Continue reading

Phil, Mario, and Siddhartha

One of my favourite films is Groundhog Day. Being forced to relive a single day forever seems both a fantastic daydream and a horrid nightmare. Now a cult classic, the film has garnered many fan interpretations. Some say that Phil’s trial of repetition and tedium represent our everyday lives. How each day seems the same, dull and meaningless, especially if we share Phil’s cynical worldview. The only way to break out of this depression is to carpe groundhog diem, and live our lives to the fullest.

Other fans claim the film is a Buddhist allegory. That each repeated day represents a reincarnation, and a new life on earth. Mankind, or in this case Phil, is trapped in an eternal cycle of Samsara, earthly suffering. But rather than poverty, disease, and war, his suffering takes the form of inclement weather and Sunny and Cher.

Obviously, the groundhog represents the Buddhist vice of torpor.

Obviously, the groundhog represents the Buddhist vice of torpor.


In order to break the cycle, Phil must attain enlightenment. By letting go of ego and desire, suffering can be transcended. Oddly, if this is so, the film represents enlightenment as getting a girlfriend. I’m not saying it’s a prefect fit, in fact the director, Harold Ramis, has outright denied any religious inspiration. But the theory certainly is interesting.

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