Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mario Bros.: Postmodern, or just plain weird?

So the other day, John and I found a copy of Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES and whisked it home so we could enjoy the nostagic and infuriating days of our youth playing Super Mario Bros 1, 2, and 3, plus the unreleased "Lost Levels".

Ferreting a small Italian plumber from level to excruciatingly strange level of bizarre enemies, nonsensical architecture, and a plot that's enough to make most feminists explode on the spot, all I could think to myself was, "Gods, I paid (or my dad paid) $90 to buy Mario 3 when it first came out on the original Super Nintendo! How the hell does that even make sense???"

Weird things that are only striking me now about this game:

1) What is with the mushrooms? I know it's the Mushroom Kingdom, but can you say WEIRD overkill? We have goombas, the angry-eyed sidewalkers who, for whatever reason, will hurt you (kill you) if they haphazardly sidle into you. ("Look out! He's slowly...walking...toward you...!")

Then there's Toad, the anthropomorphic mushroom people (and character of the same name) who, throughout Mario 3, shows up in various forms to help you. You can enter their Mushroom houses (is that some form of cannibalism? What do you call turning people into housing?), where they'll give you trinkets to help you on your way; or else they'll open a gambling house where you can play memory for Fire flowers or leaves or what-have-you. So, Toad, when are you going to start a Texas Hold 'Em table in that magically appearing speak-easy of yours?

Then of course there's Mario's Super mushrooms, the magic fungus that appears after the wanton destruction of public property and increases your size by 200%. I mean, really, Lewis Carroll did it first in Alice in Wonderland, but isn't this just encouraging kids to stuff unidentifiable plants into their mouths? Especially considering that the Super Mushroom looks so much like the Amanita muscaria mushroom, a poisonous and hallucinogenic 'shroom.

2) Castle/Flying Ship Levels: Worst. Defense System. Ever. These boss-level flying ships feature a host of automatically firing cannons lobbing slow-moving projectiles at you that you can disable by jumping on them. What a waste of slow-moving ammo.

3) Defying the laws of physics...and logic: So, I can stop a giant bullet fired out of a cannon, but I can't do the same with a hammer thrown by a Hammer Brother? And what's with shooting fireballs in the water? And the haphazard placement of bricks? And the generally very inhospitable climes of the Mushroom Kingdom in general? I mean, Giant World? Who the hell wants to live there (I mean, apart from giants)?

Not that any of this weirdness detracts from the gameplay, of course. But looking back now, all I can think of is, damn, it's amazing my generation survived after this game with our sanity intact...mostly....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


John's already said it, but I have to reiterate.


Think Singer's X-Men flicks, but as a global TV series with a huge, overarching plotline guaranteed to snag you with the first episode. And some of it's written by former X-Men and DC Universe writer Jeph Loeb, no less.

Watch it. It's amazing.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

If smut had a Giller prize...

As many of you know, I have the distinguished honour and deepest pleasure (not in the dirty way) of being a proofreader at Harlequin Enterprises. I began in May, and now, finally, some of the books I've read and worked on have finally been published and are now available!

Here, I bring you some of the titles you simply must read because, hell, the premises are great (read: hilarious), they're actually well-written (read: not crap), and they'll tickle your fancy (read: make you horny...or turn you off sex forever).

The Pleasure Chest by Jule McBride (Harlequin Blaze):
A 19th-century Irish pirate/artist mysteriously and magically comes back to life through a painting heroine Tanya Taylor acquires. Why's it called0 The Pleasure Chest? Because of she keeps locked up in a chest at the foot of her bed. I tell's ya folks, this is my marker for greatness at this company. And I get paid to read this stuff! I LOVE IT!

Dressed to Slay by Harper Allen (Silhouette Bombshell):
It's Buffy meets Charmed meets Underworld meets Blade chick flick with lots of shopping and name brands. Seriously, when I was reading this, I couldn't stop groaning, and I don't mean the sexy kind of groaning. And yet, by the time I got to the second book in this trilogy, Vampaholic, I was hooked, mainly because of the over-the-top ditzy dialogue courtesy of the series' three fabulous kitten-heel-clad heroines. Worth a borrow from your local public library.

Where We Were Born by Margot Early (Harlequin Superromance):
Admittedly, this story is more like the traditional cheesy romance novel we're accustomed to hearing about, but I actually really enjoyed this one because of the family issues it was dealing with. Basically, chick who runs a dating guidance service opens a location in Alaska, her old stomping grounds...meets up with an old fling...hilarity ensues. But what made this one worthwhile was the stories of her experiences growing up on the trapline in the Alaskan boonies, and her broken relationship with her estranged man-of-the-land father. Easy read, great for the bus, and it isn't Joseph Heller or anything.

More titles to come! Buy these now at your local bookstore/Shoppers Drug Mart!