The question of what makes a hero is one that gets asked a lot, and usually by book smart villains looking to get a heads up on the competition. Is it simply a matter of being in the right time and place, or is there a trait of fiery, heroic passion that's dominant only in a select few chosen individuals? If you ask me, and you really get no choice in this matter since it's my article and not yours, a hero is someone who works hard to make him or herself extraordinary in mind and body, and therefore adapt at handling volatile situations of all types. In the case of one Mario, an Italian-American from the Bronx, that job is saving the Mushroom Kingdom and various other fantasy locations from the Osama bin Laden of snapping turtles. And please don't say, "But Josh, King Koopa is a lizard!" because I'll kick in you in the cornea and naively point out that lizards don't have shells, all the while remaining completely oblivious to the fact he may well have been a dinosaur, some of which had shells. Also, if you try to tell me he was Dennis Hopper, I'll tear out your duodenum because the movie is far from official canon, stupid person. Mario, or Super Mario as the eugenics doctors call him, is able to routinely accomplish his feats of danger and daring by utilizing an extensive knowledge of fashion and herbal medicine. His brain, a vast and limitless databank of information, carries encyclopedic wisdom of mushrooms and other chemical agents occurring in nature. This majestic man of all seasons can accessorize himself for any situation, no matter how high the stakes are. Not only is he a licensed plumber, but also he's a doctor, a deep-sea diver (and one remarkably adapt at holding his breath), a capable aviator, a race car driver, a fierce warrior, and a master of pyrotechnics, all while nursing the worst drug dependency I've ever seen. What's most amazing is that not only will he jump from one skill to the next with alarming speed, but he also dresses according to the job at hand.

In spite of his frequent exploits, Mario has a few tricks up his sleeves that he has yet to call upon in any of his published adventures. It wasn't easy, but I've done some digging and uncovered some of the red shirted wonder's unused guises and stratagems. Personally, I knew Mario was a dirty furry, but I had know idea just how deep the depravity sinkhole inside his soul really went.

Crazy Injun Peyote Powerup
When Mario takes the time to consume some of the Mushroom Kingdom's wild peyote, he transforms into a savage Native American, eager to scalp, rape, and rampage his way through anyone crazy enough to get in his warpath. Though a highly effective combatant, Mario is at his worst when riding on the back of the magic cactus stallion. He shows little regard for the civilized way of life, and is therefore an unqualified champion of good. Still, given the daunting nature of Mario's work, it is often good to explore every hallway and door of the mind, making sure no reservations cloud the future.

Tactical Advantage: a deeper spiritual understanding that comes to life in the form of excessive violence against turtles and other mostly harmless creatures. There isn't so much of a tactical advantage here, as it's just an excuse to get really high.

Skin Suit
Mario has encountered a lot of attractive princesses, not to mention a good number of mushroom-headed lady foxes. Has he simply let them drift by while adhering to a strict code of plumber union chivalry? Far from it! Mario knows the value of having a second layer of skin, especially since he's suffered so many burns from sparks of lava and the smoldering vomit of King Koopa's minions. Instead, Mario keeps a memento of all his past loves, a piece of flesh he cherishes and dutifully archives as part of a suit. Sometimes, late at night, he puts on this file cabinet of skin, and feels a tremendous rush of emotions unlike anything else. The power he commands, the lives he's held in his hands, it all tastes so good.

Tactical Advantages: in addition to totally terrifying all opposition, the Skin Suit gives Mario a second chance by giving him a second skin. It also brings him a sense of comfort and therapeutic release by letting him step into the flesh of those who he has wronged, giving physical manifestation to his tormented victim/victimizer psychological duality.

Gimp Mask
The Gimp Mask allows Mario to wander some of the many dark avenues of his psyche while maintaining anonymity. When Mario dons the Gimp Mask, he dons nothing else save for a versatile gadget strapped around his pelvis and protruding in a triumphant forward direction for quite some ways. Anything that approaches Mario head-on meets a messy demise by way of razor-sharp impalement. This gadget also acts as a springing pogo stick, letting Mario bounce higher and higher until he reaches a gravitational climax and cannot jump higher anymore. Finally, it can triple as a cowcatcher, much like the ones featured on throbbing steam engines. So long as Mario doesn't get taken from behind, he remains in full control of the situation.

Tactical Advantage: allows Mario to ram through competition with giant cowcatcher strap-on that also features ingenious impalement and pogo stick capabilities. Mask provides a security buffer protecting him from social stigma while allowing him the chance to play as rough as he wants until he injures himself or hears the safety word uttered.

Tranniario
One particularly astute but bewildering ruse Mario has at his disposal is cross-dressing. Mario is not a handsome man, but his gruff, slightly obese looks and mesmerizing moustache do carry weight in the appearance department. After all, he does manage to charm women such as Princess Toadstool, who commands an empire paved in the blood of the wicked and warlike. When Mario feels the need for an unconventional attack, he'll squeeze into a beautiful purple dress and put on his shiny red leather hat and knock his enemies to the ground with looks. Sure, everybody still know it's Mario, but out there, away from civilization and females for so long, does it really matter to a hammer throwing turtle? The kinetic homoerotic energy exuding from Mario challenges enemies to confront their own feelings and desires. What's more, who is the predator in this instance? In that dress, Mario is practically asking for it, but then so are they with that blind lust of theirs.

Tactical Advantage: appeals to the sexual motivations of enemy agents, blinds them with lust, and sets them up for the knockout. A disadvantage is that it degrades Mario's movement, since high heel shoes and dresses restrict running and jumping. May also lead to unwanted surprise romantic encounters and sexual harassment.

VC Mario
Mario has experience fighting gorilla wars against Donkey Kong, but he is also capable of fighting guerrilla wars against the enemies of the Great Mushroom Peoples. When Mario is in his VC fatigues, he is able to become as much a part of the jungle as a vine or climbable beanstalk or bush that launches out resurrection mushrooms. He moves with the wind and water's flow, snakes through the darkness, and cuts his enemies to pieces before they even know they're under attack. An expert of subterfuge, VC Mario can plant demolitions that blow up outposts and castles, sending jagged shrapnel piercing into the morale of foreign invaders. Mario has always been at home crawling through sewage-filled pipes, but now he lives in dirt holes and worms through underground passages. He survives healthy submerged in dirt while his enemies lie dead above him. He knows no pain or loss, nor any life too important for sacrifice or suicide missions, just that Koopa's minions must be killed. He is the shadow of death, and this is his valley.

Tactical Advantage: proficiency at stealth combat techniques, a capacity for advanced subterfuge and reconnaissance, can utilize surroundings as weapon. Strikes only at night.

It's a me, rotting face Mario!Like you, I don't think I'll ever look at Mario the same way again. I knew he was a heavy abuser of narcotics, but I could never have guessed what madness coursed through his veins, emanating out of his blackened heart. I realize that the end result, the protection and proliferation of the Mushroom Kingdom and its people is important, but at what cost? Is the price of having a fiend for a hero too high, or are they complacent to rest comfortably knowing a madman keeps the wolves at bay? These games people play, not even the reset button can set things right.

I Want to be Stuffed When I Die

Hey everybody! It's Ben "Greasepaint" Platt here, and you'll never guess what I did now! Nope, never in a million years. Want a hint? Oh screw it I'll just tell you. I reviewed a movie! Can you believe it? It goes by the name of "Cremains." Tell us all about it, me!

"Cremains" isn't really a movie, so much as four short movies that happen to suck. It's sort of like "Four Rooms," only all of the vignettes are written and directed by the same person, Steve Sessions, and instead of the loveable and overworked bellhop played by Tim Roth, the common character to all four vignettes is a pudgy, boring funeral director. Just try to tell me you're not falling head over heels for this movie already! Each of the four short stories is prefaced by the funeral director, who is called "the Cremation Provider" in the end credits. Our unlucky Cremation Provider finds himself on the receiving end of an interrogation run by faceless entities. As they pester him with a barrage of questions, he leads into the stories that make up the body of the film. It's actually a fairly decent concept, but there's a catch. There's always a catch. The first three stories are completely and utterly useless. They are presented as though they might have some bearing on the Cremation Provider's interrogation, but here's a spoiler: they don't. As such, the audience continually feels like they've just had one chunk of time after another stolen away for no reason whatsoever. Couple that with a shaky camera, overused editing tricks, halfassed acting, and an endlessly repetitive score and you've got a real winner of a film. No really. You do. I'm being completely serious. I'm also three hundred feet tall and have to use a keyboard a hundred feet across in order to type out my sassy articles. No really. I do. I'm being completely serious.

If you didn't laugh at that, then you have no soul, and I'm afraid I have no time for robots. Those of you who are good old-fashioned flesh and blood, read the rest of the review and laugh long into the night!

– Josh "Livestock" Boruff (@Livestock)

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