The 'Shroom:Issue 181/Palette Swap
April showers bring May flowers, and lots of water can also bring out members of the fungi kingdom! Thusly, welcome to the April 'Shroom!
This month, I've gotten to focus mostly on Kirby and the Forgotten Land, although it took me a couple weeks to really dig in and get the desire to play it. But I've gotten a few boss battles under my belt now and I'm having a lot of fun with it! My summer, however, is looking like a mess so far now that Nintendo announced the release date of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 to be two months sooner than we were expecting! Mid-July I figured I'd still be working on Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes but now I have to juggle that with Xenoblade, Rune Factory 5, and a newcomer- Persona 5, as my best friend sold me his PS4 a couple weeks ago. I only hope I can get at least one of those games totally finished before Pokemon Scarlet and Violet come out in November! We're definitely not hurting for games this year!
This month we have a couple guest sections for you! Hooded Pitohui (talk) has contributed a Mario's Boombox section featuring the music of The Chalkeaters, and Flygon64 (talk) submitted a comic for you all to read, as well as most of our regular sections working in our fitness theme. I won't keep you any longer here, so do proceed and enjoy!
Section of the Month
Waluigi Time (talk) took the top two places this month, with Shmaluigi, Private Investigator coming in first, and Waluigi Time Comic tying for second with Goombuigi (talk)'s Super Mario Maker Showcase. Next up, we have another tie between Booguette's Koopamon and winstein (talk)'s Drawn and Pressed. Wrapping it all up is Magolor04726 (talk)'s World of Plight. Thank you so much to everyone who voted, and please keep it up for this issue as well!
|Palette Swap SECTION OF THE MONTH|
|1st||Shmaluigi, Private Investigator||6||24.00%||Waluigi Time|
|2nd||Waluigi Time Comic||5||20.00%||Waluigi Time|
|2nd||Super Mario Maker Showcase||5||20.00%||Goombuigi|
|4th||Drawn and Pressed||4||16.00%||winstein|
|6th||World of Plight||1||4.00%||Magolor04726|
Drawn and Pressed
Today, we will be covering a double feature, where both The Pajama Diaries and Edge City are going to be highlighted for the month. What both The Pajama Diaries and Edge City shared is that both of them are comic strips where a Jewish family are the main characters, instead of being a side character and thus the focus are generally not on them (e.g. PreTeena). There is a non-sequitur comics where there are occasional Jewish jokes and was even drawn by a Jewish author (before bringing in a non-Jewish cartoonist as a co-author), which is Rhymes with Orange, but it's not going to be covered due to its difference in format and overall themes.
One beautiful aspect of a work is when it delves into the experience of a character with uncommon backgrounds. It is through this that a reader can better understand the life of a different person, and would overall be an enriching experience. It is also very vital for representation, as it shows that life consists of a diverse range of people and the experiences that they are associated with them. This can really only be properly achieved if the authors themselves lived the life, because the experiences can easily be written to be realistically relatable, and that brings to the point that creators need to be equally of diverse backgrounds. Now, of course a character with a majority background is not necessarily a bad thing because it relates to more people, which is after all how it can invite more people into a work, but a minority background is also just as important because these works practically speak to those people who fall under them. In this case, Judaism is very rarely portrayed by main characters, and it is through these two comic strips that I really noticed how generally absent such a background is.
In fact, adding religion in a comic strip is also a rare thing, and I am not just referring to the more-common Christianity where the practices of the religion is also not necessarily common either (except for celebrating Christmas). The best way to convey this is to make it so that this aspect is treated like a normal aspect of life, rather than loudly declaring their background at every opportunity, because that would not be realistic and in turn, would be off-putting. This comment about The Pajama Diaries puts it best:
- “And I think that, for younger cartoonists who grew up in the shadow of giants like Bil Keane, Lynn Johnston and Charles Schulz, it's common for their cartoon families to have religions and ethnicities and races that inform, but do not necessarily dominate, their lives. Not a matter of proclaiming anything, simply a matter of adding some realistic dimension to their characters.”
- —Comic Strip of the Day
Between Edge City and The Pajama Diaries, the former includes more about the Jewish life, which is probably bolstered by the ages of the characters being more or less static. The latter is more fast-paced where the cartoons are rarely continuous, and so the Jewish lifestyle is not as prevalent. I should point out beforehand that, while Rugrats has a comic strip, and is thus technically a comic strip with Jewish main characters, it will not be included here, because the series is originally an animated series instead and thus did not have the same personal experiences that both the featured comic strips have. Without further ado, we'll get right down to the comic strips.
Between the two comic strips, Edge City was created first. This comic strip is the figurative child of the husband-and-wife team of Terry LaBan and Patty LaBan, where Terry does the heavy lifting in the art while writing duties are shared between the two. Its start date is unknown, since Wikipedia listed it as 2000 yet the earliest comic strip that I can find is around the first week of 2001, so I am inclined to say that this comic strip started on the first day of 2001 going by my discovery. Despite the name, the place that the characters live in is not literally called "Edge City", and so it's unrelated to any other fictional places called "Edge City". The name is more of the type of place the characters are in, given that an edge city is basically a community outside of the boundaries of a city and the suburbs. As you might guess from this topic, what makes the strip stands out is the fact that it stars a Jewish-American family as the main characters, although this comic strip has the substance to go beyond this distinction, so in other words, it's a well-thought out and enjoyable comic strip.
The cartoonist Terry LaBan has a strong admiration for comic strips, which is in part on why he got to work on one. However, he did not originally start his artistic career on comics, since he started work in underground/alternative comics. The problem was that back then, the industry was in decline and so was finding work, so he turned to comic strip syndication as a means to support his family of four (including his two children), which worked out well. The discipline in working on a comic strip did not come naturally, as it requires rethinking the workflow in creating a cartoon for every day of the comic strip. Of course, once the process have been worked out, it is a matter of streamlining it and it becomes a more natural process. A very interesting point about Terry's experience with the comic strip is the collaboration that he has with his wife Patty. Essentially, this comic strip would never have existed nor had the quality that it has, if it weren't for Patty's contributions and her oversight in ensuring that things are down-to-earth. This collaboration also enhances the working relationship between the two, since prior to this, they didn't work together at all. All in all, the comic strip is a fulfilling experience for the creators in a way that could very well be a confirmation from God.
In terms of characters, the Ardin family includes Len the husband and Abby the wife, as well as their children Colin and Carly, who are a 12-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl respectively. Len works as a boss of Leadfoot Couriers, a courier company that he co-owns with his business partner Rajiv (an Indian-American who is single and looking for a wife), while Abby is a therapist at a group practice. Their children are mentioned to have taken up a lot of extracurricular activities like dance, karate, and soccer, but they are not allowed to walk around the neighbourhood by themselves. The extended family includes Edna and Morris, who are Abby's parents, as well as Bev, who is Len's mother. The family also has a cat named Harry, who is named for the hairballs he coughs up. One thing that I noticed about the characters is that they are portrayed as flawed people, but realistically flawed. What I meant is that while yes, there is a bit of comic relief in the flaws they have, it was never portrayed unrealistic as to become unbelievable. This basically makes them very human, and is part of what makes the characters overall enjoyable. As mentioned earlier, the wife of the creative team did ensure that the characters behave in a way that makes them down-to-earth.
Usually, this comic strip does short story arcs that typically last for two weeks each, which meant that except for certain Sundays, it is easier to follow a story if you either read them in sequence at a short time or all at once. Rarely would the dailies delve into a purely gag-a-day format. However, I think that even as individual comics, the humour would still be understood even if the context may not be present. Despite the down-to-earth scenarios that are present, there is enough variety to make each start of a storyline something to look forward to. Some stories may be about the family, some may be about the work life, or perhaps it could be about an affliction or conflict. For example, one storyline involves a business partner inviting Len for deer hunting, and another would involve Bev starting a rally to get the school to change the cafeteria's menu to server healthier food. Doing comic strips in blocks of story arcs is a good way to balance out the focus on the specific plot points and the humour, since comic strips tend to have a punchline to wrap up each day. For a comic strip that focuses on the everyday life of the characters, this is indeed a good way to play out the scenarios that happen within the events.
The comic strip, after starting in the year 2000, started winding down in 2015 and would end around the first week of 2016. When announcing the end of the comic strip, the creators of the comic strip outlined a few reasons for retiring the comic strip. One such reason for ending it is that the 15-year contract with King Features was closing in, and instead of continuing for a long while, the creators have decided to end it then and there, citing the amount of work required to submit a daily cartoon for countless months and having accomplished what they set out to do for the comic strip as reasons to end it, going so far as to mentioned how their children grew up and thus, would not have been able to provide ideas for the cartoon children. Perhaps the major motivation (or perhaps in this case, a de-motivation) to ending the strip, is that in the current climate, newspaper comics are on the decline compared to decades past where it was viable due to the larger crowd of newspaper readers, and thus, continuing the cartoon would not have been deemed beneficial. Nonetheless, the creators do look fondly at the opportunity and the experienced offered for their work, so in the end, it is a very enriching and fulfilling journey for the creators. Within the comic strip, this is reflected by one of the last story arcs where the rise of drones for courier work causes Len's business to be on a decline (the newspaper comic decline), but he was offered a huge business payout by a rival to which he accepts (ending the comic strip on its own terms), and he would have a comfortable life after that (the fulfilling part of doing the comic strip). Their feelings about ending the comic strip are basically outlined in a short story arc after that, where the author avatars (using their real names) meet Abby for some counseling about their comic strip ending, so even if the blog post may not be present, the cartoon would still provide a clue on why it ended. It is a really nice way to send off the characters through the meeting between the creator avatar and the created.
One of the things that I have enjoyed a lot about Edge City is not only the content of the comic strip, but also how a healthy collaboration can result in the cartoon working out. The addition of a Jewish background did help the comic stand out, but in a good way because it is educational, helped by the more down-to-earth characters and setting.
The Pajama Diaries is a comic strip created by Terri Libenson, which chronicles the life of a woman who has to balance between her career between her role as a mother and a graphic designer. The comic strip is more or less told in a moment-to-moment manner, where most days won't have sequential continuation between the days, which is a practice that many comic strips would do. Moreover, this comic strip does not adhere to the tendency to keep the characters' ages static, because unlike most of them, the characters age in real-time, in which a year within a comic strip also meant that the characters are a year older. With a blend of this format and the timeline for the characters, it lives up to its name as a "diary" of sorts, since many comics have a text box that explains the situation at hand.
Given how the characters have somewhat specific backgrounds and the fact that the comic strip is real time, it is not surprising that it is somewhat autobiographical, as the main character Jill Kaplan shares her background information with the author: things like how she is Jewish and so is the family, she has two daughters, and has a career that would inevitably involve dealing with clients. Thus, it can be easily deduced that Jill's life challenges mirror that of the cartoonist, such as the various unrealistic demands by her clients, or the fact that her daughters have certain quirky habits and disagreements with their mother, or the moments where the main character had a conversation with her past self. Which is to say, the author would make light of her challenges in cartoon form for all to see, though we don't necessarily know which are indicative of her life except for the author herself.
The characters of the comic strip include not only Jill Kaplan, who is of an emotional type and a bit of a control freak, as she balances her role as a mother and a web designer. Her husband Rob Kaplan is easy-going and bluntly honest, and is an IT contractor. Their daughters are Amy and Jess, with Amy being the older sister. Even though the main characters are a family, Jill Kaplan is basically the main of the main characters, as most of them will have her in the picture or at least be about her if she's not present. Various characters would show up less regularly, including Jill's friends Lisa Day and Nanci Raymond, who themselves are mothers, as well as the neighbours who are just known as "Perfectville".
Within the comic strip itself, the family focus takes the biggest forefront of what the comic is about, given how much is generally focused on the main character dealing with the role as a mother as she navigates around the challenges faced by her daughters, or perhaps during her conversations with her friends about the travails of motherhood. On certain days, the main character would have to deal with the troubles of her stay-at-home career as a web designer, though it is not as commonly used as a basis of jokes. Perhaps one aspect of the family life that is prevalent (and why it's covered in the first place) is their Jewish life, which may not be common, but because it shows up throughout the life of the comic, it can be considered part of the identity of the comic itself. For example, the family is shown to celebrate certain holidays like Hanukkah and bat mitzvah (of their daughters), and even has mentions of Jewish things like the dreidel and even food.
Unlike Edge City, which did have a build up to give closure to the characters, this comic strip hit its end very abruptly, and in a bathetic way too. On the penultimate comic strip, Jill was having sleep issues, but on the last comic strip, it ended with the cartoonist herself jumping into the comic strip to declare its end, even going so far to "spoil" the ending in a very anticlimatic way, inciting a complaint by the main character. Of course, there is a very good explanation on why it ended up this way. Normally, a comic strip syndicated by King Features would last 15 years, but this one came short by a bit over one year, and this is mainly because of the author's decision to commit to her career as a children's book author. The decision certainly did not come very lightly, because she was given a contract to continue her series, and the commitment involved meant that continuing the comic strip to its end would be impractical, and ultimately, it ended the way it did and it's been in reruns ever since.
While The Pajama Diaries is not the most popular comic strip in the world, it incorporates a lot of unique elements that made it felt special, like not only is it a comic about Jewish people, but it's also the incredibly rare comic with aging characters, much less one that ages in real time.
The Pajama Diaries comic strips can be read at Comics Kingdom (only 3 days at a time for non-members): https://comicskingdom.com/pajama-diaries
While the basics for both Edge City and The Pajama Diaries are similar in that both are about Jewish families, each of them have taken different approaches that shows that variety can exist even in similar premises. In fact, to call one a shameless derivative of the other would do a huge disservice to either, similar to how despite both Garfield and Heathcliff starring orange cats as the main characters, they are very different beyond that that it's fallacious to call one a copy of the other, and it's similarly disingenuous to make a claim that one is objectively superior to the other when it's better to appreciate what similar works offer differently.
Thank you for reading.
Hello dear readers and welcome to Site Seeing, in which I'll go over some of the websites Nintendo releases to inform the public about their games and series!
This month we are celebrating fitness, so why don't we visit a sporty website? Today we are talking about the website of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020!
This website was not made or ordered by Nintendo themselves, but by the International Olympic Committee as part of their Olympic Video Games site. The result is a clearly smaller scale site than the ones previously covered in Site Seeing.
The home page covers nearly all of the site's contents, starting with a hero image featuring Mario and Sonic standing in the Japan National Stadium holding medals. Between them are the logos of the Olympics themselves and the logo of the Mario & Sonic series, and a thumbnail for the trailer of the game. In the top right, a small cover art is shown announcing the game's availability.
Going down, we enter a section featuring various videos one of which is displayed on a Nintendo Switch and the others in a slider underneath. Clicking any of these will open the video in a pop-up. The background of this section has several characters participating in one of the running events.
The following section is all about the Olympic sports featured in the game. Highlighted at the top are four new sports, followed by small tiles of 16 other sports which play a short clip when hovered over. Artwork of Cheese the Chao, Cream the Rabbit, and Toad, all in thematic clothes, are shown to the sides.
This section ends with a button link to a more detailed page with all events this game offers. This page separates the events in multiple categories, once again starting off with the new events, then going over the dream events, games from the Tokyo 1964 mode, and then games returning from previous entries in the Mario & Sonic series. Like on the home page, each of the games can be hovered over to show a short clip, and various characters, this time the playable ones, are shown to the sides.
Back on the main page, scrolling down again brings us to the playable characters. First up here is a banner where eight characters are standing on the starting blocks of a swimming event, before all 20 characters are laid out in a grid, which can be clicked to show a little blurb about each of them.
Next is a section that illustrates the various play styles, including motion controls and on- and offline multiplayer. The motion controls are highlighted by the animated Joy-Con to the sides.
The last section is a simple call to purchase, showing the box again, and a link to the Nintendo eShop.
This site bases itself around red and blue, obviously because of Mario and Sonic, respectively. These two colours are used for the backgrounds of a few sections, where no image is used instead.
The red background, which has a shade of purple to it, is used on the section about the events and its entire subpage, and also uses a diagonal stripe pattern to spice it up a bit. The blue background is merely used for the section about play styles, and uses a diamond pattern.
In addition to a colour and pattern, both colour backgrounds also have animated stars that add some dynamic to them. For the red one, this is a 10-pointed star with thin points that pulse in and out, giving a slight twinkle effect. The blue background has four-pointed stars that similarly pulse in and out, but also rotate, which makes them more tangible in appearance.
When viewed on smaller screens such as phones, a few elements will stack, but a lot of elements will still be placed side-by-side with a very small text size. The character grid is changed to be a slider where the circles scroll by, which can still be tapped or clicked to show info about the selected character.
The site makes use of the Poppins font family.
This part may not be of interest to everyone, or may you even understand any of it. But it can be interesting to some people who are curious about some of the technology used to create this site.
This is not a technically complex website. It appears to be mostly handcrafted, using jQuery for the interactive parts. Like many a site, it's hosted on Amazon Web Services.
Now for an interesting bit about fonts. In order to display fonts on websites that work on all devices, regardless of what families are installed on them, many websites make use of web fonts. It is possible to serve your own files, but most of the time, a service like Google Fonts is used for this. In this case, Adobe's Typekit service is used to serve fonts instead of Google Fonts.
Amazon Web Services is a cloud platform that offers web hosting and computing. Many different services can be hired here, but this website uses a simple Amazon S3 container, which can be used to store simple sites and files on.
There is also some dummied out content on this site! Normally this kind of material is removed entirely before a website is published, but today we can have an exclusive look at a few deleted elements.
First off, there is an old version of the hero banner on top of the site. This one is nearly identical to the one currently featured, but uses a different trailer and tagline underneath it. Secondly, that trailer has, in a previous iteration, used a classic looking font, Lo-Res. It is very likely these were used and dummied out together.
Another interesting removed bit is the option to purchase the game physically from a few (online) stores that are not the eShop.
A simple site, with obviously a different developer behind it than sites I've previously covered. It is visually pleasing and gets the job done well enough, but as I am a webdev myself and can read the code, it is somewhat clear that the devs of this site are not as professional as the other sites. In summary, it's an okay website. Content-wise, this site is a bit lacking, as all the given information would probably also fit on the back of the game cover.
And that's it for this month. This is not the last of me this month, as Anniversary Announcements is back again monthly over at Pipe Plaza, but for Site Seeing, I hope to see you again in June. Adios!
Half-Life 3 or the Steam Deck, which would you rather have? Judging by their music, it seems safe to guess that The Chalkeaters would choose the former. After all, they're unafraid to poke at Valve for focusing on hardware over developing high-quality games in their song "Count to Three".
A rare sight among videogame-inspired or videogame-related songs, "Count to Three", rather than building a song around a particular game or character(s) from a game, instead tells a story about a game company, in this case, Valve, the company behind hit games like the Half-Life series, the Portal series, and Team Fortress 2. All at once critical and yet upbeat and hopeful, the song chides Valve and company President, the famous Gabe Newell, for resting on their laurels and being content to make money off of Steam and for pouring more effort into hardware, such as controllers and VR sets, and arguably safer (and "soulless") games over the revolutionary and beloved games they're known for. Criticizing a game company for concerning itself with money and avoiding risk over pushing forward strong creative visions and innovating is nothing new, but doing it song form is unique, making for a memorable song.
A catchy tune, numerous references to Valve's games and business moves over the years cleverly worked into the lyrics (with everything from classic lines from Half-Life and Portal to nods to the Steam Greenlight program), and an optimistic tone that reminds listeners of what Valve is capable of without sidestepping their missteps do little to hurt the song. Another artist, The Stupendium, lends his talent to the song, performing as Gabe Newell when Gabe is singing, but he's not the only guest star. Ellen McLain, the original voice of GLaDOS, reprises her role here, with GLaDOS getting her own verse to shine in, and Gabe Newell himself appears at the song's start and end to offer some spoken lines.
"It Just Works" is another song that holds back nothing as it criticizes a game studio, this time taking shots as Bethesda and Todd Howard, focusing on their glitchy, broken games, increased use of microtransactions, and, yes, their habit of releasing a Skyrim port whenever an opportunity to presents itself, among other criticisms often leveled at the company. Unfortunately, that's all they currently have in the way of pieces focused on game companies (although "BREATHTAKING", in the course of exaggerating the general reaction to Keanu Reeve at Microsoft's 2019 E3 presentation, does take a few more shots at game companies), but they have other offerings, including the geeky-but-wholesome-in-its-own-way holiday-themed "It's a Gamer's Christmas" and the meme-inspired "Doom Crossing: Eternal Horizons", which tells the tale of the unlikely friendship that emerges between Isabelle and Doomguy. Also taking inspiration from a meme, this time borne from the Super Crown meme, "Bowsette" presents the story of a romance between Bowsette and Mario, with a song that, at times, resembles a pseudo-rap and at times resembles a pop song about love you might expect to hear playing on the computer of a teenager in the early eighties.
The band has a couple more songs, but I'll leave you to take a look at their YouTube channel and see those for yourselves. The band remains active, although, being (formerly) a Saint Petersburg-based band, they're currently relocating to get out of Russia as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so it may be some time before they release more music. If you like what they do, though, be sure to keep an eye on their channel.
World of Plight
As the brawl below exploded, I pulled the drone back to get a good look at what was going on.
The room was in total chaos. Guns were firing and fists were flying as the heroes sliced through the minion ranks. But no matter how many they defeated, there were always two or three more who would step forward and replace their fallen brothers and sisters.
“I HAVE FURY!” Fawful yelled as he went into a dive and slammed into Mario, Dimentio on his heels.
“Mama mia!” Mario yelled, as Dimentio duplicated himself, each firing off a shining diamond.
Bokoblins, Moblins, and Stals surrounded Link and Marth, as Ganon laughed menacingly. The pair sliced, kicked, fought with the ferocity of a pair of lions, but the monsters were closing in. Then, with a mighty yell, the two glowed, the sign of a Final Smash. However, this Final Smash was… different, in every possible way. With a war cry that rattled the heavens, Link plunged the Master Sword into the ground, twisted it, and pulled it out, the blade now glowing and as large as a car. With a fierce gleam in his eye, Link spun the sword around him, launching the monsters and Ganon into the air. Marth, at the same time, swept his sword to the side, jumped on par with the now air-born baddies, and dashed through them, slicing them to pieces, landing critical hits everywhere. After Marth obliterated the minions, Link leapt into the air with a final surge of strength, and, as one, they unsheathed their swords, spun, and struck Ganon, sending him hurtling to the floor, where he landed with an earth-shattering CRASH!! And dissolved into a purple mist.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. All of the others were doing similar things too, and it all happened so fast I was only able to see a few. Little Mac underwent a transformation into Giga Mac and plowed through a group of Goomba’s and Queen Sectonia as Pit’s shield grew to an enormous size. He planted it firmly in the ground as Mac charged towards him. When Mac’s fist connected with the shield, it reverberated with a deafening BONNNNGG!! and the shockwave that shot out was even more devastating.
Mega Man’s arm began to reverberate at an alarming rate as he raised it over his head. With a mighty yell, he slammed it on the ground, sending the Waddle Dee’s and Magikoopa’s around him into the air, where Mr. Game & Watch transformed into a massive Squid, which quickly grabbed at everything in sight before slamming them into the wall.
Sonic and Pikachu both became electrified and seemed to draw energy from each other as they dashed around the room, frying anyone unfortunate enough to be in their path.
Mario produced a Super Star from his pocket and held it high. Kirby leaped over him and inhaled the star before swallowing. His whole body began to glow a fierce flash of colors, as Mario donned a cape and his overalls flashed to white. “Here we go!” he yelled, as Kirby’s continued to brighten. Suddenly, the glow expanded and grew, enveloping everything around Kirby. A mighty yell came from Mario and Kirby and something that sounded like an explosion combined with the Super Star sound effect blasted through the room before the drone camera went dark.
When the camera finally blinked back on, I stared in awe at the destruction of the room. One wall had a massive squid shape through it and the one across from it had a massive star pattern. But apart from the total destruction all around, everyone seemed fine, except for Pac-Man, who was a bit out of breath.
Pit looked around. “What just happened? That was inSANE!”
“Metal Jaw got away,” Snake mused, a slight scowl on his face.
Mario stood near an archway and beckoned for everyone to follow him. “Let’s-a-go! The others should be here somewhere!”
The group began to follow him. Then I saw it. “GUYS! LOOK OUT!”
Shmaluigi, Private Investigator
If The Shoe Fits: Part 1
MEANWHILE IN A LABORATORY LOCATED SOMEWHERE DEEP WITHIN THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, THAT VILLAIN OF VILLAINS PHINEAS J. SHOE AND HIS OVERWORKED ASSISTANT ROSE CONTINUE WORKING ON WHAT COULD BE THEIR MOST DIABOLICAL PLOT YET!
"HURRY ROSE GET IN HERE," Phineas beckons while tightening bolts on a giant laser gun.
"Yes sir, right away sir," Rose says from another room.
"Soon, my dear Rose, soon Awards Season will be upon us. We must make haste and put the finishing touches on our 2022 FAVORITE 'SHROOM WRITER POWERED RAY GUN!" Phineas exclaims, staring at his giant ray gun as Rose enters the room.
"Your tea, sir," Rose says handing Phineas a cup of tea with an odd purple looking powder at the bottom of the cup.
Phineas takes the tea, sniffing it. "Is this Earl Grey, Rose?" he asks.
"Yes sir," Rose replies.
"YOU FOOL I CLEARLY SAID I WANTED HONEY LEMON TEA!" Phineas yells, shaking the cup causing the powder to dissipate.
"No sir, you said you wanted Earl Grey Tea," Rose replies, clearly annoyed.
"Hmmmm, perhaps, but I meant Lemon Honey," Phineas says taking a sip of the tea.
Suddenly Phineas spits out the tea causing a small purple cloud to form which is inhaled by both. "IS THIS CINNAMON ROSE? YOU KNOW I HATE CINNAMON!" Phineas screams, throwing the cup at a door and causing it to shatter.
"Sir, I assure you there was no-" Rose begins to respond before his eye catches on a letter being slid under the door.
"Look sir, a letter," Rose says, picking up the letter.
"Well don't just stand there Rose, what does it say?" snaps Phineas.
"It says 'Dear Foot Fungus-'" Rose begins to read before being cut off by Phineas.
"Heh foot fungus, must be talking about you Rose," Phineas says obliviously.
Rose rolls his eyes and continues. "'I, the evil Emperor Zurg-'" he says before getting cut off again.
"Zurg? That two bit has-been? Throw that letter away, this is an Etemon household," Phineas scoffs.
"Are you sure sir? It says he'll offer us a large cash reward for our services," Rose says as Phineas rips the letter out of Rose's hands.
"Let me see that," Phineas says, reading the letter.
"Dear Foot Fungus,
I, the evil Emperor Zurg, future ruler of all the galaxy, request your services to help me build the ultimate weapon! I have commissioned a space vessel from the Joja Corporation but they are cowards who refuse to equip it with suitable weapons systems! For your involvement I will grant you a sizeable payment and potentially some sort of important position once your puny planet belongs to me.
Sincerely, the Evil Emperor Zurg"
Upon finishing the letter, Phineas' eyes light up. "Well Rose, why let politics get in the way of a good business opportunity? Weapons eh, hmmmmm," Phineas says going deep in thought.
"I'VE GOT IT!" he exclaims, "Quick Rose, we'll need some graph paper, an egg timer, and a 4,000 watt lightbulb," Phineas says, directing Rose.
"Yes sir," Rose says as he scurries away to secure what Phineas needs.
It was late at night when I got woken up by the call. There was a break-in at Rocky Wrench Hardware, and they needed me to come over and investigate. I hadn't been called in by the NWPD for a case in quite some time, so I figured something was up. Maybe they were short-handed?
I pulled up in my car outside the building and stepped out, where I was greeted by a familiar Noki - Deputy Chief Cici Shell.
"Hey Shmaluigi! Glad to see you, we're absolutely swamped tonight. The chief's handling a break-in at an office supply store, we got another squad down at one at a restaurant, and now this," she explained.
"Hm, busy night. So what are we looking at?"
"Alright, so we got some clear signs of forced entry here."
She wasn't kidding. Whoever broke into this place had all the finesse of my brother Shmwario driving a bulldozer.
"You can say that again," I said, surveying the damage for a bit.
"We're still checking things out inside, haven't found anything of note yet."
"Hm, so whoever these intruders were, they probably knew exactly what they were looking for, then?"
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking."
"Alright, Shmaluigi will take a look around."
I went inside, wandering down the aisles and keeping my eyes peeled for anything suspicious. I happened to notice a pretty good deal on lawnmowers, before remembering I wasn't in the market for one because I don't have a yard. Oh well.
As I walked down the lighting aisle, a strange purple substance in an empty space on the shelf caught my attention. I looked at the price tag below - this space was normally occupied by boxes of 2,000 watt lightbulbs. Could this have been what was stolen? I ran my glove over the purple substance to figure out what it was. It seemed... powdery. I radioed to the deputy chief to report that I had found something. She showed up a lot quicker than I expected. Scarily fast, actually.
"Ooh, whatcha got?" she asked.
"There's some kind of purple powder here. This spot on the shelf is empty, but Shmaluigi will have to check the store's inventory to see if what was here before was actually stolen or not."
"Nice, nice. I'll have the evidence peeps collect this for analysis."
I spent the rest of the night searching the rest of the store and comparing the shelves with the inventory, but didn't find anything suspicious. Did someone really break in here just to steal two 2,000 watt lightbulbs?
The next day, the investigators from all three cases got called into a briefing at the office with Chief Palmer.
"Alright everyone, here's what we're looking at. Last night, we had three separate burglaries across the city. The scene was the same at each, the entrance smashed open and a small amount of items inside stolen. A 100-sheet box of graph paper was taken from Clip Guys, an egg timer was missing from the Club Sandwich Shop's kitchen, and at Rocky Wrench Hardware, two 2,000 watt lightbulbs were stolen."
"I thought there were going to be donuts," came a voice from the back of the crowd.
"Don't interrupt, Johnson!" the chief yelled before continuing, "Ahem, furthermore, at each of the crime scenes, purple powder was discovered. All three of the samples were analyzed and came back the same. It's a toxic powder produced only by Roserade."
"The 'Shroom's Fun Stuff Director?!" someone asked in shock.
"No, no, Roserade the species," the chief replied.
I'll never understand why so many people around here have the same name as their species. It can be a real headache sometimes. Do you know how many Toads I've met named Toad? Those must be some confusing family reunions.
Deputy Shell chimed in. "Sooo... We can probably assume this is that Phineas J. Shoe creep again, right?"
"Well, innocent until proven guilty and all that, but I wouldn't be one bit surprised. Everything seems to fit, that's going to be our best lead right now."
"Chief, if Shmaluigi may make a suggestion?" I asked.
"Go ahead, Shmaluigi."
"Well, Shmaluigi's read up on Phineas J. Shoe's case file, and it seems like whenever he's not bumbling around with Mushroom Kingdom Smackdown, usually he's working for someone else. So if we keep an eye on the situation and wait, then maybe we can catch whoever hired him at the same time? Whoever it is is probably more dangerous, anyway..."
"That's an excellent idea Shmaluigi, I agree," the chief said, "in fact, I'll be putting you in charge of the case!"
Oh boy, here we go.
What have I gotten myself into?
To be continued...
Thanks for dropping by once again (or for the first time, if you haven't read any of the other ones) to read Shmaluigi's adventures. Special thanks to Shoey for writing the dialogue for Phineas J. Shoe and Rose, and for his input on the introduction scene. That's about all I have to say for now, so be sure to check in again next month to see how things play out from here!
|The 'Shroom: Issue 181|
|Staff sections||Staff Notes • The 'Shroom Spotlight|
|Features||Fake News • Fun Stuff • Palette Swap • Pipe Plaza • Critic Corner • Strategy Wing|