Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Triviabot: Koopaling Etymology

We've partied with him, we've gone golfing with him and we've gone toe-to-toe with him in the most forgettable installment of the Mario franchise, Super Mario Sunshine. But let's face it, Bowser Jr (left) is just so boring compared to his seven older siblings. Lemmy, Roy, Ludwig Von, Morton Jr, Wendy O, Iggy and Larry all turn 20 this year since their first appearance in Super Mario Bros. 3. Though they rarely appear in any modern Nintendo games they do have a cult appeal for some. This is likely due in no small part to the real life counterparts that their names and personalities were, to some extent, modeled after.

Iggy Pop is largely considered to be the inspiration for Iggy Koopa. He is also considered to be an instrumental in the development of modern Heavy Metal and Punk Rock as we know it today. Pop played with his band, The Stooges, in the early 1970s and became a notorious shock rocker, exposing himself to crowds and often leaving shows covered in blood, sweat and vomit. Those not familiar with him or The Stooges may know him best for doing that song in the Royal Caribbean commercials, "Lust for Life". He most recently got back into the studio with The Stooges to record their newest album "The Weirdness"(2007).

Much like Iggy Pop, Wendy O. Williams was a notorious shock rocker and among the most controversial women in 1970s Rock and Roll. She and her band, The Plasmatics, were as well known for their heavy metal/punk rock sound as they were known for their on-stage antics which included chainsawing guitars, sledgehammering television sets, exploding their equipment and performing wearing next to nothing (she was acquitted of obscenety charges in 1981 for performing wearing nothing but shaving cream). Williams died in 1998 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, she was 48.

Lemmy Kilmister is the founding member of the band, Motörhead and is considered to be one of Heavy Metal's living legends. His status of respect in the heavy metal community is best illustrated by a line delivered by Steve Buscemi in the movie, Airheads.
Question: "Who would win in a fight - Lemmy or God?"
Answer: "Trick question - Lemmy IS God."
Aside from Motörhead, Lemmy has also done a bit of acting and has starred in a few movies by independent film studio, Troma. Most notably, he was the narrator in Tromeo and Juliet. Motörhead recently won a grammy for their contribution to The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. No, I'm not kidding. In the way of videogames Motörhead's song, Ace of Spades, can be found in both the original Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3. The umlaut is strictly for show.

Roy Orbison is considered to be the inspiration behind Roy Koopa. A Rock and Roll pioneer, Orbison is the singer/songwriter behind "Oh, Pretty Woman," "Only the Lonely," and "Crying," among others. His musical stylings have influenced many rock bands that came after him, including The Beatles, who site "Only the Lonely" as an inspiration for their song "Please Please Me."

One of the more obviously named Koopalings, Ludwig Von is named after Ludwig Von Beethoven. Aside from being a musical genius, writing some of the most recognizable pieces in the whole of human history, and inspiring fictional sociopaths, he was also an avid chess fan and was friends with a man who invented The Turk, a primitive precursor to Deep Blue, the modern day chess playing computer. Of course, Deep Blue is a complex marvel of computing. The Turk was a hoax and turned out to be just a high level chess player in a box. (source:

Not a particularly good guy to name a Mario character after, Morton Downey Jr. is best known as the godfather of trash talk shows. His talk show antics became popular in the 1980's due largely to his yelling at, insulting and verbally abusing his guests or anybody who did not agree with him. His influence could later be seen, intended or not, in such shows as Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake and even Bill O'Reilly. He became a short-lived pop culture icon, primarily for being a loudmouth jerk. In what many believe was a hoax perpetrated in an attempt to reclaim his fading celebrity status in the late 80s he was found in the San Francisco International Airport with a Nazi swastika painted on his face, which he claims was the work of Neo-Nazis who had assaulted him. No evidence was ever found to support this claim. Downey died in 2001 of lung cancer.

Nobody is really certain who Larry Koopa is named after. Larry King is the most common choice. However, even though King is, like Morton Downey Jr, a talk show host (a more tasteful talk show host, but still the same career) nobody seems very convinced that this is Larry Koopa's namesake. If you have some guesses, make them in the comments. My money is on that delightful Cousin Larry from Perfect Strangers. That kooky Cousin Larry, if only he'd listen to Balki's simple Meposian morality and values then he wouldn't get into so much trouble.


Andalbor said...

Wow! I didn't know the inspiration behind the Koopa Kids, but comparing, there are some obvious copies from real characters. And the seven original Koopa Kids are simply the best. I don't know why Nintendo created Bowser Jr...


Gregório said...

I'd like to translate this post to portuguese and post it on my blog.

Of course, I will mention the original post.

Can you authorize this for me?

Slothbot said...

Gregorio, be my guest. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Gregório said...

Thanks for the authorization. I've translated and made some adaptations.
The post is now published: