Mario Marathon 2017

That’s right! Your favorite video game charity marathon is back again! By the time this post goes live, I’ll probably be getting ready to drive down to Indianapolis and play my part. Not playing the games, of course, but reading tweets and generally interacting with the audience. I really like that part.

So, my ones of readers, I strongly encourage you to go to, tune in, and donate if you can. As always, the money goes directly to Child’s Play Charity which provides books, toys, and video games for children in children’s hospitals around the world.

This year features a new location, and some great surprises. You won’t want to miss it.

Mario Marathon 7 begins today

Can you believe it’s been a year already? The Mario Marathon returns at 11 AM Eastern, once again raising money for Child’s Play Charity. The previous six Mario Marathons (plus a Zelda Marathon) have raised over $400,000 from donors around the globe. This weekend is your chance to support a worthy cause. You can donate through the widget on your right or directly at I hope to see you around. I’ll be on the stream from 6 PM Sunday until 6 AM Monday.

My friends do cool things

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed already, but it’s almost time for Mario Marathon 5. Once again, the Mario Marathon team will be raising money for Child’s Play Charity. In addition to the joys (and possible tax deductions, consult your tax professional) of helping kids, there are lots of great contest prizes. If you donate through the widget found on several pages (for example, on the right-hand side of this page), I’ll match your donation dollar-for-dollar (up to $200 total).  Mario Marathon 5 begins at 11 AM EDT on June 22 at

That’s not the only cool thing going on, though. Some other friends have just released the beta of a new website: Think Lafayette. Think Lafayette is a combination social media, community calendar, and local discussion site. Part of the launch included a profile of me, since I guess I pass for a local celebrity these days. If you’re a local, sign up and help make this a great resource.

mmtter: a front end for TTYtter

If you know much about my Twitter habits, you know I’m a bit fan of Cameron Kaiser’s TTYtter. I’ve written in the past about using it to follow event streams, but one limitation was that it was hard to consistently tweet event messages. For example, when you send a tweet from a UStream feed, it includes the feed’s hashtag and a URL to the stream. This is a great way to lure in viewers.

Since TTYtter has easy support for posting messages from the command line, I figured it would be an easy task to write a wrapper that would automatically include the relevant information so that I wouldn’t have to copy/paste every time. The result is mmtter, a small Perl script to pass the arguments to TTYtter. So far, it just checks to make sure the tweet is short enough and then mashes the text onto the end. Since it blindly grabs the arguments from the shell, you have to carefully escape special characters. Future “enhancements” will include the ability to prepend a string. In the meantime, you can get it from GitHub:

While you’re enjoying my minutes of hard work, be sure to watch the Mario Marathon and donate using the happy little button on the right-hand side of this page.

Mario Marathon 4 coming soon

Even though Brian announced last year that Mario Marathon 3 would be the close of the trilogy, a fourth chapter is about to be written. Mario Marathon 4 begins on June 24 at 11 AM EDT (1500 UTC) and it sounds like this one may be the best yet. Certainly the funds being raised for Child’s Play Charity may be the highest in Mario Marathon history, as the total is already above $6300 more than a week before the start of the event. There are more contests this year, and a great collection of fun surprises.

If “Mario Marathon” is new to you, then you’re in for a treat. The basic premise is that a group of people play video games while people watch on the Internet. It sounds terribly boring, but it’s actually one of the more addictive things I’ve been a part of. The money raised goes directly to a charity that provides games, books, toys, etc to children in hospitals around the world.

Since Baby Fiasco has recently joined us, I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to participate in this year’s event. And ever since Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day snubbed me by not following me on Twitter, I may have to reconsider my celebrity interviews. In the meantime, I’ve added a donation widget to the blog, as well as to the Funnel Fiasco main page and the Funnel Fiasco weather page. You can click the “donate” button to send your contribution directly to Child’s Play.

For more information on Mario Marathon 4, see

Charitable giving in the United States (inspired by Mario Marathon)

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Sundeep Rao.  I present it to you unedited (except for a few minor style changes and the insertion of URLs where appropriate), because he is the master of grammar, spelling and punctuation.  Any errors you think you see are a figment of your imagination.   P.S. Felicia Day, if you read this, Sundeep is a good guy and I would never throw him under a bus.

To make one point absolutely clear: I am by no means ignoring the contributions of the non-Americans who donated to the Mario Marathon — our Aussie and European contingents were pretty strong there! We even got some money from Croatia, if I recall correctly. This short essay came up as one of the answers that surfaces whenever people ask me (and they ask often): “What is it that you like about the United States?”

Two years ago, a month before I went home to India, I placed an empty gallon-jug outside my office, and sent an email out to office mates asking for their spare change for an orphanage that I knew about. I remember GrumpyRich walking up to it with his desk drawer, and emptying out saved pennies into it. Other colleagues would return from a breakfast or coffee run, and throw their change into the jug. Sooner than I knew, I had $400, which was received with great joy by the orphanage.

Mario Marathon currently stands at $82,113 raised for Child’s Play Charity — a mind-boggling amount by any reckoning. What makes this even more special is that I know that many of the donors didn’t really have cash to spare — for this or any other cause. What motivated them to give? Why did we need to start adding “donate, but donate only what you can — if you can’t donate, you can help by spreading the word” at every exhortation subsequently? Why were there people apologizing because they couldn’t donate any more than they already had to the cause?

As a person surrounded by numerous individuals of great generosity, I come across fundraisers and fundraising attempts on a reasonably regular basis. Some notable ones (other than Child’s Play/Mario Marathon) are the National MS Society and the various Pounds/Animal Shelters/Humane Societies. I see a similar outpouring of generosity from supporters of those causes. Breast Cancer, March of Dimes, United Way, Red Cross, Good Will- the list just goes on and on. The effort to raise money covers the gamut: local stores have a plastic candy jar with a slot cut out of the top, and a handwritten note highlighting the cause- while The Race For The Cure is so huge that just the logistics of organizing a race in one town can be daunting.

How charitable giving came to be so pervasive (perhaps from the idea of tithes?) is not part of this discussion, but its ubiquitousness is clearly visible.

In my experience, people from other countries and cultures share what they have- typically their houses, and their food. Americans feel the same connections, but they provide their hospitality to vast numbers of complete strangers. I think that the best thing that could happen to any charitable cause is to have a bunch of Americans hear about it and take some interest.

When I first hung out on BBSs in the Internets’ nascent years, the one overarching idea one walked away with is just how neat the people using the Internet were. Some of the people I “met” online during that time are still friends of mine IRL. Over the years, weirdos started hanging out- and one would run into them with increasing frequency (Online daters: make sure that “having teeth” is a prominently listed requirement). But spending time with the MM Social Stream and Chat reminded me again just how much fun the interwebs can be.  WTG, MMers — making any sort of dent in my cynicism is no mean feat!

My assertion has long been that charitable giving is now an essential part of American culture — and the Mario Marathon epitomizes this. I’m glad to have played a small part in this effort.  One last thing that I’d like to make sure to mention: The community response to the cause was so scintillatingly phenomenal that it left me speechless, and more than a little verklempt.  It was an honor and a pleasure doing this, and interacting with all of you.

OrangeShirtGuy (Sundeep) is one of the Elders of the Internet and a Keeper of the Sacred Pun. An Eastern Mystic, he can be followed, but probably not understood at

Mario Marathon 3 was made of win

Last night, as Mario Marathon 3 was drawing to a close, Brian announced that it is likely that the Mario Marathon series will remain a trilogy.  After over 250 hours of gaming across the three marathons, raising approximately $113,000 for Child’s Play Charity, the stress has become too much.  There can be no doubt that what Mario Marathon has accomplished is incredible, but with the increased strains on family life, it’s hard to keep something like this going.

For myself, I am terribly sad to think that this might be the end.  It’s been a great deal of fun interacting with the fans and being a part of the great Mario Marathon mission.  I’ve made many friends and had great opportunities (who else gets to talk to both Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day in the same weekend?), but I know how much work goes in behind the scenes.  I’ve seen Brian spend his time working on code, publicity, prizes, decorations, etc.  I’ve watched him spend his own money buying equipment to improve the quality of the stream for the viewers.  Most importantly, I’ve seen the pain that he and Shanna feel when they send their two-year-old son to grandma’s for days.  I could never ask anyone to make the kind of commitments that Brian and Shanna have made these past three years.

Still, it has been for a worthy cause, and I know everyone involved is proud of what has been done.  All of the Mario Marathon team are very giving, not only of their money, but of themselves.  I have no reason to believe that Mario Marathon is completely dead.  I believe it will be re-born in a different form, likely smaller and less intense, but some part of it will live on.  Certainly the awareness, and the community it fostered, will be the lasting legacy.

I had intended this post to be a recap of all the fun times I had during the past week.  I got to work with some great people, and I have now done two celebrity interviews.  I’ve experienced the joys of watching donations come in faster than we could keep up, and the frustration of power outages.  This has been a great experience for me, and one that I won’t forget.

To all of you who donated and/or interacted with us, thank you.  Despite the sacrifices of the team (and their families!), the real success of the Mario Marathon has come from the fans.  It is the 2000+ donors from around the world who have made the true difference in the lives of so many children.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to the chat moderators, who did a tremendous job of keeping the IRC room family-friendly (even when 4Chan showed up).  These guys deprived themselves of sleep and leisure, too, all in the name of helping.  They asked no reward (although we’re cooking up something for them anyway), and put in many hours of labor.  @Collin1000 put forth a lot of effort, too, keeping track of donations on a Google spreadsheet and crunching numbers for us.

It’s crazy to think that sitting in my friend’s living room and reading messages from strangers on the Internet has earned me any fans, or has contributed to the well-being of children across the world, but it’s apparently true.  There is nothing that I’ve done in my life that I’m more proud of than the past two Mario Marathons, and to be a part of it has truly been an honor.

Dear Internet: thank you!  I love you all.

Mario Marathon 3 is here!

The past year has flown by, and the time for that beloved summer tradition is here:  Mario Marathon 3 begins at 11:00AM EDT (1500 UTC) today.  In case you don’t know what Mario Marathon is, or if you have forgotten, allow me to explain.  Three guys sit around playing video games for days on end.  Thousands of people around the world watch, laugh at the players’ failures, and donate money to Child’s Play Charity.  100% of the donations go directly to Child’s Play, which uses it to purchase video game systems, toys, and books for seriously ill children.  The players take no cut, and actually lose several hundred dollars in food, donations, and lost productivity, but since it’s for the children, it works out.

Last year’s event was a resounding success, raising nearly $30,000 over the course of about four days.  This puts Mario Marathon in Child’s Play’s “Platinum Sponsors” list, alongside organizations like Mircrosoft,, and MTV.  You might have heard of them.  This year, over $5000 has been raised before the event even starts, and a much larger audience and donation tally are expected.  As a result, the organizers have put a lot more effort into publicity, in-event contests and prizes, and organizing the support staff who help set Mario Marathon apart by interacting with the fans.

There are some great surprises in store that I’m not allowed to mention, but you’ll love it.  Please take some time and watch.  If you can, please donate, it would be greatly appreciated.  If you can’t make a donation, that’s okay too.  You can do your part by helping to spread the word to your friends.  Thanks to all of the fans for your continued support!

More video game marathons?

I’m not a gamer.  I don’t particularly care about video games or the news about them.  It’s not that I’m a jerk (well I am, but that’s a different story), it’s just that my fancy is not struck.  Still, because of my participation in the Mario Marathon, people tell me about other marathons that are going on.

To my knowledge, last year’s Mario Marathon was one of the first marathon designed from the beginning to be a fundraiser for charity.  In the weeks since Mario Marathon 2, several more game marathons have occurred.  Some of these were certainly planned well in advance, and they all enjoyed a certain amount of success.

The most successful marathon was done by the folks at TheSpeedGamers.  These guys did their first marathon in March 2008 and have been marathoning various games every few months since. Their Final Fantasy Marathon raised over $50,000 in 168 hours.  In another two weeks, they will be doing a 72-hour Megaman marathon.  They are less than 20k away from raising $100,000 total for various charities in the past year and a half.

A group of high school students recently completed what appears to be their first marathon: a Sonic the Hedgehog marathon that raised over a thousand dollars for the World Food Programme.  From their website, it looks like they intend to do a marathon of a different game series each month.  It’s worth noting that they also credit their inspiration to Cameron Banga’s Zelda Marathon, the same event that inspired Shirt Guy to do the Mario Marathon.

I’ve also been told about a Crash Bandicoot Marathon that was apparently held last weekend (or the week before, it’s not entirely clear).  This event raised several hundred dollars for the Children’s Miracle Network, another worthy charity.  A World of Warcraft Marathon is currently running and so far has raised over five thousand dollars for Child’s Play.  It seems that the video game marathon is becoming a popular way of raising money for charity, and why not?  The players enjoy playing, and the game enthusiasts enjoy watching.  Not only is it cheap entertainment, but it is a great way to get donations from a demographic that is often overlooked by traditional charity drives.  And the best part is that many people in need have received significant assistance.

Mario Marathon recap

So I finally got into a schedule that seemed to work.  I could have new blog posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Yet here it is, Thursday night and there have yet to be any updates.  You can blame that on the topic of the last update.  I ended up spending about 15 hours on Sunday and 6 hours on Monday hanging out with the Mario Marathon guys, bringing them food and interacting with the people watching.

I had to miss last year’s marathon because of my sister’s wedding, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect this year.  I took Friday off because I felt like it, so I spent a good portion of the day watching the online feed.  And then a good portion of Saturday.  I can’t explain it, it was just strangely addicting.  By the time Sunday rolled around, I was ready to be helpful.

As it turns out, due to some well-timed publicity, Sunday was the busiest day of the marathon.  As the designated “tweeter reader” (later re-named “twit face”), I was responsible for watching the Twitter feed and interacting with the people who posted.  It was a really weird experience for me.  I mean, here I am sitting in my buddy’s living room watching him play video games while I screw off on the Internet, and people are just going nuts every time I mention their name.  Weird.

The marathon was successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams though.  Because they raised so much money, the guys who were actually playing the games had to 100% Super Mario Sunshine, a task that took them over a day on its own.  Finally, after over 96 hours of gaming, the marathon came to a close.  Along the way, thousands of people worldwide tuned in, and over 1,000 people contributed to raise over $29,000 for Child’s Play Charity.

There were some great moments along the way, too.   One was when someone asked if any of us were romantically involved.  Brian went down the row of guys sitting and said “Married.  Married.  Married.  Married.  And married.  So no, there’s no romance.”  Of course, we all started laughing.  Our wives who were standing in the next room didn’t find it quite so funny.

In a more touching moment, John (a.k.a. “couch guy”) shared the very first ultrasound picture of his baby with the world.  The Internet was very happy for John and Cheryl, as were all of us there.

My friend Sundeep stopped by with some members of his band CircAfrique.  They played some music for the viewers and Sundeep enterained everyone with his own unique brand of humor.  (He was so popular that the Internets are clamoring for him to do his own show.  And oh yeah, they want me on it too.)

And of course, there was the dancing.  After the $27,000 mark was reached, John, Brian, and I did a very special dance for the viewers.  Very early Tuesday morning, the donation count reached $28,000 and John did an unforgettable solo dance.

So I’d just like to thank everyone who made this possible — specially those people who watched and donated.  You guys did a terrific thing, and you should be very proud of yourselves.

–mac guy