Galaxy’s Bloom (Original Short Sci-Fi Story) by Dave Pizza

I watch as two passenger ships collide at the apex of the low orbit aurora borealis area of Polaris’s relay planet. Both ships collapse, yet not, into each other in a strange caduceus of magic in the starry backdrop of the vessels’ courses. The twisted coils of brass and flocked, black steel disappear. The ships vanish into a trapdoor in the universe. I sip, also, on weak fruit tea with my left hand. I mix some of my own herbs in–genuine, dried-up dream flowers from the Hilo K system that were resting in a jar at the bottom of my purplish-green, prismatic matrix, tree-leather satchel.

I’m headed out of here. Been working on this ring planet watching galactic commercial ships for the past couple of days. Overpopulated by people though. Even the tea from this basic street canteen is spoiled by the practically immortal, first contact creeper androids from the Shadow realm robbing everybody at the counter by convincing the spirit of the canteen they weren’t really there and then taking this and that. I whop one in the head with my walking stick. Immortal, and cowardly. It urged the others to scram. I was the only one to see this. I thought.

  “As above,” were the words of the tin-voice clerk.

  “So below,” I replied, thinking we’d had some understanding, “And so long!”

I begin to rotate my ashwood staff counterclockwise in a third-person manner. My hand dislocates and swerves around the clock until the blurring of matter and space turns bright green, like a portal. And I take a step into it with my left foot third person and fell in the rest. The green portal on the ring planet disappears, and the staff snaps into my right-hand first person just as soon as I’d left. I, now, am somewhere else.

Real Hong Kong, virtually-early 21st century. Kowloon. I’m staring at a street full of pre-market tennis sneakers. The rarest you can find. I’m looking for a purple pair of tweed high-tops, but they don’t have it there, I’ll have to kill a couple of days on the world wide web. The old web. Takes at least a week usually. BORING. It’s good to stop by though. It’s probably the one thing normal about me, as opposed to everything else. Kinda mundane even. You haven’t gone shopping until you’ve looked for an actual wand in downtown London in the late 19th century, and then the complimentary Kashmir sleeve/holster in the wood from an elemental realm in ancient Japan. Blessed and utilized. It’s just the way it is, okay? I use what I need to and as you already know, am wary of third parties’ relentless attempts to corrupt my tasks. I’m faithful yet eccentric I guess. What would you expect from a  teenager with a tweed herringbone three-piece suit, an atomic-mechanical pocket watch, and shiny cacao oxfords?

You gotta balance consumption with spirit though, you know. Hong Kong is beautiful, but basically a megacity, even here. Thankfully, it is pleasantly packed with recreation areas and parks. 

The back door of a red taxi cab pops open. I’ve got the shoes, they’re somewhere in the pit of my satchel. I’m just gonna head to the park and do some shortwave.

Fern-like palms cloistered on the emerald green pond waves heavily in the oceanic breeze. I pull a coffee cup-sized active metal loop out of my bag. I throw it up in a tree and the extremely unstable software for it starts a boot sequence in my imitation neural network. Imitation because it’s not real. I can’t just go loading spectrum analyzer software in my brain! I shuffle around the bands, mostly tropical. I see someone whistling on the 2600 Hz sideband. That’s right, Hz, as in Hertz. Or you could say 2.6 kHz I guess. That’s like transmitting a global signal on the same frequency that pings when somebody breathes heavily after a run. It’s morse. Not human morse though. Wizard morse though? I don’t know. Wait, no it’s just a call sign. “K, W, I, Z. Okay. K, W, I, Z.” KWIZ. American I guess.

Okay, easy. I call the staff to me, and it flings out of the tree into my hand, I toss it in the bag. I pull out some sigil paint. Spray paint for graffiti magic basically. It’s not really real, so it’s not exactly illegal. I walk over to a secluded spot in the trees and spray KWIZ on the ground backward. Stomp it with the pole. I’m there.

We’re in Missouri. Okay? It’s as humid as a marsh. I’m standing in front of a rickety old post office in a Missouri ghost town. The corroded copper of a sign on the door says “In memorial of the world’s best radio station for wizards.” The door busted open. 

  “Where to, buddy?” says a young wiz in his teens with a felt top hat and technicolor overalls.

  “Why are you transmitting on such a low sideband?”

  “Mm, heh,” he pulled his collar, “Just looking for some good switches. Nothing sinister. You know?”

  “I know you’re using magic to hack. Everybody knows a crystal ball can only tell you so much.”

  The young wiz was rustled, “Cut us some slack! Everybody also knows if there wasn’t magical interjection into society, everything would fall apart!”

  “I understand. Just take my advice, look elsewhere. Anybody could hear that. Don’t forget from whence your powers came.”

  “Hey, you’re the one that flopped over here on your space broom, pal. We do what we want.”

   “No, you don’t.”

  “I SAID: We do what we want!”

He slams the door shut, and the post office collapses in on itself and disappears in a geometrical pop. I laugh. Oh well. I’m addicted to the esoteric exploration of this world too I guess. I’m always noticing things others don’t and beat them to it. I’m not saying I need the very core of the secret, I just want to know, roughly, what’s going on. Sometimes the process of obtaining all information is more trouble than it is worth, and often the information reveals itself later. 

I’m not really an actual wizard for one. But I do have some things in common with them. As it were, I’m more of a naturalist. I know of the divine and spirit–by what else could the multi-verse permeate, after all. And I also understand that the complexity of symbolism is more than just storytelling or guidelines. There is real hope to be won from it. Earth has some of the best religious complexity in the galaxy going back ages. It’s also again one of those things where I’m not sure I need to know more about that information.

I actually don’t think humans were probably ever meant to leave the Earth. Not while they were alive at least! Just consider the facts. Light is the fastest moving force in the universe. It travels approximately 300,000,000 meters per second. Humans have barely enough energy to run to the store to get ketchup. And when they do, they’re gone for hours. I don’t know. There’s some stuff about time, the observer, dimensions, geometry, quantum mechanics, and logic. I had one little issue when I first started to care about it though. I realized that the things that happen are not the only things that happen. In fact, I am 100% positive my life is happening and not happening at the same time. I never meant to spread my existence so vastly across this extremely vast universe, but, one day, I went to open a window, and another window opened. That’s the only way I can explain it.

I watch a bird in the field, where the building was a few moments ago but now is not. The stave begins to spin in my hand and so I walk back through into another reality. Suddenly, appearing on a train this time… in the sky. It’s real enough, though not part of the primary timeline, but an interesting one. It’s mid-21st century, but that fluctuates. It seems like it might actually be a work of fiction in-process that you can live inside, but I don’t really know. We’re chasing the sunrise into the North. A quick ionosphere drifter from Toronto. I don’t have to guess, I’ve been here before. Did you know you can purchase time travel literature from the in-between mages at popular travel hubs like airports and train stations? Even spaceports. They filter how much strangers can see them based on supernatural fluctuations in quantum foam. If you have residue from lunar soil on your golf hat and you’re at LAX in 1998, uh, it’s kind of obvious. Freaked me out the first time, but that’s a different story. There are so many time travelers, you have no idea. Or maybe you do, are you one? That’s what I mean. It’s really bonkers.

My stomach is growling, I get a banana out of my satchel and have some. The upper atmosphere is incredibly beautiful. I don’t know why Prime Earth, the real one, never adapted these aero maglev ships. They are so simple and brilliant. They do rely on a crazy amount of electromagnetic scorching of the ionosphere with artificial solar flares. What’s wrong with that though? In fact, the green and pink aurora borealis puddles of lights dancing in the horizon are quite beautiful.

I don’t need to be here anymore. I walk through the windows of the lounge cabin and hurtle through the atmosphere at self-destroying speed. My body and mind disintegrate into carbon dioxide and I spread out in extremely high-speed jet streams around the Earth, giving me a better view of the ground below. Some would say this is as close as one can get to the afterlife. I do this every night. You might think I’m already done for. This is just a story though, in which I’m the narrator and the protagonist. I don’t really recommend vaporizing yourself in the upper atmosphere of hyperdimensional imaginary quantum reality and expecting to write about it. No, no. As I am already imaginary myself though, it’s okay.

I stare off a ledge and watched the sunset disappear below the edge of the horizon. And when it did, I disappeared too. I’m watching a marine animal show on Neptune, right in the previously undiscovered seas of the delightful two aquatic planets in the solar system, Neptune and Uranus. Ouranos is actually etymologically the name for Heaven in the Hellenic original scriptures of the gospel. A red mega space squid creature erupts out of distant seas and sonic booms our sightseeing vessel with a blast of warm air. 

Drifting has no plotline, and that’s the trajectory of this accidental quantum glimpse that begins here. Nobody can really tell you what it is, you just have to realize it. When you do, you’ll be free. And you’ll realize the perfection of it. Even in unknowing, there is always hope somewhere that leads to the next thing. To teach you, help you, forgive you, and protect you. All by one who sees. There are many mansions in these realms. These realms and those realms. Vaults of divinity. Vaults of light. I’m not sure, do you see what I’m saying? Does it need to be said at all? Like ships collapsing into each other.

A Wizard In Need of a Refreshment (Original Flash Fiction)

It’s one thing to florally describe all the astrolabes, dusty old library books, and half-eaten tomato sandwiches in the wizard’s quarters. Time is an illusion though, and his mother was calling him for lunch. So, the wizard, tall and messy, consumed by silvery pajamas, descended into the kitchen that morning. He thought this might happen, on this day of all days, such a perplexing dilemma and no simple course of action: there was only one pumpkin ginger beer left. Merlin’s kidney’s! What to do. Alas, the grilled cheese sandwiches and stew were epic and, no less, legendary. If only he could find a suitable plan.

Anyway, as it were, the town had swarmed in a rather large obstructing carnival celebration, biggest in years since they’d rebuilt the town gas station. It’s not my place to say how this obstructed the wizard, but it would be at least 6 hours before he could get a new case of pumpkin ginger beer from the Dollar Market. Son of a banshee. Oh, excuse my language–the wizard, of course, already knew my place in this narration and interjected. Alas…

So the wizard did what he could. He found the headlines in his pack of vintage cards slightly more intriguing than interacting with computers or anything like that. You can only get five of swords so many times before you reach for a quill. He checked the empty pages of his journal/tome/mailbox for any hidden messages from the other realms but settled on an anonymous letter to his pen pal he’d conjured one night. You could only ever imagine these letters being responded to, but for the attuned, it was a fine delight.

After passing out in his armchair, the wizard woke hours later to check the wall clock, aligning Saggitarius with the 7th house, which almost made him choke on a cup of cold tea. Gadzooks, the market was about to close.

So, upon his gray bicycle at a steady gear-shifting road ride thrust, he hurled himself down the hill to the market. He even flicked a wand out of a loose sleeve, to prevent the cashier from locking the door successfully.

  “Wait! WAIT!”

  The shopkeeper turned her head and stomped her foot. The door’s locking mechanism, then, to her delight, but the wizard’s chagrin, clicked. The bike was closing in faster than a swift. But she hurried with her tired feet to a white sedan and started the car.

   “WAITTTT!!!!”

  As the car rolled away, the wizard skulked and sulked. Raspberries.

This is part of a series of flash fiction stories I’m working on. It’s not based on anything, just light-hearted storyweaving. It helps me stay motivated to work on the site by doing something different than abject reviews. No worries though, I’ll still do those. I hope you liked this. Thanks for reading Mr. Dave Pizza.

Bebop and Rocksteady Hit the Road #1 -Review

Well, I guess this review is going to be a trial attempt at an idea I’ve had. It takes me days to churn out a full volume review, which I don’t really mind or anything, but it’s nice to just pick something up for about the length it takes me to create solo dev showcases. Anyway, whatever, so today I’m taking a look at Bebop and Rocksteady Hit the Road Issue 1. I have to confess, I thought I was reading Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything, which is an entirely different series apparently. This one is good too though, and Bebop and Rocksteady’s dimwitted fully loaded antics are just as good here as they could be anywhere. Anyway, my idea here is, instead of trying to conquer every individual volume collection, I can taste a bit of everything for you and provide a swath of curated comics. So, let’s go

Blast ‘Em: A Brief Intro to Bebop and Rocksteady

The first thing to set straight right away is that originally, and probably still, Bebop and Rocksteady are villains in the sprawling spinoffs of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As I recall, they work pretty closely with Shredder and Krane, but they’re sort of bounty hunters or something, I think? Their notoriety goes in hand in hand with the fact that much like the turtles, Bebop and Rocksteady are mutated animals fused with human individuals. It’s pretty obvious because Rocksteady looks like a rhinoceros and BeBop looks like a hog.

They differ from the turtles most obviously in the fact that they’re not really as coordinates as, say, ninja crime fighters! Actually, they’re kind of daft and over-the-top destructive and I guess violent really. They serve as comic relief though, always turning up as brute stooges. This comic is pretty violent–and weird–way beyond the original TV show. It didn’t really bother me though, although there’s a weird plot with an ear that was just a little shocking! Good comics are usually at times over-the-top, it just drives the story. I never claimed I can’t write about it! You’d have to see it for yourself though.

Bebop and Rocksteady Hit The Road Car

What It’s About

I don’t really know where or what this picks up from, aside from maybe the Destroy Everything series, but I’m not sure. One other character describes their vehicle, which by the way is totally awesome, as not fitting into this timeline. Then there’s a cryptid hunter, a mutant bat, and some extradimensional janitors. I have no clue what is going on, but I liked it. There’s also a plotline about Rocksteady slowly turning into a human, that ends deep in mystery. This almost runs as a subplot, but it’s pretty concerning! There you have it though, and thus the reader picks up issue #2.

Also, the antics of the two serve as a muse with their idea that they don’t want to be villains anymore, too hard, so they’re going to become heroes. They entertain this idea, which by the way occurs as they drive their convertible across the desert of New Mexico when they ferociously but kindly introduce themselves to “Razzmatazz,” a cryptid investigator. Or at least that’s the name he adopts when he decides to join their team.

There’s also a side story about a giant blonde woman who organizes a military briefing about Bebop and Rocksteady, although that serves as a lead-in into a future plot I guess.

But Wait, There’s More

It’s pretty weird, but fun to read. There are several bizarre details for you to find on your own when you read this. And although I know this since it’s already been released, it seems like a decent series. The beauty of this idea of reviewing single issues I have is if I want to/need to continue to this series, I can pick up the next issue, or I can move on. And also helps me so I can catch up on the backlog so I can be ready for new releases! I’ll do my best!

Thanks for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. See you next time.

The World Before Your Feet: Documentary Review

The World Before Your Feet is an independent documentary about a gentleman named Matt Green, hailing from–well, anywhere he goes, which is everywhere in New York City, every street, every block. He considers himself independently homeless, sufficing on $15 a day so he can afford to keep walking without a job. This is an interesting film as a concept and project. It highlights the human intricacies of finding purpose, especially purposes not motivated by conventional profit or advantage. I think if you’re from New York or have an interest in its complexities, as I’ve always had, this is a pretty interesting, relatively efficient feature.

Before Walking Tours

One thing that intrigued me about this, was the precedent for the popular walking tour streams on YouTube. I’ve watched many of them, even during the lockdown. This was before that though. Before Matt Green got into the thick of the project, he just really enjoyed the mindful moments of standing in a busy street in Manhattan or an abandoned field. In fact, before this, he walked from Rockaway Beach, New York to Rockaway Beach, Oregon. I’ve scoured through Google Maps plenty of times to glance, but imagine seeing the entire megalopolis of New York! Incidentally, Matt says he uses Google Maps to plan most of the daily journeys. It’s things like this that make his project seem pretty practical and accessible as a sample journey.

I don’t want to spoil anything about this, because it’s really very interesting to learn how and why Matt does it and what his process is. To summarize, he possesses a humble non-materialistic idea about his project. He doesn’t want to get famous or rich or anything, he just wants to walk. It’s very human also, especially when he takes photos of things he finds or talks to strangers on the street who react to his project in all sorts of hilarious but well-ending ways. And it’s admirable in my opinion. I’ve gone on long walks, but I don’t have the commitment that Matt has to do it every day!

Genius Loci, Spirit of Place, An Homage in The World Before Your Feet

You’ll do well to check out Matt’s blog: https://imjustwalkin.com. I’m not sure where he’s at now with the pandemic and everything, but he was featured here earlier this year saying he only had 200 miles left (compared to the colossal 8,000/9,000) https://www.theattic.space/home-page-blogs/2021/5/13/walking-nyc-every-last-inch.

I think it’s interesting just to see the places Matt has been. They’re all sort of familiar from somewhere, somehow, but I really gained a greater appreciation of how absolutely massive NYC is. This project is, in some ways, totally insane, yet in others, practical.

If you are looking to watch this, it’s up for purchase, rent, etc. on streaming services and maybe elsewhere.

I just find these DVDs at the library usually, which seems kind of random I guess for a legit review, but maybe check yours? It just happens to be the place I find rare gems like this.

Thanks for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. I’m Dave Pizza. Keep on truckin’.

The Christmas Power Glove (A Silly Flash Fiction)

I could do anything with the Christmas Power Glove. Decorate trees, bake gingerbread cookies, send letters to Santa… inscribe my name on the moon. Woah, wait a minute, I’m letting this get to my head, it’s too much.

I’m not saying I’m blaming him, but I had a bad feeling when the glove shot 10-foot streams of fire and melted the snowman someone had made behind my car on the driveway. His carrot nose looked like a burnt hot dog. I knew we weren’t dealing with some ho-ho-homemade electronics projects, the Christmas Power Glove was bad, so bad. It made me feel like Fred Savage in The Wizard.

So, of course, the moment my friend from Thursday Geek trivia, Cincinatti, caught word of this from me, she basically left out a hearty belt of laughter at the sheer idiocy of what I was trying to describe. She’d convinced me into demonstrating it for her pretty quick, but I was still not sure why this happened.

We were already tearing through neighborhoods with fancy strings of lights put up by landscapers and holiday yard ornaments. With the Power Glove, we turned the setting of Kevin in Home Alone’s neighborhood into a poltergeist of technicolor elf detonation. Santa cleans up good I guess.

“You could make so much money on YouTube with that thing,” she said. “I’m serious, at least 2.5 million views for what we just did for sure.”

“That does not help, Cin’! What if this is some sort of…”

“Alien technology? Military project? Next-gen console leak? I’ve thought of that. You could declare the North Pole as a United Nation with that thing.”

“No, no, no, no, no,” my pupils shook like jingle bells, “The Christmas Power Glove is too much power! I shook my jowls like a sobered salesman. I mean I wanted one when I was younger, and regret passing up the one I saw a garage sale like 5 years ago before the pandemic, but I just wanted to explode ducks in Duck Hunt with my fist. This is like some kind of Chinese hand trap, like those little woven tubes you’d get for turning in tickets at the arcade. And–there’s more.”

“More? What could be more important than an infinity gauntlet level Power Glove from a collectively admired culture icon like Santa.”

I held up my arm to the streetlight as we finished throwing a plastic reindeer through a basketball hoop. The wires from the glove were starting to fuse with the tendons in my arm. Good things don’t happen to me, they never have. Cincinnati looked me in the eyes and turned red. What would I do?

That’s it, that’s the post. I hope you liked this flash fiction piece. It was fun to write, totally nonserious, maybe I’ll continue it? I have no idea. If you’re into this, let me know, I’ll do it again. I might anyway because sometimes I just need to write! Thanks for visiting Mr. Dave Pizza. Please have a look around and come back. Leave a comment if you like.

Wow, The Graphics Here Are Really High Resolution – An Essay

This is a personal essay that I just felt like posting.

I highly encourage you to occasionally take a trip to reality. Leave your game inventory behind and enjoy the mana potions of life. I don’t know why I’m writing this. It’s sort of out of place. But if I deleted it, I’d be a hypocrite. And I feel the need to explain why I’ve been missing for the past month.

The Deep Sea

If you’ve ever felt cool sand between your toes or watched moonrise on the beach, there’s something unequivocally enticing about the ocean. I’d like to reflect on a trip I took to the coast recently, and how it basically has healed many stresses from the last few years.

Our new spot on the ocean seemed to change every day like Poseidon’s will or endless rolling glass, stained portraits in a cathedral with each its own marine creature. There were manta rays flying on the surf and peaceful, anonymous specters of other people entranced by the waves, sanderlings tracing in their step to peck at bubbles.

The Loot of Life

I love real souvenirs. Nature has them too (so long as you respect the area.) I love finding seashells on the beach. It’s odd to think that at one point they encapsulated some creatures that are now gone, but it is totally natural. On one trip to the beach, I took agates home mostly. This last time I found fossils, starfish, and potential shark teeth amongst the seashells. Some sticks, toys, whatever is around! It’s a nice motivation to unwind and relax all the kinks from traveling.

Incidentally, I thought I’d mention that this beach is dredged for regular use, it disappears, and it’s replaced. Sort of zen that something impermanent of something ancient is uniquely comforting and essential, rebuilt continuously and indefinitely for our benefit.

Spirit Buffs

I picked up some reading during that period because it was easy to pick up and put down if I needed to, and looked pretty normal amongst my neighbors at the beach. It helped some adjust from the screen-ic to the scenic, to basically reckless abandon in the sun all day to intentionally burn to a crisp. If you’re a pale person, getting a tan kind of feels like wearing an invisible electric coat at an initiation into the sun, especially mid-fall when the temperatures dip below global warming–it’s nice.

Then, things really evened out. Entertainment is therapeutic, but when you set yourself for success with your soul, the real energetic force bounces through your limbs destined for higher planes. Nature can make this happen. And I love it.

And Then the Food

In addition, it’s fair that the beach is probably one of the best places to get fresh seafood. Some eat to live, others live to eat, I’m kinda in the middle, but I’m mostly vegetarian, which some would consider the latter. But at the beach, I’m a pescatarian and I love seafood. I’m quite fond of fish and chips, but also fish tacos, clam chowder, clam strips, and lobster rolls. It’s a thing people do there, a thing we do.

The ocean sets the pace, and I don’t really think much about being vegetarian at the beach, because as barbaric as it sounds, pretty much everything in the ocean already eats everything else in the ocean. When at home, there are even vegetarian fish products out there now, it’s kind of crazy. Had fried vegetarian fish and chips and faux-lox so far this year! Not to mention California roll sushi.

Living on the Edge, and Walking Along it Too

A walk on the beach every day would probably make me fit as a fiddle. I’ve gone through phases in my life of walking, from learning to walk in the city to staying motivated on recent ventures. I know from others, and personally, that it takes time to acclimate to a good walking rhythm.

It’s different for everybody I think, but for me, it’s a mind-body rhythm. I loosen up and bounce on my feet forward. It just comes to me naturally now. My feet are like leather shoes from working as a janitor for a while, but it prevents my heels from bruising or feeling sore. I don’t know what to recommend really, but comfortable shoes and thick socks help a lot, and eventually, your feet will toughen up.

Surfs Up

If you’re interested, check out imjustwalkin.com There’s a great documentary about Matt Green, who set out to walk every street in New York City, around 8,000 miles. It is probably one of the most astounding things you’ll ever watch.

Many people find water, especially the ocean, to be healing. I totally agree with this. I’m not even talking miracles, just general well-being really. What might take tremendous effort to walk at home could feel absolutely peaceful on the ocean.

Before you know it, you’ll be headed back, maybe you’ll stay. I’ll be back too. Enjoy the roar of the expansive deep’s waves.

Thanks for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. You’ve read a pizza post about a trip I took. I hope you enjoyed it. Have a look around and stop by again.

The Comic Book Story of Video Games – Review

I’ve had this graphic novel sitting on my shelf for too long. These past couple of days, however, I’ve been flipping from page to page. This excellently illustrated and narrated journey through the history of video games. I completed it last night and enjoyed it quite a bit. I never knew that so many unlikely events lead up to the powerhouse of video games that exists today. Seeing as the website is undergoing a blend of games and books, I think this is a perfect topic. So, let’s light some diodes and insert a quarter with The Comic Book Story of Video Games: The Incredible Journey of the Electronic Revolution. “Let’s a-go!”

What is The Comic Book Story of Video Games?

So what is this book, The Comic Book Story of Video Games? It is a fun history book written by author Jonathan Hennessey, with art by Jack McGowan. The book release was published through Penguin Random House and Ten Speed Press in 2017. The author has put together a very visually stylized, and trailer for the book on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/embed/IXODKV6sZME

This book aims at a conventional story arc history of video games ranging from the adventurous capers of MIT pranksters playing Spacewar! Then, it’s back to coin-operated saloon nickelodeons to the rural Japanese forest as the origins of Super Mario Bros. This story does not skimp out. I learned more than I thought I would about the history of video games. I had always wanted to know some of this stuff but didn’t really know where to start. The nice illustrated presentation mixed with a who’s-who of the retro gaming world puts the game world on a silver platter.

For example.

From the start, I think my favorite person to learn about was Nolan Bushnell, the proprietor of PONG and Atari (he also invented Chuck E. Cheese!) This guy was simultaneously a brilliant improviser and an unlikely hero. Hennessey described Bushnell as someone who initiated–by sometimes questionable methods–the unlocking of the market for the game industrty. In my opinion, this is pretty common in the tech industry and it leads to some great results afterward. If you’ve ever seen the TV film Pirates of Silicon Valley, which I should talk about someday, you’ll know all about this. Incidentally, Steve Jobs makes an appearance later in the book too to bring it full circle.

Highlights of The Comic Book Story of Video Games

The Comic Book Story of Video Games Retro Controllers

The number of people referenced in The Comic Book Story of Video Games is plentiful. About half of the book starts with a lot of interesting but unexpected origins from military experiments and breakthroughs like the creation of cavity magnetron radar. I don’t know anything else about that, but you’re bound to possibly get a little choked up about some of the wartime tragedies that oddly have a place in video game lore. Some might want to get straight to the pranksters, hijinks, and contemporary games. This preface stuff is a very interesting way of telling the story though.

Necessarily, the book turns pretty lighthearted and often hilarious around the introduction of PONG. If you don’t know what this game is you’re kind of missing out on a pivotal era of consumer product history. That’s okay though because it’s all here. My only familiarity was the pong system in my childhood friend’s basement, which we got yelled at for hooking up. For any Gen-Xer or earlier, you’ll probably remember all of this stuff fine.

The re-enactment of it all from the Commodore 64 to Sega Genesis probably has more drama and depth than you probably knew. Most of this is lightened up with Shigeru Miyamoto’s invention Mario and the epic integration of that character into the pop culture lexicon. There’s even a pretty fun mention of Will Wright, one of my favorite game developers of all time, with his games Sim City and The Sims.

Who Is It For?

If you’re at all into retro gaming, this book is a real treat. If you’ve ever wanted to read about video games in a way that unveiled all its janky, jimmied, workaround con jobs for some serious laughs, this is it. For example, I really loved how the original PONG cabinet was made out of coin-op washing machines, a wood box, and a bread pan. As a mild electronic enthusiast, I know that sometimes you have to use what you have available to solve certain tasks.

Gamers, comic book fans, and book lovers, this is a really well-written story. It’s an interesting way to blend so many unusual-looking components of history in a uniform style. If you want to know the roots of this hobby, this is a great place to start.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this piece. Thank you so much for reading Mr. Dave Pizza Please take a moment to look around or leave a comment. I review books and games regularly, so be sure to stop by again. Have an awesome day!

Here is a link to the website for this book: https://www.thecomicbookstoryofvideogames.com/

You can also find this at most book store websites for order and probably in stores too.

You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith – Review

While the industry in the gaming business model changes, Adam’s family’s pinball arcade and Whitney’s eSports Cafe are in direct competition with each other, and consequently Adam and Whitney. You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith is a November 2021 release YA book about two childhood friends, Adam Stillwater and Whitney Mitchell. They have gotten knee-deep in running their parents’ businesses as their parents are either too busy or in Adam’s father’s case, not there. Through firey tweet threads and a plot that takes place almost entirely in the market area of Old City Philadelphia, the two find out that maybe they can restore their childhood friendship after all–or try at least. I truly adored this book, and I’ll tell you all about it here.

You Can Go Your Own Way Intro

Gosh, I really loved this. I don’t even know how I found out about this title, perhaps it was on GoodReads. It falls quite neatly into the YA, contemporary, romance genres. Romance titles aren’t my most familiar category of fiction, but this was pleasant. Part of that is because I relate to characters. It’s a nice romance about two teens who are, pretty much, good people and deserve my attention even though they’re fictional.

They’re hardly conventional though, with Adam’s kick-ass vintage everything taste (not even in a hipstery or punk way), and Whitney’s charm, trust, and brains, even though everybody seems to keep taking advantage of it because of her father’s wealthy connections. I really just loved these characters and at a certain point, I knew I could trust them not to disappoint me. The level of craft in making these characters makes me hopeful.

The occasional F-word or whatever drops, but there was nothing vulgar or obscene in my opinion. It’s a young adult book, one with enough occasional grit to keep things interesting. There is more in here than that to capable of keeping it interesting though. Like the lighthearted hijinks that remind me of being a free-spirited teen.

Why I Loved the Flip Out of You Can Go Your Own Way

Doctor Who Pinball like in You Can go Your Own Way
Photo by Mr. Dave Pizza 2007

Learning about Adam and Whitney, in the beginning, was compelling enough, they had depth and charm. The great thing, however, was the way this continued through the whole book, getting more and more interesting. They knew what they were talking about; I knew they knew what they were talking about because author Eric Smith knew what they were talking about and I believe it. I’m still sitting here wondering what Adam and Whitney are up to, after getting to know them.

There are actually many other characters in You Can Go Your Own Way. Chris (Adam’s lifelong best friend and co-worker at the arcade.) Whitney’s friends with bubbly shopping buddy tendencies and general annoyingness. (It’s okay.) Plus Adam’s mom (who owns the arcade started by his father), Whitney’s mom (runs the decorate plant store up the road), and Whitney’s dad (runs the eSports cafe franchise, who is consumed by running the business.) I love the dialogue in tweets and in-person of the two moms who both want Adam and Whitney to try being friends again. They tease the two, where all the other businesses in the neighborhood can see, and being a Twitter user myself, I found this really funny. They bring it on themselves though, which is hilarious and also a unique way to tell a story.

Brilliant References

“…a good game of pinball isn’t just about the score. it’s about the experience…”

Smith, Eric. (as James Watts) You Can Go Your Own Way. Chapter 7.

The inanimate features of the book take on a life of their own too. I enjoyed descriptions of repairing pinball machines. At the beginning of most of Adam’s perspective chapters, there is a quote from a book called The Art and Zen of Pinball Repair by James Watts, a book that is entirely fictional from what I’ve deducted. It reminds me of an old-school literary trope from an awesome book I read called The Third Policeman. It seems like the book’s author Eric Smith could actually be James Watts, the book really does contain a metric ton of knowledge about pinball. I even grinned at the mention of a Doctor Who pinball machine, which I played at Ground Kontrol in Portland several years ago. (Pictured up above.)

And Some Thoughts on Love

Love is nice, but take it or leave it. Things are not going to go without some tilts for any of us. If you want to think about crossing social spheres while crossing the street, You Can Go Your Own Way, does that. It is possible to live in the moment–and it tends to show up when you least expect it! So, if you want my advice, if this is your life, do what Adam and Whitney do, and just play the game.

Thanks for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. I love to write about books, games, and related topics. Please come back again!

Oh, and if you want to know more about the author of this book, Eric Smith, you can go to his website here www.ericsmithrocks.com He is also on Twitter at @ericsmithrocks

Book is purchasable at most bookstores. I bought my copy on Google Play.

City of Shattered Light – Review

From the author, Claire Winn, is a debut young adult science fiction novel that teeters on a megalopolis moon colony with a cast of fierce–and glittery–femme Fatales, their fierce cohorts, and an action-packed ride of cybernetic combat mayhem. It’s got everything you need in a cyberpunk novel really, especially for this audience. This is City of Shattered Light. And still, the main characters are simultaneously relatable yet may be out of their league young folks who are exceedingly clever and capable of taking down any enemy turned foe with teamwork.

I have a feeling this book will catch the attention of my readers on-premise and also this undeniably cool, colorful cover illustration on this title. Forewarning, as much as anybody will love Riven’s crazy dual revolvers vs. cybernetic implants going face to face, there’s a storyline about trust.

Purple, Pink, Black, Blue–City of Shattered Light is A Dystopic Paradise

“Riven Hawthorne could never turn down a challenge. As she climbed the rusted ladder, the city whispered of violence–she tasted it in the slow, sinuous thud-thud of a muffled bass rhythm. In the blare of distant sirens, in the satisfying snick as she loaded her revolvers’ cylinders…”

Author: Winn, Claire. Title: City of Shattered Light. Page 1, Chapter 1: “Deadeye”

I have talked a lot about cyberpunk on this site, as a literary genre and even a game genre. Briefly described, cyberpunk is a genre of storytelling that involves dystopic futures that stretch the realities of the present. Usually in the tradition of a story arc involving a rough-around-the-edges anti-hero rising from stagnation, maybe even anonymity, to defeat a greedy–and powerful–corporation. That’s essentially what’s going on here, with the addition of several contributing characters and featuring the essential career criminal, Riven Hawthorne, and the corporate heiress Asa Almeida. The two, down on their luck, are just in their teens and form an unlikely alliance that unfortunately starts off on a bad note. The story is no stranger to deception, dilemmas, and life-or-death importance.

I’ve always loved reading cyberpunk. Neuromancer by Gibson in the 80s. Snow Crash. You know, the usual line-up. It is a little funny, actually, I noticed some similar things between City of Shattered Light and Neuromancer. Alright, I guess it’s pretty likely that there are similarities since they are the same genre. The colorful colonized paradises and a super powerful family are warped by a mix of family and unethical business operations. I felt ready for the similarities and enjoyed the variation in their individual contexts.

The Genre, The Characters in City of Shattered Light

City of Shattered Light makes me feel that cyberpunk plus sci-fi have major potential in the YA market. Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve read a lot of YA fiction, but I have been steadily aware of its presence and I think it’s pretty cool, even as I slowly move out of the primary market, there aren’t any rules though. Actually, I don’t even see any problem with it. YA books are cool because they are often kind of easy to read and full of assuredly popular themes.

Nothing is too overdone and nothing is undercooked in this book. Readers should not be intimidated, and those wanting a thought-out plot that is well-carried by the vibrant and–I’m just going to say it–sensual (occasionally) interactions of these characters, this book will serve you well. It is not necessarily inappropriate or anything, aside from the violence, which is all kind of superficial, but it’s in there.

I found this book under the highlight of diverse relationships as a genre in the City of Shattered Light. I totally apologize if that seems a weird way to phrase it. The truth, however, is that a romantic relationship, while part of the story, is not the story as, say, a romance story would be. I confirmed most of this on Goodreads and am confirming it after a full read-through. That said, I rather enjoyed the romantic moments that take place in the book. They were tasteful and added to the characters’ depth. Decide for yourself.

“Boomslang”

These aren’t spoilers, just a recap of the summary on the back of the book.

The main plot involves Asa’s dangerous and incredibly rich father who has re-uploaded her sister’s mind into an experimental brain as a corporate experiment. Asa runs away on a transport ship and tries to save her sister–somehow. She becomes involved with a crew of career criminals in a moon colony city full of shady characters who are on the edge of being turned into an example after a job goes wrong. When they meet Asa, it seems that they might just be able to use that to their advantage.

Boomslang is Riven’s ship’s name, and definitely, a character mentioned along with the A.I.’s, weapons, and all sorts of crazy semi-sentient stuff out there. There’s also a sentient virus of some kind on the loose that is essential to the plot. The more you read, the more that will know. I’m approving every gimmick this book uttered and saying thank you!

Lastly, I was totally hooked on the compelling synopsis and brilliant book cover. It is super fun. The revolver seemed kinda alarming at first, but it caught my eye, and I see now that it’s not at all out of place. It’s also available in ebook format now, like most books, which is how I read it. It was perfectly well-formatted, so if you need to read it that way, go ahead! I found it on Google Play, but I know it is elsewhere as well.

Final Thoughts

And with that awkward technical opinion, I’ll leave it there. Thank you so much for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. I want to write about so many things, and this is where I do it. Please have a look around, if you like games, I have written about quite a few. I’ll be writing about books, comics, movies, and all sorts of stuff soon–plus new games–and I encourage you to please come back again!

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about this title, you can find more at the author’s, Claire Winn’s, website: https://clairewinn.com. The beautiful book cover is illustrated by Jake Slavik.

Quantum Leap – Last Call at Al’s: A Tribute to Dean Stockwell

One of the best actors in Hollywood passed away in the past couple of days at age 85. Dean Stockwell, the actor/artist/environmentalist/cigar-enthusiast, is notably remembered for his role as Al Calavicci in the ’80s/’90s TV time travel show Quantum Leap. I had always intended to talk about Quantum Leap here somewhere since it is one of the most influential productions I have ever spent time with, “within my own lifetime.” With the news about Mr. Stockwell, I guess maybe this is a good time.

Here in the Waiting Room

First of all if you just need to know what Quantum Leap is, check out the Quantum Leap wiki.

So, when I was a kid, I mean like as young as Mr. Stockwell was when he was a child actor in the 1950s, somehow I was able to get to know the adventures of Al and Sam in the epic Quantum Leap while it was on primetime TV. Not sure if my parents watched it or what, but we all know about it, and those who bless it are like family! As I went into my teens, I could often catch Quantum Leap re-runs on cable TV.

I was old enough to be nostalgic by then, and it just seemed like such a gem amongst old shows. It was initiated into a hilarious T-Shirt I’d seen with a quote by Samuel Beckett (classic British poet) juxtaposed with a picture of Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett from the quantum leap project. I cannot express how hilarious I thought this shirt was. It also re-kindled my interest in the show and the characters.

Then somewhere in my twenties during the next rung to the future, Netflix posted every single episode streaming for free. “Oh boy!” Actually, just for the record, there were a few episodes that weren’t included for some bizarre reason that I had to track down. Aside from that though, I binge-watched every episode and it changed my life! For good!

Ziggy

Al and Sam weren’t just sci-fi TV show characters. They were practically prophets. I mean that in the most respectful way. By the way, Don Bellisario was as much a visionary in the whole thing as well, having created the series. The plot of the show is about a scientist “leaping” into people who were alive in his lifetime, never stopping, with the only help of Al, a companion from the future who shows up from time to time to give Sam advice. Sam and Al try to make a change to each host stranger’s life so that the decider, whatever force it is, will send him on. Does this sound epic? Because it is. This is a really amazing type of story that practically no other show has rivaled, and nearly all influenced by in some degree.

When I watched that show, it was like something embedded into some part of my foundation. If you’ve ever watched the show, you’ll know that Sam and Al never rest in this broad objective of helping people somehow. If we all could do that, our world could thrive. Maybe not by time travel, but always looking how to help I don’t know, kind of a sad era to think about that right now, but there is good out there (like this show and these people.) If imagining what it might be like if a fictional character was a real character and that this changes your life, that story contains wisdom. Quantum Leap, I’m telling you, this is relatable spirit-boosting genius. I realize it is about 30 years old, but it still entertains.

Dean Stockwell as Al Calavicci

One of the many plots of Quantum Leap, was about Al’s military history serving in the Vietnam War, where he became a prisoner of war. It was an incredible dramatization about something that was very heavy in expressing a traditional sentiment of the horrors of war. Sam himself ends up a few times serving in the war, once in a situation where a photograph of Al shows up on a war journalist’s film reel right before a leap. As the show wraps up, things go into bonkers/woah, cry-your-eyes-out land. It is not to be missed.

Aside from all the seriousness though, Al is an extremely colorful (literally), often hilarious, very charming character. Every time he shows up, he’s got some crazy futuristic tailored suit on there, ranging from yellow zoot’ish style to iridescent light-up ’80s cheezy-goodness. Also, he’s usually smoking a cigar. This is no act. Stockwell loved cigars and worked it into this character. Al wasn’t perfect either, his character usually was discussing beautiful women he was dating. This actually ends up having a wholesome turnout toward the end. Did I mention that this show was majorly popular not just even though it was so wholesome, but also because of it, for anybody who respects the show for what it is?

The Final Leap Home

Stockwell and Bakula have been extremely loyal to their fans. Some have loved it so much they had hoped for a movie or a reboot. I don’t know if that could ever happen with something so good. Now I suppose an original cast is shelved for good. Bakula still continues to relish fans and recently was described as one of the most influential actors in Hollywood. I believe it. At least for myself.

Oh yeah, one other thing. This past spring, the show’s producer Don Bellisario made his way onto YouTube with a very amusing interview about unsolved questions regarding Quantum Leap. I highly recommend watching it if you’re a fan.

Rest in peace, Dean Stockwell. Thank you for helping us with your craft.

Thank you for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. I am a writer and gamer who likes to talk about interesting things. If you like games or essays like this. Please have a look around!

P.S. The title is a reference to the last episode of Quantum Leap and a bar called Al’s Place. One last time, this show was amazing.