The Doc summed up so many nice things in his write-up that there is little for me to add at this point. I will say though, that he has tapped into this cultural phenomenon of nostalgia and how we are such big freaking saps when it comes to stuff experienced in our childhood. Why else would a grown man literally wait overnight for tickets to Episode I (come to think of it why would a somewhat grown man wait overnight for tickets to Fedora at La Scala?), and why would that same man, despite all warnings to tamper expectations, literally rent a Darth Vader costume on the eve of the release of Episode I, and stand in line for hours to experience what can simultaneously be described as the most exciting cinematic experience of my early 20s that lasted for approximately 3 minutes. and slowly, over the course of the next two hours, dissolve, pitifully, into the most horrifyingly depressing, denial-necessitating, definitive childhood-ending, cinematic experience of my early 20s, leaving the theater at 2 in the morning in an abused-feeling stupor, only to return @10:00 a.m. the next morning to experience the exact same cycle of “maybe this will be good” –> “I hate so deeply right now.”
And similarly, how could a small joystick given to me by my wife on my birthday [insert joke here] that simply contained something like 49 classic nintendo games, be one of the most memorable presents of my mid-30s?
The Doc and I agree that we are not “gamers” in any traditional sense of the word. I differ from The Doc only in that I have not played a video game in years, and he still plays one every day (which, I guess, begs the question: what would make him a gamer?) But, when the original NES came out in the late 90s, I was the absolute definition of a gamer. I played it non-stop. My musical obsessions had not taken over completely yet (I was still playing piano, and had not discovered the wonderful world of guitar and butt-rock), so they (the obsessions) had to be channeled elsewhere. The original NES fueled my defining twin tween (and, it could be argued, adult) tendencies/characteristics: obsessiveness and competitiveness.
Completing all the levels of “Super Mario Bros.” 1 & 2 were literally the only thing I remember about 6th grade. “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out” (Later named “Punch Out” for obvious reasons. womp womp) single-handedly inspired my lifetime love of boxing. Video games were my life from 6th – 8th grade. My family eventually moved, and as a consolation prize, I got a guitar which became the love of my life at that time, and music completely took over. I still had some skill at video gaming (I remember poaching a babysitting assignment from my sister because of my unrivaled abilities at “Castlevania”), but for the most part, Euterpe had replaced Mario as my muse of choice.
In college, when Sega and early versions of Playstation were just coming out, I had a moment when I saw quite clearly what my life could’ve been like if I had played these amazing games, which made my beloved Mario Bros. look like pong (fun fact: in Italy, they pronounce Super Mario Bros. exactly how it looks. That is: Super Mario Bros [the “Bros” rhyming with “dose”]). I saw a version of myself not doing any homework, wasting away in my little dorm room, refusing food, refusing sleep, soiling myself, basically becoming a college version of the medical attaché from “Infinite Jest.” I also had the unpleasant experience seeing a good friend in college succumb to this very thing, who dropped out of school after a year (his preferred Entertainment was “Castle Wolfenstein?” Is that a thing?)
Anyway, if I had not dropped video games then and there, I would not have experienced college like I did. I would’ve become a 24/7/365 gamer. I would not have been a musician. So I always eye games with a little suspicion. Even now, knowing that the Doc has NES (and knowing that I could probably download a simulation of NES on my computer for like .000000000000000000000000000000000000001 bytes is a very scary thought).
All of this babbling is to paint an accurate picture of just how anxious/excited/anxious/disappointed I was playing Pac-Man (although I remember it as Ms. Pac-Man) at Borelli’s in their “game room.” The character came out, veered to the left, kept going left, stopped at the wall, refused any and all manipulations of the joystick, only to eventually be dissolved by the ghosts. It was like a dream where your feet are cemented into the ground, and nothing you can do will move them. Except in a dream, you usually wake up right before the moment where the monsters get you. In this, you sadistically got to watch it happen over and over.
This is not to say that the overall experience was bad, or even that the overall game room was bad. Watching the Doc play pinball and get repeatedly beamed in the noggin by ping pongs thrown by obnoxious sugar-crazed 8 year olds, was worth the price of admission (which was, as the Doc pointed out, exactly $0). The game room also had a reaaaaally weird giant wheel attached to the wall, and attached to that wheel, jutting out of its side, was a little toddler chair. Like a baby seat. And you’d strap your kid in, and the chair would go around, kind of like a Ferris wheel, but without anybody else involved. Think of a giant crank attached to the wall, and a chair attached to the crank. I have spent the last 15 minutes google image searching every combination of “child” “ride” “ferris wheel” “crank” “game room” to absolutely no avail. I think the Doc took a picture.
We were not the target demographic of the room anyway, and for my money, the pizza more than made up for the inner-child-wounded moments of the game room. The crust was very thin, and the pizza was enormous. Greasy, but 1) not as greasy as week #2, and 2) I like my pizza greasy. I could actually taste bits of tomato, and the cheese was abundant ma non troppo.
The owner was more than generous with his time, even though we told him in advance that we are not in the business of giving bad reviews and we were doing this mostly for fun (and, as the Doc said, maybe some day we’ll get a free pie out of it).
Out of all the knickknacks and odds and ends in the restaurant, the one that caught my eye was a wooden carving of the Lane Tech emblem. Almost an exact copy of one that hung in our garage for years. Again, a google image search is coming up short, but I’m going to see if my dad still has it.
All in all it was exactly what it should’ve been. Luckily we escaped before the live music. If there’s one thing I hate during pizza eating, it’s live music. I prefer my music to either be canned or to be delivered from giant terrifying animatronic apes and dogs, thank you very much.
For the next 3 weeks, the doc is on his own and I will be reviewing the Pizza of the Southwest (hopefully the Doc will join me in my last week).