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A Discourse on Pizza, or 10 Things About Me

BTW, there's cash at the bottom!

By Matthew FrommPublished 7 months ago Updated 7 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - September 2023
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A Discourse on Pizza, or 10 Things About Me
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

This is written as a part of Kayleigh’s Get to Know Me series.

So, I despise writing about myself (shit, that should have been point number one), and that means this will probably have no polish to it. By the time we get done together, it’s going to resemble regurgitated alphabet soup garnished with hot takes and bad puns. Get ready. But hey, there’s a challenge and a prize at the bottom for anyone who makes it there!

I had the honor to be interviewed by Lamar Wiggins recently (Bumper!), so I’m going to shy away from most topics of substance that we discussed. I strongly recommend you all give it a read below:

And here…we…go! (did I mention there's a prize at the bottom?)

1. I promised a discourse on pizza, and here it is. True Chicago-style pizza is not deep dish. I know, I know, you’re probably hammering away into google right now, looking at pictures of Giordano’s or Gino’s, and thinking I’m insane (jury is still out on that). I love deep dish! We order it when guests come into town. It’s delicious. But it’s the food of tourists and not the masses. Real Chicago pizza is tavern-style. Thin crust, square cut, a healthy mix of cheese and sauce, preferably with one topping (unless it’s onion, peppers, and sausage), that’s what the people are craving after they stumble down Clark or Damen. I will die on this hill. Also, New York Pizza is overrated. I did not say bad, so put down the pitchfork, just overrated.

2. My dog is a refugee.

picture by me

This is Bob. I adopted him from Qatar after a police officer found him wandering around the streets. His loving foster was British and affectionately named him Bobbie after said officer. He is a certified good boy who loves long walks and comfy naps. He runs the house and likes to huff at any minor inconvenience to him.

3. I abhor The Great Gatsby. I hated it in High School, and I hated it (albeit slightly less) when I reread it this year. Look, I’m not here to debate its importance or quality. I get it; it’s impactful, it’s solid, and it checks all the boxes at a time when literature was in the Wild West. It’s not in my bottom three for this year, so take a bow F. Scott Fitzgerald, you won literature! I have three key gripes with this book, none of which is really the author's fault:

  • Green is not a goddamn theme; it’s a motif. Greed and envy aren’t even themes; they’re still motifs. To be a theme, you need to supply commentary to the motif. I argued ad nauseam in my sophomore English class on this topic, and it annoys me to this day. I was a great student when I wanted to be, which was not often, but it irks me I had to actually argue this point.
  • Every character is despicable. This is intentional, so again, put your pitchfork down, but I find it boringggggg. It's also important to point 3.
  • In the 98 years since it was published, there have been a million iterations of stories that are solid, impactful iterations of the same general story. Why are we still teaching this same content?!? (places soapbox on the ground) This is why kids don’t read anymore! Have them go watch Succession or something. Teach them things they can relate to! Those are the books that stuck with me, not classics for classics' sake.

4. My five favorite books of all time, in order, are The Lord of the Rings, 1984, A Storm of Swords, Abaddon’s Gate, and Hyperion.

5. My favorite movie is The Prestige, followed closely by The Two Towers.

6. The novel The Prestige is currently sitting in my bottom two books for this year. Expect a full analysis by year's end.

7. My favorite city in the world is Paris. You can read some of my musings on it here, here, and here. I dream about going back on a weekly basis.

8. I wish everyone would join the Vocal Discord. It’s a fun place to discuss and showcase work, plus it’s how I’ve gotten to know most of the wonderful people on here. Trying to survive in a vacuum is a losing battle for astronauts and authors alike.

9. This one might be pitchfork-worthy, but, in my humble and very informed opinion, the most egregious mistake made in Peter Jackson’s masterpiece of a trilogy (see above, The Two Towers is my second favorite movie of all time) is doing Denethor, Faramir, and really all of Gondor dirty. The most interesting emotional payoffs in the entire series and the most complex geopolitics are whittled to nothing. If it weren’t for the performances of John Noble and David Wenham, those characters would have been absolutely wasted. The same goes for Boromir’s characters, but Sean Bean’s performance is so stellar that he manages to ooze in the details the script left out.

10. Finally, it’s now my turn to lay down a challenge. I've been waiting to unleash this for a long time....

Congrats, you’ve made it this far! For this challenge, I will be paying out $15 for the first-place winner and a top story nomination, and $5 and a top story nomination for the second-place winner. I’ll post a breakdown and my grading critique after the fact. What’s the prompt, you say? Well, it’s time to bust out those swords and shields, staffs and bows, wands and spells. The criteria will be the following:

  • In 500 words or less, I want you to weave me your best High Fantasy story. The author’s notes will not be considered in the word count. I will use Google Docs Word Counter.
  • To enter, your story must be added to this post in a comment, or tagged on the discord story showcase with the hashtag #highfantasychallenge.
  • You must link this post at the bottom of your submission (don’t be greedy; spread the opportunity).
  • To decide the winner, I will be awarding scores out of ten in the following criteria: plot, characters, conflict, theme, setting, prose, tone, quality, impact, and enjoyment for an aggregate score out of 100. Tie breaker is then the higher score in the following descending category order: Quality, enjoyment, impact, theme, plot, characters, setting, conflict, tone, and prose.
  • To get ahead of the “what if we’re tied across the board” question, no book I’ve ever read has received a perfect score. There won’t be a tie.
  • Must be an authentic work; any AI-generated content will be promptly reported.
  • Awards will be sent via tip, so must have stripe enabled.
  • Submission deadline is 10/1
  • There are no limits on submissions

Good Luck Friends!

You can read all of my works here:

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About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to make it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wished to be found.

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Comments (65)

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  • Grz Colm7 months ago

    This was a very fun read Matthew! I found my way here via someone else’s page (a link)..Rachel I think. Lol at number 3. 😆

  • ThatWriterWoman7 months ago

    I really loved this! Please give Bobbie a kiss from me! Thank you for the challenge, it actually helped me out of some writer's block! https://vocal.media/fiction/the-raven-knight

  • Stephanie Hoogstad7 months ago

    I’ve written a second entry: https://vocal.media/fiction/the-nymph-s-melody.

  • Obsidian Words7 months ago

    So I have a frustrating inability to focus sometimes and I struggle to engage with a lot of things. Your title is phenomenal and drew me in (pizza eill do that to a person) so thank you and well done. Your writing style kept me here (even bigger props to you.) I am here late and still out of spoons so wont be entering your comp but a very cool idea. Please give ear scritches to Bob for me and if you wanna check out some prose feel free to pop over to my side of vocal any time. :)

  • Paul Stewart7 months ago

    So...here is a piece of trash that I'm entering into this challenge - I may try and do a better one. This is my first real attempt at HF other than some troll stuff - https://vocal.media/fiction/afredo-il-sanguinario

  • Mackenzie Davis7 months ago

    Not being savvy in this genre, I must as this: How are you defining High Fantasy? I've asked my husband and he gave me a very in depth answer, but now I'm realizing that it matters how YOU define it, since you're the judge, lol. Like, are Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings the same kind of fantasy designation, or is one mid and one high?

  • Heather Hubler7 months ago

    I enjoyed this look into the things you enjoy (and don't)! I whole-heartedly agree with #3 bullet point 3. My best friend of over 30 years is a high school English teacher and we agree as well as debate the texts the kids are reading. I like thin crust pizza, so I'd love to try your kind! Love the challenge idea as well :)

  • Veronica Coldiron7 months ago

    I actually wrote another one! 😃 https://vocal.media/fiction/orphaned-son

  • Thavien Yliaster7 months ago

    To be frank I'm not a big fan of deep dish pizza. I'd rather enjoy a regular slice or a thin crust with veggies like onions, bell peppers, spinach, and then something like pepperoni or even anchovies. You, sir, have a cute floofa woofa. Cute doggy. When I volunteered at an animal shelter for a summer we had a German Shephard and he was beautiful. Sadly, the day that somebody wanted to take him for a walk I only discovered that morning that he'd been taken to the great farm in the sky. May he forever chase frisbees, have a belly full of good food, a thirst that's always quenched with the purest of water, and be deemed amongst the goodest of good boys. I was never a fan of "The Great Gatsby." Then again I was also never a fan of "Taming of the Shrew" as well as any reading that was sort of mandated during the school year. The exception was "The Kite Runner" during the school year and "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court" for summer reading. I really enjoyed those. I do agree that "A Storm of Swords" is a fantastic book within the series of "A Song of Ice and Fire." I'd like to back to Paris someday. The food was amazing, and I need to buy some macarons for a friend of mine. The tower was a sight to behold and walk up and down its stairs. The most touristy thing I did was buy a bunch of small little Eiffel Towers for a keychain, purchase a fake coin that has the tower on it with France's flag, and bought a little music box. Then I was more of a things person and considered food to be an experience. I need to go back and try some more street food. I regret not doing that. How different is the Vocal discord from Vocal itself? Your challenge sounds interesting. Would You like the microfiction to be a complete short story, or would You mind if it was a teaser or part of a larger series in general?

  • I am so excited for this! Just read Lamar's entry! Spectacular! I'll be crafting my own soon! Thanks for doing this, it's awesome!

  • Rachel Deeming7 months ago

    Here's my effort. Enjoyed writing this so much. https://vocal.media/fiction/fool-s-errand-xt2em0clw

  • Veronica Coldiron7 months ago

    Okay. Here's my first try. Hopefully they'll get better as I go. Microfiction is a new concept for me. 😏 https://vocal.media/fiction/dragon-kin

  • Veronica Coldiron7 months ago

    I am truly smitten by your writing and am SO happy that Lamar's interview introduced me to it. The Two Towers is also my second favorite film of all time, so we have that in common. Similarly, I agree with the commentary on Gondor. I was a little disillusioned by the lack of light shone upon it, but I realize time constraints were probably costly to a lot of the work as a whole. Still, the whole Gondor thing kind of felt to me like one of those faxes we used to get in the nineties that had each character of a line just far enough off center it was hard to read. (And the actors really did save the day.) GREAT commentary, but the way! So I almost neeeever do the challenges because I don't like getting my feelings hurt, even though it's my chosen medium. (Currently polishing off a series of 15 books it took me almost twenty years to finish). But I'm going to try this challenge! It sounds like a lot of fun! Looking forward to enjoying more of your work! 😎

  • Very interesting. But if I may be candid. Can I ask politely, what are your qualifications to decide a winner?

  • Ian Read7 months ago

    I'm planning on doing a couple submissions over the next couple weeks, so I'll put them here!

  • Amanda Starks7 months ago

    I DID IT! https://vocal.media/fiction/silence-the-flames Gotta love the open challenges. And I got to fit it into some canon lore. c:

  • Hannah Moore7 months ago

    Oh no, I linked at the top! I hope this can be excused in the circumstances...

  • The story reminds me of a Boston pizza with curry and pineapple and tofu fusion .. topped off with a cash crust on bottom - very delectable.

  • Congratulations!👏🎉👏

  • Naveedkk 7 months ago

    Congratulations on top story,

  • Scott Christenson7 months ago

    Thanks for creating a new challenge. The writers on vocal are really taking the initiative! I'm now thinking hard on how to subvert 'high fantasy'. Bilbo Baggins 'trolls' the Dark Lord on twitter, and then... (I'll have the rest of story by Oct 1st.)

  • Sarah D7 months ago

    I have written a more appropriate one...I didnt add the link at the end though, I also stuck to the word limit. It is more true to the genre, Please do give it a read. https://vocal.media/fiction/zoe-delaney-s-strange-dream

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