Friday, May 25, 2012

She Sure Plays a Mean Pinball...

I've got balls on the brain.

Wait. That came out wrong. I meant pinballs.

I recently watched "Special When Lit" a wonderful documenty about the world of pinball. It is to pinball what "Trekkies" was to Star Trek. Wonderfully sweet, humorous and fascinating. Not only the player and collectors but the history and the mechanics of it all.

As I watched, I was transfixed, literally. Watching the lights flashing, the silver ball controlled not only by gravity on the tilted board but the flippers, when it bounces off the bumpers, into the spinners, into the slingshots and hitting the drop target only to land right in between the flippers, just out of reach. Damnit!! No! Why oh why?! ...I want to play again!

I was in Portland last week, in a bar in a part of the city covered in shaded trees and hipsters. And in said bar was, lo and behold, the Indiana Jones pinball machine. I pumped in two bucks worth of quarters and played to my hearts content. This was more than just an enjoyment of the precursor to video games. Something had to be done.

Fatefully, The Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown just happened to be coming to town the following weekend. So Nina and I packed our things and we were there in two shakes of lambs tail. Again, totally fascinating.

Barely a chick to be found, the average age was around 35-45. T-shirts and sneakers everywhere. (And just between you and me, compared to the conventions I usually frequent, the hygiene was much improved.)

There were pinball games from the early years, through the golden years (70's) and even the cutting edge, Tron and Avatar games. Those kitschy early games were my favorite, including what might be the best name for a pinball machine, "Balls-A-Poppin".

And for the tournaments, they had set up these wonderful camera systems so that a crowd could not only see the board on the giant flat screen but also watch the intensity of the players face via picture-in-picture. (and intense it got...)

Look! I found a girl!
Trade and buy parts, play games and chat with other enthusiasts. Or just take notes and shoot pictures like we did. (ok, we did play a little...)

And I know I'll never think of pinball the same again. Or walk past an arcade without checking to see if they have a Adams Family pinball machine. Or Jurassic Park, my sentimental favorite.

Let your pinball love fly free.

PS- Ever see the documentary "The King of Kong"? Then you're with me when I say... Ho-ly HELL! That is going to a whole lot of weird in one room and I just can't wait! See you all there!

No comments: