Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pinball

"Ever since I was a young boy I played the silver ball" as the famous Who song goes.  Well, I haven't been to Soho or Brighton yet, but I _have_ played quite a lot of pinball over the years.  I dare say pinball has reigned supreme to video games for me as time has continued to pass.

I still remember my first pinball game.  My family had traveled by ferry to San Francisco from Sausalito to spend the day.  After a walk from the Ferry Building to Ghirardelli Square for ice cream sundaes, riding the cable cars and a taxi back to Pier 1 we found ourselves having a snack in a little cafe waiting for our boat to arrive.  My dad brought me over to the resident pinball machine, Big Indian, popped in some quarters and we shared a game.  And another.  I was immediately fascinated by the sounds, lights and the frenetic movement of the ball.

We repeated that trip a subsequent year, and this second time around I played the original KISS pinball game.  Yes, that one, with the imitation guitar sounds when the ball ran over the rollover targets.  Needless to say I was indefinitely hooked.

I played pinball games whenever and wherever I could.  The local skating rink, A&W and local pizza parlors all got my business.  Years later I discovered the huge treasure trove of pinball at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, although recent visits have revealed that the pinball machines have given way to first person shooter video games and ticket games.

My pinball obsession still gets to get fed a few times a year though.  The annual Pacific Pinball Exposition in San Rafael brings together pinball games from the very beginnings to present day in a huge auditorium, with everything set on free play.  California Extreme is an annual video game and pinball show usually located in Santa Clara that has a decent selection of pinball games (and usually less traffic because of the video game draw).  There's a smaller show in Dixon called Pin-a-Go-Go which I haven't been to yet but I hear it's pretty good.  And, in terms of permanent fixtures, nothing beats a little trip to the Pacific Pinball Museum located in the quaint town of Alameda (yes the town, not the county).

I'll leave you with a partial list of favorites in no particular order (Twilight Zone, Banzai Run, Addams Family, Gorgar, Theater of Magic, Rock, Space Shuttle, Firepower, Black Knight 2000, Eight Ball Deluxe), and an invitation to go play some pinball if you haven't in a while, or maybe haven't ever.  It's kinetic art!


  1. I actually do like to play and I think you have quite possibly put it in my head to go buy one!

    Seriously, I just might:)

  2. I would consdier KISS pinball machine the greatest ever. BECAUSE my score was higher than yours. harharhar

    I love you! Mwah!

    A Ladybug's Life


  3. I like Elton's cover of "Pinball Wizard". My first intro to the game was on the way home from Florida in 1976, in a hotel lobby game room. Mom was doing laundry and I was 11 and bored, so dad gave me some quarters and brought me to the game room to play pinball. I love it. I remember seeing Sonnia's blog post from the Pinball fest in San Rafael. Very cool. I think you guys should get one. Just sayin. ;)

  4. Great, now I'm going to have to go listen to that song to get it out of my head!!!