Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fugue (For Marilyn and Dolly)

This typecast is web-enhanced for your convenience: see the bottom of the page for end-notes and links.

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GPS to Pinball Museum

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The Who's "Tommy"

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Cadecott tunnel traffic

Chinatown, Oakland

Chinatown, Oakland -- deliveries

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* "hopelessly blurry," not "hopefully blurry"

Charlie's Angels pinball backglass

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Cover Girl pinball backglass

Roller Disco pinball backglass

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  1. "Tommy" by The Who, in case you're not familiar. I mean, what else would you listen to for a trip to a pinball place? Proof that it was kismet: "Pinball Wizard" started up just as I got into a parking spot. Half the album for the drive in, half for the drive out. That's how you know when something is Meant To Be.
  2. You can roughly lump machines around how they display scores. Some of the very early machines just used lamps behind painted numbers, making the score an integral part of the artwork. Later machines used reels with numbers on them, and then segment displays (like a digital watch) and then ultimately a grid of pixels, which I think are actually neon, not LED, though I would imagine the technology of LEDs has improved enough to make those viable, too. I'm not fully "up" on the latest play technology. I do know that one of the last acts of Williams Pinball (before folding) was the creation of a platform called "Pinball 2000" which uses a very old optical trick known as Pepper's Ghost to appear to project a computer display on or over the playfield. They have one of these at PPM, but I find the display distracting -- like trying to play golf and watch TV at the same time. Some things were not meant to be. I think modern makers are going back to having just light displays on the table, and saving the fancy tech for the backglass, which is where you want it -- to attract new players and their loose change.
  3. Damn, that was a long end-note. Dolly Parton, via the Internet Pinball Database. ( The "backglass" picture gives you some idea of the taste level of this machine.
  4. Marble Queen, and it's just as unbelievable in person.
  5. Dragonette, showing that it's not just Chinese knockoffs that have cornered the market on sound-alike names. Our fair damsel is tied to a chair (of course!) and being given the third degree by a Sherlockian-type character. Also unbelievable.
  6. Captain Fantastic and Wizard! Wait, didn''t Ann-Margret play his mother? Oedipus! may have been a horrible name for a pinball.
  7. Slick Chick is irresistible to the ladies. Check out the almost-Bugs-Bunny on the lower playfield.
  8. Real example: I have Funhouse in various electronic forms. It features a ventriloquist's dummy on the table. Well, just the head. (Those of you with clown/dummy aversions should skip the rest of this note.) It's called "Rudy," for what it's worth, and Rudy heckles you and factors in to some play modes. What you miss on a TV or tablet game, though, is that Rudy is big. Like, real-dummy's-head big. It's like a child's head is stuck in the machine... and the eyes move. You miss all of this nightmare-fuel on recreated versions. Also, PPM's Rudy has a broken eye, so he's slightly cross-eyed all the time. More funny than scary. Mostly.
  9. Seawitch, a one-word name, not two as I have it. A fine example of how mixing up the playfield can make a novel game. Boy, is this one fun.
  10. Laser Cue. Because ROBOTS AND LASERS THAT'S WHY.
  11. Mystic. The eye and pyramid on the backglass are photo-realistic, which is even more unnerving given the normal cartoony illustrations of the table art.
  12. Second footnote #11... The first real pinball experience I can recall is Haunted House which I blogged about indirectly in the very early days of Clickthing.  It may not have been my first ever machine, but it's the one that sticks with me in my memory as being Completely and Totally Awesome. Probably doesn't hurt that I was about 11 or 12 at the time I played it, maybe younger. That table is regularly asked for in app form by fans who had the same near-religious experience as I did: some even as adults, I gather. It is reportedly an utter nightmare to maintain, with a complex electrical system that required two sets of circuits (and hence flipper buttons) and has ton of features and parts that are hard to source, access, and repair. Supposedly, you can buy one of these, set it up, and just listen to it fall apart. I may be making that up. Maybe. During my formative teen years on summer vacations I played games like Cyclone and Pinbot and High Speed, all of which I played today for that nostalgia boost ("I can't believe it's been 25 years" etc.) but nothing can take the place of that first pin.
  13. Time Machine. No mention of badgers on IPDB, though.
  14. CSI, for what it's worth. Far better: playing Doctor Who multiple times, to retroactively make my nerdy Whovian teen self happy.

Hey Teeritz! The machine you're thinking about is Hercules, which is a jumbo-sized machine that plays using a pool ball instead of a steel ball. If you like slow, prone-to-break machines, you'll love Hercules! Proof that novelty alone doesn't make a good table.

Black Knight is a classic table, and should never be uttered in the same sentence as Hercules. I have played the former in real life, and once was enough. The latter was out of commission at PPM, so I hope to get a shot at it next time.

Those of you with some sort of electronic computing technology and a yen for the silver ball should run-don't-walk to The Pinball Arcade. They're doing an excellent job of digitizing these machines, even if they don't manage the life-sized creepy talking doll heads. Can't have it all, I guess.


TonysVision said...

Another must for the bucket list!

teeritz said...

"Hercules" makes sense, but I have no recollection of that machine. I do remember the "Charlie's Angels" machine, albeit only very faintly. I must've moved on to other arcade games like "Spyhunter" and "Gauntlet" by then.