Originally published in Skill Shot issue 10, September 2009

Wow, tons of stuff has happened since our last issue! We succeeded in getting out the last issue of Skill Shot in time for the 2nd Annual Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show (aka PAGS) which was held at Seattle Center on June 12-14th. It was tons of fun with lots of free pinball once you paid the admission fee (or volunteered like some of us did).

Some of the notable games this year were: Tommy (which has blinds that cover the flipper area); Orbitor 1 (with a crazy optical illusion playfield); Black Hole (that has a lower reversed playfield); Iron Maiden (a rare German pin); Fire! (with a LOUD bell); and Twin Win (which we had never played before despite it being featured on the cover of issue #3). Old favorites that we don’t get to play very often were also there like Whirlwind, Baywatch, The Shadow and Whitewater (which was also a raffle prize!). All the games at the show are owned by private collectors and one thing that a few of them did this year was place info cards on top of the machines that gave interesting tidbits such as the year and make of the game and other trivia. It was very cool and we hope that others will do the same thing next year.

The arcade game section was much larger this year and had its own room. If you were lucky you had a chance to see Steve Wiebe (from the movie King of Kong) play Donkey Kong in person! Naturally there were also various pinball celebrities in attendance, such as Dennis Nordman (Pirates of the Caribbean), Greg Freres (Fathom) and Steve Richie (No Fear, STTNG). There were also many world ranked pinball players at the show because of the IFPA sanctioned pinball tournament and many people were thrilled to be able to watch them ply their trade in Seattle. Some of the players (who are currently ranked in the top 20) in attendance were Keith Elwin (currently #2), the Sharpe brothers (#’s 4 & 6), Neil Shatz (#12) and of course Seattle’s own Cayle George (#14).

Like last year the tournament took place along the back side of the show space and had games that were only available to people in the tournament (like Flash and Theatre of Magic). For $10 anyone could enter the tourney and play these tables. Some of the NW locals who entered and did very well were Jamie Beth, Jeff Groper, Roya Naini , Bonnie Bedford (this year’s Powder Puff Champ), Darren Catlin (Novice Champ) and Julie Gray (Women’s Champ). The overall champion of the tournament was Eden Stamm from Vancouver BC who won both the Classics and the Open Tournament. Good show you guys!

Another good showing that weekend was by everyone who wore their brand new Skill Shot t-shirt to PAGS! Featuring the cover from issue #5, these darlings were the talk of all the pinball fashonistas and also sported the wearer’s very own pinball initials on the back! We rushed to get them ready and were ironing on the letters late into the night so that everyone could wear them to the show. They look pretty cool if you ask us. Unfortunately (for you) they are sold out.

Another highlight of that weekend was the after party at Add-a-ball Amusements in Fremont on Saturday night. Add-a-Brad (the owner) has a great collection of electro-mechanical pins in his shop including Jumping Jack, which is one of the top ranking EM machines according to the International Pinball Database (www.ipdb.org). The Skill Shot crew met lots of cool people (and a dog) at the party that had lots of pinball, beer, puking and a long walk home for Timmy!

Summer is the time for pinball parties around Seattle and the one at Rodney’s on the 4th of July was a hoot! We arrived sort of late but still were able to cram in a fireworks war, a hoola hoop contest, hot tub wrestling and (of course) a ton of pinball into our short late night visit. We were in ecstasy! Another awesome party was James Edes50th Birthday Party on August 1st which featured 50 (mostly) working pinball machines! It was like being at a mini PAGS with all the great games (like Embryon and Spectrum), an awesome cake and a tournament that not only lasted late into the night, but also qualified the players for IFPA points!

Other great parties that we didn’t make it to included the one for the PAGS volunteers at Lou Perazzoli’s, Keith and Dave’s Full Tilt 2009 birthday bash (with pinball outside on the deck), and Andrew Nunes’ Summer (solstice) Soiree which had a Future Spa machine that Brian Headley loved so much that he added one to the collection he is building in his apartment! Groper apparently has a bunch of new games at his place too, but we haven’t actually seen or played them yet (sniff sniff). This makes us think that we should get a pin for the Skill Shot office since we have the space for one. Anyone have a suggestion? (hint hint)

After a recent visit to Headley’s we stopped at the Redwood to play Tee’d Off and were pleasantly surprised to discover a Baby Pac-man. At least we were pleased until our ball got stuck on a piece of duct tape that was used to repair the playfield! Duct tape, really? The game was so wobbly that there was no way to dislodge it without tilting and it was kind of funny in a way. Space Age Amusements who (owns the games there) sometimes gets a bad rap for having sub par pins out on location, but we think we should still give them some props for maintaining as many games as they do. Recently we’ve heard rumors that the owner Marc O’Farrell was thinking about getting out of the business (after 30 years!), but he says that isn’t the case and he keeps adding locations such as a new spot opening soon in Burien with 6 games! Just no more duck tape please.

Speaking of things that are not well kept, many of you may have noticed that the Skill Shot web site hasn’t been updated since last October. Oops. That is soon to change as we are currently working with people to build a new site with a different URL (soon to be announced). Meanwhile the Skill Shot page at Myspace still has our most up to date Pinball List available on the internet. Check it out: www.myspace.com/skillshott

While a few places have gotten rid of their pinball machines this summer (Ozzies, Nite Lite, Teddy’s Tavern) a bunch of new places with pins have opened up! Add-a-ball Amusements of course was mentioned last issue (and this one too). Other new pinball venues are: Full Tilt 2 in Columbia City (4 pins); The Lookout (Frankenstein); and the Tiger Lounge in Georgetown that has 5 EM games (with more on the way) supplied by Silver Age/Silver Ball. Dominique, the operator of Silver Age is a great guy and he is really passionate about the older games. He’s even been building one in his basement! We love him (and gal pal Destiny) and you should too, because they helped print back issues of Skill Shot so we could give them away at PAGS. Meanwhile back at the Tiger Lounge, we’ve heard plans about a tournament they are planning for the weekend of October 24th. It will be a roving tournament with pins supplied by various private owners who won’t install the games at the venue until a few days before the event. Sounds intriguing….

Another intriguing event happened during 4th Place Andrew’s birthday party at Shorty’s when we released our other zine Chicken With Penis, and introduced the first CWP Half and Half Pinball Tournament. As you may remember Half and Half is when two-player teams compete, with one person controlling each flipper. Since this was a CWP tournament we introduced a twist at the last moment by whipping out XXXL t-shirts that both players had to wear at the same time, which then made it a Siamnese Twin Pinball Tournament! We were able to keep it a secret and some of the better players were thrown off their game, especially when a taller player like Maka was teamed up with a less tall player like Add-a-Brad. The twist worked better than expected as we got to observe a Timmy and Jason love-fest inside their shirt, and (tournament winners) Cheese Boat & Alena kicking a frisky fella out of their shirt. Skill Shot contributors Geoffro and T-Bone also participated, but for some reason the lovely Nycole stayed on the side lines. (Aww…)The top 3 teams received original CWP t-shirts hand drawn by Gordon2. Jealous!

Meanwhile after a slow summer the weekly Sunday Pinball Tournament at Shorty’s is beginning to pick up again. The main organizer Paul had a baby (well, sort of) earlier this year, but now he is ready to get things moving. These Sunday Tournaments are fun and a great way to meet people who also love the sport. Not to mention a convenient way to watch some of the better players in the area up close and personal (as they trounce all our asses). Sign up begins at 6, and no they don’t have Coca Cola!

In other related tourney news: PAPA 11(Professional/Amateur Pinball Association) World Pinball Championships in Carnegie, PA happened in August (Keith Elwin won) and according to everyone who went it was a lot of fun. Imagine our surprise when a recent visit to Facebook revealed that PAPA organizer Kevin Martin is an old school chum of Skill Shot’s own Bernard Boulevard! Guess where we’ll be next year?

Back at Shorty’s we were surprised to discover that the new Stern release NBA had replaced the (still sort of new) CSI machine. Part of our surprise was that we didn’t even notice the new game until we were there for over an hour because the new Stern games look so similar to each other. Like their last release 24, NBA doesn’t have a skill shot so we are kind of bummed about that, but it seems like a fun game, as long as Avout can keep that spinner on the playfield working.

In other news: Hooverville, that had a fire earlier this year, will be reopening soon (September?) and yes there will be pinball! As before, Shorty’s will be providing the games so maybe we will see the return of Wheel of Fortune to Seattle? We hope so. Avout is still unsure if the Centaur that was damaged in the fire is salvageable, but the game may soon be opened up for inspection.

And ELF was on tour and missed it all!