The third Annual Tommy Tournament was held on April 6th at Shorty’s and hosted by Skill Shot. It was also the April First Sunday Tournament, which seems fitting because it was rather wacky. 25 couples signed up to play with funny team names such as Deep Dish Bootie Pie and Poser Disposer. The main rule during a Tommy Tournament is that one team member is blindfolded and controls both flippers, while the other team member communicates when they should hit (or try to hit) the ball. Like last year, instead of just winning a prize the top four teams were entered into the Lets Make A Deal game show award ceremony, where they had a chance to choose from a variety of boxes containing prizes ranging from a weekend pass to the NW Pinball and Arcade Show and a PBR golf bag, to a package of Skill Shot Condoms! There was also an Ann Margret Contest, where people dressed up as the actress who played the mother in Tommy. It seemed fitting to ask drag-artist extraordinaire Mark Finley to guest-host this part of the evening. Mark has long been a supporter of both pinball and Skill Shot so we were happy to have him at the event, and he seemed to have a blast doing it. Jeff Rogers won first place, as he arrived in sad/crazy Ann Margret drag early and stayed in character throughout the evening. Did we mention this was also a free tournament? Wow!
Add-a-Ball Amusements held their annual 420 Pinball Tournament on April 20th, which seemed like a bigger deal than usual as this is the first year marijuana is legal in Washington State. This is a tournament that encourages you to play stoned, attracting not only stoners but also more straight-types for WPPR points and the possibility of winning the grand prize: a Gotttlieb’s Lawman pinball machine! 71 contestants gathered outside at 4:20 PM for the breaking of the playfield glass ceremony, which has become a tradition at this tourney as a way of appeasing the pinball gods (they’ve had issues with playfield glass breaking in previous years). This was followed by hundreds of bouncy balls dropped from the roof much to the delight of everyone! Since it was a warm sunny day, a Fireball pin was out on the patio to keep a more open space inside, and the face-painting lady was on hand for those contestants so inclined. Besides the pinball machine (which Headley won) and the 420 t-shirts everyone received, other prizes included a giant bong and a bottle of tequila. Festive!
Add-a-Ball was also in local and national news recently because of their Hoodies For Hobos program, in which they used proceeds from their Add-a-Ball sweatshirt sales to donate some to local homeless people, or “urban-campers” as Add-a-Brad called them on TV. Some area activists were offended because of the name of the program and the use of the word “bum” on their promotional materials, which first got Add-a-Ball exposure on KOMO News and then beyond. Besides the language used, some people also seem to be outraged by the fact that the donated hoodies come with a huge Add-a-Ball logo on them, which they feel turns the homeless into walking billboards for the arcade. Others rightly point out that no one would care if it said NIKE or some other corporate brand. The national program TMZ did a spot on Hoodies For Hobos in which they ask Billy Bob Thornton what he thought about it, and then in true TMZ fashion they mostly discussed it amongst themselves (Harvey Levin is ok with it). All of this attention resulted in the Bardahl Oil Company asking Add-a-Ball to stop using their logo because it was very similar to their own, putting the Hoodies For Hobos program on hold until Add-a-Ball develops a new logo. Oops!
Pinball Seattle, a new pinball league started this spring, is a team sport similar to a bowling or softball league. Organized by Geoff Simons, Pinball Seattle has teams based in bars with 5 or more pins which then play home or away games against other teams in the league. The format is similar to the Pinball New York league (and in fact uses the same software), and was limited to 8 teams during this first season. During this initial run, the teams are based at six bars with both Shorty’s and Add-a-Ball hosting two teams apiece, with the other venues being The Unicorn, Olaf’s, Flip Flip Ding Ding, and John John’s Game Room. The teams include both seasoned and more casual players, and no more than two members per team can be highly ranked at the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) website. We like this format a great deal, it’s a fun way to meet people and hang out with our friends at different locations that we don’t often get to. This first season will end this summer, and we expect the second season will be open to more venues and teams. Stay tuned! www.pinball-seattle.com
At five years young, The Seattle Pinball League is the most established group of pinballers in Seattle. Their April event was held in Georgetown at The Gropers’ new digs, and the difficult plumbing problems that they experienced the day of the meet made us think there should be a new understanding amongst the members: poop before you leave home! May was the annual Cinco de Mayo gathering at The Bendickson’s house with everyone being equally impressed with both the Mexican food and Sarah Bendickson’s ability to be a great hostess while carrying their new baby. SPL member Amanda Kunzi made the April event noteworthy by becoming the first female winner in SPL’s history. She then won the May ACK-off that she, Steven Ackley and Amanda Kotchon have had for a few months now (they have all used those pinball initials in the past). This has led some to exclaim that this may be the Year of the Woman in local pinball. Women!
At the other end of the spectrum, so to speak, we were recently approached on Facebook by a new organization called The Girls of Pinball, who are publishing a pin-up calendar and want to organize Miss Pinball Pageants. While they seem to have good intentions and they apparently will donate proceeds to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the reception in Seattle has been remarkably cool if not openly hostile. At a time (and place) where women are becoming serious competitors in local tournaments, an organization that seems to want to turn back the clock and focus on a woman’s appearance seems backwards if not offensive to many. While much pinball art in the past has contained busty women in “sexy” clothes, we’re not sure that bringing those values back under the guise of nostalgia is much different to many women than those who reminisce about nostalgic portrayals of black people or gays. The Girls of Pinball owner Dennis was very surprised by the reception of his business, and we can understand his confusion when large companies such as Stern as well as others still perpetuate these kinds of images of women to a larger national audience with little or no comment. It is only a coincidence that we had an article about this very thing already planned for this issue. More women!
The NW Pinball and Arcade Show runs from June 6th-8th at the Tacoma Convention Center and looks to be a fun time as always. Along with added floor space for games and vendors, this year’s show will hold more tournaments, including a special edition of Babes in Pinland (women only), a Rookies Tournament and a Children’s tournament along with the annual Classics and All-Match-Play Tournaments. This year’s tournaments also have more sponsors, including NW Pinball Championships, Fraser Valley Flipout, 8-bit Arcade and Skill Shot (so far) who are all donating prizes along with the normal cash payouts. Pinball creators appearing this year include Mark Ritchie (designer), Pat McMahon (artist), Steve Ritchie (designer) and David Thiel (music), as well as Jersey Jack and Gary Stern. The Coast to Coast Pinball Podcast folks will be there, Uber will run specials for the showcase, the LeMay Car Museum will bring some pin-related autos, and there will be new Mustang pins, a movie premiere (about videogames) and more! Look for our bus tips for traveling on public transportation from Seattle in this issue! More!
Pinball Tidbits: Seattle has a lot of weekly and monthly tournaments, which you can find out more about on our website calendar: www.skill-shot.com * Have you noticed that The Iron Bull in Wallingford now has a monthly tournament? It’s the last Monday of the month. (editors note: Iron Bull has since cancelled these tournaments) * The Comet Tavern on Capitol Hill recently reopened and has three sweet pins. They even stenciled the word “pinball” on their windows! * Other new locations soon to open this summer include the (new) Replay in Lynnwood and Let’s Play Café in Monroe. * Café Mox recently removed their lone pin. We salute them for giving Bobby Conover the pinball operator bug. Salute! * Full Tilt Ballard recently changed the day of their weekly tournament to Thursday so they can participate in Pinball Seattle’s next season! * The Seattle Pinball Rally has moved to a summer date this year: July 19th @ Hillard’s in Ballard. * The NW Pinball Championships, “the largest pinball tournament in the Pacific NW”, happens June 13 -15. More info on our website: www.skill-shot.com * Where’s Maka?
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Originally Published in Skill Shot 34, May 2014