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The 2015 NW Pinball Championships took place at the Lucky Strike in Bellevue August 28 – 30th, the first organized by the local group Beneficial Malfunction. This was the first time a pinball event has been held at this location and it was nice that it was more transit-friendly compared to the previous Marysville Holiday Inn used in the past few years. Lucky Strike is like a fancy GameWorks. The event happened in a room away from the bowling alley and their other games, but still close to the bar and restaurant, and it easily held the many pins used for the event. It was a beneficial move since there was a big storm in the area this year and there were reports that Marysville had its electricity go out, which would have definitely messed up the tournament! Many players came from out of the area including top-ranked Californian Keith Elwin (who also did some local slaying) and Canada’s Robert Gagno, who won the main tournament. We think that Beneficial Malfunction did a great job with the event, which included a series of pre-tournaments that not only helped publicize the event but also added money to the event’s prize pool. Kudos!
Canada’s Eden Stamm is no stranger to our local pinball scene, and on September 8th he took the world’s stage when he began his attempt to beat the Guinness World Records for longest continuous pinball playing. The official record at the time was 28 hours, set in 2007. Eden’s record-breaking attempt began on Tuesday afternoon on a Twilight Zone at the Lamplighter Public House in Vancouver BC, and he went on to not only break the record but set the new record at 40 hours! Unsurprisingly, not long after Eden’s new record became publicized, naysayers came out of the woodwork to dispute this with claims of everything from 76 to 170 hour apparent attempts in the past — but without official Guinness registration we should add. As for Eden himself, he told us that after the 40 hours his back was killing him and that both of his hands were numb, and his left hand is still numb to this day! Ow. We certainly hope that he eventually has a full recovery and that anyone else who attempts to break a world record remembers to contact Guinness beforehand. Records!
In more local news, the internet exploded when on August 31st it was announced that the stretch of 2nd Ave in Belltown that is home to Shorty’s was slated for demolition in order to build a huge condominium building. While this block is home to many popular long-term businesses (Lava Lounge has been there the longest), it has been Shorty’s that has stolen the spotlight in almost all accounts of this tragic news. Longtime readers of this zine might remember when Shorty’s was the only location in Seattle that had more than just a few pins, and the reported demolition created an outpouring of love towards this Seattle institution — love and activism. At a meeting at the Landmark Preservation Board a few days later, a record number of people came out to successfully argue the historical and cultural importance of the block. During this initial process it was discovered that the Wayne Apartments next door to Shorty’s was built in the 1800’s and is the only building still in existence from before the Denny Regrade when most of Seattle’s hills were flattened to make the neighborhoods easier to navigate. This led to another hearing at City Hall on October 7th where a large number of concerned citizens again succeeded and got the building designated for landmark status. This move would hinder any plans to raze the Shorty’s building since the original plan was to demolish all three buildings on that part of the block (the third building being Tula’s Jazz Club). While this is by no means a done deal as there are other hearings and hoops to jump through with the city, it does give people a sense of optimism that the Shorty’s building and others will be safe for at least a while longer, and if you fight the rampant dismantling of old Seattle, it can at least be slowed down. Love!
Dorky’s Arcade in Tacoma was the focus of opposite emotions on August 10th when a video was released of the co-owner Les Voros-Bond confronting a Black Lives Matter demonstration across the street from his business. This disturbing video shows Les confronting the mostly black protesters with a loud, obnoxious bullhorn and repeatedly calling demonstrators the N-word. Naturally this was not well-received by most of the pinball community and angry messages and calls to boycott Dorky’s immediately followed. Dorky’s at first responded with a media blackout and a deleting of posts on their Facebook page, and eventually posting an apology for Les’s actions, which seemed to be ghost-written by a lawyer. While the apology may have helped make amends with their local customers, it seems as if most of their Seattle fans are now gone. It’s never a good time to be caught saying racist things on camera, but it was especially bad timing for Les as this was the same weekend as Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders‘ appearance in Seattle which was disrupted by other Black Lives Matter protesters, bringing the discussion of race issues to the forefront in the Seattle area. One immediate result of all of this was the cancellation of the weekly pinball tournaments held at Dorky’s organized by Josh Bartlett. Josh first tried hosting the Tuesday Tacoma Weekly at other locations, but because there are no places that have more than a couple of games he eventually decided to move the tournaments to the[/one_half][one_half last=”yes” class=”” id=””] 8-Bit Arcade in Renton. Despite calls for boycotts, Dorky’s is still open. Poor Caroline!
In more positive news, Pinball Seattle began its fourth Season with a new name: Monday Night Pinball. The name change came about because the Seattle version of this team-based league has moved away from the original New York template in both rules and website development, and it didn’t make sense to stay affiliated with it anymore. Monday Night Pinball also avoids the confusion of sounding similar to the Seattle Pinball League, and better reflects that some of the teams are based outside of Seattle in Renton (8-Bit) and Edmonds (Another Castle). The season started with an all-teams scrimmage at MNP’s home base at Add-a-Ball Amusements on September 7th in which the new rules and teams, such as the all-women Pinball Busters, were introduced (We love that name!). Other team changes include additional teams at 8-Bit, Another Castle, Flip Flip Ding Ding, and John Johns, and name changes for others. The season runs until early December and ends with a league holiday party just before Christmas. Learn how to join for season 5 by checking out their website at www.mondaynightpinball.com Specials!
In other tournament news: The Seattle Pinball League only has one more tournament until its yearly finals when the top 16 players have a chance of becoming the 2015 SPL champion! The September meet at Todd Mac’s house had a whopping 65 attendees and the October meet was a rare public event at the 8-Bit Arcade with almost the same number of players. Olaf’s monthly tournament is hosting a similar format this year where the top 12 ranked players from their monthly events and 4 wild card players will compete at a year-end finals tournament. Mitch’s Progressive Tournament at Another Castle in Edmonds also has a similar format, except instead of being a year-long monthly series it is condensed into 7 events during the last few months of the year, with a final 8th tournament held in January. To make the finals, a player must have attended at least 5 of the previous events. Cool! As usual, the Seattle area has many pinball tournaments every week. You should check out the Skill Shot Calendar on our website for a complete list of them. Compete!
Skill Shot News: We celebrated our 8th anniversary at the First Sunday Tournament @ Shorty’s in October and had Ronald McFondle as our special guest. Ronald was excited to be involved and created a separate Clownpocalypse (!) to draw awareness to the upcoming landmark hearing for the Wayne Apartments and to hopefully save Shorty’s. This event was received enthusiastically, and tons of clowns and spectators showed up to support the cause. The tournament was fun and a bit crazy at times with lots of drunken clowns roaming around. The Skill Shot Pincast has been going strong with 12 podcasts released so far. Australian musician Darren Hanlon and Ed Robertson from Barenaked Ladies were recent guests on one show, while other episodes feature the history of Skill Shot, the European pinball scene and more! Pincast co-host Kayla Greet was also on a recent Coast 2 Coast Pinball podcast (episode 187) talking about women in pinball and other topics. Kayla is also the host of the monthly Babes in Pinland tournaments at Add-a-Ball, and in October it was also a benefit for #Shoutyourabortion in which $250 was raised for the organization from both tourney entries and donations. Shout!
Pinball tidbits: Another Castle is working at a furious pace these days as they get ready to open two new locations. The first one will be in Bellingham, which should open any day now, and the second one will be in Bremerton • Dante’s in the U-District suffered a devastating fire on August 8th, which was just shy of their 49th anniversary of being in business. While we are not 100% positive, judging from the pictures we saw the Scared Stiff there must be toast • Lucky Liquor in Tukwila had a fire earlier this year and we are happy to report that they are back in business with a fancy new sign and 3 of the 4 games located there when the accident occurred. They must have had good insurance! • Vidiot in West Seattle has been expanding into the old Benbow Room and restaurant space next door. They now have 10 pins with perhaps more on the way • Raygun on Capitol Hill didn’t expand their space but did increase the number of pins. There are now 6 in their eclectic collection • Seattle Pinball Museum continues to be ambassadors of the silver ball. Besides being a main tourist stop, they’ve had two different outdoor pinball events that attracted the general public: one in Chinatown and another one at Union Square downtown • Add-a-Ball still plans on opening a new room in the space above their current location. They are in no hurry because they want it to look great according to Add-a-Brad • John John’s Game Room on Capitol Hill is still in the process of renovations, but it looks like it will be done soon. They took the paper off the windows… (editors note: John John’s reopened on 11/3) • Congratulations to Raymond Davidson and Kevin Birrell for their strong showings at this year’s Pinburgh tournament. They did Seattle proud by coming in 2nd and 4th, respectively • Support Local Pinball![/one_half]
Originally published in Skill Shot 40, October 2015