news & gossip

Artist Profile: Python Anghelo

Python's signature
Python's signature

Python Anghelo is a crazy genius that changed and inspired the pinball industry. He described pinball machines as “miniature amusement parks” and is best known for his carnival themed games. He got paid to have fun. Innovator, wreck, elusive, bitter, proud, patriotic; he’s all these things and more. Read his own words, these are excerpts from a 2007 Topcast interview.

For the full audio interview, including an hour and forty minutes of Python talking about himself in the third person and trashing almost everyone in the industry, check out show 42:


I went to Great America and I paid those guys 2 thousand dollars to go on a roller coaster and turn the front seat backwards, so I could see the people. ‘Cause it seems to me you got to see what other people experience. And when we went down I see these people screaming like they were getting murdered or having multiple orgasms. So I said hang on a second, I need fireworks, and I need people screaming.

 I said to them let’s do a layout of an amusement park, like aerial view. Cause to me a pinball game is like an amusement park where you are the ball.

Pinball, to me, was a miniature amusement park that poor kids could go to fulfill their fantasies, changing to the ball, and have power at their fingertips for 25 cents.

To me the only most important thing is that I kept my promise from my childhood. That I want the kids that put a quarter in a game not to feel ripped off.

I have a sit down pinball where you sit under the playfield with your head in a bubble and the flippers are in front of your nose and balls fly around your head.

He’s my hero, George Lucas.

Read The Fountainhead.

I’m 53 going on 17.

PIN-BOT bagatelle
PIN-BOT bagatelle mini-playfield

[With] Pinbot, I started with the artwork and did the anatomy of the robot and the robot girl, The Machine, and then I built the playfield around it.
[Pinbot is] talking about our conquest of the universe through Voyager.
[I wrote] a poem about The Machine. It’s about the future of man, and that robots will conquer the universe through our fingertips.

PIN-BOT detail
PIN-BOT detail

To me a pinball machine is a robot. You’re basically controlling, like an exoskeleton robot in Alien, your fingers control the robot and through you, through your fingers, the robot is an extension of you. I wish I could do that to a woman. That would be the perfect woman. That’s why The Machine.

High Speed
High Speed

I use my art when I do a pinball game; it’s not just me making money. Or doing a stupid f***ing thing, I have social responsibility. I’m going to thousands of American bars. It’s an art form; it’s an American art form, pinball.

[John Popadiuk] is a chameleon, a lizard. And Python knows it because Python is the king of snakes.

I’d rather have people hate me for the truth than like me for a lie. I will tell you like it is, because, by the way, I’m also a wild and crazy guy and I did a lot of stuff that I regret but I take credit for it anyway.

Jack•Bot was a copy of Python’s Machine, PIN•BOT and Jokerz!. Jack•Bot: you got cards, you got the bride of PIN•BOT and you’ve got PIN•BOT. And they said “Oh Barry [Oursler], if you take the best game designs you did with Python, combine them” it’s like saying, listen to this analogy, your biggest successes on our menu were pea soup, the shrimp pizza, and apple strudel with vanilla ice cream. Now you take those motherf***ers and put them all in a bowl and they’ll taste great.

Popeye cabinet
Quit being snarky about Popeye for a second and just appreciate this art.

I have a movie script where Popeye builds a space cruiser and he’s fighting the oil companies and he decides that it’s bulls*** that he has to save the Earth by getting oil on other planets.

news & gossip

Pinball News And Gossip 21

Originally published in Skill Shot 21, October 2011

The Monday Night Football Pinball Showdown at Rod Olsen’s happened on the same night as the first Monday Night Football game on TV on September 12th. It was originally going to be two player match-ups, double elimination head-to-head on two Monday Night Football pins that were next to each other. Just like in a real football game, the winner was determined by the number of touchdowns, and points only mattered if there was a tie. This was a cool idea except that over 40 contestants turned out for the event and (then) one of the pins broke down. It was a work night and players were dropping like flies as the night wore on. Eventually sometime after 2AM Cayle George became the winner of what will hopefully become an annual event. Night Owls!

Another fun tournament was the September 17th Seattle Pinball League (SPL) Tournament. This was an all Bally tournament hosted by Mitch Anderson and the format was PinGolf! As we have never played golf before, it was a bit confusing when people talked about pars, strokes, tops and bottoms, but once we started playing, it made more sense. Martin Ayub from was visiting for the event and showed why he is the #1 player in the UK. His final match on Paragon against Raymond Davidson was one of the most exciting we had seen in a while. With a par of 90,000, Martin was quite a ways behind when he totally choked on the final ball but then received a rare “ball saved”  that he didn’t even notice until the crowd gasped aloud in unison. Martin went on to score 91,800, making the par and winning the tournament! 2nd Place Raymond was second place again!

Other tournaments since our last issue: The First Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s (8/7) which was won by Paul Sonier; The SPL Tournament at Randy Pouley’s (8/20) won by Robert Gagno (with great Thai food!); The First Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s (9/4) won by Jeff Groper; The quarterly Seattle Pinball Museum (SPM) Tournament (9/19) won by Maka Honig; and The Ballard Pinball Tournament (9/19) won by Bobby Conover. It’s more fun to compete!

National tournaments also drew local players, including PAPA in Pennsylvania and The Pacific Pinball Expo in California. There is a lot of determination among some local players because the 2012 IFPA World Pinball Championship is happening in Seattle next year.  The players with the highest IFPA Rankings are invited first for the limited 64 spots in the tournament, and people in Seattle have a good chance to attend, as some higher ranking players will choose to opt out.  Cayle George won last year’s Championship, which was held in Sweden and almost cancelled when a controversy developed after government officials discovered that the tournament had a cash prize. The Seattle tournament is reportedly being held at Todd MacCulloch’s and we will have more details later. Stay Tuned…

Stern Pinball’s Transformers is set for release later in October and will be a very public affair with four different release parties planned in the area. Events are planned for the Seattle Waterfront Arcade (10/21), Seattle Pinball Museum (10/22), Dorky’s in Tacoma (10/28), and the soon to be open Full Tilt in Ballard (10/28). The new Full Tilt has been anxiously anticipated since it was first announced at the beginning of the summer. Conveniently located in the heart of Ballard, their new location will have 15 pinball machines!  Look for our report on their grand opening next issue. Sweet!

The Seattle area is experiencing a pinball renaissance with a multitude of new venues and machines. Both Dorky’s (22 pins) and the Seattle Pinball Museum (40+ pins) have opened in the last year, along with the new Full Tilt (15). The Unicorn on Capitol Hill is in the midst of constructing their long awaited pinball room with space for 19 pinball machines. Meanwhile, Shorty’s has been expanding locations by picking up The Iron Bull and the Comet Tavern, as well as adding popular pins to places like the Fun House (Funhouse) and Jabu’s (The Shadow). Even Space Age Amusements has serviced their games more often lately and moved things around, so we’re definitely expecting to see a Wheel of Fortune at a downtown location any day now. Right!??

Don’t forget: The 14th Annual Shorty’s Pinball Tournament on November 5th and 6th!

The Lookout has been expecting a Fish Tales for a while now and chances are it will arrive right around the same time our new Seattle Pinball List is printed. The Lookout is the location of our Skill Shot Folding Parties, and last issue we had a great turn out. We want to give a BIG shout out to everyone who helped us fold every single copy in just 3 hours! Speaking of the Pinball List, this issue premieres our new color coded all-ages system to help people under 21 find pinball machines. Check it out!

Another change in this issue is The One To Beat, which has now moved to The Rolling Stones pin at the SPM. Since no one could beat MAK’s Grand Champ score on either of the last two games, we’ve decided to pick one that he hasn’t dominated (yet). Have you been to lately? Along with an archive of past articles, we have a calendar of Seattle pinball events, including a bunch of Halloween-themed pinball tournaments! You don’t have to go to Facebook to find out what’s happening. Wow!

A link to our Calendar is located at the top of this web page!

Pinball Tidbits: If you noticed that The Addams Family at Shorty’s looks and plays differently that’s because it is a new machine; the old one went to the Comet • By the time you read this the SPM’s Upper Playfield should be open with even more pins and a view of the main room • We had an awesome time at the Summer Tilt Birthday Bash in Redmond this summer. Thanks to Birthday Boys Byron, Dave and Keith • Gunfire and a SWAT team heralded the closing of the Tiger Lounge for good. Rumor has it certain employees plan to relocate a similar business downtown • We lost the Skill Shot camera at the last Ballard Tournament • With Xenon still broken, the Redwood has now become Skill Shot Office East. Gofer Trouble!


Special thanks to Cathy Cartoon for providing many of the above photos!

For photos of the pins currently at the Seattle Pinball Museum at press time please check out this gallery.

news & gossip

SEVEN Questions with PAUL SONIER

Originally published in Skill Shot 21, October 2011

When/how did you first get into pinball?

While I remember some pinball machines from childhood (my first was a Big Chief at a convenience store, and I remember playing Royal Flush while on vacation at some point), I only really got into pinball after graduating high school.  I remember an Earthshaker machine that was my first real experience with hitting “the zone”, and after that, I was hooked.

When/why did you start participating in tournaments?

I actually started playing in a league in college, at a bar called Doc’s Place, in Pittsburgh; it wasn’t very far from my school, and a fellow CMU student named Dave Stewart would come in and play the games a lot.  We got to be friends, and when he started a pinball league, I was in!  After graduating from college, I moved around a bit, and with work and whatnot, I didn’t have much time to play regularly, until I saw a flyer for a Sunday tournament at Shorty’s, then run by Kevin Lessig.  I went, and won every single game (against some seriously good opponents, including Jason Hatch) to win the tournament, and ever since, I’ve been playing in tournaments in Seattle.

How would you explain your role at the Sunday Tournaments at Shorty’s?

I run the tournaments.  Simple, eh?  I gather entrants, gather entrance fees, take down names, create brackets, create matches, and (randomly) choose the initial machines to play on.  The process is a little mechanical and a little annoying, as anyone who’s tried to set up a tournament can attest to.

How long have you been involved with the Sunday Tournament?

I’ve been involved with it for about 3 or 4 years now; initially as a participant, but when Kevin decided to bow out as tournament organizer, I decided to step up and take on the task myself.  I’ve been running them myself now (with assistance at times from Jawn Wakefield and Jeff Gagnon) for about 3 years, I guess; it’s kind of surprising to realize it’s been that long!

What advice do you have for someone competing in the Sunday Tournament for the first time?

Have fun!  The tournaments are all about having fun, and playing pinball with different people.  Competitive play is very different from normal friendly play; you can expect to do worse than you normally do when playing someone else.  Stick with it and enjoy playing with someone else; I’ve probably learned more about good pinball play from watching my competitors play than I have from tons and tons of solo practice.

We heard that you are working on a pinball related web project, can you give us any details?

There is definitely a web project in the works, but that’s under wraps right now.  However, as a lead-in to the web project, I’ve been putting together an Android app that runs on phones that will help Tournament Organizers create and manage their tournaments; it lets you keep track of entrants and their registration status, track tournament results, etc.  It’s going to be published on the Android Market soon, and will be free to download for anyone who wants a little bit of help running a tournament!  In fact, it’s not pinball-specific, but can be used for all sorts of tournaments, from pinball to darts to billiards to board games!  I’ll be using it to help me with the tournament this Sunday, and that will be a good debugging run, so if you want to see it in action, come on out to the tournament!

What is your favorite pinball machine?

Ooh, the trickiest question.  While I’m fond of Tron recently, and I really have a soft spot for some of the older machines such as Surf Champ and other EMs, I’m just a total fan of Pat Lawlor machines. Earthshaker, Whirlwind, Addams Family, Road Trip… even Family Guy shows that brilliant Pat Lawlor design.  But my favorite of all of his machines, and the one that I’d just love to have and play constantly, would be Twilight Zone.  From the the excellent music (Golden Earring! Yeah!) to the fantastic theme (Rod Serling = the epitome of cool) to the fantastic toys / gimmicks (Powerball!) to the wizard mode (nothing like getting Lost in the Zone!), it’s just a constant joyous experience.  So much about that machine just sticks with you… anyone who’s played it for any amount of time can recognize the sounds, from the rocket launch to the Hitchhiker chime to the excellent voice work (“Don’t touch the door!”).  The playfield design is marvelous; it SHOULD feel cramped, from the looks of it, but it’s really very expansive, with tons of “hidden” shots that are a joy to discover (Town Square, or the left-flipper shot off the left side of the slot machine to a Camera shot, or any of the seemingly random but surprisingly repeatable ways to hit the piano from the right flipper).

The Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s is the first Sunday of every month. A potluck brunch begins at 1 and the tournament starts at 3. Shorty’s is at 2222 2nd Avenue.