The monthly First Sunday Pinball Tournament returned to Shorty’s on October 6th after almost a year’s absence and was hosted by Skill Shot. Paul, the last organizer of these monthly tournaments, understandably disappeared from the scene after having another baby last winter. After some coaxing from Shorty’s, we decided to help revive the tournaments. The format this time was double-elimination head-to-head, and the brackets were done without any computers and tracked on large pieces of paper as an homage to long time tournament MC Larry Reid. This is a lot harder than it looks and we are astonished that Larry was able to do this in the past with a large number of contestants. Our plan for future First Sunday Tournaments is to have a different host each month who will also be responsible for deciding on a tournament format and/or style. Pat Hand, Dyslexic, Round Robin — anything goes. We hope to give people who would not normally host a tournament a chance to do so as a way to keep things unpredictable and interesting. Fascinating!
There are plenty of other tournaments happening around Seattle. A quick look at the Skill Shot Calendar on our website shows only 9 days without a tournament for the whole month of October! Full Tilt Ballard on Mondays, John John’s on Tuesdays, and Add-a-Ball on Wednesdays have all been happening weekly for a while now. Replay Café in Everett has recently entered the fray with a weekly Sunday tournament, which will make it one of the few regular pinball events that doesn’t happen at a bar (Full Tilt is another one). John John’s had a slight blip in their schedule when Sergey Posrednikov (who had been hosting the tournaments both there and at Add-a-Ball) decided to bow out, but the tourneys quickly continued under the gentle guidance of Claire the bartender and Travis the owner. Other locations in town have also expressed interest in hosting tournaments, including the Narwhal, but we’re not sure where there’s an open spot for one there since they get so crowded on the weekends and all the other days already have tournaments. Who knows, perhaps with the rising popularity of pinball we will soon see multiple events on the same night? The Shadow knows!
Add-a-Ball Amusements in Fremont is at the tail end of renovating their new space, known as Point Break, which adds a lot more room for both a full bar and more pinball. Their new pin additions sound exciting and include many older wide-bodies such as Paragon, Embryon and Hotdoggin‘. In fact, the new additions remind us of Headley and Claire’s legendary game room at their condo, which isn’t surprising since they are operating some of the pins there. There are other exciting titles, such as the wacky Orbitor 1, and we have decided to add these new pins to the Seattle Pinball List in this issue before they are actually available to the public. The expanded Add-a-Ball is having their grand opening on October 25th and we expect it to be one of the highlights of the holiday season. Boo!
New locations in Seattle that have local operators busy include Pies and Pints in Ravenna with 3 pins (serviced by 20XX) and Olaf’s in Ballard with 4 pins (by Pinheads). 8 Bit is a new location opening in Renton in the next month or so as well. 8 bit’s opening has been delayed by local laws concerning sprinklers and fire safety, but it seems they are in the process of working things out with the city. We’re not sure what the final pin count is going to be at this space but we have heard that a lot of different people are involved with it, including Rod Olsen, James Edes, Marquee Amusements, and SilverAge SilverBall’s Dominique and JP. Daryl at Marquee has also been acquiring new pins lately, such as Spiderman (currently at 9LB Hammer) and Guns ‘n’ Roses (at Full Tilt White Center). We are particularly happy about the GNR because we had the Gilby Rolls article ready for last issue but decided not to run it when the pin was removed from Add-a-Ball. Ouch!
A new trend around the Emerald City has been all of the Jersey Jack Wizard of Oz pins that are sprouting up. The Seattle Pinball Museum, Full Tilt Ballard, and Dorky’s in Tacoma have all had theirs for a while now. Shorty’s got theirs just as we were putting out our last issue and now two of the other Full Tilt Ice Cream locations (White Center and Columbia City) have one as well. When you also consider all of the games that Jersey Jack has sold to private collectors in the area, it looks like Wizard of Oz has been a fantastic first release for the company. Certainly there have been some glitches, such as the LED/switch problem that knocks out the whole game when one of the lights goes bad. Then there’s the incomplete software, but that is also a problem with most of the newer Stern pins. But unlike most new Stern releases, Oz is showing up everywhere, and it makes us wonder if they will have even a fraction of this success with their next release, The Hobbit. Jersey Jack claims that The Hobbit pin will be ready in a timeframe consistent with the release of the third Hobbit movie next year, but with movie-themed pinball machines we’re not really sure what that actually means. Consistent!
Another consistent pinball activity lately has been the drama. Who doesn’t like whom; who hurt someone’s feelings; who got that game first; whatever. When Raymond Davidson won the Fraser Valley Flipout in September, Facebook was once again the center of the action as RAY got a public dissing from someone who, as one player says, “needs to count to 100 before posting negative rants.” While deleting the post isn’t quite a public apology, the conversation didn’t erupt until someone questioned the validity of the “rape shot” in a comment on a follow-up post. Whether or not you think that trapping a ball or two during multi-ball and banging away at the high-scoring shot with another is a legitimate strategy during a tournament is irrelevant, but calling it a “rape shot” is bad form. That phrase isn’t very common, except perhaps with some of those good enough at pinball to actually do it, but it also harks back to the days when pinball was considered an all-male pursuit. Women are very much a part of the pinball community now, both leisurely and at tournaments, and using that phrase is inconsiderate and insulting. Certainly they are “just words” and “only have meaning if you let them”, but men (myself included) need to take into account that joking about a word such as rape can mean a lot more to a woman than it does to a man, and they shouldn’t have to explain to us why (or why not) it does. Some women may act like they don’t care when they hear it, but we suspect that they really do. Besides, words holding meaning is how community and communication work. There are lots of other ugly terms that “rape shot” apologists would never consider saying. Having more women in the pinball community is a good thing, and no one except an asshole would want them to feel uncomfortable or disrespected, even if it’s unintentional. It doesn’t matter if it’s one woman or many, women are good for pinball. Respect!
In lighter news, the Seattle Pinball League has been steaming along with tournaments at The Cartoon’s house in August, Todd MacCulloch’s in September, and Chase Nunes‘ in October. Although the locations can range from spacious to crowded, these events are always fun because of the unique variety of people in the League, and we are disappointed whenever we miss one. This is all leading up to the SPL Finals that usually happen at the end of January, when the top 16 battle it out for the yearly championship. Some of the top players this year are no surprise, although the absence of both Maka and Robert Gagno, along with the spotty attendance of Cayle George, has opened up spots for wild cards such as Cathy Cartoon, Aaron McAbee, and Nicholas Polimenakos to slip in. We suspect that the November tournament is going to be an exciting one, as it will seal in the players who will compete in the finals. We certainly expect some more of the drama we mentioned earlier in this column. Excitement!
This year’s Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) at the Seattle Convention Center once again had a Classic Arcade room full of both video games and pinball machines all set on free play. Organized by Seattle Metro Arcade Collectors (SMAC) and Ground Kontrol from Portland, this arcade was in a room outside of the regular convention area and it was usually possible to check it out without a pass into PAX itself. Some of the pins they had this year were Fathom, Haunted House, and Twilight Zone, and while it was very crowded most of weekend, on the Sunday afternoon we went it wasn’t too bad. Later that same day we attended the Heatherfest party in which The Cartoon’s welcomed their new housemate Heather! Skill Shot was asked to organize a tournament for the event and we came up with a Heathers Pinball Tournament where you had to hit a “croquet ball” through a “hoop” in order to choose either the game or playing order. It was harder than it sounds and a lot of fun, with the grand prize winner Claire getting a red scrunchie for her victory! Let’s motor!
In other Skill Shot News: Once again Skill Shot, with the help of Jeff Groper, is hosting the 16th Annual Tournament at Shorty’s on November 10th. Last year’s event went very well, and this year we’re making a few more changes, such as starting the tournament an hour earlier and offering advance registration. Shorty’s will open at 11AM the day of the tournament. For a list of the rules and advance registrations, please check out our website or our Facebook page. The One To Beat has once again changed, not because someone beat Headley’s score on Metallica but because a software update reset the score. Oops! We didn’t think anyone was going to beat his score anyways. The new TOTB is now the F-14 at Add-a-Ball Amusement, so get over there and knock AJB off the top score (if you can). We still have a few of the new Skill Shot t-shirts available. Send us an email or check out our table at the Short Run Small Press Festival at Washington Hall on November 30th. Skill Shot!
Pinball Tidbits: The Comet Tavern, a Seattle institution for many years, recently closed, perhaps for good, due to “money problems.” While they hadn’t consistently had pinball there in some time this is still sad news. * The first Seattle Pinball Rally happened on October 19th and at press time was expected to have over a dozen pins. We’re not sure exactly what to expect at this event but you’ll see a full report in our next issue. * Halloween is always a popular holiday for tournaments. Seattle Pinball Museum, Replay Café, and Add-a-Ball all have events planned, so check out the calendar on our website for more details! * The Transformers at Shorty’s changed to a dollar per play recently when they did a software update and people were grumbling before anyone took the time to ask about it. It was changed back to 75 cents once it was brought to Avout’s attention. * John John’s has recently been having free-play Sundays. Not all of the games though, usually three. * The new Stern machine Star Trek is just being released as we write these words. The local Launch Party tournament happened at Dorky’s on October 18th and we hope you didn’t miss it. Madison Pub and Shorty’s should both have one soon as well. * Goodbye to ZEN, it was nice while it lasted. Support Local Pinball!