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Hi, it’s me again, it’s Scott. We last talked in July, where I put down some thoughts about interesting new locations that were added to Pinball Map. The response to that article has been phenomenal. I posted it to a slack channel at work, and was met with no less than 2 emojis reacting positively towards it. Ryan posted it to a private slack channel that we’ve been hanging out in for decades, and was met with absolute silence. REVERENT SILENCE? Maybe. So, riding high on the success of that work, and hunting for any tiny scrap of approval from my peers; I’d like to talk through some notable Pinball Map locations that were added in August. I appreciate you riding along for this. Maybe it will inspire you to also think about what it would be like to visit the location? I’m not the boss of your inspiration though, so maybe it won’t.
As is my personal preference, I will include a single machine from each location to fantasize playing upon. Let’s put our hands in our pockets and walk into these locations!
Atomic Pinball (Wood River, IL)
This place used to be called CP Pinball, but now it’s called Atomic Pinball. Which name do you like better? I’m a CP Pinball man myself, but the decision has already been made. 106 pinball machines is a lot of pinball machines. Too many pinball machines? I wonder which one is played the least. They do that thing where you pay a flat rate and get to play as much as you want, but there’s a little twist here that I’m very interested in; you can get free play by the hour! How is this enforced? Do people walk the floor once per hour and toss you out if you don’t have a certain color wristband on? No one likes to get kicked out of places, do you think there are ever arguments or fights during this sweep? Would they kick you out in the middle of a ball? What does the CP in CP Pinball stand for anyway? Looking forward to your answers, thank you.
If I went here I would play Hurricane. The owner says that it’s the first machine that he ever purchased, and I think that makes it kind of special.
Radioactive Pinball Arcade (Aiken, SC)
Why is this place called Radioactive Pinball? I asked myself that question out loud, and received no immediate answer. So I Bing’ed the answer. I guess the town it’s in is famous for making weapons grade plutonium during the cold war. Bing claims it’s safe to walk around there. So that’s pretty good? This is another husband/wife location, which is always nice to see. I’m recently divorced, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of a husband and wife. Does their shared love of pinball bring them closer together? Does owning a business that revolves around what was once just a hobby put a strain on their relationship? Do they have a new, non-pinball hobby that they do together? I wish them both well.
This place inexplicably does not have a Simpsons machine, which seems like a natural choice for a radioactive-themed arcade. Maybe they don’t like the Simpsons? I guess I’m playing Back To The Future, because of Doctor Brown’s plutonium theft.
Tilt Arcade Bar (Toronto, ON, CA)
This is location #2 for “Tilt Arcade Bar.” Both are in Canada. There really isn’t anything on their website that lends itself to jokes or earnest observations. So, I decided to check out some of their Google reviews instead. A noteworthy snippet: “For the second time i have been removed/denied access to 'tilt arcade' because i told the bar staff i have a collapsed lung and have difficulty breathing through a mask.” to which Tilt Bar responds “You were denied entry both times because you showed up drunk with your shirt wide open.” This makes me confident that this is a location I’d like to play pinball at.
I could see myself haunting the pinball machine area, exclusively playing WWF Royal Rumble. I’m desperately trying to learn the rules and hit the right ramps or whatever, but all the while wondering if the drunk unbuttoned shirt person will show up again.
B-Rad's Arcade and Family Fun Center (Berthoud, CO)
The headline here is the location name, B-Rad’s. At first I thought maybe it was owned by a guy named Brad, and I was thrilled. But then I realized that the name of the town it's in is called Berthoud. So I guess the locals call it “B-Rad”? I’m from B-Rad Colorado. That’s not a terrible thing to be able to say. This is a family fun center with axe throwing, arcade machines, and corn hole. When did axe throwing just become a thing that we’re all comfortable with? Where was axe throwing in the 80s or 90s? Was axe throwing tech just not ready yet? They also have “large jenga” and “large connect four” here, easily the most neglected activities during corporate outings I’ve been blessed to attend. I hope you aren’t mistaking my tone here as a knock against B-Rad’s. I’m actually very happy for B-Rad’s and the town of Berthoud. Maybe you go skiing down a big mountain and then someone at B-Rad’s opens the door and you nollie (do snowboarders nollie?) into a booth and think about which pinball machine you want to play. That’s not a bad life.
I nollied right into a marathon session of The Mandalorian.
The People's Courts (Portland, OR)
This one is special for me because it is in my hometown. But guess what, I will not go to it. People's Court is on a Quarterworld route, which means that the machines are impeccably maintained. It’s in a weird old bowling alley / hanger looking building that used to be an indoor BMX bike playground. It's like a 5 minute drive from my house! But I will not set foot in this location. I feel no great sense of pride in this, but it’s the path that I must follow. These blog post locations are meant for me and my imagination to wistfully ogle, not for me and my body to pass through. It’s a shame too, because it seems like an interesting spot. It’s basically a gigantic garage filled with Pickleball courts and the occasional ping-pong table. For those that aren’t aware, Pickleball is this thing that’s kind of like tennis, but you stand right next to your opponent and you use these paddles that look like they are from Star Trek. As games go, it’s fine. Pickleball players and tennis players seem to have an animosity towards each other that is not unlike billiards players and pinball enthusiasts. It’s a competition for turf. Whether that be court turf or bar turf, there is only space for one game. And at the People’s Courts, Pickleball is king.
In my mind (and only in my mind), I am playing The Machine: Bride of Pin-Bot and I’m distracting a Pickleball serve with awkward robot moans.
Alleycat Pinball Arcade (Watervliet, MI)
Here’s a peak behind the curtain of this blogging operation we have going. Ryan picks all the locations, and occasionally leaves little comments next to the locations for me to read before I start my blogging. Are the comments supposed to spark my creativity? We’ve never discussed it together. He left a comment for this location, and I found it very funny. It reads as follows: “Open once a week place - NOT open in summer. Opened in 2022, so it’s not even new. Not sure if we should include it. But whatever.” That’s Ryan, one of my best friends. He has been tirelessly maintaining this Pinball Map, for YOUR amusement, for a very very long time. So congratulations, Alleycat Pinball Arcade, you made the cut. To honor Ryan, I did extensive Bing research on this location. I learned that Alleycat Pinball Arcade occasionally hosts what they call “men’s breakfast” which includes a service from a local pastor. It is conveniently located next to Lake Michigan. It is only open when it’s not summertime, and even then, only on Fridays. Oh, and also only between the hours of 5-10pm. It claims to be good family fun, but I don’t think most families are out during these hours. 5-10pm overlaps dinner and bedtime. It’s unclear to me who the audience for this place is.
Of all the locations we’ve discussed so far, this is the one I am the most curious about. It feels like a cursed place that challenges you to come and rescue other poor souls that became trapped when the clock struck 10 on June 21st. Maybe someday you will come and see my rotting corpse, slumped over Gilligan's Island.
And that’s it. That’s the end of our August tour of new (to us) pinball machine locations that Ryan found interesting. I was skeptical at first, but eventually found the locations interesting as well. There’s something inherently cheerful and optimistic about slamming a bunch of pinball machines into a building and then inviting strangers to come play those machines. I have a pinball machine at my house and I’m terrified to play it because maybe it breaks and I’m not able to fix it. I applaud the location machine operators and establishments that have no such fear, and put it all on the line so that we get to experience pinball outside of the safety of our homes. Thanks!