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Hello, I’m Scott. It’s time for us to hold space for each other. I’ll type about new pinball map locations and then you’ll read the words that I wrote. Maybe you’ll also think of some new words and thoughts as we spend this time together. But back to me for a moment, when you read my words, what voice do you hear in your head? Is it your own voice, or the voice of a stranger? Let me know in the comment section. Just kidding, there’s no comment section because we don’t know each other well enough just yet. But regarding pinball…
December is a complicated month for the sport of pinball. On the one hand, it’s a busy time as we all prepare for the holidays. That usually nets out to LESS pinball. However, consider for a moment that a lot of people travel in December for the holidays, and it is in travel that we unlock pinball’s greatest gift - variety. Maybe you went home to mom’s house and you found out that she lives down the street from Xenon. Maybe it was dad’s year for the holidays, and you went to visit his condo which is down the street from Eight Ball Deluxe. One thing is for sure, your parents are divorced.
What follows are brief descriptions of locations that were added to the map in December of 2023. Will the location be kind, mid, or cringe? To maintain consistency in format, I will tell you which machine I would play if I were to ever find myself at the location. And, we begin at…
Northstar Pinball Collective
I can’t access this website because it’s Facebook and I famously don’t have Facebook. That’s probably annoying for you to read. I’m not trying to make a political or social statement here. I just don’t have an account, and that means I don’t have access to sites like this. Ryan left a note here that says “Seems to be mostly for tournaments but they [Northstar Pinball Collective] have some regular, limited open hours.” You should probably call before going over there.
If I’m allowed in, I’ll be parked at 1987’s Party Animal. It’s a game with a flushing toilet sound in it.
Mini Putt Family Entertainment
A putt putt place with 21 machines sounds great. I can see from Mini Putt's (publicly accessible) website that they have a Big Bertha as well. Remember that thing? You toss the balls into the mouth of the large puppet? I loved it. One of the house rules listed on their website is that “underwear must not be visible”, and that puts me ill at ease. You see, I have an extremely “deep” pose when I’m playing pinball. If you were to do an upwards karate chop on my hands while I was playing, I would fall flat onto the ground in a “superman” pose. My point here is, it’s hard to play that deep without a little bit of underwear peeking out. So maybe this isn’t the place for me, and I don’t love that conclusion.
If I’m here, my game is off, because my pose is false… but I’m trying my best on 1996’s Space Jam. People are making a big deal out of this new Looney Tunes machine, but guess what, it’s been here the whole time.
Top notch name for a spot. THE OUTSIDER. “If you need me, I’ll be at THE OUTSIDER… playing pinball.” The thing is though, it’s not a reference to being apart from the pack, it’s just about being out in mom nature. Does that make it less cool? At first I thought yes, but now that I understand what this place is, I find it to be VERY cool. Apparently they sell you food, wrap it up in a little picnic package, and give you a map to local public places of outdoor beauty that you can eat at - picnic style. They’ve got 15 machines in a little building in case you decide to just stick around and play pinball for a bit. I’m a 43 year old man. My life is more than half over, and I feel that every single morning. I’m constantly thinking about my own death, and I think that has made me unnecessarily jaded about the joy and beauty that exists in each and every day. The Outsider reminded me of that beauty, and I sincerely thank it for that! I have family in Michigan too, and I might actually make it out to this place.
WHEN I go there, I’ll be playing 1998’s Godzilla while reflecting on 2021’s Godzilla. Do you think 2021 Godzilla thinks tenderly about 1998 Godzilla, or does 2021 Godzilla look back with a sense of shame and embarrassment?
Tilty McFlipperz (Martinsburg, WV)
You better believe they have axe throwing at Tilty McFlipperz. New theory: If a location has swapped an “s” for a “z”, you can throw axes in there.
I’m playing 1991’s Star Trek for like 6 hours, pounding energy drinks until I exit this Earth from whatever that does to my body.
Marcade (Rockaway, NJ)
Ryan left this note: “2nd Marcade in NJ. Also the 2nd arcade in this mall! Other one is Rock the Mall, which we mentioned in these articles a couple months ago.” … which actually feels like more of a narrative than a note, so I’m including it here in its entirety. Ryan if you want to write these just ASK. He points out an interesting aspect of this location though, the second big arcade in the same mall. What is this mall in New Jersey that’s able to sustain that level of entertainment? Do you think the two places get along?
EDIT: We recently learned that Rock the Mall Video Pinball closed right after Marcade opened, which probably answers the above questions.
If I’m there, I’m playing 1987’s Fire!, because I can’t get enough of that little bell on the top.
Barcade Center City (Philadelphia, PA)
Did you know that Barcade™ is a registered trademark and you shouldn’t walk around calling bars that have arcade machines in them “barcades”? [Editors note: we've been made aware!] Well now you know. Maybe in 95 years or whatever we’ll get to call anything we want a barcade, but right now the only spot you can legally do that is inside a Barcade™. So maybe go to Philadelphia and treat yourself to saying that word inside of this Barcade™. I’m tempted. Not doing this would be like living your entire life without blowing your nose into Kleenex-brand tissue. Blow your nose at this Barcade™.
I’m playing 1997’s No Good Gofers, and I’m eating their PB&J Crispy Chicken. They have a sandwich called Fatty McRyan, haha. This place actually sounds pretty good!
Dragon's Lair (Bangor, ME)
Top tier name, and it’s in Stephen King’s hometown. Maybe you’d see Stephen King here from time to time? It feels unlikely, but it is located in a mall, and even Stephen King goes to the mall, right? It’s a facebook page, so my intel is limited, so here’s ChatGPT writing a paragraph about what it would be like for Stephen King to play pinball at Dragon's Lair: Stephen, the renowned horror book author, found himself immersed in an unexpected thrill as he stepped into the dimly lit realm of "Dragon's Lair." Surrounded by the haunting neon glow of vintage pinball machines and the eerie clatter of steel balls, he couldn't help but succumb to the exhilaration of the game. With each flick of the flippers and the resonant thud of the ball against the bumpers, he felt an electrifying rush coursing through him. As the evening wore on, a sense of regret washed over him, realizing how he had neglected the simple joys of pinball throughout his life. In the midst of the macabre tales he wove, he had forgotten the enchantment of this timeless game, and as the lights continued to flicker and the machine's music echoed through the arcade, Stephen vowed to indulge in this newfound passion more often.
If it were me here, I’d be playing Monopoly. My reasons are my own.
And that’s the end of new and notable Pinball Map locations in 2023. What new horrors await us in 2024? Will the meditative nature of pinball be enough to squelch these horrors? Will this be the year when the power goes out once and for all? At the moment, it’s impossible to say for sure, but the answer is probably no. Hopefully we will talk again in about a month. Let’s pick right up where we left off. I hope that you are well. I love you.