Crazy Flipper Fingers

In the International District of Seattle, there is a new museum to visit: The Seattle Pinball Museum! The Seattle Pinball Museum is part of the Storefronts Seattle initiative to revitalize that area. They get a three-month, rent-free storefront and try to make a go of it. We visited a few weeks ago.

It’s a pinball museum, so there are games through the ages, but it’s not a normal museum. It’s totally interactive! You can play all of the games. The oldest game in the museum is ‘Bumper,’ made by Bally 1936. You have to physically bump the table to move the ball around and score points. Despite my devotion and love for the game, I am a notably bad pinball player, but this was the worst I’ve ever scored. I’m surprised they kept making pinball games, because the Bumper is just too dang hard.

You can move through the evolution of the pinball game, seeing how certain features and game theories gained or lost popularity through time. There are some fine examples of the fantastic 1960s and 1970s games from the mass popularity era of pinball, and some newer machines with digital score screens, complicated ramps and goals. All of the machines are set on Free Play mode, and for your $5 admission fee, you can play as long as your supple wrists and flipper fingers can hold up. They even have an unlimited juke box with some truly stellar music so you can dj your own SPM experience. I want to share with you some of our faves, but this is only a fraction of what they have. I think this is the largest public collection of pinball machines in the Pacific Northwest. The machines are well maintained, too, so you can’t blame all your shortcomings on some worn out rubber bumpers.

Funland was like a pinball trip to an amusement park. It’s a 1968 Gottlieb machine with a unique spinner in the middle. I was really addicted to this game because the girl in the mod white dress with knee-high boots and a rifle is, well, kind of adorable.

This Wagon Train game is a 1960 Gottlieb. It’s like, if Oregon Trail were a pinball game except slightly more racist. Despite the baggage, the game is really fun. Where most pinball games have a painted or laminate game board, this one has a lot of visible wood in the background. It’s pretty.

Elton John Pinball was unfortunately out-of-order when we visited, but maybe next time? I heard that this game is in trivial pursuit.

My all-time favorite machine was the 1979 Bally Future Spa.

The future spa is a sort of fitness/sci-fi themed game, with lots of weight lifting and aerobics aesthetics. It’s a wide body machine with continuous background sound. I probably played at least 40 games on this machine in one single visit to the SPM. I couldn’t get enough.

Look how happy the future spa makes me! Deliriously happy. Filled with JOY! How much does one of these cost? I need one!!

For more info, check out the SPM facebook page. There’s a bubble tea place on the corner (Gossip) who will let you use their bathroom if you buy something. Bubble tea is almost the perfect fuel for hours of pinball, we discovered. Anyway, I highly recommend visiting the SPM. Since they don’t have their own permanent space, I’m not sure how long they will be around and unlimited pinball on historic machines is basically a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Despite the residual arm soreness from button mashing, this was epic. I have loved a lot of museums in my day (example: this photo of me at the Barbed Wire Museum in McLean,TX) but this might be my all-time fave. Walk, don’t run.



Filed under fall

5 responses to “Crazy Flipper Fingers

  1. q

    bubble tea and pinball!! what a great combo!! would love to hit this up.

  2. That looks like my kind of place.

  3. Cindy Baugh

    Just read your post regarding Ground Cherries. I discovered them last year and am now in love with them. I live in eastern TN and they grow wild here too. Problem is, my husband keeps mowing or weed-eating them away! I am trying to win him over though. Just today I managed to find about 40 or so little fruits, some ripe, some not. I am going to try and save the seed so I can plant them in a row next year in my garden so I can “protect” them from my weed-whacking husband. I was just wondering if you still have some seeds to share just in case my seed saving isn’t successful? Thanks for sharing your info about this under-appreciated little jewel.

    • jess s

      My seeds are 2 years old now, since my 2010 crop failed, so honestly, your seeds are probably better. Our weather just wasn’t hot enough in the PNW for the ground cherries to get started this year. I think your wild G.C. seeds should be just fine. You can process them just like tomatillos seeds, swirl ’em in the blender with some water, let it settle and scoop off the pulp. Then strain & spread out to dry.

      Once you have them fruiting wildly on your property, they are harder to get rid of than to keep. I think your going to have better luck with them than I will. Enjoy!!!

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