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Thursday, September 18, 2008
Celebrity Pinball Tournament
It was a damp, gloomy September weekend when Hollywood Park, the racetrack of legend, hosted the Celebrity Pinball Tournament, playoffs between pinball champions of all ages and both genders. I’ve always been more of a pinball wizard than a video game gremlin so I was pretty damn pumped about going.
The cover charge was $25 and in return you could play non-stop for hours on any of the fifty pinball machines. The cover charge went to a good cause, a charity for autistic children, which reminded me of the Who’s “Pinball Wizard” song from “Tommy”. Since there were no horse races scheduled we pinball geeks had the place to ourselves. It was awesome!
My favorite machines were Monster Bash, which had animated toy monsters crawling all over the inside of the board. The flippers were purple and I wish I had this board in my living room glowing against our black light. I also enjoyed Earthquake, a pretty cool board that literally shook with the sensation of an earthquake every time you hit the Bonus Score! Another great board was Circus Voltaire where you had to hit the Ringmaster’s annoying green face. He looked like The Joker from Batman and the artwork to the board was great. The lights and inner design were fantastic to look at. If I owned these machines I would probably get real stoned and just stare at them for hours!
Boards I didn’t like were the movie based ones, like the James Bond 007 Goldeneye machine, slow and dull, the Pirates of the Carribean and the Shrek machines. They were nothing real special – I don’t think the hardcore pinball fans were too much in love with them, either. They didn’t get much play that I noticed.
The granddaddy machines from the Fifties and Sixties were well represented, including one called “Chinatown” that had a disclaimer stating “Not Intended for Children”. Haw! Most of the old boards were creaky, slow and even magnetized, i.e. the ball would automatically fall down the center so neither flipper could smack it. There was a cool looking board based on The Beatles cartoon show, but as kinky as it looked it was a lousy game. After two rounds I walked away looking for better thrills. So did everybody else!
I missed the actual tournament but the trophies looked amazing, a huge silver pinball on a beautiful chrome base. I wouldn’t mind winning one of those fuckers.
When I asked who the celebrities for the event were, I was told it consisted of a writer from “The Family Guy” and a female CGI artist who’s “tops in the CGI field”. Holy shit! Celebrities! I told Rebecca, “Well, you were in Frightwig and on the Gene Simmons reality show and I’ve been in the movies and an ex-underground rock star. As far as I’m concerned we’re the celebrities!” And they treated us as such, too. A photographer was snapping away at us flipping pinballs, rocking boards and tilting like maniacs.
They finally closed down the All-You-Can-Play pinball smorgasbord and gently kicked us out, and not a minute too soon. After four hours of non-stop pinball intensity my right hand screamed in numbing pain that can only be described as classic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at its worst. Ouch!
As we walked across the parking lot airplanes were banking down over our heads (LAX being 3 blocks away) and Rebecca took pictures on her cell phone. Rather than get on the gray ugly freeway home we decided to drive through funky Inglewood taking La Brea Boulevard all the way home. Yeah, we took the scenic route listening to Minor Threat, driving through the black ‘hood to the sounds of “Guilty Of Being White”. Game over.