Brice's Chicago Pinball Journal - Vol. 2

Brice's Chicago Pinball Journal - Vol. 2

By balt

August 25, 2018

3 months ago

I’m chronicling my first year of pinball around Chicagoland.  

April 29
ORD Tournament
Ouch! I like pinball way too much to be eliminated after just two games.  I will admit, I felt a bit better several weeks after this competition when my first opponent, Alysa Parks, won the NYC Women’s Championship. Obviously, I need to play more often than a couple times a month if I’m going to continue to improve.  So the search for a home pin has begun.  Budget: around $1K.  I used to think collecting NeoGeo games for $100+ a pop was crazy expensive.  Welcome to pinball!  

May 1
Level 257
Ahhh, much better!  A personal best 7th place finish this league night.  It was a total fluke to finish ahead of Roger Sharpe, but I’ll take it.  The games were Houdini, Wizard of Oz, Aerosmith, and Kiss.  Before we began, I played many many games of JJP’s Pirates now that I know that triple spinning disk is not long for this world.  

May 5
Sinking Ship, Indianapolis
Hot diggity, I finally found an X-Files pin to flip.  We were in Indianapolis visiting my sister and I may have had heart palpitations when Pinball Map said one of my dream pins was nearby.  A couple months back I had great chat with a local pinhead TomN about buying his X-Files.  We decided his game was too nice for me – minty instead of a fixer-upper. Besides, I had best play the game before I commit to it.  Well, what I read was true, I spent most of my time bouncing off posts instead of hitting the ramps.  I’ve never drained a multiball so fast.  My scores actually got worse as my beginner’s luck wore off and I tried to strategize.  I’m not giving up on owning one. I think the X-Files might be better off in a collection to finesse those tight shots.  

May 11
Crystal Lake
I bought my first pin!  I feel like walking around in a t-shirt that says, “Ask me about my new pinball machine.” It’s a 1979 Williams Time Warp sold to me by the purchasing agent at Pinball Life.  I cast a wide net looking for my first game in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.  Turns out, I found it just a few blocks from my house.  Definitely a player’s condition game but thoroughly cleaned and refreshed by the seller.  I think this is the Time Warp that bangerjay scored in his 2014 warehouse raid.  Anyhoo, I’m looking forward to playing pinball daily instead of a few times a month.  

May 20
Crystal Lake
Major trauma, I no longer have the high score on my own game.  This cannot stand!  UPDATE: Got it back a week later.

May 23
Pinball Life, Huntley
Picked up a few essentials like spare bulbs & balls.  Also played Stars and America’s Most Haunted for the first time.  I’m sorry, bells & chimes are not for me.  I much prefer those good ol’ Atari sounds. Beeewooooop!

June 10
Crystal Lake
I waxed my first playfield today. It was like waxing my first car in high school, but quicker. Afterward, the ball floated around the upper playfield like magic.  Other stuff I’ve done lately: polished and waxed the legs & coin door, sealed the backglass, and touched-up the cabinet paint.  Time Warp cleaned up reeeaaal niiiice.

June 30
Headquarters Beercade, Chicago
The family is away so I get to play.  8 hours of pinball on 13 machines set to free play.  I had a nice chat with the fellow who services the machines too.  Highlight: Helping the tech figure out the lower playfield ball hadn't been installed in the brand new AC/DC.  Tolerated the bells and chimes in Eight Ball.  Fell out of love with Ghostbusters.  

July 10
Level 257
I’m burned out on two strike tournaments.  I’ll be taking a break from Level 257 as well.  Pinball there feels like it was shoved to the side to make way for more hulking redemption machines.  I miss those swanky bowling lanes that used to be our neighbor beside the pins.

August 1
Crown Point, Indiana
I’m short on cash and short on pins.  I took a quick trip to northern Indiana this morning to pick up machine #2, a home edition Fireball.  I bought it from a tattoo-covered guy who had it in his basement/ tattoo parlor.  I meet some interesting people through pinball.  This game needs some serious airing out, it smells like cat piss.  Bonus Pin!  Later the same day, someone gave me a free Star Explorer, which is the right price for that model.  This playfield is going on the wall.

August 3
Logan Arcade, Chicago
The cure for my two-strike blues was Chicago’s first Flip Frenzy.  I loved it, and top it off, I got to meet Martin from the Head2Head podcast.  Thanks to him, I heard about the event and suspected it would be a blast.  I played 20 rounds in 3 solid hours, winning 9.  Highlights were a brutal Addams Family, my first plays on Whitewater and Junkyard, and holding my own on WWE against the mighty Jane, winner of the comp.  Flip Frenzy rocks!

August 24
Crystal Lake
Pinball owner = learn to solder.  I’m geeking out on being elbows deep in pinball parts.  First I stripped bare a Star Explorer to hang it on a wall.  Now I’m attempting my first soldering on a couple of pop bumpers to replace cracked skirts on Fireball.  I can’t believe pop bumpers aren’t plug-and-play.  I also had to repaint my new Hakko 888 soldering station because I couldn’t deal with the yellow and blue color scheme.  Apologies to Marge Simpson.  By the way, I’ve done some quick calculations and figure I can comfortably fit four pins in my basement.  The hunt continues!

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