Monday, March 26, 2007

Ever since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball...
I played 'em on the campus, I played 'em in the halls...
I played 'em till I couldn't stand, couldn't even crawl...yes, you could say,
I'VE SURE PLAYED A LOT OF PINBALL!

Straight up, I'm pretty terrible at most video games. Of course, I've never played any of the new handheld games which are all over the place these days; I have never even SEEN a 'Dungeons and Dragons' game, and Ouija boards just plain old spook me. I never was all that good at Space Invaders or Donkey Kong, but I wasn't bad at "Ms. Pac-Man"; I could get thru several levels of that one. Another video game I really like is "Asteroids"; there is basically no format; asteroids drift randomly all over the place (unlike Space Invaders where the little monsters advance down the screen to eat you if you don't shoot them all)...and, I remember "Pong", probably the first, and definitely most primitive, video game. I could put "english" on the "pong ball"...you would hit the ball with the cursor, at the very last minute moving it up or down slightly to make the "pong ball" sail off at weird angles. I tried playing Foosball, but I didn't have anything resembling a power shot; try as I might, my wrists couldn't take it. I remember walking around with sprained wrists after trying to play Foosball. Ack.

But my first love, as far as "gaming" (tho they didn't call it that when I played 'em) was PINBALL. Yep, I've got crazy flipper fingers, what can I say? I remember when you got TWO games, FIVE balls each, for a quarter. And, you had to push in a lever on the side of the machine to get the ball up to the tabletop. Now, I'm no really great genius at pinball, but my reaction time is very good, and after a while, I can get a replay or two on most any pinball machine I play, and I must have played thousands of 'em in my 50-plus years. Way back when, my Dad used to bowl, and I'd meet him at the bowling alley after getting off work at a nearby grocery store. Well, I got bored waiting for him to finish bowling, and there was a pinball machine nearby. My dad came back and asked, "when the heck did you start doing that stuff"?, like pinball was some sort of sordid, crime-spawning activity. Hmmm...my dad didn't care for pinball. Probably one more reason I loved it so much.

Later on, after leaving my unproductive childhood and teenage years, I became an unproductive adult, and I would go and ply my pinball activities at bars around town. The machines in the bars didn't give you replays when your score went "so high"; instead, a bright beacon would begin shining forth, which meant you got a free glass of beer (or pitcher, if the beertender saw fit), and back in my beer-drinking days, nothing tasted sweeter than a free "cold one". I also remember, on the pinball machines that did give replays, the sound the machine made when you racked up extra games...a loud, "KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK" eminating forth from the belly of the pinball machine, and to my ears, nothing short of the Beatles made such a gratifying sound. I've played fast machines, slow machines, in-between machines; machines that had two or three different levels of pinball surface, with all kinds of shining lights and conduits to shoot the pinball through. I guess pinball has partially made me what I am today. Whatever that is...

I have lived alone for a lot of years, and frankly, I prefer it that way. Huge groups of noisy people engaged in a virtual smattering of frantic activity have always grated on my nerves. How did I find out that I preferred living alone? Back when I was a junior in High School, I worked at a grocery store (mentioned above)...(Buttrey's in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho), and my sister was going away to girl scout camp across the lake for a coupla weeks. At the same time, my Mom and Dad went to Canada for a vacation. Methinks they wanted a vacation from us kids. Yep, home alone, that was me! And I LOVED IT! Nope, no wild parties, no one came over, it was during summer vacation, so I could do what I wanted. And what did I do? I'd head down to Coeur d'Alene's City Park, swim a while (the Park is on the lake), and then up above, at the edge of the beach, stood the now-long-gone Playland Pier, and I'd go into its big game room and play that pinball! No pool for me! No darts, either! Just point me at the pinball machine. In a way, I believe that two-week parent-less, sibling-less period sorta pointed me in the direction I have gone ever since. I guess I'm a rolling stone, huh?

I had always thought, "how cool would it be to have a personal game room with a whole bunch of pinball machines?" Ah, to dream the impossible dream. I mean, even at the University of Idaho, I'd get down to the gameroom there and play pinball whenever I could. Pinball totally involves just about every one of your senses, and you can't let your attention drift for even a split-second; them machines are, after all, designed to beat ya and eat up all your quarters! Speaking of which, I have lately seen pinball machines that cost 75 cents per GAME to play. Although, really, I don't see many pinball machines anymore. I suppose the Pinball industry has died down through the years; everything seems to be getting smaller, and I guess Pinball machines are probably the Tyrannosaurus Rex of the game world, big, clunky, noise-eminating entities that they are.

Although I hadn't really thought about it much, I suppose I had entered a period of my life devoid of flippers, bumpers, flashing lights, the ping-ping-ping of the pinball and the KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK of bonus games. But that has changed. And, it's a fantasy fulfilled, in a sense. For, I can now play pinball at home ANY TIME I WANT. And it's a BLAST! No, I don't have a pinball machine per se, but I guess the "Windows XP" that's on my little laptop computer comes equipped with a PINBALL GAME! And let me tell ya, whoever designed it is a genius, and was probably a pinball player to boot! Because it's got all the sounds a pinball machine would make, you can "aim" the flippers, lights flash on and off, and after secreting blood, sweat and tears to try and post something, ANYTHING, that people will want to read, yes, I activate the pinball game and awaaaaay I go. Ping-ping-ping, flash flash, zap zap, ding ding ding, and all the other sounds I grew up with in my pinball-parlor days. All right, sing with me now: "I don't wanna grow up, I'm a toys-r-us kid"...
____________________

The question has been put forth, "why does a person blog?" I think I've found one of the answers. Sometimes, as in the post above, I think of some of the times I really enjoyed, way back when. Like Stevie Wonder sings in "Sir Duke", "I wish those days could...come back once more." And I do; indeed I do.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

There's obviously a good reason for the saying "The man with the most toys wins". I'd guess gathering them throughout a lifetime helps keep us young. I will NOT give up my stuffed animal collection! lol

3:13 PM  
Anonymous lil' ol' me... said...

HIYA, Ms. Doggiewalker...yes, our toys keep us young, but I'd like to add something to that...in this crazy world where the proverbial 'rug' can get pulled out from under us instantaneously, I'd like to think our 'toys' and/or the things we collect remind us of who we ARE.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

So am I a stuffed toy? Ah, yep. Probably look like one! (:-)

2:22 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Mari, if yer a stuffed toy, than I'm an oversized panda bear. That's because I 'stuff' myself a lot.

9:12 AM  

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