The chase, let me cut to it: Halloween Diner!

Other matters: Visited heaven today. Just a quick stop. Heaven has things like this:


It was the area’s largest pinball rehab-clinic / showroom; did a little piece on its proprietor for Sunday’s paper. He had a big room full of pinbal machines. He had another room full of disassembled machines awaiting reconstruction. And then he had a warehouse full of machines. i bled happiness. He had many 50s and 60s machines, with their distinctive artwork, that strange blaring style intended to be illuminated from behind. Not many artists work with the expectation that their paintings will be brightly backlit and subject to arbitrary highlighting depending on the vagaries of a metal ball’s trajectory.


The forties . . .



The Seventies, obviously . . . .


The sixties . . .



The early years of legit pinball.



“It’s more fun to compete!” It’s not just an mug’s game with no skill, the sort of thing that corrupts young minds and makes the mayor of New York take an axe to the machine. IT IS A GAME OF SKILL so don’t regulate it out of existence.

This is interesting:



See anything? No? There’s nothing to be seen. It’s the back glass for Mata Hari. He had two. TWO. One of them had German writing on the blade; it was removed for reasons lost in the mists of history. He was working on a couple of Eight-Ball Deluxe machines - yes, he had two. TWO. His advice: you’d best be a handy fellow, because they will suffer the occasional breakdown. People played the hell out of Eight Ball Deluxe, and the surviving machines are still a little touchy.

When I showed up they were loading an Addams Family on a truck.

“Mamushka!” I said. I played the table on my lunch hour when covering the Republican National Convention in 1992. (There was a tent set up with games; it was the fave. You got 250,000 points when you got the Mamushka.) It was the best-selling machine of all time - and for all that, sales were still just over 20,000. Alas, most of his machines were either before my time - interesting, but no connection - or from the Desperate Era when the inroads of video games were slowly ruining the industry. But he knew his stuff, and we spoke the same language. We had a conversation about the angle of the kick-out from the cup at the top of Mata Hari that made me feel like I actually know something about something, which is always nice.

After the interview he punched up three games on Mata, and she beat me. If I’d had an hour I could have reassembled my mojo, but he pointed me to another machine called Xenon. I’d never seen it before. One of the first multiball - the sound ROMs used Eight-Ball Deluxe sounds. It was incredibly responsive. Took 400,000 to get a game. I racked up 460,000, heard the satisfying rap of the free-game hammer, and stepped away: I can still do this.

I want one.

Before I got to the place I stopped at the drive-thru for a hamburger. The clerk had to wait to give me change, because she was low on ones.

“You get good mileage on that?” she asked about the Element. I said that I did and I loved it.

“Looks roomy,” she said. “Spacious.” I said that it was. She gave me my money and I drove on and HOLD ON HOLD ON, she’d shorted me a five. I stopped ‘twixt the two windows and went back. This VIOLATED THE NORMS and for a moment I felt like someone who runs backwards through an airport security screening line. I apologized to the woman in her car, waiting for her change, and told the clerk I was short a five.

“That’s a gold dollar coin I gave you,” she said.

Uh. Right. “I know, but it was $2.13, and I gave you a twenty and a quarter, so I should get 18 dollars back. There’s two fives and two ones and a gold coin.”


She disappeared to begin the process of giving a customer a five-dollar bill outside of the normal payment sequence, and I saw cars piling up behind. Partly my fault; should have counted my money before I left the window. I wondered if everyone worried that hamburger delivery was in peril because a man was out of his car.

She returned with the fiver, and all was well.

And that was the Drama of the day. Hey! Of all things, what do you know: Halloween Diner. Since this is pitched at a new audience, it’s not steeped in the usual Halloween Diner Lore, and I’m a bit rusty - it’s been a while. But it’s good to be back. It’s here. Have a grand weekend! Friday! Yee haa, etc. See you around.







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