Friday, September 30, 2011

Pacific Pinball Expo '11/Geezer Bait

From the very corner of my eye, I noticed an older, well-dressed gentleman striding towards the vintage pinball machine I had just started getting into. It was the first pinball machine that took my fancy at the Expo and I was only on my second ball. As I frantically slapped the aging, lumbering flipper buttons (my over-indulged, product-of-80's-pinball wrists were clearly stating their displeasure/wish to get over to the post-70s tables with the lighter, sexier flipper mechanism ASAP), the toupee, mustache, gold chain and Eau De Granddad cologne came into range and, at first, I would have sworn to you he was Robert Goulet.

Him: "That's an appropriate table you're playing"

Me: "SAY WHAT?!" (it's sometimes necessary to shout at the Pinball Expo due to the constant cacophony of bells, flippers, cheers and the occasional expletive")

Him: "I said, that's an appropriate table you're playing..." he pointed at the backboard art on the machine in front of me.

"...The Slick Chick"

The Slick Chick Herself

Now, let me preempt the next bit with a disclaimer: you are completely justified in being disappointed in me for my response. Girl, I know what you're thinking: had I not rehearsed something to say in this very situation? Something witty and biting, but not too insulting, perhaps?

You guys, this is me we're talking about: of course not.

Naturally, my brain froze up faster than witness at a mob trial. I just stood there, neglecting my game and guttering the ball. So here's the best thing my neurons could throw together:

"Uhhhhh...Tttthhhhhank you?"

I thanked him.


"That'll teach you to wear boots, shorts and tights to a pinball expo", Melissa would later joke.

She was right.

I NEVER get hit on. It don't know if it's the angry-girl walk or the fact that my eyes are drastically different sizes, I just don't get hit on. And I'm fine with that. Today, however, I had nadvertantly come dressed as a 1960s go-go dancer. I was geezer bait and this was a writhing geezer pit.
Geezer Row

It happened in slow motion. As I looked over at him, this man, old enough to be my grandfather, grasped the VIP pass around his neck, twirled it around, gave me the smuttiest "up and down" stare, winked at me in the most lecherous way imaginable, spun on his white loafers ( joke) and strutted away like an ancient, toupee'd cockerel.

This would be the first of many geezer encounters throughout the day. They were all, however, entirely harmless, rather endearing, somewhat flattering, and well-meaning. It did become somewhat of an obstacle course of middle-aged plus men trying to cajole me into "tournament mode" with them. And, no, that is not a euphemism. At least, I don't think it was.

This encounter could pretty much be a metaphor for the Pacific Pinball Expo 2011 held in the Marin County Expo Hall on September 23rd-25th. Weird, funny, smooth as all hell and unexpected. We went on the Friday (23rd) to avoid the crowds, and we were right to do so. The later it got, the more crowded it got, but it was still highly enjoyable due to the sheer size of the venue and sheer number of tables to occupy even the most hard-core pinball junkie.

Primordial Pinball

Having recently visited the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, I was familiar with a lot of the tables on display and was excited to see their fantastic and eclectic collection again. I was surprised, however, to discover the sheer multitude of collectors and enthusiasts willing to transport the cumbersome equipment all the way to Marin and let the public have a go on their personal collection.

Sounds a bit rude. It stays.

It seemed as though every square inch of the exposition hall was occupied with a pinball table of some variety. In reality, it was merely the noise and old-man cologne/nerd sweat that permeated every square inch of the room...a small price to pay to play some of the rarest (and oldest) machines in the world.

In the Zone. 

From the time Melissa, her boyfriend Jeremiah and I got wrist-banded at the door to the time we left (4pm, 9pm, respectively), my fingers barely left the buttons. All my favorite tables made it to the party: Dr. Who, Family Guy, Addams Family, Pinball Wizard, Lord of the Rings, and I added a few to the favorite roster while I was there: Twilight Zone, CSI, Creature from the Black Lagoon (I'm starting to see a theme here).

I was so in the zone that I didn't hear my number called for the raffle. Either that, or the continuous trill of bells and buzzers (did I mention the noise yet?) had made my eardrums recede in fear. I still maintain I was in the zone. Two tickets to the Asian Art Museum were mine and I didn't even know it (I got a call later that week letting me know they were in the mail, so it was like I got three awesome days for the price of one).

SPEAKING OF IN THE ZONE: Pinball Posse Member Melissa Zahn achieved a high score on the Apollo 13 table. She will be promoted to House of 13 Balls in a secret and slightly weird ritual.

3/4ths of the Pinball Posse, plus a sample of those tights I mentioned.
(From Right: Little Bee, Merrri$$a, Jeremiah "Hot Flips" J.")

Also, you didn't think I could go somewhere without making a new friend, did you? This is Taro. He helped me pick out the pinballs I got for the Pinball Posse. He was criminally handsome.

Where I Went:

Pacific Pinball Expo 2011
September 23rd-25th
Venue: Marin Civic Center Exhibition Hall
10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, CA 94903 (Directions)
Admission: Daily ~ Child under 12/$15 Daily Adult/$25
2 Day Pass ~ Child/$25 Adult/$45 3 Day Pass (Fri-Sat-Sun) ~ Child/$30 Adult/$60

Pacific Pinball Museum
Address : 1510 Webster Street, Alameda, CA
Weekdays: Tues, Wed, Thurs - 2pm to 9pm - Friday 2pm to 12 midnight (Closed Mondays)
Weekends: Saturday 11am to 12 midnight - Sunday: 11am to 9pm

For Information (510) 205-9793