2013-03-07 / Lifestyles

Pinball heaven

Lois A. Corcoran Lois A. Corcoran It’s all in the timing. I heard about the Midwest Gaming Classic from PinGame Journal editor, Jim Schelberg. He sold me on the idea of attending, but convincing my Better Half was another matter.

Then luck intervened. Dan the man bought a boat, and I took advantage of his euphoric state to place my request. To my great joy, he agreed.

We set out early for Brookfield, and survived a nail biting ride through the cloverleaf in Milwaukee. After checking in at the Sheraton, we headed over to the arcade. Over a hundred pinball machines stood side by side, all set on free play. A dream come true for our 18-year-old son, Kelly.

As he flitted from one to the next, I photographed each game. At one point, I backed up to take a picture, and smacked into a fellow shutterbug who was backing up in the opposite direction.

The highlight for me was meeting Jim. We saw his son, Jon, manning the PinGame Journal booth. “Does he look like you?” I asked, wondering how we’d spot someone I never met. “Kind of,” Jon replied, “Only he’s shorter and balder.”

Maybe so, but Jim’s heart is made of gold. He introduced us to big-name pinball designers as though we were the VIPs.

Dennis Nordman and Greg Freres showed us their current project. Its artwork featured their caricatures and a healthy looking girl they named Melon-y. “Can you guess the dog’s name?” Dennis asked. When I drew a blank, he supplied the punchline: “Melon- Collie”.

While Kelly window shopped, I chatted with John Watson, who designed Pynball.com. He traded his “Rocky and Bullwinkle” machine to promote the site, which allows people to list, free of charge, games they wish to buy or sell.

“Well, Kell,” I said as we left the vendors’ hall, “Do you have enough material for an article now?”

“No,” he replied, “I think we need more research.” Thus, we returned to the arcade for journalistic purposes only. Yeah, right.

Time passed all too quickly for my number one son. Alas, at 8 p.m. sharp, the event’s organizers cut the power, and the games ground to a halt. We returned to our room, where Kelly opened his laptop and poured out his memories of a once-in-a- lifetime event.

Or is it?

That depends on how good my timing is next year.

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