Posts Tagged ‘pinball’

How I became a pinhead

October 24, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 24, 2017

A friend got me interested in pinball. Back in 2014 or 2015, I think, he bought a World Cup Soccer table. I occasionally noodled around with it when visiting his house.

In 2016, my buddy invited me to play in a couple of monthly tournaments at a downtown Raleigh bar/restaurant/arcade called Level Up. For a while, I resisted his blandishments, but eventually I decided to give competitive pinball play a try.

My first tournament was in March 2016; I finished in a three-way tied for last place in a 19-person field. I’ve played every other month or so since then, although I’ve never placed better than a two-way tie for seventh out of 15 participants.

I might have remained an extremely casual pinball player but for a few things. One was a complicated chain of events that began with the extended illness of a relative, which prompted me to spend a bunch of time in Ye Olde Family Home up north at the beginning of this year.

I had a few days in mid-January to myself. I wanted to participate in the annual charity Scrabble tournament in Durham, but I didn’t want to do a 1,000-mile road trip over the course of four days or so. I wound up driving to North Carolina and booking a pair of flights to take me up north and back down to Cackalacky.

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Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 2

June 29, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 29, 2017

Late Tuesday afternoon, I showered, took the dog outside and set out for Sterling, Va., which is a 20 or 25-minute drive from where I’m staying. I was going to — well, let’s call it Massive Marvin’s, a dining establishment that a pair of Internet websites assured me had six pinball machines.

I haven’t yet blogged about pinball, but in brief: I started playing casually sometime last year at the instigation of my friend D—, who’d picked up a pinball jones in 2015 or so; I began developing a true pinball obsession myself about two months ago, which has evolved to the point that I played pinball at five different Triangle venues in the four days leading up to my departure for Virginia.

My phone’s navigation program led me to a nondescript shopping center in a part of Northern Virginia that looked remarkably like every other shopping center that was developed in Northern Virginia in the 1990s. It contained a supermarket, a tool store, a library, an automotive parts store, a few restaurants… The place I was looking for was right by the entrance I’d used, so I found it without too much effort.

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