Deliberate Mutilation

Twilight Zone Tutorial | Melvin Williams Clears the Air | Disco Pinball | New Major Champion | JAWS Accessories | More!

This Week in Pinball was a lighter week for us; we’ve got a longer Song of the Week pick before getting into some of our pinball highlights for the week, including a new game tutorial and one of the most interesting pinball articles I’ve read all year. Oh, and if you’re curious about the title of this week’s newsletter, it’s a quote from the scene in JAWS where we see the vandalized billboard, now made famous in pinball topper form.

This Week’s Pinball Agenda:

  • Song of the Week

  • Pinball News of the Week

    • New Twilight Zone Tutorial

    • Disco Pinball: Declining Games and Depression in Disco Elysium

    • Melvin Williams Clears the Air on Alice

    • Jason Zahler Wins 1st Major Championship

    • Stern Launches JAWS Accessories

  • Meme of the Week

  • Creator Highlights of the Week

  • Poll of the Week

Song of the Week

Who doesn’t love good satire? This week, I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite songs by the supremely talented multi-instrumental artist Ben Folds. Released back in 2001, off his first solo album by the same name, Rockin’ the Suburbs is Folds “taking the piss” out of the whole nu-metal scene, which was popular at the time. Think of bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit. Folds would share the inspiration behind the song in an interview around the time of its release:

RP: The single "Rockin’ the Suburbs" is different from the rest. Why did you choose a song that does not represent the album?

BF: (eats) I think in America the radio format is so narrow. You know, I deserve to make a living with what I do (smiles)!

RP: I agree!

BF: Honestly, the only way to do it is to create something that effectly sounds like it is on the radio. The only way I can do that without making myself sick is to make fun of what’s on the radio. So I wrote this really fine line. "Rockin’ the Suburbs" was just released and does so far okay on the radio.

RP: And at the end it sounds like you were taking the piss of Rage Against The Machine.

BF: I like Rage Against The Machine. I am taking the piss of the whole scene, especially the followers.

RP: Where did the idea come for this song?

BF: I used to do this big rant at the end of some gigs with Ben Folds Five. The band broke into this big heavy metal thing and I started as a joke to scream in a heavy metal falsetto. I found myself saying things like: Feel my pain, I am white, feel my pain. I was going to write this song about Korn. I don’t know, it wasn’t as funny when I directed it at somebody. So I thought I would write it not directed to anybody. I mean, I would be happy to tell the guys from Korn that I wrote a song about them, but I think, when people listen to it, it is a better song when it is not directed to anybody.

When this song first dropped, I was just entering my teens and deep into my own nu-metal phase (it is what was on MTV and the radio, and it’s what all my friends listened to 🤷‍♂️).

Ben Folds was what my Mom listened to, and it wasn’t “cool” by any stretch, but I took a shine to it. 23 years later, I’m still listening to Ben Folds music. Korn? Not so much. Then, as now, I think I clicked with the lyricism, the creativity, the instrumentation, and probably the humor, too. In a lot of his hit songs (this one in particular, but also Army, One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces, Song for the Dumped, and Battle of Who Could Care Less), there’s this self-deprecating, self-aware, and downright witty observational humor that I connect with.

This being a pinball newsletter, there are some pinball tie-ins here, too. First, Weird Al directed the music video for this song (and made a small cameo towards the end). After a few dozen plays this week, it finally dawned on me that Rockin’ the Suburbs is spiritually a Weird Al song. It’s not as over-the-top as most of his work, but it’s in the same vein.

Pinball News of the Week

Mostly highlighting links to already-published content this week on Kineticist and elsewhere. As I write this on Thursday, it’s a beautiful day; my wife took the afternoon off, and our son is home from daycare. We’re going to visit the local farmer’s market and touch some grass.

Next week, I’m hoping to have an interview with UK’s Pinball Geoff, an international pinball personality who has long captivated my attention.

New Twilight Zone Tutorial

Thanks to James McFatter, we have another excellent written tutorial for an all-time classic pinball machine, Pat Lawlor’s 1993 release, Twilight Zone. He outlines the best paths for beating the game and achieving high scores in competitive situations. Despite having a lot of time on the table myself, I did not realize there was an optimal path to starting multiball for higher scores. Thanks James!

Disco Pinball

This is a bit of a different article for us, but one of the most interesting pinball pieces I’ve read all year.

It's an authorized reprint of an essay from Ryan Banfi, which was originally published in March of 2024. It contains an analysis of the use of pinball-related storylines in the 2019 RPG game Disco Elysium. It helps to have played Disco Elysium before reading this (and there are pretty major spoilers if you haven’t played it yet), but I don't think it's absolutely necessary, either. Having spent a lot of time reading about and studying the pinball industry, I found it interesting to see how the story of the pinball industry was used to inform creative and storytelling decisions within an unrelated gaming project. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we did!

Melvin Williams Clears the Air on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Kudos to the In Before the Lock team for a great interview with Melvin Williams of DPX / Dutch Pinball. Despite being notably skeptical about this entire endeavor, I thought Rob and Davey asked some tough questions, and Melvin came across as authentic and reasoned in his goals for the game and the impact he wants to have in pinball. Success is never guaranteed, of course, but this was a good foot forward.

Jason Zahler Wins 1st Major Championship

Congrats to Jason Zahler for winning his first IFPA Major Championship at last weekend’s IFPA19 World Pinball Championship. He defeated a murderer’s row of competitive pinballers on his way to victory. From the #3 seed he defeated Daniele Acciari, Keith Elwin, Escher Lefkoff and Arvid Flygare.

Stern Releases JAWS Accessories

Stern released the JAWS accessories trailer and once again broke the pinball Internet with debates and hot takes. They introduced a speaker light kit, shooter knob, side armor, art blades, and topper.

The topper drew the bulk of the ire. I’ve stated before that toppers are mostly lost on me (what with our 7-foot basement ceilings and all), so I would not be a buyer for this at any price. However, I did think that, thematically, the topper fits with everything JAWS is going for, and for $1,000, I can see it being a fun luxury addition to the game for some buyers. But I also see the point that this particular execution may be better as a value-add at the Premium/LE levels as almost a soft price cut, which is what some other manufacturers seem to be doing of late.

Creator Highlights of the Week

  • Eclectic Gamers Podcast answered some reader questions and had a really insightful conversation about pinball media and why many of us even call ourselves by that term in the first place. Dennis and Tony make a lot of their own valid points. In addition to the term “influencer” being cringe, I think it’s a lot like other things in life where people naturally want to define the groups they identify with. For people who create content about pinball, “pinball media” is a natural fit.

  • Arcade Matt shared his video from Stern’s Influencer Day. Anyone reading this newsletter likely knows most of what he covers, but if you have any friends or family who want to learn more about the state of modern pinball, this is a must-share. I’m incredibly impressed with what he put together. It looks like the work of an entire crew, but it was just him running around with a camera!

  • This one comes to us from another creator who is not on the regular pinball beat, but I love exploring interesting uses of pinball data. The author does a semi-tongue-in-cheek analysis of Pinball Map data and Pinball Machines Per Capita to attempt to draw some conclusions about the world and what a prevalence of pinball machines might imply.

  • Speaking of Pinball Map, they published a new episode of their podcast! To answer another question about what I was watching while building out the games database, I’m just gonna say it was wrestling—lots and lots of wrestling.

Meme of the Week

New Paid Subscriber Perk: Pinball Heroes Pins

Thanks Tycoon Arcade!

Did you know we have paid subscriptions? Maybe not. I have a nasty habit of burying the CTA (call-to-action in marketing speak) at the bottom of posts. We have a few different levels offered, from a simple thank you to a supporter-level subscription. $4.99/mo is a great starting point for most people.

Plus, for those who subscribe at the $4.99/mo level or higher, we now have a fun perk: your choice of a custom Pinball Heroes pin, courtesy of our friends at Tycoon Arcade. Right now, we have the options shown in the photo: Pinball Ranger, Pinball Rogue, Pinball Wizard, Pinball Druid, and Pinball Tinkerer.

Poll of the Week

Who is your favorite active pinball manufacturer?

(Please note I am limited to 10 options)

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Last Week’s Poll Results

Which rumored upcoming game will we see first?

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ Beetlejuice (18)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 Harry Potter (30)

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ The Matrix (16)

🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️ Back to the Future (25)

🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ Cuphead (11)

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