Does weed smoke affect pinball machines?

Let's get weird!

Welcome to the second edition of the freshly relaunched TWIP newsletter. Colin here.

I think I’m going to try to stick with a Friday publishing schedule moving forward. That way, we can mostly focus on items that actually did occur “this week in pinball,” not “last week in pinball," which, if we’re all honest with each other (and I hope this can be a space for that), is what you get if you typically publish on a Monday.

Anyway, the subject line of this email may have caught your eye. It’s a question that certainly drew mine when I was scrolling r/pinball the other day. We know that other types of smoke are bad for things, say cigarettes and cars. But a pinball machine?

It’s not like buying a used game from a “smoke-free home” is a selling point. I’ve never walked into a smoke-free arcade or basement and thought, “Hey, it smells like smoke here; it must be that tar-encrusted EM in the corner.” Have you?

And weed smoke (not that I’m a huge expert or anything) isn’t exactly a smoke stench that lingers. Walk into a room where someone lit up in the last hour, and yeah, you’ll notice it, but days, months, or years later? Kinda rare.

If anything, weed smoke is good for pinball machines, not because of the potential of a contact high, because we all know pinball machines aren’t alive, and that’s silly nonsense, but in the sense that should a pinball machine be excessively exposed to weed smoke, it’s probably in an environment where it’s getting a lot of play from some rad, likely chill-as-eff pinball players.

At least, that’s how I see things. But what say you?

Poll of the Week

Tune in next week for the results!

Does weed smoke affect pinball machines?

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TWIP Mood Music

Speaking of weed smoke, here’s a song by Tricky! It’s a vibe. When I hear it, I think of a total immersion pinball moment. Like when you’re in a flow state and the multiball hits. I listened to it a lot while writing this edition, so you can, too.

Volunteers Needed

Before we get into the news of the week (this week, not last week), we put up a new piece on Kineticist (thanks, Joe Ciaravino!) about the importance of volunteering for pinball tournaments as a scorekeeper. If you’re newer to pinball and want to learn more or just looking to get more involved in the community, this is a phenomenal way to do so. Personally, I learned a ton of things years ago while volunteering for a local tournament series, and some of my best pinball friends came out of that experience.

A Word from our Sponsors

Pinball Expo is back, baby! Like TWIP, it never went anywhere, but it’s cool that it’s confirmed to be back again for its 40th iteration, which is simply incredible if you think about it. Running a pinball show for 40 years. Think how much has changed in the industry and our lives in that time. Space Shuttle was the hit of the year, which is a far cry from the modern pinball experience.

We hear Expo has some great things in store for their 40th, including extra days, expanded floor space, and a whole lot more. We attended last year and had a heck of a time.

Let’s get into the news!

This Week in Pinball

American Troll Move?

After much community discussion stemming from a… let’s call it lightly sourced (see, honesty!) rumor about American Pinball’s imminent demise, the company seized the opportunity to push back on the rumors with some hot pinball news of their own.

Pinball fans everywhere wondered, “What could it be?”

  • A new game, perhaps?

  • Confirmation of the rumors?

  • A new mod for Hot Wheels?

  • Merging with Euro Pinball Corp?

Turns out, none of the above. Rather, American used the buzz to opportunistically launch their new Twitch channel and weekly pinball stream (tune in on Wednesdays at 8 pm CT).

They also announced some new hires to the service department (congratulations, LTG and Maurice!) and a new board system.

Frankly, I found it all hilarious, minus the headaches the American team probably had to endure (which I empathize with).

I’m not sure it’s something I would have done personally (if nothing else, I would have used it to pump their YouTube channel instead, as Twitch is not a platform I’d invest heavily in right now, but that’s a super tactical tweak). Regardless, had they launched this effort at the end of 2023 I’m not sure they would have achieved 200+ live viewers for a first stream, as I saw early in the evening, soooo, it worked?

Degenerate PR

Did you know that the 3rd annual Pinball Degenerate Awards are coming up?

I did, but receiving a real live press release from event head Joe Ciaravino was still nice.

The Degenies, as they are affectionately known, are some of the most fun a pinball fan can have in this community. Since Joe C. acts as both judge and jury on this take on an industry award show, the stakes stay low, and the fun stays high.

This year, the awards will be streamed live in the Pinball Degenerates Facebook Group on Sunday, February 18th at 12pm ET and will be held at Tilt Arcade Bar in Toronto, ON.

Categories for the show include

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Tournament Director

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Meme

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Victory

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Pet

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Fail

  • Most Degenerate Pinjury

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Vehicle

  • Norma Jennings Memorial Award for Most Degenerate Pinball Streamer (includes $100 donation made in winner's name to Cancer research)

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Stance

  • Most Pinball Degenerate Merchandise

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Score

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Restoration

  • Allen Cihak Memorial Award for Most Degenerate Pinball Operator
    (includes $100 donation made in winner's name to Multiple Sclerosis)

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Event

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Couple

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Commentator

  • Lyman F. Sheats Jr. Memorial award for: Pinball Degenerate of The Year (includes $100 donation made in winner's name to National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Which brings me to a mini-rant…

Send us Your Press Releases!

I can probably count on one hand the number of press releases (or press release adjacent activities) that I have received from pinball ventures while helming the combined entities of TWIP and Kineticist over the last couple of years. The pinball community seems to like to live and die by the whims of the Facebook algorithm, which I guess is fine; it’s the digital reality we all live in, but for the love of the silver ball, send a press release to me or your other favorite pinball content creator with the information you want covered when you want it covered.

When you do that, it means I get to spend less time swimming through the rage-bait engagement swamp of algorithmic Facebook feeds and more time writing and building cool things for pinball, which is a win-win for everyone.

If I had to put numbers to it, I’d say you get upwards of a 50% better chance of having your thing covered here if you email me about it versus hoping that the Facebook bots present it to me there.

/end rant

Pinball of the Week

I was doing some updates on our Pinball Machines Database (tagging games, adding new photos, that kind of thing) when I got to the classic Williams game from 1970, Gay 90’s. I think I first came across this at the last Pinburgh, and I remember the game catching my eye at the time. The game would later show up (maybe the same copy) in the collections of some local players in the New England area, and it remained a curiosity.

Anyway, I never really understood what “Gay 90s” was referring to, had never heard the phrase before, and never bothered to look it up until this week!

Now that I have, I know that “Gay 90’s” refers to the period of the 1890s and was popularized in the 1920s as a way to nostalgically reminisce about a decade of supposed good times.

Weird thing to make an entire pinball machine about if you ask me, kinda like making a game about the Roaring 20s today, but I guess the ’60s were a weird time.

Creator Highlights of the Week

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