Wed 6/9/2010

The third and final adventure is complete. I am safely back at home in Vermont...

WITH MY NEW PINBALL MACHINE!!! (!!!!?!?!?!!!!!!?!?!?!!?!?!)

That's right, not even a year after my initial rediscovery of pinball, I have purchased my first pinball machine. It's a Medieval Madness machine, which was built on September 29th, 1997 by the Williams pinball company in Chicago Illinois. It is, without a doubt, the coolest thing I have owned or will ever own.

I've been keeping this on the down-low for a while now, because it was a pretty big deal, and I wanted to make sure it actually happened before I started freaking out. And, well, it HAPPENED. And now I'm totally freaking out, in the BEST WAY POSSIBLE. So here's how it all happened!

In 2005, I met Liz Prince. THANK GOD. Not only did Liz introduce me to her Santa Fe friend Claire, who I am now totally in love with and dating, but Liz also recently put me in touch with her friend Farhad, who had been talking for a while about selling his Medieval Madness Pinball Machine.

Farhad used to live in this big house, which was nicknamed "April Fog." At one point, he bought the MM pinball machine and set it up for he and all his housemates to play. Eventually Farhad moved into his own apartment, and the pinball machine went into storage. He loved the machine dearly, but there wasn't room in his new place, and he thought it might be too distracting to have it set up just for himself. Farhad had thoughts of selling the machine, but he wanted to make sure it went to a good owner, someone who would really appreciate it and love it the way he had. The machine was in storage for three years...

During that time, Jon Chad and I were becoming OBSESSED with pinball. Any of you who have been reading this blog know the details. We found a machine across the street from CCS, we started playing it all the time, then we started playing pinball in all sorts of other places, and collecting all kinds of pinball media (movies, records, mp3s, zines, books), etc. etc. etc.

So Liz, my gateway to happiness, told Farhad that she had the perfect friend for his machine - ME! She put us in touch, we sorted out the details, and the rest is history! Jon drove down from Vermont in the White River Junction community car, we loaded up the pinball machine in Boston and drove it back last night! I took a TON of photos of the entire day, which are up in my new Medieval Madness Flickr Set. (I also finally uploaded my photos from my Santa Fe trip, if you want to check those out too!)

Seriously though, I need you all to understand how INCREDIBLE this is. I didn't just buy any random pinball machine. Medieval Madness is the #3 most popular pinball game ever created (according to the "fun rating" system listed at the Internet Pinball Database). I didn't buy some junker, fix it up, trade it for another machine, and then do that eight times until I got this machine. I just went from ZERO to HERO. This machine has been in private ownership for at least 10 years, if not all of its 13 years, and like I said, it's been in storage for the last 3. This is the pinball equivalent of buying a classic old car that a little old lady was using to drive to the super market and back for 50 years, so it only has 2,000 miles on it. I am the luckiest pinball enthusiast alive.

It's going to take a lot of work to keep the machine in good working order, but I'm up for the challenge! Farhad showed Jon and me a bunch of tips and tricks for cleaning the playfield and replacing bulbs and stuff. Even so, I'm going to need to learn how to solder, how to read wiring diagrams and all kinds of stuff about switches and solenoids and fuses and stuff. It's going to be awesome. Working on this machine is my new official hobby.

We set the machine up in CCS's "Media Room" with the idea that it will be in a public place, but Jon and I, and all the students and faculty will have 24 hour access to the machine. I'm going to take half of the money people drop into it to help pay for the machine (which was expensive!) and the other half is going to be used for the "April Fog Memorial Scholarship" which will be given to a deserving senior during their Spring Break next year. Hopefully we can raise enough money to help with the printing costs of their senior thesis project!

Well, that's it. I'm back in White River Junction, and I've got unlimited access to pinball. Life is good. Thank you so much to Liz and Farhad and Jon and all the people who helped me get the machine moved and set up in place. You all helped this dream of mine become a reality!

Oh man... It's going to be a pinball summer!!! :)

8 comments on this entry

Congrats Alec! I know that you will have a ton of fun caring for that baby. My best friend used to have a Black Knight 2000 and I can attest to the fact that owning a machine like this completely steps up the game in terms of understanding/love/enjoyment of pinball. (My regret now is that I wasn't able to negotiate a deal where I could take the machine when he moved to Raleigh. ) Again, congratulations!

Blake Jun09

you know you're excited when your interrobang gets stepped up to 27 digits. this is incredible, suuuuper jealous. usually when someone buys a pinball machine, it's something really old and kind of fun, more "wow, things have come a long way in pinball play" than "omg i'm never going to leave the basement again."

the maintenance part of it sounds equally exciting as having it to play. they're amazing works of art as far as mechanics go. hopefully it doesn't carry the volkswagen curse: requiring equal if not more work under the hood than time on the road.

I've been enjoying playing pinball again after reading about your enjoyment of it, thanks for sharing once again

Anthony Jun10

Anthony - Good to hear you are playing some pinball!

Blake - Too bad you couldn't snag that Black Knight 2000. Maybe another machine will cross your path!

Nate - So far, so good! I made my first repair today (fixing a switch on the left slingshot) and I ordered some parts for other small fixes around the playfield (a blown fuse, some broken plastic pieces). It's going to be super fun getting this thing into ship shape!

Alec Jun11

.. yeah. All this excitement has me wondering just where that machine is... and if it needs a better home!

Blake Jun11

Giddy for you, brother. I still need to get my TAXI machine someday.

Haha! That's awesome that you bought Farhad's machine!

Did you know Harry and the Potters and the Power of Love was recorded at April Fog? We never got to play the pinball much though. We were mostly busy recording and eating.

Paul Jun18

Whoa, awesome! I didn't know that Paul. I only visited April Fog once, in 2006 but it seemed like a pretty magical place. I'll add some wizarding art to the April Fog Memorial scholarship! ;)


Alec Jun18

Post your comment here:

Pinball Ownership: Week One
I've had the pinball machine for a little over a week now, and let me tell you, it has been a busy ..
Heroes Con 2010!
Well, I'm back in Boston (at Liz's place again) after an awesome extend-o weekend in Charlotte, ..