I love pinball. Started playing when I was about seven and have never stopped. Hit major paydirt in fifth grade when I became friends with a kid named Tommy Scalici, whose mobbed-up father owned a few local supper clubs. Each of these clubs featured a few pinball machines, and Mr. Scalici would rotate them from club to club, with most of them making pit stops in the Scalici basement. So at any given moment, that basement usually featured three or four machines, which we were allowed to play for free.
Never really thought much about pinball in terms of Uni Watch, however (except maybe for Elton John’s Pinball Wizard outfit in Tommy). But the other day I got a note from reader David Berger that connected the dots between pinball and athletics aesthetics. Dig:
My 11-year-old son and I recently visited the Silverball Museum, which is located in part of the recently renovated downtown district of Asbury Park, underneath a clothing store. There are over 100 pinball machines from the ’50s through the ’70s on display, and you can play any of the ones that work for $10 an hour. All the machines are set on Free Play, so you can wander aimlessly from game to game trying them out. There were a fair number that were inoperable, and more with the dreaded “weak flipper,” but for $10 it would be worth it just to walk around, even if you couldn’t play.
As a longtime Uni Watch reader, I gravitated to some of the great sports-themed machines. The most interesting one was the 1969 Gridiron game. According to the placard, in an attempt to capitalize on the booming popularity of football at the time, they attempted to transform a standard hitting/pitching baseball machine with football graphics. There was also another Gridiron game, which appeared to be intended as a football game from the start.
The oldest game in the museum was this 1930s baseball game, but it was being renovated, so I couldn’t get a handle on how it actually played. There was also a miniature golf pinball game — something I’d never seen before. You attempt to steer the golfer toward the hole and do either a light or hard putt to shoot for the hole. Since the field was slanted downwards, I don’t think that really made a difference. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good photo of that one.
I remember various baseball-themed games from my childhood [additional examples here and here], but I don’t think I ever saw one for the Olympics before. The backglass on that one was just gorgeous. There was also a matching pair of boxing machines.
Here’s my son, setting the 13-and-under record for Gorgon, one of the few games in the museum with digital scoring.
Awesome stuff. Stupid of my not to have made the pinball/Uni Watch connection before now. Thanks, David.
As an aside, have you ever noticed that the best, longest pinball games always seem to happen when you can least afford to spend the time? One time when I was a kid, my family was supposed to go off on some sort of Sunday-afternoon excursion, and I ended up playing the best pinball game of my life down at the local candy store. What should’ve been a “three minutes and get out of there” game turned into an epic 25-minute odyssey that ended up getting me in trouble with the old man. Another time, right before one of my favorite bands was about to hit the stage at CBGB, I thought to myself, “Ah, just one more game.” Twenty minutes of god-like pinball action later, I’d missed the first two songs of the set. And don’t even get me started on all the times I figured I’d play just one more quick game before hitting the men’s room.
Culinary Corner: ’Tis the season when you’re gonna be attending and/or hosting lots of holiday parties, and I have just the thing to make you the hero of any holiday shindig, dig? So listen up.
Everyone loves Bailey’s Irish Cream. And why not? It’s basically melted ice cream that gets you drunk, which is pretty much the definition of a win-win. I know some guys see it as a girly drink, but that goes out the window in December — everyone’s allowed to drink Irish cream around the holidays, am I right? Yes, I am.
So what’s better than Irish cream? Homemade Irish cream. It’s easy to make, tastes even better than the store-bought stuff, and impresses the shit out of people. Here’s how to make it.
Start with some decent Irish whisky — Bushmills, Jameson, Tullamore Dew, something like that (but not super-high-end stuff, cuz the nuances will be lost in this preparation). Take a pint of the whisky and mix it with a can of sweetened condensed milk; a pint of heavy whipping cream; a tablespoon of chocolate syrup; a teaspoon of vanilla extract; a teaspoon of instant espresso dissolved in two tablespoons of hot water; and a quarter-teaspoon of almond extract.
Mix it all together (or just put it in a big container with a tight lid and shake), refrigerate it, serve over ice, and prepare to be hailed as a genius. You can thank me later.
Also: Save a little bit of the Irish cream and treat yourself one weekend morning by pouring it over your favorite cereal, a little maneuver I call “Top o’ the mornin’.” Indulgent, yes, but hey, it’s the holidays.
Research Question: Got an interesting note yesterday afternoon from Ric Jensen, as follows: “Who wasthe first NCAA football team to wear the Nike swoosh on its uniform, and when? Also, were there other logos that NCAA football teams wore prior to the Nike swoosh? If so, what were they?”
Those are excellent questions, and I’m embarrassed to say I have absolutely no idea of the answers. Jensen later followed up with this link, which includes a timeline suggesting that the swoosh started appearing on uniforms in 1995. Anyone who can add more info to this discussion, please do.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Awesome visual timeline of Civil War uniforms (the one fought in Oregon) here (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Here’s a better look at those Reds-themed Cincy Cyclones jerseys (with thanks to Jim Ransdell). … Alan Kreit took his son Ethan to the New York Rangers’ practice center for a hockey clinic and took some photos. … What do you get if you cross the Patriots with MLB’s futuristic uni promotion? This (with thanks to James Valente). … If you’ve been wondering what to get me for Xmas, please track me down a copy of this LP (with thanks to my buddy Shane Arbogast). … The San Francisco Giants jerseys worn by the Presidents Cup caddies a few months back are up for auction (with thanks to Mike McAllister). … In further golf news, Harry Halloran will be volunteering at next summer’s PGA Championship tourney in Milwaukee and reports that the volunteers’ attire will look like this. “A bit generic but it could certainly be worse,” he says. “I’m a bit miffed that the sweater vest ($40) and windbreaker ($45) need to be purchased separately, but I’ll probably break down and buy the jacket because, as you probably know, even at the height of summer it can get chilly by Lake Michigan.” So exactly what will he be doing at the tournament? “I’ve been assigned to the Transportation committee, which means I get to drive around players and VIPs,” says Harry. “I really hope I don’t draw Tiger or his entourage. That’s a circus I can do without.” … A very old surfboard design is making a comeback. … “I found this image from the U of Hawaii yearbook, 1948, during my research of the Pineapple Bowl,” writes football historian Mark Bolding. “That’s Hawaii’s Bob Shibuya (44) closing in on Michigan State’s William Spiegel in a 1947 game, with Hawaii’s Rocky Sugino making the shoestring tackle. Multiple photos in the yearbook show that this was the standard helmet for the Rainbows that season, not just a sticker placed on this one helmet.” Incidentally, if you’re not familiar with Bolding’s site, poke around — it’s one of the best football references on the web. … Miami (Ohio)’s hockey team will be wearing some sort of special uni this weekend (with thanks to Adam Hainsfurther). … Terence Kearns notes that Wally Backman’s press conference Cyclones jersey included NOB and a drop shadow, both of which are different from the team’s usual jersey style. Not sure if this signals a uni change or if they just threw something together for the presser. … Awesome slide show of the old Maple Leaf Gardens, which is being turned into a supermarket, here (with thanks to Morris Levin). … The Bills wore that ridiculous “Hey, we’re playing in Toronto!” patch last night. Meanwhile, the Jets wore the wrong socks again. … Here’s how Oregon looked last night with their throwback-ish uni and military tribute helmet decal. … And speaking of Oregon: RNOB! (Thanks, Kek.)