Pinball Festival of Grapevine

First off, I just have to mention how odd my kid can be. He found it necessary to don all his cowboy gear this morning, and this is what leapt out of his room at me first thing:

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Now, on to the rest of the day…

I guess there’s still the occasional benefit to getting the newspaper. Albeit a dinosaur propaganda rag, whichever it is you read, you still get to occasionally catch some event you would otherwise not have even heard of. In this case, Sarah and I noticed a ‘pinball’ festival being held in Grapevine this weekend. We said, ‘huh’. And the next morning, we went. Now I have to say, I’ve always been a fan of video games, especially when there’s some ‘retro’ involved. In fact, one of my goals for the next few years is to procure a dream home arcade. That being said, I was honestly surprised at how much fun the wife and boy had as well. It was at a hotel convention center, and ALL the games were free. In spite of the crowds, it was surprisingly easy to get on pretty much any machine and try it out. I also didn’t realize how far back pinball machines go. The grandfathers of video games, as it were. Some of those machines were clearly from the 60′s, possibly the 50′s, and kept score with rotary numbers.

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Many others were the tackiest of the 70′s. featuring mustached, feathered-haired heros with their custom vans.

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And some cheesy 80′s sci-fi themes.

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I found the world’s biggest pinball machine to be the most amusing. Henry’s arm span couldn’t yet reach the buttons on each side, and it used a pool cue ball for a pinball, with massive wood flippers.

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And, of course, there were all varieties of newer machines, and some regular video games to amuse us all…

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There was a drawing to win your own pinball machine. Sarah was wondering where we’d put such a thing in our little rental home. I was like.. “we’ll think of something”. And we entered. But not surprisingly, we didn’t win. Unfortunately, I think Henry is still learning the concept of ‘more losers in a drawing/sweepstakes than winners’. It took some cheering up to make him forget we didn’t win our own ‘Terminator’ pinball machine. But all-in-all, I was extra-ordinarily pleased to have caught a showcase of classic gaming machines from all decades. And It seems the family had almost as much fun as I did!

Irish Festival

The 2012 Irish festival was great, and fun as ever. Of course, now that I have a growing boy, the meaning of ‘Irish Festival’ is changing somewhat. What used to be food, beer, and music is now evolving into a whole lot more of the rides/carnival section. I didn’t even know they had that many carnival-style rides and junk at the Irish festival.

Sarah and I had to make deals with the boy throughout the day. “If we can check out this merchandise building for a few minutes, we’ll then go do a ride you want”, etc. Henry’s favorite was the one where kids (and a few grown-ups) get in a big, air-filled plastic ball, and try to walk/roll it on water. I was surprised at how brave he was with the bunjie-up-in-the-air thing. But he had done that once before at an oktoberfest. I thought it was pretty cool that they had the ‘Back to the Future’ time Delorean there. I began to wonder why I always saw these at Irish festivals. Turns out, it was an Irish-made vehicle. I had no idea!

We also purchased Henry a pretty cool toy. A wood mobile catapult (shoots ping pong balls) on wheels. It was a great display by some wood-toy maker (by the Delorean). Hand made varieties of catapults, as well as firetrucks, ambulances, Noah’s Arks, etc. Lots of neat moving parts and all. Henry and I have been using the catapult to destroy castles we build out of his wood blocks ever since.

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It was great fun fitting it all in, and we topped it off with some Seamus Stout at the end of the day. Henry was pretty pooped by then. I ran to purchase a jersey as a last-second decision when they were packing up. I’m really glad I did.  It was a generic, no-actual-team jersey that advertised ‘Jameson’ (my favorite adult beverage), and it looks surprisingly good on me. I think I need to wear more of these things. (The one in the pic is actually a County Mayo jersey I bought in Ireland over 15 years ago in Ireland. Yep, I still bust it out now and then)

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