The devil feeds on children’s tears.


My child, starting at the age of six, could read two books at once and keep the plots straight in her head. She is an all “E” student and received recognition for outstanding citizenship during the first quarter of second grade. She is a medal winning blue belt in taekwondo that somehow learns complex Korean terms in under 30 minutes.  Needless to say I could not be prouder.

So what did my wife and I give her for being such an accomplished little bookworm? Yep, the devil’s loom…oh, I mean a Rainbow Loom. The amount of tears that have flowed since this plastic contraption entered our lives is just less than those shed during the great sock fiasco of kindergarten.

For those that do not know, and I feel lucky for you, the Rainbow Loom is comprised of rows of plastic post that you can place rubber bands on(think braces) and weave intricate bracelets. There are numerous instructional videos on youtube posted by the devil’s henchmen. These videos make every bracelet look like it should melt off the loom into the most intricate, intertwined bunch of rubber bands one could ever imagine. If rubber bands had been invented before diamonds were found we could possibly be marking milestones with “fish tales” instead of carats.

So there you have it….

…..Oh, wait. This is a pinball blog. WTF just happened above?

Today I am hosting a tournament. As a collector, hobbyist and player I love sharing my collection and our league was born out of the want to do this and this tournament as a desire to share it with a wider group. I have held tournaments before but they have either been a impromptu gathering or part of my charity tournament series that is geared towards friends and coworkers, the casual player.

Tonight, in my basement, I have some of the best pinball players on the east coast coming to MY basement to play MY pins. And what do I do to thank these people that are taking the time to come to my house to indulge my selfish desire to share my toys? How? I’ll tell you how. I give them pins waxed with the tears the devil never saw. I’ve set my games to be hard, to really show their teeth. No extra balls, no ball saves(well except for Dracula because I’m not a total ass), and yes the outlanes are wide open.  My games are usually set to hard but these are nasty and I feel bad about it. I want people to enjoy the games but I want them to feel the bite they have to offer as well.

Pinball is a social event. Modern games allow for 4 players and it’s frankly a lot more satisfying to play with others. A great game “in the woods” does make a sound but then you look around in your empty game room and put your victory sign down and just plug in those initials with no fanfare or confetti, it gets a bit old. And no only is it social, it is fun. Watching someone else having a great game can sometimes, rarely, be as satisfying as having a great game oneself. Of course with the way that these tables have been set up I may have dangled that “fun” carrot out there just to snatch it away.

So here is the dilemma, how hard is too hard? Is pinball, like a rainbow loom, more enjoyable when it is easy and rewarding for what it is suppose to be or is it about making something as challenging as possible even if it leaves you in a weeping pile, or in my case enraged, wishing I could hurl the game out the window, wishing it would just be made to go away.

I feel bad that my daughter doesn’t find the pleasure in her rainbow loom like she thought she would. She really has to work of that please and she decided on day one that she was no longer a beginner. I struggle with her tears. Do I console her and ask her to try something easier for her or do I let her hold her shoulders, tell her it will be alright and to just try again? Or, do I just secretly hide the loom hoping the fad passes and she sticks to something I know she is great at. In pinball I don’t want anyone to suffer either but there I am making it as hard as I can. Is this still fun? Sometimes I contemplate just ditching the hobby because the fun factor seems to have faded. Sometimes I wish I could just hide 8 350lb machines on the top shelf of the linen closet but there I am again swatting at the silver ball trying to get that elusive shot.

4 hours until my tournament starts….and the devil drinks.


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