2013-07-12 / Columnists


By Rick Horan

When Matt Whalen isn’t building tide clocks, he’s thinking about pinball machines. He had an idea to stuff the Dome with as many pinball games as possible and then have a tournament for the best players in the world. Now that the Dome is gone, he will have to find another venue. Hey, maybe the new bar/restaurant with amusement roots, Playland, can use a few!

I had a pinball idea once. It was a long, long time ago in a neighborhood not that far away. I was just a boy and lived near a small candy store that had just one pinball machine. I think it cost a dime a game, which was real money to a kid back then. This was decades before Call of Duty, Halo or even Pong. Still, my friends and I spent countless hours playing that thing.

About the same time I was given a 10 pound boat magnet that was used to retrieve lost anchors and other metal objects underwater. We performed all sorts of weird experiments with that thing and eventually began to wonder if the magnet would attract the pinball. So we carefully wrapped the magnet in an old tee shirt, put it in a paper bag and brought it to the candy store to find out. We would have to do it without being caught by Carl and Marie, the store owners, who were always on the lookout for our shenanigans.

With a couple of friends keeping watch, I carefully placed the bag holding the magnet on the corner of the pinball machine and started playing. When the game was nearly over, I moved the magnet over the ball. Our collective mouths dropped open as we saw the ball obediently follow the magnet as I moved it around the glass.

The normally elusive “free ball button” was easy with the magnet. We could now get however many balls we wanted, whenever we wanted. In that instant we realized that a dime game could last, well, forever. When the reality of that hit us, we started laughing so hard we had to leave the store. Life as we knew it would never be the same. Such is the nature of great discoveries!

Side Bars:

 Jill Chewens writes…I think I speak for all of the dog lovers of which I’m sure there are many... would it be possible for Rockaway to assign one or two beach streets for dogs and their owners so that the dogs can utilize the sand and water all summer long? RH: Dogs and responsible dog owners should also have the right to use any beach before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Owners not picking up after their animals should be drawn and quartered.

 On the ferry last weekend Nancy Judge shared an idea she’s been harboring for some time, the Birthday Cake Protector (someone suggested calling it the Cake Condom but this is a family newspaper)! Its purpose? To prevent millions of germs from being sprayed on a perfectly good cake in an enthusiastic effort to blow out candles. The way Nancy described the idea, the cover would have holes for the candles to stick through. Once they’ve been blown out, the cover could be removed and germ-free cake eating could begin.

RH: To build on Nancy’s idea, maybe the candles can be affixed to the cover itself. This would have a few advantages: no need to line up the cover holes with the candles, no wax dripping onto the cake and less chance of germs hitting the cake. So what’s your idea? RickHoran@

Ideas Improv.com

Got an idea or creative story you want to share? Send it to RickHoran@IdeasImprov.com

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