Episode #203 — Stern Pinball

Before we begin, we’d like to clarify that we are against all variations of underground/illegal fighting. But during a recent visit, Heidi’s five-year-old niece posited the question, “Who would win in a fight ­— a lion or a grizzly bear?” Let’s stop for a moment to appreciate the deep thought from this kiddo. Let’s also imagine how this question led an educated group of adults to seriously consider how this match might play out, and what other animals could win in hypothetical matchups. Grizzly versus polar bear. Gorilla versus grizzly. Great white shark versus grizzly. And we know, naysayers in the family — a great white and a grizzly aren’t going to meet up in real life. But we’re going with it and are currently in negotiations to turn the premise into a cinematic masterpiece (it has to be better than the latest Jurassic Park).

As you can see, grizzly bears were on our minds even though there are only black bears in the woods of northern Michigan. Our apologies to the black bear spotted down the road at the lighthouse. We honestly don’t think you could go up against an anaconda. But we still don’t want to run into you at night while stargazing on the beach.

Unbeknownst to this clever niece, an epic matchup is also discussed at the start of this week’s podcast. But in this case, it’s co-host mother versus co-host mother. Should we be talking about our dear mothers duking it out to reign supreme? Don’t judge our family dynamics, especially around the holidays! As for who would win, it’s probably up to whoever has more supple wrists when throwing punches.

Having a supple wrist is a remarkably underrated quality these days. We’re not sure why — there are so many actions that are much more impressive when strong, supple wrists come into play. Sure, rock climbing is all about leg strength, but do you think weak, stiff wrists are going to help you summit El Capitan? If you’re about to throw a javelin, unbending joints aren’t going to get you to the Olympics. There’s no way you’d get through a dance number choreographed by Bob Fosse without complete wrist control. It would be embarrassing to end up in the emergency room with a jazz hands-related injury. And worst of all, you would be laughed right out of the International Chopin Piano Competition without wrist dexterity.

What does all this supple wrist talk lead to? Our subject for this week’s episode, of course. We spoke with Zach Sharpe from Stern Pinball, a company famous for their themed and licensed games. Their pinball games are right up our alley, and not just because they have games for rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Rush, and Kiss (though that certainly doesn’t hurt), and movie-related games, like pinball Jurassic Park, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Star Wars. This subject is near and dear because one of our co-hosts had a particular love of pinball in college that may or may not have been more important than meeting certain class deadlines.

Zach broke down the history of the game of pinball, the history of Stern Pinball, and even provided us with some tips to improve our own games. Let’s just say Luke would consider Heidi shaking the pinball machine to be cheating and Zach, a major subject matter expert, would disagree. Just why is he such an expert? It’s better to listen in Zach’s own words, but let’s just say he sure plays a mean pinball and has a connection to the game that no one else can claim (unless he has siblings … we neglected to ask that question).

Listen and learn about the different types of pinball games sold, who buys them, and why you can’t get money for winning a game (at least officially). We also delve into what makes pinball so much fun and why it has intergenerational appeal. Check out Stern Pinball on their website, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Because after listening to this week’s episode, you’re going to want to find the nearest game — or order your own — and impress the hell out of your friends with your supple wrist skills. Just don’t overdo it; you’ve got that Chopin competition audition in the morning.


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