Movie of the Week: Motel Hell

Still as fresh as when I first saw it with my dad at the drive-in during its theatrical run in Summer of 1980, this grand guignol horror comedy has everything you could ask for in quality exploitation.


Movie of the Week: Slugs

The best of all killer slug movies is surely Slugs: The Movie, brought to you by Thee One and Only Juan Piquer Simón, Spanish director of the superb Pieces. We humbly present it here unedited and without commercial interruption:


The Hyperpin Cabinet Post: part two

 (for part one, see here)

My Top Three Favorite Visual Pinball Tables
(clicking on the table title will link you to the vpforum download page)

Eight Ball Deluxe (Bally, 1980)
A fun combination of challenges makes this table my most-played: there are the 14 billiards represented by seven drop targets to the right (with a third flipper positioned to knock them out), the eight ball drop-target up in the corner, the eight ball deluxe saucer behind that, drop-target multipliers up to 5x, and four lanes (two up top and one on each inlane) to complete for a bonus. I've gotten the "Eight Ball" award (clearing the table of billiards, then hitting the eight last) several times, but haven't yet experienced the elusive "Eight Ball Deluxe" (shooting into the eight ball alley a second time to sink into the saucer behind the dropped target). This is probably the fastest-moving table on my machine. Challenging, but not so much to make you give up trying.

Centaur (Bally, 1981)
Brilliant layout, striking playfield art and lots of different targets. Table physics are excellent; if your accelerometer is set correctly, you can english the ball at a crucial moment to edge it from the outlanes back over to the flippers. Well-placed drop targets and pop bumpers, "Queens Chamber" and "Power Orb" targets for multiball, cool digital effects and voices, and a pleasing duotone light show.

Fathom (Bally, 1980)
The real thing is probably the cabinet I'd second-most like to own (just after a 1972 Fireball table), and this emulator does not disappoint. It's extremely difficult to get multiball: there's a "lagoon trap" in the top right and a "cave trap" in the middle right. when you sink a ball in either one, it locks and three drop targets spring up in front of it. You have to hit all three of them in each trap with a single ball, which is near-impossible but very satisfying if you accomplish it. Beautiful backglass and playfield art, nice sound effects and great physics.

Five Favorite Emulations of 90's Tables:

Tales of the Arabian Nights (Williams, 1996)
My favorite 90's table has a great combination of physics, concept art, dot matrix display animation and lighting.

Twilight Zone (Midway, 1993)
the playfield is almost too complex, but this game has so many unexpected features that it never gets old.

Monster Bash (Williams, 1998)
six different ramps and target banks represent six different universal monsters. There's a little star wars-scale figure of each one on the playfield that animates when you hit the targets. The games are often short and disappointing since there's no ball save, and there should've been a plunger or skill shot, but it's still a very well-designed and fun game.

Medieval Madness (Williams, 1997)
One of the most perfect playfield designs. Destroying the scale model of the castle by sending your ball across the drawbridge isn't quite as satisfying as on the real pinball table, but the emulator is fast, and there's lots of kinetic features to play with.

Star Trek (Data East, 1991)
A simple yet frenetic layout,  goals that are communicated easily on the playfield without having to know the rules first, and well-integrated video modes.

Another ten favorite tables:

Superman (Atari, 1979)

Strikes and Spares (Bally, 1978)

Cyclone (Williams, 1988)

Big Game (Stern, 1980)

Flight 2000 (Stern, 1980)

Future Spa (Bally, 1979)

Space Shuttle (Williams, 1984)

Grand Lizard (Williams, 1986)

Royal Flush (Gottlieb, 1976)

Genie (Gottlieb, 1979)

The Hyperpin Cabinet Post: part one

I'm posting some info regarding the design and construction of my Hyperpin Cabinet. I plan to put it up on my website soon, but thanks to google searches, this blog gets a hundred times more visitors than my website does. And I plan on building another couple cabinets for the purpose of selling them, so if you either want to buy one from me or build your own, some of this might help you out.

My cabinet, called the Minipin because it's half the size of a standard pinball, uses a playfield from a 27" LCD television that I bought for way too much money in 2005 and had sitting in my garage for three years before I decided to repurpose it. These days you can get a new one for $250, or much less through the classifieds. I spent $200 on the computer, which I had custom-assembled out of old stuff by a repair shop / reseller. It's a dual 1.6 Ghz processor with 2 GB ram (the maximum possible for this model, I think) running Windows 7. The price also included a graphics card and a 17" monitor, which I'm using for the pinball cabinet's backglass. I now wish I'd spent a little more on something better; newer emulations of games run stuttery on it, and I can't use UVP animated backglasses. So this is the bare minimum of processing power needed. Get more if you can afford it.

The wood is 5/8" MDF, left over from my previous two arcade cabinets. Same for the black paint. The plexiglass covering the playfield was salvaged from an old framed poster I had; it just needed some buffing with novus polish to look new.

If I could do it again, I'd use standard chromed steel pinball legs, which cost $80 for a set. Instead I made my legs from aluminum corner stock, off the shelf at Home Depot at a cost of $120 or so. I don't have a welder at home, so I drilled and tapped screws to add a base plate to each leg, into which I could tap the adjustable feet. The rest of the corner stock was used to fasten the plexiglass to the playfield cabinet, and I added 5/8 flat stock around the backglass cabinet front. It has no purpose, it just looks boss.

The CPU is entirely stripped from its case to facilitate ventilation. I also added a fan to the floor of the cabinet which pushes air out, creating a vacuum to draw air in from the top of the playfield (just beneath the backglass). I soldered a wire to the computer's power switch and extended it to a pushbutton on the back of the cab.

There's also a "smart strip", which I recommend. Plug the computer's power cable into the strip's control outlet, and it switches anything plugged into the rest of the strip. This way the pushbutton sends or cuts electricity to the computer, as well as the two monitors and sound system and whatever else. Otherwise you'll need to add a toggle switch to cut all AC power to the whole assembly when you aren't using it, which is what I did with the other two cabinets I built so it's not a big deal.

Since I used a television for my playfield, I took advantage of its nice sound system. All I had to do was add extension wires to the two speakers, which I relocated up to the backglass, and put the TV's volume controls on the back wall of the cabinet, near the power switch. A 1/8" stereo audio cable runs from the CPU to the TV input. Easy and cheap.

The interface was an off-the-shelf kit for $140, including the plunger, accelerometer, wiring harness and usb cable. the only additional expense control-wise was buttons, about $1.50 each. I have six: two flipper buttons, a plunger button (some games use triggers instead of plungers to launch the ball), credit (in place of a coinbox), start and exit. Sometime later I might add a second pair of flipper buttons for the games that use magna-save inlanes. I labeled the controls with transfer letters, which are intended for custom-lettering scale model trains and buildings.

The frontend software is Hyperpin, and I chose to go with Visual Pinball 9 for the emulation software. Future Pinball looks nice, but there aren't nearly as many tables available as there are for VP, it's too processor-heavy for my computer, and too difficult to configure new games with.

There are many ways you can acquire tables, but the way I did it was to get a membership at vpforums. For a few dollars per year you can download a few files per day, and for a little more money you get unlimited downloads. I also used their forums to solve some problems with configuration, thanks to some patient and attentive co-members.If you're as ignorant of PC software as I am you'll probably have some problems and questions when configuring your own cabinet.

see part two


El Tren Fantasma

from boingboing.net,

Chris Watson was a founder of the seminal 1970s experimental music/performance art group Cabaret Voltaire who has since become a highly-respected ambient sound recordist for television, film, and radio.
More than a decade ago, Watson spent a month on a train traveling across Mexico with a BBC TV crew documenting the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México's last continuous passenger service across the country from the Pacific to Atlantic coast. Watson has since gone back and cut his ambient audio archive of the trip into an acoustic journey, "evoking memories of a recent past, capturing the atmosphere, rhythms and sounds of human life, wildlife and the journey itself along the tracks of one of Mexico’s greatest engineering projects." The recording, titled "El Tren Fantasma," was broadcast on Radio BBC 4 last year. This month, the Touch. records label is releasing El Tren Fantasm on CD and a 12" vinyl of two remixes. Here's a sampler of the album:

chris watson - el tren fantasma (album preview) by experimedia

Buy it here.