BALL IMAGERY... is often seen around New Year's Eve, from the lavish balls thrown, as in parties, as in the over-the-top to-dos, where people don cummerbunds and taffeta and balloons fall from the ceiling at midnight. There is, too, the ball in Time's Square in New York City, a glittery, lit-up, blinky-blinky dealie, a sphere that has millions of eyes on it in the final minutes of the year. But what of the small silver balls, the ones that sit in slender lanes, awaiting the plunger's force to enter the game? We do speak of pinball here, still the most tilt-tastic, kick-out-awesome arcade experience around. Pinball, some may argue, is not associated with New Year's Eve, but we'd argue right back that the holiday is about friends, and good times, and blinky-blinky lights (as aforementioned), and doing whatever you like, if you like it enough. With that in mind, the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda bids farewell to the old year and hello to the new with a happy cacophony of plings and dings and musical flourishes and pinball players talking to the ball in play in all of the persuasive ways (as in, "don't go there" or "don't you dare" or "yessss!" or "love you!").
THE NEW YEAR'S EVE... shenanigans rev up at the lights 'n laughter spot on Thursday, Dec. 31 at 6 o'clock in the evening. That'll give you loads of time for your own holiday-style ball drop, or, rather, ball push-forward, as the case may be. ("Ball drop," in terms of pinball play, rather sounds like the ball dropping into the machine's gobble hole, or, gulp, the drain.) There shall be a bubbly toast, as befits the evening's pomp, and there shall be a rockin' raffle prize, as in an honest-to-bumpers pinball machine. It's also the 14th anniversary of the machine-marvelous museum, so that's a nicely auspicious thing to celebrate as well. Price for an adult? Fifty bucks, though the under-16 pinball buffs are welcome for $25 per person. A room with a DJ, drinks and eats for sale, and lots and lots of games to try out give the pinball night an extra sheen of spectacularness. But will you wear your tux with the frilly, baby blue tux shirt? Pinball did have a heyday in the '70s, so going with evening wear of the era simply feels right. It also feels right to skip the more standard parties for NYE, if standard parties aren't your jam, but jamming some paddles is (just watch that drain).