Indiana Jones Pinball

I love pinball.  The lights, the sounds, the graphics – all so exciting.  I can take or leave arcade games (and I don’t even own a single home gaming console), but there’s something irresistible about playing pinball.

It’s just so damn cool!  I mean, The Who didn’t write a song called “Space Invaders Wizard”, did they?

Not that I’m any good at it, oh no.  Tommy I ain’t.  But it’s fun to have a game every now and again.

Sadly, however, pinball machines seem to be disappearing from sight.  My usual silver ball haven – Rhyl – which has several amusement arcades, used to have a handful of pinball tables.  Now I don’t know of any pinball machines in the town, and some of the arcades are shutting down too.

It seems that the lure of the table is no match for their more modern arcade game competitors.  Pinball is going the way of What the Butler Saw machines and Punch and Judy.  Though bizarrely, the penny waterfalls and fruit machines are still in rude health.  Why, I just don’t know.

The Indiana Jones table shown here was photographed five years ago, in the amusement arcade at the end of Llandudno pier.  By 2017, it wasn’t even plugged in, it just stood there like the sort of forgotten relic that Indy would go in search of.

This year, it had disappeared altogether.

A real shame – it was a cool game that had great playability, as well as looking fantastic.  Check out the ball launcher for a start – it’s shaped like Indy’s pistol, and when you fire it, it makes a gunshot sound!

My quest for pinball machines will continue.  I know they’re out there, waiting to be rediscovered.

Tat Trek Update #7: Dancing King

Let me begin this blog post by stating that I am a big fan of Elvis Presley.  Despite the fact that this particular piece of paraphernalia appears in the Tat section at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, please be under no misapprehension that this is a slight on the King of Rock’n’Roll.

So what have we this time in the collection de tat? 

ITEM: “Dancing King” Solar Powered figurine

Description: a small solar powered figure, labelled as the “Dancing King”, but we all know it’s Elvis.

Cost: £1.50 (currently retailing approx. £2.99 in Rhyl)

Bought: Connah’s Quay car boot sale

Reason for buying: It’s Elvis!

The Dancing King is a small Elvis like figurine, who shakes/dances when powered by sunlight.  It’s not exactly Elvis the Pelvis, but it is a pretty cool little wiggle.

I already had a solar powered dancing Hula Girl, who sits on my car dashboard, when I discovered this little trophy.  I bought one for a friend for a Christmas present last year, whilst in tat haven of Rhyl.  I then decided I needed one too.

Luckily, I found this fella in a car boot sale earlier this year.  He was snapped up immediately.

I decided to post this piece today, on the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, as a tribute to the great man.  Yes, it’s fun, but no offence meant.  Elvis rules.

RIP Elvis Presley 

08.01.1935 – 16.08.1977

Tat Trek Update #5: Meerkat Meal Tray

Let me start this post with an apology.  The “Tat” section of the blog, where I feature items of questionable taste that I have collected, has been severely neglected of late.  The last Tat article was in May 2015, and that was the only one that year.  It’s about time I made amends for this terrible oversight.

It’s not like I’m lacking in kitsch crap to showcase, there’s plenty.  So let’s start 2017 with a fresh effort to celebrate garbage – after all, it seems that the useless and ridiculous are all the rage right now.

Item: Meerkat Meal Tray

Description: a tray which supports a plate of food, with cushioned area underneath to rest on the users lap whilst eating a TV dinner.  Featuring a delightful picture of a group of meerkats. img_20170129_181552466

Cost: approx £7

Reason for buying: this item was actually bought by Mrs Platinum Al.  But as it’s in the house, I’m claiming it as an entry for Tat Trek.

Yes, not actually an item that I bought, but never the less, part of the scenery chez Platinum Al.  Seven quid is a bit steep for tat, even for me.  And it was from Charlie’s in Shotton, rather than Rhyl.

Even so, this fantastic item features one of the great tat icons of our age: the always popular meerkat.  For that reason, if not the fact that TV dinner trays are a bit naff, this item is proudly part of our Collection de Tat.

Madness at the Seaside

GRANDSLAM

Madness + Chainska Brassika + By The Rivers

Saturday 11th July 2015

Rhyl Events Arena

You know I love Rhyl, right?  Great place.  Under rated.  But that’s ‘cos most people don’t know where to find the cool stuff (Star Wars figures, comic books, skateboards, music, general paraphernalia).  On Saturday 11th July, however, you couldn’t miss the cool stuff.  It was right on the promenade, in front of the beach, at the Rhyl Events Arena.

And the cool stuff was legendary ska/80’s pop maestros Madness.

There have been a lot of rock and punk bands reviewed at the Virtual Hot Tub lately, so it’s about time for something a little different.  Madness were probably the first band I was ever a fan of, back when I was just Bronze Al.  They were the soundtrack of every school yard and summer holiday when I was a nipper.  I’ve listened to them ever since.

A surprise visit for the band to Rhyl was a great opportunity to catch the band live.

After a few hours in a local Tiki bar, my compadres and me made our way to the Rhyl Events Arena.  The venue was outdoor on the prom, with a stage set up right across form the town. Madness Rhyl

Support bands By The Rivers and Chainska Brassika offered a warm welcome.  Both bands were in a party mood playing variations on the ska/pop/reggae theme.  Good musicianship and enthusiasm helped both bands reach out to the ever growing audience.

The rain held off for the evening and there was definitely a party atmosphere in the arena.  By the time Madness arrived on stage, the good times were in full swing.  The audience had obviously travelled from far and wide for this gig, and were keen to see the Nutty Boys in full force.

The first part of the set was a relaxed affair, with a few new numbers and lesser known tracks alternating the big hits.  Step forward “Bed and Breakfast Man”, a lesser known song which should’ve been a single in the first place.

Rhyl lights up like in days gone by for the hit songs.  We get “House of Fun”, “Baggy Trousers”, “Embarrassment”, “My Girl” – sparkling gems every one.  It’s genuine pop classic after pop classic for the large part of the set.  If only the funfair was still open, it would’ve been perfect.  A fine way to reminisce of summer holidays past!

Madness give a great performance, punctuated with some banter and fun along the way.  My personal highlight is hearing “Our House” – my absolute favourite Madness track.  An obvious choice, I know – but I don’t care. Mad Al

The concert ends far too soon.  A great night, thank you Madness for paying a trip to sunny Wales and gracing us with your eccentric pop genius.

And well done Rhyl.  Let’s have more of it, shall we?

The Madness website is here.

The Rhyl Pavillion website is here.

My thanks to the Blazing Minds website, which I used to check some facts!

Rancid Rock

In which our intrepid adventurers explore a world of oddly flavoured confectionery…

For our recent trip to Sci Fi Weekender in north Wales, my compadres and I were well stocked with food and drink.  Along with the usual savoury food stuffs, there was plenty of sweet: chocolate, cakes, Twinkies.  All the good stuff.

And yet, with the reckless abandon of enthusiasm and the bravado of beer, we were destined for far murkier waters.

Some time previously, I had purchased some novelty rock on a trip to Rhyl.  You know what rock is – long cylindrical sticks; usually peppermint flavoured; either chewy or (as the name suggests) hard and brittle.  Brightly coloured sticks of sugar, the quintessential seaside souvenir.  IMG_3995

It was three sticks for a quid, and I bought these flavours:

  • Chicken Tikka
  • Fish’n’Chips
  • Cookie Dough

After a few beers one night, I decided it was time to experiment with these substances and see what the effects were.  Here are my observations.

Chicken Tikka

Now I love Indian food.  However Chicken Tikka rock is not to die for.  Imagine, if you will, the miserable surprise of sweet tasting rock being replaced by a vaguely spicy Asian flavour.  My brain thought a cruel trick was being played on it.  The rock was chewy rather than hard.  The taste was bland; with a strange, mild spiciness.  Like licking a stick of celery that had been waved near a curry flavoured Pot Noodle.  The only good thing is that this rock wasn’t hot spicy at all, just leaving an insipid warmth on the tongue.  Totally vile.

Disgusto rating: 3/5

Fish’n’Chips

Next up was the Fish’n’Chips flavour.  Now what could go wrong – the amalgamation of two British seaside classics, rock that tastes of fish and chips?  More like what couldn’t go wrong.  The chewy rock was strangely missing the traditional sweetness, instead it was a truly bland flavour with a remote hint of ancient battered cod.  But the smell of it was utterly putrid – a million maritime nightmares sheltering in the salty cove of your mouth.  Plain sailing this was not – Fish’n’Chips rock is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Like that time when, as a kid, you fell over while paddling in the sea; and got a mouth  full of salty seawater, seaweed, and dead crab.

Disgusto rating: 5/5

Cookie Dough

After the previous monstrosity, I was actually looking forward to Cookie Dough flavour.  Surely this one would be OK?  After all, the previous two varieties suffered from the juxtaposition of sweet becoming savoury.  No such luck.  Cookie Dough, despite being generally fantastic when added to ice cream, does no favours for rock.  It just tasted of aniseed.  Big disappointment.  Like being given an Easter Egg that looks great, but tastes of punch in the face.

Disgusto rating: 2/5

All in all not an experience I would like to repeat.  Though it was pretty funny…

Here’s what my friends had to say about the whole sorry affair:

Adam: “They smelt like the arse hole of a dead badger and pretty sure that’s what they tasted like too….  I can still taste it now late at night when it’s quiet in the house and I’m alone in my thoughts.”

Greeny: “I only tried the fish one, I didn’t dare try any others after that cos I wanted to die.  It tasted like cat shit and feet, wrapped in a thong that Jordan had worn for a month.  And it smelt pretty much like that too.”

Photo Mission: The Fun Ship

When I was a kid, a day trip to Rhyl was a major event.  It was exciting.  The drive along the bottom road through Flint and along the coast was a drag, though.  It seemed to take forever.  One game we all used to play was “who can spot the Fun Ship first?”.  Sooner or later, the huge white abandoned carcass of the Fun Ship would appear – and the first person to shout was the winner.

Simple times, eh?

The Duke of Lancaster has been moored near Mostyn for as long as I can remember.  Once it was a popular tourist attraction, now it’s a relic.  Adorned with graffiti like the tattoos of an old sailor, now land locked.  Will it be sold for scrap?  Or will it be saved?

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The Ultimate in Tat

There are many items in my collection of tat.  This particular one, however, is the absolute cream of the crop.  Or the absolute worst, depending on your point of view.  In my opinion, it is the tackiest and most tasteless thing I own.

Item: “Twat” Ash Tray IMG_2073

Description: ceramic ash tray, in white, with the word “TWAT” emblazoned on it.

Cost: £1

Bought at: Rhyl gift shop (are you seeing a pattern yet?)

Reason for buying: it’s in incredibly bad taste.

Yet again, mighty Rhyl stumps up the goods.  This foul mouthed creation – the least subtle item I’ve seen in a gift shop, ever – literally screams tat.  But with an extra “W” in there, too.

It was for sale in a gift shop – who on earth would buy this as a gift for someone whilst on holiday?  What were they thinking in the boardroom when the idea for this ash tray was put forward?

I have to admit, though – it does make me smile…

Tat Trek Update #3: Elvis Beach Towel

It’s been a while since I last updated the Virtual Hot Tub.  And a while longer since we had a Tat Update.  This one’s a stormer.

Item: “Elvisly Yours” Beach Towel

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Elvis beach towel on location

Description: a standard beach towel bearing the image of the King himself, Elvis Presley – in the full on white jumpsuit.

Cost = approx £5.

Bought at: Rhyl, of course.

Reason for buying: I wanted a beach towel, and this one’s got Elvis on it.

In the temple of tat, there are two kings: the big Mr J Christ and our other good buddy, the one and only King of Rock’n’Roll – Elvis Presley.  Any item with the image of Elvis on automatically attains cool status, as far as I’m concerned.

This piece is both fun and functional – I used it on my recent summer holiday to Greece.  And yes, I am a fan of the King (though I prefer Johnny Cash if I had to choose).  I just can’t help believin’ that this is a great item for the Tat collection.

What do you think of this item? Don’t be cruel – leave a comment and let me know!