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Event Details

Adam Ruben in conversation with Marion Winik: Pinball Wizards: Jackpots, Drains, and the Cult of the Silver Ball

The Ivy Bookshop

For some, pinball is just a game from the past. For humor writer Adam Ruben, it’s a lifelong obsession that all started with a rousing game at Funland, an amusement park in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, when he was a kid. As Adam grew older, he began playing competitively, joining pinball leagues, competing for more than a decade and rising as high as the 80th-ranked player in the world. Then he had kids. Now in 9938th place, Ruben tries to re-enter the boisterous and wacky world of competitive pinball and in doing so tells the dynamic story about America’s quintessential arcade game. By visiting pinball museums, gaming conventions, pinball machine designers and even pinball factories, Adam attempts to discover what makes the world’s best players so good. The book also explores the history of the game, as well as its invention, defeat and recent resurgence in American culture today.


This hilarious guide to the cult of the silver ball also traces how the game has changed throughout the years, reflecting the zeitgeist of every era it passes through. Pinball Wizards is a fun romp through the flashing lights and swirling ramps of a unique hobby packed with wacky characters. It is the perfect book for anyone interested in this quirky subculture that has survived to enjoy yet another renaissance.


Adam Ruben is a humor writer, comedian and molecular biologist helping to develop a vaccine for malaria. He is the author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School as well as the monthly online humor column “Experimental Error” in the journal Science. His writing has also appeared on CNN.com, NPR’s All Things Considered and National Lampoon. He lives in Washington, DC.


Longtime All Things Considered commentator (1991-2006), Marion Winik is the host of The Weekly Reader radio show and podcast on WYPR. She teaches writing in the MFA program in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore, writes a column at BaltimoreFishbowl.com and reviews books for Newsday and Kirkus Review.






Event Details

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 7:30pm


Bird in Hand
11 E 33RD Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

by Dr. Radut