Happy 40th Birthday, Ben!

On Saturday, Liz and I headed over to Ben and Allison’s to meet up with many folks gathering to celebrate Ben’s 40th Birthday. It was a great chance to celebrate, and to meet up with many friendly faces I haven’t seen in a super long while.

L to R it’s Erin, Jane, Liz, Chris, TJ, Alexis, and Justin S.

I got talking as well to a lot of other old Emmis Interactive folks I haven’t seen in a long while – Renata, Tim, Kashf, Matt M, Paul. It was incredibly nice to see these folks again, and to catch up a bit as to where they are and what they were up to.

We also spent time with a lovely couple, Lisa and Bob. We talked a lot about photography, Chicago, and writing.

A lot of the first part of the evening involved chatting and catching up. I went for a while before remembering to take a few photos with my phone.

A bit later, some folks moved in to the garage to play on some of the (many) pinball games in Ben’s garage. L to R it’s Renata and Leslie.

Taxi on the corner.

I’m seeing double here – four Matts!

Liz and Renata, checking out “Earthshaker.”

Everyone was playing pinball!

Ben, showing off a bit of what powers each game.


I love that I spotted this in the kitchen, before it made it out to the backyard (a small scoop/sample that I think was given to one of the kids). Reminded me of how Jasmine took a small handful of our wedding cake, before it got served.

In back, with Allison lighting candles. And with everyone gathered to celebrate Ben’s day.

More hanging out and chatting.

Inside the garage, folks resuming an impromptu pinball tournament. I forget exactly what the term was, but the goal was simply to not get the lowest score.

Machines were marked with a number (1 – 7), and you started at one. Person with the lowest score writes their score and name down on the glass with a marker. Then… you wait for the next person to play.

If that person gets a lower score than you, they write their name and score down… and you move on to the next machine. If they get a higher score? They move on and you wait.

As the evening progresses, certain people get stuck at certain machines, and are eventually ruled “out” of the tourney. According to Ben and Chris, who have played this type of tourney before, even strong players can have really terrible games – and so it’s a fun way to mix things up.

Liz, getting some practice in on a machine, with TJ and Justin S in back.

Liz, on the Blackout machine.

After everyone got through the 7 machines, and people got cut, we started the final round. To keep things moving along, we went through the machines again (starting back at 1), but this time only counted the score from the first ball per game.

I forget what this one was called, but this is where I finally got knocked out of the tournament. It should be noted that my score is 1610, and according to Ben the bare minimum that you can get on this game is 1500. So I effectively only scored 110 points.

As I was watching Mike play soon after me, he posted up 780 before his ball went down the side. as I was thinking “I got a higher score, I’m moving on!” I saw that his score immediately jumped by 2000 points.

Which made my 1610 feel like an impossible feat.

Sadly, both Liz and I both got knocked out of the tournament (but I feel like we made a decent showing). I talked at length about the Pinball Expo to folks, and playing again made me remember just how fun it was when I went last year.

As we left, Liz remarked at how quickly the entire evening flew by. We both had a blast, and it was fantastic to see so many friendly faces once more. We had a lovely time, and really enjoyed being a part of the celebration for Ben’s 40th.

Happy Birthday Ben (2010)
Birthday Drinks with Ben (2009)
Ben’s Birthday (2003)

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. So glad you could come! Thanks for posting the pictures, neither Allison or I took a single one :)

    Ben Reply

    • As it should be – enjoying the moment! I was having such a great time catching up with folks, I nearly forgot myself!

      avoision Reply

  2. I had an awesome time catching up with everyone at the party! The pinball tournament was especially fun. I hope the next gathering is sooner than later :)

    Justin W Siddons Reply

  3. Aww, this was basically an EI reunion – how fun! Hope you all are well, and happy birthday, Ben!

    Margaret Reply

  4. It was so great to see you guys!
    Our babies look like pros in the seventh pic :)

    Jane Reply

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