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Staying at an Unreal Home Arcade, Courtesy of the Best Snowstorm Ever!

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Taito Ice Cold Beer
Kent Ponterio (on right) rescued me and the Mrs.

You may recall that in last week's article I promised to detail our unplanned Arizona vacation. (But if you don't, I won't hold a grudge.) My wife and I went out west for what was supposed to be two days. Adrienne needed to see a specialist, and was ultimately diagnosed with hypothyroid and anemia. A winter storm put the kibosh on our return flight to upstate New York.

We were at an impasse. We stood at the ticket counter with the option of flying as far as Baltimore that day, or hanging around Arizona for another four days, when the next connecting flight had open seats. We didn't know anyone in either state. Our cash was low, and our credit was limited. Adrienne had been through a lot, and was understandably at a loss. She deferred the decision to me. I told the ticket agent we would stay in Arizona for those four days.

My wife and I were officially stranded in the Phoenix International Airport. She was nervous, I was hopeful. My logic: We would definitely have to get a motel and provisions in Baltimore, and we would be cold and miserable. We might have to fend for ourselves in Phoenix, where we would be in an area we loved. We'd discovered that people in Arizona are shockingly nice; there was the possibility of someone in the Phoenix area helping us out. The worst that could happen: We would pay for food and lodging in a tropical paradise, rather than the same scenario in an arctic tundra.

I put an S.O.S. on Killer List of Video Games, my arcade message board, where I've been an active member for nine years. (I consider trolling an activity.) In less than two hours, Kent Ponterio, a.k.a. "Coindork," had stepped up to the plate. We took a forty-minute Uber ride to his house, grateful for the help. Our arrival was made even sweeter by the driver's terrible taste in music.

Kent, his awesome wife Trish, their kids, extended family and greyhounds, made us feel right at home for the duration. We were part of the clan: Dinners by Trish, unlimited Cokes, an open pantry. Kent even gave us some rides and took us out to eat a couple of times, including our introduction to In-N-Out burgers!

During our first day on the town with Kent, we met some other guys from the message board at a repair party, all of whom were very friendly. Back at the Ponterio residence, our bedroom was adjacent to the games, and we even had our own bathroom. We never wanted to leave, but with unfettered access to a home arcade like this, who could blame us?

Pinball machines in home arcade: Demolition Man, Terminator 2, The Twilight Zone, Jurassic Park, Cirqus Voltaire, Rocky and Bullwinkle
Pinball machines: Lord of the Rings, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Guns N' Roses, Rob Zombie's Spookshow.
Pinball machines: The Addams Family, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Indiana Jones, Judge Dredd, Dirty Harry
The Wizard of Oz Jersey Jack pinball
Arcade games: Bazooka, Blue Shark, Atari Stunt Cycle
Blue Shark arcade game
Big Top vintage arcade game

William's Moon Patrol is a favorite of Mr. Ponterio, the marquee art serving as his avatar on the message board. And it was great hearing Sinistar's spine-tingling "Run! Run! Run!" while we were talking in the kitchen with Kent's mom, Catherine.

William's Sinistar and William's Moon Patrol arcade games.

Mr. Ponterio's Space Ace, Dragon's Lair and Dragon's Lair II cabinets are running on their original LaserDiscs and players. This was my first experience playing LaserDisc games, and Kent could tell. Weird story: While we were at that repair party, we decided to take our first-ever January walk. Just a couple of blocks away, we came across an old guy with Dragon's Lair and Space Ace cabinets in his garage!

Dragon's Lair and Space Ace LaserDisc arcade games
Dragon's Lair II Don Bluth LaserDisc arcade game