Thursday, March 24, 2011

(Dream Sequins) - Part III

The truck begins to pick-up more speed as we barrel down the gravel path, now feeling every bump and pothole in the road. A barking Collie runs from the field and chases the truck, eventually running ahead.

And then, one last sign…

You made it! Welcome to the home of…

Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons – The Sweetest Treat That Can’t Be Beat!

As the truck continues with a mind of its own, my mind races to take in the crazy scene…

An old beard, sitting on a crate cradling his shotgun like a prized trophy…
A cow with a Honeydew Melon stuck on her horns…
A guy on a parachute floating down from the crop duster…

Suddenly, an old fighter plane nose dives into a pond about 200 yards away. The horse that had been racing the truck steps on a watermelon and rears; I can hear the rider yell “Whoa Nellie!” I hear a cowbell clang and the Collie bark. The horn on the truck is honking on its own as well as a flock of geese overhead.

The truck hits a bump that sends us into glasses leave my face, my passenger’s pipe floats weightlessly from his mouth, no longer lodged between his tooth gap, and the farm-hand and the crates he loaded get launched from the flatbed.

And now, straining to see without my glasses, I open my eyes as wide as possible to see what’s ahead. I see what looks to be the biggest mountain of melons I had ever seen (not that I had actually ever seen a mountain of melons for comparison.)

And standing in the middle of the road, three of the prettiest women I had ever seen.

And all three women holding…


My passenger’s voice startles me out of the slow-motion sequence and I react by hitting the brakes!

(End Dream Sequence)

Next time we'll show the visual results from this crazy dream. Until then we'll reveal the playfield sketch at the Midwest Gaming Classic this weekend in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Hope to see you there.

And yesterday, Dennis and I tore off the temporary plotter-printed decals that have been on the game since last October and installed the new cabinet decals that were printed at Planetary Pinball - even though this cell phone photo show doesn't reveal the true colors of these printed decals we can easily say that the colors are Big and Juicy! Kudos to Rick and his team at

More exciting announcements to come.

G & D

All art, sketches, or photos related directly to "Whizbang Pinball" or "Whoa Nellie (Brand) Big Juicy Melons" or "Whoa Nellie (Brand) Sweet Juicy Melons" are TM and Copyright 2009 WhizBang Pinball LLC, Greg Freres, and Dennis Nordman.

Photos on this post courtesy G. Freres

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

(Dream Sequence) - Part 2

A large arrow on a piece of plywood points to a gravel road that cuts between a small grove of trees and then meanders into the rolling green hills. My vehicle follows this path as if on auto-pilot. This road seems smooth for a path cut by years of farming, the stake-bed gliding effortlessly over the puddle filled ruts and bumps. I’m still dreaming.

More hand-made signs begin to pop into view, out of nowhere, like the old Burma-Shave advertising signs along the highways.

The first four signs read…

Mellon's fresh melons

Just up ahead

Big Juicy Casabas

As large as your head.

The truck comes to a complete stop by itself. I really haven’t been driving at all. Just a passenger with my hands on the wheel.

Now there’s a guy, a big bearded guy, overalls and a corn-cob pipe, standing next to the passenger window. He puts his thumb up and smiles an almost toothless grin. I tell him to get in. He climbs in, slams the door shut, says nothing but points ahead…as if to say… keep going.

The truck rolls forward and picks up speed. The green hills are coming into focus the further we go down this path. Rolling fields of melons as far as the eye can see. On one side of the road…watermelons. On the other…some kind of muskmelon or cantaloupes. The road comes to a “T” and the truck automatically turns right at “Sharp’s Corner”.

Four more signs…

If you’re thinkin’ ‘bout fruit

You found the right place

Hand over your loot

And put a smile on that face!

I hesitate but I feel compelled to look at my passenger. He’s still smiling. I can now see that the stem of his pipe fits snugly between a gap in his teeth. And then he quietly mutters one word…”melons”…as his eyes widen and his smile gets bigger.

The truck slows to a stop once again. This time a farm-hand standing on the side of the road hoists a few wooden crates onto the back of the flatbed. I try to tell him something but no words come out. He jumps up on the truck and thumps the bed with is hand as if to say…let’s go.

The next four signs…

This farmstand is diff'ernt

We got flowers with names

And a guy that got burnt

By spectacular flames.

The signs, as well as the road, seem to go on forever now…

Our fruit is all fresh,

All ripe for the pickin'

Tom Turkey might gobble

While Nellie's a-kickin',

But be careful you don’t

Start squeezin’ too tight

Cuz’ Ol’ Leroy is cleanin’

His shotgun just right.

The truck has picked up considerable speed as we climb the steepest part of this dusty road. My passenger is now laughing, way-out-of-control, the farm hand on the flatbed is pounding his fists on the top of the cab, and a horse and rider appear to be racing against us through the melon fields. Dream becomes nightmare.

Four more signs lead us to the top of the hill. I have to read quickly at this speed…

See the Mountain of Melons

Where everyone grins

Come pick the ripe ones,

But keep your hands off the twins!

When we reach the crest of the hill, a lush vista opens up in the valley below. A huge brick farm house stands watch over the vast acreage.

The crop duster returns, flying over the area pulling a banner that reads -

Visit the Mellon Family Melon Farm.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

(Dream Sequence) - Part One

The air is warm, the feel is cool, it’s at least 30 years before cell phones and I’m driving on a road that straddles the fault line that runs anywhere between Northern California and South Central Florida – not that one exists but…it is a dream sequence.

All eight cylinders are cranking in a vehicle that needs only one battery, has zero factory-installed air-conditioning, and doesn’t care how much of the 34 cents per gallon in leaded fuel it’s using to get me there.

Where am I going?
I’ll know when I get there.

Because it’s the weekend and this is entertainment. I get in the BIG red stake-bed and drive.

Summer was made for driving without destination. To leave the city behind in search for a new piece of road and maybe even find the new place, the one the rest haven’t quite found yet.

All of this, when TV had two colors and six channels, years before they started harvesting wind, before the first laptop (or desktop) was born, when fresh fruit was still packed and stacked in wooden crates.

Windows down and the AM radio struggles to hold onto the faint broadcast signal from maybe 50, maybe 200 miles away… Some country song that sounds like 50 other country songs that I can barely identify. Can’t identify. And then a commercial with only a few words from a peppy jingle making it through…”You’ll wonder where the yellow went…”, interrupted by the larger crackles from some distant thunderstorm, “…with Pepsodent!”

But right here, right now, the skies are clear except for a crop duster pulling an advertising banner. Not close enough to read.

Where the hell am I?

Nowhere, directly in the middle. Wide open fields, green hills, distant forms.

Barns with painted advertising slogans, some cracking and fading in the summer sun pitching products and companies that no longer exist.

See Rock City, DeKalb, Mail Pouch, Funks G Hybrid, Lay Or Bust Brand.

And then, a simple hand-made sign appears just off the shoulder…

Melons Up

Another 50 yards, another hand-made sign with poor spelling…I hope…

A Head

And one more…

5 miles

I hear my voice, me as a kid, in my head…Are we there yet? Another sign answers my question…

You’re almost there!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"How do you dream this stuff up?"

Over the years, a lot of people have asked us similar questions about the design process in many different ways:

And my personal favorite…

Most of the time, speaking for myself, dreams have nothing to do with the creative process. Daydreams, absolutely, but the sleep induced dream state is often a more frustrating version of real life. Time moves too quickly, or often too slowly. Work is a nebulous entity where nothing gets done, with co-workers asking inane questions about things that have nothing to do with the seemingly anxiety ridden task at hand. Scenes shift quickly and nothing seems quite right with the world.

But let’s get back to talking about dreams.

So let’s assume for a minute that dreams did play a big role in the design of this first Whizbang Pinball project.

We’ll set the dial on the Way-Back Machine for 2009, when Dennis first pitched the Big Juicy Melons concept to Greg.

Wait a second…I know what you’re thinking…this blog is loaded with flashbacks. Y’all want to know what’s going on right now…like how’s the playfield art coming along (slacker)?

Fair enough. Over the next few posts we’ll use this dream vehicle to help preview the direction of the playfield art and how it all ties together with the overall theme of the game. After all, much of the art direction hit me in one productive four hour brain-drain a few months ago…right after waking up.

And for those of you not as familiar with pinball or it's design process, here's what a playfield looks like when the artist gets it from the designer.

And here's what I see when I first start thinking about the art...

So you'll have to excuse's time to go to sleep so I can start to dream...


All art, sketches, or photos related directly to "Whizbang Pinball" or "Whoa Nellie (Brand) Big Juicy Melons" or "Whoa Nellie (Brand) Sweet Juicy Melons" are TM and Copyright 2009 WhizBang Pinball LLC, Greg Freres, and Dennis Nordman.

Photos on this post courtesy G. Freres