What the Flashing Lights in a Pinball Game Actually Mean

Mira Oberman, AFP/Getty Images
Mira Oberman, AFP/Getty Images

To the casual player, pinball may feel overwhelming. Lights seem to flash for no reason, extra balls pop up out of nowhere, and you can rack up millions of points without realizing it. But pinball experts know the game is about a lot more than flicking their flippers at random. As Vox lays out in their video below, each element of a pinball machine serves a purpose.

Pinball star Roger Sharpe explains to Vox that pinball is a game of skill, despite the way many novices play it. In 1976, a time when pinball machines were outlawed in New York City for being a form of gambling, Sharpe was able to convince the New York City Council that a player could control the outcome of the game if they knew what they were doing. After watching his demonstration, the city agreed to reverse the ban.

So what do pinball champions know that beginners don't? One of the most important things to remember is that the flashing lights aren't there to confuse you—they're telling you where to shoot. Some moves are worth more points at different times in the game, and paths with lit-up arrows indicate where to shoot to win big.

Like other arcade games, pinball has players work toward mini-goals, such as hitting letters on the field to spell out a word. Meet these goals and you can unlock special modes, like multiball (a.k.a. that slightly terrifying part of the game when there are multiple balls on the board at once).

Once you know the object of the game, the hard part is getting the ball to go where you want it. Sharpe suggests giving your fingers a break and slowing down your game play—instead of hitting the buttons frantically every time the ball rolls your way, practice cradling the ball in your flipper and hitting it deliberately. Now all you need to do is learn the right lingo and you're on your way to becoming a pinball wizard.

[h/t Vox]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Philadelphia Is Now Home to a Yarn Vending Machine

Emani Outterbridge with her yarn vending machine in Philadelphia.
Emani Outterbridge with her yarn vending machine in Philadelphia.
Emani Outterbridge

When 24-year-old Emani Outterbridge was stuck at home with a broken foot this past spring, she got to thinking of new ways to bring her self-made designer yarn to DIYers around Philadelphia. What she landed on was the idea of a yarn-dispensing vending machine, which she floated to her followers on social media.

They responded enthusiastically, and after a whirlwind fundraising campaign, Outterbridge ordered three machines, ready to be stocked with rows of brightly colored skeins. Earlier this month, the first one made its society debut at Elements of Grooming, a Philadelphia barber shop owned by a friend of Outterbridge’s. Soon, curious customers flooded the shop, and Outterbridge (who was on a business trip to Miami at the time) received excited updates from the owner. With the first vending machine already a proven success, she’s now looking to place the remaining two at other local businesses before ordering more.

Outterbridge's vivid skeins in the vending machine.Emani Outterbridge

Outterbridge doesn’t just make designer yarn—she also crochets custom items for her fashion line under the name “Emani Milan.” She’s been crocheting since she was 12 years old, and launched her own online business at age 15 after finishing an entrepreneur course in high school. She’s even designed items for Cardi B, whom she credits with elevating her profile. Outterbridge tells Mental Floss that the best part about being a business owner is the freedom to be “completely committed to my own success.”

Part of that success comes from understanding the needs of her fellow crocheters (and knitters), which helped her come up with the innovative vending machines in the first place. “I was thinking … if I had something that’s accessible to me 24 hours, mid-project, if I need to stop and go get some yarn, a vending machine would be ideal,” she explains.

Since the first vending machine is currently housed inside the barber shop—and future ones will likely live indoors, too—Outterbridge is hoping to open her own brick-and-mortar store in order to give people round-the-clock access to yarn. “With the salons and the shops—they close," she says. “But if I had my own store, I can have it open 24/7, so that’s what I’m pushing for.”

A future crocheter checks out the goods.Emani Outterbridge

In the meantime, she’ll continue offering her vibrant yarn skeins and garments through her website. Though you might assume a career crocheter would look forward to making cozy sweaters and scarves for chilly weather, Outterbridge actually prefers the summer months, which allow for more “creative range”—items like swimsuits, coverups, skirts, and rompers.

While you’re waiting for a yarn vending machine to land in your neighborhood, you can follow Outterbridge on Instagram and check out her products here.