austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Just as long as I'm here in your arms I could be in no better place

A bit over a year ago a new thing emerged in Grand Rapids: the pinball selfie league. The idea was you play qualifying games anytime during the month-long open time, taking pictures of your score (self not actually required) to prove in case there's some doubt. Then in the finals the score's used to seed your position for some kind of playoff. It's a lie to call this a league, really; it's more of a tournament with a long, open qualifying period. For a while these were popping up everywhere, quick ways to get International Flipper Pinball Association points, and we feared they'd drive out the real proper pinball leagues that meet at set times and put together groups of people to play one another.

Probably our fear was overblown: the one attempt at Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum faded after a single month. The Grand Rapids one hung around a little while, although in ever-declining health. The owner of the bar where it ran was wary of letting it advertise, particularly, even though a poster on the six games of the month would probably have got at least some casual players in. bunny_hugger and I played a couple times, then withdrew lest we encourage selfie leagues at the cost of actual leagues. When that threat passed we started to play again, at least to put in scores, although it was iffy whether we'd attend the finals. Hurting here might be that the finals would be the first Monday of the month, nearly always two days before the first Wednesday of the month and the regular league's meeting, and it's a hassle getting out to Grand Rapids twice in a week.

So when the final Grand Rapids selfie league got announced we were kind of surprised, since we didn't realize that league runner ADM was so ready to give up on it, but also not surprised, since we'd passed the end of the month and heard nothing about what the new games would be. Finally he set the last Selfie Finals, for a Sunday. Counting ADM, five people showed up.

He recused himself, allowing us to make the tournament a five-game series of four players: me, bunny_hugger, MWS, and KEC. And somehow I was top seed in this: I'd get to pick two games for the set. I figured to try one that was treating me well in practice --- not always a wise procedure --- and put up a Creature from the Black Lagoon that beat everyone. Not crushed them: MWS had a decent rally going and I expected he was going to restart his multiball and beat me. But no, I got lucky.

MWS picked the second game, I think The Shadow, also turned out surprisingly well. That's a rough game, one prone to disastrous or outstanding scores, and this time I had that rare outstanding score.

The Pyramid Scheme, the bar where the Grand Rapids Pinball League takes place and the Selfie League took place, is across the street from another hipster bar named Stella's, and that place has two pinball games. One of them is FunHouse, always tantalizingly close but off-limits for league play. ADM gave bunny_hugger permission to step outside the Pyramid Scheme for her pick of the night. And so we did. Considering that FunHouse is a game that every competitive pinball player knows inside-out, and that three of the state's top 16 players were in this group of four, you would think at least one of us would have a blowout game. Not so. We all had mediocre games; I won by getting one jackpot in multiball and getting to eight million points, which ordinarily MWS could have crushed and bunny_hugger could fairly reliably beat. I was having an amazingly lucky string.

KEC's pick. She's got some favorite games, as do we all. Hers was The Walking Dead, a game bunny_hugger can always put up a decent twenty million points on. Not this day. Nobody has a really good game, but I have the best of the lot. Four wins out of five is better than I remember ever doing and bunny_hugger tells me that I've locked up first place for the tournament.

So we came around to my second pick and the last game and I chose something that's just fun, Batman 66. And I'm playing with that incredible ease that comes from knowing I don't have to do anything but enjoy it. I still crush it, though, getting one more first-place finish and completing my first-ever perfect night of anything, anywhere. I finish the last Grand Rapids Selfie League with a first-place finish, and only the second time I've finished anything in first place.

We searched out for dinner afterwards --- our sandwich place closes early Sundays --- and went to a different hipster bar than usual with ADM. The main point I remember discussing besides various bits of gossip is the bit of courtesy that says a man walks on the street-side of a sidewalk, sheltering the woman he's with, a bit of behavior bunny_hugger had never noticed I compulsively do. This has helped her understand why when we turn corners I will so often vanish behind her a bit to reappear out of her blind spot.

And so did this Grand Rapids Selfie League close its history.

Trivia: The English East India Company director's letter to its governors in India for October 1718 contains the note ``Enclosed we send you 2 declarations of war with Spain'' at the top of the 44th paragraph. This comes after a lengthy protest of the drinks bill for the public table at Fort St George. (``If you must have liquors at such prices [ 9 Pagodas, about 30 rupees, a dozen for Burton ale ], pray gratify your pallats at your own, not our, expence''. Source: The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company, John Keay. Not answered in the text: two declarations of war? I'm not sure if they just mean two copies of the declaration?

Currently Reading: Introvert Doodles, Maureen 'Marzi' Wilson. So, anyone else tired of Introvert Pride as an Internet talking-point?

Tags: pinball
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