In November was the finals of the ninth season of the Lansing Pinball League. These would be momentous. Not for the turnout; the Lansing league had its smallest season to date, such a small group that there wasn't even any sense dividing the finalists into A and B divisions, as we had earlier seasons. And not for the surprise turnout: CST won the double-elimination finals, as he always has before. But it would be the last season that WVL, the original organizer of the league, planned to run it. This spring would be, he hopes, his final semester in college, and he wanted to focus on that, and perhaps getting a job, more than he wanted to run the league. So this would be his beloved and bittersweet farewell.
It would also be a breathtaking one, at least for the right players. As previous years matches were settled as a best-two-of-three, with one player picking game and the other picking order. In the most intense match I played, I was up against WVL and picked for a tiebreaker, Revenge From Mars. This is one of the two Pinball 2000 games ever made, pinball machines with a short playfield dominated by a TV screen that uses a signal-splitter to make the animated images appear on the playfield. The gimmick wasn't well-received at the time. But with the huge screens of Jersey Jack pinball games, and the large-but-not-enormous screens of Stern pinball the past year, the huge video component of Pinball 2000 games ... at least seems less out of place. Revenge From Mars hasn't been a well-loved game in Lansing, but I'd started seriously studying it and learning how to play, and figured out roughly what to try doing.
So I figured it was a safe bet, and built up a powerful lead on the first two balls that threatened to leave WVL just knocked out altogether. In my whole game I had my best game on this table (to that date), and got a score good enough for the high score table, something nobody in the league had ever managed before. And then WVL went and had the third ball of his life on the game, ratcheting his way up through the game's modes and multiballs and getting himself onto the high score table too. But below me. The league championship would be between CST and MWS, but I think WVL and I had the most suspenseful match of the night.
I'd win third place for the night. bunny_hugger would curse herself out for only winning sixth place, which was one back of her regular-season standings. Her consolation: at WVL's request, she would take over the Lansing Pinball League this new season, starting in the spring semester. And WVL would barely be able to leave for all the hugging and thanks given for what he managed to do just by figuring, if there were a pinball league maybe they'd move some more games into the venue.
And he did make a huge difference. WVL's pinball league came along, coincidentally, as I was losing a bunch of my oldest (online) friends. The league would be a great joy, and would also lead me and bunny_hugger into competitive pinball. That's filled --- indeed, threatened to take over --- many of our nights and weekends, and led us to events like Pinburgh two years running now. We're different people than we would have been if not for WVL's decision to start a league. I think we're better people for it. Certainly we're happy about how it's turned out, so far, and glad for it.
Trivia: From 1790 to 1803 the only cotton-spinning manufacturies in the United States were those of the Brown, Almy, and Slater Company in Rhode Island. (They opened subsidiary mills in 1794 and 1803.) Source: Rhode Island: A History, William C McLoughlin.
Currently Reading: A Short History of the Office of Price Administration, Harvey C Mansfield and Associates.
PS: More at Motor City Fur[ry] Convention!
The classic old bulletin board, including (on the right) someone who'd posted an 'AWOO' with letters that tipped over. And look at that, an advertisement for the Sociopolitical Ramifications muck which it turns out is still a thing? Who knew?
Post-group-photo fursuiters ambling around the hotel lobby.
Oh yeah, that guy from that thing! He was there too.