krazy koati

Next weekend on The Price Is Right-ight-ight

So here's the stuff going on my humor blog this past week:


And while we spent four days at Pinburgh/ReplayFX, and spent ... uh ... four days looking at pictures of the fourth day at Pinburgh/ReplayFX, this is the last of my photos from there. Not to worry, though; we did something after the arcade closed. Go on. Guess what we did in Pittsburgh during the summer last year.

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OK yes so technically speaking this happened but, you know, 12.5 million is not a very high score and anybody should have been able to get on there sometime during the weekend and I am not always upstaging bunny_hugger.


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So, the Rock-O-Plane. The amusement park ride was there, for free, all weekend and we finally decided to take a ride. The Rock-O-Plane was once a common fairground thing but the company making it has been out of business a long while and these things only last so long, which is why we decided to not pass up the chance. After all, who'd know if it would be at Pinburgh 2020?


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The station had this replica of a Popular Science cover (July 1949) that explained how amusement rides are designed. The thrill of the Rock-O-Plane is that it moved like a Ferris wheel, but ... you the rider could pull a lever that would lock your car's angle relative to the wheel's arms. So that, as the wheel goes around, your car eventually tips upside-down, and straightens out again. And you can lock it to any angle you like, so you could, if you're up to that, go upside-down through the bottom of the ride cycle.


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Control lever for the Rock-O-Plane.


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Manufacturing label for the Rock-O-Plane, another -O- ride from the Eyerly Aircraft company.


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Plates and Michigan inspection sticker and other stuff for the Rock-O-Plane. I took no pictures while on my ride, I'm sorry to report, because the safety signs said to not and I accidentally locked my camera underneath the restraining bar so I couldn't get at it anyway. (I do feel like Ferris wheels are the rare ride where it's not risky to take an on-ride photo, and this --- if the car's left to rotate freely ---- is essentially a Ferris wheel.)


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GamePlan's 1980 game Pinball Lizard. So, do you suppose that dragon tail is part of her body or her bikini?


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The end. We closed out Pinburgh on Class Of 1812, of course, and they turned the games off on us.


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``Go home, Stern pinball tables, you're drunk.''


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A last look at the pinball tournament areas, with the rightmost row the games used for Intergalactic Pinball qualification. It was a shame that it was over, but we had this comfort: since Pinburgh 2020 moved to the week after Anthrocon, we had only fifty weeks to wait for the next tournament, the shortest wait we'd ever have. [Whimper.]


Trivia: One of first two lecture/spectacle shows Fred Thompson put on at the newly-built Hippodrome was A Yankee Circus On Mars, a sort of stage production of the Trip To The Moon amusement-park scenic ride. Mars included, in background, two 50-foot-tall gilded dragons serving as arch for the performers. Source: The Kid of Coney Island: Fred Thompson and the Rise of American Amusements, Woody Register.

Currently Reading: The Space Shuttle Decision: NASA's Search for a Reusable Space Vehicle, T A Heppenheimer. NASA SP-4221.

krazy koati

Well I sure hope I do better

Today was for publishing my big mathematics essay of the week. In My All 2020 Mathematics A to Z: Tiling, a topic I picked in part because I thought it wouldn't be a sprawling 2,500 tome heaped on my shoulders. Well, live and learn.


Let's get some more views in of Pinburgh/ReplayFX 2019.

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Backglass to Raven. So for a while there Gottlieb staged photographs for its backglasses, meaning they all look like Golan-Globus productions. Most of them are not this ... much, but they're all funny.


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The cheap vending machine at the far far end of the convention center. You could get a bottle of pop for (I think) $2.50, instead of double that inside the convention center. Unfortunately nobody refilled the machine and so by Saturday it was empty. Note the bottle of Diet Mountain Dew, lost in the mechanism where it can't be retrieved, as the armature is supposed to carry your pop over to a slot on the side. That Diet Mountain Dew, dear reader, was mine, attempted to purchase on Thursday and sitting there lost the rest of the weekend. (The machine gave my change back.)


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Backglass to Andromeda, a weird little GamePlan game, featuring a woman who's got an extra set of arms and extra set of eyes and apparently mastery of bat-faced wolves.


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One of those great early 70s backglasses, here for Gottlieb's King Kool.


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King Kool features this double-flipper arrangement, something sure to drive any modern player crazy because there's no inlanes and trying to trap on the lower flippers, like normal, ruins your game. Ah, but, note the two-way wires on the outlane switches: the designers thought it plausible that a ball might roll back up that outlane, possibly back into play. Also, given those pins, it's just possible that someone could nudge the game just right, as a ball drains, and hold the flippers down so it bounces back into play between the flippers. I doubt anyone has mastered that. Well, Keith Elwin has, but anyone else.


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Bally's Future Spa, which I've probably shown before, but which is a wonder every single time you see it.


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Backglass to Gottlieb/Premier's Bounty Hunter, a 1985 game that turned out to be surprisingly fun. The Internet Pinball Database says it was inspired by the Spanish graphic novel series Torpedo 1936 that I never heard of before.


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The playfield for Bounty Hunter. Like many Gottlieb/Premier games, it's got a lot of shots for which it's not clear just how you're supposed to make them. But the art has some great composition --- follow the line of that gun, for example --- and there's these lovely curved loops all along the left side that are good fun.


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bunny_hugger playing Miss-O, I believe still in competition for the Women's International Pinball Tournament. She would finish in a 14-way tie for 48th place, out of 128 competitors, with the same finish as 2017 Womens World Pinball Champion Helena Walter Higgins; Tracy Lindbergh, currently the 6th-highest-rated woman playing; and 2019 New York City Womens Pinball Champion Julie Dorssers.


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I think at this point she's just having fun, playing the Zaccaria table Pinball Champ '82, which you can see from the backglass was maybe the most 1982 thing ever.


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``Midnight? Oh, no, not nearly; it's like 2:45,'' explains bunny_hugger.


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``You don't want to go down there'', explains Rudy, of his mysterious basement glowing a magical blue.


Trivia: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were paid $4,000 per show for their part in the 1951-52 syndicated adventure radio series Bold Venture. Source: On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, John Dunning. (I believe that's four thousand dollars total, for the husband-and-wife pair, but Dunning is ambiguous. He does say the show had a budget of $12,000 per show but again I'm not clear if that is besides the salary for the two.)

Currently Reading: The Space Shuttle Decision: NASA's Search for a Reusable Space Vehicle, T A Heppenheimer. NASA SP-4221. I had not appreciated just how, in the 1960s, everybody with a voice in space planning --- NASA, the Air Force, the Bureau of the Budget, the National Aeronautics and Space Council, even the State Department and intelligence agencies --- agreed a space shuttle was a good idea. It's just when actual plans got seriously made that everyone started to hate it.

krazy koati

I lost on Jeopardy, baby

Personally quiet day so let me just stop in to share What's Going On In Prince Valiant? When was Camelot attacked by kaiju? August - October 2020 in my story comic recaps.

And in mathematics, Denise Gaskins hosted the 142nd Playful Mathematics Education Blog Carnival so see if you care to read that.


And now let me finish off sharing the Tattoo Assassins character bios and some of the backstory. No, I did not play the game. Why would you think I'd play a video game?

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``LUKE [ Cord ] is a former Navy Seal who was stranded in Alaska after a secret operation against the Soviets was compromised by a bureaucrat. He has been declared dead by the US Navy, but the CIA still has a contract out on him because of his knowledge ... '' There is a whole course in mass media and its role in the rise of fascism and the normalization of the surveillance state, with a bonus about racism and the ways Black figures are suborned to their own oppression, to be made out of this screen.


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``HANNAH [ Hart ] was a world class strip club dancer, until a deranged killer started stalking the other dancers and murdered her best friend. She now prowls the night, in search of the man who ruined her life. Her only desire is a cruel revenge ... '' So, first, I remember the Flophouse Podcast regarding this as a good-bad movie with a few moments they kinda liked. Second: it's not until you've seen them that you appreciate the touches that make a world class strip club dancer, as opposed to a merely very good strip club dancer.


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``KARLA [ Reller ] was cheated out of her chance to compete in the Olympics when her rival Eva Gunther attempted to cripple her in a late-night ambush. KARLA has sworn a vicious revenge and is practicing her martial arts for that day ... '' OK, so first: yeah, like the Olympics would allow a woman with a tattoo to compete. And second: I don't know what's wrong with her breasts but they need urgent repair.


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``DEREK [ O'Toole ] is an aspiring rock star who was false accused of taking part in terrorist activities in his home town of Belfast. He was forced to develop fighting skills to defend himself. He is now part of the underground club scene ... '' What is it with Americans trying to write Irish characters?


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General backstory. ``And it came to pass that MULLAH ABBA, spiritual leader of the ORDER OF COLORS, discovered the ancient secret of the mystic INK OF GHIZE ... '' Ah yes, Mullah Abba, who's behind classic songs like ``People Needle Love'' or ``Dotterloo'' or ``The Winner Tats It All''.


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``The INK OF GHIZE is an amorphous fluid organism which can form into real objects for brief moments when applied to human bodies as tattoos''. What are the chances that, had this game gone to release, that sentence would have been edited into a thing it could have meant to say?


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``MAYA's father, a tribal chief, was killed by foreign land developers intent on taking over her tribe's land. MAYA has taught her people to use guerilla tactics against the foreigners; now the developers want her dead as well ... ''


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So here's some nice normal and comparatively non-sexist, non-ethnically-ugly pinball. The Tri-Zone at the end is physically the same as ours, but its chips have been modded so it's now a Simon game. The game will flash the lights in front of a string of the four (separate) drop targets, and you have to hit them in the same order. It's quite challenging.


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Toontown Rewritten's table of props. Note Royce's straw hat is one of them.


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Comic scenery panel for Toontown Rewritten, so, yeah, the game almost looks interesting enough to make me think about remembering it outside looking at these pictures.


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Monitor with the information about how to enter games for the Intergalactic Pinball Tournament. This was Sunday, so qualifying was long since over, and in fact finals had begun by the time I took this picture. But I like how this sign was something they realized quite belatedly that they needed.


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Zines! They got them. Pinball Summer is a reference to a fairly bad Canadian movie from the early 80s which does, must be said, include some fairly legitimate-looking pinball action that revealed, for example, that trapping was a bigger part of the game back then than we had understood it to be.


Trivia: For the 1889 World's series, the National League's New York Baseball Club [ the Giants ] and the American Association's Brooklyn team [ the Bridegrooms, often called ] agreed to play a best-of-eleven series. With, after the bad experiences of 1887 and 1888, the stipulation that the series ended once the outcome was decided. Source: The Beer and Whiskey League: The Illustrated History of the American Association --- Baseball's Renegade Major League, David Nemec.

Currently Reading: The Space Shuttle Decision: NASA's Search for a Reusable Space Vehicle, T A Heppenheimer. NASA SP-4221.

krazy koati

Oh, but I couldn't get the questions right

Saturday was my parents' wedding anniversary. Their 50th, and the sort of thing that in normal times would have had us ... well, not getting together for it. In non-pandemic times this would still have been an awkward weekend. But we would have planned to get together some convenient time --- maybe Thanksgiving weekend, perhaps around Christmas or New Year's --- for the whole family to gather around.

Instead, we did something novel for me and normal for everyone else: a group video chat. Through Google, because my brother in Massachusetts figured that involved the fewest complications. By this he meant I wouldn't have to download Zoom or anything. Fair enough. Hey, I remembered to take off the little Post-It Note that covers my laptop's camera lens so well that most of the time I forget I have a camera. I had seriously thought whether I'd have to do things from my new iPad, which I know has a camera that I don't use, instead.

It's the first time my parents have seen me since January, when stuff was looking basically normal. It's the first time my siblings have seen me since my aunt's funeral in 2018. I did not recognize my nephew, who I haven't seen since he was an infant and our little weekend trip to Holiday World in 2016. My nieces were a bit of a challenge too, although my Maryland brother's were manageable, especially when they were both on camera and I was sure which was the older.

Nobody muted their side when they weren't chatting, which subtly drove bunny_hugger crazy. It was hard for the kids not to burst out with wanting to talk about themselves, which I can understand, but which doesn't make the adult conversation easier to follow. Also there were a couple times where two people in the same room had their phones or such open together, and we got echo effects. When my Mom scolded Dad to mute his phone I said to just let him play his green tambourine. bunny_hugger did the incense-and-peppermints joke, which is maybe the better riff.

My sister, and my brother in Massachusetts, had to leave after about an hour (I said OK now we can talk about him, a well-received joke that was better because he was still connected, through his wife's phone, in another window). We went on another hour after that and made vague plans to do video chats again sometime. We'll see.

I think my video call technique turned out pretty good. Despite the windows behind me I wasn't horribly backlit, possibly because no light actually penetrates into our house and the dining room light was in front of me. I was more or less centered most of the call and even gracefully ducked to the side to show off some Halloween decorations. Nobody complained that I was any harder to hear than I always am. So, that wasn't too bad.

My parents mentioned how they largely eat through a meal kit delivery service these days. They've mentioned this several phone calls the last couple months. It's all right, good for them I guess, but it makes for a weird moment when chatting with my parents turns into a podcast.

Still would rather we have done a ``surprise'' gettogether for them over Christmas break.


Let's get back to luxuriating in the last day of ReplayFX, and the one day of the Women's International Pinball Tournament. bunny_hugger was competing, of course. She asked me to not hang around, from the concern that she wasn't doing doing as well when I watched and tried to reassure her that she was not doomed and all that.

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I have a social-media friend who's one of the techs at Pinburgh and he spent every spare moment running back to Derby Day, trying to get it working again. It's a wide-body pinball-ish construct with the twist that your target hits advance different horses. Horse 3 was just a recurring problem.


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We would get a couple games in during the brief moments that Horse 3 was not being a problem, though this wasn't one of them.


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In the free-play area. Pinball is a 1979 Gottleib game that, sure, tosses in a robot because why not? Note the stenciled side-panel art, particularly, though.


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Playmatic's 1975 game Fairy, which manages by the addition of simple metallic headbands and wristbands to make this somehow a future-y instead of fantasy setting?


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OK, so, here's a weird one. Cabinet with Data East's Tattoo Assassins, a never-released game of which only a handful of prototypes exist, and the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association, which supplies a lot of games to Pinburgh, has two of them. It's, in spirit, a Mortal Kombat-like game, noteworthy for having 2,196 finishing moves including (says Wikipedia) what Mortal Kombat III would call Animalities, dropping a DeLorean on your opponent, turning your opponent into a hamburger, and ``some nudity-based finishers''. O-kay then.


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One of the backstory screens for Tattoo Assassins, which just fascinated me so. The key is everybody has tattoos made of some magic ink that can cause special moves. ``... Thus believing himself superior to all mankind, KOLDAN stole the secret of the ink. His goal is to create an army of mutants and enslave the human race.''


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``But all was not lost, for MULLAH ABBA discovered the strange power of the mysterious tattooed woman, LYLA BLUE ... '' who had emojis twenty years ahead of everybody else.


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Character bios: ``Branded a renegade after taking arms against the US Bureau of Land Management over preservation of the burial site of his ancestors, BILLY has been a fugitive for many years, and he has had to dispatch numerous bounty hunter ... '' I know what you're thinking but, no, his name is Billy Two-Moons so it's kinda ... um.


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``TRUCK [ Davis ] is the last surviving member of the Holy Terrors biker gang. The Holy Terrors were ambushed by a rival gang, the Sore Losers, after they lost a drinking contest. Now TRUCK has a score to settle, and the Losers want to finish the job ... ''


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``A.C. [ Current ] is a cyber-mercenary who travels the net, cracking computer systems for the highest bidder. After being set up in an industrial espionage double-cross, A.C. is wanted by Interpol and by his former employers ... '' And I know you're laughing but please, save some ability to laugh as you're going to need it ...


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Oh, here's a moment of the attract mode, showing Maya battling A.C. in what certainly looks like a Mortal Kombat-ish game of around 1994, yup.


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``TAK [ Hata ] is a former Yakuza assassin. When the governor's daughter was killed by the son of a powerful crime lord, TAK was framed for the murder. He is now wanted both by the Yakuza and the Japanese police ... ''


Trivia: In late February 1665, the great frigate the London, moored at the Nore, a soundbank at the mouth of the Thames, was destroyed by an explosion, with more than three hundred men killed. The City of London commissioned a replacement, which the King would name the Loyal London. Source: A Gambling Man: Charles II's Restoration Game, Jenny Uglow. (As plague was creeping into England at the time, it was hard not to see an omen here.)

Currently Reading: Barnaby, Volume 1, Crockett Johnson.

PS: Using my A to Z Archives: Surjective Map, a term of analysis that comes in handy ... doing analysis, really.

krazy koati

Art Fleming gave the answers

It's been positively quiescent on my mathematics blog, with just the one big piece per week the last couple weeks. What have those pieces been? Let me take you back ... nearly two weeks so this looks more full:

In the cartoons, I look at 60s Popeye: Strange Things Are Happening, and I have questions about them.

Now, back to ReplayFX 2019, and the events surrounding it, such as the parts of Pinburgh we were no longer competing in.

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The slow degradation of conditions on Judge Dredd, which from the looks of things was part of the Intergalactic Pinball Tournament, the side tournament giving people something to wait in crazy long lines on for Saturday.


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bunny_hugger getting in an Intergalactic game on a game from that time in the mid-80s when Gottlieb said ``we don't need to get the Ghostbusters license''.


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``What do you mean by a `wide' pinball stance?''


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View of the pants bridge and Pirates Stadium, as a baseball game plays.


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Walking back from dinner we discovered that the lighting effects on the waterfall-and-river were still on, even without the water being there.


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Ooh, a bonkers-themed early-solid-state game, you say? I am interested.


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bunny_hugger pausing a moment in Super Orbit, a sweet early-solid-state game.


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We left Pinburgh/ReplayFX about midnight, since there was stuff we'd need to do early in the morning. There was a hint of it in a picture posted Friday; did you catch it?



And that's my Saturday pictures! Sunday was the most free of days and I have a great mass of pictures from that.


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Our hotel room, as we left it. I was left alone to do the final packing and clearing out of our room and while I wasn't too worried about lugging our stuff to the car several city blocks away, I was terrified I was going to leave something important behind. I did not, so far as we've noticed yet.


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Another view of our room. Note that I opened and left open the drawer in the bedside table even though we never set anything in it.


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Ah, but, we were awake early enough that I could get to the hotel buffet breakfast and load up on scrambled eggs, some more scrambled eggs, more scrambled eggs, some scrambled eggs, and I don't know, I probably pocketed a banana or something. Anyway I would like to express my support for eggs.


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Mural above the hotel's dining area. The hotel used to be the Pittsburgh branch of the Cleveland Federal Reserve so the room has this style of looking all respectable and fiduciary. I don't know if the mural is actually vintage or just made to look vintage.


Trivia: On the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Canal of the 19th century --- a network of canals and railroads --- passenger cars would be canal packets which were lifted from the water, set on train beds, and carried to the next canal segment to be re-floated. Source: The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century, Wolfgang Schivelbush. (It's the sort of thing that makes you realize how close we were to container cargo long before the 1950s.)

Currently Reading: Barnaby, Volume 1, Crockett Johnson.

krazy koati

I guess it just wasn't my night

Neither of us made playoffs. A couple Michigan pinball players did, although none of the folks in our core groups. So, we could sleep in some, get down to ReplayFX, watch what parts of Pinburgh were still on, that kind of thing. Here's what it looked like:

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Oh, so that's what it looks like in the light. Early Saturday photo repeating those first shots of Pittsburgh by night, Wednesday.


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bunny_hugger is excited to see FunHouse part of the A Division finals for Pinburgh 2019.


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A lot of people don't know it but in A Division finals you're not just allowed to tackle your opponents, you're expected to!


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Color commentary! Not only were the Pinburgh A Division finals broadcast on the Internet (I believe you can watch the whole things on YouTube yet) but they even had panelists talking about what was happening.


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Finals, along with the streamed footage. So here's an ethical question: is it fair to competitors that the commenters might be talking about strategy --- and what shots a person needs to make to hit an achievement --- where the players can hear? Sure, you don't get to A Division finals without knowing games very well, but, you could easily forget something in the heat of the moment, or be playing a game you don't really know, and so you get these tips other people might not have.


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FunHouse in action. You can see the rigging used for streaming the games, including three mounted cameras and a microphone dangling near the speaker.


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The Pinburgh 2019 trophy! Also, emergency repairs on Jack-Bot.


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A Division finals wouldn't end until November. So here let's prowl around the merch tables. There's a lot of vintage hardware on sale and here's some old Pong, Telstar, an Atari 800 XL, all sorts of neat stuff.


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Wow, an RCA Studio II? That's ... something I never heard of either!


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But wow, that Program Cartridge aesthetic? That is so very much my childhood even if we never had this or anything particularly like this.


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I ... uh ... I'm confused?


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bunny_hugger enjoying Disco Queen, one of the free-play-area games, from that era where they were trying out extra-wide tables and sometimes two rows of flippers. The game is okay but the art style is really amazing.


Trivia: In 1839 Nicholas Biddle retired from the Bank of the United States of Philadelphia --- formerly the Second Bank of the United States, the de-federalizing of which was among the causes of the great Depression of 1837 --- claiming ill health, but hoping to run for President in 1840. The country was not ready to elect a bank president. Source: The Money Men: Capitalism, Democracy, and the Hundred Years' War over the American Dollar, H W Brands.

Currently Reading: Barnaby, Volume 1, Crockett Johnson.

krazy koati

I was tense, I was nervous

Cedar Point has four more operating days this season, the coming two Saturdays and Sundays. And ... I'm thinking about going.

I know the reasons not to. Going out to inessential things spreads the disease. And there is nothing essential about an amusement park. One could argue that, like, going to the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky serves the purpose of propping up their shabby finances. But Cedar Point's parent company thinks it has enough cash on hand not to be in a crisis even with another year of being closed. We would be going because we want to go an amusement park.

I can rationalize why it's all right. Although I have insisted the amusement parks should not have opened, it does appear that no park can be traced to any real outbreak of Covid-19. That they're running at lowered capacity, and not doing indoor events, surely helps. An amusement park is mostly people being outside. A late October or early November day? If the weather is not good? If it's like our previous November-closing-day experiences that's some sparse park-going. It's easy enough to wear a mask --- we'd likely have a scarf over our faces anyway --- and with gloves all day won't even be touching metal bars other people have rubbed.

But I recognize the motivations behind this reasoning too. A big part is that bunny_hugger and I have been really good, possibly the best of any of our friends, about not doing inessential stuff. We've gone to drive-ins. We went to the zoo once. We've had a friend over to sit outside, at a distance. We've visited her parents and sat outside, at a distance. Weather Underground has completely forgotten my ``Recent Cities'' profile, places like Fremont and Sandusky and Muskegon and Columbus that we don't see anymore. I think maybe moxie_man is the only one more abstemious. As we see through Facebook or other means that friends are just ... going out, hanging out in bars, acting as though wearing a facemask is all they have to do, as opposed to the minimum you must do ... it feels like, you know, why don't we get a fair share?

I mean, if everyone had been as good as we've been --- we haven't even had take-out or delivery through the pandemic! --- there wouldn't be a pandemic by now. But there is still a pandemic, and it's worse than it was in April, and it's not like bad choices now won't make it worse still.

Pressing on me is the realization that, jeez. We've had nothing normal since March. We aren't going to have anything for ages to come. We can't go to Bronner's for bunny_hugger's birthday this year. Silver Bells won't happen. bunny_hugger's mother has rejected our getting together in person for Thanksgiving. There won't be any competitive pinball --- nothing sanctioned, anyway --- for, jeez, it's got to be another half-year at least. It's possible that we might yet talk bunny_hugger's mother into an in-person Christmas, maybe, but even so it'll be impossible to talk her into having bunny_hugger's brother in from Brooklyn. It would take a miraculous collapse in Michigan Covid-19 rates for MJS to hold his pole barn New Year's Eve party, or for us to attend. Maybe we'll be fortunate, we'll get Democrats into every position of power, we'll get a vaccine. But --- consider the Copernican argument. There is a better than 50% chance we are not yet at the halfway mark of this. Even if we are at the halfway mark then it'll be June before things are normal and July before we can finally have Motor City Fur[ry] Con. Maybe. If things start going well.

In light of that, is it wrong to grab selfishly at being able to spend eight shivering hours at Cedar Point?

That I am making excuses for why it is all right is probably a clear argument it's not. And, like, even if we do go, the best that can happen is we don't cause anyone to get sick; it's not like we will have a life-affirming experience on the Mine Ride. But there are reasons we have celebrations in the middle of winter. A bit of festival makes more bearable a long and cold and barren stretch.

And it would be so nice to do something normal.


Well, let's look at something without any but the usual moral quandaries: Friday at Pinburgh 2019. This, too, closes out the day as I took few pictures apart from stuff like scorecards, none of which were amazing enough that I want to share them.

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And there on the sidewalk, as we walked from lunch at the pierogie place: one lone used sock. Its origin and purpose still a mystery.


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The waterfall and 'river' through the median underneath the convention center was shut down, for some kind of work going on. We were looking forward to seeing it back in normal operation in 2020.


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They got us all together for a group picture so I went and took a picture right back at them.


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bunny_hugger joining the other women on-stage for the group women's shoot.


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Yeah so some groups are just going to keep on taking their time playing Deadpool and hold up the tournament from the next round. (Not actually, not this time; it was a different group that ran so long on one game that even after Pinburgh invoked its new you-can-stop-now rule, it delayed the next round for everybody by a half-hour plus.)


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Fourth bank for the second day. Rolling Stones I worked out how to play using the base logic of 'this is a Stern pinball game. There's some shot that, repeated, will start multiball. Pick one and try it' and what do you know but it worked. Minizag I feel like I play every Pinburgh, and I always feel like I should be good at it, and I am not.


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Still, that's some great stylized art there. Look at those bodies.


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Middle playfield for MiniZag. Again, great, spectacularly pop-art bodies and a message for their time.


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So Pinburgh 2018, on that Simpsons, in my famous and controversial two-player group, my opponent put up 22 million --- always a good score on that table and absolutely spectacular for one in Pinburgh tournament conditions --- and I went and put up 40 million on the poor guy. Anyway, so, this time around? I put up the worst game of my life. (Not quite, but close.)


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(Sigh.) FINE, Pat, you can play pinball, can we just FINISH and GO HOME some of us have playoffs in the morning?


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Early-solid-state game, from the era of making backglasses that would rather be the covers for bonkers science fiction novels of 1978.


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Merch table that also looks like Mario refused to heed the Syndicate's warnings.


Trivia: In 1801 the New York State Assembly declared there should be a translation of old colonial records from Dutch into English. In 1818 the work began with one man, Francis Adrian van der Kemp, translating twelve thousand pages into English over the following four years. van der Kemp was going blind and had a faulty command of English to start with, and his translation was apparently quite bad. The sole manuscript was eventually lost to a fire. Source: The Island at the Centre of the World, Russell Shorto.

Currently Reading: Barnaby, Volume 1, Crockett Johnson.

PS: Using my A to Z Archives: Smooth, maybe the first time anyone has noticed this essay since I published it.

krazy koati

Against a plumber, oh and an architect, both with a PhD

And today it's my time to look over the humor blog from the past week. Run recently have been:

Back to Thursday at Pinburgh 2019. I don't have many pictures of the day because I was really busy playing and I'm aware that almost every shot of someone playing pinball looks the same.

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Of course a full day playing pinball can wear you down, so Stern set up this nice little vendor's area where people can come over and ... play pinball some. I didn't play any of these. While it's fun to see the newest wares, I would go to the free-play area and seek out weirder and more obscure games. I know places to play Beatles or Deadpool tables at home.


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Here's a more relaxing relaxation area, set up by someone selling beer, I think. ... I have no memory of the pool table in this photograph but there you have it. Also notice that starburst in the far background on the left. More to come about that.


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So, uh, your ball didn't drain, but ... ... Stuck balls can happen in the weirdest places and often on older tables the lamps have burned away little divots in the wood. A slow-moving ball can get stuck. You can try rocking the table to shake it loose --- it's your ball, after all --- but if it tilts you lose your bonus or possibly the rest of your game. Or you can call a tournament official who'll, in this case, normally just tap the ball down so it rolls over the outlane switch and end your ball. Also, notice the difference in switches between the outlane --- a single wire --- and the inlane --- a loop --- which reflects whether the ball's ever expected to be able to roll both ways.


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My last bank for the night, with No Fear as the modern game (on which I expected great things and did none of them), Casanova (no expectations and I won handily), Sorcerer (mild expectations and I came in third place), and Stingray (no expectations and I came in second). The finish helped me but not enough to get me to C, or even to a good seed in D Division.


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``So let me explain ... the key is, there's never a wrong time to hit Rudy.'' bunny_hugger holding court with Michigan Pinball players.



And that wraps up Thursday at Pinburgh 2019. What happened on Friday? Here's the next couple pieces.

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My first bank on Friday, including Game of Thrones --- not running the code update that Knoebels had put on its machine and that we played two ays before --- and Miss-O, Big Guns and Cheetah. Cheetah I know well from MJS's pole barn and really like and don't ask whether I had a good time at it.


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Folks condemned to playing the backup tables. There's the row of games at the back of the venue for when some game just could not be repaired without an excessive delay. NBA is one of modern Stern's first games. (There was an earlier Stern Pinball in the 70s and 80s.)


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Second bank on the day. I didn't win any game this round, but I had some good comes from behind for second place. Particularly, Terminator 3, there's the warning that the RPG, this backglass gimmick, is disabled and so I didn't shoot for it ... until noticing one of the other players did, and while it was disabled, the disable just gave you a flat five million points. This is not trivial on that game, especially in the tough Pinburgh play conditions, so then I went shooting for that and came satisfying near winning. Whitewater, that's a game I almost always bomb out on, but I realized that if I just shut up and trapped the ball and shot for safe but boring shots I could grind out a win. I couldn't, but I did grind out a second place again.


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The long wait while some groups take forever to finish their round.


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Hey, what's this blurry field? ... It's the opening of a 1970s game show, isn't it?


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No! It's a Rock-O-Plane! What is a Rock-O-Plane and why is it at Pinburgh/ReplayFX? ... We'll come back to that.


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... Truth be told, no, I'm not. Toontown Rewritten has a big presence, including with costume parts, every ReplayFX that I've been at.


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I see no way in which this table is broken. It's even got lights working and everything on it!


Trivia: The bear market on the New York Stock Exchange that started in 1929 lasted only two and a half months. Source: The Great Game, John Steele Gordon.

Currently Reading: Barnaby, Volume 1, Crockett Johnson. Reprinting of the 1940s comic strip by the guy behind the Harold And His Purple Crayon books.

krazy koati

I was there to match my intellect on national TV

Big piece on the mathematics blog today. My All 2020 Mathematics A to Z: Statistics gets more political than you might have expected. Well, it's about important stuff.


Back to the photo roll and hey, I'm finally ... only 15 months behind! (Whimper.)

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I jested, of course, when I said there was no way of knowing what we were in Pittsburgh for. It was the 1st of August, 2019, and the start of Pinburgh, after the longest wait --- 53 weeks! --- from the last time the largest pinball tournament in the world began. Here, we gather, listening to the inspirational message, ``[ inaudible ]''.


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My first bank! Pinburgh is ten rounds, and in each round is a modern game (here, Wheel of Fortune), an electromechanical game (Captain Fantastic), a late-solid-state game (Black Belt), and an early-solid-state game (Super Orbit), at least so far as the tournament can balance it. There's some cases where, like, an early dot-matrix-display game has to sub for the late-solid-state, or other such mild variations.


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``Hey ... got any furries left?'' Pinburgh occupies the same hall as Anthrocon, although it attracts less attention from the general community because only a few players compete in fursuit.


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Here, though, we see Pittsburgh's famous Yellow Bridge Outside The Anthrocon Hall as it puts on its pants.


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``I saved pinball for this?'' Roger Sharpe, famous for the ``called shot'' that clinched New York City legalizing pinball in the 70s, has one of those moments on Star Pool. Electromechanical games like this do that to everybody.


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My third bank, which included Goldeneye, Doodle Bug, Taxi, and Flash Gordon. I felt really good about all these games, which I've played and know tolerably well. I came in last on two of them and next-to-last on the other two.


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Our hotel used to be the Federal Reserve Branch office for Pittsburgh. So in the basement (which also leads to a ground-level exit) were the safes and they've turned them into conference rooms, in case you need a place to discuss with GREAT SECURITY your projections for the fourth quarter.


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I like to think that Anthrocon has some events in the hotels, as satellite events, because it would be really funny to have the Raccoons SIG meeting behind bolted doors like this.


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There's a lot of techs who work Pinburgh and do amazing in-game repairs like this as necessary.


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Another of my banks! AC/DC for the modern game, Blue Chip for electromechanical, the early-modern game Terminator 2 pretending to be a late solid state, and Big Game as the early solid state. Though Blue Chip is a reliably kind game to me at Fremont events, I came in last by far on this instance of it.


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A new thing for Pinburgh/ReplayFX 2019 was these floor lines to help people find stuff. Also I live for mock subway lines.


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Electromechanical game Miss-O, made in that era when pinball art really got into the Pop Art style of sharply angular people with sharp points everywhere. I think the woman playing pool has a prominent nipple because of an unfortunate reflection of the light, but am not positive. Anyway, notice a player --- not me, mercifully --- had the most terrible possible outcome: tilting without any score. Ouch.


Trivia: John Mason Neale, author of the 1855 Murray Handbooks for Travellers for Portugal, also composed the lyrics for the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas. Source: On The Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks, Simon Garfield.

Currently Reading: Pogo's Sunday Punch, Walt Kelly.

krazy koati

That's where the big bands used to come and play; my sister went there on a Saturday

The other film at the Capri was Hocus Pocus. We had never seen it, but young ones on forums we visit regularly speak of it with the hushed reverence that our generation gives ... well I don't know. We're Gen X, do we have anything we hushedly revere? Maybe Goonies, but we've never seen that either.

The premise is --- well, thanks to sloppy copy-editing at the drive-in's web site, bunny_hugger thought the story was three witches being accidentally reincarnated as a teenage boy to help him impress a girl. Not so; he accidentally reincarnates them while trying to impress a girl. And they're cackling, fun evil creatures, looking to steal the youth of Salem's children. They're hoping to live forever, or at least past dawn.

So this is a good spot to name what most bothers me about the movie. It's something I've grown more sensitive to, and it's something I don't see how to write around without losing the whole movie. The witches needed reincarnation because the people of Salem tried and hanged them for witchcraft in 1693. This is immoral. The people killed in the Salem Witch Trials were the victims of a societal crime, people murdered by societal misogyny. The problem with any ``real actual witch in Salem'' story is that it then posits that some of the ``witches'' deserved what they got. The witch trials aren't a thing that could be cut from the movie either, like by having the Witches killed in the incident when they try stealing young Emily's life-force. It's important to the film that the whole contemporary town knows their story and has adopted it as part of local weird pride. Something that adults would plausibly be running around dressed as for Halloween.

If you will grant them this, though, the rest of the movie's pretty good. All the characters have the depth of Harvey Comics characters which is not an insult: they have a clear hook and stick to that faithfully. And everybody is silly but, generally, not stupid. A lot of the Witches reacting to modern life is fun, too.

If there's a major weakness it's in the casting. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as the Witches are such good, charismatic actors to start with. And they have the enormously more fun roles. First because the characters are more enjoyable. Thora Birch, playing the little sister, has a few good moments. She's dressed as a witch and in the first moments after the Witches are reincarnated, tries bluffing that she's the witch who summoned them. But she can't sustain it and we don't get a bit that good again. And the Witches have a natural sympathy to their goal: they want to live past dawn. Yes, they mean to do this by killing children, but if this year has taught us anything, it's that we're happy to consign strangers to death in order that we can go to Applebee's. Draining the life of a child for three people to live forever? That's somehow less offensive.

A little thing is that Thackery, as a cat, talks. The mouth animation on that is surprisingly good and we just don't know how they did it. There's some credits to Pixar and I assume they did, like, lightning and other effects. Were they doing the cat mouth animation too? Because it's better than I'd expect for 1993, but in 1993 they were also trying harder to make computer animation look more like practical effects.

Wikipedia says there's been talk about making a sequel for much of the 2010s. This comes as a surprise to me who would have sworn there was a made-for-TV sequel in like the early 2000s. I'm probably thinking of some other Disney-brand kiddie supernatural comedy of the time.

You know, Thackery got into this story trying and failing to save his sister Emily from having her life-force sucked out by the Witches, who get executed shortly after. That's got to really rankle, not just that his sister got killed but that it didn't even do the Witches any good. (Well, I guess it meant they reincarnated as not-as-ugly-as-the-script-says, but that's still just a couple days of looking younger is all.)

Oh also seeing the movie caused us to realize that the Halloween card bunny_hugger's father sent us was Hocus Pocus themed. It's labelled as such on the card; we just didn't recognize it, since we hadn't seen the movie before. We assume he didn't know the movie either, but there's literally no way to learn.


In the story comics: What's Going On In The Phantom (Weekdays)? Why did Heloise tell Mrs Dash they called their Aunt 'Mom'? July - October 2020 plot recap.


Now let's finish taking in miniature golf and Lakemont Park. Leap The Dips would not run, not even a test run, while we were there. But we'll be back sometime to ride it. Not, unfortunately, to spend a day there, not unless something considerable changes. But to see again at least.

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The back of a fishing-themed prop. Although the course was only a couple months old it had already taken some damage, for example this fishing pole being knocked down.


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Foxes, huh?


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After the course we went back to Skyliner for one more quick ride.


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Skyliner operator giving me serious side-eye here.


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The Antique Cars ride is, I think, actually new and took the place of the bumper cars ride which provided me and bunny_hugger our only emergency-stopped ride to date. (A kid started to cry, and I think might have been injured, so they stopped to get that sorted out, for good obvious reasons.)


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A look from near the Antique Cars ride back at Leap The Dips. Note the dip just up and right of center.


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Looking at Leap The Dips from the far side, past the lift hill.


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You can see two of the dips for leaping here.


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And a look from Leap The Dips back to where, well, amusement park used to be. I sure hope the management of the park knows what it's doing. We had to hurry on, though, to get to ...


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Here! Oh, what a lovely little sprawling cityscape by night. And where are we? What are we doing?


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Yup, literally impossible to work out where we are or why we're there. I guess it's a mystery for the ages.


Trivia: Near the end of 1991, Slade Gorton, Republican Senator from Washington state, asked Nintendo of America's Minoru Arakawa and Howard Lincoln if Nintendo could help keep the Mariners from moving out of Seattle, by buying the baseball club. Source: The Ultimate History of Video Games: The Story Behind The Craze That Touched Our Lives And Changed The World, Steven L Kent.

Currently Reading: Pogo's Sunday Punch, Walt Kelly.