austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds

My name was gone from the Pyramid Scheme's Monster Bash when we returned the next weekend. We didn't go all the way back to Grand Rapids just to satisfy my ego. They were having a little pinball expo, something done (I think) semiannually, in which people bring their machines to show off, offer for sale, or trade, or whatnot, and try playing out stuff they might not otherwise get to do. It happened to be the weekend after our first trip to the place is all.

There was also a pinball tournament going on with the machines up front, in which our home league's champion participated, although we managed to miss him entirely. I didn't even see him although apparently the contest wasn't quite done when we arrived. The place was much less busy than it'd been the week before, suggesting that Man Or Astroman concerts are pretty important to a serious crowd, and that the last day of the pinball expo is a pretty laid-back one. There were already people taking their machines home by the time we got there.

But we did get to see some lovely machines, including a Beetlejuice pinball. I know you all wonder: Beetlejuice? Isn't that rather too early a movie to have a licensed tie-in pinball machine? Yes, it is. This was a homemade conversion, with the playfield and backglass of an old electromechanical machine (I don't know which one) redecorated and rethemed to the movie. So it wasn't the sort of themed game you'd see, like, for The Addams Family where sound and mode effects have something to do with the film, but as a work of homemade art it's pretty neat.

And we got to see some normal-type oddities, like Al's Garage Band Goes On A World Tour, one of the few machines made by Alvin G And Company (Alvin G as in Alvin Gottlieb of the pinball Gottliebs) which is awfully fun and deserves to be more successful, and Hurricane and The Championship Pub which I'd neve seen except in its Pinball Arcade app version. (Unfortunately its central gimmick of a turning fighter figure was broken.) Also I got to introduce bunny_hugger to Creature From The Black Lagoon, just in time for the Other League we're in to get one.

Up front, with the tournament long over, we were able to get on the machines there and try out games like Skateball, which you might remember airing in the mid-80s on the USA Network's ``Yeah, Whatever Movie'' slot and 1986's Genesis, repeated winner of the ``ugliest pinball machine'' trophy. I also did tolerably on F-14 Tomcat despite the apologies of one of the guys there that it was a horribly punishing game. And it is, but, sometimes you've just got the rhythm for something, and never when you really need it.

Trivia: Herman Hollerith received an honorary degree from Columbia in June 1890. He was required to pay a $5 matriculation fee and $35 tuition for courses he never took. Source: Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Giant of Information Processing, Geoffrey D Austrian.

Currently Reading: American Cornball: A Laffopedic Guide To The Formerly Funny, Christopher Miller. A semi-historical guide to stock jokes and situations of the first two-thirds of the 20th century, so apparently, yes, someone in the book department is figuring exactly the books for me and possibly me alone.

Tags: pinball
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