austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Try your best to win them all and one day time will tell

[ Happy Valentine's Day, my love, and thank you for making it such a happy time of year. ]

Since all the invited sixteen, and the person who was ahead of me as an alternate, made it to the tournament there wasn't much for us to do but hang around, and we did that for a while. MWS kept popping back from competitions to tell us that he was stunned he hadn't lost yet. CST, who was running things as well as competing, had less time for small talk but was running around with that harried body language that you see in people who are running conventions, if they're also competing for the state championship. I was surprised he didn't explode from the stress.

After a couple hours of not really getting to see much --- we didn't dare get in people's lines of sight, and there isn't much room to just wander around without the risk of bumping into people --- we decided to go across the street, to Stella's, a hipster bar with a surprisingly famous hamburger. It's also got a couple rows of video games and at least four pinball machines, each set to a quarter. That set would be the 1990 Annoying Simpsons, the early solid-state machine Nugent, the 1979 Time Warp featuring ``banana flippers'', which are flippers that look exactly like what you imagine from hearing the words ``banana flippers'', and FunHouse. Since the Brighton Arcade sold off its FunHouse this might be the nearest such table to us, and it is priced at a mere 25 cents, when I never saw even back in the day, and is way better than the dollar-a-game the Brighton Arcade cost.

The bar was also packed, considering it was like 3 pm on a Saturday. Apparently the blend of renowned burgers, classic video games, and many TV screens showing stuff like Lost in Space, Three Stooges shorts, and The Electric Company makes the place a self-sustaining critical mass. We gave up on vague ideas to eat something there and tried just to squeeze past to where we might play pinball.

And we might, although one of those stray kids who spontaneously appears when child-free couples want to do something started hovering around us. He got closer and closer to us, squeezing into the tiny space between tables, which didn't make me too nervous until he started grabbing at the plunger because I was taking too long to shoot. Then I remembered something about being a kid and I explained to him what I was doing: if I pulled the plunger back just the right strength, I'd make a skill shot for a quarter million points, and that seemed to satisfy his impatience with my plunging. Also it helps that I actually made the shot; the FunHouse skill shot on an actual table can be a pretty touchy thing.

He really, really wanted to play, though, and we eventually figured it would be less hassle to us, and maybe would make the kid's day, if we played Zen-style, him working one flipper and either bunny_hugger or me the other. His big flaw, besides not apparently having parents or guardians who were paying attention, was that he couldn't figure anything to do with the flipper except hit the button over and over and over and over and over again. I was able to talk him into resting a bit so I could get a particular shot in, although he doesn't seem to have taken the lesson that sometimes not hitting the flipper is a thing that can be done.

To get some peace I finally dropped a quarter into Annoying Simpsons and he focused on that, and we got in maybe two games before MWS came back to tell us that back at the Pyramid Scheme they'd gotten food in, and we returned to see just what was going on.

Trivia: At the end of the Civil War the Virginia Central Railroad held corporate debt of $1,637,118.08. Its treasury consisted of a hundred dollars in gold. Source: The Railroads of the Confederacy, Robert C Black III.

Currently Reading: A Tenth Of A Second: A History, Jimena Canales.

PS: How To Count Fish, a bit of applied probability and sampling put to the problem of our backyard pond. Sixth of them since the last roundup, in case you missed it on the RSS feed or as a Livejournal friends-page entry.

Tags: pinball

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