Actually going around to all nine pinball tables took our group about two and a half hours. And then we decided to try another round. Well, the fourth guy in our group dropped out, since he had other stuff to do, and his wife --- who'd sat waiting around in the bar, which by the way hasn't got TVs and doesn't serve food or anything, so I hope her cell phone had enough interesting things to share (and why not pay the $5 and join the contest, at that rate?) --- had probably waited around plenty long enough for that. We got through the second round a bit faster, although not any better. I did spectacularly worse and near the end of it I did start losing my temper, at some risk to my reputation of being calm and collected and half-stoic.
After we worked out that none of us would be in the final four, we went back to Stella's for another meal and some more pinball. The place was packed again, in part because of karaoke night, and we found a table maybe fifteen feet down from the performing area. Also they have a gong and indeed, people can gong insufficiently competent karaoke performers and we saw several people gonged. (Including, if I read the action right, one guy who gonged himself, possibly not realizing a self-gong would count.) That's the sort of thing that kept us from getting courageous enough to try singing, that and the need to choose a song by some web application they have rather than looking through loose-leaf binders and writing out a slip.
Also, the karaoke organizer had some kind of unmoderated, anonymous web forum, the results of the chat of which were displayed behind the singer. But the dialogue was, well, horrible, that blend of misogyny and homophobia that are why we all tried to keep our parents from finding out about the Internet in the first place. And it never updated; nobody ever wrote anything just to flood the stuff off the screen. It was a sad and annoying little moment.
After dinner though we did make our way through the crowd back to the pinball machines, while one karaoke singer rose to the challenge of doing We Didn't Start The Fire without looking at the lyrics. I came close to but didn't quite get onto the FunHouse high score table this time, and did have a pretty good game of Time Warp, this one the edition of the machine that had banana flippers, ones literally curved like jai alai scoops. I like the way these feel, but nobody else in the history of the world did, which is why banana flippers lasted for nearly two-fifths of a production run on one machine.
We closed out the night again, and drove home, far too late for us to go to our local hipster bar and invigilate MWS playing the games chosen for that week's league meeting. He'd be going to the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association tournament in Pittsburgh early, and miss the regular league meeting, and he had permission to play the games at a more convenient time. Just as well; the lineup of games changed on the actual league night, so he'd have to do a different makeup time anyway.
Trivia: A pair of 60-inch quartz discs, meant for mirror work, being built by General Electric in the early 1930s were spoiled when a power failure let the temperature drop from 1050 degrees Fahrenheit to below 700 degrees in about an hour. In the 1950s Robert McMath, of McMath-Hulbert Observatory (Pontiac, Michigan) explored using them for a solar telescope, but the project came to nothing. Source: The Perfect Machine: Building The Palomar Telescope, Ronald Florence.
Currently Reading: Debt: The First 5000 Years, David Graeber.