austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Dress for success, that's what they said

We would return to Grand Rapids the next day, with the goal of going to a completely different hipster bar, one just across the street. This would be the Pyramid Scheme, location for the Grand Rapids Pinball League. It's the oldest and biggest in the state and after much pleading from its members we decided to join it for this season, at least. It meets two Wednesdays a month, which might not be ideal given bunny_hugger's Thursday teaching schedule, but we figured to give it a try. Besides the season would be half over before the school year started.

What we didn't quite appreciate was not just that the Grand Rapids pinball league is big, but that it meets in a packed bar. There's over sixty people in it, which isn't many more than the Arcade League had at its height. But cram that into two aisles of pinball machines, and a full bar of people there for music or comedy shows and you get a slightly mad mess. The second league meeting was so packed that the quartets of people playing couldn't gather around the table under play; only the person whose turn was up could be near the machine, and had to wave the successor over from the table area, through the line of people waiting for the show, one the ball drained. As incentive to have long-lasting balls that's all right --- it's so much trouble to get through a crowd like that for an instant-drain --- but it can be stressful.

Anyway. My first game on my first league appearance was Spider-Man and I had that weird combination of luck and incredible luck that I put up a fantastic score. The game ran so amok that I put up the #3 position on the high score table, three or four times what the second-place person did, so I was able to relax the rest of the night secure that I'd shown I knew how to do at least something. (Our friend CST heard that and said he just had to go knock me off the high score table then. I took this in the jovial spirit he meant and while he was able to knock me to #4, he didn't knock me off.) It happens I'd have a fantastic night anyway, with three first-place and two second-place finishes, launching me from out of nowhere into a five-way tie for fourth place for the second meeting. At the second meeting I would get three last-place and two second-place finishes instead.

The league has a great set of pinball machines, in very good shape. And it's just across the street from another hipster bar with four more pinball machines in good shape. While we know some of the people there are a lot that we haven't got to know yet. But it is also very crowded, very noisy. Presumably in time we'd learn to understand what looks today like chaos, and probably enjoy the league more. But we are at the point where it feels overwhelming.

Trivia: In many of baseball's precursors, the bases were run clockwise. It is not known why the Knickerbockers club --- which set the organizational groundwork of modern baseball --- chose counterclockwise. Source: A Game Of Inches: The Story Behind the Innovations that Shaped Baseball, Peter Morris.

Currently Reading: Capitulation, 1945: The Story Of The Dönitz Regime, Marlis G Steinart. Translator Richard Barry.

PS: Reading the Comics, August 14, 2015: Name-Dropping Edition

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