When bunny_hugger announced the Silver Balls In The City tournament it was to be the last Michigan pinball tournament of the year. It was to be the last of the year for under ten minutes. MJS, her rival for the last of the guaranteed-invite spots in the state finals, posted his announcement of the New Year's Eve 2015 Ball Drop the same day, nearly the same minute. The name gives away the date. He also announced the New Year's Day 2016 tournament, securing the first tournament for the 2016 contest.
Put aside the chase for the last invitational spot. The tournament would almost compel us to go anyway. It would be a novel and appealing thing to do for New Year's Eve. And New Year's Day, at that. It would be at MJS's home, on his collection of pinball machines. He has about forty of them, in a well-kept pole barn that could do for a guest house. (He even offered that someone who needed a place to sleep could stay on the fold-out sofa bed.) The machines are, as a collector would have them, near pristine. And he has not just many of the collectible or popular games of the golden 1990s, games like FunHouse and Star Trek: The Next Generation and Twilight Zone, spoken of with joy still. He also has odder and more challenging tables like Safecracker (a small, break-into-the-bank themed game from the mid-90s) or Banzai Run (with two playfields, one nearly vertical) or Earthshaker. If that were not enough he also has about twenty older electromechanical games, greats of the 1970s like Meteor (based on the movie poster) and Galaxy and Fast Draw and Big Star (not based on the band).
We'd been there a few times, in after-parties from the Pinball At The Zoo convention in Kalamazoo, or in a pin-golf tournament held in November. To have a New Year's Eve tournament, and there, on such a collection would be reason enough. And, of course, it'd be hanging out with mostly people we know, and liked already, and would want to go to a party with.
The place would be a bit outside Kalamazoo, so, a touch over an hour away. Thus bunny_hugger found a hotel near MJS's house, and we arranged to house our pet rabbit with her parents for a couple days. The alternative would be driving home after midnight on New Year's, rushing to sleep, and driving an hour back, after all. And we had a curious moment in which our friend CST mentioned he was going to the tournament, and he wanted to be sure he wasn't staying at the same hotel we were. Why? Well, he was in this new relationship, and it's delicate enough bringing someone into the world of competitive pinball at an early date and running into us at the hotel might be awkward. That's a bizarre enough thing to say that I suspected he was being very dryly absurd. CST might be better at straight-faced absurdity than I am. For twenty years bunny_hugger has seen through nearly all my straight-faced absurdities. But in two years she's almost never seen through CST's. But then why did he persist asking until he got the hotel name?
No matter. He didn't bring the new relationship partner to the pinball tournament, though we thought he might. He did leave a fair bit before midnight, but not that much before midnight. And he didn't say anything about his girlfriend that I heard. He's had relationships stop around pinball events before. I do not pretend to understand the meaning of it all.
Trivia: The United States and United Kingdom agreed to the mutual right to search ships at sea (for slave traders) in June 1862. Source: Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America, Peter Andreas.
Currently Reading: Emanuel Swedenborg, Scientist and Mystic, Signe Toksvig. So then all of a sudden Toksvig starts analyzing Swedenborg's personality by explaining what a Freudian would make of all this and I'm, like, wait, someone actually did that? And it turns out the book is from the late 40s so ... I guess so. Huh. Well, it's charming, in that way Twilight Zone episodes where the characters try to explain hu-mon psychology are charming.