I had moments after bunny_hugger got knocked out of the tournament to console her. It wasn't enough. But I was still in the tournament, and the next round was coming up. I had to play. She went outside a while, to the car, to be alone. She came back in a bit, resolved to enjoy the party and the atmosphere and the friends and the setting.
The setting was still a great place, with many machines --- fewer of them committed to the tournament every round --- and food and friends old and new, a wide-screen TV showing Michigan State gradually falling apart completely in the Cotton Bowl, MWS --- who had the worst night of everyone --- there to commiserate with. And, you know, still me there to root on, and friends like CST and GRV to cheer on.
The tournament wrapped up somewhere around 10:30 or so. GRV, as mentioned, took third place and would go home with like ten dollars in payout. CST tied for fourth, and would go home with RLM's jacket. They had all been piled up on the back of a bowling simulator game and since all men wear basically the same heavy black jacket he made an ordinary mistake that his friends will stop teasing him about shortly after the end of time. They'd swap jackets the next day.
In the last hour of 2015 everything settled into a New Year's party with pinball. Someone put on Dick Clark's Rocking New Year's Eve Without Dick Clark before the Michigan State game finished its sadness. Walk The Moon was among the rocking New Year's Evers; I caught them playing not their original oppressively popular hit ``Anna Sun'' but their new one, ``Shut Up And Dance''. I set a personal high score on the electromechanical Subway and decided that I should close my pinball year on that triumph. MJS as host handed out noisemakers and plastic glasses of champagne and all. The last minute of the year was marked by people wondering why the local TV station had an inset of Grand Rapids's ball drop over the Times Square one and also why no two clocks, even the ones on-screen, agreed about how many seconds were left in the year.
Most folks left in the hour after midnight, as natural. (CST left early, allowing the jacket problem to become the last in-joke of 2015 rather than the first of 2016.) MJS took a moment to open up Dirty Harry, a mid-90s game that we almost never see. He had mentioned a while back about its Midnight Madness mode, a bit of silliness that happens if you are playing when the internal clock reaches midnight. He set it back to 11:59 pm for bunny_hugger to play, and have the experience. It's a funny one. If you're playing at the lucky hour, the game suddenly shoots out all five or six pinballs for a multiball mode that awards three million points --- a healthy reward even in that high-scoring game --- per anything hit. She played for what seemed like half a minute and hit the replay, and was up to nearly a billion points before losing all but the last ball. It's a fine novelty to see. (Junk Yard, a game at our hipster bar, has a similar Midnight Madness, but with not quite so game-breaking a point reward; also, its internal clock is set very wrong so the madness doesn't hit anywhere near midnight.) And a kind gesture after all that.
We drove to a hotel, one about ten minutes away, that bunny_hugger had found and that CST was not at; she discussed how ``Anna Sun'' was the better song than ``Shut Up And Dance'' much of the way. MWS followed us, while getting a room at the same hotel through some Priceline-like service. The hotel was part of the same chain we'd been at a year before, when we were laid over in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the room was nearly the twin of that one. bunny_hugger took my word that it was, as she didn't remember the earlier room.
Somehow we didn't get to sleep right away, but we did as best we could. We had vague plans to meet MWS and GRV for lunch New Year's Day, and to start the task of getting into the state finals for the 2016 season.
Trivia: Julius Reuter secured in 1872 a seventy-year concession from the Shah of Persia. He was to build a railway, construct roads, bridges, and telegraphs; lay down tram ways; work all non-gold and silver mines; build irrigation projects; manage customs; and build a national bank. Source: The Power of News: The History of Reuters, Donald Read.
Currently Reading: King of the Comics: 100 Years of King Features, Editor Dean Mullaney.
PS: Any Requests?, in which I ask if there's words people hope I'll define. Mathematics words, I hope.