I tell people from outside Michigan, mostly my father, that any given location in the lower peninsula is about an hour from Lansing. It's a good rule of thumb. But there are exceptions. One of them is Fremont, about two hours away into surprisingly rural territory. We've been there several times, for the Baby Food Festival and for the Harvest Festival. These included pinball tournaments organized by PJH and family. They're fine people, great boosters of pinball. And at some of Fremont's festivals they set up tables and encourage passers-by to play. It brings in charity donations, it gets people to try pinball out, and the huge number of people participating gives the tournaments a great bounty of points for competitive pinball players.
Recently they arranged with a city restaurant, the Blind Squirrel Tavern, to set up machines there and organize a pinball league. They invited of course all of Michigan competitive pinball to come and play, but their league nights are Wednesday, and that's two hours away from us --- three or more for the state's eastsiders --- and that's hard to arrange. They know that, of course. They set up a tempting alternative.
The league's standings are arranged Lansing-league style. That is, everyone plays the same tables, and your score for that table is based on how many people you beat for that week of league. Your score for the week is an aggregate of your single-table scores. There's no head-to-head play required until the finals. The International Flipper Pinball Association demands there be some element of head-to-head play, in its view the truest form of pinball. But it doesn't need to be all that a league does.
The implication: you could make up a league night anytime that's convenient. And, really, why not make up two league nights? Or all three nights of the league's regular season? In one go? So that rather than four long hikes to the wilderness you need only two? Isn't that more tempting?
And it is, although so much of the fun of pinball is playing with people. Just playing by yourself against notional other people is less fun. ... But then CST was awfully tempted by this. So was MWS. And if they were to go the same day, then, any sensible route would take them through Lansing. And a carpool suddenly makes the drive even more sensible. Add to that some Grand Rapids-area people figuring they could come play that day too and ... well, we might all be playing separate games, for separate notional league nights. But get maybe eight experienced pinball folks together with a bunch of fine tables for a day of play?
So that's why we got up before noon, if you can imagine, on a Saturday to go off to Fremont, Michigan, and play a season of pinball.
Trivia: In 2004 Italy exported about 480,000 containerized cargo boxes (trailer equivalent units, a box about twenty feet long) to the United States. It imported about 132,000. Source: Box Boats: How Container Ships Changed The World, Brian J Cudahy.
Currently Reading: Spies And Shuttles: NASA's Secret Relationships with the DoD and CIA, James E David.