austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

When something's going wrong you must whip it

The day of the State Pinball Championship arrived. I had a gift for bunny_hugger. The day was that before Valentine's Day. I had noticed, in poking around Michael's for pinball trophy prizes, that they carried charms. One of them was a camera. It had the shape of your classic old-style film camera, the kind we all had up until 2002. It's a fine charm for her. Besides being charming, she's become the person everyone expects to photograph pinball events. She has a serious camera, the kind with attachable lenses, that makes her look like the photographer in a field of people pointing phones at a thing. And it ties to one of her favorite Yes and Buggles songs, ``Into The Lens''/``I Am A Camera''.

We got to the bowling alley about an hour before the tournament was to start. I plunged right into test games. Pinball superstition says never to practice games you need to play that day. You'll have an outstanding game in practice and a terrible one in play. I did play a little, to warm up. But I was mostly looking for practical points: how far to pull the plunger for the skill shot? How are the balls bouncing off flippers? Can I reliably let a ball bounce from one flipper to the other if it's doing this, or will I need to post-pass it? How much can you shake the machines before they tilt?

I focused on the older games, the electromechanical and solid-state ones. I figured I would be hard-pressed to win on any of the modern-era games. They amplify slight differences in skill to soul-crushing differences in scoring. But if I lost a game, I would have the chance to pick the next game. Solid-state and electromechancial games get a reputation as coin tosses. But a little bit of knowledge of the table in play can weight that coin toss considerably. Also the top half of the top tier of players were practicing on the modern tables; I'd have wasted time waiting for one to be open.

About fifteen minutes before the start of the tournament CST told bunny_hugger to start warming up. GRV, one of the top sixteen, called and claimed he was running late. He might miss the cutoff moment. She was the first alternative.

We had expected this. GRV had offered, several times, to decline the invitation to the State Championship in order that bunny_hugger could attend. He's been here before, several times over, sometimes in other states. She had turned him down every time. She wanted to be in the championship in her own right. But we were a little surprised he'd done this, just because we had heard someone say they'd seen GRV at the bowling alley.

But with that awkward chivalrous act done, bunny_hugger was in the State Championship.

Trivia: The special council on food supply for Petrograd, set up in September 1915, estimated the province needed 12,150 wagonloads of food per month. In December 1916, 8,654 wagonloads arrived. In January 1917, only 6,556 did. Source: The First World War, Hew Strachan.

Currently Reading: The Punic Wars, Adrian Goldsworthy.

How February 2016 Treated My Mathematics Blog, which was a lot like how January did, only later on.

Tags: michigan state pinball championship, pinball

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