austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Be one of us

Third round of the day. I was on set 33, ``Corvus''. Again with MAT. Also with a woman, my third group with a female player. Also with someone who was late. Very late. We were on the verge of proceeding as a three-player group when he finally appeared. I'm going to break convention and say his full name because it's just so on point. Our lagging competitor was Bally Hagman. Just like you might pick if you were a lazy scriptwriter and realized you needed a name for your pinball wizard fast. We avoided saying too much about that but he acknowledged, yeah, he's got such a pinball name.

The modern game: The Flintstones, Williams's 1994 movie tie-in game. In the last days of the Brighton Arcade I'd gotten to play it enough to start working out some strategy. That was a long while ago. I remembered there was something about the standing targets and something about the bowling alley and oh, who knows. I had a great game, better than I needed, and this is the machine I got to put my initials in at Pinburgh.

The late solid-state game was harder. Williams's 1987 Fire!, themed around the Great Fire of Chicago, and reputed to be the source of the Bally/Williams cow obsession. It's one of those games you can really do great on if you know what you're doing or if you get really lucky. We all got pretty lucky and it was a fun game, certainly. It's not easy, though.

The early solid-state game would play to my strengths. Williams's 1981 Solar Flare has a Magna-Save. That's a magnet you can activate by a secondary flipper button and use to toss a ball back from the outlanes. Nobody uses this thing. I use the thing. I wouldn't win the table, but I would save a ball, and I would get a solid score. It's a fun table, though, one very much like Grand Lizard --- another Magna-Save game --- and with your great late-70s-style ``Stuff In Space'' theme. It's silly to think I do better on games whose themes I like, but I feel like I do and isn't that enough?

Electromechanical game: Gottlieb's 1973 Jumping Jack. It's a two-player game, so we had to split between two groups. And I got to go first, in the first group. So I got to watch patiently, thinking of unfair drains, as MAT and Bally and the other person played their balls. They got a few, but that's electromechanical games for you. That's why they were all set to give five balls. Everybody could expect at least one house ball. MAT, I believe, got two. But came out a few hundred points (out of about 40,000) ahead of me. The other two people beat us both.

The tally: 5 wins, 7 losses for me. I'd drop from 67th to 95th. bunny_hugger up in the rarefied heights of B Division, had the same kind won-loss record, but she only dropped from 128th to 131st. We needed a good lunch. We needed something to lift our sprits and get us ready for two really outstanding last rounds if we were going to make finals.

Trivia: George Stephenson's 1825 railroad line, 26 miles connecting the coal town of Darlington to the river town of Stockton, used locomotive engines on the flat sections of track, slowly enough a man on a walking horse led the train. On steep inclines the train was pulled by ropes and stationary steam engines. Source: Coal: A Human History, Barbara Freese.

Currently Reading: Discovering the Natural Laws: The Experimental Basis of Physics, Milton A Rothman.

Tags: pinball, pinburgh

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