austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

See the flowers round the altar

The last weekend of September brought us to Fremont again. We'd likely have gone there even if we weren't using the Blind Squirrel League to shore up our state pinball championship rankings. It was the weekend of the Harvest Festival. Considering it's a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, literally unconnected to even Muskegon by any major or direct roads, Fremont has a lot going on. In early December we picked an arbitrary Friday to go and do some Blind Squirrel League points-mining and that day happened to be one that some kind of winter parade was held. (We didn't see it; I'm pretty sure it went down some other street or else we were incredibly oblivious even for us.)

This was also the event that kept us away from the pinball tournament in Flint. That one was a ``Classics'' tournament that we'd otherwise have absolutely gone to. All electromechanical and older solid-state games? Unusual or rare games with that old-fashioned charm that usually treats us so surprisingly well? Or at least levels the difference between our skill level and the really first-rate players? But that was set before, somehow, the Harvest Festival dates were known and the conflict was unavoidable and we went, with reluctance, to the event that the whole west side's pinball scene would visit.

In previous years this festival, like the Baby Food Festival, had its tournament held in the restaurant just down the street from the Blind Squirrel League, in the small function room. It was a pretty good space for that; private but easily accessible and with enough space to move in a half-dozen main tournament games, three classics-tournament games and two for-practice-only games. But this year PH passed some amount of the organizing of the tournaments on to his son, AJH; and AJH had also organized the Blind Squirrel League to secure his awesome lead in Michigan competitive pinball rankings. And so he changed the Harvest Festival Tournament's venue and its organization.

Some of this was surely practical. If there's a half-dozen machines already set up why take them down and move them just down the block to re-set them up in a different restaurant's open area? They're even both on the same street, the one that the festival sets up on. A bigger change: instead of buying tickets to play games set on free play, the games would be on normal, coin-drop play. Instead of all the ticket costs going to the charity (MS research and support) a share of the coin drop would.

The result would be friendlier to drop-ins, if people wanted to. It also meant that one of the rationalizing factors of this sort of tournament would be gone. Previous Harvest Festival and Baby Food Festivals divided the process of buying entries and playing those entries to qualify for finals. Now, all you'd need is another fifty cents in your pocket and time to play a game. It seemed like a small thing. It'd change the dynamics.

Trivia: The cloverleaf intersection for connecting highways was patented in 1916 by a Maryland engineer named Arthur Hale. Its first United States installation was in Woodbridge, New Jersey, in 1928, connectin the Lincoln Highway to Amboy Avenue. Source: The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers who Created the American Superhighways, Earl Swift.

Currently Reading: After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program, John M Logsdon.

PS: The End 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Unlink, a fine little thing you might well have around the house, in the Scary Drawer.

Tags: blind squirrel league, harvest festival, pinball
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