We got up early; we had to. The National (Co-ed) Pinball Championship and the Women's World Championship were at the same venue at the same hour, which would work by making people wait around a lot. There would be only the one hour for practicing on the twelve available machines all that time. So we'd best get there by 10 am, the start of practice. This did mean we could eat a hotel buffet breakfast, something bunny_hugger and I are never awake early enough to do. Not saying it was a great breakfast, but I loaded up on omelettes and hard-boiled eggs and you know, the great thing about a buffet breakfast is it can always be made a little better because you can always get some more. This is how I got to be obese in the first place.
I drove, as I'm the least fearful of city driving. I know dimly that different areas of the country have different road styles. What I didn't realize is that the Dallas-area road style is ``20-lane superhighway elevated a hundred feet above another 20-lane superhighway''. Wow. Will say the support pillars are fairly attractive as functional architecture go, since they have Lone Stars embedded in them, but it's a lot of highway driving.
The venue, Fun! Billiard and Gameroom Superstore, was --- well, as it sounds, a store for pinball machines, video games, billiard tables, and all that sort of stuff. What it was not was a hipster bar or restaurant or entertainment center; so what this meant was, no snacks. There was some kind of chicken-based fast-food place just next door, and a Rally or Checkers or something and then a Little Caesars on the other side, so it's not like anyone was in danger of starving. But it did mean that while the place looked great, there wasn't a lot of lounging space; they promised ``no chairs'' and while that wasn't quite true, it was near enough. They also promised ``no Wi-Fi'', which was exactly true. Competitive pinball will yet force us to get smart phones.
Practice time! bunny_hugger tried to jump in on something, but was shy around the mob of people, some 40 or so state representatives for the National Championship and fifteen other people for the Women's World Championship. We knew Michigan's representative, of course, ADM. And we knew one of the other competitors for the Women's Championship, SMS, who knocked me out of Michigan's first round. She and her parents were there; they were using this as excuse to visit family, too. I hung back with them while bunny_hugger tried to see if she could comfortably get even a skill shot down on any of the games. I also theoretically knew one more person, SJG, the New York state champion. He was a mainstay in the arcade rooms back when I was an undergraduate and we had a few generic interactions. But I was never sure just who he was, and I was stuck trying to think what I would say after, ``Yeah, I used to stand around with my jaw dropping as you Toured The Mansion on The Addams Family back at Rutgers''.
Someone started turning on games from the main room, which promised to give folks like me who had nothing to do but wait the chance to do something. I recommended bunny_hugger play on some of those tables, which wouldn't be in the tournament, on the grounds that playing anything to warm up was better than nothing. But I'd barely started playing when someone came out of the office and said to turn off the games. It was too much racket to work through. Just because they were hosting major pinball tournaments didn't mean they didn't have real work to do too. bunny_hugger would squeeze in on some of the main games, long enough to at least know what the skill shot plunges felt like.
Finally the hour came! The start of the National Championships, and the start of the Women's World Championships, on not nearly enough tables for all the games to play. The solution: stacking, or making people take turns based on priority of their games. bunny_hugger wouldn't get to play her first-round opponent, HWH, at all for nearly a whole tense hour. HWH is from Sweden originally, and moved to Colorado a few years ago. She was wearing a Daleks T-shirt too. Lot to chat about. Also bunny_hugger could check just who it was dropped out and put her up against the presumably tougher competition of HWH. (It was the woman who'd been ranked above her, so nobody else had to face tougher competition than they'd expected.) I think HWH went out to smoke.
Trivia: Amsterdam physician Claes Pietersz began styling himself as Nicolaes Tulp --- literally, Dr Nicholas Tulip --- in 1621, as the flowers were coming into vogue. Source: Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash.
Currently Reading: Gateway To The Moon: Building the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex, Charles D Benson, William B Faherty. NASA SP-4204, excerpted.