austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

A boy named Charlie Brown

After the embarrassment Friday of arriving late enough there was talk of just plunging our balls I absolutely did not want to be late for Saturday's half of the tournament. So here's how I was late for Saturday's half of the tournament.

Not traffic. We set out from the hotel only a little earlier than we had Friday, but trusted that it wasn't rush hour. And it wasn't. But there was some kind of accident or something creating a jam just about where we'd got into trouble on Friday. So we took a detour, using ADM's friend's cell phone as guidance around the way. This took us on a baffling weaving tour of the roads right around the expressway and we ultimately came to the Fun! Billiard and Gameroom Superstore from the opposite direction, which was not at all easier parking. We were there with maybe a half-hour or so to spare.

So everyone was kind of milling around. There were, I think, a few folks from the 1:00 tee time not yet done, and the groups for the 6:00 tee time hadn't been announced so far as I knew. If they were posted online we couldn't tell, since, no Wi-Fi. What did I have to do? I went to one of the other rooms and played the games that were turned on. They had, for example, Stern's Spider-Man Vault Edition. The Spider-Man game, based on the 2000's movies, is a rather popular one. This was a new table, more based on the comics, with the playfield changed a little and the rules changed a lot. I'd heard about the game but not seen one before getting here, and wanted to play. I like the game, although something about it feels small to me. The rule set doesn't seem quite as deep, which might reflect the game being marketed to newcomers and venues that don't have hardcore pinball players. Pinball rules have been getting a bit baffling lately. The Game of Thrones table, for example, requires you start out making a decision about what House you're playing, which you have no way of judging unless you're already experienced on the table, and it takes a lot of non-obvious play to get any of the good modes started. Pinball needs games you can play without a tip sheet.

Also in the back room: Nine Ball. It's an early solid state game, with a ``wizards in space playing cards'' theme. I've played it in other venues and liked it, and I realize given how easy the settings on the other non-tournament games are, this might be the most generous Nine Ball I'll ever have the chance to play. It is. All the valuable shots are right where I'd hope they were, and while I get some lucky bounces I'm also doing very well hitting the valuable drop targets. And it's even on five balls. I worry a little about coming close to the start of the tournament but trust that I'll hear something, if nothing else from the handful of other people in the showroom moving in.

So, I don't, and when I finally end the game the tournament director's been yelling my name and wondering where I am, with people speculating that I'm in the bathroom and nobody checking the other room in the building. I'm not saying I'm humiliated. But, jeez, my first national-scale tournament and I'm late both days. I don't want my national reputation to be ``guy who's five minutes late''. I want my state reputation of Zen Master to transfer over. Rough start. I should've set my iPod where I could check the time more easily. But everyone in my group understood. If you're chasing a personal high on a machine you don't want to leave the table. Still so embarrassing.

Trivia: Princeton University appears to be the first college to use ``campus'' to refer to its grounds; President John Witherspoon took the word, meaning an open field, to refer to the college's site. Source: How The Scots Invented The Modern World, Arthur Herman.

Currently Reading: Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen, Philip Ball.

Tags: dallas, pinball, world women's pinball championship
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