Starting off March Hare Madness with bunny_hugger the first person knocked out was awful. It's demoralizing for her, of course, and it's none too good for me. I couldn't even offer much comfort: I was still in the running, and had to play games. Some of the games would be easy enough, relatively, to beat the minimum score, but I play worse when distressed and I got scared I was headed for elimination too. I floated just past it, though, several games in a row.
Her being knocked out right away had some good side. The main benefit is Amazing Race tournaments really need traffic control, and now she had nothing to do but tell people where they should go, and what scores they had to beat. I could step in and help and log scores and the like, of course, as could CST and MWS. But she didn't have anything to pull her away from tournament management.
There'd be surprises. GRV, who's been one of the state's top players for just ever, and who's already all but sewn up an invite to state finals for next year, was the fourth person eliminated. WVL, organizer of the Lansing Pinball League, would be knocked out on Medieval Madness, a game he has trouble not breaking fifty million points on. I was worried about that game myself; nobody had put up a particularly low score on it. The game lends itself to arbitrarily huge scores, if you keep control: just shoot the castle, in the far middle section of the table. Just catch the ball as it's returned to you, aim, and shoot. Sounds simple? It is, if you don't get to thinking about how if you bobble things the ball might go anywhere and you're gonna lose it. I'm able to keep my cool, though, and get past the unexpectedly tight gateway there.
The biggest surprise: after Iron Man, the last game on the lower level, there are four players left. The last four players go on to head-to-head play, for the finals. (The International Flipper Pinball Association requires some head-to-head play for a contest to earn rating points.) It's a rare finals appearance for me. It's possible I'll take back home one of the trophies bunny_hugger made.
The finals are three rounds of four-player games, scored by the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association rules. (Each match, the top scorer earns four points; second earns two; third earns three; last earns nothing.) The quartet: me, CST, MWS, and a Lansing league regulars, DC. The randomly-drawn first game: Lord of the Rings, upstairs where nobody's touched it since game testing.
Sometimes, in this sort of thing, you have a good ball. Sometimes it's a great ball. Sometimes it's an oppressively good ball. I put up an astounding performance, starting up all four of the game's normal multiballs and even starting the ``Destroy The Ring'' wizard mode. I don't finish it, but who cares? I've got a first-place finish and that against two people who can routinely clean my clock.
I forget what the second game was. It was similarly good for me, though. I go into the third and final game in an ideal position, sure to get a trophy. And the random number generator is most kind: it picks Austin Powers. CST and I are the only people in Lansing league who ever play it voluntarily; we've learned its important shots. We're all but certain to finish first and second, and given the way things go. As it is, the only possible way I won't get second is if MWS finishes first and I finish last.
So MWS finishes first and I finish last. I could not get anything together, which is a problem, since there's one really good shot in the game (the left ramp, for Fat Bastard Multiball) and one mediocre shot (up the center, for the Time Machine Multiball), and MWS has them and I don't. I'm not knocked into third place, though. We're tied, and so go to a one-game playoff that, to my amazement, I win. I get second place.
CST, taking home first place, offers to trade trophies with me. Why? Because the first-place trophy is the only one that has a picture of our lost Stephen on it. But bunny_hugger's goal in putting the picture of Stephen on it was to share his appearance with other people. And I'd feel dishonest about the record in ways I don't like to swap trophies this way. (I do like minor fibs in the record --- it's why I'll sign the wrong date if I have the chance --- but not this.) No; this was a gift of the view of our rabbit for CST. He remarked that now he had multiple souvenirs of other people's dead pets. I forget what the other was.
Afterwards bunny_hugger, MWS, and I went to eat at the Fleetwood diner in Lansing. It's the place that she and I, with her parents and brother, went that awful last full day of Stephen's life, after we got home from the airport. It had been a lousy meal, occupied with thoughts of whether our rabbit would be alive in a day. This was a much better meal, and after the memorial tournament to him. It resonated, closing the misery of that day. At the least, the Fleetwood in Lansing was no longer ruined for us.
Trivia: A mistaken report of the German surrender set off wild jubilation in New York City the 27th of April, 1945. Source: 1945: The War That Never Ended, Gregor Dallas.
Currently Reading: Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, William R Trotter.