austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

All around me are familiar faces

So if you all can take hearing about another pinball tournament, I've got a report about another pinball turnament to give you. This one was in the Ann Arbor Pinball Museum, which is in Brighton, which is not Ann Arbor. It's also the place called the VFW, because it was formerly a VFW hall, bought and converted by a guy who needed somewhere to house his enormous pinball collection. It's not really a museum; the deal he made with the zoning board allows it to open only a couple weekends a year. (It's the middle of nowhere; even a modestly popular attraction could overload the access road's capacity.)

As prelude to the open-house weekend, the guy who runs it was hosting an Electromechanical Games Tournament. This was a bit of a fib; it was electromechanicals and early solid state games. It would be a three-strikes knockout tournament, starting early in the day. The compensation for people knocked out early? They'd be able to go to the main building and play whatever games were there, extra hours of free play to a rarely-accessible hall full of well-maintained games.

And yeah, main building. The VFW Hall is no longer enough for the guy's collection, nor is the hall and the outbuilding he'd had put up last year, and it seems ready to overflow the second outbuilding that was new to us this year. There's still a little space left, but, it's tight. The buildings are packed. To guide competitors --- there were about sixty people who signed up, all told --- to the games they gave out little index cards with maps to the approximate game locations. This stroke of organizational brilliance was undercut by their putting the wrong names on the buildings in the map. (Or, if you prefer, putting the wrong names in the signs on the buildings, since apparently the names were put on just for the tournament.)

My first match took me and someone whose name I have completely forgotten to Gottlieb's 1980 Buck Rogers, there to play a best-of-three games set. PinTips was unavailable, since the VFW hall had no Wi-Fi and we didn't go through the magic of our Mifi device. Ah, but the table had the card instructions, and it was an early solid state game anyway. The thing to guess would be ``banks of drop targets''. Also hit the thing called a vari-target, which is this sort of paddle on a hinge that goes farther back, for more points, the harder you hit it. Two simple things to go for: I could do this. My first ball, first game, is ... garbage. My second ball, first game, is crushing, and my opponent says now he knows he's lost. Well, he has; I don't even have to play the last ball of the first game, and I get to feeling pretty confident about my chances for the whole tournament. The second game --- I go first this time --- is closer, but still not a nailbiter.

bunny_hugger and I regather, sharing tales of what we did the first round. I think she had a loss she felt stupid about. MWS won. So did GRV, another regular friend of ours who, after a couple years slacking off, seems to be making a serious run for the state championship this year. He could take it, too, if he doesn't lose his composure. He knows every rule of every game ever, and he's got the precise shot control of the true first-rate player.

They start calling people for the next rounds. I'm called pretty early. I say, jokingly, GRV's name as my opponent. They call his name. Of course.

Trivia: In the election of 1800 Aaron Burr pioneered ``bundle'' voters, groups of voters who would be named joint owners of a single piece of property to meet New York state property-ownership requirements. Source: Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, Edwin G Burrows, Mike Wallace.

Currently Reading: Storm In A Teacup: The Physics Of Everyday Life, Helen Czerski.

Tags: pinball, vfw pinball museum
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