austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Worn out places, worn out faces

I lose my round against GRV. It's not an ``of course'', though. He's better than me, but he is beatable, especially if he gets rattled, which he can do just by having a bad ball. We play on an electromechanical, which makes bad balls more likely. I forget which one it was. There wasn't an instruction card, or at least not one with useful advice. But the play was straightforward. The plunged ball could drop into one of two lanes; the lucky one would drop into a scoop good for 200 points, the unlucky one for 50. Our match would become a lot of the two of us very carefully measuring our plunge to try to get the lucky lane (it changed over time) and cursing ourselves for getting it wrong. After that, there was a bank of ten (count 'em) drop targets, the bonus increasing with the number of them you hit. Or try to shoot up back to the scoops underneath the lanes.

GRV beats me the first game, although not by much, maybe one lucky scoop shot. I beat him in the second match, and pretty convincingly, a combination of his bad luck and my having one ball that knocks down nearly all the drop targets. I get to figuring I have a chance at beating GRV after all, and then we have a third game that's a race to the bottom, which he loses. So I have my first strike; he has none, but it is a close-run thing. GRV goes on to be the last player without any strikes, and indeed goes on to win the tournament. This was probably the moment he locked up an invite to the state championship. Even if he doesn't play anything the rest of the year he's going to be hard to knock out of the top sixteen.

On to more rounds. People play little extra games waiting for the results of all the matches to come in. The organizers get a microphone and speaker to address the crowd and it somehow makes them harder to hear. Representatives from Jersey Jack Pinball work on setting up The Hobbit and Dialed In in some of the precious little remaining empty space in the second building, the one where the organizers call out matches into a fuzzy microphone. I eventually get one ball of a game in before the next round starts being called, and then I never think to go back and play a whole game of this pretty sweet-seeming table.

I think won the next round, and lost the next, and won the one after that, almost the definition of treading water. (I seem to have lost track of the exactly play-by-play which, really, doesn't matter anyway.) bunny_hugger was knocked out while I was still on two strikes, so that turned the waiting-for-then-next-round into a period of my typically incompetent bit of consoling her. I'm no good at helping her feel better after a defeat, especially when there's anything unfair in the match. (And over the course of three lost best-of-three rounds there is inevitably something unfair.)

Sixth, maybe seventh round. I'm up against one of the guys who was somehow supplying Domino's Pizza and bringing a Domino's-themed pinball game that I never got to see because I stupidly didn't go to the building when it was set up. Our game: Bally's 1964 electromechanical Mad World, which the Internet Pinball Database says was ``likely'' inspired by Hollywood's 1963 It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I recommend looking at its art a good long while. There's a lot going on.

We start the first game and I notice the scoring reels don't clear all the way. My opponent has 4 points before I, the first player, go. We reset the machine, although I think of shrugging it off on the grounds that how are four points going to make a difference? Or that we could just remember and deduct it from his score. Restarting's costless, though. There's no instruction card on the table, but there are notes on the playfield. Particularly there's some way to release a second ball, good for two hundred points, quite plausibly a winning difference. I try working toward that. After three balls I'm a good two hundred or so points ahead. It's a five-ball game. I get the ball released, but my opponent just keeps hacking away at the bumpers. In the end, I have 641 points. He has 643.

Second game. Once again the score reels don't reset; the game starts with me as player two, up 2 points to 0. I say, hey, let's just ignore it; what are the odds a game is going to come down to two points? He doesn't hear me, but insists on knowing what I said. I have to murder my jest by the repetition. But he gets it then. I get the ball close to being released, but he finishes the job, putting him well ahead of me. It's still five balls, though. I can just keep hacking at it, maybe even try the ball capture and release again all on my own, and that will oh never mind there goes the last ball. My third lost match.

So, I'm out of the tournament, part of the ten-way tie for 27th place with everyone else knocked out in the sixth round. I step out to get something to drink and then join bunny_hugger, part of the twelve-way tie for 38th place in the fifth-round knockouts, inside the main building.

Trivia: At the height of the teddy bear craze of 1906-07 a Michigan Catholic priest warned the ``toy beast in the hands of little girls was destroying all instincts of motherhood''. Source: The Kid Of Coney Island: Fred Thompson and the Rise of American Amusements, Woody Register. (I don't see the priest named, although Register goes on to quote more of the piece, and provides a bundle of citations for the teddy bear moral panic.)

Currently Reading: Archie, Volume 1, Mark Wait, Fiona Staples. Collecting the reboot comics.

Tags: pinball, vfw pinball museum

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