Those of you who had ``and then we went to a pinball event'' to follow the report of an amusement park trip after a pinball event after an amusement park trip after a pinball event, congratulations. You win the pool. I can't imagine this was a hotly contested bet.
This time around would be the Meijer State Games of America, which sounds a little weird as a name but makes sense in context, I am told. The games are a host of competitive events held in many states. Last year they were timed so that AJH and PH could merge it with one of the Fremont festivals they usually hold a pinball tournament for. No luck this time. And they didn't run the Fremont Fall Festival tournament, possibly because doing the Baby Food Festival the weekend before Pinburgh, and these State Games the weekend after, was too much.
The events were many. Dozens. And Michigan as the host state represented the national championships. This produced some weird rule effects. For example, people from out of state could compete only if they had won the state-level tournament in the game or if there were no state-level tournament in their game. But people from Michigan were welcome to compete regardless. Also people from select neighboring states (plus Ontario): Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, which does not neighbor Michigan, but not Wisconsin, which does. Except that since there weren't state-level games to qualify for pinball, anyone could have just stopped in and tried out. Which is good, as the International Flipper Pinball Association rules get fussy about events that aren't, in principle, open to anyone who wants to show up.
The tournament was held in Grand Rapids, which made life easier for us. They had a day of qualifying and a separate day for finals. Getting to Grand Rapids, an hour away, is reasonable two days in a row. Getting to Fremont, two hours away? Would have taxed our endurance and our podcasts reserves. The games were held in DeVos Place, the convention center named Richard DeVos and not the future disgraced former Education Secretary. Same family, of course, since the DeVoses have put a lot of their Amway multi-level marketing scam money into buying Grand Rapids. I'd never been there before, although surprisingly, neither had bunny_hugger. It's like four blocks from the Pyramid Scheme bar where we go every two weeks for pinball, but we know so little of Grand Rapids outside that bar and the places to park nearby.
The center was ... nice. Big, in that way municipal convention centers are going to be. There seemed to be stuff going on in every room of the place. We walked, I estimate, 26 hours before finding the check-in counter. They told us where to go to find the ballroom with the pinball tournament. They also gave each of us a plastic bag of competitor goodies, without, like, checking or anything. I guess that's organizationally easy, but it does imply someone could totally pull a scam to get free State Games of America T-shirts and a couple other bits of giveaway items I'm not sure we've actually looked at yet. (Antiperspirant maybe?)
The pinball competition was held in a ballroom, the biggest venue I'd played in besides Pinburgh itself. We didn't have the space to ourselves. It was split into four subsections. One had a boxing ring. Another had darts. One had a bunch of pool tables. And there on the end was AJH and family and a familiar setup of games and people from the westside scene. bunny_hugger pointed out that between the boxing, darts, pool, and pinball, they'd put all the disreputable bar sports in the same place. While we were there, they did open up the ballroom's bar. I joked that they didn't plan to have a bar, it's just assemble all these activities together and one spontaneously manifests.
The tournament structure was a now-familiar one. A dollar an entry, put up scores on each of the seven(?) games. Points for how many people your best score beats. Top five set of points go in to your ranking. Top 16, I think it was, went in. Given the number of entrants, and games, I felt pretty confident about landing a spot. And there was a side Classics tournament, same sort of setup but on three solid-state tables. If I remember right after going through all the games once I'd had a good-enough-if-marginal score, and I could go about just buffing my stats. Or playing a game like Johnny Mnemonic, which used to be at the Lansing Pinball League venue and left before anyone really knew what they were doing on it.
bunny_hugger had a worse time of it. She was having trouble getting a handle on any of the tables. She did manage to get up to a marginal position when a couple of the Grand Rapids Pinball League power players arrived, possibly after work. This included folks like ADM who, while perfectly fine, is also the sort who can jump up to the top of the best-five scores in five games. I had some margin to fall and stay qualified for finals. bunny_hugger didn't, or at least didn't have enough.
When the qualification period ended, we were both in for the Classics finals the next morning. I was in for the Main Finals. bunny_hugger was out. She would only play if, I think, three of the people ahead of her all skipped the tournament they'd just qualified for.
Trivia: Apollo 17's launch delay was caused by a failure of the automatic sequencer, the oldest nd most reliable piece of automation at the complex. It was the first launch delay due to failure of equipment in the Apollo program. Source: Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of NASA's Lunar Expeditions, William David Compton. NASA SP-4214.
Currently Reading: Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure The Heavens, Andrea Wulf.
Back corner of Marvin's, near the women's restroom. Also a bunch of flags, for the reasons. Among the coin-op stuff there is one to show you a million dollars. (Or something like that.)
Looking back at the Barnum Cardiff Giant. I suspect the RMS Titanic poster is a reprint but who knows? Also you can see some of the prizes you can redeem.
And another good view of the Barnum Cardiff Giant.