Then in late March --- I started out writing this as late February, but realized I remembered the date wrong, and didn't want to waste the text already written about this --- we drove out to Grand Rapids in order that I could not play pinball. This was a slightly new thing for us. The pinball points mine we use in Fremont is trying out a different scheme, in which the scores of several venues come together for a larger and hopefully more rankings-lucrative league. Among the new venues is this cozy bar-restaurant in Grand Rapids. Not the one that the Grand Rapids Pinball League gathers in. A different one, cramped, with space for a mere four tables. Makes for a slightly different mix than Fremont offers, but at half the driving time.
This wasn't for that. KEC, bunny_hugger's onetime rival among women players, was organizing a Belles and Chimes League. You maybe guessed the gimmick here: it's a women's pinball league. The name isn't her own inspiration; it's a franchise of women's leagues hoping to draw more people into pinball. KEC had wanted to start one, and bunny_hugger was happy to support her. And I'm happy to support bunny_hugger, even if the extent of my support is to smile while I'm watching her and to agree that Monopoly totally cheated her that ball.
The event, first of a hopefully monthly series, was a four-strikes tournament. People play matches until they lose four games. There were around ten women there, making for a good-sized match. Working for bunny_hugger: her confidence with the games Pirates of the Caribbean and WWF Royal Rumble. Working against bunny_hugger: Monopoly and Stern's new Star Wars. Monopoly I was able to give some usable advice for, ultimately: shoot the bank and you eventually start this points-grab mode. Star Wars, well, that's a game for the hardcore pinball expert. It's got a complicated rule set and a distractingly difficult scheme by which you can make some of the key shots worth multiples of their basic value --- up to 40 times! --- and move that around for optimal play. By (a) knowing exactly what to do and (b) taking your hand off one of the flippers to move the multiplier shots around. Both of these are really hard and we've never got the hang of it.
After a disheartening start --- two losses --- bunny_hugger had a fantastic streak, and she was in the final four players. And thought she was up for a trophy, since the Belles and Chimes sent a trophy for first place and someone had brought in three smaller souvenirs. The souvenirs were meant for first through third place, though, so that the champion took home two pieces of hardware. And, with Star Wars smashing her, she ended up in fourth place and a disheartened mood. Still, the women's tournament went on successfully and good for that.
We wouldn't make it to the next Belles and Chimes session. The weather was too bad for us to set out, with the highways freezing over under icy rain. But May should be different and I'm looking forward to just watching bunny_hugger play. I hope they still have Royal Rumble; not really hoping they still have Star Wars.
Trivia: At the 1805 conclusion of the Tripolitan War (the first Barbary War), over the payment of tributes to avoid the capture of ships and capture of sailors, the United States paid the Tripoli government US$60,000 tribute for release of three hundred captured United States sailors. Source: America's Wars, Alan Axelrod.
Currently Reading: The Nemesis Affair: A Story of the Death of Dinosaurs and the Ways of Science, David M Raup.
PS: And now a special Bowcraft moment! Enjoy.
Tag yourself from the art on back of Bowcraft Amusement Parks's Big Trucks ride. Here: warrior-princess wolf!
Tag yourself from the art on back of Bowcraft Amusement Parks's Big Trucks ride. Here: loving expectant mother-bird!
Tag yourself from the art on back of Bowcraft Amusement Parks's Big Trucks ride. Here: Basic Cable Noid!
Tag yourself from the art on back of Bowcraft Amusement Parks's Big Trucks ride. Here: extrovert imp!
Tag yourself from the art on back of Bowcraft Amusement Parks's Big Trucks ride. Here: fire-breathing dwaggon!
And here's one last look at the Big Trucks characters in their context and on the small track of Bowcraft's kiddie ride. Oh yeah, there's that bird on the left.