With Sunshine adopted and Penelope on her way to adoption we had to think hard about something. Pinball At The Zoo, in Kalamazoo, about an hour away was coming up. It's a special event to us. It's one of Michigan Pinball's big events. And attending it the first couple times rather marked how we came in to and joined and started to feel a part of the Michigan competitive-pinball scene. As the expo has grown the amount of time needed to participate has, too. We would need to go at least Friday and Saturday to play in and, all going well, make the playoffs for the tournament, even putting aside merely playing. What to do with our rabbits, then?
Kalamazoo is just over an hour away. We could drive there and back each day. We've got podcasts to listen to. Or we could stay in a hotel in the area, gaining two hours' chance to rest and sleep, always desirable. But then what to do with the rabbits? We could leave them with bunny_hugger's parents, now that we had permission from the rescue we were fostering Penelope for. But to add another move to a strange place to Penelope, just two weeks after her last? And to put that strain on our newly-adopted rabbit whom we'd had for a week, and had just gone through two weeks at the Ingham County Animal Shelter after being abandoned? ... Well, both rabbits seemed healthy; why not leave them at home overnight with enough food and water for the time away? Penelope eats moderately and steadily. Sunshine, it turns out, eats like a starved wolf. Probably would be fine if left unattended a day and a half, but could we be sure?
We took the most wearying path. We'd come home Friday night and tend our rabbits and set back out Saturday. Tiring but it gave us the chance to sleep in our own bed and to see our bunnies. And we could think to our chances at Pinball At The Zoo.
Pinball At The Zoo has been growing, in the number of people attending. Also in its rank within the pinball community. It got to be part of the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association circuit, drawing high-ranking players from Chicago over. It's not in the PAPA circuit this year, but the experience had a lasting effect. Their concentration made the event high-enough valued in the International Flipper Pinball Association's rankings (yes, there's two big pinball competitive organizations) that high-ranking players would come back to it. Too soon to tell whether this is a lasting phase change, but as often happens, prestige accretes prestige. The result is there'd be more players, and more highly-ranked, highly-skilled players. We'd face a tougher field.
So the first thing at the Zoo, after checking in and saying hi to people and being told to help ourselves to the extra doughnuts at the table at AJH and family (organizing the tournament, itself properly just a part of the show) had left over, was warm up. They had a side tournament, on three old, electromechanical and solid-state games. The point of the side tournament was to have more awards to give out, yes, and to get casual people registered as playing in more tournaments; playing in more things makes your tournament value worth more, helping the tournament accrete pinball-ranking value.
First thing I tried: 4 Square, which last year had given bunny_hugger some of her glory in the women's tournament. It's a five-ball electromechanical, the objective being to hit four sets of targets labelled 1 through 4, and then do that again if you can. I have a great game, playing cold, and put up something over five thousand points, one of the best scores of the day so far and more than halfway to rolling it. Next, Tri Zone, a different instance of the early solid-state game we have at home. Playing a game you have at home is a legendary way to faceplant. I don't; I beat 330,000, just as if I were playing at home. And then Blue Chip, among the last electromechanical games, with a business-and-industry theme. I have a mediocre game on that, but it's all right.
The daily tournament works as the main one does, in miniature. All the competitors are ranked by their highest scores on the table. Highest rank gets 100 points for the game, next gets 97, next 95, and then 94, 93, 92, and so on. (This is a quirk; some tournaments run 100-99-98-97-etc. Some run 100-95-90-89-88-87-etc. It depends how the tournament-runner wants to reward an outstanding game.) Add your two highest points together. The top eight go on to finals.
After playing each of these tables once, I am in second place. It's a great start for the weekend.
Trivia: US Route 101, in California, is considered a two-digit highway, denoting a principal highway. (Three digit numbers denote spurs or variants usually connecting with a principal highway.) Source: The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers who Created the American Superhighways, Earl Swift.
Currently Reading: The Zippy Annual, September 2001 - October 2002, Bill Griffith. Which has a startling number of comics that you could put in a normal, linear comic strip and have parse. bunny_hugger, who's reading a Zippy the Pinhead collection from the 80s, and I have been reading example strips at each other over meals.
PS: some more milling around Keansburg Amusement Park and the ride I never figure we'd be on even though it turns out there was still one at Cedar Point the first time I visited it.
And the mechanism underneath the platform of Chaos. The panels look sloppily arranged, but all the hardware looks like it's in good shape. And the ride is still on Keansburg's site as of today, so I guess it's still running.
Haunted Manor: one of the park's upcharge attractions. It wasn't open the day we visited.
Scenery in front of the Haunted Manor, which is maybe less atmospheric than it might have been in the broad daylight but still looked promising.