So the question was, do we come back Saturday morning and use the couple open hours of qualifying to try to make Main Finals? Or sleep in, instead, and let bunny_hugger compete in the Women's Finals and just enjoy the expo? I pressed for going back early. I thought a couple of good games would be enough to get both of us into the Main Division finals, at least in B Division. A night's sleep, fresh playing --- I couldn't avoid thinking how I put up awesome games on the daily and the Classics tournaments going in ``cold'' on them --- and anything might happen. She relented partly; we went in, but an hour after opening.
There were two other events at the Kalamazoo Expo Center that day. One was potentially great with the chance for a sad underbelly: a reptile show. Great for people looking to better care for their animals or to discover creatures they'd love to know. Potentially bad for the prospect of bringing together animals to be stressed by each others' presence in a strange territory and swap diseases. Not at all our thing: a gun show, with warnings about how gunners ought to gun their guns gunnily while gunning in a gun fashion. No mention of the then-recent school shooting, but then there wasn't any mention of the then-imminent school shooting either. And a sign teased something great for the next weekend, a Dutch Rabbit show, prompting us to ask why there wasn't a rabbit show going on this or, really, every weekend.
Anyway. To the tournament! bunny_hugger bought some more entries without any serious hope of improving her standing. I got some too, with more of my usual self-confidence. I try another game of Eight Ball Deluxe and do nothing. I go to World Cup Soccer and --- finally --- at last --- I start to have the game that shows off some skill. I have the rhythm for the game, finding the two ramps, getting the various awards, milking special awards like one that magnifies the bonus for each hit on the goalie target in back. And getting the multiball started --- the jackpots on the game build fast --- and while it doesn't last long, I get right back to starting another multiball.
And then it got weird. I lost a ball, and had one left on the table. But was still in multiball mode. The other ball must be stuck somewhere. I went around the table, shooting at all the places a ball could get stuck; it's bad form to exploit a ``monoball'' situation, and is even grounds for disqualification. I can't find the problem before the ball drains. But now the table is empty and I can look. In a freak accident, too, the ball somehow got caught inside the kicker, the small triangular table above the left flipper. I have to call over PH, who can't quite believe what he saw. It's a difficult problem, too; he has to disassemble the kicker and some components around it to get the ball out.
Pinball players talk about being in the zone, that state where every shot is easy and you play confidently, assuredly. You can fall out of the zone. What drops you out? Hard to say, but everyone agrees, interruptions in game play do it. Here I'd had easily ten minutes of interruption. This could kill my flow. Fortunately I've already considerably bettered my World Cup Soccer score. But as they close the table up and I launch the ball I think of the sad fate of what might have been, especially as I bobble the ball and it drains almost right away.
But what doesn't happen is ... the end of ball. My bonus never counts up, and on this game --- especially for the ball I've just had --- that's major. I have to call PH over. He has to call AJH over. Something's awry with the sensor inside the ball-return trough. The table has to open up again, and more repairs have to be made. And they'll have to turn the game off.
There's procedures for this. They can get my current score, and the bonus (this game lets you find out what your current bonus is). They can add that up. And they can award a compensation ball: trusting the game gets back in order, I can play the rest of my game. Which, since I was in the midst of ball two when this happened, would be two balls, one for the rest of Ball Two, and one for my lost Ball Three. And I'm fine with this. And then realize no, I don't have a rest of Ball Two. I had drained, which is when this second major problem came up. I have to take just the one compensation ball. I mourn the loss of points that would be there, if I were still in the zone after all this. But I have to play with integrity. Meanwhile friends come over, dazzled that I have this killer game that's someone turned into two major repair incidents. I don't know that bunny_hugger rolled her eyes, but she must have thought about it.
Finally. The game is restored. I have a compensation ball. And, in another wonder, I'm still in the zone. My compensation-ball game by itself would have beaten my previous score. Added to my interrupted game I have 1.7 billion. Less than I would have had, all other things unchanged, continuing to play since multiball jackpots ratchet up in the game. But still fantastic: the fourth-highest score anyone puts up at the tournament. It earns me thirty points in the standings and leapfrogs me well ahead of an offended bunny_hugger and into the mid-to-upper-30s among all the players. There's 45 minutes of open qualifying left. One more solid game and I'm in.
I start playing Meteor, on which I've just had no game all weekend. I quickly get the ball caught in a freak position, behind the upper flipper. PH can't believe it, but agrees it's a good omen. (The ball's been sticking behind the upper flipper all weekend; apparently some little prop that should make the ball not drop in there is missing or broken.) The start is good; the rest is not, and I don't better my score any. Now the lines are getting longer and it's harder to get at any games. I get one more Eight Ball Deluxe in. I've figured out the simple, effective thing to do. I'm able to do it a fair bit, but not enough. I better my standing, from about 46th place to 42nd on the table. The game's not among my top four; it doesn't budge me.
I finish eight places and twenty points out of qualifying for B Division. One place, and four points, ahead of bunny_hugger, not helping my contention that I do not upstage her at every event. For the first time in three years neither of us in the Main or the Classics Tournament.
Back when we had to skip the State Championship in January, to make going to Mexico City possible, I mentioned having reached the next stage in being a competitive pinball player. The stages we'd passed so far were winning invites as alternates to the State Championship; winning invites in our own right to the State Championship; and turning down invites to the State Championship. There's another stage we could expect and whose chill I felt: that of no longer being good enough to make State Championship.
Trivia: In 1933 the year-old RKO Roxy first-run movie theater in Rockefeller Center --- redundant given the opening of the Music Hall --- was converted to a vaudeville theater. Source: Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, Daniel Okrent.
Currently Reading: The Complete Peanuts, 1999 - 2000, Charles Schulz. Editor Gary Groth.
PS: No, still not back inside the amusement park.
The beach at Keansburg as made alive and warm in the late-evening sun.
The panoramic photo of the Keansburg shoreline that actually mostly worked. In principle you should be able to see New York City across the water but good luck with that.
And the pier at Keansburg. Nothing was on it; I'd assume at some point it used to host attractions and possibly a ferry to Staten Island or Manhattan.