Way, way off on the far side of Detroit from us is the Sparks Pinball Museum. It's an alcove in a bowling alley. It's got about fifty pinball machines. Almost all of them from the 80s and 90s. It's a great spot. On Mondays during the school year they run weekly tournaments, three- and four-strike matches where you play until you've lost enough games. Given the range of games, and the format, we'd definitely be going there regularly. Except that it is on the far side of Detroit. It would be two hours there and back, without traffic. And going to it, with its 7:30 start time, would put us in the midst of rush hour. During the school year this is impossible. She has to be asleep to work Tuesday mornings. Ah, but during the summer? ... They don't normally hold events. Except that during June they did, running several tournaments and then a finals.
So this was our Mondays for a good while. We'd drive to Flint, to meet up with MWS. This is a little bit out of our way, although given how long the drive would be anyway it hardly mattered. And then he'd drive us to the Sparks Pinball Museum. He was going anyway, and we usually drive him when we go to pinball events on the west side of the state. We would get there with just about enough time to pick a couple games to practice in warm-up and to hope for the best.
We had done this one before, during Spring Break, the first time we ever visited the venue. That time bunny_hugger won second place, cheated of first by one unlucky bounce on a tiebreaker game that gave her opponent 100,000 points for the switch being lit. Thus could I say that, on one of these new visits, when she swore she'd be happy with a second-place finish, no, she would not. She got one anyway. The next two times she did worse, admittedly. I didn't got a trophy the first several tournaments we attended, but consoled myself with eating their surprisingly large and fatty plate of bread sticks. MWS finished the last of these nights in first place, earning a nice 6.88 points towards his quest to get into the state finals, at least. I finished the last one with a fourth place finish, my first trophy.
The last tournament was a not-for-world-ranking-points finals match. (This because ... oh, rules; inquire if you're actually interested.) Neither bunny_hugger nor I made it to the final four, but MWS did. And along the way we had some great pinball, too. With a fun crowd that's mostly people we never see elsewhere. The venue is just that far from everything else people can get to.
There was talk about them doing some one-off event in August, at least, but nothing ultimately materialized. There'll be the league resuming in the fall, but, we can't make it to league. And it's a bit far to just pop in and visit for a nice evening of playing either. But if we ever find reasons to be on Anchor Bay, hoo yes. Great spot.
Trivia: Dr Kikunae Ikeda's isolation of Monosodium Glutamate traces its origin to his studies in Europe, where he noticed a faint commonality in the tastes of tomatoes, cheese, and asparagus, and then back home noticed it was also present in bonito, dried mushrooms, miso, and soy sauce. Source: Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman.
Currently Reading: Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America, Michael Ruhlman.
PS: Sunday, our last full day of the trip, we went to some central-Jersey hangouts including a little indoor family entertainment center called iPlay America.
Prior to iPlay America though we went to the Book Garden, and the typography of this enchants me. Wouldn't we all like to know ``How To Art''? Heck, I sure would.
iPlay America turned out to have pinball! Two pinball machines, in fact, both of the Jersey Jack games. Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit. Don't know whether iPlay liked the themes or whether the idea that a place like 25 minutes driving time away sold pinball machines made them irresistible.
Indoor go-kart track. The place had plenty of space for it, and the track isn't really all that big. It just seems weird to have motorcars inside a building. They also had another of those circular bumper car rides that we just found everywhere that summer.