austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

No meaning left to hold

We had to get up early Sunday. Not to check out, although that would be part of the day. JTV had only reserved his room through Sunday morning, and MWS would need to check out with them all. But Sunday morning was also the Women's International Pinball Tournament, itself a sort of miniature Pinburgh tournament with a hundred people playing five rounds of three games (an electromechanical, a solid state, and a modern game) each. Top 16 finishers go to finals. bunny_hugger was one of the 128 hopeful competitors.

So she got up earlier than me, and headed off to the tournament. Me, I finished packing up our stuff and rolled it through several blocks of Pittsburgh. I was returning stuff to MWS's car. He had parked in a great little lot next to the Embassy Suites. What's great about this lot is that on Sundays they just give up on collecting the parking charge. I mean, they leave one of the gates open all day. But at 6 pm the lone gate attendant goes home for the day, and there's no replacement until Monday morning. So even the gate attendant will just shrug and tell you yeah, it's OK to leave without paying. I'm not positive it isn't OK to leave before then. It's worth trying anyway. You won't find a better parking deal in town. Remarkably, our stuff --- with one rolling suitcase, two laptop bags, and a cooler bag --- packed extremely well into a transportable whole. I'd worried I would need to commandeer a hotel luggage cart and return it before someone noticed but, no, didn't need that. We packed really well.

Also I realized I could just have one more hotel breakfast before returning our keys, and did, eating yet another huge pile of eggs. I stand by this decision.

Between that and photo-taking and respecting the signs warning people not to enter the playing areas I didn't see bunny_hugger until maybe two rounds had gone. And she was doing ... not bad. Also I did see LE again; at one point she was playing in a group with bunny_hugger and they too were talking amusement parks. I also saw KEG, formerly of Lansing League, who was in a foul mood that I attributed to Pinburgh or the Women's International going worse than she expected. It was not; she'd had a bad personal matter happen during the weekend and, well, that royally sucks.

bunny_hugger was sure she was playing worse when I was watching, though. I finally took as the hint for me to go off and sample attractions while she got back to playing. I didn't see many Michigan Pinball people. RLM and MSS briefly as they walked the other direction. ADM, on stage, for the finals of the Intergalactic tournament. Otherwise, I was just enjoying oddball games like the 90s Gottleib Car Hop or the early 90s Gottleib game Cactus Jack's or the early 90s Gottleib game Class of 1812.

So there's these two vending machines in the convention center. They're way off on the end of the building. They almost seem forgotten. They're one of my great secrets since they sell a 20 ounce bottle of soda for $2.00. Inside the convention center there's booths selling pop, but at amusement park prices. If you don't want to go outside and get something, this is the place to go. Whoever runs these machines apparently was not aware that ReplayFX was this weekend, or that the secret of these games was getting out to the world. The machines ran out of pop by Saturday night, and never were restocked. By Sunday the only pop in the machine was this one bottle of Diet Mountain Dew which had, instead of being dispensed, fallen out of the machine's grasp and rolled to the floor of the refrigerated cooler. Dear reader, I was the person who tried to buy that lost pop bottle, ultimately the lone survivor of ReplayFX. Well, lone apart from like three bottles of something called Mountain Dew Ice. The machine was aware of the malfunction and refunded my $2.00.

Also Thursday morning I had taken my morning tea from the hotel and brought it to the convention center. I'd walked around with it until I went to get a soda, and absently left the empty cardboard cup on top of the vending machine and, in the confusion of the failed soda purchase, left the cup there. The cup remained there the rest of the weekend.

In-between rounds of the Women's International Pinball Tournament, when things seemed safe, I went and did something ... dangerous. At least, something unusual for me. I went to one of the techs working the tournament area and, confirming who he was, said, ``Hi. I'm Austin Dern''. You know, just like I was at a furry convention or something.

The guy, Dan, I faintly know because somehow we ended up following each other on Mastodon. I'd gotten to see his excited-and-frantic toots in the weeks before about getting game ready for tournament play and readied for moving and brought to the convention center. And while I'd given him the jokingly useless advice about how to recognize me in the crowd (``bearded guy with a black pinball league t-shirt wearing cargo pants''), this seemed like ... well, as good a chance as there'd ever be to just say hi to a normal person like another normal person, the way normal people do. That went great, and we agreed that it was an amazing amount of work and worth it. He also talked about how Saturday he had gone out repairing machines in the free play area, rather than work on the games in demand for tournament play with the high stress of getting a thing functional again now while finalists are glaring at you. He won't be making that mistake again.

So some more stuff played while I was free and bunny_hugger was annoyed Funhouse was somehow not the solid state game for the bank it was physically in and Dan got back to tournament game maintenance. The Intergalactic games were now all open, and without queues; I played a couple of tables that I had not had the time for the night before and while I never had a game good enough that I'd have been launched into finals, I probably would have gotten out of the bottom 100. Also I finally learned how to play Xenon. I have since forgotten how to play Xenon.

bunny_hugger would not make playoff in the Women's International Pinball Tournament. However, she missed by less than she expected: only two more wins over the day and she'd have been in. I still don't know where exactly she finished in the tournament but it's a good showing. And it meant that she would have a couple of hours yet to just hang out and enjoy ReplayFX.

I got in my revenge games on the tables that did me the most harm. Game of Thrones. Miss-O. Simpsons Pinball Party. Oh, that Simpsons. Some games that had spoiled my chances in past years, like Asteroid Annie and the Aliens. Some games that are just gorgeous to look at, like Space Race or Time 2000. Space Race, an electromechanical, I had a fantastic game on, and was more than halfway to rolling it, with a bonus built to its maximum 100,000 ... and double bonus lit ... and when the ball drained, it just never registered. The ball wouldn't catch the sensor that detected drains and it just froze there at the end of a magnificent game. Too bad.

bunny_hugger and MWS and I gathered together again, this time to find a FunHouse and play it. I'd seen one in the free play area --- the one in the tournament area never did come back on --- and we had our one and only game on this this particular ReplayFX. I had a great game on it too, managing to get two jackpots as I recall; it's spectacular to get one. I did get my name on the high score board, but as it was only position #3, I did not post it to AJG's thread of Pinburgh Grand Champion scores.

And then ... mm. Rock-o-Plane. It was still going. Still running. Who knew when we might see one again? When we might ever run one? bunny_hugger decided to take the chance, if nothing else to say she had ridden one of these. I went along with her, although in separate seats, per the ride operator's direction. The ride had some fun signs including reprints from a late 40s Popular Mechanics about how rides are designed to be both safe and thrilling.

We both went onto the ride figuring to just let the car ride as a normal Ferris wheel seat, done by not pulling on the lever that locks the car's angle relative to the rotating spoke. I did that for a few circuits and then decided, well, I'll try holding the brake and see what I thought. And that went well; it was pretty fun and if I slid a little bit toward the 'top' of the cage it's not like it did my head any real harm. Eventually I got more adventurous, including doing whole loops locked in place, including one where I was upside-down at the bottom of the ride. And a couple times I held the bar and let go so I would rock around a little, not quite spinning. Only a couple times. I didn't want to make myself sick. We had plenty of ride time, still.

With less than an hour to go I ... got to play an oddball old horse-racing-themed game named Derby Day. Dan had recommended this on Mastodon to anyone at ReplayFX, including a shout-out to me particularly and I was interested but the thing was always going down. The table has, in the backbox, six horses on posts which ratchet from right to left as you hit corresponding targets. If your horse crosses the finish line first, you get a bonanza of points. But the game had gone down a lot over the weekend; horse #3's chain got stuck a lot. Finally one of the techs --- Dan, it transpired --- left instructions about what to do when the game claimed it couldn't start. Here, it was having one of its good working periods, although an elder man was hovering around and playing game after game until I had to just gulp and ask if I could have a turn. He agreed, but did want to ask if I knew just how remarkable the game was. I did very well nearly getting horse #2 to the finish, because I kept trying to shoot for horse #3's targets, so I didn't have a very good game. But I got to play a nice odd old game and that's important.

In the last half-hour of Pinburgh we ... didn't actually have a plan of where to meet up with MWS. So Class of 1812 seemed the natural place to go. I was the one to point out that although the game begs you to play multiball --- the music when you have multiball going is a rendition of the 1812 Overture, done first as regular and then as clucked by chickens --- that's not where the points are. The points are in knocking down the rows of drop targets on the left and right of the playfield. This was such a revelation to MWS, which startled me because I'd have expected him to have noticed this before.

Not that it matters; we'll never play Class of 1812 in a tournament, except if we're very lucky at Pinburgh. We can play it here, and at the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Hall of Fame, and both places, play for laughs. So these are the laughs we were playing, as 5:00 came to us and ReplayFX closed, ending for the year with the tables being turned off.

Trivia: Among the rights secured by New Jersey's 1776 Constitution was that the estates of suicides were not forfeit; their heirs would inherit as usual. Source: New Jersey From Colony To State, 1609 - 1789, Richard P McCormick.

Currently Reading: Little Orphan Annie Volume One: Will Tomorrow Ever Come? The Complete Daily Comics 1924 - 1927, Harold Gray. Editor Dean Mullaney. The first story with ``Daddy'' Warbucks has him beat up a loan shark that Annie's noticed preying upon a nice person, which, yeah, good for him. Also the first time ``Daddy'' Warbucks disappears it's because he has some business he has to get to in Siberia. Now what would a respectable American arms merchant be doing in Siberia in 1924?

PS: Exploiting My A-To-Z Archives: Benford's Law, the rare mathematics piece that let me talk about my car.


The Vaguely New England Waterfront lights hanging over each of the booths at Fish and Chips.


The Pepsi clock was there when bunny_hugger moved to town. The Daily Specials board ... I'm not sure how far back that goes, but it's a while. Can you spot where they ran out of I's and used a / instead? How about where they turned a W upside-down?


Sometime in the 80s the place expanded with this glass-lined extension that's attractive but absolutely freezing in the winter. The floor tiling makes pretty clear where the old limits of the establishment were.

Tags: lansing, pinburgh 2019

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