August 13th, 2009

krazy koati

But I ain't seen nothing like him

It had been a ballroom once, if I have things right; I don't assert that I do, but this is probably close enough.

I don't know what's in the upper levels now; bunny_hugger and I simply didn't have time as the park approached its close for the day. But in the bottom level --- I suppose the basement, based on how the front looks, but it was ground level to us --- is an arcade. Even better, it's an arcade that embraces not just the present video games but older vintages, going back decades. And even better still, it's an arcade that has pinball. I haven't been in convenient range of an arcade with a proper pinball alley for years, and the Wii game is fine in many ways but not the same thing, not least because of the frustration of getting time to play.

Some of the pinball games are new ones, of such recent vintage they haven't even been given away in The Price Is Right showcases. But the greatest number and a nearly full long wall of them were practically antique electromechanical games from the 1960s and 1970s, predating when they had such things as ramps as regular features. I don't believe I had seen any of them in person before, but some of the games I had heard of, particularly Hercules. This is a moderately famous novelty in the pinball universe because it was built, with the intention of giving the customer more for his money, at about double size. The pinball itself is about the size of a pool cue ball. They have two of these monstrously large machines. I didn't have time to play --- by all reports, gameplay is extremely slow, but more importantly I had to find change! --- but I'd certainly like to see what it's like playing on a machine before which I'm, relatively, three feet tall.

We did get some change, though (the first machine I went to was out of service, as required by the laws of this sort of thing), and tried out a real, proper electromechanical game, the sort with the sounds that you hear whenever a character in a movie or TV show plays pinball because it's too hard for the foley artist to get the sounds for the game they're actually playing. It threw me a bit that these were five-balls-a-game machines, which may have been the traditional standard but I grew up on three-balls-a-game. As usual for me on an unfamiliar machine my first game was a bit better than the follow-up, due entirely to my forming a theory about the rules of a game and trying to strategize way ahead of having a proper model of how to play. Nevertheless, if the arcade was left open for any appreciable time after the rides proper shut down this would be a wonderful way to let the crowds and the parking lot empty out.

Certainly we were disappointed, but it had been a long day and we couldn't say we hadn't had a wonderful time; while we would have liked another two hours, or one hour, or half-hour, it would also in a way be greedy to demand even more. We did walk out of the arcade the long way, though, passing through the greatest number of machines possible as they switched off.

Incidentally while looking up stuff to make sure I wasn't too horribly wrong in this essay I came across a December 2003 mention favorable to something called The Demon and The Wizzer. The Demon is alluded to enough to suggest it was a ride, at either Cedar Point or Great America (which park was clear to the poster, but not to me). The Wizzer is given no context so I must conclude this was a reference to Marvel Comics's regrettably-named Flash-ripoff mongoose-powered superhero of yore, because that is more amusing in a juvenile way than making the slight effort needed to be correct would be.

Trivia: Between the Tsar's abdication and their shipment to Tobolsk in Siberia on 13 August 1917, Nicholas II and his family were kept at Tsarskoe Selo, thirteen miles southwest of Saint Petersburg, where Nicolas II had been born. Source: King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led The World To War, Catrine Clay.

Currently Reading: Physics In The Nineteenth Century, Robert D Purrington.