April 27th, 2014

krazy koati

I got a pocket full of quarters, and I'm headed to the arcade

Meanwhile, pinball league continues its second season. We don't seem to be getting quite so many people dropping in for one or two weeks as we did last year, which hurts relative standings a little bit, as we have a scoring system that in part rewards attendance. This particularly hurts bunny_hugger as she was almost exactly the median last season but is, unjustly, in the bottom quartile this time around. She's playing much better than she used to.

This week we had a ``Night of Tears'', deliberately playing the three most frustrating and failure-prone games in the hipster bar/arcade --- Tales of the Arabian Nights (a fun game but a really vicious one if you're a bit unlucky), Indiana Jones (also fun but dependent on making one shot, the Mode Start, that's just not easy from either flipper, and Johnny Mnemonic (which is fast and has no freaking lighting so you have to summon your inner Tommy to do anything). It was fun, honestly, having a night when everybody was doing dismally --- universal failure is a shared funny experience --- but it could also have been a very quick night with almost everyone's games ending rapidly and dismally.

Except. The hipster bar/arcade had got in a new pinball machine, displacing the Big Game Hunter video game nobody ever played because it was always broken. This was Getaway: High Speed II, an early-90s dot-matrix pinball I remember from back at Rutgers, when I couldn't get into it because it was way too complicated for me to play. It turns out I'm a better pinball player than I was then, and it's a fun game with a lot of light and sound and a ``turbocharger'' that spins the pinball around a little loop many times over for the giddy fun of a real thing moving fast.

The rumor being passed around that night was that the bar was getting in five new pinball machines, which sounded absurd because, among other things, there's nowhere to put them. And yet not two days later another pinball machine was added --- Junkyard, a late 90s game I vaguely remember playing but can't think where --- displacing entirely the foosball table that nobody ever used except as a place to put coats and drinks. Junkyard was broken that same day --- a bad flipper --- but that's surely to be fixed soon.

Already the bar has more machines than any single student union I played in in college or grad school did. If it does get the rumored five total that would give it ten pinball machines, which puts it pretty close to the count of the Pinball Pete's (who leases the machines to the bar) over in East Lansing. I'm all in favor of this pinball revival but it's somehow weird, too. We must've got the story wrong somehow, but if we didn't, then, wow.

Trivia: After the 1911 fire which destroyed the Polo Grounds, New York Giants owner John T Brush announced that the new concrete-and-steel stadium constructed in its place --- in eleven weeks --- would be named Brush Stadium (the first ballpark to call itself a stadium). Everyone called it the Polo Grounds anyway. Source: Level Playing Fields: How The Groundskeeping Murphy Brothers Shaped Baseball, Peter Morris.

Currently Reading: Nebula Awards Showcase 2013, Editor Catherine Asaro.