November 29th, 2014

krazy koati

Let go into the mystery, let yourself go

We figured that the weekend after bunny_hugger's birthday we'd head out to Farmington Hills, and Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum, because we haven't been there since the spring and it's a great spot, plus it has a dozen or so pinball machines, and we left a letterbox in the vicinity that we should check on. It's not that the letterbox might have gone missing; in fact, we got reports of it being found as recently as the week before. But it's good practice to check that it's in good shape, that it doesn't need a new booklet for people to stamp their letterboxing stamps in, and so that we could see the box. We hadn't seen any of the people who'd found it. It did turn out to be in good shape, with a dozen or so stamps and many comments about it being in a great location, and we tucked it back in place for further service.

Luckily a friend pointed out that the Marvin's pinball league was having a meeting that Friday night, using the same rules about dropping in and playing that the Arcade League in Brighton uses. (Points are scored very slightly differently, for meetings you miss, but that's a detail.) So instead of our vague Saturday or Sunday plans we moved things up a day.

While hanging out before the league we happened to see Marvin Yagoda, the owner and person behind such bits of ballyhoo as a long explanation of how the hand dryers in the bathrooms are found only there and at Disneyland and were developed from over-powerful jet plane engines. bunny_hugger spoke a bit with him, mostly thanking him for running a great spot. I was too shy to say much and worried about imposing on his time. My imagination is that running an eccentric place like this is all the stress of a regular public attraction that draws crowds of kids, squared or maybe cubed because everything is a complicated mechanical device that breaks.

I noticed their roller coaster ride simulator ran simulations for six of Cedar Point's roller coasters, including Mantis, which is extra funny now because Mantis was a stand-up roller coaster and the ride simulator is a seated attraction. I'm kind of curious if they'll plaster logos over the name to reflect its new identity as Rougarou, but also know they won't. The striking cobra mechanical was physically repaired, so it wasn't a metal skeleton with plastic flesh dripping off it, but it still didn't move any.

And very belatedly I got to wondering: the museum has P T Barnum's replica of the Cardiff Giant. At least ... they say they do, but come to it, they don't show it very well considering it's an historic piece, a touch of one of the greatest showmen of the 19th century. It's tucked way in back, with stuff obscuring most of it ... how do I know it's whole? For that matter, how do I know its provenance? Everything in the museum has a fable attached to it; why should ``Barnum had this specific thing made'' not be taken as further ballyhoo? I'm scared to actually say that out loud where Marvin Yagoda might hear me, though, because I'm worried he would nod, say, ``At last my successor has shown himself,'' and vanish in a puff of smoke, leaving me to run the place. I'm pretty sure that can't happen, but I'm not positive.

Trivia: Robert L Ripley's radio debut was on the Collier Hour on the Blue Network; he opened with the assertion about the ``Marching Chinese'' who, marching four abreast and per Army regulations, would see 26,280,000 people pass a reviewing point each year while the population grew by at least thirty million. Source: On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, John Dunning.

Currently Reading: How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City, Joan DeJean.

PS: Reading the Comics, November 28, 2014: Greatest Hits Edition? because the mathematics comics of the past week brought up a bunch of warm familiar old things. Fifth of these since the last roundup.