Dance how they wanna dance, kick and they slap a friend
What next? Chronologically, the Michigan State (Pinball) Championship Series, but I already went over that. Next thing would then be the Flat Line pinball tournament, held in one of the two Flint bowling alleys with a lot of pinball.
The tournament included a ``Chinese auction'', where you buy raffle tickets and put them in various buckets to win something or other. The advertising said there'd be a Monopoly pinball table among the raffle prizes. Stern's Monopoly is not a best-loved pinball game, but that's still a heck of a raffle prize for $1 tickets. The gimmick, of course, is that there wasn't just the Stern-licensed game. There was also one of those little kid home-toy pinball games that you can get at Toys R Us or some other, non-depressing, toy store, and that's what was on offer. (They did attach a Stern company logo to it, for that bit of whimsy.) It turns out that's not a bad table either, really. It's a little hard for a grown-up to play what with it being that short. And it's not great. But it turns out if you take it seriously you can have a decent time at it.
Not a prize and actually a little baffling: the organizer had a gift for bunny_hugger, a crocheted purse. She thought it looked like her style, since bunny_hugger wears so much knitted stuff. It felt like an overly intimate gift to me, but what do I know of women's gifts? bunny_hugger tried it out, though, and found it did fit her well. She's kept on using it, and it's gotten a surprising number of compliments considering it isn't the chicken purse. So, well, great eye on her for spotting this purse.
The tournament was on a bank of mostly older machines, electromechanicals and solid-state games. There were only two games from the modern era of dot-matrix displays and complex modes and rule sets in it. This should have played to my strengths. Not so. I came in last, of four, in the first round. Also the second. Also the third. Also the fourth. I have no hypotheses about why, except that I kept plunging the ball to rapid drains, giving me nothing to work with.
Something like five rounds in I got in a group with bunny_hugger for the first time, on a two-player table so she and another person had to go first, and then me and the fourth person. She put up a lousy game and grumbled about how, well, at least I wouldn't come in last this round. ``Yes,'' I groused, ``that's a fantastic comfort to me.'' I've got a reputation as a zen master, someone taking it in stride no matter what the games are like. It's not a completely deserved reputation and a half-dozen last-place finishes in a row will sink even that. But that's not good form on my part anyway.
Besides my spirits being low from so much failure was a sense of what did bunny_hugger have to complain about: she'd won her group the first two rounds, and came in second or so the third round. She'd been in first place, or tied for first, almost to that point.
She'd finish the tournament in eighth place, out of 22. I'd finish in 18th place, ahead of two people who'd not been in tournaments before and two people who joined late. I did manage a couple of decent games later on, including a magnificent game of Last Action Hero --- based on that movie, and a table I'd never played before that day --- on which KG came back from far behind to overtake me. Serves me right after the Marvin's League finals.
Overall, I've got no idea why I failed so enormously and so consistently on these older games, especially when the warmup and practice games went well. Sometimes a tournament is just like that, is all.
Trivia: From 1890 to 1940 department store managers and, apparently, the public at large took for granted that women were better-suited to being sales clerks than men were. Men were particularly reluctant to take, or stay with, toy department positions.
Source: The Kid of Coney Island: Fred Thompson and the Rise of American Amusements, Woody Register.
Currently Reading: Astounding Stories of Super-Science, January 1930. Harry Bates. Murray Leinster's ``Tanks'' is a much-needed bit of competence in this. It's not one of his great stories, but it's at least not so ... pulpy 1930s. Set during the 1932 War with Japan and possibly fought in the United States? I'm not precisely sure.