MJS was not going to have a New Year's Day tournament, which fair enough. We did stay in a hotel near his house, because driving an hour back home after midnight New Year's didn't seem like a good idea. MWS reserved us two rooms on Priceline, figuring that he understood the descriptions of the hotels well enough to aim us at the Red Roof Inn we always stay at. Turns out there was a different Red Roof Inn in a completely different part of town, albeit one that was like ten miles closer to both our homes.
Still, it was snowy, and that made not driving the hour-plus home all the better. We ended up with rooms on the second floor of the Red Roof Inn, so got to walk up wooden stairs covered with snow and ice, not an ideal state of affairs, but we did that without injury.
We were far enough from the Cracker Barrel near the hotel we'd thought we would get that the next day it didn't make sense to go there. The emergency backup Cracker Barrel turned out to be farther than we had really guessed, but we navigated there without any real trouble. And, our taste for pinball not quite satisfied, we thought about this bowling alley on the west side of Lansing. The one that used to, and for all we know still does, host the Lansing area furry bowling meetups. Rumor was they had gotten more pinball machines in. It's near enough our home, and on the way to MWS's home, so ...
Yes indeed, they had pinball machines. A Getaway, a good game but not one we're strongly connected to. South Park, which, eh. Police Force, a 1989 late solid-state game (and abortive Batman license that turned into a furry-animals thing). That was interesting.
It was playing basically all right. The most important thing is it was possible to repeat the center ramp, a move that if you can do it right will get you unlimited millions. And the left flipper was strong enough to make the right-flipper shot, which at the start of the third ball can give you the chance to double your score, or to collect the score of your highest-placed opponent in a multiplayer game. (The opponent keeps his or her score, it's just, if they have seven million, you get seven million points.) What was wrong with it: the sounds. It made all the wrong noises, so that the audio cues of the game were no help.
Well. I found the center ramp, and the repeat, and got several million points on the first ball and on the third ball. I missed the score-doubling shot but by that point, when I was well above ten million points and bunny_hugger and MWS were puttering around one or two millions, that would hardly have mattered. With my game finishing at 17 million points, better than the previous Grand Championship, I was feeling pretty good.
MWS put up the collect-your-opponent's-score shot, almost the only thing he did third ball, and finished at 20 million points. His score and mine ran together on the 11-segment LED display, producing a 16-digit sequence of numerals. bunny_hugger didn't steal MWS's score, but still got up above five million. Great start for the year, and also a reminder of just who is better than me, no matter what the dollar games might have been. Exciting start to the year.
Back home we realized we'd left a bottle of whiskey at MJS's. It wasn't a full bottle or particularly meant as a gift to the host (who normally takes cash donations but didn't have the jar this time); just something to have a bit with a couple friends. We didn't think of it when we were leaving the night before. It was bought for us in the week running up to our wedding, so you know something of what our drinking habits are like. And it does mean one of the things in the pantry that touched that thrilling week is gone. On the other hand, the symbolism of it being given to this place and thing that's so much a part of our married lives isn't an unhappy one either.
Trivia: MGM's trademark of a roaring Leo the Lion with the motto ``Ars Gratia Artis'' was crated by Howard Dietz, a studio public relations executive and sometimes lyricist.
Source: Fred Allen: His Life and Work, Robert Taylor.
Currently Reading: Mapping in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region, Editor David I Macleod.
PS: A couple pictures that aren't anything special but that I liked.
Ghost billboard/building art from a ramshackle old building near the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids. I don't know what the Battle Axe is for, Also I don't know if the art being in two pieces is part of the original advertising gimmick or if, somehow, a big chunk of the art was moved intact. Neither seems to quite make sense.
So neat thing about pinball games: they're computers. And they're controlled by programs. Software. And it's possible that software will need updating, to fix bugs or to add in stuff that wasn't done at the time the game had to go into production. Here's a moment where I caught the Batman 66 table getting a software update. The screen is a proper HDTV screen, although it's simulating a dot-matrix screen. (This update didn't get Batman 66 near completion; it's only in the past month that it's gotten reasonably complete.)
Signs of spring in the front yard: our bunny statue getting ready to punch a tulip.