September 5th, 2020

krazy koati

Of everything that stands, the end

Pinball at the Zoo is officially cancelled. We knew it would be; it'd been scheduled for the first weekend in October and the state is nowhere near able to have indoor gatherings of hundreds of people. But still, bleah. Kalamazoo County, where it's held, is at 5.7 daily cases per 100,000 residents and is, rather like our Ingham (5.1 per day per 100,000 residents), a college county.

That's the year, really. Pinball At The Zoo is the biggest event on the Michigan pinball calendar. It's an event big enough that its attached tournament is (sometimes) part of the pro circuit and it draws people from the top-ten in pinball. They've got dates for the April 2021 show, and tournament, but given that we weren't willing to get the virus under control in six months, what good is another six going to do?

The International Flipper Pinball Association hasn't started sanctioning events, and I can't imagine they're going to start. Vermont and New Hampshire are the only states close to doing well right now; Iowa and the Dakotas are basket cases, and the Deep South isn't much better. There's only seven states (counting Puerto Rico) with an infection rate below 0.9, and nobody with a infection rate at some comfortable number like below 0.5. There can't be any more sanctioned events this calendar year. I don't know how they'll handle this, if we ever get to where events can be safely held again.

Dang but I regret that one game of X-Men, in Fremont on Leap Day, that I let get away from me and so lost my chance to advance to the second round. But at the time I was thinking that no one event matters that much; there'll be three Fremont tournaments in March, and every month after that, and plenty of time to get my position where I want it to be.


After our day at Darien Lake we made, finally, our visit to a pinball place. This would be one of the big pinball arcades of Western New York.

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Pocketeer Billiards and Sports Bar: not just what it says, but also a pinball arcade. They ran a selfie league too, where you play a select couple games on your own and send selfies with your scores in. This gives you seeding for a tournament held sometime later. We had no intention of making the tournament, but were happy to join in anyway, donating our International Flipper Pinball Association weight to their tournament and getting us ranked, like, 400th among New York State players.


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bunny_hugger on one of the selfie league games, Heighway Pinball's Full Throttle, a racing game. We did not understand this game in the slightest, but it's always fun to find a rare game. (Heighway is a boutique manufacturer so their games are not common and play a little weird.)


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And here's the sign marking which games are in the selfie league, featuring Pocketeer's mascot. I don't know what name to give this raccoon with the 90s Webcomic Smirk, but it's nice to see some representation.


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Getting a picture of bunny_hugger for her selfie game on Full Throttle that felt like it went well. Also you can see some of the selection of games they had, including Rollergames.


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The large Pinball Alley sign along with two of the six rows of pinball machines the Pocketeer had.


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Pinbot's a classic, and here it also has an extra topper.


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And they had the Pabst Can Crusher, the re-skinned version of Whoa Nellie that isn't an obnoxious breast-themed game. It's more fun this way.


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Playfield for Pabst Can Crusher. It's got much the playfield and rule set of a 50s game, and the original prototype was a 1958 game with the pieces moved around. It is fun playing something with much of the feel of an electromechanical game, even if the layout is anachronistic.


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Another look at their raccoon mascot. We were there on a Monday, of course. And only a couple games would be free-play, although four free-play games is better than none.


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Thunderbirds is based on the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series, as you'd think.


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Lower playfield of Thunderbirds. We played several games without really getting the hang of what to try doing.


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Part of the split-level playfield of Alvin G and Company's Pistol Poker. Alvin G and Company was a minor but not boutique player; it was what the remnants of the venerable Gottleib pinball did after that company shut down. And this was one of the last card-playing themed games.


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Pocketeer's road sign, by night, as we left. Good sign design, really. Could use more raccoon.


Trivia: In 1888 National Cash Register shipped 135,000 copies of Output, its broadside about cash registers; it used 25% of all the two-cent stamps sold in Dayton that year. Source: Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington-Rand and the Industry they Created, 1865 - 1956, James W Cortada.

Currently Reading: Enchanted Rendezvous: John C Houbolt and the Genesis of the Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous Concept, James R Hansen.

PS: Using my A to Z Archives: Linear Programming, which you could see as a follow-up to my piece on Leibniz, except that I wrote it last year.