austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

The day they knocked down the palais

After all the activity of Monday we had more modest goals for Tuesday, ones that could mostly be met by driving to places rather than walking.

bunny_hugger had suggested going to the Silverball Museum, in Asbury Park. I was happy to, since it is a fun place and I don't get there enough despite its considerable charms, but hadn't nominated it since I know I'm much more the pinball fan than she is. But we also wanted to go to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant which had foiled us the last few visits because their attempted relocation dragged out longer than we expected. We had fresh directions and found web site reviews which suggested that it was open as recently as the Thursday before, so we felt reasonably confident we might find it.

When we mentioned the address my father couldn't help but give directions to it, beginning with the taking of I-195 east all the way to where it turns into local Route 138, which was far more level of detail than needed but my father appreciates being able to give directions. And though we'd snacked before leaving I figured to go to the restaurant first just to verify where it was, since its relocations had confused us before. And I think it was a good thing we did, anyway, since while the address was simple enough (``100 Main Street'', I think it was), the actual entrance was nowhere near Main Street and we had to loop around the building to find it.

Since it was there and we found it and it appeared to be open, we went to the pinball museum instead. We were pretty sure it'd be open later. And while I accidentally overshot going to the pinball museum --- I reflexively was driving to my barber's --- we got there in time to reflect how nice it was that I had a subcompact, since even with the snow banks I could safely park in the plowed areas. And how we weren't sure whether we had to pay for the parking spot. Seaside Heights's signs made it reasonably clear they didn't charge for parking spots in winter though the central pay stations --- you pay by parking spot number --- were up and running; Asbury Park had the same sort of pay stations but no promise that in the off-season things might be looser. While we had the usual problem with the pay station (it goes through a stage where it doesn't do or communicate anything until you've suspected it's broken) we got in.

The Silverball Museum can be a really packed, busy place in the summer. Winter may be charitably described as the off-season, or it would be if it were a lot busier. We may have been the only non-staff there. They were eager to see us and talk up the place to us, and do a little bit of silliness around a coupon they happened to have to discount the admission price, but they're not actually less solicitous when the place is packed.

bunny_hugger had a rather good set of games, including several new high scores for her, which she logged carefully on her proper score card. (I used my notepad for my scores and have no idea whether I set any personal records.) The guy working the cash register kindly took off the glass case for a wild-west-shootout mechanical game so that I could photograph the insides. And they had a real proper Bingo machine, a variant of pinball that's just open and honest gambling: you pull back the plunger and drop up to five balls, which light up targets on a set of bingo cards, with returns based on striking the various card combinations.

They also had a Theater of Magic, which with its abundance of sharp-clawed vicious-looking rabbits was naturally of interest. Unfortunately and unlike the one at Seaside Heights, this one was broken: the plunger was too weak to inject the ball into play. Disappointing, yes, but a strange young woman who does seem to work there examined the component, and turned the machine off to prepare a ``to repair'' slip, and hugged bunny_hugger. She also hugged me when I accidentally got in her way, I guess as consolation for her silently making me move. There are things I don't understand.

But the Elvis game was up and running and packed with a lot of amusing little pieces. Some of them, such as just how the Young Elvis figure shimmies, weren't clear to bunny_hugger while she played, so it was rather good I took a round myself.

There was also a rather fiendish novelty pinball I hadn't played before. In this variant, you play by looking at the mirrored reflection of a table which is hidden inside the cabinet, and which is connected to joysticks so that you can explicitly move the table through a range of tilts in both directions besides hitting the flippers. It's possible to get used to this surprisingly quickly, although the ball injection scheme of tipping the table the right way and hitting the flipper buttons I never did quite get exactly.

In driving back to the restaurant we got not too badly lost despite the town deviously closing the bridge I'd wanted to use for the mere reason that it needed repair desperately. And we even found a parking space only 28 blocks away from the restaurant; Main Street can be a pretty crowded place even on a Tuesday evening.

The restaurant's new location is a fair size bigger than the old, and it's decorated a bit higher-class. But the core of it, particularly in using whatever mysterious things are used to produce rather credible replicas of meats, remained. Actually, their chicken drumstricks as implemented taste a bit more like crab cakes to me, but that doesn't mean they're not delicious. And they had a replica of pork roll that got the taste startlingly right for not having any of whatever mysterious compounds go into pork roll. (I assume. It's quite possible that actual pork roll is a non-animal-based food product.) The pork was a bit slimmer a cut than I'm used to, but bunny_hugger was able to get a realistic sense for what the concoction tastes like.

After the satisfying dinner I suggested we might go to the Freehold Raceway Mall, and ride the carousel there. This turned out to be a very good choice for reasons to be explained later. But we got to the mall in time to have a carousel ride to ourselves, and for bunny_hugger to fret over having forgotten to bring the loyalty card promising a free ride after enough traditional-style rides. I thought we might get a fresh card, but somehow that didn't quite come together.

And we walked around the mall afterwards, doing the sorts of things that are great fun in pairs, such as looking over the impractical kitchen stuff in the Impractical Kitchen Stuff store. To be fair, some of it looks useful, but I'm skeptical of pretty much all kitchen stuff once you get past pots, spoons, knives, mixing bowls, measuring spoons, and cutting boards. I might feel differently if I baked cookies enough to need cookie cutters.

We also went past the kiosk where I got the Michigan Squirrel University shirt made up, which was my delayed and slightly coy answer to her question about where it came from. And we wandered through the newly-opened Disney store where we concluded that their selection of Stitch Cousin dolls was really unsatisfying, considering it consists entirely of Stitch in his non-four-armed form and Angel, who was in so few episodes I don't think I've ever seen her in action, without any of the interesting Experiments to catch them all of.

We did close the day, and the mall, by going to Friendly's for dessert and for modest sundaes. And also for me to reveal that I had completely forgotten what a Fribble is and couldn't think what it was, even from the context. (It's their brand-name milkshake.) I wouldn't have forgot the Fishamajig Sandwich, but that's not really a dessert item.

Trivia: News of the peace treaty signed between the United States and the United Kingdom in Ghent reached the Congress of Vienna early in the morning on New Year's Day, 1815. Source: Vienna 1814: How The Conquerers Of Napoleon Made Love, War, And Peace At The Congress Of Vienna, David King.

Currently Reading: Discovery! The Search for Arabian Oil, Wallace Stegner.


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