austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Here to infiltrate and get a tan

After the end of Pinball At The Zoo, though, we had somewhere to go. We were invited to the after-party, a feat which would earn the awed admiration of bunny_hugger's brother, who views his sister's rise in the pinball world with about the same you-are-so-cool attitude that she views his life in the Brooklyn Scene with.

We managed this feat by existing, mostly, but also because one of the people in our pinball league is the daughter of the guy hosting the after-party, and she specifically invited us when she saw us at the Zoo. Out in the suburbs of Kalamazoo he has a pole barn which he's finished off and furnished and set up with dozens of pinball machines. He keeps them in pristine condition, as you might expect from a person who has a whole separate building, with an extra driveway and parking so dozens of people can come over, just for forty or so pinball machines. Some of them are even in better-than-pristine condition, as he's converted some of the dot-matrix displays of 1990s and 2000s games, on creation solid fields of amber, into multi-color displays. (This is a fairly easily available mod that I never heard of before this year when I first saw it at Marvin's.)

We'd thought we would drop in for an hour or so, long enough to be polite and to see what the place was like --- we'd heard tales of it during league nights, as all the power players in the league had been there --- and not so long as to be obnoxious. That wasn't going to happen. It was just too nice a place, with so many people having a wonderful time, and if it weren't already hard enough to leave a genial party, well, there was all this pinball to play. Some of the games were ones I haven't seen in years, like, Tommy, which I last played in the Broadway Arcade in New York City just before going to see Conan O'Brien in the mid-90s. Some of them were games we knew well, like Medieval Madness, but working almost distractingly well. Some were games we'd never seen before, including several solid-state machines from the 70s and 80s that were growing swiftly into new favorites. bunny_hugger particularly fell in love with Meteor, based on the advertising for the forgotten 1979 movie, and I got to be fairly good on Star Gazer, which, go ahead and figure what's going on with that playfield there.

The guy also has a couple oddities, such as one not-quite-full-size game with a theme of breaking into a bank, where besides losing a ball there's also a countdown timer, representing the chance of being caught in the break-in. He also had a horseshoe toss simulator, a wonderful analog contraption which you play by spinning a wheel. It's possible to over- or under-shoot the target based on your spin, or to get a ringer exactly. It's surprisingly fun and watching it got me caught in a very enthusiastic conversation about the machine and about pinball machines in general with one of the other party-goers, which I might not have been able to escape; you probably know enthusiastic people like that.

So the after-party was an excellent affair. It would've been worth going just by itself. We did have to leave, eventually, since it was getting late, and we had an hour-or-so drive home, which is why we missed the tournament being held on the horseshoe-toss machine. But now we have an expanded vision of what we would do if we won one of those $500,000,000 Mega Millions lotteries. Besides buying that charming pyramidal building in Sandusky to be our vacation home, now, we'll buy the property next to our house and fit as many pinball machines as we can in it. This probably won't take all $500,000,000 to do.

Trivia: The original, 1928, edition of the International Hydrographic Organization's Special Publications Number S.23, ``Limits of Oceans and Seas'' --- 24 pages defining the legal boundaries of oceans and other water features --- cost US $0.35. Source: The Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, Simon Winchester.

Currently Reading: What Makes This Book So Great, Jo Walton.


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