austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

A happy pair they made, so decorously laid, 'neath the gay illuminations all along the promenade

So how did the first Brighton league meet we attended go? Awfully good, really. It's held in an arcade called the Arcade, which appears to be a converted old pool hall, and it's got something like sixty pinball machines from the past half-century, from some classic electromechanicals like El Dorado to solid state games like Star Trek 1991 to big hits of the 90s to brand-new machines like Star Trek 2013 and The Wizard of Oz. They also had Hurricane, the amusement park-themed game we saw in Pinball At The Zoo; surely it was the one at the expo. One of the other pinballs had a ``Welcome To PATZ'' message on its welcome screen.

There's many, many more people in this league than in the Lansing one, so our system of everyone playing three games wouldn't work. Instead, they group people into clusters of four, judged to be of roughly comparable skill, and you play for points based on how many of them you beat. Instead of everyone playing the same games, everyone in the group takes turns selecting one of the four, and then there's a fifth game to be selected by whatever dark magic you want. (They also have a compensating system to account for people who miss a night, or who, like us, join partway through the season.)

bunny_hugger and I got set in separate groups. I had remarkable luck in my games, starting with the Metallica that began our competition. Among my bits of luck: one of the pinball flipper buttons came off for another player! And when they put it back in, the button came off again for him, next ball around. For my game selection, I picked one of the old electromechanical machines, and prefaced it by asking if people would mind if I did that. By rights I didn't have to ask, but I didn't want to pick something obnoxious. They were up for trying it, though, and there was a nice bonus there since in this league you play per game, and the electromechanical I picked was one quarter, as opposed to the dollar that the newer and shinier machines charge.

bunny_hugger did quite well in her group, too, a group that had to wait a fair bit to get to her pick --- Medieval Madness, a supremely popular mid-90s game that nearly every pod picked. She also beat her competitors in Attack From Mars, a game extremely similar to Medieval Madness in layout and gameplay and popularity. Indeed, my pod had someone who wanted to play Medieval Madness in it, but the line for that was too long, so we went to Attack From Mars, which was also booked, so we went to Monster Bash, which isn't much like either of them, and I was playing that when the hourly raffle for a league T-shirt came up and what do you know but I won?

Our friend from the Lansing league who'd recommended we visit this one was there, of course; he's in the highest-tier group of players. He was there with a woman who mentioned it was her first time playing pinball, and he was giving her close guidance about what to expect. I do not draw any implications from this event. Another friend from the Lansing league --- the guy who guided us to the Baby Pac-Man in the Ann Arbor Pinball Museum event --- was also there, part of the league staff helping to set up machines and find things that were broken except when the machines were open to be examined and debugged.

Given all this we have to characterize our first league night there as very successful.

Trivia: James Van Allen's late 1955 estimate of the budget for his cosmic ray detector came to $66,125 for about three year's work, including a thousand dollars for the time required to analyze and publish the results. Within six months the estimate rose to $106,375. Source: Project Vanguard: The NASA History, Constance McLaughlin Green, Milton Lomask. NASA SP-4202.

Currently Reading: To Touch The Face Of God: The Sacred, The Profane, and the American Space Program, 1957 - 1975, Kendrick Oliver.

PS: Autocorrected Monkeys and Pulled Tea, some thoughts about a tweet suggesting a way to speed up infinitely many monkeys.

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