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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in austin_dern's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, October 24th, 2019
12:10 am
When I look out my window, many sights to see

The last several years we've made our Halloweekends trip to Cedar Point the last weekend in October. It's fun seeing the season out. It's fun being as close to Halloween as possible. Some special years it's even after Halloween, and as close to bunny_hugger's birthday as can get. In picking our weekend for this year, though, we went for the week before the end of October. Partly, this would give bunny_hugger some more breathing space before a boss rush of pinball events and work committments. And this would open up time for Halloween parties or haunted house trips or such, that we've had to turn down the last several years. And the penultimate weekend in October should be about as good, right?

We set off bringing Sunshine to bunny_hugger's parents almost on time. We wanted to set out at 11 am, and actually left at 11:15, which is still doing great. We spent longer talking and eating lunch than we had hoped, and set out from them about 2 pm. We left knowing it was unlikely that we'd get to the Hotel Breakers, on Cedar Point, early enough to take advantage of early admission. Ah, but, how would the crowds be?

Halloween events are amazing money factories for amusement parks. Cedar Point's Halloweekends just keeps getting busier. And this year has been busier yet. Some amusement park snobs blame their new Gold Pass. This is a season pass, introduced for the 2020 season --- Cedar Point's official sesquicentennial --- that's a great deal. It's got many of the benefits of the platinum pass, my and bunny_hugger's level, but at half the price. It's only good for Cedar Point, which is the drawback for us. But it's so much better than the standard season pass that it's a great bargain if you don't want to go to other parks in the chain. It's been selling like it was the elixir of life. And once they put 2020 season passes on sale they were good for the remainder of the 2019 season, including Halloweekends.

So Cedar Point has been crowded. Again, amusement park snobs blame the Gold Pass for this. Surely it contributes. Also contributing, though, is that the weekends in Sandusky for September and October have been gorgeous weather. We've been to some truly brutal Halloweekends, days that were freezing or raining or both. What we'd want, for ourselves, is weather that's ... you know, bad enough to keep the place from being overcrowded. But not so bad as to shut down all the rides. Especially since they took pinball out of the indoor arcades.

Friday's weather looked to be ... not bad, for our purposes. Hovering around the 40s, light winds. Enough that you need to wear long underwear, not bad enough that you need the heavy jackets and winter gloves. The forecast for Saturday and Sunday, though? Highs near 60, clear skies, light winds. Well, the forecasts are always wrong one way or another, and maybe all the locals got their Cedar Point trips out of the way the previous six gorgeous weekends in a row.

The drive down was fine, except that bunny_hugger fell asleep rather than grading. This was annoying in two aspects. One is that she's been getting her sleep habits under control and has been less prone to afternoon naps and this seems like regression. The other is that she did have roughly 1,432 essay questions that needed to be graded by ... 11 am tomorrow ... and three or four hours' work going down to Cedar Point would have made this week considerably better for her. Oh, and we hit a weird traffic near-stop in the transition from US 23 to the Ohio Turnpike. Worst is knowing that I had the chance to divert and all it would really have cost was seeing some of the sites of Maumee that we never stop at anyway other than the Speedway gas station where we use the bathroom.

At the Hotel Breakers check-in were a lot of people. Quite a line, really. It moved at a decent enough pace, but any hope of getting the last couple minutes of early admission vanished as we admired the skeleton carousel horses and the not-quite-muted playback of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Our room would be just off the central rotunda, and I'm all but certain we have stayed in this precise room before. And with some layers to fend off the fair-but-not-bad cold we were ready to go in.

Trivia: Americans eat an average 26 pounds of bananas per person per year, more than any other whole fruit. Source: Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America, Michael Ruhlman. (I am way below average and thinking of the poor soul who's choking down, like, 49 pounds this year to make up for me.)

Currently Reading: Live TV From The Moon, Dwight Steven-Boniecki.

PS: Some stories about becoming a mathematician, a break from the heavy mathematics talk for some talk about being a mathematician instead.

PPS: More prowling around the Grand Rapids Public Museum.


Grand Rapids, it won't surprise you to hear, built a City Hall in the Gilded Age, a great heaping pile of bricks and crenellations. Nor will you be surprised to know they tore it down in the 60s as part of urban renewal. So, here's the clock, saved from the tower and even restored to working, at least for twelve-hour intervals.


More of the gear and mechanisms of the former Grand Rapids City Hall clock. I assume the small clock face is there so people setting the thing know the city clock is showing the right time?


A view of two faces of the Grand Rapids City Hall clock, with most of the interesting mechanism.

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
12:10 am
You'll laugh and ponder on the years that roll so swiftly by, my dears

I wanted to start recounting our Cedar Point Halloweekends visit and I just haven't had the time to organize my narrative. So here's more photographs from the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which had among other things a display of toys through the ages. Yes, this includes the terror of realizing my childhood has stuff that rates museum exhibition. I can cope. Can you?


First, though, one of those stories tantalizing in its incompleteness. They had a plate block showing a proposed 1956 stamp series commemorating Grand Rapids's furniture industry. The stamps were never made. ... Why? What was made instead? What's the general process for getting a stamp to commemorate something? There's no telling. Oh, on the right is a 1972 space-achievement stamp issued by Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates.


So I know, you're looking at this selection of toys and wondering: what could possibly make a more 1980s Toy set than this?


Ah yes, the 4-by-4 Rubik's Revenge cube. You're welcome.


And, what the heck, let's have some of the Star Warses being menaced by a giant E.T. and his monster Trivial Pursuit card. I'm sorry not to have a good picture of what the card's questions or answers were.


Going back a couple decades here's the 60s and hey, a Popeye-In-The-Box. Remember, it's not really a child's toy if there's any logical reason for these elements to be combined in this way.


Besides the Popeye-in-a-Box of course the 1960s have to feature the Beatles, the Slinkies, Tinkertoys, and being disappointed by your Spirograph.


Going back a few more decades we get to the familiar toys of an earlier generation: spinning tops, guns, and communion with ghosts.


The wood and metal toys of I think this was the 1910s still look pretty good, if liable to hurt you. The dolls look more unsettling, although that might just be because of ancient padding losing its shape.


And oh, here's a bunch of playing cards that didn't pay for the Buster Brown license and OH GOOD HEAVENS WHAT IS THAT AUTO REGGIE THING?!


So here's a separate exhibit, a cash register from the American Freedom Train, a roving museum that celebrated the Bicentennial in that baffling way that everything for the Bicentennial went down.


For some reason the Grand Rapids, Michigan, museum has a bunch of stuff celebrating this Gerald Ford guy. Well, museums always collect weird specialties.


A couple more weird little old campaign and political memorabilia, including delegate pins and I Voted pins and a sliding puzzle from back in the days when you just weren't a respectable politician if you didn't have a beard.

Trivia: Tennessee Governor Austin Peay refused Red Cross assistance after the Mississippi Flood of 1927, insisting that people in local communities should provide for themselves instead of relying on outsiders. Source: Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America, John M Barry.

Currently Reading: Live TV From The Moon, Dwight Steven-Boniecki.

PS: My 2019 Mathematics A To Z: Operator, with another essay that ended up about twice as long as I thought I would need. This happens.

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
12:10 am
She brings out the crustacean in me

And I'm writing this before the big Cedar Point trip, trying to give myself a bit of margin after we get back, which is why I'm doing a photo dump rather than writing an essay. Tomorrow I'll probably get back to telling the story of my life.


Mask of a tengu; as I recall another sign pointed out how tengu started out being terribly fearsome creatures but kind of shifted into being protective figures.


And here's a view up into that Chinese dragon, where you can see the structure that holds it open and full and still flexible.


The dragon went on a long way, sprawling through a couple of rooms of the exhibition.


Lone abandoned puppet in the space behind a tiny theater. Its purpose and narrative: unknown.


Looking from the back sections of the Chinese dragon over to the western dragon seen at the front.


A cloak with a pair of embroidered dragons on it.


And here we get back to that dragon up front. Time to walk around the exhibit again and see if we missed anything cool.


Still kind of want to hug the Barong ket, really.


bunny_hugger is not impressed by the Saint George here. Her affinities lie naturally with the poor dragon.


Glyph of an Ahuizotl, an Aztec mythological dog-like water figure who'd grab and drown humans given the chance.


Looks like the manatee's still fine hanging out. I didn't notice earlier the comic foreground of the mermaid or might have gone for a picture myself.


And one last look from the hips of that western dragon from up front. Note: I was not touching it.

Trivia: Badeker's first color map was of Jerusalem, in the volume on Palestine and Syria. Source: On The Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks, Simon Garfield.

Currently Reading: Live TV From The Moon, Dwight Steven-Boniecki.

PS: Reading the Comics, October 19, 2019: Just The Casual Mentions Edition, the comic strips I tried not to go on about at great length. It kind of happened anyway.

Monday, October 21st, 2019
12:10 am
I'm in love with a creature from the sea

Oh, I messed up naming one of the essays for my mathematics blog this past week. Can you spot what it was?

Meanwhile in the story comics I get back to sports. What's Going On In Gil Thorp? What does ``blowtop mad'' mean? July - October 2019 in high school.

And here let's check back in on the dragon scene of the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Special shout-out here for c_eagle coming up.


Reconstruction of a gigantopithecus, an genus of ape that went extinct maybe a hundred thousand years ago and offered as maybe a reason why people think of giants as a thing.


Ah, and now for some great birds! Here's a roc happy to see you.


But first let's take a peek at the chupacabra, who's looking very colorful for being a mangey raccoon.


Now let's get back to a giant roc grabbing for you! Run! Flee if you can!


And now here's a fascinating figure: a carousel pegasus. bunny_hugger's expert eye immediately wondered: who carved such a thing?


It was definitely not an antique. Golden Age carousel carvers just didn't do winged horses. But this left its mystery unanswered.


Was it carved by a carousel enthusiast who wanted a pegasus, or a pegasus enthusiast who wanted a carousel animal?


bunny_hugger is left unsatisfied to the animal's origins. But she speculated that it was not carved by (or for) a carousel enthusiast because there's no saddle. There's no way even in principle to ride the animal. My recollection is she recently found an explanation and that her hypothesis there was correct.


Chinese dragon, for the ion dance, with that ball held up in front to keep its attention. And notice the rainbow striping? I told you taht was coming back.


Cute little sculpture of some mischief-making animal with a name I now forget and can't make out from my photographs. I'm sorry, but I still like the looks of it.


Better view of the dragon's head, with the ball now given its own chance to be seen.


And what looked to my eye like an Aztec-style dragon head. In the background on continuous loop a TV explained the special effects for the forgotten movie Eragon.

Trivia: The Pennsylvania Railroad's stock reached a high of 110 in 1929. By 1932 it had fallen to 6½. Source: The Wreck of the Penn Central: The Real Story Behind the Largest Bankruptcy in American History, Joseph R Daughen, Peter Binzen.

Currently Reading: Live TV From The Moon, Dwight Steven-Boniecki.

Sunday, October 20th, 2019
12:10 am
Long blond hair and a tail in-between

Now back to the land of Grand Rapids and prowling around their exhibit about mythical creatures, including but not limited to dragons, mermaids, and unicorns.


Rather handsome gryphon statue here.


The gryphon statue captures a ball of light in its right foreclaws.


And behind the unicorn she discovered this: a painted rock!


So it turns out, in a wonderful parallel to letterboxing and geocaching, there's some kind of rock club which hides painted rocks near sites of interest and urges people to find them, photograph then, and re-hide the rocks. Who doesn't love a secret society like that?


Here a nice shiny statue convinces us of the existence of metal unicorns.


A mural which tells a legend of a village and their encounters with a Bigfoot-type creature. If I remember right the story is to be taken as the scenes read in clockwise order, ending up inside the village at far left.


A Saint George statue, and the tease of Bigfoots (Bigsfoot?) to come.


This activity puzzle encouraged you to rearrange bones that looked like an actual fossilized animal to resemble a mythical animal. The 'fossils' were magnetized pretty heavily to the plate and were not easy to manipulate, though.


A gigantic replica bone used to demonstrate something about the plausibility of believing in giants.


Now we move into the Asian Unicorns, with a couple little statues and incense burners and puppet masks and all.


Here's a figure of a Barong ket, chief of the barongs, a Balinese spirit of kindness and protection.


And as much as we wished to be respectful to a figure of religious and cultural importance it still gave me the feeling that I was looking at a wonderful and loving and delightful puppy-like giant Muppet creature.

Trivia: About two-fifths of Zeppelin crews in World War I died, one airship being lost for every eleven missions. Source: Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age from Antiquity through the First World War, Richard P Hallion.

Currently Reading: New York Sawed In Half: An Urban Historical, The True Story of What May or May Not Have Been the Greatest Hoax Ever Played on the Citizens of Gotham, Joel Rose. So he saves for an epilogue the punch line that I knew because of how I came across the book in the first place, that the only thread of evidence that this hoax, about the effort to save a sinking Manhattan by cutting it in half and rotating the lower end around, is a possibly tall tale told to a kid. There's hints given in the body of the text, by talking about other hoaxes of the 19th century including, yes, Barnum's Feejee Mermaid (and Fake Cardiff Giant). But it's only at the end that he admits that all the historical scenes he was painting were his imagination, and it leaves me wondering what the heck I just read. Like, I love nonfact pieces, fiction presented in the mode of fact, but this is weird because it uses the form of a narrative history to tell a thing that certainly didn't happen, just we don't know on which level it didn't.

Exploiting my A-to-Z Archives: Normal Numbers, which are everywhere but we can't find them.

Saturday, October 19th, 2019
12:10 am
She's got a set of gills like no fish I've ever seen

Through early summer 2018 the Grand Rapids Public Museum had a temporary exhibit: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids. We finally got to see it.


Right up front we've got a nice-looking dragon, wings reaching up maybe twelve feet off the floor.


There was not much to keep us from touching if we really wanted to, just a polite request and the fear of having our hands bitten off by a cage-protective dragon.


Peering up through the translucent wings to the lights above the entrance. Notice that little patch of rainbow above the dragon's head; we'll come to that.


The Kraken! And also a shark and a manatee just hanging around. I remember there also being a TV showing an interview with someone from Coney Island, talking about the Mermaid Parade and related sea-creature activities.


Another view of the kraken with more tentacle and giant eye activity.


A lineup of water-monster figures that I failed to get a good picture of the display label for. Sorry.


Now we're moving into mermaids, with this a reproduction, I believe it was, of a ship's figurehead.


Here the museum tries to convince us of the existence of manatees.


The exhibit tries to localize this mythic creatures thing by suggesting how various legendary animal stuff might be, like, beaver fur or something you'd see from Michigan.


bunny_hugger getting some snaps of a unicorn while she's able.

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Friday, October 18th, 2019
12:10 am
Our longevity depends on our demographic trends

Again, the subject line has nothing to do with anything. That anything it should have to do with, though? My humor blog, which the past week has enjoyed such satisfying content as:

And now let's close out the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball etc, at least for a couple months until I get to photographs of the next little visit.


Bally's 1969 Op-Pop-Pop, from that era they were just embracing the joys of op-art/pop-art and good grief but you could cut yourself on every joint of every person there.


Bally's 1964 Happy Tour. The backglass includes pictures of a dozen European countries that you 'visit' over the course of the game


Bally's 1966 Bazaar, a game with zipper flippers again. It's an exciting scene at least.


Bally's 1970 Big Valley, which is weird for several reasons, not just the art style. It was actually a multiball game, although unlike the other Bally multiball games it didn't have zipper flippers.


Middle of the Big Valley playfield, which has a very stylized mountain valley and one of the rare pinball foxes out there.


The night's over already! The backglass for Elektra, game turned off but showing the dazzling array of 70s crystal energy it has for us.


And the playfield of Elektra, showing off incidentally the inner playfield that's the real goal of the game.


And what the heck. Hot Doggin', a 1980 Bally early solid-state game featuring people who're enjoying winter sports while wearing rubber balloons.


Look at all that drop targety fun!

Trivia: In December 1864 the Alabama legislature required all trains to stop within 50 feet of junctions with other lines and specified ``the train of the eldest road to have the privilege of crossing first''. Source: The Railroads of the Confederacy, Robert C Black III.

Currently Reading: New York Sawed In Half: An Urban Historical, The True Story of What May or May Not Have Been the Greatest Hoax Ever Played on the Citizens of Gotham, Joel Rose. So, I get the historical mode the guy is going for, but he is using the More Polite N-word altogether far too often for someone writing a book published in 2000 for crying out loud that is not directly and immediately quoting something from the 19th century, united college funds, or baseball leagues.

PS: My 2019 Mathematics A To Z: Norm, not the comic strip. Something else that's all over vector spaces, which are all over everything anyway.

Thursday, October 17th, 2019
12:10 am
A show that no one comprehends

Well, I've done all the vague rambling about Nickelodeon that I have for a while. So I'll fall back to photo dumps for a little while. Don't worry. This weekend we're doing something big. You'll hear way too much about it soon. Meanwhile, here's the night rolling to an end at the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Hall Of Fame Museum Etc.

(The subject line has nothing to do with anything; it's just a dumb 90s song that has been stuck in my head lately. I tried, but I couldn't find anything to do with the pictures here. Sorry.)


Backglass to Bally's late solid state Mousin' Around, with its nice theme of cartoon mayhem and, as bunny_hugger will point out, maybe the most egregious instance of pinball-shaped breast spheres in any major gamemaker's inventory.


Still, it's got one of the top bonuses in pinball.


Aw, yeah, the most metal game of 1987! So you can play this game entirely by making two ramp shots, each of which makes this very synthesized guitar lick sound, and it's kind of fun and also a good way to drive people near you mad. 10/10 would play again if bunny_hugger didn't kick me in the shins.


Zaccaria table Farfalla, a fairyland-themed game that's really gorgeous to look at.


And here's Space Shuttle, another Zaccaria table, art based on the most exciting aspect of the new space transportation system: the way it could hitch a ride on stuff.


bunny_hugger in the process of creaming me on Alvin G and Company's Mystery Castle, another of the short-lived company's games. We really like the theme of this one.


So, here's the backglass of that Domino's pinball game that ... reminds you oh yeah, the Noid. How about that?


You know, Domino's is one of like fourteen pizza chains to come from the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. The two-and-one dot pattern represents the time they had that many restaurants in the two cities. Anyway, I suppose Pizza Wars is one of the long-term goals of the game.


We didn't play the game long enough to reach this --- it just reset on us while we did play --- but based on the left, one goal of the game is to become a ``Gold Franny'', so, that's a something then?


And looking around the breezeway again. Some of the shooting and other games were working and you can see someone trying his luck on one.

Trivia: William Hooper, representing North Carolina, was absent when the Continental Congress declared independence. He signed the Declaration of Independence in August 1776. Source: Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence, Denise Kiernan, Joseph D'Agnese.

Currently Reading: New York Sawed In Half: An Urban Historical, The True Story of What May or May Not Have Been the Greatest Hoax Ever Played on the Citizens of Gotham, Joel Rose. A book that I kept looking for, and not finding, in the MSU library and was ready to give up as lost turned out to be right there. Either it was returned or it had been mis-filed. It is a tiny book, not even the height of a regular paperback. Possibly it got lost between or inside other books.

PS: Reading the Comics, October 12, 2019: More Glances Edition, the comic strips that explain themselves. Plus a comic book of Superman promoting Radio Shack computers!

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
12:10 am
And you know it's just what I like so dim down the light

Oh, so, anyway, I did find the Wild Rides episode of Nickelodeon's Special Delivery. It's on YouTube, of course, but I didn't find it there directly. This Nickelodeon fan blog collected it for me. The upload dates back to when you could only do ten minutes at a time in a video, which is kind of all right since each of the segments was about nine minutes before a commercial break.

Part one.
Part two.
Part three. (The sound gets flaky during the last song, but you can make it out yet.)

It's hard to pick a highlight from this but I'd have to give it to a roughly 14-year-old Matt Dillon. His line reads are those of a young man ripped out of bed at 5 am, and forced by his kidnappers to cold-read off cue cards being held by someone who doesn't know when to flip over to the next card either. Or possibly being asked to improvise a documentary about roller coasters, in which case he's doing a great job, but, wow. So. Every one of these is the take that they used.

One sincere delight of this is that there is a good amount of footage of a couple amusement parks, and particularly roller coasters, as they existed in the early 80s. Most of this, by screen time, is during music videos, themselves done in that Early 80s Music Video style of ``the director wanted to do this slightly dream-logic narrative and this is the New Wave song it's playing under''. My particular choice here would be the second video of the first segment, when (Somebody?) is playing whatever the song is has the refrain ``Nothing To Fear''; I can't work it out. The video is of a little kid bonding with a big, pale guy made to look like the monster of the swamp, on the Great American Scream Machine on Six Flags over Georgia. But, you know, choose your own preferred weird video. They're all fascinating stuff.

Another weird delight for me is in the second part when Matt Dillon says a serious roller coaster rider will not want to miss a certain amusement park ... one with ``not one but two coasters''. Yes, that legendary roller coaster Mecca of ... Barnum & Bailey Circus World in Haines City, Florida. Which ... uh ... well, a park doesn't need a lot of roller coasters to be worth the visit --- Seabreeze in Rochester has three, after all. But Circus World had two roller coasters, one a launched loop model like Lightnin' Loops (formerly of Great Adventure) or Sidewinder at New Elitch Gardens.

Circus World has been defunct since 1990. But these two roller coasters had a weird afterlife: Florida Hurricane, the wooden coaster, was eventually relocated to Magic Springs Theme and Water Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for some reason, and is still running according to the Roller Coaster Database. The other one, Zoomerang, the Lighnin' Loops-like coaster, eventually moved to Fun Spot Park in Angola, Indiana. After that park went defunct pieces of it were sold to Frontier City park, in Oklahoma City, to be used in their Diamond Back ... which is one of the two former Lightnin' Loops coasters.

Circus World isn't the only now-defunct park in the video. The last roller coaster in the video is Texas Cyclone, from Six Flags AstroWorld, defunct since 2005. Matt Dillon describes it as ``not the fastest, or the highest, but it is definitely the meanest I'm doing what you want please don't hurt my sister''. Texas Cyclone was a mirror image of the Coney Island Cyclone.

Dillon also mentions at the end ``the Zephyr, in New Orleans''. This ride, at Pontchartrain Beach, was a few years away from closing its long run. (The crest of its hill was moved to a city park, apparently.) And one ride I've actually been on got a mention: ``Thunderbolt in Pittsburgh''. Not Kennywood, but, there's not many parks in Pittsburgh you'd have to search to find that. This is an interesting mention though, as bunny_hugger pointed out that Thunderbolt went from, in its youth, being hailed as the greatest roller coaster ever to today where hardcore fans tend to regard it as overrated. This seems to have captured a moment when its reputation was so good that it would stand out ahead of the Coney Island (New York) Cyclone, or Kings Island's The Beast (then the longest wooden roller coaster and, depending when it was filmed, the fastest roller coaster and the longest roller coaster drop in the world). Cedar Point doesn't get a mention, but not unfairly. There wasn't much roller coaster action at Cedar Point at the time, with only Gemini a noteworthy coaster.

And, of course, the coaster they started with --- Colossus --- isn't really there anymore. It was the roller coaster from National Lampoon's Vacation. Also Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park. And a bunch of TV shows. But it was converted to a steel coaster named Twisted Colossus, so I suppose that counts as half-there still.

Anyway, if you have a half-hour and want to see some SDTV footage of roller coasters while Matt Dillon hears for the first time the things he's been saying, this is certainly worth the time.

Trivia: Manhattan's first kosher butcher shop was owned by Asser Levy, a Jewish Polish man who lived in New Amsterdam at the time of the capitulation to the English. Source: The Island at the Centre of the World: The Untold Story of the Founding of New York, Russell Shorto.

Currently Reading: 100 Maps: The Science, Art, and Politics of Cartography Throughout History, Editor John O E Clark.

PS: My 2019 Mathematics A To Z: Martingales, a thing that touches on financial mathematics, so that's always exciting stuff.

PPS: How about a little more VFW? Don't worry, this'll all be done around Thursday and we can move on to the next pinball event.


bunny_hugger catching a moment playing an early solid state game while outside the sun goes nova.


Mad science-themed late solid state game Strange Science, one of the first pinball games I ever really got into, complete with a fun little electric-discharge thingy atop the backbox. Also, Bally's Game Show, one of the surprisingly few game show themed pinball machines.


The most maddening shot in pinball apart from the others: so you're supposed to be able to shoot the pinball up this little blue vertical C scoop, all right. And then ... somehow ... shoot hard enough that it comes down the U turn and continues back up to some high-value targets? Really? Can that possibly be right? I've played this game every chance I can for thirty years and I still don't really know.

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
12:10 am
It would be awful pleasin' to reason out the reason for things I can't explain

So there's this YouTube channel called Nick Knacks, which is trying to do a documentary on every series ever run by Nickelodeon. This got me thinking about Nickelodeon's Special Delivery series. Wikipedia has a list of premiere dates for at least some of the known Special Delivery episodes. (There's so little documentation nobody can be definitely sure about it.) The series was a grab bag. Some of the episodes were try-outs for shows that could go to Nickelodeon. Some were afterschool specials that the original production companies were getting a little more money from. Some concerts, in the early 80s. Some were just whatever was really cheap to air.

Wikipedia claims that in October 1982 they debuted His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. More, it claims this was the 1914 film. The silent, black-and-white film that if you believe the credits was directed by L Frank Baum himself. (It was really J Farrell MacDonald, who would be one of That Guys in Preston Sturges movies of the 40s.) And I'm like ... just ... really?

I mean, I've seen His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. I think it's the best of the silent Oz movies I've seen. It does well in being an Oz story, adventures with just enough danger in a loopy world. And, like, it's early 80s basic cable. You have to fill a huge programming hole, and without spending too much money on it, and public domain movies would do that. But ... still ... I mean, a black-and-white silent movie that's so utterly out of keeping with what anyone would imagine from The Wizard of Oz? Really?

I watched the Nick Knacks about Special Delivery. They don't specifically mention this. They have a couple second clip of His Majesty, the 1914 version, but that might just be that they copied from Wikipedia.

And just ... I'd like to think they showed something that singularly weird, since I like silent movies so and Wizard of Oz movies so. So far as I remember they never showed it when we got Nickelodeon, but that wasn't until 1984 or 1985 and some of these Special Deliveries just sank out of sight. Which might have been the fate for a 1914 movie, which I can imagine not landing with an audience that wanted to see the Depeche Mode concert or that special about roller coasters. But, if they were showing silent movies at all, why just the one? There's bunches of movies they could have shown. Or did they, and the record is just incomplete? Or did they just not work, and the experiment get abandoned fast?

It's just I feel down in my bones that it's more likely there was some other movie, like maybe a minor animated series, possibly something imported from Japan, that got given the title His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz, and that some well-meaning Wikipedia pedant linked to the 1914 movie without considering that there was, like, something made that half-century with the same title. But I certainly can't prove that either, not without someone turning up a videotape of what actually aired on Nickelodeon in October of 1982.

The whole Nick Knacks series is here, and I keep finding the documentaries thoughtful and informative. Most are about twenty minutes to a half-hour, with particularly important shows (You Can't Do That On Television) getting as much as an hour and a half.

Trivia: Paul, Bishop of Middelburg, heading a 1514 commission on calendar reform proposed not dropping days from the Julian calendar but rather changing the date of the vernal equinox to the 10th of March, an (incorrect) estimate for when the equinox was, and then in the future allowing the equinox to drift, changing date about every 134 years. Source: The Calendar: The 5000-Year Struggle to Align the Clock with the Heavens --- And What Happened to the Missing Ten Days, David Ewing Duncan.

Currently Reading: 100 Maps: The Science, Art, and Politics of Cartography Throughout History, Editor John O E Clark.

PS: I'm Looking For The Next Six Subjects For My 2019 A-To-Z, a request for all you people who know of mathematics words but not what they are.

PPS: Have I photographed every backglass in the VFW? Will I make you look at every one of them? Let's just see.


Little playfield detail on Flight 2000, an early solid-state game: a man who's painted onto or strapped to the outside of a rocket? They were doing some strange stuff in the early 80s, you know?


Oh, well, it's matched on the right side of the Flight 2000 playfield with this much larger woman strapped to the outside of a rocket. That makes good sense then, right?


The backglass for Seawitch, an early 80s Stern game the layout for which was modified into the recent Beatles playfield. Question for the class: which character here is the Sea Witch?

Monday, October 14th, 2019
12:10 am
C'mon and let's get dizzy, wiggling is so much fun

It's another full week on the mathematics blog. Reminding people of my archives really works as a publishing strategy. Who knew? If you didn't have it in your RSS feed, here's your chance to catch up:

Meanwhile, how about the story comics? Don't you want to know What's Going On In Rex Morgan, M.D.? Why is the mob after Rene Belluso? July - October 2019 is a nice easy block to review.

And what was happening at the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Hall of Fame open house weekend? A lot of wiggling! Enjoy!


Backglass to Bally's Wiggler, which has some interesting super-spy or super-thief thing going. And I know what you're thinking but, no, the artist was Jerry Kelley, not Christian Marche.


Playfield of The Wiggler, which includes a target called the Wiggle Jet, a lane called Wiggle Alley, and a general region known as Wigglesville.


Here, let's take us all down to Wigglesville!


Some henchmen(?) getting in the way of Wiggle Alley, which does guide the ball to do this nice long series of S-shuffles along its way. Various targets on the main playfield light rollovers in Wiggle Alley to make it more valuable.


And the Wiggle Jet Super-Bonus, featuring a henchman(?) in a space hovercraft(?). It's a bit hard to say exactly what's going on with this game but it's really interesting.


Backglass of Bally's 1964 Mad World, which has a bunch of silly nonsense in its art.


Lower playfield for Bally's Mad World, featuring the world having had enough of it all, thank you. Also two people racing cars to collide because they were throwing in a lot of wackiness for the art here.


Bally's 1971 Vampire, surely based on any given horror movie host of that era.


Bally Midway's Gold Ball, one of a handful of games based on portraying the pinball player as a solid metal possibly-robot figure, much like Silverball Mania does.


bunny_hugger partying on with the Party Animals.


What you get when they try drawing furries from outside the traditions of furry art.


The lower playfield for Party Animals, which you can tell is not done by furries because half the characters here are birds.

Trivia: Irving Berlin took on that name when a publisher misspelled his birth name Irving Beilin. Source: Know-It-All, A J Jacobs. (Or, ``Irving Baline'', according to Wikipedia.)

Currently Reading: 100 Maps: The Science, Art, and Politics of Cartography Throughout History, Editor John O E Clark.

Sunday, October 13th, 2019
12:10 am
Come on baby wait and see, yes I'm gonna take you surfing with me

Oh, I think I've reconstructed where I wanted that essay about Sunshine to go. While we haven't seen her make more binks, she has been nice and energetic and cheery. And a couple days ago she was making flying leaps toward bunny_hugger. These were big and broad things that looked like a squirrel hopping between tree branches. It's wonderful watching her with that kind of energy. That's probably about where I was going.

Also a couple days ago The Phone Company sent someone out to work on the line outside our house, and got it into good working order. Which is great although it was after the phone was already working again. The Phone Company's guy was doing some trimming of branches near where the telephone line branches off to connect to our house, so perhaps it was something where service had become marginal and now it should be reliable. We'll see.

Well, here's some more of the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Hall of Fame etc.


bunny_hugger getting down to some serious gaming, so far as that can be said of any 90s Gottleib weirdness: Class Of 1812, renowned because its multiball, which you can get by pretty much just playing the game, features an all-chicken refrain of the 1812 Orchestra.


Backglass for the water-park-themed Surf 'N' Safari, another of those weird 90s Gottleib games.


Allied's Thunder Bolt, which has a great backglass where I don't quite understand what's going on, but that's all right. It looks like a great comic book at least.


So for a while there Gottlieb got into using quasi-photographic backglasses for its games, accidentally making them look like the posters for movies made to go direct to basic cable.


Lower playfield of Gottlieb's Arena, which is certainly in a vein with the late 70s swords-and-sorcery genre of pinball art while being of the 80s.


So, bunny_hugger had a good game of what is either Robo-War or Warning ... Robo-War. And hey, the backglass looks like every science fiction novel from 1984, that's a bonus!


Bally's 1963 Moon Shot, a nice example of that era for pinball backglasses. Also of historical significance: it was the first pinball machine, rather than bingo machine, that they'd made in five years. Bingo machines had finally been ruled illegal as gambling machines on the flimsy premise that they totally were.


Layout for Moon Shot, which has busy enough art you almost don't notice nothing's in the lower half of the game there.


Bally's 1969 Joust, a fun little zipper-flipper game.


Joust's big gimmick, in the upper right corner of the field: nine rollover targets --- not numbered in order --- and which can get you closer to completing the hit-all-the-numbered-targets objective of any electromechanical game.


Bally's 1963 Star-Jet and what is definitely not an unlicensed Jetsons game.


Playfield for Star-Jet, which is wonderfully symmetric in that 60s way.

Trivia: British laws of the 1780s prohibiting the emigration of skilled artisans subjected emigrants to the loss of property and citizenship; recruiters to a fine of £500 and twelve months' prison; and shipmasters, £100 fine for each passenger illegally leaving Britain. Machine exports were a fine of £200, or £500 for textile machines, in addition to a one-year prison sentence. Source: Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America, Peter Andreas.

Currently Reading: 100 Maps: The Science, Art, and Politics of Cartography Throughout History, Editor John O E Clark.

PS: Exploiting my A-To-Z Archives: Local, another of those terms that you almost don't need to define, and that I spent a thousand words on anyway.

Saturday, October 12th, 2019
12:10 am
When I fell in love down at Palisades Park

bunny_hugger e-mailed me explosive news last week. Premier Parks, owners of the Six Flags chain, had put up a bid to buy Cedar Fair, owners of Cedar Point, Michigan's Adventure, Dorney Park, and other such parks. Terrifying news. Not that we like everything about Cedar Fair, but we like the way they run parks more than we like Six Flags's. Well, just look at how the carousels are maintained at, say, Great Adventure versus at Cedar Point. Decades ago Six Flags made a similar bid for Cedar Fair, and got shut down right away. This time? There wasn't such a fast no, and a meeting between Cedar Fair and some group of their own investors got postponed. Unsettling stuff.

Thing is, park operations preferences aside, there'd be good sense to it. If we take the axiom that a bigger company is better off, a Six Flags/Cedar Fair merger would make sense. The companies are in the same line of work, after all, and run parks that are of comparable size and complexity. And both operate mostly in areas that the other chain doesn't. The places where they have parks near one another are in the Philadelphia/New York City metro area, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. These are places that can support several regional parks.

The bubble burst a couple days later. Cedar Fair said Six Flags wasn't offering enough money, and that difference in corporation structures would mean Cedar Fair shareholders would get a lousy tax bill after the sale, and there wasn't any way they could envision Six Flags avoiding that. Which is fine, although bunny_hugger and I were hoping for a stronger statement to Six Flags, one including a phrase like ``... and the horse you rode in on''. Nobody thinks Six Flags could put up more money, though, not at this time.

(Still, if a merger is logical, it seems like Cedar Fair could go and buy Six Flags. It wouldn't be the weirdest turnaround play. Like I said, it's not as though a Cedar Flags chain would be obviously ridiculous.)

So we at least have that security in our beloved amusement parks. We need it, too. The past month has been bad for news of old places. Clementon Park, in South Jersey, abruptly closed in the middle of September, just before a Customer Appreciation Day (customers showed up to locked gates). They cancelled their Fall Festival. They haven't been selling season passes for next year. Their Facebook page was deleted and their Twitter gone private. There's rumors about the park being up for sale.

Clementon is owned by Premier Parks LLC, which annoyingly is not the Premier Parks that owns Six Flags. It's the one that owns New Elitch Gardens outside Denver, and that up until 2018 operated Darien Lake.

And that's not the only park that we've visited to be going away. Coney Island Cincinnati is removing all of its amusement park rides, to focus on its water park side. This is not the first time it did this. After Taft Broadcasting used the name and rides of the original Coney Island to open Kings Island, what remained --- mostly the swimming pool --- stayed open while the company thought what to do with the land. But in time new rides came in, and the swimming pool regenerated an amusement park around it. The park, which can trace activity back to 1870, is staying open I suppose, and that's good, and obviously anything might happen in future.

Lakemont Park barely exists anymore but says they'll open Leap-the-Dips next year. Bowcraft is closed. FunTown Pier's owners might still be talking about rebuilding but I don't see how anyone can believe that.

But it's hard to avoid the feeling that the amusement park ecosystem we're used to is contracting. It's hard not to feel there's doom here.

Trivia: An order of two thousand IBM cards cost US$3.60 in the early 1920s. By the early 1930s they were $4.20. Source: Before The Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry they Created, 1865 - 1956, James W Cortada.

Currently Reading: 100 Maps: The Science, Art, and Politics of Cartography Throughout History, Editor John O E Clark.

PS: Exploiting my A-To-Z Archives: Knot, which would really seem like something that doesn't need explaining, wouldn't it? Well, live and learn.

PPS: More hanging around the VFW.


bunny_hugger playing the Apollo-Soyuz-themed Williams game Space Mission. The pile of papers next to her are stuff she had to grade because there were not enough days in the weekend to both spend a day at the VFW and get classwork done separately. I can't tell you how afraid I was that she'd lose something, but, she did never did.


Spanish company Recel's 1975 game Check Mate, with a backglass that makes you wonder ... wait, why is the guy so miserable over a chess game? It is just a chess game, right?


Emergency repairs on one of the older games. The VFW as a private club presses like all its members into service for repair work on open house events like this.

Friday, October 11th, 2019
12:10 am
There's barrels of fun, enough for everyone

So, yeah, yesterday's entry ended abruptly, mid-sentence. I don't know why. I think I got pulled away in the middle of writing it, and never got back, and now I can't think what I would have meant the conclusion to be. Probably something about Sunshine being her usual mostly energetic, slightly mischievous self, and how fun that is apart from when she gets bitey. I'm not positive, though, and suppose there's no way we can now know. I'm sorry.

So here's my humor blog. here's my humor blog. Sorry, I'm a bit tired; hauled 220 gallons of water from the pond outside to the inside for the goldfish's winter home and that's fine but also tiring stuff.

And now back to the Ann Arbor Pinball Museum VFW Etc Thing.


bunny_hugger strides through the breezeway connecting the original building with an annex. In this breezeway were shown off the newest or most obscure games. To her right you can see the then-new Iron Maiden table. Beside that, the Domino's Spectacular Pinball Adventure, made by Spooky Pinball for the pizza chain for some reason.


Here, Jersey Jack's Pirates of the Caribbean, which was not yet in production. In prototype version it had a triple spinning disc in the center, which would line up to various award configurations during the game. Unfortunately it was a mechanical nightmare and couldn't be done in production, although viewscreen animation still acts as if it were there. Behind it is American Pinball's Houdini, a great theme for a game that is just ... not quite right for the shots it tries to have you make.


On the left, Spooky Pinball's 2017 game Total Nuclear Annihilation, a very 80s Retro-style game that really is all that good. It's got a nice simple layout and basic rules, but it's hard to master, so it's a really good new-player game. On the right, Williams's Defender, an adaptation of the video game that we didn't know they had made either.


Mock backglass for a circa 1973 pinball that would have been named Firefly. So by the 70s Harry Williams was retired from the company he'd founded. But he picked up a little extra scratch designing layouts and sending them in to a company that was just not going to schedule time to make them. The designs were, amazingly, not thrown out over the decades and were even recovered, scanned, and a select few built as prototypes. Thus the backglass that's not really a 70s design, but is trying to look like it is.


Whiteboard with pencil art of the layout. The arrangement of bumpers and tables and such is per Harry Williams's design. I don't know that the theme or any of the art comes from anything. In any event pinball games could make dramatic shifts of theme even late in production.


Closer details on the art, which has a lot of this nerdy guy capturing firefly-women in jars. Which is pretty eerf, although the backglass art, with the tables turned, gives it some rather needed balance. But since you'll see the backglass first it means we have the punch line before we have the setup.


Backglass for Bally's Loop the Loop, one of the insufficiently many amusement park/carnival-themed games out there. Nice roller coaster in the background, it looks like to me.


Playfield for Loop the Loop, showing off a roller coaster and some other amusement park-type rides. bunny_hugger was way better at this game than I was.


Ah, GamePlan, you're who we think of first when we need a weird game based on an apparently arbitrarily chosen theme!


Every GamePlan game playfield: three banks of drop targets and a weird number of bumpers. (It's more often to see trios of bumpers.) I like the hook design for the lights spelling out CAPTAIN HOOK, though.


Backglass of Zaccaria's 1976 game Moon Flight, which somehow isn't a Gordon Morrison ``smiling space people'' design.


And here's the playfield of Moon Flight, which, oh yes, that is a Zaccaria layout. I have no idea what significance there is to the targets on the right being numbered 3-8-2-4.

Trivia: After the cancellation of the original Gemini 6 mission, NASA briefly explored using the Gemini 6 launch vehicle, already on the pad, for the Gemini 7 mission. But the Gemini 7 capsule, designed for a two-week mission, was considerably heavier than 6's, which was designed for a two-day mission. The Gemini 6 rocket was judged not powerful enough. Source: Gemini: Steps To The Moon, David J Shayler.

Currently Reading: Disasters and Accidents in Manned Spaceflight, David J Shayler.

PS: My 2019 Mathematics A To Z: Linear Programming, an essay that I probably could have got away with making two essays and thus saved myself some pain later on. Too bad.

Thursday, October 10th, 2019
12:10 am
Hide me in the back room, tell me when it's over

So, Sunshine has been acting a bit weird lately. She hasn't been reluctant to eat, which is the important thing. But otherwise?

She's been digging a lot, lately. She's always liked scrunching up the throw rug underneath the sofa, part of her digging her way underneath the sofa. But she's been digging up the fleece that's within her pen. It's like she's trying to nest, which would make sense if she still had the organs necessary for that. Maybe she just still feels the seasons that strongly. I think she was doing a lot of nesting behavior last year too.

The digging would be fine except that she's also getting territorial. We need to go into her pen for various stuff, some of it rabbit care, some of it not. Like, just winding the mantle clock. But we only have a limited while before she'll hop over and nip our feet. This helps us remember to keep our socks on, but still. It's hard to even know how to discourage this, since we, being sensible, get out of her way and that is what she wants from this. I'm hoping that it's a side effect of whatever's got her nesting so intently, and that it'll pass when she isn't preparing for the baby bunnies that can't be there.

She has not only been annoying, though. She has always been a happy, energetic bunny, one fun to watch. She's still prone to flopping out on her side and exposing her belly. She has always run joyful little energetic laps of her cage. The one thing that she doesn't, though? She doesn't bink, an expression of bunny joy in which a rabbit leaps up and flips around in mid-air.

Except, that she did. I had gotten up first, as I often do, and was downstairs while bunny_hugger was still in bed. I looked over Sunshine, who had run around a little. And then she did a perfect bink, leaping straight up as if by magic and then twisting 180 degrees around to land again. I was delighted. And taken by surprise; if I had been the slightest bit ready I'd have given her some treats to encourage that.

She's been her usual bundle of energy and

Trivia: The postwar Strategic Bombing Survey's research indicated that at the very end of the war about 29 percent of the German population still wanted to continue fighting, 24 percent claiming never to have wavered in their resolve and about five percent having wavered and then regained confidence in the conflict. Source: Why The Allies Won, Richard Overy.

Currently Reading: Disasters and Accidents in Manned Spaceflight, David J Shayler.

PS: Reading the Comics, October 4, 2019: Glances Edition, comic strips which exist and that's all I have to say about that. Of course one of them gets into calendars so I get verbose. It happens.

PPS: Some more pinball art and stuff.


Alvin G and Company was a short-lived company made by the refugees of Gottleib Pinball's final bankruptcy in the 90s. So you can see why in those trying times they would ... try to make a two-player pinball, the occasionally-attempted solution to a problem nobody actually has. Anyway, bunny_hugger examines the whole affair.


Lower half of my playfield on the Alvin G and Company Soccer-Ball. The other side has the same layout; a ball shot too hard down the center goes into the opponent's play.


And here the lower side of the Joust two-player pinball game, which similarly has a very short and mirrored playfield for the competitors. It does use the same sound effects as the video game.

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019
12:10 am
That's why they call me Second Hand Rose

We have a land-line phone. We always have and we don't figure on giving that up, thank you. We like getting calls from robots who're having trouble with their headsets or who just leave a blank dial tone after they get our answering machine. Last wek it looked like our choice in the matter had evaporated. We noticed when we were trying to call a friend and make sure of just when we were meeting up for coffee. No dial tone. We just got a steady, vacant buzzing. When we called our line from a cell phone, we got a busy signal.

I assumed the problem was our phone being broken, and bought its exact duplicate. The problem was not our phone, and I returned the duplicate. Hm.

We finally tested it at the access point outside the house. This took a bit of delay since the box had been painted shut when the house was painted, maybe five years ago. Had to wait for a clear enough day to go chipping the paint apart, which wasn't easy as last week we got about 18 solid days of rain. But the phone was dead at the access point, too, meaning that --- and here's a small relief --- the problem was not us. The Phone Company would have to fix things.

bunny_hugger did not like being without the land line at all. I was more relaxed about it, on the grounds that there are five people who have business calling us (her parents, her brother, and my parents), and we have alternate contacts for four of them. (My father's phone will not call my cell phone, for reasons we cannot understand. But neither willy my phone call his.) So it might be inconvenient to not get a notification call that new eyeglasses are in, but it's not a major problem either. We know when roughly they should arrive.

Friday, when we were at Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum for pinball league --- bunny_hugger would have a perfect night, five first-place finishes in her five games, a feat I've never done --- her parents got a call. It was some guy pulling that ``vague relative declaring they have an emergency please send to them gift cards'' scam. They hung up promptly, of course. But then did worry: what if there were an issue? So they tried to call the two males who could plausibly have reason to call them. bunny_hugger's brother was fine of course. And me? ... Our land line was busy, for hours. My cell phone was in the car so went to voice mail. bunny_hugger heard her phone but assumed at that hour no legitimate business was going on.

Her parents tried sending a couple little routine-bits-of-business e-mails, like about when exactly we planned to go to Cedar Point later this month. With no idea what was really going on this seemed too low-priority to answer typing out an e-mail on the iPod. It could wait until we got home, hours later. So, you know, after hours of them freaking out to no good purpose. So, yes, we felt really good about that. So freaking good. You can't imagine.

When we called in the problem The Phone Company estimated our repair would be done within the week, which bunny_hugger did not approve of at all. In fact they were done by Sunday morning, a thing I discovered when we got a call saying something bunny_hugger had ordered at the mall was ready for pickup. Mere minutes later, we got a robot dialing the answering machine and leaving a dial tone when we didn't pick up. It's good to have everything back as it should be.

Trivia: In 1907 Scientific American offered a trophy for the first publicly-observed flight of over a kilometer's length. The Wright Brothers had managed this as early as 1904, but were refusing to make public demonstrations. Source: First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the History of the Airplane, T A Heppenheimer. (You don't really appreciate how much the Wright Brothers worked hard to make themselves look like scam artists.)

Currently Reading: Disasters and Accidents in Manned Spaceflight, David J Shayler.

PS: My 2019 Mathematics A To Z: Koeningsberg Bridge Problem, a topic nominated by bunny_hugger to me.

PPS: My next batch of photographs is from the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Hall of Fame's open weekend in May of 2018, so adjust your expectations accordingly. There'll be a heap of backglass art coming up.


The snack stand that's set up outside the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Hall of Fame. At least for open-house weekends it's set up and sells hot dogs, burgers, that sort of thing. We usually get some chips and pop.


A Zoltar fortune-telling machine that's set up in the vestibule of the VFW. I don't think we've ever given it a try.


And the view from the VFW Entrance! On the right is one of the two rows of woodrails, the 1950s pinball games with extremely basic mechanisms. Not so basic as the World's Series seen a couple days ago in these pages, but still, pretty old stuff.

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019
12:10 am
In the Statue of Liberty's torch

So I actually have more events in our lives to write about now, plus things to think about. I'm postponing that for a day so that I can finish Pinball At The Zoo 2018 pictures gracefully, and start on a new event's pictures tomorrow. Thanks for wondering about me, though.


Backglass for an inexplicably furry Bally 1987 game. It's a nice and quite silly game, and it would get a partial sequel in 1991's The Party Zone, where they're joined by Doctor Dude. There was also the 1989 Elvira and the Party Monsters but I don't think there's any shared characters in that.


Lower playfield of Party Animal because, you know, who doesn't like tap dance mice drinking Oktoberfest-size beers?


The gorilla figure who's the mascot of the expo. I would have sworn he had a name but I can't find a nametag or a reference to such on the Pinball At The Zoo web site so ? You know?


So, remember Duotron? It comes in two- and four-player versions, which was common enough for that era (1974). Still, backglass artist Gordon Morrison remains bunny_hugger's second-favorite pinball artist.


The playfield for Duotron/Magnotron is not as complicated as you might imagine, although it's about as complicated as you'd expect for 1974. That little captive ball in a semicircle, in the center of the playfield, is surely the death trap of the game.


bunny_hugger gets instructions ahead of the side tournament for the women at Pinball At The Zoo. It's not true that all the competitors are holding their chins in the exact same way ... I assume.


bunny_hugger in the Women's tournament defending her position in one of the estimated 40 billion games named Eight-Ball.


bunny_hugger isn't even going to look at how the game all falls apart now.


Meanwhile not only have exhibitors taken their games down but people who brought games to the competition have started packing up tables that aren't needed the rest of the finals.


So that's an unusually close finish between players one and four there.


There's a reason that bunny_hugger always makes four trophies for any tournament that ends in a four-player group playing off, and you see what that is on the right there.


And there, Pinball At The Zoo is almost all cleared out. Just one lone Iron Maiden left hanging around yet.


And at the MJS pole barn afterparty, bunny_hugger considers how that FunHouse game went and whether it's worth logging that finish.

Trivia: Incense was imported duty-free to the Roman Empire (of the 1st century AD), in contrast to the typical 25 percent duty on most imports. Source: A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, William J Bernstein. (It was important to religious ritual.)

Currently Reading: Disasters and Accidents in Manned Spaceflight, David J Shayler.

PS: How September 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog, a monthly review of stuff.

Monday, October 7th, 2019
12:10 am
You and I roasting blue pork

My mathematics blog had another full week of posting. What all was there? This stuff.

And the story strips. It was a nice easy story strip this time. What's Going On In The Phantom (Sundays)? How did The Phantom not die from getting stabbed in the heart? July - October 2019 plot recap.

And here's a nice big pile of Pinball At The Zoo 2018 pictures.


More stuff brought to Pinball At The Zoo for auction: a bio-rhythm calculator come to us straight from 1975!


Bio-rhythm calculator has a good companion, the Astrology machine!


And here's the papers on which your official com-pu-ter generated astrology forecast would be printed. I have no idea if this is new old stock or whether some printing company's been hired to make replicas of the original.


Here's the instructions for the Astrology machine and a sample printout, showing pick-3, pick-4 and pick-6 lottery numbers to try out.


Backglasses and translights for pinball games offered for sale. Striker Xtreme was the first game that the modern Stern company ever produced, in 2000. It would go into a second production run as NFL.


You know if you buy this radio and plug it in you'll actually get to hear Fred Allen on The Linit Bath Club Revue.


Backglass to Williams's 1951 Jalopy, one of those games where hitting targets also advances corresponding horses to move across the backdrop. Another version of this game was called Hayburners, with horses racing, and I believe I've played that one at the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park.


Inside the mechanism for ... actually, this one isn't Jalopy. But it's a simliar game with a boat-racing theme instead of horses or cars (as in Jalopy).


Close up of the boat-racing game, letting you see how the boats and the finish line and even a bit of the background look.


Secret Service was one of the first pinball games I ever really got into, back in the day. There's often one at Pinball At The Zoo although here, it's already being taken apart ready for transport back home after the convention's ended.


Oh hey, we walked past World's Series again. Here's the back. I don't know if the backdrop is unpainted on the back because that's how it originally looked or if that part was replaced after wear and damage.


And here's the tilt mechanism showing that this particular game, at least, did not nudge things too far for its tastes.

Trivia: By 1889, Edison General Electric employed about three thousand people in its three main shops and had revenus of about US$7 million per year, with profits about $700,000. Source: Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World, Jill Jonnes.

Currently Reading: Disasters and Accidents in Manned Spaceflight, David J Shayler.

Sunday, October 6th, 2019
12:10 am
One night I dreamed of New York

Here's some more of Pinball At The Zoo 2018.


Middle section of the World's Fair pinball. So you can see the mechanism that adds up strikes and balls and outs. Also the dial that reports how many outs you've gotten --- three ends the game --- plus one bit of art on the playfield, in a spot the marbles can't roll over.


Looking at the front of the World's Series pinball. The coin slot is on the left. The upper disc is the plunger, pulled back and released to shoot a ball into action. The lower disc is another plunger that pushes one of the 15 balls in the trough up into the shooter lane. Pinball machines had this until the early 60s.


I thought to check underneath, to see if there was anything interesting about the bottom of the World's Series pinball. There wasn't, really. Games with electricity will often have a power switch inside a little circular recess, on the plunger side of the table. (The very newest games, the ones with LCD screens, have a power switch underneath the right edge of the backbox.)


Another flipperless pinball, Genco's 1941 Gun Club. Unfortunately not plugged in; the game had backglass lights that correspond to bumper hits.


The playfield of Genco's Gun Club. As you see, no flippers. The bumpers were passive, too, not the modern jet- or pop-bumpers that shoot the ball back where it came from, and there don't seem to be kickers on those rubber bands so this would have to be a very slow game of plunging and tapping the sides.


Detail from the lower playfield of Gun Club. So hey, it is at least one of the few pinball games with bunnies and squirrels, that's something?


Pinball vendors clear out early on Saturday. Here's games already being disassembled and ready to be shipped out.


The folks at Gottleib/Premier didn't see any reason they had to pay for a movie tie-in license when they could just make up their own stuff!


Playfield for Gottleib's Deadly Weapon, which ... curiously hasn't got any ramps on it. It must've had a multiball, given the era, but it's a surprisingly flat layout anyway.


For sale: the cocktail version of a Space Invaders game. You get to see inside, too, and confirm that all the components are there.


So here's an arcade game put up for sale. It's a shooting game, but it's themed so that what you're ``really'' doing is shooting food at hungry zoo animals. We joked that this was the game for CST, whose real-life job is veterinarian, and then we noticed the contact information said yeah, it was his game.


Among the instructions for that zoo-feeding game: feed the mother, Golden Roo, but under no circumstances feed her purple child, I guess is the implication.

Trivia: The first train on the Camden and Amboy Railroad, founded 1830, to actually run from South Amboy to Camden did so in 1834. Source: Railroads of New Jersey: Fragments of the Past in the Garden State Landscape, Lorett Treese.

Currently Reading: Disasters and Accidents in Manned Spaceflight, David J Shayler.

PS: Exploiting My A-To-Z Archives: Jokes, which was great fun. Most of my mathematics essays are decent, but would be like ten times better if I struck half the jokes from them. This one? This one it was impossible to put too many jokes in. That was great.

Saturday, October 5th, 2019
12:10 am
Open the door, get on the floor

So, since I was talking about stuff from this weekend you maybe guessed I'm caught up on life events here. So here's a heap of pictures from Pinball At The Zoo, 2018 edition, while I wait to have more life or enough thoughts about life for those to be worth discussing.


Instructions. AJH gathers people together to tell the qualifying players how the playoffs will work. Not pictured: me, because ... you know.


More of playoff instructions. This with a better view of the trophies and the doughnuts.


Warning signs posted to the wall. Tilting is always acceptable; part of the way you control a pinball machine is to nudge and shake and shove it to keep the ball in play, with the tilt being the penalty for doing too much. Rage Tilting, though, that's not acceptable: that's shaking the game out of frustration when there's no way you could possibly get the ball under control or into a desired place, you just need to work off your rage. Everybody does it, but it's still bad form. And, well, you see an implicit story there. It could be worse: one year a competitor was so angered at his ball drain that he punched the circuit breaker.


bunny_hugger, who also didn't make playoffs, discovering the charms and the graphic style of Supersonic instead. Particularly impressing her on the backdrop was how the clouds around the upper Concorde form faintly angelic wings.


bunny_hugger takes a good look at the World's Series pure-mechanical pinball machine.


Another view of the World's Series, this after someone made a rather nice seven runs. The pennies on the lower left were provided by the game operator; it's easier than jiggering with the mechanism (and spoiling its historial integrity) to make it a free-play game.


A view of the tiny backdrop, providing us with the useful information that the scoring isn't just the number of runs made but rather skill points based on the number of runs. This probably makes playing a series of games much more fun. Notice that they were insisting this was not a gambling machine even back then. Rock-Ola wasn't even seven years old by the time this game came out and it'd already had to turn State's Evidence against Chicago gangsters.


Sticker on the upper left that the federal excise tax was paid already. Also you see some of the strings of pins that make the game a skillful challenge.


The upper half of World's Series, showing the nicely symmetric arrangement of pins that makes getting a clean hit such a challenge.


The tilt mechanism. It doesn't end the game, it just switches from green to red if the game does tilt. This warns the operator that if the player tries getting whatever the prize is for their performance that game, don't give it.


The damaged instructions sticker on the lower left of the playfield, along with the pennies that give you some idea the scale of the thing and are also good for at least two games.


Runners on first and third, ready for a hit to bring in one runner. Note that Home Plate is at the top of the field, rather than the bottom like you'd see in most charts of a stadium . A ball rolling into the Hit lane causes the green plate to rotate 90 degrees, knocking the ball arriving at home down into the Runs trough.

Trivia: ``Wedlock'' is the only remaining common English word to still use the Old English suffix -lock, meaning ``activity''. Source: Webster's Dictionary of Word Origins, Editor Frederick C Mish. (The ``-lock'' in ``warlock'' derives from ``leogan'', meaning ``to lie''.)

Currently Reading: Disasters and Accidents in Manned Spaceflight, David J Shayler.

PS: Exploiting My A-To-Z Archives: Infinite Monkey Theorem, bringing attention back to one of my favorite essays of all time.

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