The Capital Combo

Welcome to the Capital Combo, a blog of the Lansing Pinball League.  Anything posted here can be blamed solely on the post’s author – usually Heather.  It does not represent the official position (or sense of humor) of the League or its organizer.

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All Good Things

As you might have heard, our beloved league president Matt has decided he needs to focus on running the home stretch to his degree this coming semester, and after that, may be leaving town to pursue his career. As a result, he is going to hand off league-running duties to me.

I want to express my sincere gratitude that Matt started this league. I have been a member since the third meeting of Season 1, after Joseph and I saw a flyer for it at Pinball Pete’s in Ann Arbor (oddly enough). Originally, pinball was Joseph’s thing, which he got me casually interested in, but neither of us had ever played in an organized competition before. League really ignited a fire in both of us, resulting in something I would not have predicted at the time: competitive pinball is now a major part of our life together. Moreover, I have the whole Michigan pinball community as friends and associates, and having such a fun crowd to hang with really feels like being back in the days of my youth again. As the song says, “these are the good times.”

Matt’s goal in creating the league was to encourage Pinball Pete’s to keep their games at the Avenue and maybe, just maybe, add a few more. My understanding is that the league formed when there were only three games at the Avenue, though by the time I attended my first meeting there were four. We now have well over twenty. Truly, pinball at the Avenue is “the house that Matt built” and as long as the league goes on I hope it will be remembered that way.

I consider it a great privilege to take over from Matt, one that I will carry out to the best of my abilities. I will need to get the league’s 10th season approved by the IFPA and on the calendar shortly, but before I do that, I wanted to make sure that there are no objections to continuing on the schedule we currently use, which is two Tuesdays a month in alternate weeks to the Grand Rapids Pinball League. If I don’t hear any concerns about that, I will go ahead and submit that to the calendar, which will mean our next season will begin on January 9.

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Unbelievable – Undefeated!

Season 9 of the Lansing Pinball League came to a close on November 7 with the final playoffs in which Chris retained his undefeated status.  He has won every season in the league’s existence.

Third, first, and second place: Joseph, Chris, Mike. I try to tell Joseph not to bug his eyes like that in photos but he insists he’ll look asleep if he doesn’t.

Due to low attendance, this time we had a single division playoff with a ten person bracket.  The semifinals were between Joseph and Mike, culminating in a low-scoring game of Monster Bash in which Mike edged Joseph out by about 20K in bonus.

Mike walks away happy from a ToM game in which he put two billion plus on ball 1. (EDITED: my mistake, this appears to be from a different game.)

Mike went on to play Chris in the finals once again, winning the first round and knocking Chris into the loser second chance bracket.  Chris thrives on pressure and I sometimes think he doesn’t really start playing until he’s got his back to the wall.  So, once again, he came back with a vengeance and won the second round and the season championship.  It should be noted, though, that at one point during their matches, Mike had a ball 1 of Theatre of Magic that was so high – over two billion – that Chris decided to walk away and concede the game.

Also worth noting was my third game against Matt in the loser lower bracket.  Matt was player 1 and his first ball of Indiana Jones went on for what felt like forever and finished at about 1.3 billion.  He didn’t do much after that but it hardly mattered.  I can say I never gave up (even when Matt, not realizing I had an extra ball to play, mistakenly went to shake my hand after I drained ball 3 I defiantly said, “it ain’t over yet!”) so I got myself 200-300M for the sake of my pride and walked away at least not humiliated.

I got quite a few good photos of the night, so make sure you check out the photo gallery as well as the final standings.

Matt, Mike, and Joseph, after the end of the playoffs.

The ever-popular Super-Ball IX split-flipper tournament, AKA the Zen Tournament, is tonight at 7:30.  I always think it’s the most fun night of the season because everyone gets really into it but no one gets in bad spirits when it doesn’t go well.  Pinball so rarely allows for cooperative play that it’s a rare treat when it happens.  I hope you will come!

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Final Standings for Season 9

The final results for Season 9, as determined by the final tournament on November 7, are as follows:

  1. Chris
  2. Mike S.
  3. Joseph
  4. Matt
  5. Danny
  6. Heather
  7. Tim
  8. Mike B.
  9. Kristen
  10. Dan
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League Night Recap for 10/24/17 (Costume Night)

Winners Mike S. (3rd), me (1st), and Joseph (2nd). Plus a photobomb by the bartender. Photo by Dan.

Alas!  Due to a couple of very busy weeks (and overall a very busy month) I was not able to get you a proper league update for 10/24.  I beg your forgiveness.

So I am not entirely remiss in providing news of the league, I will just mention that 10/24 was the league’s third annual Costume Night, conducted by this humble author.  Unfortunately, we had the least participation yet, possibly due to the last league night of October falling an entire week behind Halloween.  I don’t intend to give up on Costume Night yet, and next year I have a plan for improving participation on that.

Joseph as scare”crow”. Or possibly the Indiana Beach mascot.

So as it happened, only Joseph and I dressed up, I in a dragon costume that I sustained a hot glue injury cobbling together at the last moment (like how I write this blog, but with more blistering), and Joseph in his typically high-concept entry, the Scarecrow Crow.  Joseph still provided a voting box, since we had three trophies to give away.  I won narrowly over Joseph, and third place went to… Mike S.?!  Yes, Mike declared that he was The Duke of Bourbon, and on the strength of his impression received three third-favorite votes for three points total and a third place overall.  (Up next was Chris, who received two votes due to league tradition.)

League finals is in a very short time, though it will be delayed until 7:30 to accommodate certain habitual latecomers whom I will not name.  I hope to see you there!

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League Night Recap for 10/10/17

Season 9, League Night #7 of 8

Games played: Star Trek, The Addams Family, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Junk Yard, Star Wars

The usual suspects.

It’s hard to believe it but the season is already almost over. The league night of October 10th was one of our better attended in a while, and we were joined by Aaron for the first time in quite a while and Sam for the first time this season. I tried to ditch my class a bit early to come to league, but it didn’t work. Not only did I keep class until the very end (I couldn’t stop, the topic we were on was too interesting), but after class a student wanted to ask me some questions about Kant. Talking about Kant might be one of the only things that gets prioritized ahead of pinball in my life, so I ended up getting to league around 8 p.m.

We have a new game at the Avenue again, a new Star Wars, so, as is our usual practice for new additions, we played it. Some people played it, anyway. I did something to it, but I’m not sure I was playing. Then again, who can tell, with that game?

Kristen and Mike.

Why does Kristen look so happy? Oh yeah, because she’s playing Star Trek.

League night feels very short for me this season, partly from arriving so late, but partly from the fact that the post-league visits to Theio’s are done with. We lost a good bit of the crowd we used to go with (Jake and Adam have been on hiatus this season, and Sam has been mostly absent also) and, under its new ownership, Theio’s is closed by the time we get there after league. We thought it was just closed period, although I drove past it earlier today and it was open. A Theio’s that isn’t open 24 hours is no Theio’s at all, in my book. We’ve lost a Lansing institution.

On a brighter note, I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of two upcoming Halloween activities. First, the third annual League Costume Night is during tomorrow’s league night. We’ll be voting for best costume and I have trophies for the top three. I worked hard and even sustained multiple hot glue burns to create my costume, so I want to see some other people dressed up or I’m going to be going home with all three trophies. Not that I don’t deserve it, but it would be nice to share the wealth.

Second, the first-ever IFPA sanctioned pingolf tournament will be happening at the Avenue on Wednesday. It’s the second annual Fear and Trembling tournament, but this time instead of choosing between two wacky impediments for each hole, there will be a choice between two objectives on each hole. There will be Halloween-themed trophies for all four finalists, and the $10 entry fees will all go to Humane Society International’s Disaster Relief Fund to help animals affected by hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters. I hope you will come!

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League Night Recap for 9/26/17

League Night #6 of 8

Games played: Attack from Mars, Iron Man, Junk Yard, The Walking Dead, Austin Powers.

Joseph’s birthday cake.

League Night #6 happened to fall on Joseph’s birthday, so I wanted to surprise him with a cake.  Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I eventually concluded that there was no way I could pick the cake up myself and still make it to league in time to play at least a couple of games with people before it was all over.  I considered having Mike S. pick the cake up, but this plan was scrapped when we realized that the hot weather might melt the frosting if the cake was left in his car until I arrived.  Ultimately, I ended up having Joseph go and pick his own cake up from the bakery.  Uh, happy birthday?  I ordered it, anyway.

A band playing for the Flat Black & Circular 40th anniversary party.

I arrived in a bit of a foul mood because I had to drive around the block looking for parking until I finally gave up and parked so far away that I might have just as well walked from home.  When I arrived at The Avenue I discovered why.  The place was crowded and a band was playing.  Bands during league night are not my favorite thing.  I saw Joseph’s cake in the downstairs alcove, but no one was around and the cake was untouched, so I picked it up and went to look for everyone.  Someone (not with league) saw the cake and said something like, “Ha ha, another cake!”  I had no idea what she was talking about so I just nodded and smiled and went upstairs, where Joseph was in the midst of destroying the ring on Lord of the Rings.  While I watched, he successfully destroyed it.  After stopping to swear about how annoyed I was over the band and the crowd, I then ran to Joseph (only after his ball drained, of course) and hugged and congratulated him on having an epic league game on his birthday.

Joseph cuts the cake.

After Joseph’s LotR game, I put candles on the cake and lit them, only for Joseph to take that moment to run off (probably to wash his hands).  The tiny little candles burned down precariously as everyone stood there saying “Uh, where did he go?”  When he did come back I scolded him: “Damn it, Joseph, these are only designed to stay lit about two minutes!”  Then I pulled the rug out just as he was about to blow them out by asking for another moment so I could get my camera ready.  This he granted, though my picture of the moment did not come out so well anyway.  In any case, the candles were extinguished and I hope Joseph’s wish will come true.

After that I found out that the band playing was in honor of the 40th birthday of Flat, Black & Circular, the used record store in East Lansing, and that there had been a cake, so our bringing a cake was kind of redundant.  I also eventually softened my attitude about the music, since a lot of it was high-spirited polka music that was fun to jump around to while waiting to play.  At one point even Danny busted some polka moves.

My group (I belatedly joined with Danny, Kristen, and Dan) was the last one to play Lord of the Rings, and it was struggling.  First I lost a ball due to the sword lock never kicking a ball out, then Kristen ended up with a one-ball multiball.  She didn’t want to exploit a beneficial malfunction, so Mike (who was acting in place of Matt again this time) ruled that we would all scratch LotR and play Austin Powers instead.  My first thought was of poor Joseph, having to discard his epic birthday game.  My second thought was, oh God, Austin Powers.  We eventually figured out which coin slot would give credits and not steal quarters (I think it was the left?) and played it, but at least a couple of people gave up and left, planning to make up later, because it was already so late.

Tonight is night #7 of 8, so the season is getting fairly close to drawing to a close.  There probably won’t be cake, but there will be good company, so won’t you join us?

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League Night Recap for 9/12/17

League night #5 of 8

Games played: Fish Tales, The Addams Family, Jack-Bot, Tales of the Arabian Nights

Well folks, we have passed the halfway point for Season 9 as of last league night, so the competition should really start to heat up.  In theory, anyway.  In practice, I arrived (late as always this season due to my class schedule) to last league night in time to see my group-to-be in the midst of a game of Tales of the Arabian Nights, and Kristen looking quite glum at her Ball 1 score that was somewhere around 30K points.  (This prompted some discussion of whether it is possible to get a score lower than that.  It turns out it is: Joseph – intentionally, I think – did a single ball score around 10K after league.)

Mike B. playing TotAN.

Mike B. playing TotAN.

Fortunately(?) for Kristen, she did not actually win the award for worst single ball score.  That honor goes to Chris, who scored 0 (zero) on his first ball of Jack-Bot.  He gets no sympathy from me.  He knew the risk!  By now, everyone in the Lansing Pinball League knows that short-plunging Jack-Bot is living dangerously.  The gate likes to stick, and when the ball gets hung up in it, there is no way to get it free except by banging the game hard enough to tilt.  That is exactly what happened, leading to Chris tilting out before scoring a single point.

(In case you are wondering why people are so tempted to short plunge: if you plunge softly enough to avoid hitting any switches before you get the ball on the right flipper, the playfield won’t be validated.  Validating the playfield means the game now considers the ball “in play” and starts the ball saver timer, if any.  So not only can you get ball on flipper and in control without losing your ball saver, there are actually a couple of targets that you can hit without validating the playfield, meaning you can shoot them in safety, drain, and still get your ball back.  This is especially useful in multiball, since a couple of jackpots, sorry, Jackbots can be cashed in before validating the playfield.  And that was your Amateur Tip of the Day.  Your Pro Tip, on the other hand, is this: don’t short plunge Jack-Bot at the Avenue unless you want a zero point ball.)

I don’t have much else to say about last league night because now that I wander in close to 8 p.m., it feels like it’s over as soon as it starts.  Regarding tonight’s league night, starting in just about an hour, I will say this: happy birthday, Joseph!  Tear it up!  And save a piece of cake for me.

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Announcing the Second Annual Fear and Trembling Tournament

The Fear and Trembling Pingolf Tournament will be returning to The Avenue on October 25 beginning at 6 p.m.  As with last year, the theme will be “hard choices,” but this year there will be a new format and IFPA endorsement for WPPR points.  The registration fee is $10 (all of which goes directly to the charity) and players are additionally responsible for coin drop on the games.

Each game on the course will have a choice between two objectives.  The goal is to try to meet your objective in 1 ball for a hole in one – or in as few balls as possible.  The catch is that you must declare your choice of objective before starting.  If you call one objective and accidentally meet the other sooner, tough luck!

Four finalists will go to a three-game final series, and all four finalists will receive a Halloween-themed trophy.

Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to the event!  If you’re on Facebook, join our event page.

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League Night Recap for 8/22/17

League night #4 of 8

Games played: Ghostbusters, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Revenge from Mars, Monster Bash, Simpsons Pinball Party

We had one of those odd three-week intervals between league meetings to start off this month, so of course with all that extra time, I have once again waited until nearly the start of our next league meeting (which is tonight at 7) to write the recap of the last meeting.  There, I gave myself grief about it so you all don’t have to.  Now that that’s out of the way, on with the recap.

Mike pointing at Monster Bash while Chris looks.

Mike shows Chris and Greg where he got a ball stuck on Monster Bash.

Our original slated games include South Park, which we have never yet played at league, just like we have never yet played Demolition Man.  And just like last week, when it looked like we might finally play Demo Man and then it got switched out, South Park started doing something wrong besides just being South Park (eating quarters, I think?  I don’t know, I was downstairs when it happened) and got removed from the schedule.  I don’t think anyone shed a tear over it and I assume it removed part of the reason that Chris had replied to the game announcement on Facebook by saying it was like going to the dentist.  (I suspect Revenge and Ghostbusters were other parts of the reason.)  Instead, they shed all their tears over Revenge from Mars, which was savage to many people.  Most people in my group got scores around 12-15 million, and that easily beat everyone in the group playing ahead of us.

Mike's stuck ball, wedged behind the pop bumper on Monster Bash.

Mike’s stuck ball, wedged behind the pop bumper on Monster Bash. Sadly, this was after league, so it didn’t save me from my bad game of MB.

I continued my sad performance this season, not as bad as last session which was my worst in probably a couple of years, but still nothing that’s going to let me claw back up into A division range.  Now that there is a 10 point attendance bonus, missing a couple of sessions really hurt me.  (OK, OK, “failed to benefit” rather than hurt me, but that’s a matter of perspective.)  It doesn’t help that Monster Bash, a game that most people normally love, is playing like heck.  The scoop is very unpredictable, which includes shooting down the middle now and then, and orbit shots still sometimes hit Drac’s foot and divert toward the center.  I ended up on Ball 3 of Monster Bash with nothing going on whatsoever and 3 million points tops, and the scoop gave me a pity Frank multiball that I didn’t realize it would do.  I managed to milk enough points out of it to get to around 12 million or so, and, oh yeah, Frank was also not registering hits, so that was all from shooting other shots.

Also sadly for me, this was my last night of league before the start of the semester, and from here to the end of the season I will be having to come to league late again due to having class until 6:15 and then an hour-plus commute.  I’ll persevere, though, so you can all expect to see me tonight at some point, probably before 8 p.m.

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Results for League Night #3, Season 9, 8/8/17

PlayerPoints this weekSeason-to-date
Chris50142
Joseph48118
Mike S.47135
Tim38112
Matt35124
Danny34123
Russell3343*
Mike B.2592
Dan2434
Greg2066
Kristen2079
Heather1683

Results may change due to makeup games.

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