While I did not announce it widely, in part due to it being kind of a last-minute thing, I did help staff the Extra Life booth at Anime Matsuri 2019 over the weekend.
Those familiar with me know I have a track record of helping out with charitable events, including a volunteer history going back a full decade now. I have been a part of the Extra Life Guild since, well, before the guilds were even formalized and Houston had an Extra Life committee (the only city that had one that I know of, as the effort started here).
It is also no big secret that John Leigh, the event manager of Anime Matsuri at least as of 2015, was accused of sexual harassment by several women that year. This has had the obvious effect on the festival’s reputation in the years since. I cannot compare to previous years, but I did notice the attendance, size, and hours don’t correspond to my idea of a healthy event, even though according to the website “Anime Matsuri is also the fastest growing convention in North America reaching over 36,000 unique attendees in 11 years” (emphasis theirs).
In this case, obviously, my desire to help the Extra Life Guild won out. However, my attendance should not be interpreted as an approval or endorsement of any Anime Matsuri staff actions in the past or present. I staunchly condemn sexual harassment and I feel it is unfortunate that the actions of an event manager have cast such a shadow over what could continue to be a great anime festival.
For a variety of reasons I am unable to share in a public blog post at this time, I will not be participating in weeks 3 and 4 of the current Space City Pinball League season at Eighteen Twenty Lounge. I regret disappointing the fans and followers I have out there and I hope to fill in the details at a later date.
New season, new games. Expected: the return of The Munsters, The Beatles, Deadpool, and the debut of Black Knight: Sword of Rage. Unexpected: the return of Star Trek and the debut of Oktoberfest (from American Pinball, the same company that brought us Houdini). WTF moment: the return of Ghostbusters (I seriously thought we were rid of that damn thing, but apparently not yet).
We had a total turnout of 50 players. There were a lot of familiar faces as well as a lot of new ones. My group consisted of one of the relatively new faces, Eric Heskett; one relatively familiar face, Chris Low; and one of the all-too familiar ones, Bryce Revnew. Of all the players in the league, why group me with someone likely to hand me crushing defeats across the entire night?
First up, we would play Black Knight: Sword of Rage. I didn’t get to play this game during warmups, so this would be my first time ever playing this game at all. The first ball would be kind only to Eric, who would start with 10.4M+ versus Chris and Bryce putting up 1.1M+ and my embarrassingly bad 380K+. It would come back around to me with 3.5M+, 11.5M+, and 9.2M+ for Chris, Eric, and Bryce respectively. I would have another dud ball and stay in the trailing spot with 2.4M+.
Chris would wrap up with a total of 4.4M+. Eric would then have another pretty good ball to finish with 22.1M+. That’s intimidating enough, but then Bryce runs it up to 55.3M+. So here I am realistically facing a third place, maybe a second if I’m lucky to start the season. So I start out making a few shots. I get my second balls locked for both Catapult Multiball and Triple Knights Challenge. Then I start Catapult Multiball. And then I stack Triple Knights Challenge on top of that, possibly even scoring an add-a-ball in the middle of it for a total of six balls in play. I’m just trying to keep everything in play and hit as many shots as I can in the process. It’s pure mayhem.
I finish the combined multiballs with a score in the 52M+ range, within striking distance of Bryce. I play on, starting a mode (I think Sandworms, but I’m not sure). I make a few shots, and then notice I’ve passed Bryce’s score. I would drain shortly thereafter and sign off with 60.4M+, good enough for first place in the game and high score #4. Not bad for a start of the new season.
On we go to Oktoberfest. I have pretty low expectations, given I’ve never played this game before. Somehow I manage to piece together a 75,096 just ahead of Eric’s 73,996 but well behind Bryce’s 153K+. I’ll take second place happily, though it does dash my hopes of possibly putting up a perfect night.
If only I could have done as well on Ghostbusters. I’m not even going to go into details, just that my final score was under 1M while Bryce ran away with it putting up 111M+, aided by the video mode skill shot that never timed out after what had to have been 20+ seconds, when mine would time out much sooner (his final score is basically what he got from two video modes and maybe a few million from some other miscellaneous shots). Stern, fix the code already. There’s no point in having a pinball table if one is able to put up 100M+ from playing the video mode twice straight off the skill shot.
Moving on, it’s time for Star Trek. I start off with a nice solid 22.4M+ first ball, good for what would turn out to be an insurmountable lead. I would sign off with 29.0M+, playing out my third ball even though I theoretically could have just plunged it. So far that’s 20 standings points after four games, a solid place with one game left to go.
That game would be The Munsters. I never got to play this one at the end of last season. Again, for a first time playing it, I feel like I did pretty damn good. I would run up quite a few points in Grandpa’s Laboratory (the lower playfield with the smaller balls), signing off with 6.7M+ when no other player scored even half that. So I’d wrap it up with 27 standings points, which would wind up being 6 points off of the lead, and in a four-way tie for 6th place in the young season.
More importantly than that was finishing ahead of a former league champion in three out of five games, one of those in a clutch come-from-behind situation on a game I was playing for the very first time. I’m disappointed that I cannot play next week and follow up that performance. I am looking forward to week 3, however, and the hope is alive that this is the season it all comes together.