Speedy’s Monday and The Game Preserve Friday

Another trip back to Speedy’s on Monday 12/14 (yes, I’m running way behind on posting these). Most of the Speedy’s trip was pretty unremarkable, save for the 20-way combo on The Munsters, the 172M+ on Jurassic Park, and one of my better times on Quick & Crash of 6.220 seconds.

My first trip out to The Game Preserve (Woodlands) in ages, on Friday 12/18, was a bit more eventful. Highlights include:

  • 5.44M+ on The Simpsons (pinball)
  • 72.3M+ on Star Trek (Stern pinball)
  • 18,495 on Q*Bert
  • 579M+ on Game of Thrones (pro version, no upper playfield)
  • 3,209 on Flying Carpet
  • 148,700 on Paragon

The score on Butterfly is actually 2,223,700 (score counter rolled over twice) but this is with significant player benefit malfunctions (double bonus and extra ball stuck on among others).

Of particular note, even though my score is not what I’d really call highlight material, I got to play the Spy Hunter pinball as well as get in a quick game of Klax on an actual arcade machine, both for the first time in decades. The last game of Spy Hunter pinball I remember was at the Sharpstown Mall Time-Out downstairs next to JCPenney. The mall is now called PlazAmericas, both the arcade (which became a de facto Namco Cyberstation before its demise) and JCPenney have long since left the building. The last game of Klax I played on a real arcade machine was at Memorial City Mall, either Jungle Jim’s or Kids’ Kingdom, not sure which but definitely before the Exhilarama takeover. That space was eventually redeveloped into Sultan Pepper, Chipotle, and Berryhill in the food court, with most of the space Exhilarama used for rides, laser tag, the nickel game pit, etc going to what at the time was Lord & Taylor and later (oddly enough) a JCPenney.

Anyway, back to the present day. The main purpose behind this visit was to get an idea of what games would be in play for the tournament the following night (see next post), as well as pick up my T-shirt and activate my membership purchased online. I also needed the change of pace from what’s become the usual fare at Speedy’s more than I realized at the time.

Turtles and more at Speedy’s and another quick trip to the Canyon

So this past Tuesday (12/8), I finally got the time and spare change to swing by Speedy’s again for the first time in months. Greeting me was a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine, which I had heard about but had not had the chance to actually play. Until now, of course.

The very first game I play, barely knowing what the heck I was doing, I managed to put up a cool 23.67M exactly, good enough for high score #1, the spot right below grand champion (by a little less than a million at that), as well as Leonardo champion (a high score slot specifically for the players picking that turtle at the start of the game). I’m starting to like this game. I wouldn’t do as well for the rest of the games I played, and would in fact put up some downright lousy scores. I would move over to Star Wars, put up an 81.7M+, and call it an evening.

But I would be back the following day (Wednesday 12/9). I wouldn’t post too many remarkable scores until after I dropped in on the video game section and put up an even 21K on Q*Bert. After going back to pinball, highlights would consist of 130.8M+ on Batman, 189.5M+ on Iron Maiden, 15.06M+ on Turtles (good for the high score #3 slot and Donatello champion, replacing some schmuck who apparently forgot they were playing in a family arcade and entered their initials as ASS, which gave me even more personal satisfaction).

I would return the following evening (Thursday 12/10) and try out Jurassic Park again, a game I had trouble getting into the first few times I played it. My willingness would pay off as I’d post a 109.3M+ and a T-Rex Chase champion total of 58M. I’d follow that up with another good run on Iron Maiden, highlighted by a 152.8M+ and a 33M Hallowed Be Thy Name champion, then a 136.7M+ with a 39.33M Trooper Multiball champion. I’d try Quick & Crash again (which I had played on previous visits but did not take pictures of my times), posting a 6.621 second time, and wrap up with a surprisingly decent 77K+ on Millipede.

Friday (12/11) brought with it a work-related trip to Port Arthur, and on the way back I decided to take a detour to Beaumont and get in a couple more rounds of Ghostbusters. Someone left a credit on the machine (!) which I promptly turned into 173.6M+ good for high score #3 and a Terror Dog champion of 10.15M+. I would later post a 525.6M+ good for high score #1 and an absolutely scorching Storage Facility champion total of 205.95M. Not bad for someone who used to hate the stuffing out of this game. A rather limp score of 37 on Lane Master would end the evening. I cashed in 120 tickets from my balance for four small packages of M&Ms, all of which I ate before leaving Beaumont city limits.

All in all, a fairly good week. I’m looking forward to really mastering TMNT which so far looks like perhaps the most fun and challenging game Stern has put out in a long while, outdoing even Black Knight: Sword of Rage and Guardians of the Galaxy. With scores like this, I’m looking forward to ending 2020 on a high note and starting 2021 off with a bang, including getting back to tournament play.

Stomping Grounds DIY Turkey Trot 2020

I realize this stretches the scope a bit, but this is certainly more on topic here than over there. And I also realize this is a bit belated, but my day job has gotten rather busy, leaving me less time than desired to blog.

On Sunday, 2020 November 29, I participated in the inaugural Stomping Grounds DIY Turkey Trot, as best I could. The event was probably intended as a run/jog, at least for the 5K (~3.1 mile) course. The 5K course was:

From 1225 West 34th Street
East on West 34th Street
Left on Alba Road
Right on Wakefield Drive
Left on Sue Barnett Drive
Left on Lamonte Lane
Left on Apollo Street 
[Curves south to east, and name changes to West 41st Street]
Right on Golf Drive
Left on West 34th Street
Finish

I did it as a walk, as I am in no shape physically to try to run that far. I misread the course map, and as late in the week as I participated, some of the course markers may have gone missing. So, as a result, I deviated from the course slightly (specifically, as the image rendering of the GPX file will show, I turned left on West 42nd Street instead of Lamonte Lane, cutting back over via Alba Road once I realized my mistake). Given this was a non-competitive event, I’m not worried too much about a disqualification. Stuff happens, and I still put in the full distance (don’t place too much stock in the 8.06 km figure, that counts some obvious GPS technical glitches; realistically it’s more like 5.5-6 km).

I did this to do something different, and as an excuse to get the heck out of the house for a while. My main regret was that the balloon display was obviously just a bit worse for wear after the weather of the preceding 6 days. Nevertheless I took a selfie in front of (what was left of) it.

I’m not much of a competitive runner; it was a big deal for me to finish a mile in around 10½ minutes as a middle school kid, and an even bigger deal to finish the mile in 14 minutes, 12 seconds, in the only competitive mile I attempted in fifth grade. I haven’t really done a lot of running since. If I had been going for time, even walking, I probably could have finished closer to 1 hour even instead of just over 1½ hours. That said, the DIY format of this event made it such so that I didn’t have to feel any pressure of competition or get weird looks from people blowing past me. I hope the pandemic is behind us by next November, but I’d like to see the event return as a DIY event next year even if we have gone back to “normal”.

Player profile (2020 December)

Recently, the Space City Pinball League posted a call for player profiles. Rather than submit this through the original Google Form, I am posting my player profile here for several reasons, the least of which is to maintain full editorial control, including answering questions not originally presented and making minor edits to the questions to more accurately reflect my current status. There are questions I would have liked to answer that weren’t included that I have added.

Player Name and “Enter Your Initials” name: Shawn K. Quinn, SKQ / SKQUASHED

Did you volunteer in [SCPL]? If so, tell us more. I did not volunteer in the league during my time as an SCPL player, but will be organizing pinball events under the auspices of a separate organization in early 2021.

What SCPL events did you regularly attend? Your favorite? I most frequently played in the weekly league at Eighteen Twenty Lounge.

What do you do / have you done for a living? I currently work as a merchandiser/field representative. Pre-pandemic I was trying to get an entertainment business off the ground and was doing face painting at parties and events. In the past I have worked as a courier/messenger, Internet service provider sysadmin/tech support, and web design/marketing/PR consultant.

Where are you from? Born in Houston, Texas, and a lifelong resident in the greater Houston area with approximately three years outside of Houston city limits.

How did you get into pinball? Growing up, the local convenience store had a Firepower, with other games at what passed for arcades at the time. I was more of a video game player until seventh grade when mom realized it was both more cost-effective and better for my mental health to put a couple of extra dollars in my lunch money and have me spend the time after school at the bowling alley across the street playing pinball than going to an after-school program at a day care. That bowling alley had a Secret Service (with a replay stuck at 400k!), Road Kings, and High Speed. (also see:
What was the first arcade pinball game Shawn played?)

Do you have any games at home? No playable machines at present.

What are your 5 favorite games? Ghostbusters (new code), Black Hole, Guardians of the Galaxy, Whirlwind, Twilight Zone, in no particular order.

What’s your favorite competitive pinball memory? It would probably be my second-place finish in the one-off tournament I played in seventh grade.

Do you have any other hobbies? Pre-pandemic, I did a lot of volunteering, primarily for arts-related organizations (Bayou City Arts Festival; Woodlands Waterway Art Festival; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; FotoFest) and a few others (most notably I am part of the Extra Life Houston Guild). I have also contributed to OpenStreetMap (lots) and Wikipedia (occasionally).

Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, what is the biggest challenge you see to the future of competitive pinball? Fixing the reputation issue of pinball. I’ve talked to too many people who still see pinball as a game played by either criminals (gangsters, mobsters) or the outcasts of society. My personal observations have revealed there’s more truth to that than I would like.

A site about one man's quests for record videogame highscores, pinball tournament championships, fame, and stardom.

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