Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Poppersteins, part I

Back in I think 2005, Mordecai, Joe and I made a trip to Nickel City in Northbrook, Illinois. Half of their games require nickels and give you tickets as rewards, like at Chuck E Cheese's, which you can redeem for various crappy prizes, like at Chuck E Cheese's. The other arcade games cost many more nickels but are played for pure pleasure, like music simulation games, sports arcade games, and fighting games. There's a corner of free games, which are generally kind of pathetic, but it's a nice touch anyway. I have to go in the free corner every now and then to play Pac-Man just to force myself to take a break from spending money.

I won a bunch of tickets by playing this game:


I'm glad I have this old photo from my previous cell phone, because it's hard to explain. Basically, your nickel is supposed to cause a chain of reactions where in the end, lots of nickels fall off. At arcades in Japan, I've played this where you end up with more coins. (It's kind of like pachinko.) Here, you get tickets. I get hooked on this game pretty badly each time I go to Nickel City; Joe pointed out to me something along the lines of, "You'd probably like casinos" or "You should go to casinos." Given my addictive nature, the answer to that is, I should stay away from casinos.

Joe won a ton of tickets by playing the Speed Demon game, which I will not and cannot attempt to describe. All you need to know is that Joe is really good at this game, and that he won a lot of tickets and then graciously donated them to me. I fed these tickets into the counter machine thingie while little children watched with awe and envy. One day, you too can be in your twenties, freely spending your own money on arcade games at Nickel City!

So, what "prize" did I redeem? I had never had so many tickets. My eyes went to the stuffed animals. I'm pretty sure I was thinking, "Damn, what a sad selection." I picked a stuffed penguin and in the parking lot, named him "Carleton" after Carlton Banks of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Not sure why the "e" is there, but there it is. I wanted to give him a last name of his own, "Popperton" or "Pepperton," but Mordecai insisted that he was Jewish and that his name should therefore be "Popperstein" instead. And thus, Carleton Poppperstein was born. I like how the philosopher Karl Popper's name is somehow contained in Carleton's full name.

I can't believe it's been almost four years since acquiring Carleton. I'm pretty sure that I take better care of him than many people take care of their children and/or live animal pets, and this is a sad fact on all kinds of levels. Anyway, his belly can no longer be called "white" and he's gone through a number of small "maintenance" operations. Above all, the tag on his cute little toosh has disintegrated, and his exact origins can no longer be discerned from this tag. All I remember is that he's made in China and that the company is based in Cleveland, Ohio.

When I named my fantasy team "The Poppersteins," I became curious as to whether there were still more Carletons being made. I made Mordecai contact Nickel City and ask about whether they knew of a stuffed penguin with orange and yellow cheeks that they once got, and the lady refused to give distributor names but said she'd contact him if they got any stuffed penguins in the future. Two weekends ago, the lady called and left a message saying that they got a stuffed penguin with yellow cheeks, available for redemption. She always seemed kind of moody, but I was very happy that she had followed through.

The following Monday, we went out to Nickel City to check these penguins out.





Each one cost about $12.50. I consider this a big bargain! However, there seems to be no consistency in producing these penguins. "As long as you can recognize that it's a penguin" seems to be the company principle or motto. In addition, they are significantly smaller than Carleton. RECESSION MODEL! Can we get back on the Excess Model?


We are a happy family.


Richard said...

haha crappy prizes

kei, let's go to the remodeled horseshoe sometime.

your description of joe reminds me of a time in hs when i went to diversions and watched him do ddr with spins and hand motions without looking at the screen

Jenni said...

From start to finish, this is an amazing story. Reading it has inspired me to want MORE TOTOROS.

kei said...

Richard: What is the remodeled Horseshoe? This sounds like a casino. I smell trouble.

The Speed Demon game is not too unlike DDR et. al., where you hit something when you're supposed to. I think Joe is especially gifted at this, or has really trained his eye/brain coordination. Mordecai and I tried the game and failed on many occasions, so we stuck with the coin pushing games.

I wish Diversions were still around!

Jenni: You should totally acquire more Totoros! They actually have a family-like circle, with the little blue one and the little slow white one. But having lots of big Totoros would be amazing too. The only problem with this idea is that they probably cost a lot more than $12.50 each. Damn you, expensive Japanese high-quality goods.

Joe said...

casinos dont have fun games like this
rich if you still around
what do you play at casinos?
im a blackjack guy
but havent been in a year or so

i must say im somewhat enamored by the other skill based games
like the ones where you launch/shoot your nickel
while waiting for the speed demon jackpot to reset

never seen it spelled that way

its kinda sad whenever i drive up mccormick
and still see the diversions sign
since nothing has taken its place
i think a ups store now takes up the half that they gave up before they closed for good

speed demon does have the random gayness element before it becomes the timing game
which is what turns off many people
but i liked it better when it was in the opposite corner of basketball game
on the other side of the capsule machines
where its more quiet