I’ll admit it, I’m pretty hard on new technology. That isn’t really a surprise to anyone who’s an avid reader of my blog (all four of you!). I think we can live without the vast wasteland of creepiness that is Facebook and Tweeter, we don’t need cell phones that are so advanced they can do pretty much everything…. except make a damn phone call. I don’t think we need cars that have more gadgets and buttons and gauges and pretty lights than Kitt from Knight Rider had.
But yes, I admit that most people consider these things to be great technological advances for the good of our society. Who am I to argue with them…. like I could argue with a cell phone zombie anyway….
But there is one place that computer technology has completely invaded during my lifetime where it not only was not needed, but has actually succeeded in being more of a hindrance than a help. That place would be your local bowling alley….
Public Enemy Number One:
I’ve mentioned before I come from a bowling family, and we were started off young. I bowled in my first league back in the mid 80’s, and back then, you had to keep score yourself on an overhead projector. For those of you under the age of 20 who didn’t get to experience the magic of the overhead projector during your school days, here is what you missed out on….
For some odd reason, in the late 80’s, bowling centers decided that bowlers didn’t want to keep their own damn scores anymore. We once had two bowling alleys in town. One, the one I didn’t bowl at, laid out the big bucks to get these early automatic scoring machines, and used them as a gimmick to get people to come there. That worked just the opposite for me… keeping score was part of the fun of bowling to me! Eventually, my bowling center caved as well, and in 1994, we got the stupid machines… and they still had those same scoring machines when the alley was shut down last year.
So now I have to bowl several miles away… and at a bowling alley whose automatic scorers make these early 90’s models look like an iPad…
As bad as it is that I have to put up with Pac Man era technology tallying up my league’s scores, what really irritates me about these things is how much more complicated they make bowling! Almost every time, you can count on at least one if not several delays in the action due to the 5 minutes it takes to fix something on the automatic scorer when it fucks up. If someone throws a ball in the gutter and gets credit for a strike, to change that on the machine (I am not making this up!) requires going through THREE different menus and NINE button pushes in all. You know what’s slightly easier than that…. the almighty pencil!
Just like digital clocks have given us a whole generation of kids who can’t tell time, automatic scorers have given us a whole generation of kids who don’t even know how to keep a bowling score…. or care about bowling for that matter. Keeping score forced you to be involved in what was going on, and made the whole bowling experience so much more enjoyable, and definitely a lot less stressful over what to do when the machine forgot how to count pins. Unfortunately, these things have pretty much invaded every bowling alley out there now… and the sport has definitely suffered because of it.
There are so many things about the golden age of bowling alleys that could inspire a wealth of Flashback Friday moments… the 70’s-like atmosphere that carried on in most centers through the new millennium, those funky colored team bowling shirts, the Jackson Pollackesque designs of the house balls, the quarter munching arcades, the (cough hack) smoke so thick you couldn’t see the ball washer in front of you. So many great memories! But it’s the old overhead projector scorers that I will miss the most. The feel of the acetane scoresheets, the first degree burns on the side of my right hand, the naughty shadow puppets, craning my neck to check for sleepers….
You belong in our bowling alleys and not the Smithsonian, oh glorious overhead projector! Perhaps it was staring at your 500 watt bulb too long that made us so blind as to accept newer, but more inferior scoring technology…