Spare Me The Headache


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.

little blue neon

Nothing wrong with using a little elbow grease to roll down the windows…

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:

Do... you... want... to... play... a... game?

Do… you… want… to… play… a… game?

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….

The second best classroom educational format only to the filmstrip (BEEP!)

The second best classroom educational format only to the filmstrip (BEEP!)

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 flashback fridayone 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.

This image just screams 2012, doesn't it?

This image just screams 2012, doesn’t it?

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…

Team 7 hath died from dysentry

Team 7 hath died from dysentry

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!

Sniff!  Ah, the good old days!

Sniff! Ah, the good old days!

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….


A simpler and much more sensible time.

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…

About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
This entry was posted in Flashbacks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Spare Me The Headache

  1. merbear74 says:

    Were we born on the same day or something? Our childhood memories are creepily similar. I loved to bowl, and my parents were in a league back in the day.

  2. Juliette says:

    I know those zombies! Great post.

  3. Pingback: Spare Me The Headache | West Coast Review

  4. fransiweinstein says:

    I don’t bowl, but I’m with ya!

  5. pishnguyen says:

    My brother is 9 years older than me, and he was HUGE into bowling when he was younger. He played all the time and even considered going pro. (I’m not sure if there are any pro bowlers left out there in the world these days, but anyhow …) I remember going with him to the bowling alley and watching people keep score on the overhead projector. Good memories.

  6. gentlestitches says:

    Hilarious about the zombie apocalypse. I believe it is really important to think FOR ONESELF and make informed choices about which technology we will and will not embrace.
    Just because it is there, doesn’t mean we automatically have to use it. Progress is only progress if it is progress. Well said ES. Sometimes we have to stand up and shout “The Emperor has no clothes”.

  7. T_Bone0806 says:

    I go back even further…we kept score on those big unwieldy PAPER scoring sheets (which you would bring up at the end of the festivities where the attendant would check it over against the “meter” he had to make sure you didn’t roll a few “practice” balls…his attention to the scoresheet was somewhat reminiscent of a border guard checking over the passport of a suspicious looking undesirable attempting to enter the country). Knowing how to keep score made you feel like a big shot…ok, maybe it wasn’t quite the same as being able to take a curveball for a 450-foot cruise, but you took your cool factor wherever you could. My grandkids seem to be impressed when I can tell ’em what score will be coming up on Wii Bowling before it shows up on the screen, anyway…

    • T Bone!!!!!

      I remember before the auto scorers, they used to give out the paper sheets for anyone bowling open play. The overheads and acetate sheets were only for use by league bowlers, made us feel special!

  8. mskatykins says:

    I am so proud to be one of the 4 followers! 😉

    Great post and I agree with a lot of it. I’ve always wanted to be good at bowling but I must admit that the last time I went (just last month) I didn’t get as high a score as Darren! Shameful, eh? 😉

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