The McBournie Minute: Bowl to the future

Over the weekend I attended a 7-year-old’s birthday party and was surprisingly devoid of alcohol. It had been a while for me since I had gone to any birthday parties that did not involve someone falling asleep on the bathroom floor, so this was a shock to me. Happily, I found that the birthday parties of the younger ones have not really changed since I was that age.

There were still heavily caffeinated sodas for the children, along with snacks and cake. There were presents and balloons. It was at a bowling alley, and there were pop music videos playing on projection screens. During the experience I realized two things:

  1. Kids listen to pop music brought to you by Disney, featuring teen singers/ role models so modestly dressed you can’t even see their 20% of their skin, thus making me feel creepy for the slightest glance.
  2. Federal funding for bowling alleys ran out in 1981.

I’ll start off by saying I am not the most qualified to talk about bowling, our own Rick Snee is in a women’s league on Monday nights.  Anyway, the score keeping things, seats, ball return, overall look of every bowling alley in the country was great in 1978, but since then, there have been no major advances in bowling technology, at least cosmetically.  I’ve bowled in many places on the east coast, and from what I have seen on television and in movies of other bowling alleys, my assessment seems to be correct. Look at the bowling alleys of movies like Kingpin and The Big Lebowski. (Only difference: In 1991 you lick the bowling ball.) Heck, you can even look at movies from the 1970s and 1980s, I’m sure all the cool kids hang out in bowling alleys, providing some great reference photography.

One bowling alley is identical to another, some just have shinier disco balls.

As much as I love the Atari-style feel of watching my bowling score (I broke 100 over the weekend!) on the screen coming down from the ceiling, can’t they upgrade it a little? I’m not talking animation or better controls, just something that I feel like would be able to handle three colors at the same time. I’m thinking of a layout upgrade to, to something closer to Web 0.2 and console buttons that are not 30 years worn and thus hard to read the labels. You know, I’d like something that looks like it belongs on the Space Shuttle, not Skylab.

Bowling is a fun sport, regardless. Nowhere else can you drink, smoke, eat and worry about getting a finger or two dislocated in the process. All I am asking is that there be some place where it doesn’t feel like I’m bowling in a place that looks as it did around the time my parents were dating. Jimmy Carter’s updated his style, why can’t our public alleys do the same?

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