Whilst on tour in Portland, Maine I finally was able to cross off one of my life goals: play candlepin. It's a distinctly New England dialect of bowling with a small ball that fits in your palm, straight up and down candlestickesque pins, and 3 rolls for each frame. I think my affinity for it was originally tied up in my usual taste for local variants, strange traditions - etc, but after playing a game I left with much more substanial reasons for liking it.

1. Erractic indeterminacy. The ball is so tiny that it often veers even when thrown straight. Couple this with the fact that gutter balls are often violently spit out back into the lane and that fallen pins stay in the field of play ("roadblocks") and you have a recipe for unpredicatable play.

2. Abysmal futility. You would think with an extra throw each frame that Candlepin would be a breeze compared to our 10 pin, while actually it is considerably more difficult. Strikes and spares are rare events. In competition between "professionals" scores of 130 are common. The best game ever, according to the dude that worked at the bowling alley, was 245. No one, ever, has had a perfect game (300). It's an unreachable zenith, one which the dude that worked at the bowling alley said would never be surmounted.

3. Luddite central. It might have just been the alley we went to but you had to keep score yourself as well as hit the button to rerack the pins after each roll. And tons of really old New Englanders are into it as evidenced by the background crowds in these videos. And people in New England have the best accents in America. RIP DON GILLIS

Apparently there is a place in Wyoming, Ohio which has Candlepin. It's 2 hours away. C'est domage.

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