Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Most Popular Phenomena Are for the Birds - Angry Birds

I am always late coming to popular things. I was never popular in high school until my senior year, after I won my county's Junior Miss pageant. "Fame" faded pretty fast. In 1990, I did not care to see the highly touted movie Dances With Wolves, even after it won the Academy Award for Best Picture. When it was re-released after the Oscars, it was the only movie playing at the $2 theater one weekend. So, I gave in and went to see it. Four times. It is now my favorite movie of all time.

Kevin Costner as Lieutenant John J. Dunbar, joined by Two Socks
More recently I ignored the Hunger Games series until I thought I should find out what my two stepdaughters were reading. I read all three books in the trilogy, finishing the last when I was in Haiti. I am a fan of Suzanne Collins now. I even took Hubby to see the movie when it came to the local draft house, waiting until then so that no teens would be around to disturb the peace.

It is probably not a surprise that reportedly addictive video and Internet games like Farmville (I think that is what it is called on Facebook) do not pique my interest whatsoever. I refuse to even learn about the one called "Words with Friends" after hearing the story of Alec Baldwin getting kicked off an airplane for refusing to cease and desist playing the game when a flight attendant told him repeatedly to stop.

What is a bit of a surprise is that I somehow downloaded Angry Birds onto my Kindle Fire a couple of months ago. It sat unopened on my carousel until this past weekend. Now, to back track  for a moment, let me explain that I sort of knew what the game was about when I downloaded it. Last December I was dumbfounded while Christmas shopping when I saw grapefruit-sized stuffed animals--purportedly in the shape of birds--of red, yellow, and blue color, that were flying off the shelves (not literally) at Walmart. I asked my then 12-year-old what they were, and she explained they were from a video game called Angry Birds. "What do they do?" I asked, trying to act like I cared. "They kill pigs," she responded. "And they make weird noises." So we bought one each for her two cousins as Christmas gifts.

So back to my Kindle and Saturday night. I usually read a book or scan the web before going to sleep at night, but out of curiosity that night I opened the Angry Birds game while I was laying in bed. Hubby was next to me, absorbed in a Nats baseball game or some other sporting event on TV. As I started trying out the game, I began to catch on. It involved mathematical calculations, timing, and persistence.

That's when it happened. Hubby saw the game. After watching me for 30 seconds, he said, "Let me try." That was all she wrote. Over the next hour I think I got 10 minutes total playing time. I didn't really mind. It was cute to watch Hubby play the Angry Birds game. He was pretty good at it, in fact, moving up through the levels. Around midnight I suggested we turn off the lights. By 12:30 we did.

Sunday night I ventured to pull out the Kindle again. I got in about 8 minutes of play time on Angry Birds before turning it over to my drooling husband. Monday night was down to 6 minutes for me. Then came last night. After 3 nights of playing, we finally figured out that the blue bird will break into 3 if you touch the screen after launching them. I had seen the triplication happen on occasion, but I did not know what prompted it to happen. I must have touched the screen on accident. Then last night I watched the little pop-up explanation. What a break-through -- literally! Three bluebirds can break through more easily than one lonely little birdie. It was so funny watching Hubby play the game that I had to snap a couple of pictures.

Ready, aim, fire!

Looking good! Can you get all the pigs?

Oh, no. The dreaded "Level Failed" message. Just one more time...

Then, as luck would have it, this morning I stumbled across the perfect video, which perfectly encapsulates what has happened over the last four nights. I wasn't looking for the video, but it popped up this morning at the end of a birthday card/video that my sister sent to my baby brother, who turned 39 today. (Happy Birthday, Baby Brother!) I have highlighted Tim Hawkins in a previous column, so I was delighted that he has addressed the Angry Bird phenomenon.

So what does Angry Birds have to do with being an informed Catholic voter? As I read about the game, I was struck by the fact that the day before I first began playing it, an MSNBC co-host had made a despicable accusation that Mitt Romney's use of the words "angry" and "anger" was the "niggerization" of Mr. Obama's campaign. What? I know! Mr. Toure has since apologized, but only after he got a LOT of flack from both sides.... Okay, at least the Right gave him a hard time.

I can make this observation. When you play angry birds, you see the blue and red birds first. Then the yellow one comes into the fray. And then the BLACK bird. And he EXPLODES when you touch the screen. Hmmmm. Something to think about. I wonder if Barack Obama plays Angry Birds. Or am I a racist for wondering?

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