Saturday, May 2, 2009

Spherical Recreations

Colorful balls are such a pleasing form. They practically shout out loud: "Sports!" "Games!" "Toys!" And above all: "Recess!"

Superballs from the toy store. Billiard balls on the bumper pool table at the the Y, where we had summer day camp. A game of 8-ball with my dad on the pool table at the volunteer firehouse. A croquet game in progress in the backyard. Yellow tennis balls. Yellow golf balls. Miniature golf balls in every primary color. Baseballs, softballs, and wiffle balls; basketballs, bowling balls, soccer balls, volleyballs. Red-rubber kickballs at school. Red cricket balls too, or so I understand. Pinballs. Bocce balls. Nerf balls, even.

That pile of colorful balls at the Ikea entrance -- sanitized hourly by the staff, surely -- in which you can happily lose a kid for an hour. There's nothing that's not happy about a pile of balls.

Which probably explains my current obsession with a simple, freeware computer game that I found on Yahoo: the aptly named "Pile of Balls". It's an absurdly simple, Tetris-like recreation in which you manipulate the falling balls, three at a time, into color groups that vanish when you get four or more together. Every so often, a satisfying little fanfare sounds -- "Ta-daaaaa!" -- and you advance a level. I have yet to survive Level 7, but it's not for lack of trying.

Toy models of atoms and planets in science class are fun, too. Speaking of which, I've been following the updates of American astronaut Mike Massimino (@Astro_Mike) on Twitter. He'll be on the Space Shuttle that launches into orbit in about a week. I'm really envious; pretty soon he'll have a large blue and green ball out the window to play with.

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