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kottke.org posts about Nicholson Baker

Born to be Mild: The Dull Men’s Club

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 30, 2016

Born to be Mild is a short documentary about The Dull Men’s Club, an online community of men wishing to escape the hurly-burly of everyday life and just be ordinary.

Whether you’re crazy for roundabouts, addicted to photographing mailboxes, have the world’s largest collection of British milk bottles, or you’re a dull man with pretty much any sort of hobby that induces bafflement and yawns in friends and acquaintances, there’s a club just for you. A drolly cheerful celebration of the very ordinary, Born to be Mild explores the uncommon hobbies practiced by the members of the Dull Men’s Club — an online community that connects ‘dull men, and women who appreciate dull men’.

The group’s “greatest accomplishment”, listed on their about page, is:

Remaining dull in spite of the ever-increasing pressures from advertising, the media, and elsewhere to change.

In a recent piece in the NY Times Magazine, Nicholson Baker wrote about dullness:

That’s the extremely interesting thing: Everything is interesting. Potentially. Sometimes it may not seem so. You may think a certain thing is completely without interest. You may think, or I may think, eh, dull, boring, heck with it, let’s move on. But there is someone on this planet who can find something interesting in that particular thing. And it’s often good to try. You have to poke at a thing, sometimes, and find out where it squeaks. Any seemingly dull thing is made up of subsidiary things. It’s a composite — of smaller events or decisions. Or of atoms and molecules and prejudices and hunches that are fireflying around in unexpected and impossible trajectories. Everything is interesting because everything is not what it is, but is something on the way to being something else. Everything has a history and a secret stash of fascination.

The Dull Men’s Club actually seems to be the Odd Objects Collector’s Club. I could get into milk bottles and roundabouts. What about the truly dull, who don’t collect anything and just watch the news on TV all day?

We Work Remotely

Video game virgin

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 16, 2010

Nicholson Baker has “always had pacifist leanings” so it was interesting to read about his first experiences playing video games, mostly the popular violent ones: Halo 3, Red Dead Redemption, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, etc.

To begin with, you must master the controller. On the Xbox 360 controller, which looks like a catamaran, there are seventeen possible points of contact. In order to run, crouch, aim, fire, pause, leap, speak, stab, grab, kick, dismember, unlock, climb, crawl, parry, roll, or resuscitate a fallen comrade, you must press or nudge or woggle these various buttons singly or in combination, performing tiny feats of exactitude that are different for each game. It’s a little like playing “Blue Rondo a la Turk” on the clarinet, then switching to the tenor sax, then the oboe, then back to the clarinet.

Bummer that the whole article isn’t online.