For the month of June, we asked all our writers to use a video in their piece.
If you’re anything like me, when I first encountered this video you thought two things: a) what the hell did I just watch? and b) that was really cool. Maybe, just maybe, you pulled out a deck of cards and started messing around until the King of Spades ended up in coffee and the Two of Hearts got torn in half.
I can’t imagine how this hobby would develop, except that Timmy really, really had nothing else to do on a Saturday afternoon. There’s no doubt, however, who has embraced this hobby. Whereas you would think card twirling would perfected by people with attractive, muscular forearms and tendons of iron, from all appearances, it is mostly run by nerds.
And laugh all you want, the nerds will inherit the earth, eventually turning the international currency to magical dragoons, which is more or less equivalent to your level in World of Warcraft (WOW). If you don’t know what WOW is, have fun being ruled by your nephew who definitely knows everything about it.
It amazes me how many of these fringe… things are out there, practiced by five hundred people who have the audacity to call their crazy OCD compulsions “hobbies” and apparently have enough money to stage COMPETITIONS for something you didn’t know existed. It makes you wonder how much else is sliding under the radar.
I’ll tell you what is: Second Life. Founded in San Francisco (no surprise there), it’s a video game that’s not even cool; you’re not an elf living in a fantasy world filled with evil creatures that you have to shoot with an enchanted crossbow to protect your castle. Players still have to pay taxes, go to work, have a house, and take out the trash, and yet, this game makes millions for the nerds (of course) who created it. People actually spend time not living their actual life to tap into a computer and play a life that is just as lame as their real one. If this doesn’t signal something wrong with society, I don’t know what will.
Did the first caveman think, You know what, I wish I could play a virtual game in which I was a lawyer? Hardly. You think he was that eloquent? No, he was out braving the tusks of a Mastodon to provide for his family while his wife harvested crops and made damn sure Johnny was behaving in school.
But the hobby madness doesn’t end there. One of my favorites is Quidditch, and if it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s from Harry Potter. Quidditch is now a real game based on a fictional game that is really a version of soccer with magical brooms, three goals, two balls you can hit to maim people, and a golden, hard-to-catch “snitch” that Harry always manages to catch despite being chased by demon-like dementors, dragons, enchanted death balls, and mean blonde people.
The nerd version is for everyone who likes brooms, casting spells with sticks, and tackling people dressed in gold, which makes for an interesting playing field of football jocks, ex-cons, pasty English majors whose doctor told them to exercise, and Wicca members who keep casting spells to turn you into a newt. I’m not sure which one of those I am, but I really want to join.
The list of far-fetched hobby-type things goes on—latte art, throwing things in a blender and showing the footage on YouTube (Will It Blend?), keeping moldy water in your garage and selling it to other people (home brewing), even something like unicycling is actually pretty crazy when you think about it.
I can imagine the conversation with the first unicyclist.
Joe: Well, we’ve got two basic models here: two-wheeled or a tricycle. Which ya want?
Tom: Jeez Joe. I think I’m more of a one-wheel guy. Whaddya say we cut one of these in half and try to ride it?
Joe: Tom—I hate to say this, but… you’re crazy.
And sure, it may be crazy to some, but this is humanity, this is people being awesome. Without people looking at things a bit differently, we wouldn’t have beer, bicycles, coffee, anything really; hell, we’d probably still be fish unless that first some entrepreneurial pollywog thought, Screw it. I’m walking to work today. So, go on. Do something a bit strange—if you aren’t inspired by a hobby made up of a bunch of uncoordinated math geeks doing tricks with cards, I’ve officially lost hope in you.
Ben Rietema (’14) lives in Wanaka, New Zealand at the moment. Besides staring at and running in mountains, he makes a wicked hospital corner and can clean a bathroom like Gandhi (if he were a housekeeper) at his job at a local lodge. He also enjoys saying “HOUSEKEEPING” in the highest pitch voice he can muster before entering a room to service it. benrietema.wordpress.com/