Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 269 - "I want a girl who will laugh for no one else..."

Comedy is easy, Girls are hard.

Yesterday at the gym I saw a cute red headed girl I hadn't ever seen before in the usual circle of misfits I run into. Other than the fact that she had finely toned abs, and probably could give Felicia Day (inset, my current game girl/actress crush) a run for her money, I knew nothing about her. I debated approaching her, but decided instead to run a series of scenarios through my head of possible conversations we'd have.

(Near the inclined crunch machine)
Matt: Hey there.
Felicia (I guess): Hi.
M: I haven't seen you in this gym before.
F: Oh, I'm sorry. I meant to get the word out to all my stalkers. Your name must have slipped through the cracks.
M: Oh, you don't have to worry about all those other guys. I took care of them.
F: Funny. I'm Felicia.
M: I'm Matt.
F: Nice to meet you, Matt.
M: I love you.
F: Uhh...what?

(On the exercise bikes)
M: Hi. Whatcha listenin' to?
F: The Decemberists.
M: Cool, cool. I'm more of an 'Septemberists' man, myself.
F: Hah.
M: That was dumb, I know. I'm sorry, I'm no good at this stuff.
F: I can tell. I'm Felicia.
M: I'm Matt. And I've got dibs on the name 'Septemberists', by the way.
F: Fair enough. Nice to meet you, Matt.
M: Please don't reject me.
F: Uh...what?

(Near the free weights)
M: (approaching the heaviest weights) Damn, is this the highest they go?
F: You want heavier? I think those right there weigh more than you do.
M: Exactly. A man who can't lift his body weight with each arm isn't serious about fitness.
F: Heh, that's interesting advice. What about women?
M: Well, if you wanna break through the glass ceiling, I suppose I have to hold you to the same standard.
F: Guess I better start bulking up then.
M: Take your time.
F: I'm Felicia, by the way.
M: I'm Matt...
F: Nice to meet you, Matt.
M: ...and every other guy in here is more worthy of you than I am - talk to one of them instead.
F: Uh...what?

(On the treadmill)
M: (panting, turning off the machine) I...I win!
F: I'm sorry?
M: I beat you.
F: I didn't know we were racing.
M: Oh, we totally were. Looks like you owe me a drink.
F: Hah...oh really?
M: Yup. And you can't bail on me 'cause you know I'm faster than you, and I can catch up with you at any time...
F: That's funny. Ok, funny man. Why don't we start with our names. I'm Feli...
F: Uh...what?

(In the women's locker room)
M: Hmm, which locker did I use today?
F: What the fuck are you doing, you're in the women's locker room!
M: Ah. I knew something was wrong when I didn't see a bunch of hairy backs and shriveled sacks! Eh? Ehh??
F: Get out you freak!!
M: I hate you. No...just kidding. I just said that because I love you.
F: Uh...what?

I can get on stage in front of an audience every week and, along with my fellow improvisers, make up a show on the spot without an ounce of doubt in my mind, but all I can think about when I see a pretty girl is my potential for failure.


Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: As Darth Vader's secret apprentice!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Day 267 - "My my my how the time does fly when you know you're gonna die by the end of the night..."

I've been bad about posting due to a lack of any single coherent idea/point for a post, so I'm just going to throw everything I've got against the metaphorical wall here and we'll see what sticks:

1) First off - I'm at less than 100 days away at this point, which is very exciting. I'm on the home stretch at this point. Which means I'm on gaming deal websites every other day looking for cheap ass games to purchase and accumulate for the big day.

There's a part of me that knows deep down inside that in reality, I'm never going to get to a lot of these games, at least not before I'm too old to work, exercise, or go out to spend time with any of my friends and family. That same part of me is very excited for that point in time when I am that old, and I'll have lots and lots of gaming to look forward to. I only pray that whatever afflictions old age brings my way, my brain remains sharp and my hands remain steady! That, and of course, that I have relative freedom from our robot/zombie/angry, global-warming-afflicted polar bear overlords.

2) The new fall TV season kind of sucks. This has been said by hundreds of others all over the internet so I won't dwell too much on it. But I will say this: To the creators of this new HBO cartoon "The Life and Times of Tim" - your show looks ugly, and if you're going to pull off an animated show that looks worse than all of the poorly dubbed Japanime that's been brought to this country since the 1970s, then you'd better make sure it's balls-to-the-wall hilarious. South Park pulled it off 10 years ago, but from what I've seen in clips, your show is no* South Park.

3) I think if I was every to give up something else for a year (or forever), it would have to be the internet. Now, having just said that, I never will. Because I'm far more reliant and addicted to it now than I ever was with video games. I recently tried thinking of my life pre-internet, because I'm old enough to have known that life. But honestly, I don't know what I did with that extra time. Homework and freeze tag are my best guesses.

I've always been a big fan of magazines. I've had subscriptions to Entertainment Weekly, Psychology Today, Time, and of course, every video game magazine, ever. When I'm at the doctor's office, if I start reading an article, and I'm into it, I get really upset if I get called into the examination room while I'm mid-article. I'll either bring the magazine in with me (since I know I'll have some down time in there, inevitably), or I'll finish the article(s) I was interested in when I get out. The internet is to me essentially the greatest, longest, most detailed enthusiast magazine you've ever seen, and it covers every single hobby/topic you'd ever be interested in reading about. And it goes on forever. And it grows bigger as you hold it.

4) I read recently that 97% of all teens play video games. Guess who's going to be the cool uncle/neighbor/grandpa/random old dude someday?

5) Finally, as I stated some time ago, I knew that right about now I would be tired of the warm weather. Even though it was kind of cool last week, this week the heat and the humidity came back. Well, here I am saying it on the record - I'm ready for it to be cold again. I'm ready to sleep comfortably under blanket at night, and to bust out my winter wardrobe. The seasons are made for Matt Shafeek!


Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: New Old-School Mega Man!

*Seriously, if I have to see one more awful animated banner ad of your protagonist grabbing that old woman's boobs, I'm going to kill myself. No wait...you. Yeah, definitely you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 250 - "Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down..."

A couple of days ago, someone went ahead and decided to initiate the greatest Rickroll of all time. And it was under perhaps the most ingenious guise possible - a creationist blogger who was lambasting the release of the new video game 'Spore.'

Let me back up a second - for the few of you left who don't know what a "rickroll" is, click here now! There, you've been rickrolled. Now, for those non-gamers out there, 'Spore' is a new simulation game that was just released by Will Wright, the man behind SimCity and the Sims. In it, players go about following the evolution of their creature, from microscopic organism to fully intelligent species, interacting with other player's creatures around the world. It's getting a ton of praise*, if nothing more than for it's ingenuity.

Since the game obviously touches on the idea of evolution, (though, technically, it's more of an 'intelligent design' model if you think about it) there was bound to be some discussion on the matter. No sooner had the game come out when "Anti Spore" made it's appearance. The website was essentially a blog in which it's author, a loyal creationist (and a women, she soon proudly proclaimed) attempted to recruit allies in the war against the "propaganda machine" that was Spore. A sample entry:

It takes a village to raise a child...
"And 8,500 employees at Electronic Arts to corrupt a child’s mind.

8,500 people all working together and not a single one with enough Jesus to stand up and say what they are doing is wrong.

It makes me sick."

The site received immediate backlash. Gamers, non-gamers, atheists and the "generally open-minded" all began posting their thoughts and responses. There were a good number of them simply coming to the defense of the game. Then there were some that were heated, coming down on fundamentalism itself. And the rest of them...well, you all know this guy:

David Mudkipson 10 Sep 2008 at 2:59 am 23

"You are a gigantic faggot."

Ahem. This went on for four days until today when the blogger revealed her (or his, as at this point, we must question everything) modus operandi very subtly in a verse from her "bible":

But the Bible teaches us that God was not done with man. For we were His creation and He then spoke to Noah in Genesis 8:21-27 after the flood.
“21. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never gonna give you up. 22. “Never gonna let you down.” 23.”Never gonna run around and desert you.” 24. “Never gonna make you cry.” 25. “Never gonna say goodbye.” 26. “Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.” 27.”Never truly believe anything you read on the Internet. There will always be cases of Poe’s Law

However, the poster revealed the gag very far into her post - so much so that a fairly large number of the (as of this writing) 972 responses all ignore the bit and continue ranting and raving. I probably wouldn't have noticed it myself either, if it wasn't for a post from Kotaku.

It's increasingly difficult these days to trick people. We're an ever skeptical species, especially over the internet. But this one definitely got us*. And not only did it get us, but it also managed to pull the rug out from underneath us right as we were already standing on top of our soapboxes. Awesome. I tip my hat to you, sir/madam, whoever you are. Well done.


Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: You guessed it! BATTLETOADS!!!

*the non-holy kind.
*Poe's Law, for those of you who are curious, states that: "Without a blatant display of humour, it is impossible to tell the difference between religious Fundamentalism and a parody thereof."
*Ok, not you - you there, the one waving your finger in the air. You totally didn't fall for it. Congratulations. You win this prize!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day 243 - "Can't be held responsible..."

One of my favorite Simpsons scenes of all time (and there are a LOT of them) involves a random cutaway joke from an episode involving a Japanese Osaka Flu spreading throughout Springfield. In a scene showing how dire the epidemic has become, we see the well-intentioned Dr. Hibbert addressing a panicking crowd:

Crowd:   We need a cure!  We need a cure!
Hibbert: Ho ho ho.  Why, the only cure is bedrest.   Anything I give you would be a placebo.
Woman: [frantic] Where can we get these placebos?
The crowd overturns a truck in search of placebos, but alas the only thing inside is a crate of killer bees. The bees converge on the crowd and they all begin to flee.
Man:[eating a bee] I'm cured!  I mean...ow!*
-- ``Marge in Chains''

As a psych major, there have always been certain facets of the human mind that utterly fascinate me. The placebo effect is one of them. That in any given study your control group - the people who are, by definition, not receiving any treatment at all - will always have a small percentage of people who respond to fake treatment (like a sugar pill) is amazing to me. In tons of cases people's sheer willpower to make themselves think they're being cured matches or beats out whatever drug or treatment were giving the study group.

I also just happen to love the word placebo. The way it sounds. I think I actually learned it the day I saw that episode, rolling off of Dr. Hibbert's tongue.

I learned something today I never realized before about the placebo effect. I was just reading the fine print for a new medication I started using, which I now realize I'm going to have to start doing more often*. Apparently, in a clinical trial with the topical drug I am using, Ketoconazole cream 2%, the following adverse reactions were noted:

During clinical trials 45 (5.0%) of 905 patients treated with ketoconazole cream, 2% and 5 (2.4%) of 208 patients treated with placebo reported side effects consisting mainly of severe irritation, pruritus and stinging.

That's right. 5 people receiving...I dunno, sugar cream, reported irritation, stinging, and pruritus, which I just learned is apparently "severe itching, often of undamaged skin." Apparently people also have the ability to will negative side effects from nothing onto themselves. Do these people just have really pessimistic skin? Are they attempting to work themselves up for some kind of lawsuit? Or are they just prone to break out at any time if they're in a stressful study environment?

What a wonder man is. A sad, ridiculous wonder.


Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: Chrono Trigger! An epic time-travel-themed RPG for the SNES! (Coming soon as a remake for the Nintendo DS)

*I got this info from the "Simpsons Archive" but I actually remembered the last line from the scene, involving the man eating the bee and claming he is cured. To leave out what is effectively the punchline to the scene misses the point of transcribing it at all. Worst retelling...ever!
*Reading the fine print, not taking the medicine. That shit's for pussies.