Sunday, April 26, 2009

107 Days UP - "This time I'd thought I'd listen, and the story goes I am the same..."

I think I figured out what kind of person Bizarro Matt Shafeek would be today. I've been reading up on hipsters a lot lately, and although I guess they've been around for some time now, they have never really been on my radar before. I guess there are enough other groups of people I hate that this particular subset of people managed to fall under my radar.

So...in case you don't know, hipsters are: "young, recently-settled urban middle class adults and older teenagers with interests in non-mainstream fashion and culture". They try to come off as artsy, creative types, but really they're just living on their parents dime, jumping from trend to trend while never really settling on anything that could "define them."

What's funny to me- no, just bizarre, actually - is the whole 'ironic attire' thing. They'll wear a t-shirt or accessory with some lame gag/dated message on it (see: apparently most t-shirts from the 70's?), and wear it with kind of a backwards appreciation. Now, personally I can't remember the last time I bought clothes at all - I literally got to the point a few years ago where I started saying "yeah, I have something pretty close to this" to everything I saw that I liked, which means I met my threshold for clothing*? But anyways, clothes shopping for me always seems like my weakest moment of giving into society's demands for my personal appearance, especially after I grew out of my "Simpsons t-shirt for every day of the week" phase, when I guess you could say I was free of societal influence/looked like a huge dork. And then once it was brought to my attention that I was dressing up like an idiot for 17 years, I couldn't go clothes shopping alone because I simply couldn't trust my own opinion on anything I bought. Does this fit me right? Do these colors match? Can I wear this to go out, to like, nice places? Do I seem more like a tall guy when I put this on?

Right around college, all of this started to matter a lot to me, and once it did, I thought to myself: "hey, look at me, I care about how I look! I'm an adult now - a member of modern society - a society of people who will hopefully accept my appearance in public!" So the idea that there are people out there who reject this concept, who wear shitty/ironic t-shirts - and not, as I had thought, by shopping at Banana Republic - in order to actually be cool? Well, that just makes my brain hurt a little. The funny thing is, at this point those Simpsons t-shirts are probably only a few years away from being "ironically cool" if I understand the coolness cycle* properly.

So blah blah blah - bottom line, this entire blog post has been an excuse for me to play dress up. Just now I dug through my wardrobe and accouterments, and I asked myself: "What would Bizarro/Hipster Matt Shafeek look like?":



















Whaddya guys think? Did I nail the look? 'Cause honestly, I still kind of have no idea what they actually wear. Oh shit - by asking for your opinion, have I negated everything?

(By the way, in case you are wondering, Bizarro/Hipster Matt Shafeek is wearing a wool cap that he found in a bar, a clip on tie on the right side of his collar, that he believes is for much younger boys, a Barack Obama pin that cost him $4 from a conservative Christian store around the corner from his apartment, a Reel Big Fish t-shirt, which he is "wearing ironically" for the photo, even though Real Life Matt Shafeek (R.L.M.S.) is actually a big fan, his glasses that R.L.M.S. should actually always be wearing but does not, an "ironically held" Wilson pro-spiral football, and finally, some torn up - um, sleep trunks? I wanna say sleep trunks - that R.L.M.S. used to wear to sleep but Bizarro/Hipster Matt Shafeek totally wears out on the town)

-Matt

Currently Playing: Just earned my official "Burnout License" in Burnout Paradise. Guess I've technically beaten the game, even though that's only about 52% complete. That and Exit 2 will probably be little distractions to go back to in between my larger meals. Speaking of which, I really am having a hard time getting into Twilight Princess, and am considering putting it aside again and returning to Mass Effect. Honestly though, as long as this unemployment continues, there's really no reason why I have to discriminate at all!

*and I guess, to come full circle - caring about what people think...
*The Coolness Cycle - Unknown -> Indie -> Mainstream -> Overdone -> Out of Style -> Minor Comeback -> Totally Out of Style -> Super Lame -> Ironically Cool -> Obscure Reference. Mileage per person/style/form of entertainment/thing may vary. I'm hoping to make the jump to "Indie" by 2011, and then to "Obscure Reference" by 2012.

Friday, April 17, 2009

98 Days UP - "The girl is mine, mine, mine..."

I just had a funny thought I'd like to share. There's a game called "Exit" on the XBLA (and PSP, which I originally played it on) as well as it's very very similar sequel, aptly named "Exit 2" which I was just playing. The object/plot of the game is that you're basically placed in all kinds of illogical sitatuations in various scenarios where people need rescuing and it's your job to save them. You have to first get close enough to touch each survivor, and then you have to guide them through the level. There a fat people, skinny people, muscleheads, kids, and dogs, all who can move around differently. The trick lies in utilizing each their abilities to create a safe passage for everyone.

Anyways, if you somehow blow it at some point in the level and have any of your followers fall to their death, get electrocuted, drown, have something fall on them, etc., (and this happens a LOT because the A.I. in this game has been programmed to be just a notch below retarded) a mysterious man wearing a jetpack swoops in, says: "No Hard Feelings!" in a deep voiced, blatantly insulting manner, grabs their injured (or most likely dead) body, and flies away. You then essentially fail the level - unless for some reason the game decided on that level you didn't need to save everyone.

Now, it's never explicitly said anywhere, but I get the impression this guy's your "Rival Rescuer," waiting for the right moment to pounce on your hard work with his high tech capabilities, which I find hilarious. I also love that they took the time to program this literal insult to injury in the game - they could have saved some resources and just gone directly to the Game Over screen. But no - they wanted you to know that your character, Mr. Esc (brilliant, isn't it?) is obviously on the brink of becoming obselete. He's rescuing people the old fashioned way, armed with just his arms, legs, and wits. But you don't need any of that when you have AN F-ING JETPACK!!!

I'd love it if after a certain amount of failed attempts, the people you're attempting to save start refusing your help, and they just say: "Look, I'm just gonna save us both the trouble and call for the jetpack guy, ok?"

-Matt

Monday, April 13, 2009

94 Days UP - "What's in your head, in your head, zombie, zombie, zombie..."

Two months of unemployment - and counting - can do funny things to a man's ego (and eating habits, as well, but I'll save that for another post). What once appeared to be a pretty solid resume now comes across like that embarrassing essay I wrote in high school about how "the S.A.T.'s are a flawed measurement of who you really are!!"*. You try to keep some semblance of a schedule and a budget, but the second an opportunity to leave the house presents itself, you throw on your nice sweat pants and burst out that door to hang out with friends and spend money you don't have. And don't even get me started on the prospect of dating anyone.

It's kind of funny how being a psychology major only makes matters worse. Every time I get emotional or upset, I slowly become introspective and break down the thought process that's going on in my head to make me feel the way I do, and the first two thoughts I always have are: 1) this psych major still has done nothing for my resume, and 2) I understand what's going on, so why am I still crying?

"I think I know why you've come to me. It's the glowing brain thing, right?"

Being hyper-aware of everything you're doing only gets you more in your head and winds up messing you up even more. Whenever I meet a pretty girl for the first time, there's always that little man in my head screaming: "Be funny! Be confident! And don't say something stupid! For the love of God don't say something stupid!" over and over again. And guess what happens every time? I feel like all men who are successful with women have somehow managed to kill that guy at some point. But what does it take to kill him?*

This is a problem extending way back before I was introduced to Freud, Skinner, and that badass Milgram. When I was a kid, probably around 10, 11 years old I became hyper-aware of my own breathing, and it was one of the WORST experiences of my life. One day I just started wondering how I was able to breath in and out regularly without ever having to think about it. I thought about it long enough that I convinced myself that maybe I did have to think about it, and so, for the next six months all my thoughts turned to breathing. Breathing in...breathing out...again and again, all day long. I wound up holding my breath regularly just so I could turn my thoughts elsewhere for a few seconds.

And oh man, falling asleep. That was fun. I would have to work up a mental distraction, like a pretend version of those 15 piece annoying slide puzzles you always got as a kid. Or I'd pose myself a question, like: "would I rather meet E.T. or A.L.F., and why?*" that hopefully would get me on a long enough tangent of say, the pros and cons for each alien's friendship, that I would temporarily forget about breathing and somehow fall asleep.

You thought you'd never have to choose, didn't you?

This challenge that got progressively tougher as I became more and more resistant to my own mental shenanigans as time went on. I actually try not to think about this time in my life for too long, lest I somehow get myself back on that train of thought. So, you know, moving on...

Thank God I eventually discovered improv. Improv is all about getting out of your head and just listening and reacting. On top of being a fantastic creative outlet, (and one of the few legitimate reasons for me to leave the house these days) it also nipped things in the bud a bit with my overthinking. You get up on stage, you let the audience decide where you start, and then, if you're performing right, you're performing at such a pace that you don't have time to think too much at all. Believe me, I've tried!

Now, what was the point I was trying to make again? Ah, well...not gonna worry about it. Here seems like a good place to stop anyway...

-Matt

Currently Playing: Finally getting back to Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii, which is tough - I've never stopped playing a Zelda game in the middle, but you really do start off feeling lost. Plowed through Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode One last week when I saw it on sale, looking forward to the sequel at some point as well (we'll see if I can hold off for another sale, or if I'll cave and spend full price on it). Loving Burnout Paradise, and that's all there is to say about that. And I'm all done with T.W.E.N.Y. finally, and I think I'm going to actually force myself to take break after that experience and read a book before I start my next portable game...

*Seriously, why should one test carry so much weight, and totally decide your fate for the rest of your life? That's fascism, man!
*It's just being tall, naturally charming, and having a full head of hair, isn't it?? I KNEW IT!!!
*E.T. ultimately won out for me. A.L.F. was always too much of a wise-ass.