Blogging live to you and yours! It’s your boy TWOTALL4UFOOL! Getting back on track with interviews I got another good one for you guys today. This guy has done 2 big collaborations in 2018 and has two more prepared for this year. He is Matt Estes from Normal Happenings. Hope you enjoy the interview and I’ll be back at the end of the post for some closing words. Let’s get into it.
2TALL: Hello Matt. First and foremost thank you for taking time out to do this interview. I really appreciate it. First things first. Normal Happenings? How did you come up with that name? What’s the story behind it?
Matt: I so wish that I had this unique origin story for the name Normal Happenings. I wish there could one day be a big blockbuster movie one day starring Jesse Eisenberg about the origins of my blog, its concepts, and its name. If I were more forward-thinking, the first thing I would have done is come up with a rather exaggerated buildup, then end with the moment the name came into existence.
Whenever somebody tells you they had some sort of epiphany and just ran with it, they’re probably misleading you. Form necessarily follows function, and it typically doesn’t work the other way around. I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I was getting back into blogging. I wanted to write an optimistic series of personal posts about appreciating everyday life. Since I am a geek, I wanted to include discussions on film, music, and video games, but I wanted to do so in a way that showed that they don’t have to run your life. Instead, they can be useful tools for becoming a better version of yourself by further understanding emotions and human experiences.
So here’s the truth – I picked it from a list of names, and I can’t for the life of me remember if it was my literature-loving wife Nikki, Megan from the fantastic blog A Geeky Gal, or me who came up with it initially. There were just so many name possibilities, and it’s hard to find the exact moment those two words were first slammed together. I do know that Normal Happenings is markedly appropriate, deriving as a play on the phrase “strange happenings,” which is an old fashioned way of explaining the supernatural or uncommon. Therefore “normal happenings” are the moments of clarity you have between those rare occurrences – between the weddings and births and graduations and promotions and true moments of clarity – in which you must continue to grow as a person.
2T: I can say that is a unique story. So before Normal Happenings did you run any other blogs?
What, you want to know what they were?
Okay, fine, but you need to know that this is highly embarrassing.
I started blogging in early 2012, long before I got my master’s or even my bachelor’s degree, and at that time my writing was really quite awful. Its name was “A Link to the Matt,” referring of course to the classic SNES Zelda game A Link to the Past. Blogs were short, fragmented, opinionated, and full of typos. A couple of years later, I rebranded to the equally atrocious Mars Gone Mad, which was derived from the name of the band in a now defunct book I was writing. Both displayed immature writing in spades, and I’ve taken special care to systematically remove all but the best posts from the Internet.
We all, however, have a writing journey. Mine was just a bit longer than most, that’s all.
2T: What got you interested in blogging?
M: Back in 2012, Facebook imposed character restrictions for statuses. I really wanted to type long Facebook statuses, so I opened up a WordPress account and did exactly that. Such noble intentions, right?
Now my goals are much more superficial – unimportant stuff like inspiring people, combatting mental illness, encouraging exploration of self, stressing education through critical thinking, and overall changing the world for the better.
I’m obviously kidding.
The key to blogging success is to find something that inspires you and run with it. Don’t do it for fame, or especially money, because you will never achieve the results you are looking for in the long run. Instead, do it because the value of formulating words together in moving and inspiring ways outweighs the value of traditional success.
2T: What do you enjoy most about blogging?
M: Obsessively check stats. Duh!
Actually I love the creative toolbox blogging gives you. It serves as a platform for design, word-crafting, video, and podcast content. Plus, you get to meet a lot of really cool people, such as yourself, 2Tall!
2T: I read the Hyrule: See The Sights! Hear The Sounds! Which is a collaboration post between you and many other bloggers (too many to name). That was excellent. How did that whole thing come together? Do you plan on doing any more posts such as these?
M: Au contraire, their names were Ellen @ LividLightning, Emma @ Geeky Tourist, GG @ Hungrygoriya, Ian @ Adventure Rules, Jan @ The Life of Jan, Kim @ Later Levels, KT @ Wintendo64, Megan @ A Geeky Gal, Pix1001 @ Shoot the Rookie, Teri Mae @ Sheikah Plate, Nikki @ Normal Happenings, and myself. Also, they’re going to very confused when they get a pingback to this post.
The primordial soup of this idea was in A Geeky Gal’s 30-Day Video Game Challenge, Day 2. The question was what video game world you would love to live in. Hyrule is, in fact, not my answer to this question – it’s far too dangerous. However it is my favorite land in all of gaming. My initial plan was to write about Hyrule all by myself, which is an insurmountable task if I ever saw one. I needed friends to help capture the flavor of the land… in Sheikah Plate’s case, literally. So I put out an all-call, rounded up these talented bloggers, and next thing you know we’ve got a filled-up Google Doc!
I am, in fact, putting together a new collaboration which you are a part of! It’s called Tracking Shells: Our Mario Kart Memories, and details can be found here.
2T: Yes I am! And I also participated in your most recent one The Games That Define Us. I really enjoyed doing that. One unique thing I like about your blog is the Nice Job Badges. You do it every Friday. Where did you come up with the idea for that?
M: I found myself saying “nice job” to people far too often in comments when I liked their posts! Eventually I was even annoying myself, so I decided to make a game of it by linking to five great blog posts each week. Originally, I was doing an assortment of weirdly named colors and a very badly designed badge. As my blog audience grew, however, I decided it was time to give out professionally designed badges that more exemplified their efforts. Now giving them out is my favorite part of the week!
2T: That’s absolutely cool! Besides collaborations any future plans for Normal Happenings?
M: Oh lots! For 2019, I have so many that I produced a 3,000 word update post that requires its own table of contents and jump-navigation. I’ve seen legal documents that aren’t that long. Let me hit they key points.
Nikki and I will soon be starting a podcast together called Normal Talks. The focus will be on bringing everyday conversations to the table. We’re not interested in spectacle, just two people who love talking to each other exploring the topics that make life great. I’m also working on a full-length novel called Dysontopia, which I am reworking and will be releasing chapter-by-chapter on the blog. Finally, to celebrate Normal Happenings’ birthday in February, I’ll be putting on the 2019 Normal Happenings Blog Awards, which is like a supreme version of Nice Job Badges.
2T: Sounds like you’ll be busy in 2019. Yo holla at cha boy when you start that Podcast. I need to get you on Game N’ Watch later this year. Now as a gamer how do you manage your time between blogging and playing video games?
M: You’re right, I do tend to be pretty busy most of the time. When something means a lot to you, like video games do to me, you simply do it when you can. I’m a big Nintendo fan, so the on-the-go nature of the Switch could not have come at a better time for me.
2T: Growing up what were your favorite games to play?
M: I was a big Sonic fan, particularly of the four mainline Genesis titles. The recently released Sonic Mania has refueled my passion for the series, so I suppose that’s one of the reasons I wanted to appear on The Well-Red Mage’s MAGE CAST podcast.
2T: I heard that show. Great take on Sonic The Hedgehog 2. What consoles do you own? What are you playing right now?
M: The Switch, all the way for me. Nikki’s a big PS4 fan, but with the exception of Horizon Zero Dawn and Kingdom Hearts 3, I have little interest in games on other consoles.
2T: Any games you are looking forward to later on this year?
M: Animal Crossing Switch is the next big game I’m looking forward to, and I know Nikki can’t wait to get her hands on KH3.
2T: Any blogging advice or gaming advice you would care to share?
M: I could talk all day about blogging, but I’m going to give three simple character traits that turned me from an annoying loudmouth to someone finding actual success and momentum in the art.
Be kind. Be quirky. Be committed. I know it’s not the typical advice people give, but it works for me. There are, of course, subsets of much more detailed advice within those traits, but if you really want to find yourself through blogging, I think it helps to have a mantra similar to that.
2T: Let’s go in a different direction now!
What, that wasn’t a question, was it?
2T: No it wasn’t. LOL! Favorite color?
M: My favorite color is currently Cyan-Blue Azure, hex code #4682BF. You should never ask a graphic artist about their favorite color.
2T: Mac or PC?
M: Mac, no doubt. Though I am bilingual, PC’s require a greater barrier to entry when you’re just trying to get everyday stuff done. Need to write an essay? Use a Mac. Need to surf the Internet? Macs are your go-to. Need to do something super-specific like running a statistical analysis of the percentage of different colored Skittles across multiple bags. Might want to go with a PC, not that I’ve ever done something like that.
Nope, never at all.
2T: Are you sure about that? LOL! Netflix or Hulu?
M: I like Hulu’s interface more, but I like the content on Netflix more. Where’s that great streaming service merger we’re all looking for? Wait, Disney is coming? Never mind.
2T: YouTube or Twitch?
M: YouTube! I love the editing from some of my favorite content creators.
2T: Favorite candy?
M: Mike & Ikes!
2T: Favorite music?
M: Right now? Like at this very moment?
2T: Mario or Link?
M: Link, specifically from Wind Waker. He’s my favorite character in all of gaming, actually. He wasn’t a chosen hero – he wasn’t destined to save anyone. He was just a boy wanting to save his sister. That’s true courage.
2T: Favorite sport?
2T: Coke or Pepsi?
M: Coke… I think. This is an interesting question. Nine out of ten times, I’ll pick Coke. But the one time I pick Pepsi, the first few sips make it one most amazing drinks I’ve ever tasted. But Pepsi gets old, fast. Like faster that I can even finish the bottle. And by the time I do, I find myself wishing I had just had a Coke. This cycle repeats on a loop about every three months.
2T: Favorite place to shop?
M: This is going to be a strange answer, but the question is open-ended enough. I love cooking so very much—it’s one of my favorite things to do to relax after a long day. I’m a huge farmer’s market fan. There are very few things more fulfilling that getting a good deal on an in-season fruit I haven’t had in a while.
2T: Crash Bandicoot or Spyro?
M: If we’re talking original PS1 releases, I’ll take Crash all day every day. If we’re talking PS4 remasters, what they did with Spyro was nothing short of magnificent.
2T: Anything you would like to ask me or say to the readers before I conclude this interview?
M: I would like to say one thing. Most of you reading this are bloggers, and for that fact alone, I admire you. In a world of underwhelming and divisive social media, you are choosing to actively expand your knowledge base and writing skills. Doing so assures me that you’re growing as a person, becoming better with though constructed and sentence formed. In a kind of reverse entropy, people move towards self-improvement of a craft as time passes. Writing will make this world a better place, and even if you’re only reaching a few people, fractions of percentages still matter. Keep doing what you do.
Thank you 2Tall for interviewing me! I hope you didn’t mind my long-windedness. It’s been so much fun getting to know you through your writing and the collaborations you’ve been a part of. I can’t wait to see what you have to say in Tracking Shells!
I’m looking forward to Tracking Shells Matt. That is going to be awesome. Thank you for doing the interview my man. If you want to get on The Game N’ Watch Podcast later this year you are more than welcome my friend. Once again if you want to be interviewed on this blog holla at cha boy. Get in touch with me before I get in touch with you. Until next time! Blogging live to you and yours! It’s your boy TWOTALL4UFOOL! Remember that TOGETHER EVERYONE ACHIEVES MORE! Thanks for reading folks! And thank you for visiting my site.