I live a fairly normal life. I'm a decent guy, a bit on the shy side in the wrong situation, and incredibly talkative and goofy in the right one. I prefer to get to know someone before I date them, but I think most people are that way.
People who are overly obsessed with inconsequential things annoy the hell out of me. I don't give a crap if Jennifer Aniston is single, is dating Brad Pitt, or is shot to death in a vicious gun battle over crack turf (okay, that last one would actually be kind of cool to see in the paper). I don't care if your clothes have a label in them that says "Gap".
I also won't lie and say that looks don't matter. They do. I'm not what you'd call a shallow person, but just as some of you may be looking at my picture thinking, "Jesus Christ, not in a million years," I'm probably thinking that same thing about you. Attractiveness is important. It's not the most important thing, but I don't know about you folks: when I walk down the street, I can't tell if the beautiful girl walking toward me was just reading James Joyce and debating Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle with Howard Dean or not. That's something I would like her to tell me about once I've gotten up the courage to ask her to get a cup of coffee with me.
Conversation Starters (i.e. what you'd like to do on a first date...)
Typically, I'm a fan of the whole dinner+something else cool type affair. I'm a decent cook, but that's a third or fourth date thing. Movies are fun, but if I want to go out with someone and not talk to them, I can just stand behind them at the coffee shop and pretend that we're going out.
A good dinner at an interesting restaurant (my personal choice? Thai or Japanese), accompanied by a bottle of wine if it seems appropriate, and perhaps a long walk downtown if the conversation is good. I'd suggest music, but I really prefer to talk to the girl I'm out with, and it's that same problem with not being able to converse.