"When everything is said and done you are still talking."
WHO THE HECK DO WE THINK WE ARE - CRIMSON'S PART
by Lucas van den Berg
Lucas van den Berg was always an exceptional man among the ST
NEWS writers. I wasn't too surprised when he submitted his
questionnaire replies in a rather different version - in proze
form. The original article is represented below.
Hello all you out there to Crimson's Continuing Story of
Richard's Impertinence part umpteen. It's been over a week now
since I was confronted by yet another of our dear editors'
praiseworthy but overoptimistic attempts to get their "personnel"
organised (getting their act together, actually). Under the guise
of a personal questionnaire I have been urged to write down all
those things dear and close to me. Not of course to inform the
ignorant majority (that's you) of my statistics for which I'm
sure nobody in their right mind would have a millisecond's
consideration or interest, but obviously to satisfy the perverted
need latent in all but the loftiest of editors to categorise and
stamp each and every one of the species called Homo Scribens (or
whatever). Which happens to include yours truly and I'll be
damned if I'm going to let them have their way; I happen to work
with computers and I know what people can do with information.
It's also taken me about a week to decide on an effective if not
outright destructive method of undermining the aforementioned
efforts, but I'm afraid the result was a giant blank; a condition
not wholly unknown to me. Now I could of course have resorted to
simply giving all the correct answers to all the right questions
in an absolutely random order but that's been done before (most
recently by Bush and Dukakis in their TV confrontations) and I
hate plagiarism. So I'll simply do what I do best and shall make
a wholehearted attempt to completely circumlocute all questions
under the guise of giving you some voluntary information on my
humble person. <Press Reset>.
Okay but don't tell me I didn't warn you!
The first question I will try not to anwer is - wait a second,
these are known statistics. Okay, Lucas van den Berg,
Marienburgsestraat 47, 6511 RL, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Yes
I'm a Dutchy. Age? 29 and single - slight mistake, but good women
are hard to find in this disco world. Say, this is beginning to
look like a contact advertisement.
So far for the correct answers. What's all this about "worst
food/drink/book/TV programs/music"? I'm not talking about what I
don't like; I could go on rambling for hours. Who's interested
anyway? Although, obviously, the last drink is the worst drink -
without it you wouldn't have had this terrible hangover. And the
worst food is, naturally, the food your mother used to cook for
you when you were a kid - always boiled for at least thirty
minutes so you didn't get a chance to swallow anything nasty (or
tasty, or healthy, for that matter).
As for the same list but favorites, here's a couple of things I
think are worthwhile "entertainment" (education is probably
closer to the mark.)
Food. Indian food; that is, food from India. Mjummy goodie
goodie gimme another Tandoori Special.
Drink. Pernod & Coke (mixed, yes) but I've been told it's one of
my filthier habits. Don't drink it much but I used to like it on
account of the fact that a) the color is positively repulsive and
b) any Frog (that's a Frenchman) gets real agitated when you mix
their one & only Pastis with something as vulgar as Coca Cola (a
bit like eating at Maxim's and dumping ketchup on your slightly-
on-the-well-done-side-of-medium-rare steak). I like whiskies and
whiskeys, but rarely drink them.
Book. Books. Lots of good books; hell I couldn't name them all.
Let's say a couple of my favorites are Stranger in a Strange Land
from Robert Anson Heinlein, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Crime
and Punishment by Dostoyevski, Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken
Kesey & every damned thing Shakespeare ever wrote (hence the
quotes in the column). I furthermore read lots of 19th century
Russians, also modern novels (various, from Rhinehart to Heller,
from Eco to Pirsig, from Kosinski to Nabokov); I especially like
Fantasy (Tolkien, Donaldson, Feist) and serious Science Fiction
(Orwell and Heinlein and guys like that).
TV programs? You gotta be kidding. Ninety-five percent garbage
mixed with tripe. I liked the Thunderbirds (long time ago) and,
more recently, The Singing Detective by Dennis Potter. Usually, I
only watch the news (for whatever it's worth), good films, and an
occasional informational magazine.
As for films, I'm a bit of a cinema lover. Favorite films
include A Clockwork Orange, The Verdict, 2001 A Space Oddysee,
Ordinary People, Kagemusha, Un Elephant sa Trompe Enormement,
Silent Running, Betty Blue, All That Jazz, Hair, Bad Timing, Eyes
of Laura Mars, Paris Texas, Don't Look Now, Mauvais Sang,
Bladerunner, Ran, Alien, l'Ete Meurtrier, Legend. Some of these
films are made by what I would consider the world's leading
directors: Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurasawa, Ridley Scott, Nicolas
Roug. I like the french Film Noir genre and have a special liking
to Fantasy and, once more, Science Fiction.
Music Tastes. I like a lot of music because it's original, or
rhythmically catchy, and basically anything that isn't pure
money-gaining can be interesting ("classic" music like Beethoven
but also "modern" music like Frank Zappa or King Crimson). I like
lots of music from the sixties and seventies and even eighties
(quality is the best criterium). Apart from all this music I like
there is one exceptional artist I've always admired above all
others (no, I'm not a fan, I just like the music is all) and
that's Peter Hammill (formerly with Vandergraaf Generator). In my
opinion, he's as good as Shakespeare, the only thing that clearly
sets him apart from the bard is the total absence of humor in his
work (he does have it on stage). But that's serious music, you
need to read and sometimes study lyrics just like you must with
Joni Mitchell or John Martyn and most people seem to think it's
too much trouble. Which I think is a pity. Music should be art,
Likes? Was that a question, likes? Let's put it this way: with
all the vices the twentieth century has to offer, I don't see how
anyone can ever get bored. I "use" some of the things mentioned
above to keep my mind fit, I do sports (lots of 'em including
running and badminton) to keep my body fit and I like the company
of friends. I like people, they're the most interesting thing on
earth. But then I like animals and plants, too.
And if I should give my greatest dislike, it's that sometimes
people don't mix well with other people, or with other aspects of
nature. Pollution, aggression, the whole shebang. Makes me sick
to my stomach to think how low some people go only to pursue
their own benefit.
On to the computers. I used to have a ZX 81 (you know, one whole
kilobyte and a 16K expansion, wow! - this thing can draw a
circle! Well, almost). Then I wanted a decent keyboard and 80-
character screen and bought a Quantum Leap. Clive Sinclair has
had more than a usual share of brilliant ideas. The QL was a nice
machine but as you probably know it flopped completely, dramatic
pricecuts in short intervals. Perhaps the microdrive was the big
mistake, they're not particularly trustworthy. Once I lost a
complete chapter of the novel I was writing I started to look for
better storage media and soon discovered that buying a complete
ST was not much more expensive than improving on what I had - so
there I was, the first guy in this city with a 1040 STf. And
proud of it, a little.
Like the man said, there's only one way to seriously use a
computer, and that's for games. Everything else is nonsense. I
play games with and without computers (preferably always with
people) and games I like include (Advanced) Dungeons and Dragons,
* Dungeon Master, Talisman, Squad Leader, * Kaiser, * Phantasie
and * Leisure Suit Larry (games preceded by a * asterisk mean
that the title is a computer game available on the ST). I like
the games I write about in the column; it's one of the major
criteria in selection. Games in general are a "hobby", like the
historian Huizinga I feel that Homo Sapiens (the knowing man) has
been succeeded by Homo Faber (the working man) who is now about
to be replaced by Homo Ludens (the playing man). Basically -
without going into a long argument - it means that more and more
spare time will be used for gamelike entertainment. And I like to
help in ensuring a certain quality in products in this area.
There is no game I particularly dislike but I'm not crazy about
joystick fast-action games in general; they fail to hold my
attention. Also, I dislike scenarios of violence based only on
doubtful political background - like the anti-soviet wargames,
they're bound to give young people very unrefined and incorrect
impressions on complex current political situations. Like
"Russians are aggressive" or "all communists are crazy". Give me
a break, the world isn't that simple. There's a nice task here
for the software industry, try a little depth please.
What annoys me about the software industry? Why, what annoys me
about their products are all these confounded protections. One
disk has to remain off write-protection, another can't be copied
and sounds like it's strangling your disk drive, yet another may
be copied but uses a manual page-reference protection method, the
next one says it runs on hard disk but forget it. On the other
hand, hackers seem to have virtually no feeling of responsibility
and no true understanding of the amount of work that goes into
software development (I do, I've been working on my current
project - not a game though - for over a year now) when they
spread everything they can get their hands on and never mind the
consequences, that's about as simple and selfish and narrow-
minded as you can get. I could go into a long and elaborate
argument here but let's just hope that people who truly like a
program will use their head and realise that (apart from
advantages like manuals and the like) their purchase of the game
will be a stimulus to the industry, and some day prices will come
down a little. Am I really such an optimist? Yes, I am.
Let's see: what do I like/hate about myself? Hmm. Ah, what I
truly like about myself is that I don't hate myself as much as
I'd like to. On the other hand, I'd hate to like myself as much
as people like to hate me.
Well, the most brilliant piece of software for the ST is, there
is no doubt in my mind, the editor Faster Than Light has
developed for Dungeon Master, it's sublime. I finished that game
something like five times over and I'm still not bored.
My first article for ST NEWS? Ah, the Crimson's Column thing on
Sundog, the first decent role-playing game I found.
As for my profession, I do too many different things to give it
a single name. Let's say I'm trying to become a Homo Universalis
(the renaissaince concept) which is then also my "ultimate
ambition". I could have said I'd like to be the first man on the
moon but some wiseguy beat me to it. Oh, I like writing (you may
have noticed) and if ever one of my novels or programs get
published (they'd better!) I'll consider myself a very lucky man.
With lots of work ahead 'cause I don't have a shortage of ideas.
Right, if all this information still leaves you with things
you'd like to know, you can get out your pencil and write it all
down, I have no shame anymore. You know the address.
Lucas van den Berg
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.