INTERVIEWING MYSELF (AN EXCERCISE IN SELF-INDULGENCE)
- or -
'LA VILLA STRANGIATO' APPLIED TO THE WORLD OF PUBLISHING
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THE EASIEST WAY TO START DISLIKING ME UTTERLY
- or -
HIDDEN ARTICLE #2
by Richard Karsmakers
The reasons for this article having been hidden, dear reader, is
that it is probably the most arrogant thing I have ever conceived
(and I have done quite some stuff before this!). It has always
been a secret dream of me to be interviewed. Nobody bothered to
interview me properly, and the couple of times people bothered
they always asked the stupidest questions in the world.
"I wouldn't ask that if I were him," I would think to myself. In
my mind I was thinking of good answers to what I considered to be
good questions - but these questions were never asked.
The answers remained looming in voids of my brain, where they
would never come out.
But...now they are ready to leap at you.
"Good morning. I am not much of an interviewer, so I'll just ask
the only question I have in my head. I hope the others will come
during the conversation."
Suits me. Go ahead.
"Why have you started ST NEWS? And, more important, why do you
still continue with it?"
It started, frankly, because I wanted to become famous. Also, I
needed contacts in the ST world. I came from the C-64 where I
knew everyone and had all the latest games. I was spoilt to
death. I wanted to become one of the pillars of ST society.
That's why it started. When I started to do human interest and
introductory novellas, I think that was somewhere towards spring
1987, ST NEWS became interesting to me and other authors as a
means to get rid of excessive inspiration. And that is, even at
this moment, the main reason why we continue with it. The
reaction we get from people are also stimulating. We never get
negative reactions (except when we did the "SAG War" article,
somewhere in Volume 3).
"What kind of stories do you prefer to write?"
Generally I like anything. The problem, however, is that my
reading scope has been fairly limited. I'd like to think that
only rare people are able to conceive things that are totally
unique, to conceive sentences with words that none have used like
that before. People like Tolkien, Donaldson, and Adams. I do not
consider myself to be such a person, and therefore I just take a
bit here and a bit there, mingle it with a bit of own input and
write down what comes of it. As I have mainly been reading
fantasy and absurd humour, I think I am more adept at writing
these styles rather than, say, Dickens. If I would have read
Dickens all my life, I would write other, sadder, stories.
"So, if I understand you directly, you imply that most people
rip off others."
Yes. Writers of stories just mould words to their particular
need, using things and (parts of) phrases they have read
elsewhere, or heard someone on the bus say, or heard on TV. It's
the combination of 'ripping off', as you call it, that makes it
worth while. Terry Pratchett, for example, obviously liked
Douglas Adams and Tolkien. So what he did was mix them. I don't
say Pratchett is bad, though. He writes immensely enjoyable
books. But it is ripping off, be it in the nice sense of the
phrase. Normally you don't know you're ripping off. You're using
things that pop up in your mind rather incoherently. When you sit
down and look at a book, then write something similar, then
you're severely ripping off. And that's wrong.
"Who do you rip off?"
Anyone. Douglas Adams, Tolkien. TV commercials. Metallica. My
mum. Tim. Stefan. Even my girlfriend. Probably loads more.
"So far the subject of writing. What do you regard as the most
rewarding thing of doing ST NEWS as a whole?"
Without a doubt, it's the people that write letters telling us
we're doing something they like. Most of them are like passing
ships - like some of the True Nutty Norwegians I am afraid - but
some of them hold on to you. The best thing is to know you can
influence people by what you write. Many people have been
converted either to Metallica or Malmsteen, or both, for example.
All has to be within limits, though. Although we've written about
Gwar and Carcass, I don't think we could seriously influence
people to like that if they have no mind for it. Metallica,
however, is good enough to convince people. We just give 'em a
push in the right direction, so that they put aside their
prejudice - in this particular example a prejudice against heavy
I like certain bands. I like certain drinks. I like certain
movies. I want people to get in touch with these as well because
I believe that they would like them, too. Aren't most of us
constantly trying to tell people what to listen to, or what to
see? We're just doing it more subtlely, like friends who tell
friends what they should check out.
"Don't you think you limit your potential reader's circle that
By promoting heavy metal, you mean? Well, it did occur to me
once that we have a pretty odd audience. After all, most heavy
metal fans don't use computers and most computer users don't
listen to heavy metal. But we have areas where interests touch,
though. I am not solely into Heavy Metal, and neither is Stefan.
We both like synth stuff as well. He also likes Public Enemy, The
Mission and Sisters of Mercy, and I also like Obituary and
Queensrÿche. With that, we reach more people that might have a
mind open enough for other influences.
"The way of writing in ST NEWS is, though not adult, written
with the English knowledge of an adult. Don't you think that this
scares away people - especially potential contributors?"
Maybe. I think that people who do not know English very well may
be shunned away from writing for ST NEWS, or even reading it. I
think that's a shame, but there is not much you can do about it.
Especially some Germans and French are lousy at English, but
Stefan or myself can always lead their articles into grammatical
boundaries. People sometimes seem to think that we're English
Gods and that we don't wish to mingle with 'common folk', which
would be how they would classify themselves. Nothing is less
true. But I am not going to write English below that what I am
capable of just to attract more people. It would be like asking
Stefan to code a demo with only a raster or two.
"Speaking of Stefan, do you to influence each other?"
It depends. There's those boundaries again. I wouldn't dream of
ever buying a Mission or Sisters of Mercy CD. My God, that's such
utter crap! Then again, he would never buy Carcass, Obituary,
Entombed, King Diamond and such - not even Queenrÿche which is
actually a high quality band. When we get together to do
something, there is nobody else in the world that inspires me as
much as him. When I write down a paragraph of a story he gets
ideas that inspire me. He writes a bit. I write a bit. We inspire
each other ever onwards, and to ever increasing heights. I think
"Oh Yeah" (which was the 'exclusive' article in the Final
Compendium) is a pretty good example. I don't know if the readers
liked it, but I surely felt very inspired doing it. The trouble
is that we usually get too inspired - so we have to hide the
stuff that comes forth. Well, we need hidden articles anyway so
that's where these usually come from, unless we get them
submitted from others.
"Good thing you mention hidden articles. Who wrote that
positively disgusting third hidden article in ST NEWS Volume 6
I don't think the person in question would like it if I told
you. He is sort of a good friend and at a certain stage we were
writing letters to each other where each tried to outdo the other
with regard to filthiness in conjunction with sex. I am yet to
concoct a suitable reply to his last letter, which contained the
text present in that hidden article. He's really quite normal,
though I found it hard to believe myself when I read it the first
I suppose you haven't read the reply in the ST NEWS issue that
came after it. That's equally disgusting.
"No. Not yet. I will have a go at it when I get home. But for
the next question: Does alcohol inspire you?"
I feel like an alcoholist the way you ask that. I find that it
does not inspire me as such - it merely sinks the barrier I have
to get over to be inspired by other things. A Napalm Death video
would not inspire me much when I am sober, but it has been known
to inspire me when awesomely drunk. Consuming alcohol during the
finishing of ST NEWS has become more or less of a tradition -
especially drinking Plantiac. It started around Volume 3 Issue 3
or 4, and all issues so far were done doing it. Even the previous
issue (i.e. 6.2), which was finished relatively quickly.
"What usually happens during the finishing of ST NEWS?"
Usually, Stefan comes down to my place on Friday night or
Saturday morning, or I go up to his place. We try to swap
locations with each issue, but we don't care a lot. Then we read
all the stuff that's there. I laugh myself to bits with weird
stuff he turns out to have written, and he does very much the
same with mine. That usually takes the first day. The first
night, we get drunk on Plantiac (usually one bottle) and write
some stuff that has to be finished. That can be an article or
two, or something hidden, or the scroll text, or the last changes
on a bit of program code. When we are too drunk to do that, we
sit and watch TV or video, or play "Bubble Bobble" or "Llamatron"
The next day we get up with mouths feeling like leather. Since
the day we discovered Plantiac we have rarely had hangovers. We
listen to a bit of metal and then head for town. We usually eat
junkfood, buy liquorice and the odd CD and get back. Then we do
the rest of the finishing of the particular issue. Everything
gets compressed, indexed, put on a disk, bugs removed, and voila!
That's all there is to it. The next ST NEWS is then already
waiting to be written. Sometimes I've already written an article
or two for that next issue.
"How did the finishing go in, if I may say, the old days - when
Stefan hadn't yet taken over?"
It was all much simpler then, as I did it all on my own on my
attic room. About one week before I considered the time ripe to
make another issue of ST NEWS I'd just call everyone that was
supposed to do anything. I'd put all that I got together with the
stuff I had done myself in recent weeks, and it was finished.
There weren't any demo's to be coded and the program code itself
was also a lot simpler so there were scant delays. The next
weekend I would go to a user group and copy the disk to anyone
who wanted it (and even lots who didn't particularly).
"What do you think about the decline of the ST?"
My feelings towards (that are twofold. First, I don't like it
because there will be less software, less ST users, etc. This all
directly reflects on ST NEWS. We want people to write for and
software to write about. Second, however, I like it. The ST users
that remain are a lot more enthusiastic, and precisely the kind
of people that read ST NEWS and that contribute to it. I would
start hating that at the point when the ST becomes what the old
Atari machines (XL, XE) are now. Good thing is that there is
nothing to switch to at the moment. I wouldn't know a machine
worth leaving the ST for. The Amiga is not my kind of machine,
and MS-DOS is ancient by all standards. Well, Steve Jobs' "NEXT"
is a bloody gorgeous machine but that's way out of most people's
"After having done ST NEWS for more than five years, don't you
have the feeling it has become routine business?"
No. At least, not totally. I realise it will be difficult to
grow beyond stages we have already reached. We cannot beat the
"LateST NEWS Quest" - at least not with our budget and not on the
ST. We cannot beat the many reviews we did in Volumes 3 and 4. I
don't think we'll ever beat the 1032 Kb document quantity
statistics of the previous issue. But each issue has its splendid
bits, and that's what we work for. We want other people to read
it because, frankly, we're f.cking exhibitionists who want to get
rid of everything by telling it to as many others as possible. We
have things to tell, trivial as they may seem to be to others, in
every issue. So no issue is a simple repetition of a previous
one. It's also a particular challenge to try and maintain a
steady standard at a level we (and the readers, if they're lucky)
consider high enough.
"Have you reached the fame you intended when you started the
No. In the beginning everything grew rapidly but around the end
of Volume 3 I guess everything slowed down - including the
growth. We haven't received any donations since the middle of
Volume 3 (hint!!). When it comes to actual fame, I think ST NEWS
should not be overestimated. Lots of people never heard of it. I
think Stefan is more known as Digital Insanity of The Lost Boys,
and I think I am more 'famous' as the author of my virus killer.
"What's your greatest weakness?"
My favourite candy is liquorice - the coin ones. I buy a quarter
or half a kilo quite regularly and each time I tell myself,
"Today I will not eat much of it so that it may last a couple of
days". It never works. I finish 'em off in two hours or
something, resulting in diarrhoea and me farting like hell the
"Now for the 'favourite' and 'least favourite' department."
Oh. I always liked those bits. Shoot.
Need I say more than the word 'Plantiac'? Of course I love Cola
as well - it's a good thing I ain't drinking as much Plantiac as
I drink Coke.
The most gross drink would be something along the lines of
grapefruit juice, or ordinary Dutch beer (Heineken or Bavaria).
I like Chinese and Italian food most. With lotsa spices and
herbs on it - I am not particularly afraid of my taste sensors
being knocked numb! I could eat pasta for a week and not feel I'm
missing out on something.
The most disgusting things that some people consider to be
'edible' are olives, ginger and those peculiar tomato skin rolls
you find after baking them.
It's impossible to pinpoint only one. I like generally
everything by Spielberg or Cameron. "Abyss" and "Total Recall"
were monumental. The Barker horror films are brill, too. I have
also seen "Terminator II", which is probably the best film yet
with regard to computer effects but the worst with regard to
I can't name a 'worst' film, as there are so many. I don't like
Dutch films, and I do like a bit of action. "The Unbearable
Lightness of Being", for example, was an unbearable bore to go
through - though I wouldn't call it 'bad'. The ST NEWS Convention
Vid' is pretty bad - but incredibly funny and atmospheric.
Depends on the genre. Metal would be Metallica and Queensrÿche.
Synth would be Vangelis. Pop would be Dire Straits, though their
latest CD utterly sucks if you ask me. Grind/hardcore shit would
be Obituary. Guitar would be Malmsteen, Satriani and Becker.
Classical would be Beethoven (I know that sounds cliché but he is
I hate hip-hop, rap, disco, and everything that's sung in Dutch.
I don't particularly flip out on blues and soul, either. I puke
on Country & Western - except when Stuart Hamm plays it.
"If you were to mention the best games ever on the ST, which
ones would that be?"
Bubble Bobble, Llamatron, Super Sprint, Gods, Lemmings,
Arkanoid, Blood Money and Super Gridrunner. I would very much
like to mention some really good games I used to play on the
Commodore 64 too, if I may. These were Lode Runner (any version,
including custom ones), Tapper, Pitstop II, Jumpman and Satan's
Hollow. There are positively lots of other very good ones but
they were simply less good than the best I mentioned just now.
"What's the most beautiful female on earth?"
That's always a difficult question. If we skip out on criteria
such as intelligence, it usually comes down to Heather Locklear
(Sammy Jo in Dynasty) for me, though I also like Lesley Anne Down
and Brooke Shields a lot. Even Priscilla Presley looks gorgeous
in the "Naked Gun" films. I would like to mention as well that I
do not like girls with big mouths - so I'd pass on Kelly LeBrock
and Julia Roberts. However, ever since I've seen "Erik The
Viking" I know that there is a girl who defies them all - Imogen
Stubbs, who plays Aud, High Brazil's King's daughter. She is
absolutely stunningly beautiful. Ever seen her eyes in close-up,
or her lips, or her legs? Ever seen the way she blows the Horn
"OK. I would like to close down this interview with some words.
Please react to them candidly, quickly and unreservedly."
A bloody long time. I was really a snotty-nosed kid when I
started. Young and naive. Thirty damn issues is quite a lot. It
surely cost me a year off my life - and maybe my liver will pop
off even sooner.
The language that should be used by all. Although I am a bit of
a chauvinist whith regard to Holland, I wouldn't mind the entire
Dutch language to be dumped. Anyone should speak English - and
anyone should speak it well.
Something I used to be able to live with, even though I can't
imagine how. This is now the biggest slow-down factor in the
finishing of ST NEWS, as this TOS version's GEM does not allow
menu bars the size that is allowed by TOS 1.2 and up. Each time
we finish an issue at Stefan's place I have to test it at home (I
have TOS 1.0 and 1.7, switchable), call him if it works or not.
If not, he has to remaster it and send it off. When we didn't
know yet about this bug we got lots of bad reactions - that was
with the Convention issue, now almost one year ago.
Twofold feelings again. I hate them, of course, for they can do
damage to innocent people as it were. But I have gained some fame
and a bit of dosh killing them, which I, frankly, would not have
been able to do if there hadn't been any.
Next question, please.
It's everything that we ain't, and we are everything they ain't.
The bad thing of it is that even the author thinks it's getting
to be bad - which to me would be the moment at which to throw the
towel in the ring. I wonder how long he can continue with that,
as lots of readers are also getting less satisfied, sometimes
publically stating they prefer ST NEWS now (which I feel good
about for logical reasons).
"News Channel (a deceased disk magazine that started somewhere
in 1988 and died less than a year later, ED.)."
It could all have been very nice, but at the moment they tried
to get Lucas and Math to write for them, and when they intended
to use all our hard-earned foreign distributors, we (i.e. I)
became hostile. I think they were OK but they tried to do too
much - and using the wrong methods - I guess.
I really hope this new disk magazine will succeed. The
programming is a lot better than "News Channel", even though some
of the old "News Channel" authors are working on it. We will help
them as much as possible, promote them, anything. Up to the
moment that they try to pinch away our authors, of course...
I am not too sure whether they'll succeed, as they intend to be
commercial which is less than viable, I think.
"A Prehistoric Tale."
The first and last game I ever actually designed, during my time
at Thalion software. Not the darkest bit of my personal history,
but not particularly the brightest bit either. Apart from the
fact that it was no hit at all (which I had hoped and intended),
I turned out disappointing two good friends because the concept
was not as original as they had wished. You won't hear me
admitting it was a rip-off, but it was a souped-up version of an
existing '64 game. If I could repeat one thing of my life, I
would do a better and more original concept, preventing me from
losing two friends. I wish I had never done it, but remorse
usually comes too late - as happened in this case as well.
A computer freak's dream. The perfect company for all computer
wizkids to do games for. In the mean time, however, Marc
Rosocha's 'Eclipse' is now to Thalion what Thalion used to be to
the rest of the software world.
A chapter of my life I am proud of. The kind of chapter I'll
brag about to my kids, and possibly even my grandkids. I think
Nic (yeah, of TCB) is the most gifted coder on earth, and I am
proud to have been working in the same room with him. His musical
taste (hip-hop and Roxette) sucks, though. I surely hope he ain't
reading this - I suspect he won't - as his ego is already the
size of...er...Marvin's brain, at least. He'll probably make it
big - whatever he tries to succeed in.
Twofold feelings, again. Without piracy, there would be no
successful computer. It's piracy that first gets people to
actually buy the system. I think that's probably why the
Archimedes went wrong - the freaks and hackers simply didn't
start to buy it. Once a computer has established itself, piracy
should slow down a lot - but that's impossible. Piracy is life
and death of any computer system, the nursemaid that cherishes it
like a child - and the reaper that welcomes it in his arms.
The only way to stop piracy is to get the crackers to be
employed in the software world - but that's not possible in most
"The Magic Little Finger."
He's the chap that first cracked "A Prehistoric Tale", insulting
Thalion, Tim and me quite a lot in the hack intro screen. He is
in fact Lethal of Hotline, and I think he's a severely fucked
mother fucker. No, I am not going to apologize for my language.
It's guys like this that I'd like to hit square in the face -
preferably with something blunt and heavy. He's the kind of
person that would also copy my 10 quid virus killer to the entire
scene, even if they don't really want it. I really wish he gets
run over by a car one day. I hope that that car won't be too
heavy to kill him, but that it will be heavy enough so that he
ain't going to survive. By mentioning this he's likely to get the
same opinion of me but I couldn't care less. As far as I'm
concerned, he can take a running jump. A big one, and preferably
down a chasm with rusty spikes and hungry crocodiles on its
bottom. I don't like Hotline as a whole, either. Some of them
don't crack themselves, but they do condone what some of their
There are few things I am proud of. One of those things is ST
NEWS, especially from the moment when Stefan took over and the
program improved drastically to say the least. In all honesty and
immodesty, I think ST NEWS is the best disk magazine on the ST -
and possibly on all different computer systems together - with
regard to editorial contents.
"Huh? Only with regard to editorial contents?"
Yeah. "Maggie" beats us hands down with hotter demo stuff, and
from what I've seen of "STabloid" their user-interface looks well
more groovy than ours.
"OK. Next word: Religion. In other words, show the readers that
you have a bit of general knowledge as well."
Jesus Christ. Aren't we getting deep here! I like any religion
as long as they don't bother me. I am actually glad you asked
this, so I can once again express my loathing of any religion
that has wars for the sake of it. We christians surely were some
means mother fuckers once, but, hey, those were middle ages!
There are still fanatics nowadays. Need I mention Hussein? Need I
mention this chap that had hundreds of followers commit suicide
in some jungle, years ago? It's then when a line should be drawn.
Religion should be positive, or something you invent to make fun
of like we have done in several occasions in ST NEWS or like
Douglas Adams does. Nothing other. I myself believe that
Something exists somewhere, but I would not put a label of "God"
or "Christ" or even "Jack Bloggs" on it. Any jihad is a war
that's even more senseless than World War II. Especially with
atomics becoming available to these fanatics, religion is a thing
I'd rather see banned sometimes.
"Politics. Your last chance to say something meaningful."
A synonym for saying things that don't mean anything - or for
saying the opposite of what you mean while letting everyone think
you are saying what you mean but having them interpret as if you
told 'em what they heard.
"Er?! Well, thank you for this interview."
You know I actually feel relieved I have done this? I ended up
saying lots of things I really wanted people to hear. I hope you,
dear reader, even liked it a bit!
At least it's better than some of the stuff we've been offering
in our hidden articles recently!
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.