The Interview at Last

Donald

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Donald "Don" Cleveland
Hello, my name is Nealix and I recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview with none other than Donald Cleveland of the Entropia Universe. To the two or three of you who do not know who Donald is, having never heard of him before today, a word of explanation is in order. Donald joined the Entropia Universe and forum in April of last year. Shortly after that, he began a chronicle of his experiences in-universe, in a thread entitled, 'Donald's Diary', which I strongly recommend you read. During the year and some odd months since his first log on, he has made numerous comments in this forum, and his present post count stands at precisely 1402. Most of his comments contain little of value, and come across as attention-getting stunts. At his best, he is a little bit quirky, a little off-beat; at worst he is a bombastic ideologue with delusions of grandeur. He is also occasionally entertaining. Whether you know him or not, please do consider the interview for it's entertainment value, if for no other reason. The full content of the interview is posted below.

Before we begin, I like to say thanks to Donald for giving me the opportunity to do this interview with him, and also allowing me to post it in his part of the EF Creative section. I hope it gets seen by many of our fellow members.

Now on with the interview. I was able to meet up with my longtime friend and sometimes fencing partner, in a secluded spot on the Eudoria countryside. This meeting took place only this morning, slightly before noon.
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N: Well sir, I suppose I might as well get the hard-ball questions out of the way first, if you don't mind. It might make things easier for us both.

D: Yes, of course, anyway you like is fine with me, only please leave off with the 'Sir'-business. It's just Donald, now isn't it?

N: Ok, "Donald", let me begin by asking you: Are you not afraid that some people will consider the fact that you actually created a character, and concocted this whole 'Interview' scheme just as some disparate attempt at reclaiming the fame you once had?

D: No, I'm not- not in the least.

N: And the reason for that is...?

D: I have learned over time- and it was a lesson hard come by for me since I am thick as a brick- that it really doesn't matter what others may think. Some people are consumed with worry, "Oh if I say this, so-n-so won't like me" or "I'd better just pretend to be straight..."

This very interview is evidence of the fact, that I do not care. I do care about people very much, both in my RL life and my EU life- but as for what they are all saying behind my back- "They" aren't saying anything behind my back. Let me tell you a sad story. How much time do we have?

N: As much time as you like. Tell your story.

D: I have a step-daughter; Wisteria is her name, and she has paranoid delusions. She is constantly certain that others are talking about her. One day she heard mention of the word "Wisteria" in a news article about the Philippines, on CNN no less. She is from the Philippines, so she called her Mom, ang mahal kong asawa- I mean my darling wife- and told her they were talking about HER on CNN!

I think it is very sad that anyone would be that self-consumed as to believe it. My viewpoint is, if a person is not looking right at you, they are probably not thinking of you, much less talking. And often even if they are staring right at you, they are not thinking of you. It's just a fact.

N: Interesting take. Let's move on...

What has been your single, biggest disappointment since joining the EU, and EF by extension?

D: Is this supposed to be a 'hard-ball' question? Right. I will give it a go.

My biggest disappointments are some of the choices I've made. I wish I could have determined a course of action early on and stuck to it. I wish I had been more tolerant of others viewpoints. I wish I had kept a sunny disposition rather than an adversarial one. I wish I had not given all my belongings away, nor allowed my skills to be chipped out. I wish I had located and bought a dress suit long ago. I wish my relationships with all who mean the most to me, Mynx, Kira, Lee among the foremost, had always been upbuilding for all concerned. I suppose all relationships have rough spots but I wish it were otherwise. I wish I still had Raffy-

N: Donald-

D: Nealix?

N: That's enough. I think we get the picture. So then the expression, 'No regrets' plainly does not apply to you. Let's move on...

What was the deal with you and Marco? Some people thought you were behaving badly in more or less calling him out, to some sort of showdown. In essence, who do you think you are, to have attempted this?

D: Make a note, my friend, this issue is listed among my regrets. But it's like this. I see things very clearly. I see how things are and I know how things ought to be. My interaction with Marco was a sincere effort to get him to confront what I perceived to be weaknesses in his performance, with a view toward actually helping him be a better PR man. Unfortunately two key issues came into play. Among my closest friends, those who know me and know I mean them no ill, not many like to be criticized no matter how 'constructive' it might be. How much less, with someone who does not know me, and does not know my true intentions. Secondly, perhaps many of the areas wherein I counseled Marco, I may have been mistaken. Ask me and I will tell you I was not. I was spot-on! As always... but in fact, not knowing the situation from his point-of-view, I may actually have been in error.

N: Do you think, at this point in your EU career, it is wise to rehash this old, bad subject?

D: ...but you raised the issue....

N: ...but you are me, so...

D: Can we move on?

N: Why do you persist in the notion that 711 dislikes you? No one else sees that as the case.

D: Ah, an easy one. I have been merely mistaken, as I so often am... Everything is right as rain between us.

N: Good, I'm glad to hear it. Moving on...

There are those who are disappointed in you, to the extent that you have left unfinished some stories you had started. I am thinking of at least one, 'The Entrepreneur'. That story had a small following and they would like an explanation.

D: I know, and I feel very bad about it. Not all story lines work out. I had a bit of luck with 'And Now She's Gone' in that I was able to steer it to a successful conclusion. And not once, but twice. Did you know that in the original version, it ended with the phrase, 'Your avatar is already logged on'?

N: Really? I had no idea- Of course I knew, you marvelous twit! I am you...

D: I had hoped you would at least try to keep up appearances... Anyway, it ended with that phrase and I was very pleased with having constructed quite a cliff-hanger. The problem came about when some of the readers wanted more. They wanted things all sewn up nice and neat. So I caved in and continued the tale to it's present conclusion. In the end, I managed a cliff-hanger of sorts. And to any who wonder what the true meaning of the evil twin, Ronald is- take it as it is written.

'Donald' dutifully followed along behind his beloved spouse, and according to that storyline, continued to strive toward the goal of colourer par excellance! Anyone can fashion an avatar to look like another. So Ronald is someone else's nightmare concoction, a copycat clone of Donald. Only Ronald has no scruples. He will steal your prosthetic devices, or break wind in an airlock. Just beware should you meet him in the field. He has even been known to occasionally 'upgrade armour'.

N: We were talking about unfinished stories...

D: I never write anything that I haven't actually done in-universe. I will not work straight from my imagination. What makes the Entropia Universe so wonderful is that it is a playground for the mind. You can really do things there. So I must really do the things I write about. I found myself writing too much, just from out of my head. In the long run, people are going to sense that the stories are not real- just a fiction- so I was facing a dilemma. Did I really want to dance naked in Port Atlantis and beg for PED? No, I did not. I feared mothers would point me out to their small avatars and say, "See him? That pathetic man used to be Donald. Now he's just a bum." I couldn't live with that.

D: Donald, can I break in? This is Donald's human, the man behind the curtain, if you will. I actually think of him as a separate entity. If someone hurts Donald, I feel sad for him. If he is maligned it makes me sad. If Donald does something questionable like post a self-serving interview of himself, and his reputation takes a hit, I wince at his pain. This is a fact. Go ahead now; I'll stay out...

D: I do so wish he'd mind his business. Where was I? Right. I quickly lost interest in a story line that I felt ill-equipped to advance. So I let it die... If the spirit moves me, I may get back to it someday, but right at the moment, it does not move me.

Speaking of disappointments-

N: No, we have moved on from that subject, but go ahead, just one more and then let's move on. I still have lots to ask you.

D: I am disappointed when I write something that I consider my absolutely most brilliant work, and it goes unnoticed. In the time since I have been in the EF, there have been a number of occasions when this has happened. I am gratified that the 'Nothing Compares to EU' song was a hit, but what about 'The Hunting Pays for Itself'? I loved that bit. It had a Gilbert and Sullivan quality to it, and yet it drew not a comment. I still laugh when I read it, and it was solidly based in facts as they occurred.

One other piece that I thought ought to have won an award of some sort, was the scene in 'The Entrepreneur', the only good part, when I released Raffy back into the wild. That was a genuine bit of whimsy if I must say so. And I am apparently the only one who liked it...

N: That's it! I'm done! I think this 'interview' is over. You are using it as a soapbox for all your pet peeves. What about my questions?

D: You are exactly right and I am sorry. It will not happen again. Go ahead; ask away and I will be brief and to the point. No more expounding on the harsh realities of life as I know it...

N: Thank you. I will count on you to keep your word.

So, you may or may not continue 'The Entrepreneur' story?

D: That is correct.

N: Let's talk about 'Donald's Diary'. How did that thing get started?

D: If you had looked at the very first entry in 'that thing', you'd know that it began as an inspiration drawn from the diaries I had read before mine began. Namely GoldPython and Lykke's. But I think you have missed the more important question, from which all other questions ought to hang.

N: Oh? Have I? Well, you would know, wouldn't you? Ok, I'll bite. What question is it, that I have missed?

D: How did I happen to ever come about in the first place? It's really quite interesting, if we have the time for it...

N: Sure... whatever, go for it.... I think you've told this story before though...

D: At about the time I found the Entropia Universe, I had also booked a voyage upon the Queen Mary 2. After booking, I began larking about on the Cunard discussion forum, posting and reading posts. The people who posted there actually were the sort of folks that I strive so hard to be. The language, the attitudes, everything were just perfect. They all tried to out-do each other in being the quintessential Englishman or woman, case depending.

I never dared to do the 'Donald' routine on that board. They'd have shut me down in a minute. As it was, in being my humblest self, my posts were frequently slapped down, corrected and critiqued. I was informed that inanimate objects, such as ships ought never be designated by a Roman numeral as in Queen Mary II, but only humans had that right, but objects needed a number, as in 2.

At any rate I thought their posts were humourous in a warm, cozy way. I've always been an Anglophile at heart. Just the other day the Mrs. and I were watching an episode of Masterpiece Theatre and I blurted out for no particular reason, "I wish I were English! Why was I not born there?" It was one of the few times she seemed to understand me completely, and I could see it in her eyes as she looked at me.

Donald was born from the Cunard forum. Once I began I recalled every English actor that had ever appealed to me. Rowan Atkinson played a big part, as well as Christopher Hewitt, aka Mr. Belvedere, and Terri Thomas, of too many films to mention. But that's all I wanted to say about that.

N: So, the diary... after you got started, what kept you going?

D: Well, I have always loved to write. I did a very humourous series of articles in another game forum, but it went entirely unnoticed. What kept me going in this forum was the warm response of the community. The only recompense I have ever sought has been reader feedback. Those among our friends who have taken a few moments out of the day and sent me words of kindness and encouragement, are the fuel that fires my soul. I have been the grateful recipient of some private messages that have honestly brought tears to my eyes. When someone writes to say that they read my diary, and always look forward to my next entry, it is the answer 'Yes' to my question, 'Does it really matter?'

I hope I am not sounding contradictory here...

N: How so? How do you figure?

D: I led off with some bold assertions that I did not care what others thought. I suppose I ought to have qualified that statement. I will not let my concern for the negative opinions of others cause me to alter my primary meaning. In the case of this interview, I wanted a comfortable venue where I could speak to the other members and explain a few things and express my feelings. I would not let any negative impressions others might have, prevent me from expressing myself in this way.

N: I see.... so where's the contradiction?

D: I do care very much that the EF members read and enjoy what I write, when it is intended to be entertaining. It really is their positive feedback that propels me forward, to try to continue and improve. I like to think of my writings as a minor side-line to the main event, which is the Entropia Universe itself. Without the EU none of us would be here. But as some may note, I am not capable of writing deeply detailed things about manufacturing, hunting or mining. I have never gotten that deep into the deeper aspects of the program. But I do hope to provide a higher level view of things. I sometimes consider myself the perpetual newbie so I can describe every scene with wide-eyed wonder. Yet some have said that I have not really contributed anything...

N: ...and apparently that bothered you, didn't it?

D: A little, but I try not to take it to heart. I have made much progress in becoming thick-skinned since coming here. Someone once said she thought of me like Teflon, that nothing stuck to me. And yet, many times I have left off the association thinking that, "this is not why I play a game."

N: Is there any one incident that bothers you more than most?

D: Yes, but I am not going to rehash it. There is no problem that cannot be resolved if all parties are agreeable to waging peace.

I'd like to get back to the feedback issue. I do not expect all feedback to be positive in the sense that the writer agrees with me. I am not above accepting criticism. Like when readers wanted more story in the 'She's Gone' series, I complied. The feedback I desire is just the sort that says, "I'm reading you, Mate, and I like what I read. Here's what you need to do to be better..." Of course, that last bit is optional. They can just gush forth praise if they like....

N: I'm sure you'd like that...

I want to ask you a few questions about Entropia Universe itself. First of all, how do you like it? Feel free to expound this time.

D: {takes a deep breath} Ah, I am so glad you asked that, and at the same time, I am afraid I am at a loss for words. Let me begin by saying that in my life I have been involved in about 10 online games. Some two or three of them have a special place in my heart. I sometimes imagine my little avatars scattered through-out cyberspace, waiting for me to log in. In most cases, I never will. They will wait forever, or until the next server-wipe. Entropia is different.

While there are some aspects of the game that I find maddening, the same is true of my wife, and I love her. So let's focus on the good. I love the sights and sounds. I love most of the music and the ambient sounds. I especially love the people who live on Calypso and those in orbit. I love that I can get away and wander aimlessly across the land. I love that I can stand in the middle of a bustling city, a beehive of activity and listen to a dozen different conversations at once. I love that I can 'own' a real home with real belongings. I even love the RCE, though it costs me dearly sometimes. I doubt the game would have nearly the same appeal if it were all just 'game-money' with no actual value.

I have altered my basic viewpoint toward EU since the beginning. I originally signed on because it seemed a terrific way to earn money for someone with geek-like tendencies, such as I. Now I view it as a casual diversion. I am not going to be uber in any field; I am not going to get rich. God bless those who are able to do that honestly. I am not able to commit to that style of game-play. I will log on when I want to, and can, and I will stay and enjoy as long as I can. It's a loose, commitment free style of play. If I were a single man, I would probably live in Entropia. I fear to think what might become of me, were I alone in RL. As it is, my spouse helps me keep a balance. I am not good at balance on my own.

On the one hand, yes, the EU is more than a game. On the other hand, it will never replace my real life, nor become the focus of it. Currently, I have decided on a profession; I have found my true calling, and am very surprised that it took me so long. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mikah and I fear I shall never be able to repay her...

N: What profession have you settled on?

D: I'm not going to say.

N: ...and that is because....?

D: I want to actually accomplish something in my field first, before I come out with anything. There have been too many false starts already. So, let's see what happens, shall we?

N: Alrighty then... are you done talking about Entropia?

D: I think so. No wait! Yes, yes I am all done... I think.

N: During your time in Entropia, has anyone come to your attention that you felt particularly drawn to?

D: How do you mean?

N: Do you have a favorite Entropian? You know the old question, if you could invite anyone who ever lived to dinner, who would it be? Just say, if you could be best buddies with any Entropian, just to hang out with, who would it be?

D: This is not a good thing to ask me. It's like asking a mother which child is her favourite. One mustn't play favourites.

N: I think you are being unrealistic. Even mothers have their favorite child, so tell the world, who is your favorite Entropian?

D: I can't say...

N: Are you afraid of being embarrassed if they find out?

D: That's not likely to happen, now is it? I wrote a critical piece about her and she only just read it after 6 months!

N: So it's a female?

D: I can't say...

N: But you have said. Listen, I am quoting you, "I wrote a critical piece about her..." So, your favorite Entropian is a female.

D: Well, Jolly good! Now we know! Can we just move on?

N: Who is it?

D: I will leave you to figure it out. But bear in mind when I say favourite person I am talking in the most absolutely platonic sense of the meaning of the word. This is a touchy area, and I really don't want to go there. I will only say...

I admire this person for her critical thinking ability. Yes, that's right, because I am not that good at it. I appreciate this person for being one of the first to offer her friendship in the early days of my arrival in Entropia. Also, I have enjoyed our conversations in-universe and the few times we were able to actually do things together. She gave me a pet, and taught me how to care for it and to train it. Furthermore, she helped me along the way, with her knowledge of the universe and her candor. She fashioned certain useful items for me, things I wish I had retained. She took me into her confidence in allowing me to see her apartment and trusted me not do go public with anything I might find there. Oh, and there is that rare quality of her sense of humour that lifts it from the common-place, mundane variety that some of us engage in, and raises it to the sublime.

Not taking anything away from anyone whom I have come to know in-universe, but I consider her my best in-universe friend. I am always happy to see her name in green in my friends list, even though I am honestly too shy to usually initiate a chat with her. It's nice just to know she is online. Yes, there it is. I've said it, it's enough just to know she's online...

Am I turning red...?

N: Just a little. Well, Donald, I know I said there was no time limit, but when I said it I had no idea how long you would drone on and on and on. I'm going to have to wrap this up now.

D: Right, but if you could, please just delete that entire last bit, about my best friend. Yes, I think it's for the best... it might be misconstrued somehow. So be a dear...

N: Certainly! Consider it deleted. It will never see the light of day. I promise you that...

D: Thank you. I appreciate it. And I'd also just like to thank you for taking the time to come here today, to speak with me...

N: Uh.. sure Donald.... but you are me, and vice versa...

D: Play along, Nealix, for pity-sake, play along!
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Well folks, that is it. In a flash Donald had left. I hope you enjoyed this opportunity to get some insights into the inner thoughts and feelings of this man. As Donald might say, He's aces in my book!

No sooner had he left, I immediately thought of a final question I meant to ask him. Isn't it always the way? I'll post it here and maybe he will check back in, and provide the answer.

When he was describing mother's pointing out the dancing Donald as he begged for PED, they told their children: "See that man. He used to be Donald; now he's just a bum!" My question is, in UK-English, how would you say, "Now he's just a bum?" In American English a bum means a homeless person, a hobo. In England a bum is something else entirely. No one would ever call Donald a 'bum' then would they? I mean really, would they?

Just me,
Nealix

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