Erik Wolpaw (Old Man Murray) Q&A
Conducted by Omni
June 20, 2001
Erik Wolpaw, of Old Man Murray, is one of those enigmatic characters that PC gamers have known about and loved for a long time for his wit, charm, and the ability to make fun of just about everything. But what does anyone really know about him? Is he a gestalt entity? Why's he seem so warped and bitter? How does he manage to "keep it real?" How did he manage to get so funny? Recently Erik agreed to one of our Monster Interviews and some of those questions are answered below. Thanks, Erik for your time!
WARNING: Strong language ahead. You know, the kind of language you try not to use around your Grandma or Heads of State.
Several media sources and game developers have given thanks to Old Man Murray for "keeping it real." What the hell are they talking about?
Iím not even sure what the hell youíre talking about. Maybe you have us confused with Fat Camp rap ringer Professor Murder. Iíll let David Eggers answer for me: "You actually asked me the question: ĎAre you taking any steps to keep shit real?í I want you always to look back on this time as being a time when those words came out of your mouth."
Nah, Iím just trippiní. Looks like you did your homework on me and Chet Ė circumstances where we grew up and whatever. When we was kids, nobody talked about "keeping shit real", because shit was real. It was all real. Not only that, most of it was internally consistent. Sometimes weíd be on the porch lifting weights or reading muscle books or whatever, and itíd hit me: the eerie, too perfect realness of it. And Iíd say to Chet, "Itís too real. Like somebodyís tryiní too hard to manufacture for me this reality, this meticulously constructed motherfuckin fantasy life in which I'm not a bounty hunter from the future." And Chetíd be like: "So youíre from the future?" And then Iíd say, "Not as far as I know."
Do you ever pause and wonder if you might offend anyone?
Iím assuming you mean by my widely unpopular support for a return to scratching in Hip Hop. Iíll tell you the truth: Personally I donít give a shit if they donít scratch in Snoop Doggy Dogg songs. Because I know that the true Hip Hop heads are scratching away in their bedrooms, and theyíre the artists who count to me. Just keep buying underground mix tapes etc. instead of supporting wack hip hop exploiters.
Where did the OMM logo come from? Who designed it?
We grew up in Houstonís Fifth Ward and we were tight with this guy Antonius Colts. His cousin Delbert Harris drew it. Hereís some crazy trivia: Delbert eventually became sort of famous as rapper Lilí Raskull.
Where did original idea for OMM come from?
This is another thing thatís all tied up with Antonius Colts. His cousin Delbert Harris used to get high with us all the time. Never bought or brought any of his own, mind you, but he could do standing backflips and heíd do them over and over if you asked, and heíd always have marshmallows and packs those fancy peanuts and snickers bars and shit on him that heíd hand out. Plus he was Antoniusís cousin, so we were always like, what the fuck, man, come on over. In í96 he went through some kind of religious conversion, and to make a long story short he ended up flushing half a nickel bag of Chetís marijuana down the toilet. Now, Chet had a reputation for violence, and in the Fifth Ward you had to be known for some serious violence to be known for it, right? And I mean he was pissed as I ever saw him. But Antonius was like, you know, calm down man, Iíll get Delbert to make it up to you. Chet was like, "how Delbert gonna make this up to us?" Because, at the time, Delbert didnít have a goddamn motherfucking cent to his name. He was unreliable in general, you know? Antonius was like, "well, what you want?" Chet and I had been thinking about starting a website, but we didnít know how to do it or what we wanted it to be about. So we told Antonius that we wanted Delbert to think up a good idea for a website and then write most of it and draw a logo too. And you know what? That lilí motherfucker did it! So OMM was Delbertís idea and mostly his work, but no way it woulda happened without me and Chet.
Ever been sued and/or taken to court over something on the site?
On the site? Hell motherfuckin no. Chetís in and out of legal trouble like courtís a wood paneled pussy. No D.A. in he right mind gonna be like "Well, your honor, Mr. Murray stands before you of accused of murder in the first degreeÖ and lying about how bad Mortyr is." You know what Iím saying? Say they just concentrate on clearing Chetís mail and trust fraud beefs out the dockets; Chet gonna be two hundred fifty before they get around to worrying about any shit he sayin about Roberta Williams.
With the latest wave of gaming sites going under and dollars fleeing anything associated with "dot coms" will OMM survive?
Let me tell you something. Antonius Coltsí little cousin Delbert Harris got some deep pockets now. But back in late í96 Ė this is after he converted and after he wrote OMM, but before he released his first record "Controverse All-Star", though while he was working on it Ė Delbert was in some deep shit. Heíd buy bad reservation ditchweed from them Apaches up at Tomtown - the shit that just give you a gummy headache Ė and sell it ten-up to freshman at Rice. Antonius is black as burnt meat, but Delbertís moms is half Mexican and so he pretty light-skinned. Delbertíd put on a Crocodile Dundee hat and not talk much or when he did, talk real slow, and them white kids think Delbertís some kinda outer space patcho wizard and that shitty ass ditchweed is Injun supersmoke. Hell, compared to the oregano and twigs niggers usually be selliní them, smokiní that shit probably was like shootiní PCP straight into they hearts. Now, even though it was, this wasnít a conscious sound business strategy on Delbertís part. Him beiní religious now or whatever, he didnít feel right completely stealing from those kids. Though sometimes I think them Apaches was usually selliní Delbert a big bag of twigs anyway. In any case, one thing leads to another and Delbert eventually starts selling an MS contin cocktail outta 16 ounce soda bottles, which is grain alcohol mixed with MS contin, Haldol, and Talwin, which he gets from the Indians, who gave him the idea in the first place one day when I guess they run outta oregano. This shitís expensive, but the Apache clinics ainít regulated like normal pharmacies, so they get it pretty easy and for cheap. The thing is, the second time Delbert tries this, he substitutes the Talwin with Tigan - which is an anti-emetic - realizes what he done and tries to dilute the Tigan with a lot more MS contin. In any case, a couple of white kids drink this shit and they lungs fill up with phlegm and then they drop dead. Delbertís like "oh shit, oh shit, Chet", because two white kids is dead, and Iím like, "yeah, oh shit is right, Delbert, you shoulda stuck with that ditchweed." Meanwhile, Chetís in a beef with this Apache called Vernon Nightpipe over some shit Vernon postiní in the OMM forums about this game Chet like, Operational Art of War. Chetís white and so he puts on a rich-ass whitey voice and you canít tell it from the real thing. So he makes a few calls and gets some kids up at Rice to finger Vernon Nightpipe, which works out good because Vernonís done two or three stretches anyway not to mention he on parole right then. As far as the cops care, one dog-eater good as another plus they got the word of a coupla upstanding white girls, so Vernon goes to jail like forever. This solves Chetís forum problem and Delbertís murder problem too. So whatever shit Delbert gots now, God runniní neck and neck with Chet for who he owe it to. Long as Delbert got some motherfuckin money in his pocket, OMM not goiní noplace.
It looks like a game based on Survivor is in the works. What are the chances it will suck cheese?
Okay, Iím going to switch back to my fake formal voice, because this is important: OMM character aside, I donít watch television. I read books Ė I prefer the company of great authors to Lenny and Squiggly or whatever is popular on the blabber box now. So I really couldnít tell you, because I donít know what survivor is. In fact, the only reason I even know itís a television program is because I read a poem about it in the last issue of American Letters and Commentary.
Is the Internet the greatest propaganda machine ever invented? If so, who for?
Iíd never really thought about it, but, yeah, it probably is. As far as whom itís propaganda for: Well, like most things, what with the slippery slope and all, if weíre not careful Ė Nazis.
Has any print publication (i.e. PC Gamer or CGW) ever offered you a job?
No. They wouldnít have the guts to hire me. This goes back to me keeping it real. What do you think would happen the first time they told me to tailor a review to the wishes of a big advertiser? Because, honestly, thatís how a lot of those "reviews" happen.
Whatís the most underrated game of all time?
Of all time? Iím going to play the odds and say itís some game that will be made in the future.
How much planning or thought is given to each rant you write?
Delbert Harris writes pretty much everything on the site, so youíd have to interview him to find out where the initial ideas come from. Once a rough draft is written, however, Chet, Delbertís cousin Antonius Colts, and I all review it. We send it back to Delbert for revisions and then he passes it on to the marketing department at UGO, where each piece is checked for any content that may offend UGOís paying advertisers. Copy editors at UGO then make sure everything is grammatically correct, and then they pass it on to the technical department where Delbertís handwritten documents are formatted into HTML. So, to answer your question, while it may appear to be "off the cuff", everything you read on OMM is the result of a lengthy collaborative process.
Will the merger between filmmaking and games ever happen? Or is it a pipe dream?
Woo. Thatís a toughie. Mainly because I donít know what the Hell youíre talking about. So Iím just gonna go with pipe dream. I hope thatís the right answer.
Console games have the notoriety of being for the novice player, while PC games are termed to be for "hardcore" players. Agree or disagree?
Is there a line in the sand that OMM wonít cross in terms of content?
Well, we certainly wouldnít publish an article critical of any product published by Infogrames or any of the artists on Delbertís label, Grapetree records. Thatís out of respect, because most of them came up with us. Also, there are a couple of really nasty swearwords we wonít use. For instance, thereís one that I wonít mention by name that includes the word "cunt" twice.
If OMM ever got his act together, could he design his own game? What would the plot be?
If science perfects human cloning, should they clone Charleston Heston?
I assume this is a rhetorical joke question. Iíll just shut up while everyone enjoys it.
Is the mainstream media (i.e. print, TV, radio) too restrictive?
No. What do you mean? Never mind: Probably no.
Recently, the Hollywood writers and producers agreed upon a contract, which begs the question, Hollywood has writers?
I hear ya. Itís like "who writes these movies?" Nobody, I think!
Should people wear hats like they did in the Ď50s?
LOL! RTFM! Yeah, really, who were these hat people? And where did they go?!?
Is Microsoft eventually going to own everything to do with computers?
What do you want me to say, "Yes"? Hereís a better question: Who cares? Iím not planning to write an operating system anytime soon. Say Iíve got twenty-five more years before Iím old enough to be more or less considered dead. Thatís not a lot of time to stuff the worldís huge supply of pictures of naked women into my eyeballs. The amount of my remaining incredibly precious life that I want to devote to thinking about arcane legal arguments between Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds is exactly fucking zero. Iím measuring that in seconds.
Why do game publishers feel compelled to repackage old games or compilations of old games? How many copies do we need?
You could answer that question by counting the number of copies you bought and multiplying by 1, which should roughly equal the number of copies you evidently feel you need. This question only becomes relevant if Internet propaganda combined with Microsoft results in a Nazi police state, only instead of setting up homosexual labor camps, they force you to buy games.
Any game out there in development that youíve got your eye on?
State of Emergency, Stretch Panic, Return to Wolfenstein, Freedom Force.
OMM passed on the Canadian Trivia Question, but here it is for all you quiz masters.
Canadian Trivia Question: What is the name of the territory found in the upper-left corner of Canada?
Click here for the answer.
Old Man Murray's Official Site
Thanks again for your time, Erik!
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