Reliable Source

Reliable Source: When Interviews Go Wrong


Sometimes an editor asks you to write something that’s outside your area of expertise. In this case, my editor, Greg Tito, asked me to be a normal journalist. This is just an area in which I am just not very well versed. Sure, I can write about crashing parties, fistfights, sex with strange women and drug abuse, but he thinks that I am capable of a compelling interview with a proponent of software piracy Dale Daurghty, editor of Pirate Boot-tay. I suppose I have to give it a shot.

I started how I always do – high quality research. According to his Wikipedia page, Daurghty was part of a landmark case in the late ’90s. He was the first person ever arrested for modifying a console. The console in question: his Gameboy Advance. The modification: two pieces of scotch tape and a square magnifying glass he’d taken from his grandmother’s reading drawer.

At the trial, the defense was horribly mismanaged, possibly due to Daurghty defending himself while wearing “footie” pajamas that read “Poop This Shit.” As a result, Daurghty was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, despite being tried as a minor. He spent two years at a juvenile detention center in Little Rock, Arkansas but was released on parole shortly after his twentieth birthday.

In prison, Daurghty used his time to learn about the intricacies of law in this country. When he got out of prison, he sued several companies and Microsoft was first on the list. He claimed that their Genuine Advantage copy protection had kept him from writing his congressman, which was clearly a violation of his freedom of speech. He then sued Blizzard Activision over the Guitar Hero controller, which he claimed was made for people with big hands. Daurghty stated in his suit that Caucasians have smaller hands than Africans and that, therefore, Guitar Hero was racist.

Both lawsuits were dismissed on the grounds that he didn’t have the $32 in court fees he needed to proceed with the civil suit.

But Daurghty didn’t give up. He emailed several game companies saying that he’d be the perfect candidate for an internship based on his unique perspective. Oddly, none of the companies he applied to needed an expert in frivolous lawsuits or jail cells and he was forced to look elsewhere for work.

Dale turned to the old fall-back for people who have no appreciable skills and only the smallest of ambitions: he started writing. With the help of his mother he formed his internet magazine called Pirate Boot-tay, which he said “would help bring legitimacy to piracy and protect the rights of pirates across the world.”

After I was confident that I knew everything about Daurghty, I set about emailing him. What tone should I use in our correspondence? Patronize him too much, and he’ll think I just want something from him; act too disinterested and he’ll think I don’t care. When did interviewing turn into a description of my dating history? I decided it was best to keep the tone light and try to communicate with him as if I was a fellow pirate.


Subject: Yaaar Matey!

I be wantin’ to gab at ye. These scurvy landlubbers desire yer tales of plunder and pillage. If’n you could so oblige a dirty bilge-rat like meself, I’d be mighty abateful.


Marion Cox
Dirty Bilge-Rat, Escapist Magazine

Two things happened a few minutes later, I received an email from Mr. Daurghty’s mother and I determined that “abateful” wasn’t a word. She said her son was busy, but that he would be contacting me soon. I replied and suggested that “abateful” was more of a nautical term. If she didn’t believe me she should consult a maritime dictionary or go abate herself. I then waited for a reply.

Almost 15 minutes went by with nary a response. 15 minutes is an eternity in these days of instant gratification and 140 characters. Surely, I’d scared him off – or maybe the internet was broken? Worried, I called my editor in North Carolina, but I wasn’t sure that he’d have answers. My concern proved true: he had nothing. Instead, Tito told me that I should be patient because not everyone sat in front of their computer constantly refreshing their inbox. He also told me not to call collect again unless I was stuck in a hospital, jail or Halifax.

Obviously, Greg didn’t get the memo about the internet being instant. Something was wrong; I knew it. Had my piratical greeting scared Dale and his mother off, or had he perhaps read some of my other columns?

Regardless, I obeyed the law of all journalists, “A day wasted is never wasted.” I had a bottle of whiskey and a press copy of the infanticide simulator BioShock 2. No one asked me to review it, but if I was to rate the experience I’d say that the whiskey was scored a 9.2 and the gameplay only a 7, putting the game at a solid score of 8.1. Perhaps the publishers could learn something from my experience and start packing free booze with each review copy. I fully support Halo Reach coming with a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20.

A few hours later, BioShock 2 had become a regular drinking game. In retrospect, it was probably lucky that I was interrupted by the phone ringing, as I had nearly run out of real alcohol and I was seriously eyeing a bottle of cough syrup. On the phone, Tito told me that I needed to check my email, because Mr. Daurghty had been trying to reach me for the last three hours. I assured Greg that I was on the case and that he had no cause to worry, but I suspect that I was slurring my words because he kept asking me if I was okay. I tried to change the subject and get him talking about his new manuscript: a collection of humorous quotes from fictional dogs.

After a long discussion about the nature of Snoopy and Woodstock’s relationship, Greg seemed reassured that I could at least hold a conversation. He was mostly right, at least until I some took liberties with the cold medicine.



“Hi, this is Marion Cox from The Escapist.” There was a cacophony of microphone scraping and shaking which sounded bit like the person on the other end was in a hurricane.

The tone of Dale’s voice seemed apprehensive when he asked, “This is Marion from The Escapist?”

“Yes, Marion from The Escapist.” This was really getting annoying. “Do you mind if we start the interview? I have to pick my dad up from the VFW soon.” I glanced at my watch – damn, I was supposed to pick him up an hour ago. Well, I was late already; he could wait a little longer. I got right to it.

“Sorry Dale, it’s been a busy week. The Escapist has had me doing a lot of interviews: Hulk Hogan, an Apple exec, you and some stupid kid who sued Microsoft.” I plowed right into before he could object. “Ok, first question. Now that you’re finally on the cover of NBA Live, has the fame changed your life at all?”

There was a short pause. “Uh, this is Dale Daurghty, are you sure you have the right interview?”

Shit, he was right. I had mixed his interview questions up with Dwight Howard’s. “Oh man, sorry I had the wrong notes.” It was my turn to shuffle papers and make strange scratching noises into the mic; I relished every moment of it.

“Let’s try this again: you recently started a magazine that defends piracy,” I said. “The magazine is 13 pages long and most of the images in the magazine are attributed to page one of Google image search. In addition to that, you call several members of the gaming industry names, including someone you interviewed ‘sum dum chink.’ I guess my question for you is: doesn’t this sort of behavior actually make it harder for people with legitimate issues regarding piracy law to be heard?”

The only response was silence, and then the Skype call dropped.

Perhaps it was for the best. My dad was probably standing out on the street making passersby “Drop and give him 20” if they dared to make eye contact. It always surprised me how many people would actually obey his orders. Dale could wait – the innocent pedestrians outside the VFW needed me.

In the car, Dad and I discussed the interview. I described Dale as a guy who manipulated the law to raise awareness of his cases and how he’d run out on his interview. Dad didn’t really care, he was still a little pissed that he had spent the last few hours outside the VFW waiting for his drunken and delinquent son.

“Dad, I fucked up.” I regretted saying the words even as they came out my mouth.

Marion Cox, Sr. angrily pointed his finger at me. “First, you need to stop whining like a pussy. I raised you better than that,” he growled. “Second, don’t you make up most of that shit anyway? If you ask me, it sounds like you need to quit your bellyaching and get writing.”

My father supported my writing, in so far as he knew it paid the bills, but beyond that I might as well have been selling blowjobs for bus tokens in the park.

Unbeknownst to him, he had given me an idea. I went home and started writing the interview. I wasn’t going to miss another deadline. No way. I’m getting this to my editor on time for once, whether it’s strictly true or not.

I just hope Tito buys it.

Marion Cox definitely missed another deadline.


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