Rules
Terms of Use

Topic Options
#631286 - Fri Jun 03 2011 12:55 PM Interview with Ralzzz
Pagiedamon Offline
Moderator

Registered: Sun Jun 15 2008
Posts: 2592
Loc: North Carolina USA
kyleisalive
What's the meaning of the username 'Ralzzz'?


My full name is Richard Alan Laton Jr., so my initials are "ral". In the early days of the internet, I worked full time during the day and would come home to my family in the evening where we would do the typical evening family functions. Because of all this, I found the only time I could use the internet was very late at night, hours when my family would be sleeping, or "sawing zzz's" as they often say. Add the "ral" of my initials with the "zzz" of my sleeping family and you get "ralzzz". I can't remember a time since I've not used ralzzz as my online identity, literally since the early 1990s.

Pagiedamon
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Married, in a relationship, or single? Kids or no kids? Pets?


I have happily been married to my beautiful wife for right around 18 years. I have a 23 year old daughter. My current wife is not my daughter's biologic mother, but she has been responsible for raising her since she was five years old. I was married once before, to my daughter's actual mother, but as often happens with young couples, we decided we were better off as friends than spouses. At home, we currently have two dogs. One dog, named Arwen (my wife is a huge "Lord of the Rings" fan) is a ten year old Great Pyrenees. The other is a Shih Tzu puppy named Dexter (my wife is also a huge fan of the the Showtime series "Dexter"). I guess you can see who names our animals. On a sad note, we just had to have our 16 year old kitty cat put to sleep recently. She actually didn't have a name. Yup, 16 years old and we never found a suitable name. She was known as Phunky, Wunky, Munky or nearly anything resembling that sound. In typical cat fashion, she didn't answer to anything.

Pagiedamon
What is your "real life" occupation?


Well, this is a tough one to answer. Technically, I am a consultant who helps companies that deal with hazardous chemicals comply with jurisdictional, state and federal regulations. In short description, I perform inspections of various industrial facilities to ensure they are operating within code requirements. I sometimes use various non-destructive inspection techniques to ascertain if a piece of equipment (a storage tank, a piping circuit, a relive system or a pressure vessel for example) meets structural or mechanical integrity. We may use ultrasonic inspection techniques, radiography or simple visual observations to make our assessments. After the inspection has occurred, I am responsible for writing technical documents to submit to local or federal agencies to show the facility is or is not in compliance with recognized engineering standards or practices. At the present time, I am the owner of a small consulting firm where I employ five or six people at a time to help in my work. I work for almost any industry including the military, various domestic and foreign government agencies, chemical plants, petrochemical refineries and even pharmaceutical companies. It's been a great learning experience, and I find myself learning something new everyday, even after nearly 25 years in the business.

agony
I know you do a lot of travelling for your work. Is there anywhere you really want to go that you haven't had the chance to, yet?


This is easily a two part answer. As far as domestic travel, I'd like to complete my journey of all 50 states. I lack Hawaii, Alaska, Wyoming and Nebraska. The first two are places I certainly plan on visiting; the other two...well, if they happen, they happen. As far as international travel goes, the list is a short one. I really want to see Australia and New Zealand. Just being part of the Fun Trivia family has shown me that folks from that area are fun, impulsive, eager to be helpful and super smart. I have visited somewhere in the neighborhood of 55-60 countries on five different continents, and I'd trade them all in for a good year to visit Australia and New Zealand.

Kyleisalive
Considering the amount of traveling you do, what location(s) would be your best recommendation to others for any reason?


I think this is a very difficult question to answer. I have had so many great experiences in so many different places that it's hard to specify any one location. Dubai is probably one of the more cosmopolitan and modern cities I visit regularly. I love to spend time in Israel, it's a fascinating country with so many types of people. As a second generation Irish-American, I love going to visit there. I love the UK and the great pubs they have to offer. The most beautiful women in the world (in my humble opinion) are in Brazil and Venezuela. Egypt is incredible for touring as there are so many different things to see. Puerto Rico has the jungle, the beach and the desert all within an hour's drive of each other. Basically, I encourage anyone to travel anywhere they've never been if the opportunity presents itself. Oh, I guess I should hype the US at least a little. Maine is an incredibly beautiful state. Florida (my birth state) has so much to see and do, it's a great place for first timers to the country. New York City literally has something for everyone to enjoy. Los Angeles and San Diego are beautiful southern California cities. Austin, Texas has some of the greatest live music in the country. New Orleans is a great place to let loose and indulge in the adult beverages. Gosh, so many places, so little time...

agony
Do you play a musical instrument? If not, would you like to, and which one?


I started taking piano lessons when I was two years old. I played all through high school and college. I started taking saxophone lessons in the sixth grade and I played through college as well. I still tinker with both instruments, and a couple others. I still have two pianos in my home and I sit down from time to time to play. When I was a younger fellow, I loved playing live. I lived for playing in the jazz band and was what they called a stage hog. Now, not so much. In fact, my skills have degraded to the point that I won't even play in front of my wife anymore. There's only so much time to practice, and it's not like riding a bicycle. To stay proficient, it requires many hours of practice, and those are hours I no longer have.

fredsixties
You're a Music Editor for FunTrivia. How did your knowledge of music develop?


My step father was a record producer and a studio musician. He played primarily pop and rock music while he produced blues and gospel. It was his varied interests in music, and the fact that we had music playing in the house all the time, that led me to respect many genres of music. In fact, one of my favorite memories of my step dad was the trivial knowledge he insisted on exposing my sister and I to. His knowledge of all music was vast. We would go back and forth trying to one-up each other with some little tidbit of knowledge. If I knew the year an album came out, he knew the studio where it was recorded. If I knew the producer, he knew some obscure guest musician. It was with this competitive rivalry we had that I really started exploring the more trivial side of music.

agony
What was your very best live concert experience? Oh, heck, how about the top three?


Well, quite recently I traveled to Palm Springs, California to see the Big Four of Heavy Metal. I have seen all four of these bands (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax) individually on numerous occasions. In fact, I may have seen one of them (Metallica) over 100 times over the past two and a half decades. But I never thought I would see them all perform in the same day. I don't know if that's in the top three, but with it being so recent, I have to include it. I love music festivals. Where else can you cram 75 bands into a period of a couple days? The Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee is a great one. A few years back, I got to see Pearl Jam and Metallica play along with several other great acts (Robert Plant in particular). One of my favorite live bands is Rush. I'll travel extensively to see them when I can, and I have been known to follow them from city to city when my plans allow it. Seeing Miles Davis was incredible. Stevie Wonder is a must see live. I've seen so many concerts (my first was Kiss in 1974) over the years, that picking a couple is nearly impossible. I think most folks know I'm sort of into the heavy metal side of things, but honestly, I just love seeing a talented group of musicians performing their craft. For bands I regret never seeing, I hated that I didn't travel to London for the Live 8 festival to see a reunited Pink Floyd. I hate never seeing any of The Beatles. I wish I could have seen Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Freddy Mercury, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and so many others. There are so many future opportunities to see so much, but it's the people who have passed on that I'll miss the most.

fredsixties
How did you come upon FT in the first place? I know I found it by accident.


In addition to "The Lord of the Rings" and "Dexter", my wife also loves "Little House on the Prairie" and trivia. At some point back in 2000 or so, she stumbled across FT via a search engine. It seemed every time she would search for some "Little House" trivia, the search engine would point her to Fun Trivia. After a bit of time, she finally realized that there was so much more to offer on the site. Once she saw that there was music trivia on the site, she showed it to me. I fell in love instantly with the sheer volume of music quizzes that could be played. It took so long for me to actually work up the nerve to join the site and start writing quizzes, but once I did, I was instantly hooked. After writing several quizzes, I was asked to be an editor. I'll be the first to admit that I've not logged the hours that many of our editors have over the years, but I still find it to be an enjoyable diversion from my regular work. I hope to remain a viable part of the FT staff for many more years.

kyleisalive
What's your favourite quiz that you've written? That someone else has written?


I once wrote a 25 question quiz on The Beatles that basically asked two questions each on all 12 of their UK releases. I researched that quiz for months. I really was proud of the amount of work that went into that one. I think the amount of feedback I received on that quiz really made it all worthwhile. Although it's nowhere near my highest rated quiz, it's still my favorite. As far as quizzes from others, there's been so many good ones over the years. Obviously, I really enjoy music quizzes. My fellow editors, music editors or not, have submitted some great ones to the cause. I think if I had to choose a couple, I think the "We're Number Two" quizzes from maddogrick are a lot of fun. Guitar goddess did a great quiz once on Kurt Cobain. Thejazzkickazz wrote a great quiz shortly after the passing of Ray Charles on his life that I remember as being really good. There's so many good ones, I feel I'd slight anyone who I didn't mention, so I better keep it brief. There are some really great quizzes here though, so many to choose from.

ertrum
What are your favorite kinds of quizzes to play or to edit?


I like quizzes that are fun and fresh, to both play and edit. When an author can phrase something mundane and still keep it interesting, those are my favorites. There's only so many ways to ask some questions, but when the author puts a great spin on the question, it boosts the entertainment factor considerably. I also like the quizzes in the author challenges. Putting your own interpretation on another's title is intriguing to see what twists and turns that can develop. I enjoy quizzes on some of the television programs I'm a fan of. I sure love the animated series, particularly those intended for a mature audience, but still viewable by the kiddies. I also rather enjoy quizzes based on Stephen King novels. As a life long fan of his books, those are a natural draw to my interest. I primarily stick to pop-culture based quizzes.

fredsixties
How do find the time to co-ordinate your outside schedule and still have time to edit FunTrivia quizzes?


My biggest obstacle is juggling time for personal enjoyment with my entirely too busy work schedule. As a person who spends hours and hours on airplanes, I get to spend some of that time editing quizzes. I spend most of my life in hotels, another opportunity to spend time here at FT. The times I don't get to edit much is when I'm home. There's always something that takes priority there (at least according to my wife), so my time for editing there is limited. I have a new problem, though. I hired my wife to work with me, so now some of that alone time is now shared with her. Unfortunately, she would rather go out and see the sites than hang out watching me edit quizzes in the hotel. For instance, right this moment, I'm answering this interview from my hotel room in Utah. Luckily, it's still a little too cold outside for my wife's blood, so she's allowing me this time while she snuggles under the covers. Tomorrow though, it's supposed to be nice and warm, so she wants to go watch the buffalo in the state park. Juggling work, my wife's interests and editing is sometimes a struggle, and one that keeps me a part-timer here, but it's a struggle I'm willing to endure to enjoy all facets of my life.

Pagiedamon
What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies outside of trivia?


Simple, baseball cards. I collect baseball cards and memorabilia, and I have for most of my life. I have a whole room of my house dedicated to my collection. I have also started buying and refurbishing Coca-Cola vending machines, but I do that more for profit than passion. That actually funds a lot of my baseball purchases. I also love to see live music and sporting events. I'm a life long fan of the University of Alabama college football and we travel to see their home games and all of their bowl games. I find myself scheduling work travel to coincide with Alabama football games and concerts. I sure hope no one ever puts that connection together and wants me to work elsewhere during my favorite events. Also, my wife and I are avid poker players. We recently were in Las Vegas to play in some tournaments. We didn't do very well though, but at least we made enough money to pay our entry fees.

ertrum
Is your glass half full, half empty, or the wrong size?


Awesome question. I think my glass is the wrong size. So many people are wrongfully envious of the amount of travel I get to do that I sometimes feel guilty for the opportunities I get to take. Conversely, there are so many things I have missed out on because of traveling, that I feel guilty for those things too. I've missed birthdays, school functions, holidays, births, funerals, graduations, weddings and several other things that most take for granted. So, for everything positive that has filled my glass, there has been some opposite event to empty my glass. The only way to make me feel better about the things I've missed, without detracting from the things I've experienced, is to get a much bigger glass. I'm talking about one really big glass. Taller than a yard of ale, more ounces than one of those Super Big Gulps from the 7-Eleven and way bigger than one of those German beer boots I used to drink out of in college. Oh shoot, who am I kidding? I still love drinking beer out of those nifty beer boots.

ertrum
What's the one thing we haven't asked you that we should have asked?


I guess no one asked about my favorite sports teams. I already mentioned my love for Alabama college football. My favorite Major League Baseball team is the Atlanta Braves. I've been a fan of the Braves since I was a small kid and Hank Aaron was making his run for the home run title. I'm a huge fan of some of the Braves' greats like Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. I'm gaining some new favorites with some of the talented youngsters in the game today. As far as the NFL, I'm a huge fan of the New Orleans Saints. Imagine my thrill a couple years back when the Crimson Tide won the NCAA national championship and the Saints won the Super Bowl. I'm not a big fan of basketball, but I do love March Madness. The competitiveness of the college game appeals to me far more than the pro game.
Thanks all for asking these interesting questions. I hope you all enjoyed my interview. It was a ton of fun answering things about myself that I never would have considered telling others on my own. Happy travels to all of you and may you all have a great time while exploring everything Fun Trivia has to offer!


Thanks to all who took part.

Top
#631295 - Fri Jun 03 2011 02:01 PM Re: Interview with Ralzzz
BxBarracuda Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Wed Sep 05 2007
Posts: 5117
Loc: Bronx
New�York�USA�...
Great all around Interview.


On March 27th 2005 you started a quiz writing journey that was recently completed on November 8th 2010. For your efforts you deservedly have your own sub category for Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs. Tell us about the ups and downs of putting together such a large set of quizzes and questions?


Edited by BxBarracuda (Fri Jun 03 2011 02:06 PM)

Top
#631297 - Fri Jun 03 2011 02:15 PM Re: Interview with Ralzzz
dg_dave Offline
Champion Poster

Registered: Sun Oct 05 2003
Posts: 23585
Loc: near Stafford, VirginiaUSA
Originally Posted By: BxBarracuda
Tell us about the ups and downs of putting together such a large set of quizzes and questions?


I was wondering how long it took to research all that.
_________________________
The way to get things done is NOT to mind who gets the credit for doing them. --Benjamin Jowett
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. --Eleanor Roosevelt
The day we lose our will to fight is the day we lose our freedom.

Top
#631314 - Fri Jun 03 2011 03:45 PM Re: Interview with Ralzzz
guitargoddess Offline
Moderator

Registered: Mon Jul 09 2007
Posts: 39281
Loc: Ottawa OntarioCanada
Great interview!

I wrote an even better quiz on Kurt Cobain, but you Music eds wouldn't allow it to go online! tongue (unless that's the one you're thinking of, as you would have seen it when submitted, I'm guessing)


Edited by guitargoddess (Fri Jun 03 2011 03:45 PM)
_________________________
Editor: Television and Animals

Top
#631355 - Fri Jun 03 2011 06:30 PM Re: Interview with Ralzzz
satguru Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Thu Feb 17 2000
Posts: 7600
Loc: Kingsbury LondonUK
Good to see you around Ralzzz, hopefully you'll remember the many happy hours we all had in the FT chatroom when it was open, you and I were one of the first conversations soon after it began, and a little regular bunch appeared around 10pm UK time with you, LadyMacb, Indie Queen, Tryst, and a good few more I can't remember offhand. As the US is 5 plus hours behind one by one people would arrive and it would get 2am, 3am and sometimes later for me while it was still only 10pm or earlier there. It's good to learn so much more about you after getting to know you 'virtually' so long back.
_________________________
Does the brain create or receive consciousness?

Top
#631365 - Fri Jun 03 2011 09:24 PM Re: Interview with Ralzzz
ren33 Offline
Moderator

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 12407
Loc: Kowloon Tong HongKong
What's the one thing we haven't asked you that we should have asked?

What a brilliant question! Why don't I think of things like that?
Great interview!
_________________________
Wandering aimlessly through FT since 1999.

Top
#631545 - Sat Jun 04 2011 05:34 PM Re: Interview with Ralzzz
ralzzz Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Sat Jul 20 2002
Posts: 720
Loc: Richmond Hill GA nearSavannah
I get asked a lot about the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs quizzes. Yes, that was a ton of work and I enjoyed writing that series, and it's something I'm proud of. It's funny, I'm so familiar with some of those songs that the research was almost nil. I have information stored in the ol' noggin that goes back nearly four decades. It all just sort of spilled out. Conversely, there were some songs I wasn't that familiar with, so the research that went in to those single questions may have lasted a week or longer. My pet peeve is duplicating questions that someone else may have asked, even remotely so. That means my first research would begin right here at FT. Making sure someone else hasn't already approached the subject matter. Then I would read old books, magazines, look at websites, read through album liner notes (I got to increase my CD collection thanks to this series actually) to get something that I deemed to be good trivia. From there, it was simple figuring an interesting way to put the question together. Obviously, if I worked on that series back to back, it would not have taken five years to write, but as I pointed out in my interview, I do spend an awful lot of time traveling and working, so I only get to spend a small percentage of my life here at FT. My first obligation is to help my fellow music editors keeping the category queue cleared. It's only after I feel I've put in my hours editing do I feel I've earned the reward or quiz writing. That's why it took so long to write. Of course, I did other quizzes in the meantime. I try to add to my Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Series and I like to add a Heavy Metal quiz every now and again when I see the sub-cat has slowed down some.
And yes, I do remember spending hours in the old chat room discussing all sorts of things. I picked up some good bands to listen to back then, and some of them are still high on my list. Those were good times.
Thanks all for letting an old fella ramble on a little bit.
_________________________
Ralzzz
Editor-Music

Top
#631549 - Sat Jun 04 2011 06:21 PM Re: Interview with Ralzzz
ozzz2002 Offline
Moderator

Registered: Mon Dec 03 2001
Posts: 19901
Loc: Sydney NSW Australia
Great interview, Richard, and if you ever make it to Australia, drop us a line. We might even be able to rustle up a yardglass of beer for you.
_________________________
The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not smashing it.

Ex-Editor, Hobbies and Sports, and Forum Moderator

Top
#631580 - Sat Jun 04 2011 07:56 PM Re: Interview with Ralzzz
agony Offline

Administrator

Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 14801
Loc: Western Canada
I used to work in a restaurant with one of those boots - "Hoi hoi hoi"!

I see you use books, magazines, liner notes, etc for your quizzes - I do, too. There is a lot of good info on the net, but often the real little gems are tucked away in less accessible places.

Top
#631829 - Sun Jun 05 2011 05:07 PM Re: Interview with Ralzzz
ralzzz Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Sat Jul 20 2002
Posts: 720
Loc: Richmond Hill GA nearSavannah
It's not a matter of if I make to Australia, it's when. And I'll surely look you guys up when I make it. And yes, the liner notes in all those CD booklets are great sources for quiz information. Online sources are good places to start, but I've gotten so much bogus information from th internet that I hardly look there anymore. My 25 years worth of "Rolling Stone" magazines is probably my biggest resource.
_________________________
Ralzzz
Editor-Music

Top

Moderator:  rossian, sue943