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#519276 - Fri Apr 09 2010 06:54 AM Interview with Skunkee
BxBarracuda Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Wed Sep 05 2007
Posts: 5117
Loc: Bronx
LeoDaVinci & BX
You live right outside the great Canadian city of Toronto. How is that an advantage or a disadvantage?
What is the area you live in like, suburban or rural?

I live in Burlington, a small city of about 160,000 people. It's located 45 minutes outside of Toronto on good roads, or two to three hours during rush hour! I love the fact that it has a small city feel...small enough that you get to know the people at the grocery store and they get to know you. It's been a nice place to raise our children.

However living close to Toronto gives us the opportunity to take advantage of everything that a metropolitan city has to offer. We have been to many terrific plays and concerts since moving here, fourteen years ago, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is world class. We actually managed to take in a few Leafs games, as well as one Blue Jays game!

It's like having the best of both worlds.

What has been your favourite country visited and what country is on the top of your yet to be visited list?

Now this is a difficult question to answer. We have been lucky enough to do a lot of travelling and I have loved almost every place we've been. My initial instinct is to say that Australia was my favourite, because I have dreamed of getting down under since I first heard about kangaroos and koalas. The trip was everything I wanted it to be and more, largely because of the incredible people we met when there (many of them FunTrivia people).
However as soon as I say that, I remember the great times we've had touring Canada, or the castles of England, the Giant's Causeway in Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. I have to honestly say that there isn't a single favourite.

We have been in all ten of Canada's amazing provinces, and seeing at least one, if not all, of the territories is near the top of my wish list. However the next big trip we want to take is a cruise that goes down one side of South America, enters the waters around Antarctica and then goes up the other side of South America. There are lots of other places that we'd love to see.

Are there any types of local destinations you visit often, have a ritual of getting to once a year or that you would define as you get away from it all place?

When the kids were younger, we used to go to the same campground every year. It was a provincial park, called Point Farms, just north of Goderich, Ontario. It's a great spot, very much geared to families and it was conveniently located only an hour and a half away from where we were living at the time. That was useful on more than one occasion, for a quick trip home if it was needed. Once we bought a van and the kids were older, we started travelling, and haven't really had a special place to visit since. So if I had to pick a familiar, get away from it place now, it would probably be my own garden, in which I derive a lot of satisfaction from just puttering around.

LeoDaVinci & JMorrow
You've authored many quizzes (305 at the moment). What drives you?
How hard was it to get one quiz in each category?
You were already quite a prolific quiz author before you became an editor, and your output hasn't dwindled since that time. Did becoming an editor affect your quiz-writing in any way?
Even more impressive (to me) is the amount of crosswords you've authored. How do you go about this?

I don't think that there's been only one thing that has driven me to write quizzes. I really enjoy the writing process (I love words), so that's a big part of it.

Writing a quiz in every category was challenging, more than it was hard. I was often writing out of my comfort zone, yet I was determined to try to produce good quizzes and not just pump them out for the sake of having one in every category. The hardest part was finding a topic in each category that interested me enough to do the research. Once I became interested in the research, the rest fell into place pretty easily.

I think my productivity in writing quizzes has waned, but I'm not sure that becoming an editor had a lot to do with that. Maybe it has in some way, because helping someone work through a quiz can satisfy some of the same needs as writing one does, especially when that person is interested in producing a good quiz.
Nowadays I tend to write most of my quizzes after seeing a really good movie.

As to authoring crosswords, thank you. However it's been a long time since I've authored a new one. I always composed on grid paper first though. I found that was easier to experiment on, at least for me!

Nannanut, SpanishLiz, JMorrow & BX
You are a Movies editor - what is your favourite movie of all time and what rates at the bottom of your list?
If they made a movie of your life, who would play the lead?
Do you find there to be a difference between movies you find great and ones you could watch over and over again?
If you could only (re)watch five movies for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

Asking me to pick one single movie as my favourite of all time is like asking Sophie to choose which child would live and which one would die!

Over the years there have been different 'favourites', that speak to a part of me for a while and then get gently replaced (although never forgotten) by the next great find. Some of these have included the original "Star Wars" trilogy, "Indiana Jones (1, 3 and 4)", "Gone with the Wind", "The Princess Bride", "Love Actually", "The Lion King", "Across the Universe", "Mama Mia", "Star Trek" (2009) and "Sherlock Holmes" (2009).

At the bottom of the list would have to be any movie with gratuitous gore and violence, especially towards animals. Any movie that depicts actual violence towards animals, like "Apocalypse Now" is one that I refuse to watch. Following at a close second would be predictable or slapstick comedy. Will Ferrell playing the same character (a little boy in a big body) over and over bores me to tears.

There usually is a difference between 'great' movies and ones that I could watch over and over again. The great ones are the ones that take hold of your emotions and wrench them, making you look at the world in a way that you never have before. Included in this list would be movies like the aforementioned "Sophie's Choice", "Schindler's List", "Murder in the First" and "Crash". These are movies that are too painful to watch over and over again, but they leave their fingerprints on your soul.

Movies that I could watch over and over again tend to be entertaining movies - sometimes they are musicals, action/adventures, chick flicks or comedies. They might make you laugh, or have you on the edge of your seat, but they generally leave you feeling uplifted in some small way. My list of favourites would all be included in this category.

If they made a movie of my life, I would love to think that Sandra Bullock would play the lead, but realistically it would more likely be Kathy Bates. Neither of us is terribly gorgeous or glamorous, but we're pretty down-to-earth and grounded. Maybe Sandra could play the younger me...not likely!

Is there any movie, song, play etc. that sums up your life, either as a whole or at the moment?

Oh definitely "A Star is Born", the Barbra Streisand version...okay, maybe not. Seriously the song that probably sums up my life was also the first song at our wedding. It's "God Only Knows (What I'd Be Without You)" by Neil Diamond. Although primarily dedicated to my husband, it also would be dedicated to those people who have helped shape and define who I am and who give meaning to my life on a daily basis...people like my children and my parents.

Not many people at FT know that you are a writer (aspiring to be published). Can you tell us anything about your writing?

I have written four books, all of them murder mysteries. And if I do say so myself, they're pretty good! Two of them are Thomas Harris, "Silence of the Lambs" types of stories and two of them are lighter efforts, with more comedic moments. I have a small basis of deeply disturbed...I mean devoted fans. Actually I probably should get going on sending out some enquiries. The Canadian market is a limited one, so I have to see if I can find someone who might be interested in representing me south of the border.

You have been on the editing team for quite some time. What was (were) the most significant change(s) you've seen made on the site?

I think the most dramatic change I've seen is the explosion of daily/hourly/team games that Terry has created. There are just so many ways to spend time on the site now. The whole badge concept is also new to my time here, as is the formation of teams, if truth be told.

Perhaps the most significant change that I've also seen is in the quality of quizzes. When I started editing, players were only asked to provide Interesting Information for half of the questions. Now it's required in every question and I think that's a great change. There is nothing more frustrating than getting an answer wrong and having no other explanation than seeing the correct answer. Sometimes that just doesn't cut it. Having well-written I.I. often reminds me about the correct answer, so I can slap my head and say 'Of course!'

Seeing so many peoples quiz submissions, do you feel that the importance of grammar has been lost, even before the advent of chat/text speak?
Is there any one aspect of grammar, mine is where to put commas, that you see being broken more then others?

Chat speak has got a lot to answer for, as far as I'm concerned, but I do think the decline existed beforehand, as you suggested. Many people just don't see grammar as important anymore.
One of the most common errors I see is the incorrect use of verb tenses. Many quiz writers jump back and forth between past and present tenses, and don't see any problem with that at all. They'll ask (for example) "What did he do when he woke up?" The answer will be "eat his breakfast" and the Interesting Information will read something like, "When he woke up, he went to the kitchen for breakfast. He takes his favourite cereal from the cupboard and eats it with milk."

What is the most enjoyable part of the Fun Trivia site for you?

The people - the most enjoyable part is definitely the people. There are some great people kicking around, and interacting with them makes the time I spend onsite worthwhile. The daily notes and exchanges can be such great fun.

I have made some very good friends on this site, some of whom I've had the pleasure of meeting, and lots of others whom I haven't met yet.

Some of the notes you get from people are great. I love getting notes on my Oldies Music quizzes because people often share what the songs meant to them at the time when they were Top Ten hits. I love hearing the stories and love that I've helped bring a smile to their faces by reminding them of the songs.

You are the leader of a closely-knit FT Team called the Lost Connection. How did you become the leader and do you enjoy the role?

My team contains a lot of those people I have already talked about - it's made up of some terrific individuals, who somehow manage to have similar senses of humour.

The team I used to belong to got quite large and impersonal, and there were a few of us who felt the same way. We decided that it was time to splinter off. Group membership is closed and is by invitation only and we are determined to keep the numbers low.

Being leader is really just a nominal title, given to me because I was the one who pressed the buttons to start the process. The group essentially runs itself because everyone in it has the personality and ability to be a leader themselves.

When you're not editing, what do you enjoy doing?

Well I've been known to watch the odd movie or two! Actually I love watching movies (and some TV shows on DVD), although I often have some knitting or cross stitch in my hands while watching. I also love to read, with murder mysteries being my favourite genre. As I've mentioned, we've seen a lot of terrific plays and concerts, sometimes with friends and sometimes just the two of us.

I do enjoy entertaining from time to time, including cooking a good meal when the occasion allows. Getting into London to visit family (and playing cards) is something else that's very important to me.
Travel is something we love to do, unfortunately it's not something we can do every day. We're pretty good at exploring local sites though, including museums, forts and Niagara Falls, which is just an hour and a half away.

In the summer I love to putter in my garden - it's amazing how much satisfaction can be derived from pulling weeds.

What is top of your guilty pleasure list?

It would have to be the fact that I enjoy the program "Supernatural". Both of my kids are avid fans but it really didn't sound like it would have much appeal. They wore us down and we started watching my son's DVDs. Now we're hooked, much to our surprise. We've recently finished watching all four seasons available on DVD.

What do you miss the most (and the least) about teaching?

I most definitely miss the kids, even the difficult ones. There is nothing more fulfilling than watching young minds grow and get excited about learning.

What I definitely do not miss is the politics. There is so much political baggage in the schools that I swear the true purpose of being there has long since been forgotten. The principal of my school was a particularly political creature, who was very bad at supporting and being there for her staff.

Tell us something about your family?

I have been married for 24 years (almost) and have two children. My daughter is in her last year of Dalhousie University (in Halifax, Nova Scotia) taking Technical Scenography (set design and behind the scenes in the theatre). My son is finishing up high school a year behind schedule, as he pretty much took last year off to be social. We have two cats and a dog.

If you could have a face to face conversation with three famous people - living or dead - who would they be?

Top of the list would be my mother. She died very young (I'm actually ten years older than she was when she died) and I would love to talk to her now, from the perspective of being an adult and a parent. I would love for her to have the chance to meet my husband and her grandchildren.

Terry Fox would be my second choice. He was a true Canadian hero whose Marathon of Hope has raised millions of dollars for cancer research. What he accomplished in his young life took more courage than I could ever have.

Walt Disney is someone else I would love to talk to. His vision was incredible and the legacy he has left behind is one that millions, or even billions of people enjoy daily.

What plans do you have for garden this year and has anything started to bloom already?

Nothing is actually in bloom yet, although the tulips and daffodils are getting close. There's a lot of green showing from other plants as well. The trees are budding and that's always exciting. Our robins have returned to clear the berries off of the holly bushes - that's an annual event.

We don't have any big plans for changes this year. We'll just watch and see what survived the winter and what holes will need to be replaced because something didn't make it.

Since you are a Thomas Harris fan, I must ask, do you prefer "Manhunter" or "Red Dragon"?
Personally I am a fan of Manhunter.

"Red Dragon" was good, but I have to agree with you - "Manhunter" is definitely my preference.

Do you have a favourite book that you can read over and over and not tire of?

There are many books that I dust off every dozen years or so and enjoy again. "Gone With the Wind" falls into this category, as do "The Lord of the Rings" and the Donaldson trilogy "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever". I also find Dick Francis novels to be nice easy reads (and re-reads), when I need something that won't make me think too much. But I have to say that the books I have probably read the most would be the "Harry Potter" books. I only wish they'd been around when I was younger!

How does being a crossword editor/author differ from being a quiz editor/author?

I find that when editing crosswords you have to be more concerned with the mechanical composition of the puzzle. The first thing you look for is whether the puzzle has any islands (sections that are not joined to the rest of the puzzle) or near islands (sections joined by one or two letters). Then you look to make sure that a sufficient percentage of the letters are "crossed" by other words and that there aren't a lot of dangling words (words that are only crossed by one other letter. Then you have to check that all words actually have a corresponding clue. Once that's all done, you finally get to look at the clues and make sure that they meet guidelines and that they actually describe the word.

I find I can't edit as many crosswords as quizzes, at a sitting, because my eyes ache and I start to miss things.

Has your team the Lost Connection done any of the new styled Team Quizzes and are there any in the works you can give us a hint about?

Yes we've got one, new-styled, group quiz online. It's been 'captained' by LeodaVinci and is called "TLC 'Group' Quiz". It's rather good, if I do say so myself. We haven't got any others in the works right now.

What about food? Favourite foods?
Favourite restaurant type?

Ah you know me too well! I do enjoy food very much. If I had to pick a single favourite food, it would probably have to be the lowly potato. I love it in just about every form, except for cold in potato salad. Much to my surprise, I'm finding myself craving chocolate more and more as I age - it was never that big a deal to me when I was younger. I love fish and chips, but am not otherwise much of a seafood fan.

I really enjoy Chinese, Japanese and Thai food, although I have to say that when going out for a really good meal, it usually starts with French Onion Soup and is followed by a Caesar salad, a baked potato and a nice filet mignon (my apologies to my vegetarian friends).

What did you think of the recent Winter Olympics?

Well, being Canadian, I'm bursting with pride at what our athletes accomplished. Going from never having won a gold medal at home to having the most golds ever by a hosting country is an amazing accomplishment.

The opening ceremonies were excellent, for the most part too. Some of it dragged a little and I felt the Olympic cauldron was unbelievably ugly!

Are there any words of wisdom, quiz writing or otherwise, you would like to impart to the FT community?

When writing a quiz, please, please, please write it in your own words. It staggers me to see the number of people who think it's okay to copy from online sources, which is plagiarism, plain and simple.
The other thing that drives me crazy is when I take the time to write out a Correction Note and the quiz writer simply resubmits without making the changes, sometimes more than once. I never understand what they think will happen when they do this. Do they think that we'll give up and either make the changes for them or even just slap the quiz online as is?

I think it's pretty safe to say that every single editor on staff is more than happy to help someone who's trying. We understand that it's a learning process and don't expect anyone to get it perfect first time. If you are asked to make a change that you disagree with or don't understand, send a note asking for clarification or explaining your point of view...politely of course!

Please forgive me for this one, but way back when, someone made a suggestion to have the following question asked, since I am taking a break from leading interviews after this, I just have to ask.
Boxers or Briefs?

Since, unlike my daughter, I've never worn boxers, I would have to say briefs. However they weren't generally called that, for women, when I was growing up.

Thank you to all who took part in working on this Interview.

#519277 - Fri Apr 09 2010 08:04 AM Re: Interview with Skunkee
Pagiedamon Offline

Registered: Sun Jun 15 2008
Posts: 2592
Loc: North Carolina USA
Wow! What a terrific interview. It's amazing how little you actually know about someone--even when it's someone you're in touch with fairly well. Thanks, skunkee, for taking part in the interviews and sharing so much!

#519278 - Fri Apr 09 2010 08:18 AM Re: Interview with Skunkee
ren33 Offline

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 12538
Loc: Kowloon Tong HongKong
Yes I agree Paige It was really interesting. Thanks so much Skunkee, indeed.
Could I ask, by the way, why you are called Skunkee? I am sure the answer is not the obvious one!
Wandering aimlessly through FT since 1999.

#519279 - Fri Apr 09 2010 08:37 AM Re: Interview with Skunkee
skunkee Offline
Star Poster

Registered: Thu Oct 16 2003
Posts: 10847
Loc: Burlington OntarioCanada
Many years ago, before I knew about FunTrivia, my sister got me playing an online game that was similar to Boggle. Since I cannot type without looking at the keyboard, I was at a distinct disadvantage until I became more proficient with the mouse, but I loved the game anyway. So when it came time to register and choose a name, I chose skunkee, because I stunk! (skunky was already taken.)
Over the years my kids gave me skunk related paraphenalia (a Flower beanie from "Bambi", for example), so the name stuck.
Recently we had a skunk take up residence in our garage, and I have to admit that I didn't feel enough of a kinship to let it stay!
Editor: Movies/Celebrities/Crosswords

"To insult someone we call him 'bestial'. For deliberate cruelty and nature, 'human' might be the greater insult." - Isaac Asimov


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