Seven Questions for Bev Sykes

The Great Interview Project begins with a Q&A with Bev Sykes, whose blog Funny the World is now in its ninth year. Nine years of daily entries! My mind was thoroughly boggled at the idea.

Even a cursory glance at her blog tells you a great deal about Bev. I started, as I suppose many people do, with two extremely helpful lists, 100 Things About Me and 100 Things I Like. But I also read a lot of her posts, chosen pretty much at random from her archives. And from them I came up with seven odd little questions.

1. I chuckled over your July post about Facebook. I had studiously avoided MySpace and Yelp and Facebook and all the others, and I never use chatrooms or IM. But a friend twisted my arm and I finally joined Facebook, and while it allowed me to reconnect with one old friend with whom I had lost touch, it is often a lot more trouble than it’s worth. My favorite application, a surprisingly realistic animated dog, is also the most annoying, because if I don’t log in every day to feed and water and pet her each day, I feel incredibly guilty. No, I feel like a heartless monster.

So here’s my question: You have a lot of demands, timewise: many, many different things to write and post, Facebook applications to attend to, family to nurture, friends to enjoy. How do you stay balanced? How do you apportion your days to spend a balanced amount of time with so many interests?

Your basic premise is faulty, I fear. You are under the misguided illusion that I have managed to balance my life. In fact, my life is seriously out of balance and an inordinate amount of time is spent on the Internet to the detriment of little things like keeping the house clean, the laundry folded and other homemaking chores. I do manage to do the fun stuff, but the “gotta get it done” things always get pushed to the back burner. And yes, I occasionally allow myself to feel guilty about that, but I manage to work through it.

2. Number 73 of your 100 Things About You says, “There is no better chocolate than See’s.” Tell me about See’s chocolate. What makes it so wonderful?

See’s was the candy I grew up on. My godfather always came to family dinners on Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s day, etc. and he always brought a 2 pound box of See’s bon bons. There was a See’s store right next to the theatre near my grandmother’s house and whenever she took me to the movies, we would stop in to get some candies to take into the theatre (and bypass the lobby candy counter). So it’s the taste I learned to love early in life. Haven’t found anything that lives up to it, though in later years, I think they’ve changed their formula a bit.

3. You’ve shared a great deal of your daily life, your family, your past, a hundred things about you, a hundred things you like, etc. (I had to laugh at your Flat Surface Syndrome, a problem I understand all too well.) What sorts of things do you keep private? What don’t you write about, and why?

Well, if I told you about the things I kept private, they wouldn’t be private any more, would they! I keep private anything that I know would either hurt or embarrass someone I care about. Often one of my kids will ask me not to write about a certain thing on the internet and I respect their wishes. There are times when I’m sorry that I set this up initially and let everybody I know about it, because sometimes it’s nice to have a place that is really all your own that nobody knows about, but it’s too late for that now!

4. Back to your 100 Things. You say, “I once met Judy Garland (she was very tiny).” So tell me about meeting Judy Garland.

I wrote a whole entry about my fascination with Judy Garland here. But basically, she had come to San Francisco for her Carnegie Hall show and I found out that she was going to stay at the Fairmont Hotel. A group of us met and sat in the lobby all day waiting for her to arrive, but she never did. Everyone else had jobs to go to the next day, so only two of us returned and, again, sat in the lobby until we saw her walk in. She was very gracious, gave us autographs, and let me take her photo. The next day we attended the concert and thought I had never done it before or since, I joined the throng rushing the stage at her bow and she shook my hand. I remember her hand being ice cold.

5. I notice you don’t have comments on your blog. I yearn for comments, for any connection with readers. I think the scariest thing in the world must be writing in a vacuum. Does not having comments give you greater freedom? Do you get feedback in other ways?

Actually I have TWO blogs. I set up Airy Persiflage to be a mirror site to Funny the World, the journal I set up in 2000, primarily because I had requests for something with RSS feed and FTW isn’t set up for that. Also, I figured that by setting up a mirror site, I might get more traffic (there are some 300-350 people who check FTW each day). I have a group of regulars who comment on entries, on FTW and occasionally I will get a comment on the same entry at Airy Persiflage. There was a time when traffic and comments and stuff like that was really important to me, but now I just write what I write for me and if someone reads it I’m thrilled, but I don’t fret if I don’t get any feedback. I figure once I’d won a “legacy award” for Funny the World several years ago, I didn’t need to bother about that stuff any more.

6. Why did you love riding in a hot air balloon when you’re afraid of roller coasters? (I’m terrified of both.) Is it the speed rather than the height that upsets you?

The hot air balloon was the least terrifying experience ever, and I’m a real wimp. There is literally no sensation (other than looking down and seeing the ground!) of movement. Just so peaceful. A girlfriend had come from Australia and we both had wanted the experience and I just absolutely loved it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I guess it’s the fact that it’s so slow that I liked, and it’s the speed of the carnival rides that terrify me. (I don’t like driving fast on the freeway either!)

7. I’d give anything to see “A Streetcar Named Mikado”— Gilbert & Sullivan’s characters in the world of Tennessee Williams. Are the stories mixed together, or is it mainly the Mikado story in a New Orleans setting?

Gosh. “Streetcar Named Mikado.” What WAS the plot of that thing. You know, I’ve collaborated on many Gilbert & Sullivan parodies over the years that they kind of all run together. It was loosely based on Streetcar, peopled with characters from Mikado and we rewrote the lyrics from Mikado to fit our convoluted plot. It was part Tennessee Williams, part Gilbert & Sullivan and mostly Peithman & Sykes for plot line, I think. E.g. there was a scene where Blanche, to make money, decided to sell Tupperware and sings a song written to “Braid the Raven Hair” from Mikado. That sort of silliness.

Categories: The Interview Project | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Seven Questions for Bev Sykes

  1. Thanks for letting me be your first subject, Craig. I was impressed with the thought and time you put into choosing your questions. It was fun participating. I look forward to seeing some of your subsequent interviews.

  2. indigobunting

    This was really a fun read (I love interviews), although it took me awhile as I had to link/read Bev’s original posts! Again, great fun.

  3. That’s a fun interview! I don’t know who turned me on to Bev, but she soon became a part of my morning computer routine. I was surprised when I looked at “a year ago” and discovered I had been reading her that long. (And that was a while ago.)

    From looking at our roots, no one would ever think that Bev and I have much in common, but I’m always finding connections. She’s a perfect example of, “we are more alike than different.”

  4. I’ve been reading Bev’s Funny the World since sometime early in 2000 — just a touch over eight years — and hope to continue to read her for many decades to come (uh, yes, Bev and I are the same age).

    How she manages to write entertaining and interesting postings every day, day after day, is totally beyond me. I once managed to write entries on my site for 18 consecutive days, a feat I have never contemplated attempting again — I’ve been writing online since 1996 but Bev’s output passed mine within her first few months and by now she is so far ahead that I’m not even in sight. And she does video blogging and Twitter and FaceBook and Flickr and probably blogs by smoke signal and semaphore as well, not to mention being theater critic for her local newspaper and serving as a foster parent for dogs awaiting adoption and all of her other activities.

    I am somewhat in awe of Bev Sykes, a true Renaissance woman.

  5. Bev is one of my on-line Scrabble partners…even though we live less than six blocks from each other! We have a lot in common – especially our political views.

    Enjoyed your interview…


  6. Tavie

    I have known Bev since I was born, she was my first roommate when I was an infant. I usually don’t respond to blogs, but since I started my own blog this summer I know it is fun to get responses. Bev is an inspiration. I used to check her blog when my mom told me there was something special, or I was in it. Now I check daily and it makes me feel connected to my family and friends, although it also makes me feel inadequate because I only update my blog once in a while.

  7. Carolynn from Western Australia

    I can’t remember when I first started to read Bev’s FTW, her Australian girlfriend is also a very good friend of myself and my husband. When Bev came to Australia to see her we all had a few days out together and had a ball. I love reading Bev’s journal and infact I think over the years I have literally gone right back to the beginning and read most if not all of her entries. I enjoyed reading your interview with her.
    Take care
    Love Carolynn

  8. Bev’s a lot like my mom, which is why I started to read… now, I read because she’s clever.

    However, she talks more about events – great diarying! – than about herself. Thank you for allowing us a glimpse at our storyteller

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