The Frankie Roberto Interview

4 Conversations

The Frankie Roberto Interview

Frankie meets... St. Shea the Sarcastic

Shea the Sarcastic
on her gentle sarcasm, Jelly Beans and being a Saint.

It's difficult not to notice Shea when you see her name on the h2g2 forums and, being one of the highest posting researchers on h2g2, bumping into her is quite likely. Her distinctive researcher name made me initially wary of her. Being a simple, straight-forward kinda guy, I interpret sarcasm negatively, and so calling yourself 'the Sarcastic' seemed somewhat aggressive. I was pleasantly suprised, however, to discover that Shea is in fact a warm and friendly researcher. My first question when meeting to talk with her was about her name.

'I added 'the Sarcastic' just to warn people to not take everything I say seriously.'

Trying hard not to take her seriously, I challenge her back, 'fair enough, but sarcastic sounds negative though. Are you a cynical person?'

'I don't think being sarcastic is necessarily negative. Sarcasm just is. Like air. Or rocks. Or Yanni. I used to think I was a bit cynical, but I'm really not. Life has been very good to me, and I'm a pretty happy person... except when I'm not, of course.'

I ask if she knows that sarcasm is the second lowest form of wit.

'I'm unfamiliar with that phrase,'

she mutters sarcastically, poking her tongue at me.
'Sarcasm is a family trait really. I've got a strong suspicion that it may be genetic.'

I wonder if she is often sarcastic in real life.

'Define often...'

she replies, grinning.
'Yes, I'm sarcastic in real life. People complain that it makes it difficult to know when I'm being serious. I tell them to generally assume I'm being sarcastic, and I'll try to clue them in when I'm serious.'

So was she being serious then?

As if reading my mind, she replies,
'Yes, I was being serious then.'

That explains '...the Sarcastic'. What about 'Saint Shea'?

'Shea Stadium is where my favorite baseball team, the New York Mets play, so that's where I got Shea from. That's what my name started as on h2g2. The Sainthood came from being made a Guardian Angel. The Guardian Angels are an unofficial group of volunteers that greet new Researchers and help them with any problems, or just to be their friend. A Researcher can also request a personal Guardian Angel to stick with them on a more permanent basis.'

So Shea is an h2g2 Saint. I wonder if she would like a real life Sainthood, asking her what it might be for and if she would accept it.

'Well, since you have to be dead to be a Saint, I don't think I'd appreciate it very much... And they do rather force it on you, not really asking if you want to accept it,'

she gently mocks me.
'To become a Saint, there have to be three miracles attributed to the wannabe-saint's intervention. I can't think of any miracles attributed to me offhand, pigs aren't flying yet are they?'
She trails off, I leave the question hanging.

Saint Shea the Sarcastic has been dubbed as a 'power user' by BBC staff at The Towers. At over 100 posts a day, sometimes approaching 200, Shea often tops the 'most postings in the last 24 hours' chart at the h2g2 Info page. Being such a high-volume poster, Shea is involved with many different h2g2 clubs, societies and forums. I ask her to explain her favorite activites and forums on h2g2 and what she likes best about the site.

'This is a tough one. I enjoy so much about it! I like writing entries and greeting new researchers, but if I have to choose, I'd say that my favorite thing is being on at the same time as friends, and the wonderful banter you can get going in the forums. I can't say I have a favorite forum, because it's the people that make the forum, and I'm involved in an awful lot of them with some fabulous people! I couldn't possibly narrow it down!'

She smiles at herself for avoiding the question. I press her to atleast name some of the places she likes best.
'You're not going to let me weasel out of this one, are you?'
she laughs.

'I like bouncing around all the different Researcher fan clubs. They turn into pretty fun places. Relaxing in the jacuzzi with a dacquiri at my own is one of my favorite things!'

she smiles again.

'I like hanging out with the Thingites. We're campaigning to have
the names of days of the week changed. Since people couldn't get the hang of Thursdays, the idea was to rename it 'Thing' (check!), and it kinda steamrolled out of control from there. You'd be amazed at some of the opposition we've stirred up! We blew up the Strand Underpass at one point, to break into the Towers to outline our demands, but we kinda lost our momentum, and now the collapsed ruins of the Strand Underpass have been turned into a beach. There's a lovely bar, an artificial sun (there has to be, since it's underground), and for some reason, trees with carnivorous coconuts...'

I suggest that they are basically a bunch of lazy anarchists.

She nods her agreement.
'It's just silliness, mostly.'

I prompt her to continue her roundup of the h2g2 forums she loves best.

'The Kingdom of Balwyniti is fun. It's a magical kingdom, full of a lot of interesting people. I'm a princess there, and hey, who wouldn't want to hang around a place where they have their own personal lackey at their beck and call?'

'Then there's the Musehome where there's always something amusing going on! And lots of cheesecake and chocolate milk! I am a huge chocoholic! Well, I'm not really huge... you know what I mean... I love brownies, chocolate ice cream and cookies, all the things I'm not supposed to have!'

Shea doesn't mention that she is a member of the Northeastern US Researchers Group. Shea lives in the suburbs of New York, and her knowledge of the city comes across in the entries she has written, the Edited Entry Long Island, New York, USA and the comic entry, the Langwich Skool uv Noo Yawk .

'New York is an interesting city. The best and worst the world has to offer are crammed onto Manhattan Island. I'm glad to live near it, and can't really imagine living anywhere else. The museums alone make me keep going back. I don't think I could actually live in the City, but it's nice living near the City!'

A big wide Atlantic Ocean isn't enough to stop Shea from attending the real-time meetup in London this summer though, Saint Shea the Sarcastic's name is firmly on the Party List.

'I was going to come for a vacation anyway, but when I heard about the meet-up, I pushed my vacation closer so I could be there. I'm looking forward to meeting people! I recently met with a couple of Researchers in NYC, and we had a great time.'

Having been to some internet-meetups myself, I know it can be strange to be introduced into a roomful of strangers known only through the internet. I ask how she felt about the experience.

'I think the oddest part was talking about things, actually saying people's names out loud that you've only ever read. It was kinda surreal, it took the whole h2g2 experience into another
dimension. It's also funny to have your mental images of people completely shattered when you meet them face-to-face. It's interesting that we get images of people that have never really
described themselves to you. So far I've been dead wrong on everyone! But the best part is the physical contact. For me, it solidifies the fact that these people really are your friends.'

One last thing I notice from her homepage is that she is 'Keeper of Jelly Beans'. I ask why has a fondness for this particular confectionary.

'How can you not like something made of extract of bovine hoof, sugar, and artificial flavors and colors?'

she responds sarcastically!

Despite being warned that Shea looks a little like the cross smiley - smiley - cross - I end the interview having succumbed to her charm and manner. As a final question I ask for her idea of perfect happiness.

'What makes me happy is the knowledge that there are people who love me in spite of myself, and that I have people that I love.'

It is impossible not to like this Researcher, and I look forward to meeting her.

Frankie Roberto

Next Week: Colonel Sellers on 'Freedom From Faith', using your vote and the problems with Peer Review.

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