Monday, January 21, 2019

In which we duck out at the first opportunity

Bigle was, well, different.

Friday night we had a nice dinner: myself, Catholic Charlie, Kaz and CP. Charlie being of the not-drinking-much persuasion, I had a designated driver, something I am always fond of. Good food and wine and friends—what's better?

Kaz had spent a lot of time paring down the tournament to a one-dayer. It mostly went off without a glitch. Unfortunately, the room pools were a bit off in round one, but that was on the back end, and by this point, I can room whisper till the cows come home. (Yes, I've even gotten out of the habit of sending out pairings without any rooms at all, although I think CP might have written code that keeps that from happening just to protect me from myself). We got it all sorted out quickly enough, and things went fine. The key thing was getting rounds started and ended without any hoo-ha. This happened, and that's because the participants were behaving nicely. Of course, I do harangue them with endless pokes, which I'm sure is annoying, but if you haven't started your round, you are unable to cast the Defense Against Annoyances spell.

There were all kinds of novice and varsity debates. Catholic C and I did the LD ones. Novice just had as many rounds as could fit. Varsity had 5 breaking to octs, to accommodate a quarters bid. When all was said and done, the numbers still warranted that bid, as did the competition. We lost some strong local schools, but all the distance travelers had flights that bracketed the storm, so they were not deterred.

We had originally planned to come back on Sunday, but the forecast was pretty icy for driving. I kept looking at the weather, and eventually found a gap in the precipitation from around 6 to 10, so Charlie and I made a run for it. We would have liked to join the Saturday night party at the Marriott but sleeping in one's own bed, and not having to attach skates to the car on Sunday morning after chipping off the iceberg surrounding it was even more likable. For most of our trip it wasn't doing anything and the roads were clear. Near the end the snow started, but the traffic was light and we made it without incident. Along the way we listened to Audible's Bob Newhart talk show, and since we're both fans (although, unlike CC, I haven't memorized all the albums and TV shows and movies), it made the time pass easily.

In the end, I don't think Sunday was all that terrible, but Kaz made the right call. And, probably, all the local schools that would have come probably made the right call based on the info that they had at the time.

And thus another Bigle X goes into the books.

Friday, January 18, 2019

In which we prepare for the Icepocalytic Bigle X

What a mess.

The forecast is for hell freezing over on Sunday, which is not good news for a tournament that runs from Saturday morning to Monday afternoon. As the entrants were dropping like flies, Kaz made a decision to run an abbreviated one-day tournament with lots of strange scheduling. I'm a little unclear how she plans to do it, but I'll let you know. It should be interesting. Catholic Charlie and I are driving up after lunch and will catch up with her in the early evening to go over the details. I have to admit, while there is nothing like a well-oiled, perfectly run ginormous college tournament, it is much more exciting to pull off an event where everything is conspiring against you, there's not enough time, not enough space and not enough coffee, although it's a fairly short trip to the nearest Starbucks from the high school so at least that won't be a problem. The good news is that in addition to me and Charlie, Marty Meat and Pennsylvania Jeff will both be there, so we have a good staff, although I'll miss working with JV, as this is our only LD gig together during the year. Anyhow, as I say, I'll let you know.

Columbia freezes fees today. The waitlists have pretty much evaporated, probably because those unaccepteds were throwing off the judge obligations in tabroom. Anyhow, the numbers are nice, and we should have a straightforward event, barring any unforeseens.

Penn TBAs disappear today. I've posted a schedule (a bit of a wonder, I must say), and topped off all the lists as best I could. More slots should open today, and when there's a chance tomorrow, I'll have at them.

And finally, Baby Bump seems to have settled well. 80 teams spread around in different divisions. That's about what's expected in a region where a whole bunch of schools seem to ignore their young students in favor of—what? Who is the god of shortsightedness, anyhow?

Oh, well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

In which joy is jumped for

We got rooms at Penn. Not as many as I would like, but enough. I can start clearing the waitlists and, most importantly, open up the JV divisions. To make everything kosher, what I need to do, and will do as soon as I finish typing this, is start working on the room whispering. I have a list of what we have. Now it's time to apply rounds to them.

Whew.

Did I mention that the Benfers applied for the spaces back in October? In other words, no feet were dragged on their end. What is it with these universities, anyhow? If they're not stonewalling on rooms, they're stonewalling on something else. Sigh. There isn't much we can do about it, except piss and moan. And that doesn't really get us anywhere.

Meanwhile, I've been closely following the weather forecasts for this weekend for Bigle X. It looks like we'll get there okay, but we may never leave. In any case, it wouldn't be the first time that, after our arrival in Massachusetts, the snow decided to fall. As often as not the first thing in the morning one is out there shoveling off the car, and there was one year when my car froze up so badly that we were only able to barely open the back hatch, and had to send in a scout to turn on the engine and warm things up for the rest of us. Keep in mind that the buildings at Lex are on the California Plan, i.e., separate, with a need for students to walk outside during the day to get to different classes. Why the California Plan? Apparently the town founders weren't quite sure of their geography. After all, there is, or more to the point was, a Lexington in the Golden State. Quoting from Wikipedia, "Lexington, California, is a ghost town in Santa Clara County, now submerged by the Lexington Reservoir."

Could the same thing happen in Massachusetts? Maybe. I'll be bringing my galoshes, just in case. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

In which we continue moaning

The soap opera that is BenF Rooms continues. 

Last week I managed to figure a schedule that works, albeit sort of weirdly, with the fewest number of spaces that I had been advised we might have. I was all ready to go Friday, letting in a few more folks and opening the gates to a small but lively pair of JV divisions. But the BenFers demurred, still not sure they’ll even get their minimum roomage. 

Oy.

Needless to say, I’ve been regularly needled by registrants who apparently think that I’m deliberately holding back on letting their little angels into the tournament. As if this were a possibility. I want happy customers, not grumps. I want to create good tournament experiences. That’s why I do this. Unless I have a personal vendetta against you (and that’s very few schools, only a couple dozen at most*), I want you in, I want you competing, and I want you to think happy thoughts so that you’ll return next year. Also, I don’t want a lot of emails that I always wish to respond to by telling them how to run their team: has no one ever heard of reserving rooms at a hotel and cancelling them within a reasonable timeframe, has no one ever heard of not making unrefundable reservations before getting off the waitlist, or not purchasing plane tickets months in advance and then, for some reason, not signing up for the tournament until a month after registration opened? Sigh.

Anyhow, we’ve set the bell to go off on Wednesday, at which point we’ll know better about roomage. Last Friday, in an attempt to stave off further questions, I sent out a very nice email telling people to hold their horses a few more days. At least one person read this as meaning they got all their entries in. Do they teach reading comprehension to high school teachers these days? Or is it too late? I mean, I may have my failings, but writing unclear prose isn’t one of them. 

Meanwhile, it’s looking like clear sailing for Bigle X this week. What’s not to like about a tournament where all I have to do is sit in the tab room and press a lot of buttons? 


*That's a joke. At the moment, there are no schools on my vendetta list. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Wednesday Arts (it's like Friday Arts only on Wednesday, but I guess you figured that out)

Not having been around for much of December, I haven't made a lot of additions to the Menick Tab Room playlist. BTW, the playlist is perfectly acceptable for road trips as well as round pairing. Perhaps more so. (https://open.spotify.com/user/jimmenick/playlist/1CzrLTz52lXBVAGs4GNG1p)

Tumbling Dice, Linda Ronstadt, Simple Dreams — I have a friend who was a big Ronstadt fan, who played for this for me at top volume when it first came, daring me to dislike it. I don't know. I never actually took to her, but this one recently popped up at random and I have to admit it's a goody. I've added the whole album for future consideration. Meanwhile, I will admit to liking her work with Parton and Harris, but I'm a sucker for harmony. Still, there's something about her voice that bugs me. I especially don't like her Nelson Riddle stuff. I just don't believe her when she sings those songs.

Like to Get to Know You, Spanky & Our Gang, Greatest Hits — Well, this is pure bubblegum, but I have a nostalgic liking for it. Spanky was, apparently, not the real Spanky's daughter. McFarland vs. McFarlane. Anyhow, once again, harmony. Nothing wrong with that. I didn't actually listen to the whole Greatest Hits album. I guess I should, if I want to be a 60s completist.

Route 66, Glenn Frey, After Hours — Can anyone ruin this song? It probably doesn't belong in the playlist as it's constructed, but it's a nice break from, I don't know, three Blue Cheer songs in a row (and no, there's no Blue Cheer in the list, after "Summertime Blues" somehow snuck in but then got caught and summarily expelled). Again, this just came up at random. Go fig.

New Orleans, Gary U.S. Bonds, Birth of a Legend — Another random popup. Thank God for random popups.

Half a dozen or so Crowbar and King Biscuit Boy songs from various albums — I just went on a jag with these guys. So sue me. They were never popular in the States, as far as I can remember, and I just happened to acquire an album at a secondhand record shop (that I happened to manage, giving me droit de seigneur over the used bin). Anyhow, if you can drive your car to their music and not get pulled over for speeding, you have one level head, my friend.

It Ain't the Meat It's the Motion, Maria Muldaur, Waitress in a Donut Shop — I've been late putting Muldaur songs on the list, but I'm a big fan. She is one of the great music archivists, and seems to always have been. She knows her roots, in other words. The role call of contributors to this album is pretty remarkable. Even Linda Ronstadt (see above) showed up. And Dr. John, among many many others, but there was a period (the last 50 years) where old Mac R seemed to show up on every album released in the US. This was a good thing.

Battle is Over But the War Goes On, Levon Helm, The Midnight Ramble Music Sessions Vol 2 — If I have to explain why Levon gets onto the playlist, you need to ask yourself if there isn't some Barry Manilow playlist you could be listening to.

(The New Way of) Grievin' and Smokin', The Gourds, Ghosts of Hallelujah — I went back to the beginning with these guys. This is their second album. When I'm creating the lists of things to audit for the playlist, it's sort of by name association. So after a Levon album, of course one would think of the Gourds. No, they're not The Band, but they're pretty good. This is mostly a country album, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Nothing from the "Stay Awake" album of odd Disney interpretations (e.g., Sun Ra does "Pink Elephants on Parade"), mostly because they're all medleys. Nothing from Collective Soul (eponymous) because they're pretty boring; "Heaven Let Your Light Shine Down" is more than enough, I guess.

Finally, I've been listening to The Beatles, AKA the White Album, remixed, with scads of extras. The music sounds great, and the extras (many of which are new to me) are very entertaining. I probably won't replace any White Album songs already on the playlist, but when I'm in a mood for this album in the future, this is the version I'll be listening to, either the original or the alternate comprising the extra cuts.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

In which we go into IT mode

Photos sucks. The Mac app, that is. I've done all sorts of things to get it back to fighting trim on my Mac Mini, and the best I can say is that it now takes about a minute to delete a single photo as compared to freezing at the thought of deleting a photo. I come from the school that film is cheap and its cost should not limit your profligacy in taking as many varied shots as it takes to get one good one. The arrival of digital photography and the end of film (I used to travel on a week vacation with dozens of film cartridges) has been a joy. But at the point where you can't really work with them, not so much. I've cleaned the library, deleted the recently deleted, and most lately, launch in Safe Mode. Sooner or later, something will work. Curiously, I have no problems with my MacBook or, for that matter, my iPhone. Could the release of the new Mini have somehow triggered problems with the old one? As a rule, all appliances die roughly one day to one week after they're out of warranty. Why should Macs be any different.

Not that you care about any of this. But I want you to know where I've been wasting most of my time. That and cleaning up the home office. To begin with, I brought home tons of crap from the DJ office, despite the fact that even there I was tossing stuff with great abandon. But I should have greatly abandoned more than I did, I think. Oh, well. A box went out to the garbagemen this morning. They can look forward to more boxes, I'm sure. Good stuff will go to the Vets. Really good stuff (if any, other than a Nikon DSLR that both my daughter and I thought were with her but turned out to be anything but) will be adjudicated in an appropriate manor.

Tomorrow I delete Gem TBAs, We've got some more rooms for Saturday, but only from 8-4, which is sort of punk, if you know what I mean. That gives me maybe three rounds. Better than nothing, but not perfect. I've asked if they can make that 4 a 9. That would be ideal.

Onwards.

Monday, January 07, 2019

In which we make excuses

I don't think I've figured out this whole retirement thing yet. I was all ready to start blogging again last week, and I did a lot of stuff worth discussing, and yet...

Time management. That's my problem. I need to set up a daily schedule. So far I've been working on big issues unrelated to the interesting side of things (like why Photos on my Mini is practically dead in the water—very time consuming). But I've also addressed some debate issues as well. And haven't reported on them. My bad.

The big issue is two tournaments, the Gem of Harlem and the BenF, which are sadly lacking in that little thing called rooms. With Columbia, we've already cut the thing to shreds by removing the speech events, and we're still not where I would like to be. At one point I was considering triple-flighting on Friday due to lack of space. Kaz thinks that's the worst idea since I suggested eliminating Policy at Bigle X, but one does what one has to do. Anyhow, I'm hoping not to have to do it (and no, I really didn't suggest eliminating Policy at the Bigle, but I did intimate that we might not miss it at Penn, to a stern bout of Kazsplaining me out of the idea).

Penn, on the other hand, has all its events still intact, except JV LD and JV PF, neither of which I've even pretended will happen vis-a-vis the waitlist. But over the weekend I went to Catholic Charlie and he worked out a Vaughan-approved plan that gave me about 15 more rooms, so now I'm pretty sanguine that we can pull the damned thing off. It's up to the Penn folks now to make it happen. A word of advice to them: in the future, get all your rooms squared away in September. At the latest.

Finally, I stoked the ashes a bit and got Bump off the schneid. I emptied all but one of the waitlists in a reasonable fashion, and can get even more reasonable when Bronx puts in its entries. How, you may ask, do I guarantee attendance at the home stadium? Well, first of all, I think a one-dayer for the kiddies is a good idea, and secondly, you don't come to my tournament, I don't tab yours. Extortion? I don't know. After all, if I do tab your tournament, there's a chance I might delete the odd round here and there. You just have to weigh the pros and cons of the thing yourself. I can't do that for you.