Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Arts

Once again we put the wonderful world of forensics aside to talk about other things.

First, something worth passing along. If you listen to audiobooks and like science fiction, and you haven’t listened to any of the Wil Wheaton performances of John Scalzi’s books, you are missing a treat. They’re a perfect fit of writer and narrator. And the books are, in general, a hoot. If you’re unfamiliar with them, give one a try. And if you’re thinking I’m off my proverbial rocker recommending young Crusher, who never exactly, shall we say, challenged Jean-Luc for the acting skills award, put all that aside. This is good stuff. I am now in the middle of The Collapsing Empire.

I love audiobooks. Having a 45-minute commute each way provides the perfect listening opportunity. Right before the Scalzi I listened to Dandelion Wine and confirmed my belief that Bradbury is just too precious for my tastes. I stuck with it, and I remember loving it when I read it as a kid, but the writing has a certain appeal for kids that might not last till adulthood. Maybe the word I’m looking for is fey? I felt the same way recently about The Martian Chronicles. Then again, if there’s a better book to listen to as summer winds down than DW, I don’t know what it is.

Speaking of Bradbury, three tidbits. He was a great proponent of the Oz books, he worked on the original script for Spaceship Earth at Epcot, and he wrote the screenplay for Moby Dick (no hyphen) with John Huston.

On the music front, 3 adds this week to Menick's Tab Room playlist:
Suffragette City, David Bowie, The Rise and Fall etc. — I recently started listening to Bowie from his first album, playing catch-up if you will, and how he maintained a career in music is beyond me. SC is the first song I've added to the playlist, from what I gather is his fifth album. So far otherwise it's been forgettable Britrock dreck. Feel free to disagree, but only if those albums are in heavy rotation on your home jukebox. He does have some songs I like from later in his career, and I know he has fans who will stand in line forever to see the museum exhibition, but early Bowie? Na'ah.
Race with the Devil, Stray Cats, Rock Therapy — When Stray Cats first came on the scene, I couldn't get past the performance art aspect. I took one look and couldn't take them seriously. But the years proved that Setzer was serious about a certain kind of music, and he has more than won me over. Stray Cats material remains a little on the thin side, but they are a fun group.
Highway 61 Revisited, Johnny Winter, The Essential JW — I went with a Winter retrospective, which has proven what I already thought going in. I would love to stumble into a bar and find that Johnny Winter was playing that night, but that's about as far as it goes. Some of his playing is downright amazing. But does its musicality ever rise above its limited blues-rock genre? Not much. So, a little goes a long way. R&R Hoochie Koo, also on this album, was already in the playlist, and there's a reason it's his biggest it. It doesn't sound like a) all his other songs, and B) everybody else's songs. He's good, but he's genre-bound. NOTE: The words to the song in this version are a hell of a lot clearer than the Dylan original. But about what Dylan cover isn't that true?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

In which we hire out judges

Way too many people request hired judges at a tournament. And I have yet to run a tournament that could fulfill all those requests. On the other hand, I have been at tournaments that pretend they can fulfill all those requests, and then we run out of judges about halfway through elims. So the first rule of judge requests is that you only sell judges you have. The corollary to that rule is that you keep a few for the house. That is, you don’t sell all the judges you have; you keep a few spares around for emergencies. I go into detail on this in the toolkit.

If you want to hire judges, I think you need to fulfill a few basic qualifications. First of all, you need to bring as many judges of your own as you can. The assumption that there is an infinite number of judges you can buy is a false one. It’s also rather lah-di-dah. The schools that want to buy all their judges are often schools that have a lot of money and don’t have a lot of school support. No coach, no involved parents, nothing but wallets. But as Brother John always quotes Soddy, money can’t judge rounds. And honestly, I don’t know why teams can’t bring judges. If a school does a lot of LD and all those kids have private college helpers, why aren’t they at the tournament? If a school does PF, an activity designed for lay judges, where are the lay judges? Then again, I’ve often talked about alums. Where’s a team’s alums? If they’re not occasionally giving back, why not?

Schools bringing their own judges increases diversity by default. It can be any kind of diversity—geographic, economic, racial, whatever—but it will be diversity. Tournaments hiring judges hire locals or their own alums. There’s nothing wrong with that—what alternative do they have?—but the best situation is a broad scope in the judge pool. Good debating requires convincing the greatest and most diverse number of people.

I’m in the process now of doling out the judges at Rather Large Bronx. If you don’t bring any judges, you don’t get any judges. The Bronx folks think that’s rather cold, but the people who don’t bring any judges are parasites, plain and simple. I am very sympathetic to a school that gets on a plane to go to a tournament. Provided they do due diligence on their end, providing a core of judging, they’ll get hires. You’re a private school a block away doing nothing but PF and wanting to hire a full contingent, well, put your wallet in the back of the room and let’s see if it presses the START button. You’re a maverick with just enough credibility to get in the door? Have your credibility judge a few rounds. You’re a good debate citizen? I’ll do everything I can for you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

In which we say nothing interesting

Last night I managed to update my event calendar on Mostly it was putting in the NYCFL dates, plus a couple of other things. I mean, the year has started. The train has left the station. Might as well act accordingly. I will update the comments on the tournaments over the next few days.

I also filled up the empty slots at Kinda Large Bronx resulting from the TBA scrub. PF is at the cap, more or less, and the others are where they belong. Things won’t change much from now until the freeze at the end of next week. That will eliminate the last of the ribbon clerks. Folks will get pretty much all the slots they want, as long as they’re not greedy.

Otherwise, business as usual. Rough day today because I had to spend way too much time in the doctor’s office waiting to get a shingles vaccine that took all of 20 seconds. Feh. I’ve been making all sorts of appointments for this, that and the other of that nature, few of which are worth reporting on. But they are time-consuming.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

In which we consider some numbers

The TBAs for Big Bronx are now a mere memory. Suddenly the tournament is starting to look real. The numbers are substantial, and there’s little question that we’ll use up pretty much all the available space.

The numbers themselves are interesting. I mean, we could have had probably as many PF teams as space would allow, but we agreed to cap at 240. With 7 rounds, this means that all the 5-2s break. I think this is important, although it’s not as if I’ve been religious about this. First of all, it’s usually 6 rounds, and second of all, the idea of a 4-2 screw in PF seems to be accepted (except, I would imagine, by the teams getting screwed). Most tournaments don’t advertise how many teams will break, and most teams accept that there are limits. I have to admit I am bothered by the occasional tournament that will inflate a division in such a way that 4-2s aren’t merely a screw, but a mega-screw twisting way too many people.

Then again, I was raised in a world comprising mostly 5 rounds. In the 90s, that was the norm, and non-breaking 3-2s were a given. 33rd seeds were occasionally awarded consolation prizes, but never run-off rounds. We lived with it. But even back then Big Bronx was 7 rounds. One year Bietz and I were working the tournament and did some math that demonstrated that in previous years, 6 rounds would have yielded identical results vis-à-vis breaking, with the tiniest statistical deviation, but no one paid attention. Big Bronx is like that. It’s been around forever and it has traditions, and attempting to change one of those traditions is a major undertaking. I understand that. Traditions are what make tournaments unique, as long as those traditions don’t somehow undermine the competitive value of the tournament. Obviously 7 rounds versus 6 is anything but competitively unsound. But it’s not terribly necessary. Unless, I guess, if you’re one of the statistical deviations.

Meanwhile other tournaments are in flux. Monticello is looking relatively light, to say the least. I’ve been nudging the Tiggers to get on the stick, since I think they should open registration on 10/1. The Gem of Harlem is going to have to switch its date, and we’ve been noodling about that, with no real happiness on the possibilities. Catholic Charlie has yet to post the NYCFL sked, which is no big deal except that I like to fold his dates into my overall schedule. Being no slouch, I’ve already gotten hotel rooms for Penn, but I haven’t heard from them yet, and no doubt they will once again want to add 11 more divisions despite not having any more space to do it.