Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In which we debrief two—count 'em, 2—tournaments

Last weekend was interesting. It was the first time I've tabbed long distance.

My regular gig this weekend is Little Lex. I've been going to that one since the earliest days of my work with Hen Hud. I always liked visiting a different venue, where my younger debaters could come up against styles different from the local circuit. They tended to do well, and for many, it was their first trip away from home. And I got to know the newbies well for the first time. Many benefits were accrued overall, and I became a big fan. Now I go up because Kaz needs the help—only a fool tabs their own tournament—and we have fun socializing while I'm in the area.

That tournament is pretty straightforward. 4 founds of LD and policy, 6 rounds of PF single-flighted, 5 divisions, lots of good Lex kids around to put out fires before they get out of hand. Start at 8:30, on the road home by 5:30. I did make the mistake of stopping at a McDonalds on the way home, which is way out of character for me, and found myself behind some South American (?) sports team in matching everything, slowing me down enormously. But once you commit to a quarter pounder, you must follow through. But there were easily 30 of these schmegeggies in front of me and the staff behind the counter was obviously in the weeds. So it goes. At least I won't need another quarter pounder in the next year or so.

Meanwhile, on that same day, I also tabbed the Bronx Local, or better still, Wee Sma Bronx. It was like a CFL, three rounds and out, with a lot of same-school pairings. Putting those together is sort of fun, but the thing was, there was staff running the event in situ, and I didn't need to be there at all. Very few problems arose, and those were solved quickly.

I vaguely remember CP daydreaming years ago of some far away day when tabbing wouldn't require people, and certainly wouldn't require a presence in a tab room on site. He was right, at least for the second part. I think that there are too many decisions for a computer to make at the moment, or at least for any reasonable piece of software, and that human intervention is often required. But physical presence? Not so much.

Then again, don't tell anyone this. I still want to drive up and have dinner with Kaz the night before Wee Sma Lex. I want to sit around and argue with Kirby at Rather Large Bronx about why 1998 can't have its tournament back. I want to hang out with Marty Meat at Delbarton and maybe this year get him to actually make good on his promise of dinner afterwards. I want that sushi at the Pod restaurant at Penn. But when I'm finally off on the owl hoot trail, tournaments can rest easy that things can still be run from afar, and at the same time, they'll cut back on their T&E costs.

Then again, I just found an old web site that explains how to tab on cards. Gotta love the interwebs. Nothing's ever merely dead, even when it's most sincerely dead. Tabbing on cards. Been there. Done that. Hardly ever think about going back.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Arts

Nothing but music this week for my main Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/jimmenick/playlist/1CzrLTz52lXBVAGs4GNG1p

Back Home in Indiana, That's a Touch I Like, What Goes Around, & Turn on the Bright Lights, from Garcia (Compliments), Jerry Garcia — I guess it's fair to say that either you're a Deadhead or you're not. "Garcia" has some of my favorite JG songs, and this one isn't up to that level, but 4 cuts is not a bad take. When I looked up Garcia, I found that he was pretty much on every album made between 1964 and a couple of years after he died. You could spend about as many years just tracking all this work down. I probably will.

What's the Point & A Quarter to Three, from A Stone Alone, Bill Wyman — I really like the Rhythm Kings work Wyman's recently been doing, so I figured I'd backtrack to the earlier stuff. Not terrible, not great. His real strength is not songwriting, but as a cover artist, he's really good.

Twenty Flight Rock by Eddie Cochran — I just heard this somehow and grabbed it. This brings the number of Cochran cuts up to seven overall. That's a strong representation.

Take Me in Your Arms, Slack Key Sequel Rag, & Sweet Maxine from Stampede, the Doobie Brothers — There's a couple of DB songs I really like, such as "What a Fool Believes." They're just on this side of the pop line, but occasionally they get a good one off. I'll continue going through their catalog.

Alabama, from Mick Taylor, Mick Taylor — Speaking of ex-Stones... I do remember very distinctly when he quit the group and remarked that he was the first person to get out of the Stones alive. This was the only solo album I could find on Spotify, but he's done a lot of other work, and for that matter, the first Google hit I got was the info on his 2018 tour. Good for him. He really is a remarkable player, although the songs aren't that great here.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

In which we wish we weren't so obligated

I probably made a big mistake going with per-round PF obligations at the Tiggers. People just don’t understand it. My base assumption was that since all the LD coaches never had much problem with it, neither would the PF coaches. But they seem to be made of less stern stuff. It doesn’t help that tabroom correctly calculates what they owe and all they have to do is look. That’s like asking them to read the invitation, and since when has that ever happened? It also doesn’t help that I originally missed the fact that there’s 7 prelims in PF, and had set the obs as 2 all around rather than 2.3. Oh, well. No PFers will be harmed in the runup to the tournament. But a few PF coach heads will be spinning off the hinges.

Last night I told them to check everything, since the few hire requests I looked at were conceived somewhere north of Cloud Cuckoo Land. Usually the requests are off, but this was pretty dramatic. The thing is, there aren’t going to be that many judges for hire, and they have to be doled out carefully, primarily to the long-distance folks, who have the greatest warrant. If you can get there by bus, you can throw another judge onto one of the seats. But I know the whining will begin the minute I send out the notice that there are no more judges. It’s always the same people, and they almost inevitably are from big programs that theoretically have plenty of alums to draw on, but whose alums have gotten as far away from them as conceivably possible at the first opportunity. I’ve said this before: if you don’t have a pool of grateful alums to draw upon, you’re not doing your job right. Hell, Kaz is still supported by alums from Newburgh, and she hasn’t been there since the Coolidge administration. Any question whether she’s doing her job right?

Marty Meat, by the way, thinks I send out too many emails. Maybe. But better too many than too few. Kaz said that when she was traveling the last few weeks, people were saying that tournaments in our region were identified by the endless texts telling people to go to their rounds, to start their rounds and to end their rounds. Yeah, that’s us. We’re great communicators. Judges who hit start in a timely manner and finish within a reasonable amount of time, however, don’t hear all that much from us. You do your job, we don’t have to bug you. You act too cool for school, we’re on your case like [insert your own metaphor here, but “white on rice” is not acceptable].

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

In which we simply provide the odd update or two

I finally heard from Penn, so all is right with the world. We’ll try to get their invite up by 12/1. Since last year they posted it around the 4th of July, I think this is much more timely.

I’m beginning to question the decision to do the Princeton PF obligation by rounds. A lot of the coaches just don’t understand it, as compared to LD, where most of them are quite used to it. Obviously I’ll have a lot of tweaking to do once we set the judge hires. Everyone is all over the map.

Yesterday I forwarded my judging docs to Kaz to add to her collection. She probably won’t need the “Why You Can’t Go Home Sunday Morning” one, but the rest are germane.

Wee Sma Bronx, which is the same day as Wee Small Lex, is filled up with wee small Bronx people. That’ll be fun to run, with so many from one school, but there are plenty of others as well. I’ll be doing it when I’m not doing Little Lex, or maybe it’s better to say while I’m doing Little Lex. Not a big deal, really, has neither tournament has much of anything involved except pairing up and assigning any judge who’s breathing. That is one of the nice things about local events. Not that either is particularly small. Far from it. But manageable? Yes, and that’s the important thing from my perspective.

By the way RJT has been working with coaches in the region to come up with the right Monticello tournament on the right weekend for next year. A lot of different ideas are floating around, and since I have no skin in the game, I’m fine with any of them, provided we have something. Who would have thought that a weekend might go permanently fallow? But no one else is around to pick it up, and even if they were, it would face the same issues. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

In which the students judge

Scarsdale has the interesting wrinkle of some of the varsity attendees judging the novices in their off rounds. This is pretty easy to manage on the back end. First of all, everything is single-flighted. You create a pool of non-debating judges, and assign them first, then go to a pool of debating judges and assign them next, making sure as much as possible that they share the burden. In LD last weekend it was almost a perfect 50%, that is, each varsity debater/judge covered every other round, so they did get time off. When we went to elims in varsity, we started double-flighting the novices, who don’t have elims, sticking with the non-debating pool. (Back when Hen Hud was on this weekend with a novice division, we eventually came to the conclusion that since it was so early in their careers, it was better to give everyone in the novice division as many rounds as possible. Plus, in reality, novices breaking is kind of weird. Novice year is a time for learning the ropes and debating as much as possible. Setting up a fairly false premise of good debaters versus bad develops the wrong culture. After all, while there are always a couple of kids who are great as novices who remain great during their full careers, as a rule meteoric-rising novices tend to crash and burn and disappear, while slower starters get the hang of things and start firing on all burners toward the end of their second year. It’s a pretty standard pattern. Anyhow, the point is the most rounds for the most people, and I’m all in favor of it.)

The point is that judging is a good thing for debaters to do. Period. As debaters they can a specific view of rounds that is quite different from the view from the back of the room. Learning to grok rounds on a wholistic level can very much aid in one’s development as a debater. For instance, there are plenty of debaters who pay no attention to the judge at all; they zip along with never a glance at the person writing the ballot to appraise how what they’re saying is going over. When you’re the person doing the appraising, you realize that, as you’re sitting there paying no attention as some kid flogs a dead horse, that if they only saw the bored look in your eyes they would move on to something more germane. Maybe. In any case, it’s a good learning experience, and I wish more coaches felt that way. I know some teams that make it a rule that you have to do some judging somewhere along the line. I know others that think their debaters should be on ice when they’re not in a round, apparently to preserve their competitive edge. Bull-oney, if you know what I mean. Not only is that ill-advised competitively, but it’s also ill-advised educationally. But then again, how many debate coaches are not necessarily in it for the educational aspect? Too many, I think you’ll agree.