Thursday, April 30, 2015

If this is Thursday, it must be Wednesday

Yeah, well, yesterday we had something else we wanted to post. Back in the day, Wednesdays were more of a promise that a perfect reality. We were quite familiar with the odd Thursday. Why should things be any different now?
Anyhow, continuing the Miracle of the Frankfurters.

We almost didn’t make it this week. The Nostrumite is in a state of permanent depression, and rightly so: he lost his job at the hot dog factory. It turns out the reason that more pounds of hot dogs came out the end than herds of assorted mammals went in the front was because the paper that was supposed to be recycled was being added to the frankfurter mix rather than the local landfill operation. It had been the Mite’s job to solve this mystery, and his solution had been to run more reports. Every time he ran a new report, more paper was generated, and more pounds of hot dogs were created, and more reports were generated, and the hot dogs kept tasting less and less like mammal by-products. Finally one of the professional wiener tasters that the company keeps on the premises recognized the flavor as computer paper. And the Mite was out on his keister. And if that wasn’t bad enough, then the stock market had to crash. At least there was some good news in that, because, first of all, the Mite doesn’t own any stock, and second of all, he has hatched what he considers to be a foolproof plan to beat the market in the future. Think about it. Hillary Clinton turned 50, and the market crashed. So the Nostrumite, who knows cause and effect when he sees it, reasons that anyone selling short when Hillary Clinton turns 60 is in for a killing. Eat your heart out, Michael Price.
If anyone at Dean Witter is reading this, keep in mind that the Mite is looking for a job and can be reached through this e-mail address.
“If you were smarter, I’d be funnier.”

That may have been the first time I used that tagline. It’s always been one of my favorites. I don’t know if the prediction that the market would crash on Hillary’s 60th birthday came true. I wouldn’t be surprised.
Anyhow, one last entry, and then Coachean Life will be going on hiatus for a while. All will be explained when I return.

We almost didn’t make it this week. The Nostrumite is in a state of permanent depression now that he’s out of work again. Last weekend he went to the mall to do some research, and came back a nervous wreck. Apparently they have a George Washington Barbie Doll at F.A.O. Schwartz for $75 that simply defies analysis, even by the Nostrumite. The thing is, there’s the old Barbaroo, all duded up in the formal attire usually associated with the father of our country, and the Mite can’t figure out why. I mean, has the old Barbaroo dumped Ken and gone on a Presidential kick? If so, why couldn’t she settle for Bill Clinton, like every other woman in America? We’re sure that Bill would have obliged, as he has for every other woman in America. Anyhow, there’s an enormous disconnect here between Mattel and old Dollar-Bill Face, and the Mite has retired to his reading chair with Flexner, unabridged, to try to get to the bottom of this.
We’ll keep you posted.

The GW Barbie is absolutely a reality. If I could make up stuff as good as that, Nostrum would have made JKR and her silly Harry Potter look like a piker and a half.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gender disparities in national circuit LD

Chetan Hertzig posted this on Facebook. I thought I'd share it here for those who might not see it there. This is all Chetan speaking, not me, but there isn't much here, if anything, that I disagree with.

Warning: this is a very, very long status relating to gender disparities in national circuit LD. I told a few people that I would be writing this, and a few suggested that I do so in the form of an article to be posted on a debate website. I’m considering that, but have held off on it because I want to avoid trolling and counterproductive flame wars (not that I think anything I’m saying here is particularly controversial). Maybe this will turn into some kind of article later, maybe with a co-writer or two.

I am aware that gender is a much more complicated issue than a simple male/female binary divide would suggest, and that there are people within the debate community who do not identify as either male or female. This post is not intended in any way to exclude those individuals; however, I do focus largely on debaters who identify as male or as female here.

I am also not attempting to shut out other identity-related issues in debate, many of which have been the subject of ongoing discussion all year. That is not my focus here, but I want to make it clear that this isn’t an attempt at “oppression Olympics” or a way to derail other conversations, which are also important to have.

I have used the spelling “women” in this post, but I recognize that other people may use “womyn” instead. I don’t intend for my spelling of the word to have political implications.

Finally, I am aware that I am writing this as a male debate coach. Because my national circuit team is mostly female (and has been throughout its existence), I feel qualified to comment on the issues that I discuss here; I am in no way attempting to “speak for others,” but am instead relating my own observations and some of the experiences that my students have discussed with me.

Here goes. As I said, it’s long.

I want to start by congratulating the four women from Harrison who competed at the TOC this weekend on their excellent work. Amy Geller, Elyssa Alfieri, Kathryn Kenny, and Sarah Ryan all had some major wins during the tournament; Amy, Kathryn, and Sarah were still in up through round 6, and Sarah ended with a 4-3 record (two of her losses were to the TOC champion and runner-up, respectively; the third was to an octofinalist who was coached over by a teammate), and was 19th speaker. I can confidently predict that we will see at least one of the juniors in outrounds at TOC next year.

I also want to note that I judged several great debaters in prelims this weekend (many of whom ended up clearing, or easily could have), and I saw two outstanding elimination rounds on Monday, so I don’t want this to come across as a criticism of anyone who cleared – or anyone I judged who didn’t, for that matter. Every debater I saw was very, very good, and clearly deserved to be there. I know that this is a time of celebration for many people/teams, as it should be; everyone who did well should be recognized, because being successful at TOC at any level is an awesome accomplishment.

With that said…Houston, we have a problem.

17 out of 87 LDers at the TOC this year were female. Of those 17, four were at-larges, meaning that 13 females fully qualified to TOC. (Four of the 13 were from Harrison, so there were 9 non-Harrison, fully-qualified females this year.)

Let’s think about that for a second. There were 52 TOC bid tournaments in the 2014-2015 season (9 octos bid tournaments, 11 quarters bids, 14 semis bids, and 18 finals bids). That means there were 306 bids to be earned, excluding ghost bids and auto-quals from the previous year. And this is nation-wide, for an entire school year, with many tournaments filled to capacity. And THIRTEEN women earned two or more bids. And four were from a single school.

As several people have noted, there were two women in the run-off round of TOC this year, and there was one female in octofinals. That means 15 of the 16 top-placing debaters were male.

In terms of speaker awards, the top-speaking female was 14th, and there were three females in the top 20.

Six females had winning records at the TOC.

There was one female judge in the run-off round and one female judge in octofinals.

None of this is new. Despite a spate of female final round appearances in the 1990s (’94, ’95, ’97, and ’98) and a few in the last 15 years (’02, ’08, ’10, and ’13), the vast, vast majority of TOC LD final rounds have been between two males, and 28 out of 30 have featured at least one male debater. Meanwhile, the top speaker award in LD has gone to exactly one woman since 1986, which means 29 out of 30 TOC top speaker awards have gone to males.

These are major concerns, and I would like people – particularly judges and coaches – to take a minute to think about why there is such gender disparity in LD.

Is it because females just aren’t as good at debate? That seems unlikely, particularly when there are so many incredibly talented women who don’t end up qualifying to TOC. This year, I judged at the Hockaday Women’s Round Robin for the first time, and I know that the majority of debaters I saw there, very few of whom had received a TOC bid, were at least as good as anyone I judged at TOC.

Is it because judges are sexist? Perhaps in some cases and not others; it seems like there’s a good deal of overt sexism in the community that manifests itself in different ways. What I tend to see in my female debaters’ experiences isn’t really open gender bias, but is instead what others have termed “micro-aggressions.”

Let’s examine a few examples.

Prior to this year, we had only qualified one female to the TOC, and when she won her second bid round that year, her male opponent screamed, swore at the judges, openly dismissed the decision as “bullsh*t,” and created such a big scene that it undermined the accomplishment of winning the round.

In fact, in the first year or so of our team, many male debaters referred to our students as “Harrison cheerleaders”; when a male summer debate instructor came to pick a few of them up from an airport upon their arrival, he asked them, “Are you sure you’re here for debate camp? Not cheerleading camp?” There were quite a few stories like that.

Between 2010 and 2014, we had the good fortune of getting an amazingly talented male debater, Danny DeBois – and only then did other teams seem to care that Harrison had a program.

Although Danny faced a lot of hostility when he started beating much better-known circuit debaters as a sophomore (which connects to the related issue of national circuit exclusivity), it didn’t prevent him from winning ballots, clearing at the TOC, or getting invited to three round robins that year. People may not have liked him a lot back then, but they definitely knew his name.

After Danny graduated this year, many people asked me how I planned on “rebuilding” the program. Even after two of our students had received TOC bids, one coach came up to me at a tournament and asked me how it felt to have a team go from “here” (gesturing towards the ceiling) to “wooosh” (gesturing towards the floor). Another told me, “I guess this will be the year of you leaving tournaments early,” a comment made the weekend after we’d earned another two bids.

This year, I have often overheard people (students and judges alike) referring to my female debaters as “the Harrison girls,” as if they had no distinct identities or styles. One prominent first-year-out reportedly remarked, “I judged one of them, but I don’t know which – I can’t tell them apart.” When Sarah won a round she was not expected to win in prelims of TOC this past weekend, people talking about it referred to her as “that Harrison girl,” rather than acknowledging her as a separate person. I find this curious, since Amy, Kathryn, Sarah, and Elyssa (and Ella, another of our rising seniors) don’t look, sound, act, or debate even remotely alike. I have never heard people say that they can’t distinguish between the male debaters from, say, Lexington or PVP or Scarsdale or Strake Jesuit, all of whom had multiple male debaters competing at TOC this weekend. I’m surprised that a similar standard seems to not apply to women from Harrison.

The four Harrison debaters who qualified to TOC, along with a female sophomore who earned a ghost bid, received 13 TOC bids this season. That is an impressive number. Yet on websites that keep track of school bid counts, their bids were repeatedly reported to be lower than they were, Elyssa’s name and code were repeatedly misspelled/mistyped despite my sending corrections, and my students were almost always ranked towards the middle-to-bottom of online lists for the “top debaters.”

In rounds this year, my female debaters often had male judges vote against them while saying, “Yes, you had conceded turns/offense on the flow, but I just didn’t buy it,” or (even more interesting and more common), “I really wanted to vote for you; I just couldn’t.” I don’t know how often that happens to others, but I’m not sure it ever happened to Danny when he was debating. I do wonder what would stop a judge who “really wanted” to vote for a particular debater from actually doing so.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that there is a deliberate attempt to exclude female debaters from the top tiers of the national circuit. But I think that many judges (of any/all sexual identities), consciously or not, tend to default to male debaters when they are judging a male against a female. I think that many judges favor an approach to debate that prioritizes argumentative tricks and procedural arguments over substantive discussion, and while I certainly am not saying that there aren’t “tricky” female debaters or substantive male debaters, I have found in my 18 years as a debate coach a major division between those “types” of debaters along gender lines.

More importantly, I think the national circuit environment is toxic and unhealthy for high school students, and I often see the impact of that on my female debaters in particular. In the past two years, I have had two female debaters, both of whom had major potential, withdraw from tournament competition because of behavior from male opponents and judges. One of them was in an elimination round last year against a prominent national circuit male who labeled my student a “rich white girl from Harrison” who had no authority to speak about issues of imperialism or oppression. (I found that interesting, as my student did not identify as either rich or white.) My student was in tears after the round, and has subsequently said it had a major impact on her decision to stop debating after that season.

In another round last season, a male judge screamed at one of my female debaters for several minutes for “power-tagging cards” after an elimination round and in front of an audience – in a round whose subject matter included domestic violence, and against a male opponent. (For the record, the cards were not power-tagged. Yes, I checked them.)

Twice this year, a male debater has told one of my female debaters to “sit down and shut up” in round.

The list of stories – from my own female students, and from others around the country – is endless. I offer these examples as a glimpse of some of what my debaters have experienced every weekend; I have heard even more frightening stories (many related to direct sexual harassment) from female debaters from other teams. And while my male debaters have occasionally dealt with some of this treatment from opponents and judges, it has not occurred with anywhere near the same frequency or magnitude as it has with my female students.

I think it’s pretty clear that there’s a problem. I hope that is clear to others. The question is, as always, how do we fix it? In the past few years, there have been several online groups, petitions, and pledges related to this issue, and I think those are all good first steps. But it doesn’t seem like a lot of people who have signed those pledges are actually following through on them, at least not in a way that has resulted in more female representation in national circuit LD.

I have a few ideas that I hope can serve as a step towards actual, practical change, and not just a continuation/repetition of discussions that other people have been trying to have for years. I am not diminishing the importance of online discussion on this issue, because I think it’s part of what needs to happen. But I also think we need to take physical, tangible steps that will affect who we are seeing both at the front of and sitting in the back of debate rounds at bid tournaments.

First, we need more female LDers, period. Debate coaches need to actively recruit female debaters, and create an inclusive environment on their own teams. I have challenged my female debaters to find middle school and high school females who might be interested in joining the team, and to serve as that student’s mentor throughout her novice year. Debaters need to have a support system in place so that they have a place to turn (besides their coach) when they face sexist behavior in this activity.

Second, female debaters need to be in a place of leadership on their teams. I know that on our team, there has only been one year when we didn’t have a female captain; I plan on continuing the tradition of female leadership, and hopefully on expanding what those leadership roles entail.

Third, teams should make an active effort to bring at least one female judge to a tournament, especially when they’re covering multiple entries. I know that that can be difficult given the relatively small number of women who stay involved in the community after high school, but we absolutely need to see more female representation in judging pools. In many instances, I would rather my students have a less experienced female judge who is willing to become familiar with the activity than a very experienced male judge who is openly hostile to my students’ approach and wants to entrench circuit trends.

Fourth, more women need to come back to the activity after graduating from high school to coach and/or judge. Even if it’s just one or two tournaments, even if it’s just judging a few rounds, it’s important that people take steps to counteract the “boys’ club” mentality that seems to exist in just about every pocket of the national circuit. I’m certainly not suggesting that all female judges or coaches judge/coach in the same way; it’s not really about that, though. We need to see more gender-diverse panels to decrease some of the male hegemony in national circuit debate, and that’s true regardless of particular argumentative or strategic preferences.

Fifth, tournament directors should consider using the “blue ribbon” method used by Newark’s tournament this year, in which certain experienced judges/coaches were ranked as automatic 1s and placed in prelims and on elimination round panels. (Regular MJP was also in place.) Some of those “blue ribbon” judges need to be women, because there should be female judges/coaches in the back of the room in quarters, semis, and finals of bid tournaments. Is the decision as to who constitutes a “blue ribbon” judge subjective? Absolutely. Does it interfere with some schools’ preffing strategies? For sure. But it also means that judging panels are going to look more gender-diverse, and are maybe going to require a broadening of approaches. I think that’s a good thing.

Sixth, judges need to question their own potential biases when evaluating rounds, and really ask themselves WHY they feel they “have to” vote for one person, even when they “want” to vote for someone else. Judges, ask yourselves: is your decision about who you actually think won the round? Or is it about not wanting to justify a controversial decision to your friends after the round? Have you actually considered the way each side framed the issues in the round, or are you voting for the person who took the approach that seemed “cooler” or more “circuity”? Of course, debate is about giving judges what they want to hear, and I’m not saying anyone should vote against their intuitions based on the identities of the debaters. But I am saying that there seems to be an unthinking default to particular approaches or styles, and that those may obscure the substance of what actually is happening in the round.

Seventh, round robin directors should invite more female debaters, and should be willing to take a chance on lesser-known women. Only looking at TOC bid count is going to perpetuate the already-existing exclusion; women who have achieved success, but perhaps haven’t qualified to TOC or been in late elims yet, should also get a chance. The Harvard and Penn round robins invited Danny as a sophomore, when very few people knew who he was; if we want to build women’s presence at the TOC, this can be an important way to do it.

Eighth and maybe most importantly, debaters, coaches, and judges need to think about their attitudes, words, and actions at tournaments. I hear people talk endlessly about inclusion and equality in rounds, yet those things are conspicuously absent in much of the LD world. The Hockaday Women’s Round Robin, which included many male coaches and judges, was noticeably different from any of the circuit tournaments that we went to this year. From what I could see, the participants were actually nice to each other, actually had conversations with each other between rounds, and actually were mature about the rounds they were in. The Harrison students who competed there said that they enjoyed the experience regardless of their ballot counts; the environment encouraged them to be more emotionally invested in supporting the other debaters at the tournament than in winning every round themselves.

As great as that round robin was, it made me wonder why that type of atmosphere is the exception and not the rule. Why do so many tournaments feel so unfriendly and alienating? Why do so many debaters feel harassed and intimidated in and after rounds? Isn’t one of the goals of debate to give people a chance to develop advocacy skills and the ability to be heard?

I don’t know whether it’s the environment of the circuit that causes many female debaters to leave the activity, or whether it’s the sense that winning certain rounds is impossible due to the combination of a particular male judge and a particular male opponent (or whether it’s both). But in 6 years of coaching at Harrison, I have had very few male debaters leave the activity, whereas I’ve lost more female debaters than I can count. And almost all of them said that they still liked the activity, but didn’t want to be around the negative energy that they felt surrounded them at circuit tournaments.

The bottom line is that we’re not going to see much progress on gender issues in debate unless we start seeing more women LDers in elimination rounds of tournaments, and more women judging those rounds. And we’re not going to see that if we continue the same practices we’ve seen this year.

Will any of the suggestions I’ve made be productive? I don’t know, but I’m interested in trying them out, and I hope others are, as well (and/or will propose additional concrete suggestions or alternatives).

Regardless of whether any of this works, one thing is clear: we need major change, and it has to start now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

In which we ask, What's playing at the Roxy?

I have just spent an amazing amount of time collecting the pieces of a home theater and assembling said pieces, including furniture. The 21st Century can be complicated.

When I was a kid, TVs were delivered from the TV store and hooked up by the store professionals to antennas on the roof. If you wanted to turn the TV on, you walked over and turned it on. Ditto if you wanted to change the channel. The range was from channel 2 to channel 13, although I think one or two of those were nothing but static all the time. Every channel was static some of the time. At the end of the broadcast day they played the national anthem and showed pictures of air force planes presumably protecting the ether until the next day’s broadcasting began. Screens were small—thirteen inches would be considered gigantic—and black-and-white. In my recollection, it seemed as if the repairmen visited often. Those old TVs were collections of vacuum tubes that always seemed to be blowing up. There would be a burst and you would smell electronic fire, and for the next few days the set would be out of commission. TV repairmen were the busiest people in town. Of course, no one had more than one set, so you couldn’t just go into the other room, whatever that was, and watch there. And since you couldn’t record shows, if you missed it, you missed it, until rerun season. But as a rule shows weren’t continuous as they are now. Every episode stood alone, so you really didn’t miss anything except that episode, in which nothing earthshattering was likely to happen and nothing that happened would probably ever be mentioned again. Today every show is an installment, and miss one episode and you’ll have no idea what’s going on, but today there’s no reason to miss an episode, and there you are.

I got my first color TV in the 70s when my wife won all 19 inches of it in some kind of office giveaway. She was reluctant to take it, as it seemed too extravagant. It worked fine and never blew up. It was the set to which I plugged a Betamax in 1980. We were among the first to have a videotape recorder. VHS wasn’t even on sale yet. I replaced the Betamax once with a later model and subsequently replaced it with VHS. I was big on time shifting, and eventually owned a DVD recorder, although I never got into TiVo. Just didn’t seem to need it.

In our house, watching TV means watching TV. We don’t do anything else; we just watch what we’re watching. We watch virtually nothing that is, as you might say, “on.” It’s all disks or streaming. As a rule, we do one show a night during the week, which is what, forty minutes? Getting the new HD big screen setup is intentionally directed at watching more movies. I used to breathe movies back in the day, but got out of the habit of going to them during my debate life. Honestly, I don’t think I missed much, because I do believe that movies have not been on some sort of straight line up if the measure is pure quality. There’s good ones, of course, but if you miss, say, a Marvel superhero movie, you’ll probably survive until, two weeks later, the CGI is recycled into another one. Still, I want to watch more. And I want to watch them on a fairly big screen. Yes, I do believe in the movie-going experience, sort of, but not that many movies available around here motivate me to go to a theater to experience them. I just don’t feel like the bother is worth it. Last movie we saw on the big screen was Into the Woods. Have I missed all that much since then? (Sue me: Boyhood put me to sleep, and I doubt if seeing it a lot bigger would have made it a lot better. Interstellar had the same understanding of black holes as the notorious Disney movie, The Black Hole. I have Birdman cued up next; I’m prepared to be disappointed. On the other hand, the TV show True Detective is phenomenal. What can I say?)

The hardest part of setting up the new system was banging together the new stand, which is still only 99% finished because the screws in the last hinge elude me completely. But other than that I’ve got a new cable box, soundboard, Blu-Ray player, the works. And today I threw away the boxes and Styrofoam they all came with.

I think I’ll watch The Honeymooners tonight.

Monday, April 27, 2015

In which we watch it all from way in the back of the cheap seats

I admit to watching TOC happen from afar. I like to root for the local favorites, for one thing. Even if I think LD has gone to hell in a hand basket, plenty of people don’t, and I still care about it, although truth to tell, I care more about the people and schools I know than any particular activity. I want my friends to do well, as I’m sure you want your friends to do well. I would prefer that the whole thing be a positive experience, for all the ills it may have (or may not have) inflicted on the activities overall. That as a culture many of us have gone way overboard in our expectations of what high school is, and what college is, and turned education into a competition for perceived bests rather than a search for knowledge, isn’t TOC’s fault. Or debate’s fault, for that matter. Debate, seen as a tool for upping the level of one’s college admittances, has become something that people see as transcending things like having a school debate team or needing to be a part of a student body representing said body out in the world. It doesn’t matter to some what high school they’re from: they’re independent. And independence is good in many things, but probably not this one. This definition of indepence is out for one’s self, period. Of course, TOC bans independent entries, and at least in the past has been slammed for doing so. I’ve been slammed for doing so at tournaments I run. I can live with that.

Whoever wrote those articles that claimed that debaters did better getting into colleges than non-debaters should be hung by the thumbs over the burning embers of last decade’s Derrida cases.

Meanwhile, I received an invitation email from one of our local schools throwing a hoedown at the end of May. It all seems to be in aid of good causes, but honestly, the end of May is pretty decidedly past the expiration date of interest in debate around here. I don’t wish them ill but I’m not sanguine that they’ll be able to pull it off. September, when there’s still some free weekends if you don’t mind dodging the Jewish holiday speed traps, is probably a much better bet for any sort of new varsity tournament. Or have it simultaneous with the first-timers’ events in October, when it doesn’t matter that the weekend is “taken.” Different universes, for the most part. Oh, well. Nobody asked for my opinion. Which doesn’t stop me from offering it, but there you are.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

In which we say so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye, but not really because we're tabbing every weekend

This Tuesday night, when we’d normally be having our debate meeting if our season weren’t over, the Sailors threw me a nice retirement sendoff. We had dinner at a hibachi restaurant where the cook throws food at you, which seemed appropriate with this group. We reminisced, they gave me crappy prizes, and I have to admit I was touched by it all. I really can’t keep managing the team and doing my DJ, and honestly, there were things about team management, none of them having to do with dealing with the any of the members of the team, now or ever, that were getting me down. For instance, the stress of running Bump. It’s one thing to angel someone else’s tournament, but the worry of running your own from top to bottom is murder. This is probably why most people don’t do it in the first place, and why of those that do, not all are successful. There’s a million pieces to contend with, all the while worrying that some 15-year-old yabbo is going to fall into boiling acid or something on your watch. I recall, unfondly, when about 500 people had just descended on the school on Friday afternoon, clogging the hallways and filling all the crooks and nannies, and the head custodian came up to me and told me I had to send them all home because there was a water main break and no plumbing in the building. That’s just one incident. Then there’s the paperwork of running a team, which this last year blew up exponentially. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I might not mind so much if I hadn’t also gotten those new DJ responsibilities. It wasn’t as if I wasn’t working hard enough before, but then again, reading and editing aren’t exactly backbreaking. But now there’s all kinds of new business stuff and different sort of books (nonfiction vs. fiction), and the move from the revenue that is earned from regular series payments to the need to get revenue from each individual title in the stores. Big difference, and a lot more stress. And who needs too much stress? Action, yes. Stress, no. Anyhow, as I’ve said, 20 years of doing this as a volunteer night job is a lot, and although I regret leaving behind the students, who over the years have made my life so much more rich, it is time to move on. I only hope they get someone else to take over and keep things going for them. On the immediate front, though, they have committed parents who will certainly get them to tournaments, so they won’t miss out altogether.

Time moves on.

As I was writing the above, I realize that I’ve hardly ever said much about the DJ here. Of course, this is a blog about debate, and will continue to be so, even though I won’t be directing a team anymore. I’ll still be plenty involved in the activity, as long as I’m behind the curtain at my various tournaments that I tab and/or angel. Nevertheless, some of the DJ stuff is intrinsically interesting, and I may start sharing more of that. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear me talk about me reading books all day?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

If this is Wednesday it must be Nostrum

You might recall that, last week in the Epistles of St. Jules to the Forensicians, we had learned that the Nostrumite had a problem with his job at the meat-packing plant. The following is extracted from a subsequent exchange with a fan:
Things at Nostrum World Headquarters have not been going well lately. The Nostrumite came home today from a long day at the meat-packing plant, threw his briefcase at the cat, collapsed onto the couch and uttered vulgarities which I won’t repeat, as a prelude to his announcement, “Lips that touch meat will never touch mine again.”
Turning assorted mammals (and the occasional marsupial, not to mention a 5% allowance for insects and other items that sort of fit in with those vulgarities I didn’t wish to mention) into hot dogs has made the poor fellow an unwell man.  

Jules and the Mite certainly did have a busy existence. As is made clear in this later epistle:
We almost didn’t make it this week. The Nostrumite is in a state of permanent depression because he bet Vestavia to win in LD at the NYC and when I told him going into the sixth round to cover himself with Manchester or Valley, he just laughed at me. Fortunately he has the lucre to cover his losses because, well, those debate bookies in the Bronx are tough, and they were there collecting even before all the plaques were given out. According to the Mite, the reason he lost was that he misread the Racing Form stats because he was so upset over Mason And Dixon not getting nominated for the National Book Award. What’s wrong with these people, he keeps asking me. How do I know? I keep answering him. Do I look like Michael Korda or something?
Anyhow, you’ll be happy to hear that the M is still employed at the hot dog factory, but the mystery of the overages continues. If you don’t remember it, for every ton of meat that walks in on the hoof, an average of one point two tons rolls out as wieners. The M is working with his MIS department to come to terms with this, and he tells me they print report after report, filled with facts and figures and analyses, and each report weighs about twenty pounds and stands half as high as the Mite himself (which of course isn’t all that high, unless you actually happen to be the Mite), but nowhere do they seem to be able to figure out this modern-day loaves and fishes, or as the M calls it, the Miracle of the Frankfurters.
At one point I was going to work a parimutuel theme into Nostrum, and even came close near the end of Series One, where Griot is discovered as a handicapper by the mafia lawyer, but that was right around when I hung up the pen. The first time I hung up the pen, that is.
In any case, shouldn't you be reading the ultimate version of Nostrum right this minute? After all, TOC is coming up this weekend. You know you want a distraction from that particular heartache. You can read it during the protest marches.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In which we meditate on the insanity in our activity

There’s bunches of comments on Facebook from people going to TOC. They all sound about as happy as cows on their way to the abattoir. Somehow this tournament has become identified with sheer torture, yet as far as I know nobody who has qualified has refused to go on the grounds of maintaining their sanity. At the point when the big tournament of the year is no longer exciting in a good way, or generally fun no matter how you slice it, one has to wonder why it remains the big tournament of the year. I mean, we have plenty of big tournaments at the end of the season, whether it’s state tournaments or national tournaments. An embarrassment of riches, you might say. Does anybody really have to go to all of them? Or even the majority of them? Is that what teenagers do nowadays, drudge themselves along from one tournament to the next, week after week, far and wide, so that at the end of the season they can go to even more tournaments, week after week, further and wider? Doesn’t anybody just stay home and hang out and read a book (i.e., a book that’s fun to read, as compared to a lot of the debate literature that is impenetrable drivel)? Or enjoy the nice spring weather with one’s local friends? Of course not. I am obviously missing the whole point of debate. Soddie always used to say that competition is the means to an end. Not the most original thought in the world, perhaps, but one that bears repeating often. Ask yourself this question: What is your debate goal? Ask it regardless of whether you’re a debater or a coach or a judge. If the answer is no more complicated than, “Win a lot of debates,” well…

TOC does bring out the philosopher in people.

Tonight is my farewell to the troops, as in, dinner with the team. I will no doubt be warning them about foreign entanglements and the like. Meanwhile, I have officially started working on the tabroom setup for Big Bronx, after many discussions about the tournament with Diane S in Vegas, plus discussions with Kirby. Everyone is on the same page. I’m not running it, by any means, just facilitating it. And tabbing it. And doing my best to make it fun and exciting in a good way.

Plus ca change, eh?

Monday, April 20, 2015

In which we look at professional (and to a minor extent debater) conduct

A lot of what the NDCA board does is management of its tournament, or management of the organization in general. The organization seems to be thriving, which is a good thing. I like the idea of a national group dedicated to helping coaches (the open evidence project alone is worth the price of admission for the policians). I like being a part of that group. I had considered perhaps packing it in before my term ends, but over the tournament weekend I realized how much I was bringing from this group back to my own work with various tournaments, and decided to stick it out.

What we didn’t have this year was something we had last year, which was an open forum on the latest tough issues. We were talking about that at one of the board meetings, and wishing we had done it again this year, and agreed to do it again next year. The thing is, while all of us talk among ourselves about this and that, I don’t really know of any open discussion among coaches in general about these important issues. What important issues? Well, for instance, what is and isn’t acceptable as content in a high school debate round. Needless to say, free speech is not an unalienable right in high schools. I think that the debate community, hinging its activity on a dialectic exchange of ideas, is by and large more willing than some to work with problematic content, but even so, there are probably some objective limits. The difficulty is establishing what those objective limits are. The opportunity to talk about this, to find out what other people are thinking and doing, is important, and I think unique to NDCA.

The board is also looking at establishing a rule of conduct for coaches and judges. This is, I think, a simpler matter that is easily within their purview. What would be considered non-professional behavior in what is a secondary school academic activity? The professionals, i.e., the judges and coaches, are indeed acting in the role of professional educator, even though some may not actually have that role outside of the tournament. Once they accept that role within the tournament environment, however, they cannot, for instance, cuss out a debater after a round during an oral critique, any more than a math teacher could do that at a teacher-student conference. The same set of standards ought to apply. That's definitely the sort of thing I can bring into the invitations from other tournaments once NDCA hashes it out.

I expect there to be a lot of heated discussion on the subject of content. There are some who want to make a list of things you can't say/do; there are some who think anything goes. It being high school, undoubtedly anything does not go, but where are the lines drawn? And are they drawn on a personal basis, with each judge having his or her own guidelines published in a paradigm? We'll see. Before long the conversation will commence on one or more of the NDCA venues. Be on the lookout for it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

If this is Wednesday it must be Nostrum

I am knee-deep in the editing of the Tennessee Williams High School chronicles. Or more to the point, in the rediscovery of the TWHS chronicles. I simply recall none of this, and will testify thus in a court of law, if required to do so.
Meanwhile, at least the editing of the Epistles is done. I thought I’d offer a taste. Each episode of Nostrum was announced by Jules O’Shaughnessy to the ld-l listserv, and there were a couple of standard lines. One was that we almost didn’t make it this week, and the other was that the Nostrumite, Jules’s writing partner, was in a state of permanent depression over…something.
We almost didn’t make it this week, primarily because right before I logged on to post the new episode I was setting up the VCR to record this week’s Voyager (the Nostrumite has a serious thing for the character referred to in one of the ads as “Part Borg, Part Human, All Woman”), when lo and behold, Jeopardy came on, and one of the categories was Hittite Hodgepodge. Whoa! This was obviously not celebrity week. So that killed an unexpected half hour. Of course, even the fact that he knew that Ramses II was Egyptian (I mean, let’s face it, my cat knows that), the Nostrumite is in a state of permanent depression over his new job at the meat-packing plant. The good news is that at least he’s management. The bad news is that apparently animals are herded in one door of the plant in a literal menagerie—cows, pigs, sheep, armadillos, peccaries, you name it—and come out the other end as hot dogs. The Mite’s job is to make sure that the weight of the menagerie going in equals the weight of the hot dogs going out. Usually they lose about 5% in the processing, but two days ago they gained 20%. This is not good, and the Mite had to put in a lot of overtime trying to get to the bottom of it, to no avail. Which meant that he wasn’t able to read as much as he wanted of the pirated copy he received of the manuscript that purports to be a translation of the journal of a trader who preceded Marco Polo traveling to China (the Mite knows a couple of people in publishing, if you’re wondering how he gets special privileges). You might have read about the controversy over this book, where some readers have questioned if our traveler could have truly seen what he saw, or be so interested in affairs “de coeur,” as you might say. The translator, quite a legitimate fellow it would appear, claims that perhaps he just made a mistake or two in his translation, but the Nostrumite strongly feels that the reference to heliports should have been a dead giveaway to one and all that something was amiss.
Anyhow, I recommend that you avoid hot dogs for the next few months.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In which we follow in Bugsy Siegel's footsteps

The northeast acquitted itself admirably at NDCA. A bunch of new PF folks from around here went, and dominated the speaker awards, and, well, Poly Prep won. Very nice.

I will admit to having gone in with mixed feelings about my own continuing participation in the group, but as we were having our board discussions I realized that much of what the organization does is directly filtered down to what I do with colleges. Participation rules (i.e., official school entries) and conflict designation are recent examples. A most interesting discussion on harassment will also, no doubt, flow down. I’ll talk about that separately. Anyhow, while I obviously have no horses in the race for the actual competition, I have a spiritual horse in the race for what the organization does and how it does it. There’s a lot of minutia that goes with board-ness, but a couple of important things as well. The important things outweigh in the end.

Meanwhile, there was Las Vegas itself. I arrived very late on Thursday and directly tucked myself in. On Friday I drove down to Hoover Dam, and met up with Palmer. We took the tour, but in a way that was unnecessary, albeit interesting enough. The real impact of the place is simply the place. The geography is amazing. You’ve got to love the mountains and the desert, at least insofar as they are places to see. You’ve got to love signs that warn about mountain goats. You’ve got to love a drive at about two miles an hour that scares the bejesus out of you as you feel as if you’re teetering on the brink of doom. And when you get there, you’ve got to love the human accomplishment of building such a marvel. The engineering prognosis is that it’s good for about the next 2000 years. 2000 years! The only other thing I can think of that seems to last for 2000 years is the Clintons and the Bushes. I’ll take the dam any day.

The tournament started on Saturday. There was a board meeting Friday night, and another Sunday afternoon. Other than that I mostly hung around, as board members are prohibited from tabbing. I marginally trained a few PF judges, as we had a herd of communications majors from UNLV enlisted for a round each. They were amazing. They really got into the thing and wrote up amazing ballots. There is minor controversy over whether they should be judging a championship, but it seems to me that solid PF teams ought to have no qualms about trying to pick up the ballot of a committed communications college student. The teams got to this point by winning a lot of ballots from parents, after all, who are a much dicier brand of adjudicator. This all seems to fit in with PF’s original brief about appealing to the interested community member at large. A good fit all around, I say.

We had a lot of conversation with Diane S about the Bronx tournament. In a word, they need to begin planning now. As I’ve said, I’ve also talked to Kirby, so we’re going in with six buns glazing. Continuity over a rough stretch is the goal, so that when they finally have their new team organization in place, they’ll be where they were when they left off. Hooking Diane into the old tabroom files gave her access to a lot of things she might otherwise have to guess at. I'd say she's on her way.

I have to admit that I had no trouble walking around in the nice desert 80 degree weather every day. No trouble at all. And Saturday night Kaz and CP and I went to a nice tapas place for dinner, so we got to see the strip in action on what I would assume is its busiest night. I could do that brand of people-watching till the cows come home. Monday morning before my flight home I did a full-on strip walk, camera in hand. I’m a student of the sort of cultural studies that encompasses Las Vegas, of course. And I always enjoy the architecture, the Venturi ducks and sheds. But this time out I was left with one big question: 

Why are there cup holders in the urinals at New York, New York?

Answer me that, boyo. My initial thought that it had something to do with urine tests and annual checkups is probably not correct.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

In which we head out to Sin City

Off today to Las Vegas for the NDCA tournament.

While the numbers for PF and LD continue to grow, there’s no question that the northeast does not embrace this tournament much. We’ve got a few new folks coming to do PF, I’m happy to see, and they’ve got strong, competitive teams. But as far as LD goes, well, the tournament of choice is TOC. Go figure. One of the good things about NDCA is that it’s run by coaches, an elected board, and there’s votes and whatnot, so it represents a democratic process at least to some extent. TOC? Beats me. Hell, I used to be on the LD advisory committee, and I don’t know why I got on it or why I got off it (although I have my suspicions). But the organization seems to abound with controversies about all sorts of things, starting with bidworthiness. Still, it holds a sort of spiritual hegemony over the nature of LD. Everything that I tend to dislike about what has happened to LD over the years is rewarded and applauded by the circuit, which is blindered in its run toward the TOC. I don’t think you can blame the institution itself; it’s all the people wearing those blinders. If we all close our eyes and wish it so real hard, then we can define TOC styles as the best styles because, well, they’re the styles that win the TOC. But it’s the proverbial vicious circle, feeding on itself. Meanwhile, there is apparently a universe of LD out there that is nothing like circuit debate. Given that the so-called national tournaments are attended by the same teams year in and year out, plane ride in and plane ride out, the circuit couldn’t be more parochial, the ultimate provincial mindset when you think about it. Oh, well. I really don't think about it much, and I’ve certainly made my views on it clear here over the years. As I’ve always said, if the TOC didn’t exist, I wouldn’t invent it.

NDCA, of course, has much of the same national constituency, but it does have the flow-through of coachean oversight. And so far, so good with PF not taking on some national, circuit style that separates the way it’s done by one group from the way it’s done by some other group. I mean, I’m certain there’s school and regional differences—how could there not be?—but overall, it is what it is. If it’s going to be the great provider of debate rounds for most new people in the future, so be it. I miss the philosophical underpinnings of old LD, and don’t see anything comparable in PF, but if debate is inherently good for students, and PF provides lots of debate for lots of students, I’m good with that. Maybe teams don’t travel so much, or get on a path toward some higher objective aside from NatNats and CatNats? I’m good with that too.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

If this is Wednesday it must be Nostrum

I'm still knee-deep in getting Volume 1 really ready for distribution, although it is now up on Amazon if you've got that hot ninety-nine cents burning the proverbial hole in your pocket. Mostly it's a matter of better web presentation on my end. Meanwhile, here's the Table of Contents. I've always felt that this was entertaining reading entirely on its own. If nothing else, it's a treasure trove of obscure references. Give yourself a pat on the back for every one you can identify. 

Our adventure begins in New Jersey, with the Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Memorial (and the Little Johnson)
  • 1   The Young and the Clueless
  • 2   All My Debaters
  • 3   Things to do in Denver When You're Just Feeling a Little Sickly
  • 4   "Lucy, I'm Home"
  • 5   Don't Cry for Me, Nighten Township
  • 6   Bless Me Father for I Have Tabbed
  • 7   Keep the Aspidistra What?
  • 8   Reservoir Hot Dogs
  • 9   The Rights Stuff
  • 10   On the Road Again
  • 11   Policy is the Best, Honestly
  • 12   Them's the Breaks!
  • 13   The Envelope, Please

Hiatus -- prepping for The Messerschmitt College Mess O' Forensics!
  • 14   Don't Give up Your Day Job
  • 15   Personally, I Prefer Werewolves of London
  • 16   My Dinner with Buglaroni
  • 17   In the Room, Forensics Come and Go
  • 18   Sylvia? Who is she?

The Miami Messerschmitt Mess O' Forensics -- the first big college tournament of the year has finally begun. All we can say at this point is that there will be at least one arrest. Everything else is up to the judges.
  • 19   It's a Debate World After All
  • 20   Road Trip!
  • 21   Do You Like Miami, Dear? Kindly Tell Me If So
  • 22   Beware the Jabberwock, My Son
  • 23   I Say, Jeeves, Pass the Komodo Steaks, That's a Good Fellow
  • 24   You're Either On the Bus or Off the Bus
  • 25   Brillig and the Slithy Tove
  • 26   Moby Dick 2, Or, The Other Whale
  • 27   Have an Eggroll, Mr. Goldstone
  • 28   Because the Night...
  • 29   What's Good About It?
  • 30   But in the Morning, No
  • 31   Sisterhood Forever!
  • 32   Break, Rattle and Roll
  • 33   PDA
  • 34   One to Hold the Bulb and Five to Twist the Ladder

The Messerschmitt is over, but the debate season is just getting into full swing. The new LD topic is about to be released, there's romance in the air, and of course, there's the aftermath of the Messerschmitt to be unraveled.
  • 35   A Most Excellent See, Your Excellency
  • 36   Put This in Your Tub and Smoke It!
  • 37   Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spammetty Spammmmmm! Spammetty Spam.
  • 38   Tell Me On a Sunday, Please
  • 39   I Don't Think They Mean SATs for Labrador Retrievers
  • 40   Any Place I Hang My Hat is Holy
  • 41   At Least It's Not the Christian Coalition
  • 42   Paradise by the Dashboard Light
  • 43   And You Call Yourself an Immortal?
  • 44   A Pound of Flesh, Two Pounds of Carrots, and a Nice Baguette
  • 45   Another Reason for Sticking with Bruce Willis Movies

This weekend it's a little tournament, an NDL/CFL at Toulouse-Lautrec High School for newbie debaters and all stripes of Speechies. Not much will happen...
  • 46   So Is Teeny Todd Really Sweeney's Little Brother?
  • 47   In the Heart of the Hibernian Metropolis
  • 48   Mine I'll Leave to Chance and Chemistry. Yeah, Chemistry.
  • 49   How Now, Kurosawa?
  • 50   By George, I Think She's Got It
  • 51   Song and Dance

The NDL/CFL is over. All eyes now turn to preparations for the Manhattan Lodestone OriginalVaganza (All Other Vaganzas are Merely Extra)!
  • 52   Make Him an Aff Case He Can't Refuse
  • 53   I'm in Love with IMs, Baby, or, What's the Story,
  • 54   I'm Calm, I'm Calm, I'm Perfectly Calm
  • 55   Hand Me De Construction Paper / Papier De Hand Me De Construction / Paper De Hand Me Of Construction
  • 56   You Da Man, Girlfriend!
  • 57   Things That Go Bump in the Day -- A Nostrum Pot Pourri: Celluloid Heroes; The Seth Will Rise Again; Nancy Drew and the Missing of the Case
  • 58   What Becomes an Invoice Most?
  • 59   A Night at the Telephone: Welcome Back Kotter; Pass the Eggs Benedict, Arnold; The Fundamental Rules Apply
  • 60   I Wake Up Screaming; Da, Da, Da, Da, Da, KICK!
  • 61   And Quiet Flows the Don (Provided He has a Flow Pad) / Bunburying / Which Came First? The Chick or the Yegg?
  • 62   Hooray for Hollywood! / The War Between Debates / Totally Moly
  • 63   It's Not the Black Spot, but it Will Probably do the Job / Someday My Prince Will Come
  • 64   Godsapoppin / The Old Dawg's Network / Old Trick, Young Pup Division / He Walks in Nightly, Like a Beaut
  • 65   The Magnificent Sevens
66   Dialogues: When I Take My Saccharin to Tea / He's Back and She's Mad / Salome and the Dance of the Seven Veils (of Ignorance) / The Feline Dialectic
  • 67   The Dons' Last Do
  • 68   The Nostrum Musical Players Proudly Present the Round Robinskis in "On the Town"
  • 69   But Is He Worse Than Her Bite? / Did Somebody Say Conversion?

The Manhattan Lodestone OriginalVaganza (All Other Vaganzas are Merely Extra) gets underway.
  • 70   How to Run the Perfect Tournament: A Hands-on Guide for Average Humans Wishing to Achieve Forensics Immortality
  • 71   Musical Chairmanship: Well, Maybe This Particular Lady is a Tramp / Keglers in the Night / If I Can't Make it There, I Can't Make it Anywhere, but at least I can Audit
  • 72   Houston, We Have a Problem
Recorded versions of series one end at this point. You've got to read the rest of them yourself. Read them out loud, if you want to maintain some sort of consistency.
  • 73   Awakenings
  • 74   If LA's Such a Lady, Why are You Here? / Strangers in the Morning / Witchcraft
  • 75   September Song, Give or Take a Few Months
  • 76   Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week / Strangest in the Night
  • 77   Here Comes Everybody: Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome / In Debate There are no Mortal Sins / Take a Train, Take a Boat, Take a Plane, Ride a Goat
  • 78   The Other Imperative
  • 79   Hey, Good-Lookin', or Words to That Effect, if I Could Only Think of What to Say, and if I had the Guts to Say It
  • 80   Is This How Roy Met Siegfried? / Dazed and Confused
  • 81   Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em / The Rough Guide to Forensics
  • 82   Winning Isn't Everything / We Do Robert a Disservice
  • 83   As the Sun Sets Over Beautiful Manhattan Lodestone...

As the Manhattan Lodestone OriginalVaganza fades into history, and the Round Robinskis conga back to Chickamauga, life goes on -- sort of -- at Nighten Day, Bisonette, and the rest of the northeast. The next event is a wee sma CFL Speech tournament, the Blessed Moly.
  • 84   It Worked for the Lunts, Too / Birds Gotta Swim, Fish Gotta Fly
  • 85   The End of Rico / Now Hear This!
  • 86   Say It Isn't So, Jutmoll / Did He Who Made the Lamb Make Thee?
  • 87   Not That Infernal Nonsense Pinafore! / Telephone, Telegraph, and Tell a Forensician
  • 88   Where Are Those French Translations When You Really Need Them? / Computists of the world, unite!
  • 89   The Truth Will Set You Back a Few Bucks / Eat Up. Shut.
  • 90   The Best Part is the Seal of Approval on the Toilet / And Jupiter Aligns with Mars / Thirty Seconds Remaining
  • 91   She Looks Askance With Arms Akimbo / The Designated Driver / Putting People First
  • 92   Why Can't They Be Like We Were, Perfect in Every Way? / Chin Up, Shoulders Back -- You Call Yourself a Soldier? / What was that about Fast Cars?
  • 93   The HPB Guide to Dating
  • 94   Any Port in a Storm / Any Storm in a Port
  • 95   I Came Here for the Waters / Down Dooby Do Down Down, Comma Comma / The Mint Jelly Would Have Been Messier / When the Swallows Return to
  • 96   Oh How I Love to Get Up in the Morning / The History of Religion, Part One, the Early Years; or, I Remember Moses / And Michael Ovitz Judges on Weekends, Not that he Needs the Extra Money, he's Simply Keeping his Hand in
  • 97   The Road to Blessed Moly / The Road to Buglaroni / The Road to the COC
  • 98   Seth Went the Strings of My Heart
  • 99   It Could Have Been Alfalfa / Willow, Tit Willow, Tit Willow / Show Me the Way to the Next Little Boy / Is There a Femaledizione?
  • 100   A Time for Reflection

  • NOTE: The following episodes were not updated for the 21st Century. The stories are there, but some of the links won't work. Stop whining and just read them, you yabbo!
  • 101   A Star is Buglaroni
  • 102   As Bill Said to Paula, You Make Monadnock / There Are No Small Roles, Only Small Buglaronis / What Does Moby Dick have to do with Coffee, Anyhow?
  • 103   Home Alone / How Did They Get That Thing in There? / The Typical F.O.B. / A Horse Is A Horse, Unless of Course...
  • 104   Work This
  • 105   The Ugly Canadian
  • 106   Gloria in Excelsis Gloriae
  • 107   Welcome to Quilty!
  • 108   And the Monadnock is Worth a Rosary? / Trouble in speech and debate land? We are shocked, shocked to hear it.
  • 109   Wimple Weep For Me / Ratting on the Putz / I Have Often Stalked on this Street Before
  • 110   No, No, Nymphet / Maybe She Knows Clarence Thomas?
  • 111   So Much for Price Waterhouse
  • 112   He's Just My Invoice / She'd Said Chad's in the Shed Eating Shad
  • 113   Norman Bates, the Early Years / If Teeth Were Inches, Orthodontists Would Diet
  • 114   It's Just a Jump to the Left / Cache or Charge?
  • 115   From Pool to Pool / Well, Ah Declaim!
  • 116   Ora Pro Speechibus / Expletive Deleted / These Precious Days / Harvard, on the Other Hand, Costs as Much as the Prom / Where Do You Want to Go Today?
  • 117   By Their Films, Ye Shall Know Them

And finally, the Blessed Moly, a small Speech tournament, presumably for small Speechies.
  • 118   You Must Remember This
  • 119   Glory Days / Toujours Polyester / Scratch This / Humbert a Few Bars and I'll Fake It
  • 120   Dr. Benway to EPR, Stat! / Where Do They Sell the Sprouts? / The Joy of Speech Judging
  • 121   Kumar Tells All

Next up, we get our brains in gear for Massachusetts' legendary Algren-on-the-Beach tournament.
  • 122   Nietzsche Was Right About Eternal Recurrence / Meow, Antimeow, Synmeow
  • 123   Never Burn Your Bridges
  • 124   Ten to One They're Eating PBJ Sandwiches at Veil of Ignorance / It Could Have Been Semi's Colons
  • 125   Yale, Schmale
  • 126   Advertising 101
  • 127   The Nostrum Guide to Opera
  • 128   A Cigar is Good, But a Woman is a Woman
  • 129   The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Bus Token
  • 130   Road Warriors / We Always Thought the Jarndyces only Fought Each Other
  • 131   Ralph Kramden, Ralph Kramden, wherefore art thou Ralph Kramden?
  • 132   Is That You, Ayesha? / Da Bus! Da Bus! / You Can Never Find a Guatemalan when You Need One
  • 133   I See You Quiver With Antici-- / --pation
  • 134   Would You Prefer a Novena? / Thank God for Pets Dot Com
  • 135   No Exit, Part 2: He's Sartre and He's Mad
  • 136   To the Lord, Praises Be / It’s Time for Dinner so Let’s All Eat / In Vedantic Tab, it’s a Dormouse
  • 137   Any Place I Hang My Hat is Housing
  • 138   Consider Yourself Part of the Family
  • 139   Have Those Tickets for the Rolling Stones Alzheimer Tour Arrived Yet, Pumpkin? / And You Call Yourself a Chuzzlewit? / Whatever Happened to Cousin Ampersand and Uncle Underscore? / EconoHovel. Always the Same. People Come. People Go. Nothing Ever Happens.
  • 140   The Lamb Comes Home to Roost / If there were any Justice, we'd Give Tickets to Handicapped People who Park in Non-handicapped Spaces
  • 141   Passages / One First Mate is as Good as Another
  • 142   Here Come Da Parent Judge, Here Come Da Parent Judge / This Guy Says the Horse Can Do
  • 143   Compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary / Talkin' About My G-G-G-Generation
  • 144   When I Say I'm in Love You'd Best Believe I'm in Love, L-U-V / Fugue for Debatehorns / My Anomie's Anomie is My Friend
  • 145   What is this thing called love? / What? Is this thing called love? / What is this thing called, love?
  • 146   Do You Come Here Often, What's Your Sign, and I Once Met Beck's Mother-In-Law / Is that Er, as in Uh, or ER as in Emergency Room? / If You Were Mexican, You'd Eat Mexican Food Three Times a Day
  • 147   Fast Forward to 2017 / The Nicest Scient Insect
  • 148   What Whine Goes with Ferrets? / Of the Tumbled, Speak No Evil / Swains a' Poppin'
  • 149   Bow, Applause, Bow, Applause, Reprise, Applause, Bow, We’re Outta Here
  • 150   This is the Way The Team Ends

With Algren-on-the-Beach -- and the Nighten Day team -- a thing of the past, we look forward to the Venerable Bede tournament in a forgotten corner of either New York or Pennsylvania, or perhaps New Jersey.
  • 151   The Agenbite of Inuit
  • 152   Guilt-Edged Bonds
  • 153   Ask Not for Whom the Phone Rings
  • 154   Saint Misbehavin'
  • 155   Where Do You Want to Go Today? / Sure Thing One and Sure Thing Two / George? Meet Al. / The Self-made Man has a Schlimazel for a Creator
  • 156   Well, My Favorite Amendment is the Nineteenth / Mr. Edo
  • 157   The Rut Called Life / Camelia, Meet the Lama
  • 158   And the Quenelle Happy Meal for Little Timmy /
  • 159   To Whom it May Concern
  • 160   Econ 101, Give or Take a Couple / Now that's an Odd Snuggle
  • 161   How Things Work / M:I-LD / Another One Rides the Bus, Part 1
  • 162   M:I-LD2 / Another One Rides the Bus, Part 2 / Fermat Never Had to Calculate Tournament Attendance
  • 163   Another One Rides the Bus, Part 3 / M:I-LD3 / Tradition (or, Welcome to Anatevka)
  • 164   Another One Rides the Bus, Part 4 / Morality on Paradise Island
  • 165   Another One Rides the Bus, Part 5
  • 166   Take a Letter / In the Morning, She'll Test the Porridge / Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul
  • 167   M:I-LD4 / Lounge Lizards
  • 168   Doing the Extemp Two-Step / One Hundred Forty and Counting
  • 169   But It Does Move / If You Sell It, They Will Buy / God, I'm a Dancer
  • 170   Here's Looking at You, Kid /Of All the Gin Joints in All the Towns in All the World / Camelia Maru and the Hill of Beans
  • 171   Where is Peter Parker When You Need Him? / You Say Either
  • 172   How Do You Hold a Wave Upon the Sand? / Or as Another Song Says, It's that Old Devil Moon / Is That Your Final Answer?
  • 173   I'll Have the Knuckle Sandwich Happy Meal / And So We Bid A Fond Farewell...

With the Venerable Bede over, our next stop is the national circuit biggie -- Gladecreek.
  • 174   My Breakfast With Abelard / The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Grump
  • 175   I Dream Of Tenure With the Light Brown Hair / Joe-Ja on My Mind

And that's all they wrote of Series 1.