Monday, February 29, 2016

In which we do not exaggerate for a moment

Holy bananas. I managed to get out of Lakeland alive. It was close, let me tell you.

Kaz and I were running 8 divisions. This was about 9 divisions too many. The good news is that we almost had enough judges. This was one of those events where coaches would come to tab and tell us that they’d never heard of one of the judges they signed up, and the rest were on their way, eventually, if the rumors were true, although none of them were signed up with tabroom accounts for this totally electronic tournament. Or judges would come in wringing their hands complaining that they had judged enough and that their brains were no better than shriveled slices of baloney left out in the desert sun and that they had to go home immediately because, well, they also had tickets for “Hamilton” that night. We would looking at these tattie howkers with the appropriate expressions, while wondering if we could make a killing on Broadway with a new play we’re calling “Burr.” I mean, it worked back in 1804 in Weehawken.

There were hardly any reports of improper behavior aside from the odd bouts of hankus pankus discovered by the custodians, who were immediately sent to confession at the church next door. Teenagers will be teenagers, after all, and who can stand in the way of hormones? Can't get a room at a hotel? Try a classroom. As for the famous hover incident, we refuse to comment.

Not at all curiously, it is always the same people and the same schools that cause disruption. If it were up to me, I’d toss them all off the cliff, but this is not my tournament. No tournament anymore is my tournament. I’m just a tab room hack. Go complain to someone else that your judge didn’t like the idea of having teams read one another’s evidence. Meanwhile debaters were dropping like flies, creating endless maverick teams, but then said flies would resurrect. Whatever.

Oh. There were three rounds last night. We left after round two. Oops.

Teachers’ desks? Onion sauce! We’re Middle Schoolers. We don’t need no stinkin’ teachers’ desks. Would you mind telling your children not to mess up the classrooms? You talkin’ to me? Are YOU talkin’ to ME?

I lost one of my favorite pens. Feh. Some Middle Schooler probably ate it, mistaking it for debate ziti.

There was never a dull moment. People stormed out in a huff. People stormed in in a huff. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME JUDGE!!! But you listed yourself as a judge. ONION SAUCE!!! 

Kaz and I did have a nice dinner Friday night. Hemlock, fresh from the garden. We both asked for refills. On Saturday at about four o'clock JV texted that the District tournament was all done. I sent some terrorists down to blow up his apartment.

I apologize for the disjointed nature of this post. As I said, I managed to get out of Lakeland alive. But just barely. Talk about brains turning into dessicated baloney...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

In which we pack up our troubles in our old kit bag and head to Lakeland

The Land o’ Lakes has 8 divisions. Most of them are pretty reasonable, but a couple are a little tight on judging for one reason or another. Which means that a couple of people who think they’re settling in for a little patch of dainty PF judging, which is done with the pinky extended while Debussy plays gently in the background, will actually be judging VLD, which is done with bare knuckles while death metal, hardcore rap or crust punk play loudly in the foreground. We’ll be setting up the complaint desk over by Brian M. Or maybe Stefan, who I gather will be there in his full-body cast. “Complain to the guy on the gurney,” I’ll tell them. Usually I just tell them to complain to the Paginator. Same difference.

(Which raises the issue of why I feel compelled to take random shots at the Paginator. Or, for that matter, while almost everyone I know feels compelled to take random shots at the Paginator. It’s not as if he’s an easy target; far from it. Maybe that’s the reason. He’s got too much gumption. Our little band of traveling tabbers eats gumption for breakfast.)

The Gem closes registration next Monday. We’re now up to fighting strength in tab, with the addition of Andrew M handling the speech chores. So it’s the Old Farts vs. the Young Turks, i.e., me and Kaz vs. the P and Andrew. It should be fun. Not that the usual gang of idiots isn’t also fun, to tell you the truth. The Gem is one of those big tab rooms with every event running out of it, where everybody enjoys everyone else’s company, and never is heard a discouraging word, unless we’re cursing out the Paginator, who so far has never even been there. I’ll miss having Fr. M. with us; it’s always nice to send in a priest when a problem comes up. The only thing that would make people shrink in their boots even more is sending in a nun, but we usually don’t have a nun handy when we need one, which is always a problem in the tabbing business.

So, nuttiness this weekend, big business next weekend. And then CFL Grands and it’s time to close my own book on the season, aside from hanging out at the NDCA. My first official year of retirement. To tell you the truth, it seems a lot like my last year pre-retirement. Not a bad thing.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mercredi? Le Nostrum!

You might find it interesting to read Stats McGillicuddy’s debate tip sheet, The Conqueror. He provides his take on the odds for who’s going to win what at the COC, and he introduces all sorts of people and ideas that we have yet to discover. Crapaud Theory? The latest episode also introduces Max Klarr and the team from Affluent Geek, which had been deemed to hold the early favorite until—well, you’ll have to read it to find that out.

And please, always remember that Nostrum is based on a true story. If you plan on doing something truly idiotic, nasty or generally over the top, please do it when Jules and the Nostrumite are there to record it, synthesize it in their Nostrumation Machine, and pump it out the other side as “fiction.” They look to you, dear forensician, for all their material.



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

In which we see lakes all around us

Lots of big doings at the DJ. None of them bear repeating here, but I will point out that they are happening, and they do distract from my NJ, so you’ll have to put up with me here. Sometimes just juggling one ball can keep you pretty busy.

The Land of Lakes tournament is this weekend, a tournament I’ve been going to for over 20 years. Originally it was at the beginning of January, on what is now the Newark weekend. As often as not, it got snowed out. This was in the days before global warming, when it still snowed in the winter more than once and it cold for more than a single weekend. Nowadays, everyone on the streets is wearing cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirts in February and trying to figure out if there’s any snow in the Klondike for a ski trip. Back then, when the tournament did occur, I can remember navigating icy roads and generally considering oneself quite the adventurer for making it in one piece. Various bids were attached to the tournament then, but in the ways of the TOC committee, it was deemed unworthy, and slowly but surely they were stripped. Most of this was in aid of a geographic distribution of bids to the areas where the TOC committee lived (or to the tournaments they ran), rather than a true evaluation that Lakeland had lost its mojo. Of course, stripping it of bids did indeed cost it its mojo after the fact, but I’m sure we all can agree that the members of the TOC committee getting what they want in their drive for bids is a lot more important than keeping high school debate alive at the local level. (Has anyone done an analysis of the schools that attend the TOC? We all know it's the same ones every year. Given that you need the money to travel to bid tournaments, and that only so many schools have that money, not to mention the money for a hundred “assistant coaches” and the like, then it’s—Oh, screw it. You’ve heard this from me before. If you want more, go read the latest series of Nostrum.)

Stefan managed to get Lakeland bidded back up at least in CX, given his own and the school’s policy history and, honestly, the otherwise almost complete lack of policy bids in the northeast. But the other divisions are fairly small. So he’s also reached out and brought in middle school PF and Parli. So overall it’s a fairly full house, but a different one than the norm. Unfortunately, the NSDA District Tournament also falls on that weekend this year (March is a mess, weekend-wise), although there’s really little if any overlap between the events. Still, it would be nice to have some of the varsity debaters in the novice judge pool. Oh, well. Such is life.

I’ll be heading there at lunch time on Friday, since registration is from 12-2. Sheryl won’t be chezzing it up, since she has about 800 kids staying at a not-so-local motel up in Fishkill. I’ll take a good look at the tabroom setups before I get there. I hate when other people create the tournament, as I much prefer to suffer from my own mistakes. Which, as CP pointed out to me repeatedly over the weekend, are many and varied.



Monday, February 22, 2016

In which debatefolk gather on a debateless weekend

We turned the chez into a B&B this weekend, with CP and Kaz as guests. They were up at her place in Newburgh getting it ready to sell, and spent some time with us as a reward for heavy lifting. (Actually, it was CP and Catholic Charlie and JV who did the heavy lifting. Kaz is still recovering from her unplanned athletics in Turkey.) It was nice to fill up the chez for a while without having to put up a Christmas tree.

We went down into NYC on Saturday and joined up with the second-place winner of the Matt Hoyle look-alike contest. We went to the New York Historical Society, which had a tech exhibit revolving around IBM’s 1964-5 World’s Fair exhibit, branching off into all other aspects of computer tech that sort of looked like the story of my life, if you can tell that story by analyzing all the dinosaur machines filling up our basement. I told stories of my days hanging out with Ada Lovelace, while CP regaled us with tales of bytes from his end. Matt just kept staring as his smartphone and marveling that there really was a West Side, since he’s been living on the East Side in Manhattan a year or so and had never crossed the (semi-) imaginary line of Fifth Avenue. We stamped his passport for him at the end of the visit. It was one of those gorgeous days when you simply have to be walking around in the city, although in Kaz’s case it was limping around, so we eventually found a cab back to the train, and soon joined up with JV for dinner at a Moroccan restaurant. It seems as if we spent half our time pricing out various weeks in foreign climes, including said Morocco, Japan, Venice, etc. Letting CP read the travel section of the Times Sunday morning was putting demon run in the punch at an AA meeting. Of course, it seemed that I spent most of our chez time in the kitchen making either dinners or breakfasts, but since I really like doing that, I was perfectly content.

Part of the time Kaz and I (or, as debaters would put it, Me and Kaz) furrowed our brows over the upcoming Land o’ Lakes tournament. Stefan swears he will be there if they have to roll in his hospital bed to make it so: he’s having back surgery on Tuesday. Kaz and I are worried that we won’t have enough judges/rooms/wifi/coffee/tea/demon_rum/snakebite_kits to get through the weekend in the tab room. OTOH, the Gem has shaped up quite well given its postponement. Still waiting for the confirmation of the speech tabber, but I’m pretty sure we’ve got a good one lined up.

Let the week begin!