Saturday, December 31, 2011

Judges That Don't Remember You (When You Don't Want Them To)

So there's this one guy. And every time I see him, I think, "Oh no! It's THAT guy," and I'll tell you why in a second, because here's what else I think: "Oh no. I remember that guy. He's an alumni. He judged me. I remember when he judged me. I remember that round, that horrible, awful round. It was at debate camp last summer. It was like my (mumbles to self) 6th round ever. The opponents were amazing and had won tournaments and stuff. And they beat us badly. Mostly me, because I had just given what was possibly the world's worst 1AR. THAT guy probably remembers that 1AR. How could anyone forget? Oh gosh, he probably hates me. I don't want to talk to that guy."

So I don't. Except you know how sometimes you're in a situation where you kind of just have to talk to someone? Well, after a few times of nearly effortless avoidance, that happened. And he said: "Hi. What's your name?" And I said Chandler, which is true. Soon someone said something about this being my first year of debate and THAT guy looked genuinely interested and almost nice and then said, "You do debate? That's cool. You'll love it."

All of a sudden an internal voice of reason that should have been there all along ever since that infamous day in late August came booming in my ears. Judges don't hate you if they vote against you. They don't hold a grudge if you give a bad speech. They forgive you without even feeling like they've been wronged. Often, they don't even remember you later. Which is awesome.

I'm the kind of person that often wishes I was a lot cooler and famouser than I am. Obviously, by definition, I am not. It's a weird feeling to wish that people would forget me, but its a feeling felt by myself nonetheless. I wish my judges would have their memories erased the instant the ballot leaves their fingers (or before, if it means voting for me). I wish my judges would forget my name and what I look and sound like so I never feel awkward around them again. I wish they would all sort of disappear, or maybe that I would. Sometimes. Sometimes I feel really great after a round and hope a judge goes home and writes in his journal and blog and on Facebook about how I won and then never forgets. But that doesn't happen very often.

Oh, by the way. Fun fact: Sometimes, the judges that do remember you and remember voting against you feel bad afterwards. My mom judged a round with two guys on the neg (ironically, one was the brother of THAT guy who judged me) and she really didn't like their Counter Plan and ended up voting against them fair and square. She remembered them later, and felt really bad and hoped they didn't know who she was. It was kind of like how I hoped none of the judges from my bad rounds remembered me, which is interesting.

You're homeschooled. I'd remember you, unless you'd rather I didn't, and then I won't.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Finding Speeches Really Far In Advance

I've had the duo I'm doing this year (2012 season) since 2010. I just couldn't find anyone to do it with for a while. This is very uncommon, to have a piece that early. Consequently, you can assume that it doesn't happen often, and it doesn't usually happen to me. Finding pieces ridiculously early can be a bit frustrating sometimes. If you happen to stumble across a good interp or platform idea that you can't use for a while, you're likely to feel impatient. That's ok. That just means you'll be better when it's time.

Even though I said that I don't usually find pieces that early, I must admit that I have at least 4 OIs that I would love to do next year. Four. That's not going to work. But I found them all really early and I adore them all. I'm ridiculous, but don't say I'm the only one. Every once in a while, a CHSADK will come up with a crazy and great idea for a speech or case long before one is necessary.

What do you do then? Well, you have a couple of options. You could say, "Why do anything else? I'm already ahead of the game." and then go lay on your couch for a few months until everyone catches up to you. Or, you could get started on your speech and have it memorized by September and amaze everyone with your superior skills. That's always fun.

Here's the thing: finding speeches is hard, especially when we're prone to procrastination. But when you've got a good one before you need it? It's a super great feeling.

You're homeschooled. Get to work! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

When The Alumni Come Home For Christmas

Last Monday night was a pretty cool night at debate. See, most of our alumni are mean and would rather go off to college instead of hanging with us fun people. But not this week. They're all on Christmas vacation, and evidently there's nothing they'd rather do on their break than participate in an educational activity- aka come to a debate meeting. Like I said, it was pretty cool to see them all again. Lots of those guys graduated the year I joined speech, some the year after and some before, so they're really old. (I didn't even recognize one of them, which made me feel like a total novice again)

Seriously though, us CHSADKs love our alumni. We don't always get to see them, so they can make our Christmas breaks even more special. Reminisce on old resolutions, inside jokes, ridiculous ballots, fun rounds, hilarious club meetings, and other occurrences that I'm pretty sure they made up- it's what alumni do best.

They'll be going back to school soon. We'll miss them again. We'll probably cry and cry. But hey. There's always next summer, right?

You're homeschooled. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Using Breaks From School as a Time To Work A Lot on Speech and Debate

Hip-hip-hooray for Christmas vacation! Within the next 12 days or so, I plan to memorize and block two interps, partially rewrite a persuasive (again), help my sister with her expos boards and, along with my debate partner, construct a negative brief and possibly rehearse an aff case. If it sounds like a lot, that's because it is. I don't know how exactly this will all happen, only that it must. Because I have a seriously limited school schedule for two weeks, and I have to do something when I'm not sleeping in, drinking hot chocolate, and pretending I have shopping to do.

This is not unusual. Us Christian Homeschooled Speech and Debate Kids scoff at the idea an of Easter break or a Thanksgiving, Christmas, and occasionally Summer Vacation. Those of us who have "school off" will be going crazy doing the fun homework we otherwise may not have time for.

"Break? What is this break you speak of? You mean normal people don't do speech and debate work when school is out? Preposterous!" That's what we'll say. Then we'll grumble like this: "Grumblegrumblegrumble," and stomp off to sit at the computer or stand in front of the mirror or our mothers or whatever and within moments we'll be diligently rehearsing or cutting a speech or some evidence. And we'll enjoy it, too.

Now, of course, there are also the procrastinators who would rather be normal and use a break to relax and chill instead of working. An interesting notion this, but for some of us, it is somewhat inconceivable. We are not used to being "normal," anyway. How is there time for that in all the work that needs to get done?

You're homeschooled. You're a hard worker. Sometimes.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Kid With The Humorous

We've all seen him. You may not have noticed him. Sometimes, you have to be part of his little crowd to be able to properly identify him. Or, you can use these handy-dandy tips I've collected for spotting the guy I like to call "The Kid With The Humorous."

The first thing you should know is that it's not called an "HI." It's a Humorous. Why? I don't know. It's just that, often at tournaments, you'll see a kid who's got a really great HI, but he calls it a Humorous. So that's one way you can spot him.

The second way is by noting who he hangs out with. See, people who are really funny enjoy the company of other really funny people. So the Kid will often be found around other kids who have good Humorous Interps. It's not that they're a clique exactly, but if you've done well in HI, you can hang with them. In fact, if you see them, you might think, "There go the HI finalists," which is a fairly accurate description. Basically, they're just hilarious, easy-going youngsters who are all friends and enjoy doing speeches for and throwing things at each other, telling jokes and funny stories, and playing off each other's cues until a whole mass of hilarity occurs. And since HI finals generally consists of mostly boys, there probably won't be many girls in that crowd. Just a bunch of really funny guys doing really nerdy things.

Thirdly, when a Kid with a Humorous is by himself, he's a very awkward individual. Look for him pacing hallways in the rounds or around the campus right before breaks: any time he's nervous, he'll be by himself being weird. One time, I was waiting in a crowded hallway outside a room when one of these Kids walked by me. I could see that he was practicing a speech, but since I knew at him, I gave a casual wave. He kind of smiled but barely looked up from the floor and didn't stop muttering to himself. A second later, his eyes lit up in recognition. "HI CHANDLER." he exclaimed. "I'm practicing my speech."
"Yea... I kinda thought that. Or you're just crazy."
He twitched and shrugged his shoulders. "Well, you know... maybe." He then put his head down and began reciting softly to himself as he shuffled down the hallway. And that was the end of that.

If you don't know any of these Kids, you should try to meet one. As you can imagine, they're really fun to be around. What about you? Do you know any CHSADK's who fit the descriptions?

You're homeschooled. That's pretty humorous.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Talking About Speech and Debate With People Who Don't Speak The Language

Speech and debate lingo is fun. It's also confusing. I totally get that. That's why I love talking to people who don't know much about speech and debate. It's fun to explain yourself to people who don't speak our language.  I was talking to a non-CHSADK friend of mine once about various speech categories. She was tying to remember a specific event.  In an attempt at being helpful, I piped up with, "Well, we have Platforms, such as Original Oratory, which is like a normal speech-speech, Persuasive, which is like a speech-speech that's... persuasive. Then there's Expos, where you can have pictures on boards..." I would've continued, but expos was the one she was looking for. Which is really too bad, because extemp would have been fun to describe.

Sometimes, explaining speech and debate to a non-believer reminds me of how important it is to me, and how it's a huge part of my life. So I feel warm and fuzzy inside. Other times, I feel awkward because they don't understand and exceptionally nerdy because I do. A seemingly innocent sentence such as "After breaks, my TP partner and I headed off to check postings and watched HI semis in IE Pattern A" would baffle the minds of ordinary, sane people. But not us. The abbreviations and various would-be unfamiliar terms become so second nature that we sometimes forget there was one a time we didn't know the difference between expos and extemp, between OO and OI, and that breaking is a good thing.

It's good to translate for the Muggles sometimes. It keeps you from becoming a more antisocial geeky homeschooler. Especially if you catch yourself talking in flow-speak. THAT would be confusing.

You're homeschooled, so you understand.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I wrote a Disadvantage last week. I know, I was surprised too. I like that disad. One of my favorite parts is the analogy I included. I can't tell you what it is, because it's a good one and I might have made it up and then you might steal it. I probably didn't come up with it, but still. It never hurts to be paranoid. 
As you know, we like to use analogies in debate. For us, using an analogy is like explaining what we mean without using a lot of words or time in familiar, easily understood terms. Wait, I can do better than that. For a judge, when a debater uses an analogy, it's like a teacher giving her student the answers to a test: it's simple, easy, and doesn't require much thinking. See what I mean?
Before I did debate, I had a particular fondness for analogies. Probably one of first I heard in-round was in a Lincoln-Douglas round last year. I don't quite remember what was being described, only that it involved ice cream that needed to be eaten with a spoon or else the debater would risk looking ridiculous. Which is true. He would look ridiculous. Another was the classic "The four Stock Issues are like the four legs of a table: take one out and the whole table falls." (Some people try to get creative and substitute "cow" for the table, and I totally get why they do that, because cows are obviously 5742x funnier than tables.) When I first heard the table analogy, I didn't even know what Stock Issues were, but the analogy stuck. They always do.

So be creative. Be fun. Be... analogous. 

You're homeschooled, which is like doing school at home.
Wait, no.
You're homeschooled, which is like winning the lottery: both are awesome, rewarding and allow for a lot of great opportunities and blog posts.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pen Drills

"Alright, it's time for everyone's favorite opening debate activity!"

A collective groan rose from the crowd collectively. Begrudgingly, we reached into our debate bags and pulled out the first pen our begrudging fingers could find while the evil alumni coaches grinned evilly. "Alright, 'Toy Boat' as fast as you can. You got thirty seconds. Pens in your mouths. Ready? GO!"

I remember my first experience with pen drills. I thought it was hilarious and yet so awkward. What kind of a person recites tongue twisters while holding a writing utensil between his teeth? A debater, that's who.

A couple of years later, at my club's summer debate camp, my next encounter rolled along. Someone mentioned it was time for "pen drills," and I vaguely remembered that name, assuming it was a sort of flowing practice exercise. I was way off. The memories came flooding back as I positioned the pen inside my mouth, trying desperately to communicate something about a chick who had shells for sale at the beach. Or something.

So no, pen drills do not help you with flowing. In fact, they make it harder. Their purpose is E-Nun-Ci-A-Tion. I always feel it necessary to carefully dictate that word. You're welcome. I'm not convinced that pen drills are particularly helpful or if our alumni just like to see us look ridiculous, but I guess when I have to run a case investing in Russian Soldier Shoulder Holsters, all that practice will finally come in handy. Though I probably shouldn't have a pen in my mouth during the 1AC at a tournament. That would be bad. I told my debate partner he's not allowed to do that either. He would though. Except he's the 2A.

It's odd, but I guess a really prepared debater in a similar (toy) boat as myself (probably one heading to Unique New York) would choose a pen to bring to debate not based on its color or level of ink content, but rather taste and texture. The gel pens I have are awful. I try not to use those. They have a weird grip that is just not an appealing taste. I go for the thinner, cheaper ones. I advise you do the same. You gotta be comfortable while ranting against all those spider smiters.

So even though pen drills may be irksome to debaters now, I'm sure you'll thank your coach when you happen to holding a pen in your mouth and someone asks how your mom is and you reply through clenched teeth, "She had shoulder surgery."

Because we all know that's going to happen.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Awesome Tournament Names

I like fun names. I even gave this here blog a ridiculously long name because I thought it would be fun. I like to come up with fun names for posts because it's fun. Though I guess that goes without saying. But anyway. I very much appreciate when the tournament people go the extra mile and come up with an awesome name for their competition. I feel it enriches the whole registering and competing experience. Especially if they have the name on the nametags, medals, and trophies.

Did you know they have a tournament called the "Fun Tournament?" I don't even know where it is or what league it's in, but I really want to go for the name alone. Or what about the Penguin Parade tournament? You can't go wrong with penguins or parades. Both in one place? Ridiculously amazing. Between speechranks results and the Stoa calendar, I find ways to highly entertain myself with the names of various competitions.

Though they may not be quite as unique, the tournaments I go to have cool names too. Like, Concordia Challege, which sounds... challenging. Or San Diego Classic, which makes me think of classic things, like old red cars and record players. I don't know why, but it's true. And then there's IBC/ICC/Riverside/Highlands/Inland/probably a ton of other names. None of the names are particularly interesting, but I've always been fascinated that it managed to acquire so many.

It must be fun to name competitions. If I had to name a tournament, I would call it the Classic Challenge of Fun Parade. Or maybe the Competition Held At Near Distances Largely Encompassing Rome. I really like the acronym on that one. 

What about you? What is your favorite competition name? What would you name your competition?

You're homeschooled. That's fun.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Not Watching Extemp

At a recent Round Robin, my sister said the strangest thing to me. I was very much taken aback. I believe her exact words were, "I want to go want extemp." I told her, quite honestly, that I had never heard someone say that before in my life. Startled and extremely intrigued, I followed her to postings and then to the extemp prep room so we could wait outside until someone walked out and then follow them. We did just that. As I was kneeling awkwardly on the floor of a very small room listening to a real live extemper speak about some event which is current, I thought about how never in my life had I gone to watch extemporaneous, or even accidentally seen someone practice at club. In fact, I didn't even know extemp existed before my first tournament. Now here I was watching one. Much to my surprise, I liked it. So I watched another one. It wasn't boring either. Weird.

People don't typically watch extemp. Maybe if you do extemp, you'll watch so you can get better, but that's pretty much the only reason. I mean, look at me, it took me nearly three years to get around to it. For whatever reason, it seems like most people would rather watch Humorous Interps, duos, and novice impromptu prelim rounds than watch extemp. There are multiple reasons why I suspect this is the case:

1. Extempers make everybody else look bad.
Now I consider myself a reasonably caught-up person, but man. I've heard tell of speeches given on entire countries that I've never heard of. What is that about? Extemp makes me feel like I live in a cave. Under a rock. In the Dark Ages. With a dinosaur. Who doesn't know anything either.

2. Extemp is not that funny.
Fact: People like funny things. Other fact: Current events are not that funny. It's usually that sad stories that make it into the news, and even though extemp is not necessarily sad, it's almost guaranteed not to be funny. Sometimes it is, but still. Why risk it? We all watch HIs and duos which actually are very funny lots of the time.

3. You don't get to watch the prep time.
The best part of watching someone give an impromptu is watching his face during prep time. You can see the wheels of his head turning. For two minutes, he's concentrated. Fully focused. Nothing is going to distract him. Then the timer beeps, he lifts his head up and soon begins to speak. He tells of something marvelous in an impromptu speech that he came up with before your very eyes. Yes, while you were watching creepily, he was creating a masterpiece. They do not let you watch extempers scramble madly through giant boxes and write in itty-bitty handwriting on little cards. It's a bummer.

I'm not saying it's a good thing that no one wants to watch extemp. I'm just saying, it's what happens. Now you know why.

What about you? Do you avoid extemp at all costs, or are you brave and watch it all the time and think I'm crazy?

You're homeschooled. Let's go watch more duos.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Exciting Research

At a recent debate meeting, I was put in charge of a mini-research pod and appointed the task of assigning assignments and orchestrating the orchestration of a negative brief which we would be writing. Now, I know what you're thinking: First off, you're probably wondering, "Why were you put in charge?" That's a good question.

Secondly, you're probably thinking, "That doesn't sound very exciting!" A worthy objection. But it is exciting! I started on the assignment I assigned to myself and I was pretty excited. If minds could literally buzz, mine would still be buzzing with Disads, contents of the countless articles I have open on my computer, rejected Counter Plans, Topicality arguments and so. much. more. It's really fun.

Every once in a while, a debater gets excited while researching something. The homework doesn't seem a chore any more, because now you think you've got something good. You can't wait to see what it is or how it will turn out. You can't wait to piece all your findings together in some kind of glorious puzzle of ink and paper that will someday, in some round, prove invaluable. You can't want to tell your friends, your coach, your mom about it, so you do. Yes, every once in a while, a debater remembers why he or she likes debate. And that's really super exciting.

When do you realize you've found a find that's exciting? I'm not sure. It could be as soon as you Ctrl+F an article to find the exact words you're looking for, only to have your eyes find the exact argument you're looking for right around that highlighted portion of your screen. It could be when you're trying to construct a Disadvantage, and your ideas click together perfectly in a Uniqueness, Link, Brink, Impact format. It could be when you're thinking out loud with your mom and she sheds a lot of clarity of the last hour's worth of research so that suddenly it all seems really clear. It could be, but it's hard to say. Whatever the case, the fun part comes from the excitement of exciting research that makes you so... excited.

You're homeschooled. It doesn't get much better than this.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

That Other Club

My loyalties lie fully with my club, Veritas. There is no question about that. I love those guys and I would never leave. BUT. At tournaments, I spend time with other clubs. That's ok. Everybody does this. Well, throughout the entire first year of my speech career, I was kind of a Veritas-introvert who knew only one person outside of her own club, but now I do this. Competitions are some of the only times I get to see these people. One trend I've noticed among many CHSADK's is that they tend to attach themselves to another club, generally one in specific, that sort of adopts them for the tournament, not because they don't have a club, but because they like those other people too. That other club that is almost their's could be referred to as, "That Other Club."

Other clubs are fun. I have a suspicion as to which club is my other club at tournaments. If you're reading this, and you think it's your club, let's just say it is. Anyway, there are lots of reasons why it's fun to have people to adopt you. For one thing, like I said, you don't get to see them a ton probably. So when you do, you have to go crazy and give awkward hugs left and right. Additionally, other clubs just mean more people to scream and cheer and forensic clap for you and give high-fives at breaks. And you can do the same for them. You can play Egyptian Rat Slap or Mafia with your other club. You can ask them what speeches they're doing, and then go watch them. You can debate them and be not-nervous and have a great time. You can do all kinds of fun things with fun people in fun clubs!

The interesting part about having an other club is that the coach of that club probably doesn't even know you're an unofficial team member. Other clubs tend to be just between the kids. That's ok. It can be kind of sneaky. Otherwise someone might think you're disloyal to your club and things could just get awkward from there.

You're homeschooled. You can be on my team.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Coordinating Suits

In speech and debate, something about girl-girl teams, whether in duos or Policy debate, makes the partners want to have matching suits. Sometimes they just go with matching colors, sometimes the suits are identical. Why? I have no idea. I've never partnered with a girl. I'm sure it's really super fun to have the same suit as your partner, I've just never done it. Guy-guy teams don't do this, though. As far as I know. Maybe they have ties the same color, but they probably don't wear the same suits. That shouldn't come as much of a shock.

But it's not only girl-girl teams that match. Last year, my duo partner, who is a guy, and I would often coordinate colors, which was pretty easy since all of my suits were red and black. It didn't actually require much coordination. This year, I'm doing a duo and debating with two different guys who are both about 14 years old. I figured they would have no interest in matching colors, so I didn't even bring it up. They proved me wrong. My duo partner, apparently, has access to a virtually infinite amount of his brothers' and dad's ties, so he can always coordinate with me. My debate partner also asked if we would match at a recent tournament. At first I thought, really? that even occurred to you? And then I was like, ok. We both wore black, but then so did everyone else, so it wasn't really that exciting or special. Still, it's good that I have cool people as partners.

Coordinating suit colors is just fun. It's not necessary for success, but you never know, it might help. Or if not, well, you can have a good time with it and look snazzy anyway. Like those guy-girl teams that both wear pink, That's kind of cool, and sometimes those teams win tournaments. Just saying. Have you ever matched your partner before? If not, you should try it, if you have a partner. If anything, the judge might leave an extra smiley face next to the Appearance box on the ballot. Hey, maybe that box is good for something.

You're homeschooled, and very stylish.