Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Setting Ridiculous(ly Awesome) Goals for Tournaments

We're ambitious. We're competitive and adventurous. We're also ridiculous. We like setting goals. The goals of a CHSADK need not be particularly reasonable, or even all that original. There are the obvious goals we'd all like to achieve, such as, of course, taking first place in all of your IEs and debate and therefore sweepstakes at every tournament you attend for the rest of your life. Who hasn't wanted that?

Or maybe you prefer to start small. Smaller, I mean. Sure, you know you won't win all of your events every time. But you could win some of them. Like, wouldn't it be cool to be one of those legendary interpers who wins DI and HI at the same tournament? Winning any event is a good goal, so two must be twice as good. Especially those two, because they seem so different, though they might not be as contrasting as we may think. Ok, so maybe you're not an interper. But how would you like to go undefeated for a tournament or two? How cool would a record ending in "0" look next to your name? That's a good goal.

Or maybe you start a bit smaller than those. Win one event. A novice event. That no one will remember later except you but you'll have the trophy to prove it and an extra 10 pounds of confidence. That is an excellent goal.

Or maybe you start even smaller. Qualify in an event. Break in an event. Get a shiny medal to hang in your room. Make your timer laugh. Don't pass out right before the 1AR. Or after. Survive multiple rounds in one day. Make a new friend. High-five somebody you didn't know. Achieve as many nametag decorations as there are clubs giving them out. Ridiculous goals? No, probably not. Awesome? For sure.

My own goal is to be one of those people who is famous in speech and/or debate but doesn't know it so she's still friends with everyone and super nice. Of course, I'll never be able to determine if I arrive there or not. So one of you ought to point it out to me when you think I've achieved it, and then if I don't stubbornly deny it, yell and scream at me or something.

Whatever your goal, whether it's ridiculous, awesome, or both, I hope you get there, and have oodles and oodles of fun on the way.

You're homeschooled. Eyes on the prize.

Friday, February 24, 2012

New-clear Wahr- Michael Sheetz

(Michael is attempting to impede the literary genius that is me by nefariously sending me humorously-written guest posts so that I have no choice but to post his rather than indulge in my own creativity. But he's cool, so it's ok.) 

Most people who are passionate about something they do will have a few key words and phrases that light them up like a Christmas tree. And boy do they know it. For example, if you say "New Material" to a public teacher, they'll groan and rant about how the state administration is crazy. Or "Aluminum-alloy suspension forks" to a mountain biker, they'll start comparing brands and costs. Or "Commute" to someone who lives in Orange County but works in LA, you'll get a face full of complaints about traffic and pollution. (I've always wanted to walk up to a Congressman and say "Debt", but I'd expect they'd just shuffle their feet over to the nearest over-stuffed arm chair, muttering about the last administration). But I digress. 

There are 4 basic reactions in the speech and debate community to the words "n-u-c-l-e-a-r w-a-r", or "It that shall not be named". 

For TP'ers, you get the reaction of "YES! IT THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED IS THE BEST THING EVER! Those Disadvantages are the best!?!? Have you heard my it that shall not be named counter-plan? If we use it that shall not be named to destroy everyone on the world, then we save billions of lives in the future! It's brilliant!" (fill the next 30 minutes listening to lots of ridiculous numbers and how it that shall not be named can be linked to malaria killing children in Africa)

For LD'ers, you get "That's an incredible desensitizing issue that the TP'ers are always linking to everything. No one can possible value it that shall not be named." (fill the next 30 minutes talking about how much more important to society LD is)

For Speechers (that aren't in interps), you get, "I'd rather just use Hitler as an impromptu example than it that shall not be named, but it that shall not be named is SOOOO MUCH FUN for Extemp. Haven't figured out how to tie into Apologetics yet, but I know I can."

For Speechers (that are in interps), you get this:

Basically, if you ask any speech and debater, you will get a very passionate answer. And you will lose the next 30 minutes of your life. (Unless you actually like hearing about it that shall not be named, in which case we have the Debate Dungeon ready for you)

But if you are SAD person (it's kind of like MAD, but different) like me, then you know just how awesome it that shall not be named is.

You're homeschooled, and how Bush pronounces it that shall not be named always annoys you. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When People Tell You That You Broke

One of the greatest features of the name tag is, of course, the schedule on the back. One of the greatest features of said schedule is the part telling you when breaks are. Which is obviously the most important part. Sure, some may argue that the most important thing a competitor would need to know about is the actual competition part... but breaks are pretty important too.

There are many parts of breaks that make it awesome: when you don't expect to break but you do, when your friends break, when people break at their first tournament, when you're in finals and so are a bunch of cool kids, when you're in finals in more than one thing, when you break in all of your events... anyway, breaks are great. In fact, any form of breaking is great. But if there could possibly be anything better than actually finding out you broke, it is when other people come and talk to you about it.

I don't know if the well-meaning people genuinely don't realize that you were also present at breaks when they run up to you and shout, "[Your name]! You broke!" but there are several good responses you could follow comments like that with. One is "Wait, really?" This is especially effective if you actually didn't know that, or if you're an interper and are good at pretending. Another good response is, "I KNOW, RIGHT?!?"which is just fun to say, especially in all caps. A third is,  "... you think I don't know that?" but don't say that or you'll just sound like a jerk.

Other times, your friend might be running up to congratulate and/or awkwardly hug you and express their elation at the fact that you broke, and that's really super fun too. After all, what's the fun of breaking if you have no friends or even acquaintances who make you feel special all over again once the actual breaks are said and done? It's significantly less fun. We need our friends. They just reinforce the excitement, among other things.

You're homeschooled. Break a leg.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Evaluating The New TP Resolutions

It's that that time of year again: the time of year for us Stoa people when the head Stoa people allow us a say in determining what we'll all be thinking about for a minimum of nine months starting next September. Of course, a lot of us started thinking about the resolution yesterday, really start to focus in the summer and keep thinking about it for years, but that's only the particularly nerdy among us. So, most of us.

Because I am currently a first year debater, I have never voted on a resolution before. I remember everyone getting excited about stuff last year, but I didn't realize just how interesting the whole process can be from the inside. Well, many of us find it interesting, myself included. However, we take it way too seriously for my taste at times. To paraphrase from one debater, we all are now debating about what to debate. Which shouldn't surprise you. We debate about everything.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing to be passionate about a particular resolution candidate. I myself am quite caught up in the excitement. The trouble is, arguing over resolutions is not that funny. Or happy. Or lighthearted or anything. For these reasons, and for your convenience and amusement, I have chosen to offer my own thoughts on each resolution option on the Policy side. You're welcome.

The Food One
or, as it is more formally known, 
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reform its food policy.

I had several immediate thoughts when I read this one.
First I thought, waaaiiit a minute. That looks awful familiar. Didn't they have that, or something very similar, as an option last year?
The answer is yes, yes they did.

Second, I think, Food?! I love food! I would totally want to run a case with a criterion of Net Benefits with an emphasis of chocolate, or "Chocolate Benefits," because Judge, at the end of the day, the team which warrants your ballot is the one which presents a world you would most want to live in, and clearly that world is the one with the most chocolate.
You could do that, right?

Then I think, no, you probably couldn't. The Food Rez ("Rez" is what us cool kids call the Rezolution) doesn't sound nearly as fun now. The cases would probably involve non-fun food and not candy. It seems less interesting.

My final thought is, Food policies? What food policies? but about 4 seconds on Google convinced me that we have a ton of food polices and a shortage of cases shouldn't be a problem. Even interesting cases, against all odds. In the course of a time period lasting approximately 8 seconds, I had become wary of and then suddenly more attracted to this resolution. But I can't make up my mind yet. We've still got two more choices.

The Military One

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reform its foreign military presence and/or foreign military commitments.

Right off the bat, like it. At first I don't know why, but I like it. Then, the serious debater who usually goes into hiding when I write posts like this thinks that this resolution could lead to a lot of cases that present very intriguing ideas crucial to the future of America and what direction we're heading. The LDer stuck on last year's resolution in me (legitimacy of government year) leaps at any rez that might result in arguments about the role of government (which is all of them ever, but this one in particular). The rest of me thinks it would be cool to talk about guns and stuff. That would probably come up. And tanks.

I really can't imagine a shortage of cases here either. We're far more likely to have the opposite problem. There are probably a bazillion of cases that us CHSADKS could think of in a week, and we have months! I feel like a lot of cases would have a lot in common, so having absolutely zero evidence specifically regarding a random, unheard of case may not be a problem for a researcher who's worth his salt and knows things about treaties and troops. I don't think the broadness is as problematic as one might originally think.

I notice this resolution doesn't include the word "policy," or any variation of it, which is weird and somehow intriguing. I also think this resolution is an attractive option for hipster debaters who want to run non-mainstream cases but still be Topical. It seems like it would be pretty hard to be not Topical (and also not ridiculous), with one exception: the
commitments thing is admittedly vague, but I'll leave it to the serious debaters who don't have amusing blogs to deal with that one.
So, less Topicality violations. That would be nice. Except for those who really get a kick out of running T every round, which I don't.

The Asia One
More specifically, Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially change its policy toward Taiwan, China, and/or Korea.

My favorite, favorite thing about this resolution is its usage of the word "and/or." (The last option had it too, but I notice it more here) I find that word inherently amusing. I use "and/or" a lot. Just search for it in the little sidebar thing and you'll see what I mean. There are so many wonderful ways to use "and/or" to make oneself seem funny, hilarious, indecisive, educated and/or contradictory. And the jokes would never get old:

"So Judge, because the United States Federal Government should clearly 
substantially change its policy toward Taiwan, China, and/or Korea, I would urge an affirmative and/or negative ballot. I mean, affirmative. Affirmative ballot. Thank you."

Well, ok, maybe they would get old. Then again, I'm probably the only one who would say something like that, so maybe not...

I also notice that this resolution includes the word "change." That's new. I don't know if it's important, but it's new.

I'm trying very hard to think of a policy that could be reformed involving all four countries (China, Taiwan, Korea x2) but nothing comes to mind. Not that I would expect it to. Anyway, it would be fun to find something. I kind of feel like most people would focus on China, but who knows? Maybe some club out there will run a case selling fighter jets to Taiwan or something. That could be interesting.

That's my take. You can go back to being a serious debater now. I hope I haven't upset anyone with my unreasonable optimism. Not that I really care. That's what this blog is for, anyway.

You're homeschooled. Choose wisely.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Parli Knock

Debaters, generally, love debate. You've got your LDers who wholeheartedly love LD and all the various values and applications and whatnot that lie therein. On the other side of the spectrum, you've got your die-hard TPers obsessed with policies and evidence and all that fun stuff. You have your occasional converts as well, but basically, we do what we do and we love it. We would never dream of doing anything else.
Oh, except Parli. We love Parli. That is, Parliamentary debate. It's what they do in college. The cool kids call it Parli.
That's "par-lee," not "par-lay," which is what the pirates say. We'd do Parli any day, or any time or any way. We'd do Parli in a box, we'd do Parli wearing socks, we'd do Parli with a fox, we'd do... never mind. I'm getting distracted. 
Basically, Parli in college is a substantial light in a long dark tunnel that makes graduating and leaving high school debate worth it for a lot of debaters. Or so it seems sometimes. Sometimes, they let us do Parli in Stoa and everyone freaks out and gets really excited. For whatever reason, we'd rather be doing Parli over other stuff. I don't know if we want to feel older, or relate to and converse better with alumni, or if it's just more fun, but Parli appears to be where it's at. Whatever "it" is. I've never actually done Parliamentary debate myself, so hopefully I don't mess up some crucial fact about it, but basically we like it.
One element of Parli has particularly infiltrated our previously pure homeschooled minds: that is, the Parli knock. As far as I understand it, in Parliamentary debate, when a judge and/or possibly an audience member agrees with an argument, he or she generally begins knocking on his or her desk and/or kneecap. Two knocks will usually suffice; more are added depending on the scale of agreement and possibly size of audience. 
However, Stoa tournament websites sometimes try to discourage alumni from knocking in non-Parli debate. Many people find it distracting. I personally find it discouraging, particularly when the other team says something about the inadequacy of your 1AR and then your alumni judge begins to knock on the table like the heartless debater/carpenter he probably isn't.
Regardless, the Parli knock still abounds in our general daily life. Which is kind of convenient. I often find myself knocking during in-class discussions when someone says something awesome. Sometimes I knock silently and non-distractingly during other peoples' speeches, like this OO I saw today which opened talking about how everyone loves Disneyland and I thought, YES. The Parli knock can have humorous and amusing usages as well. I enjoy finding opportunities to show agreement with things I shouldn't be agreeing with, such as tonight when my mom happened to mention what a horrible mother she thought she was and I, sitting behind her, knocked on my notebook in agreement and then my debate partner laughed and I'M SORRY MOM. I didn't really agree. You're wonderful, and you're always right except in that particular instance. Love you. <3
Now that I've deterred any future punishment/hatred, it's time to wrap up. Annoying or otherwise, the Parli knock is here to stay. Even if I may have protested it at one point, we're on better terms now. As long as no one is demonstrating any agreement with my opponents. 
You're homeschooled. Knock knock.
Who's there?
(I couldn't resist.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Hall of Expos

Even though I personally have not competed in Expository speech, my sister has one this year. That means I get to walk into the legendary Hall of Expos with her and put her stuff on the ground so she can set it up and carry it in by herself. Makes perfect sense. Anyway, I've been spending more time around Expos boards and accessories this year than I ever have before. This Hall, or giant room, depending on the tournament, is a very interesting place to be. There are a couple things any innocent observer should know before venturing into this Hall.

First, don't touch anything. ANYTHING. At all. Ever. You could mess something up, and then the Expos people will hate you forever and hold you personally accountable for anything less than a first place. Second, carry tape. They'll forgive you if you hand them some shiny, clear Scotch tape to repair whatever you broke and any other need that may arise. Third, don't offer to carry their stuff. There's a rule that they have to carry it all in themselves and then set it up once the timer begins. If you want to be chivalrous, open the door. Then close it. Anything else will just get everyone in trouble.

The Hall of Expos isn't all rules and no-fun, though. Think of it as a museum. You can peek in their boxes and observe the boards and attempt to determine what the speech is actually on. You can study the arrangement carefully. Stand back and nod a little, as if you are actually learning something from whatever the visible boards contain, solely to confuse the people near you. And if you want to be really confusing, you could even lean in and begin sniffing the boards. That's probably fun. Then, hands clasped behind your back, move onto the next set of boards and repeat the process. Something what's also fun is observing Exposes that don't use boards. I've only seen one in my entire life, so you know they're rare. They're very interesting to look at. Oh, but don't touch anything there either.

Besides the fact that you could break something, you don't want to touch the boards and boxes for risk of rearranging them. The Exposers will not be happy if they find that the last board ended up in the middle and the third one is first. You're in luck, though, since they usually check and check and check and recheck their visual aids before heading in, or so I'm told. Hopefully everyone will forgive you.

The Hall is a fun place. It doubles as a hang-out area for the Expos clique who enjoy discussing various types of stands and lovingly stroking their precious props in between rounds. Lot of fun stuff going on there.

You're homeschooled. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, speech nerd-style.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Doing Fake Accents

Fact: 912.5% of interps contain accents. Fact: 912% of these interps contain British accents. Fact: I made up all of the statistics I've ever told you.

But still. That doesn't change the fact that interpers like accents, especially British ones. That's not all we do, though. Last year, I had one speech that had 2 New York accents, an Australian, a Scottish, a homeschooler, an African-American basketball player, a southern farmer dude, and a French spy. And some other characters. In one speech. To my knowledge, no one else is as crazy as I am in the accent-area. But hey. We like accents.


Because they're cool.

And, because the judges like them too. It is my non-professional opinion that a person's speech will be better-received by any given judge if they have at least one accent. It does not necessarily have to be a good accent, though that does help.

Now, you're probably not wondering, why are British accents so popular? Well, I'm glad you asked. See, if all of the other interpers are anything like me, which they sometimes are, they learned all of their accents from movies. So between Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride, Jane Austen films, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even some other Disney movies, we learned how to do a British accent or two. Not to mention the fact that America obviously used to a part of the British Empire, so the ability to do a British accent must just be in our blood.

There is a second accent common among the CHSADK Interper crowd. I call it the "ItMightBeRussianButIThinkIt'sSupposedToBeGermanOrMaybeARomanian-French" accent. This is basically found in any DI or Duo that involves horrible things happening to people who live far away from us. So far away, in fact, that we apparently don't know how they would actually sound. But from a judges' perspective, it's an accent. So they like it. I don't understand it, but there ya go.

Accents are fun. Play around with them. Even if you don't interp, I've heard tell of people who have done entire rounds in Indian accents. I wasn't around that year, though I think I can guess which resolution it was. 

You're homeschooled. Cheerio.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Having and Using an Abnormal Amount Of Pens

I have a problem. See, I have this debate bag. It used to be my mom's laptop bag, but I'm 'borrowing" it for the next year-and-a-half. That's not the problem. The problem is, in the side pouch of my new debate bag, I have this pen. It's a red pen. Red is my favorite color. This particular red pen is out of ink. But you know how sometimes, when you have a pen that's out of ink, you can leave it alone for a while until it festers up enough color to make you think it has somehow recharged and is not out of ink when in reality it pretty much is? That's how this red pen is. And I always forget this until the middle of the 1AR when I think, did this pen seriously run out of ink again? I mean, I remember now. Now, I just continuously make the same mistake with my dying green pen. That's the problem. 
Unlike my monochromatic debate partner, I try to be a consistent, two pen, two color flow-er. I really do. But I'm new. In addition to often flowing speeches in the wrong columns, I frequently flow top-of-the-flow issues, like Topicality, in whatever color I have for the other team and have to retrace the tags. This can result in an entirely new range of color. Suddenly, there's a turquoise on the board, where there was previously only blue and green. Suddenly, your flowpad is extra colorful and super fun and extra confusing and super annoying. 
Of course, if a pen runs out of ink mid-somone-else's-speech, there's that issue. This is when a plethora of writing utensils comes in handy. Two easy ways to justifiably increase your flow color diversity are to either dig into your own stash or steal from your partner. However, it's advisable that you steal from your partner during the prep time before your speech or when he's still at the podium and doesn't necessarily need a pen rather than during the other team's speech when he kind of does. Somewhat as a last resort, you must then frantically try to locate a different pen that is actually yours. The problem I have, though, is that most of my pens are blue, so I'm usually flowing with a blue pen, but if the non-blue pen runs out of ink, it can be tricky to find another pen that is not blue and is also not my red pen or my green pen. There is also the issue of sometimes your partner leaves his pen at home so you lend him yours and then he leaves it outside somewhere so you have to give him another one while still keeping at least 2 for yourself. Debate is hard, people. For multiple reasons.

I blame debate for the fact that I carry multiple pens in my purse, other various bags, and sometimes in the pockets of my coats and jeans. You never know what could happen.

You're homeschooled. It's good to be prepared.