Friday, August 31, 2012

Being in Awards Slideshows

You know when you're at a baseball game, and the giant screen will sometimes illuminate with a larger-than-life depiction of some thrilled fan? Being in an awards ceremony slideshow is kind of like that, except not live, so you don't get the humorous reactions. But it is like the baseball thing in other ways. First, everyone's looking at you, B) you are also looking at a giant image of you, and lastly, it's extremely unlikely that you will actually be up there, but instead it will happen to the people sitting right next to you four times. At least, that's how it always feels for me.

But sometimes, the inconceivable occurs, and there I am! It's weird!

One time, this mom from my club with a camera came to one of my debate rounds. I got really excited because I knew that she was the official tournament photographer. "Are we going to be in the slideshow?" I awaited her answer with baited breath. It came in the affirmative. "Yep!"she replied not nearly as enthusiastically as I did. But I almost didn't notice. I was so happy. She later took pictures of my duo partner and myself practicing our epic swordfight, so that ended up on the giant screen as well. I guess the secret is to know the photographer, which, because she was the only official photo-taker I knew, explains why I've ended up on the slideshow maybe six times in the... 15 tournaments I've been to. And I don't mean 6/15 tournaments. Six pictures ever. And if you're wanting to see those pictures, I happen to have a couple:

Chandler Lasch: TPer and Interper Extraordinaire.
Fact: if you don't look ridiculous in a tournament picture, you're doing it wrong.
You know, maybe it's a good thing I don't end up on the slideshow much. I mean, I've seen a number of pictures of myself giving speeches, and I tend to make odd faces. But then I'm always making odd faces, especially in interps.
p.s. see that necklace I'm wearing? The next day, the clasp would break and the necklace would start to fall off right smack in the middle of our duo and I would have to chuck it under the table behind us as soon as I turned around and it would make a loud noise and no one would know what it was except me but everyone would wonder until I picked it up at the end. Good times, good times.

One of the most fun and also most annoying parts of the awards slideshow is the way people react when they see someone they know. I mean, I'm okay with everyone giving a little cheer for the tournament director. I'll tolerate light applause for the people doing tab, ballots, the snack table, or some other really, really essential competition job. I'll even forgive an occasional, "Hey, that's me!" or that sounds of one young man clapping his neighbor on the back who has just had his face stretched into an extreme amount of pixels for all of the students to see as if said neighbor had received some sort of major award. But what gets really old really fast is when people scream every time they see themselves or someone they know. Which, if you're friendly, is going to be a lot of people. A LOT of people. And they never stop screaming! On the other side of the issue, it is a lot of fun to let out a squeal when you see a friend. It's like your friend is famous! And you knew him before he was! Yea!

So... fine. Fine. I get excited when I see me on the tournament slideshow, I give you permission to get excited too. It really is a neat experience: that two seconds of everyone staring at you and there's nothing you can do about it. It's bliss for those of us that like attention, which is, you know, all of us.

You're homeschooled. It shows.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Walking Out of Rounds With a Smile

There are numerous ways of walking out of a speech or debate round. One is on your feet.

Other ways include disheartenedly, downcastedly, discouragedly, despondently, dismayedly, depressedly, dispiritedly, distressedly, disconsolately, and dolefully. Besides the letter D, the fact that I made most of them up, and the -ly ending, one thing those words have in common is that they're all not cool. We've all had those round that went wrong. You know, that impromptu speech that really didn't go your way. It's 'cause they had quotes, you grumble to yourself as you shuffle down the hallway. I don't like when they have quotes. And what was up with them, anyway? They were all so awful. Or you forget your third point in your platform speech. In the semifinal round. Not fun. Or you had no evidence against that last case, and frankly, no good arguments either. Or you went Neg and your opponent misconstrued what you said in the 2AR to make you look bad and there's nothing you can do at that point.

So you're feeling a little down.

But hey, hold on before too many bad memories resurface. There's a reason we all still play this game, despite the sub-par rounds and disappointing moments. Why? Because some rounds are AWESOME.

Oh yea, and we're learning and stuff and it's going to help us later on in life with speaking publicly so we'll be comfortable and not nervous and smooth and it'll help with critical thinking and learning to see the other side, and talking to people in general, and timed essays on SATS and, and, and... and stuff.

But sometimes, the thing that really keep us going is that amazing feeling you get when you can walk out of a round with a smile on your face. That happened to me at a recent debate camp that also had a practice tournament. I was attempting to squeeze into the ginormous crowd of people at postings, and, when I had made it in front of all those tall people, attempting for forever to find my name on the paper. Seriously, I have a tendency to find the names of every other person I know four times before my own. But I finally did spot it. And my eyes grew wide. You know those rounds when you look at the pairings and feel like praying that it's a typo? That you're not really hitting that person right now, the scary one that everyone knows will go 6-0 and/or win the tournament? Yea, it was one of those times. I took a deep breath, grabbed my bag with my cases and pens in it and headed off to the room. It ended up being the very room where I had done my first ever round in competition all those years ago, and all those nerves were back. But I tried to hide them as I went up to introduce myself to my opponent. As if I didn't already know his name.

In a way, the round kind of flew by. It was actually a lot of fun. I was amazed that I had not only survived, but didn't consider faking my own death to avoid the 1AR. Soon I found myself shaking the judge's hand, timer's hand, negative's hand, packing up and heading out, smiling all the while. Did I think I won the round? Nope. I was a first-timer who had just hit someone amazingly good. But I felt like such a winner. And a happy one at that.

Cheer up. Think of all those great rooms you'll be able to walk out of, grinning ear-to-ear like someone who's just been watching HIs. (in out-rounds. No one thinks HIs are funny in prelims. I don't know why.) We all have those rounds. Maybe not every round, maybe not even every tournament, but they do happen. And they're worth waiting for. Next year is almost here. It'll be fun! And cool! And exciting! And smiley!

You're homeschooled, and you can't say "speech" without a smile. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Being Secretive Around Other Debaters

You know what's fun? Being a spy. Being a sneaky spy. Being a sneaky spy who's spying on other spies who are spying on you and your sneaky little spying spy friends. Because you all have your missions, assignments, aims, callings, charges, commissions, duties, errands, goals, jobs, objects, objectives, purposes, pursuits, quests, responsibilities, undertakings, and other cool words for the homework your debate coach gave you, so obviously, it would be the worst thing in the world for the enemy any club that is not yours to find out what your secret mission, strategy, or case is. So you can't tell them.

Consequently, they're not going to tell you anything either. That is how the game is played. Maybe you'll hear from some teammates or other friends or even parents and timers who's running what and how and when and why, or maybe you'll see it on a case list your club has, or maybe you'll know because you hit them before, or maybe they'll just tell- Wait, no. Not that. Except for in rare cases. RARE cases. (haha, "cases." The irony is, in such rare cases, non-secretive teams may be disclosing their cases because they aren't rare cases but rather are commonly run cases, but again, this only happens in rare cases.) They'd much prefer you be surprised when you get into the round. That way, you, as the neg, won't know quite what you're up against until you can easily guess the plan by the nature of the sob-story introduction, the value by the Founding Father quote, or the case by the heading at the top of the page you saw when you awkwardly craned your neck to see over the podium.

Some teammates of mine once asked our TP coach if it they should turn their 1ACs over once they've unpacked the 25 pens and Post-It note pads and timers and other essential debate devices and nodded at the other team and stood up as simultaneously as the four of them could manage to do to go shake the judge's hand, because sometimes the negative will try and sneak a peak at that paper to know what they're hitting 30 seconds before they were going to find out anyway. My coach replied that it didn't matter. "After all," he said, "they're not going to pull out their time-turners and go research your case and save Buckbeak while they're at it!" And then like, two kids of the 37 people or so in the room laughed, because it was a Harry Potter reference and homeschoolers aren't supposed to read Harry Potter, generally. I thought it was funny. But anyway, the point is, sometimes people can take sneakiness to silly levels. Then again, maybe such levels do not existed. Why not be sneaky? It's great.

Moral of the post is don't tell people what you're running unless you want to, and don't let them find out unless you want to, and don't fool entire clubs into thinking most of your club is running a case you're not unless you're the novices in my club who are still quite proud, and be sneaky, and be awesome, and consider purchasing a magnifying glass and cool black hat to tiptoe around tournaments in while singing a detective or spy-ish theme song to yourself because that would be so fun.

You're homeschooled, but don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Senior Year

I am basically in awe of any former CHSADK (or CHSADA for Alumni) who graduated following environmental/competition-cooperation year, which is what we Stoa/NCFCA peoples who were around then call the 2009-2010 season. Why? Because that was year I joined as a freshman. Therefore, anyone who was a senior my novice year was like, brilliant. I still get starstruck thinking of the big names, amazing interpers who I desperately wanted/want to be, debaters everyone still loves and dislikes, and all the classic characteristics of the terrifyingly old senior class.

And do you know what's weird about those resolutions I mentioned earlier? They're old.
Because that's what those old-timers were debating my freshman year. And now I'm a senior.
And that means I'm old! Ahh!

So this is my senior year. And then I'll graduate, which sounds horrible, even though Carey said it's not that bad, and I keep telling myself that. But I'm scared to be an alumnus. Alumni. Whatever. I'm not even sure what to call myself.

I've known that my senior year was going to be this year from about the time I figured out senior means 12th-grader and did the math, so I can't really say I'm that surprised or that it somehow snuck up me like the sneaky year it kind of is. But it didn't really hit home until recently when I was talking to one of those kids who was a senior the year I joined, and basically one of my favorite alumni.

Him: Chandler, are you competing this year?
Me: Yup.
Him: Is this your last year?
Me: Yup.
Him: I was going to say, you've been around for forever!

And I thought, what? I've been around for forever? No, you have been around for forever!
But that was when it kind of hit home for me. I have been around for a while. And it's... almost... over.
Sad face. Sniff.

But hey. Let's be optimistically honest and honestly optimistic. There are definitely good things about being a senior CHSADK. Here comes the list:

1. Everyone Looks Up To You
Not literally, in some cases. As my former debate partner is so fond of saying, I look up to a lot of people. That's supposed to be funny if you know me in real life. Apparently.

But anyway, if you're a senior, (and generally, if you've competed for at least one year, or ideally two or three or more years, in the past) everyone that is not a senior is automatically in awe of you. Why? I don't know. Apparently you've accomplished something simply by sticking around for long enough to be in your final year. Not everyone makes it that far. (Actually, that's not true. Everyone sticks around long enough to compete in their last year of competing, but work with me.) And that's admirable. So it doesn't matter how well you've done in years past, although it helps to have done well, because you're looked up to. It's probably a really great feeling.

In addition, they all somewhat dislike you while admiring you simultaneously because we're all super competitive and they whisper about you behind your back. Sorry. But it's true. They can't wait for you to get out of here. I have felt that way many times myself, even about good friends of mine. Because people, I love you, but you have to go. Let the rest of us be awesome. Bye<3.

2. You Can Go Out With a Bang
Now, you don't have to do this, but sometimes people feel it necessary to do a ridiculous amount of events their senior year. Personally, I am only doing five or six or seven. Plus LD. So there is really no need to worry for my sanity. An alternative way of going out with a bang is just to do really amazingly awesomely well. It doesn't matter if you only do TP. Just rock it. That is what we call a "bang." It's good stuff. Give 'em something to remember you by.

3. You Can Almost Judge
Come one. You know you're looking forward to filling out a ton of ballots someday brimming with brilliant and legible advice. I tried to do that once at a camp tournament, but they ran out of ballots. I was bummed. I went and timed a round instead because they think me capable of that and apparently nothing more. Also, once you've graduated, other people will take your advice or even email you with questions! So far, people don't listen my suggestions in their speeches and stuff, and I'm not sure why except that it's probably related to the fact that I have yet to graduate.

(And if you want to email me with a question someday or even right now, that would seriously make my day. Just saying.)

4. You Can Be An Amazing Example to Others
Okay, serious one. This ties in with the first item on the list, which in case you forgot or you're bad at skimming or the scroller on your mouse broke in the past few minutes, was "Everyone Looks Up To You." When I joined speech and debate and began to admire the senior class, I developed a goal of being like them someday. Sure, I want the people I compete against to be a little afraid, yea. But that's not all or even the most important thing. I tried forever to be friendly to the new and even not-so-new people just like some of those seniors were (and still are) to me because that really really meant a lot. A lot. A lot a lot. And I love that. I wanted to be just like those people who were seniors when I was a little freshman, and now that I'm about to be a senior, albeit a little one, hopefully I'm at that place, or will be soon. It's going to be an adventure! And I'm ready.

It's a weird feeling. I don't really know where I'll be a year from now. It won't be cutting OIs and Duos or thinking about writing cases like it is now (unless those interps and cases are for other people.) It's weird, but it's ok. I'll always be a CHSADK.

You're homeschooled, so you will be too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Asking if Every Person in a Ten Mile Radius is Ready

A week or so before my first competition, I sat down with my coach and confessed that I didn't really know what was going to be facing me in a week or so. "Ok," I began, "I walk into the room... then what?" He smiled and told me all the steps. "Well, since you only have one speech, it would be good to get there early, just in case they need you to go. Maybe you'll even get to watch some speeches. Try to go fourth. The order is not important, but fourth is good. Then, you walk up, introduce yourself, ask if the judges and timer are ready, and begin."

I nodded furiously, my eyes darting back and forth across the floor as I tried to cement all of this into my brain. "Ok. So I then give my speech... then what?" He smiled again at the anxious and nervous little novice facing him and replied, "Shake their hands and thank them for judging and timing." Oh yea, I thought. I was supposed to do that at the Round Robin, but I didn't, and then I found out I was supposed to and I got embarrassed. I nodded again. "Ok. I can do that."

It's quite a process, but you have to get it right or everyone will freak out and give you 5th & Below. At least that's what I imagine would happen. OR WORSE. But we won't go into that. The proper scenario, then, is something like this:

"Hi, my name is Chandler Lasch. Is it alright if I remove my name tag? Ok, are the judges ready? And the timer? Great. Let's begin."

But let's break this down for a second: First off, confession: I don't actually ask permission to take of my name tag, not even for interps. If I am about to give an interp, I just rip it right off because 1) I'm afraid they'll say it's not 2) the less time chatting with your judges, the better 3) I'm a rebel and I don't care what they think. About my name tag. I usually give it to the timer because otherwise I'll forget it. By the time you ask if the judges are ready, you should probably be standing up straight with your hands apart, as if you are holding a giant bubble or balloon. It looks interrogative. For your next line, gesture to the timer as if he doesn't know who he is. Just in case. And another thing: don't say "Let's begin." Now, I know what you're thinking. Something like, "What? But you just told me to! How can I trust you anymore, Chandler? That's it, I'm leaving!" but hold the phone. I only typed it because almost everyone says it, and I'm saying you shouldn't because it's a huge pet peeve of my coach's so now I have to be super careful to not say "Let's begin." Don't do it. It's unprofessional or annoying or uses an unfitting plural noun or something. There. Can we be friends again? Thanks.

Debate works similarly, just leave your name tag on, and be sure to ask if the judge and timer are ready before every. single. stinking. speech. And Cross-Ex, and POIs too in Parli, while you're at it. You can do that, right? Probably not. Do it anyway.

But if you've ever watched Duo finals, HI finals, or any crowded debate, you'll know that some people like to go the extra mile, sometimes almost-literally, depending on how big the room is. There are those who insist, despite my cringing internally, on asking if the audience is ready? Why do they do this, you and I may wonder fruitlessly? I have no idea. Why does it irritate me? Well, for one thing, they (the audience) are not. They never are. Especially if it's the final round in debate at NITOC and there are ten gazillion people watching. One of them is not going to be ready, and you're going to have to wait for her while she ties her shoes, checks her phone, replies to a text message, puts the phone in her bag, grabs a piece of gum, offers some to all of the people staring impatiently at her, puts the gum back in her bag, zips it up really loudly, and nods that yes, everyone is now ready. Of course, by then, someone on the other side of the room will decide that yes, he does indeed want gum after all. And then you have to wait again and it will be all your fault. Additionally, if they're not ready, who cares? Only the judges and timer matter. And you're going to get some jerk who insists that she is not ready and stands staring at you for a good 20 seconds and does absolutely nothing in that time before saying, "I'm ready now" like I'm always super tempted to do, but have never actually done. Yet.

Still, for some reason we like to ask if everyone in a ten mile radius is ready before we begin speaking. I suppose if you love it, you can do it. I won't hate you very much. Okay fine, I won't hate you at all. Just as long as you promise your speech will be excellent. I'm sure it will be.

You're homeschooled, and judging by the length of this post, you were probably ready for me to say that.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Asking for Judging Philosophies

I knew for my entire two-year career as a non-debater (who was in speech) that it is really, really important to ask the judge(s) for his/her/their Judging Philosophy before the round begins. How did I know? Because everyone did it. Since I wasn't really able to keep up with Policy rounds at the time (I didn't know how to flow or anything about Russian/Environmental policies don'tjudgeme) and I wasn't able to remember what the judges said before the LD rounds, I never actually noticed whether debaters adjusted to meet the judge's request. Turns out, the good ones generally do. Which is probably nice for the judges.

Unfortunately, even though I knew that that simple sentence was of the utmost significance, I never remembered to do it. However, in my Policy days it worked out okay, because there were always three other people there to ask. And, worse case scenario, the timer probably would've saved me and asked. Probably. Ok, probably not. Now that I'm doing LD, I'm really in trouble. There's only one other debater who has potentially got my back, metaphorically speaking, and what if he doesn't? It could be bad, people. I would probably get to 1AR before realizing I forgot to ask, and by then it's too late. What if the judge didn't want me to go fast and I did? Or if they did and I didn't? Or if they didn't want to see any applications or they only wanted applications and no actual arguments? Or if they wanted me to triple-tag instead of double? Or if they were a TP judge who really wanted me to run a counter-plan? I wouldn't even know and would probably lose. Then again, my opponent wouldn't either and could potentially lose as well. But that's irrelevant.

The best judging philosophies are, of course, the really fun ones. I don't mean, "Go fast, I'm an alumni, I can keep up," or "Be nice to each other," (I did have a judge tell me to be nice once when I was debating a good friend of mine once, and I just looked at her like, duh. Fun round.) or even  "First one to get me a pen and paper wins," which I also had a judge say to me, and I thought he was kidding until I got that ballot back and wished I was faster at finding pens and paper. No siree, the best judging philosophies are the fun ones which are FUNNY. I'm talking, "Whoever references fruit in this round wins," "Whoever makes the most unicorn jokes wins," "Make your voting issues rhyme and also use alliteration," "Start every speech telling me why your opponent is winning," "Please rap all of the rebuttals," "I only want to see fictional applications," "Every contention/observation needs to be said in a different accent," "I only vote for people who make eye-contact with the timer..."
And I'm sure there are a ton more that would be thrilling to hear before the round. Frankly, I would love the timer one, because I occasionally time rounds and would really appreciate that a lot.

In addition to asking for mere judging philosophies, sometimes we get a little more nosy. Judging experience, occupation, theories on topical counter-plans, who they voted for in the last election, and what cases their kids are running may even be thrown into the mix of questions. And why not? If they don't mind answering, ask away.

You're homeschooled. That's my philosophy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Being Terrified of Certain Competitors

There's this one debater, and one of my good friends might know which one I mean, because I've repeatedly mentioned to her how very afraid I am of having to debate him sometime. I used to think it was an irrational fear. I have a lot of those, such as not having anything to say in Cross-Ex, the other team stealing the copy I lent them of the 1AC, or pens running out of ink mid-round and so forth. But the more I watched this debater debate, the more I became convinced that it would be far more silly of me to not be quaking in my tournament heels at the prospect of seeing my name next to his on postings. Really, it's bad.

But I still stalk him at tournaments because, for years, he's been one of my favorites to watch. Is that weird? Maybe. I mean, yea, probably, it is weird. But stalking aside, it's definitely probably normal for us to be terrified of certain competitors, and admire those competitors all the same. Why? Well, the fist question to ask is, why are we afraid of them? The answer is generally because they're really great. And it's difficult to not admire really great people. Additionally, how do you know for certain they're really great? By stalking watching them.

Now that that's been cleared up and/or made more confusing, let's talk about what makes a person worthy of your terror. Hey, you know what I haven't done in ten years? A scorecard. For those of you who didn't read this blog a decade ago, a scorecard is a blogging technique that I pirated where you add up stuff based on stuff. Okay, are we good? Here goes:

You should probably be afraid of a competitor if he/she:
  • Is several feet taller than you +2
  • Is several feet shorter than you +3
  • Comes out of their own DI room in tears +1
  • Leaves the judges in Impromptu dying of laughter +2
  • Is a senior +1
  • Is not a senior but you wish they were +3
  • Could pass for 35 years old +2
  • Has 25 older siblings who also competed +3
  • Won a timer award +2
  • Won Novice Impromptu at least one year ago +2
  • Has people in tab +2
  • Is friends with a lot of alumni +3
  • Writes for those colorful books we all own +3
  • Has won a speech event +2
  • Has won a speech event at Nationals +3
  • Has won multiple speech events +3
  • Has won multiple speech events at the same tournament +4
  • Has won multiple speech events at Nationals +7
  • Has won LD +3
  • Has won TP +2 (because then both partners get 4 and that seemed fair somehow)
  • Should have won TP or LD and everyone (but the the judges) knows it +6
  • Could get away with something you can't (like doing Impromptu without a roadmap, running a weird case, having a 12 minute speech, or wearing Converse into rounds) +5
  • Has been in the top 60 on speechranks +1
  • Has been in the top 10 on speechranks +5
  • Has been competing for at least two years +1
  • Has been competing for at least three years +2
  • Is a super senior +4
  • Works on speeches and cases in the summer +2
  • Writes speeches and cases days before the tournaments and breaks +4
  • Has a weird name that everyone knows how to pronounce because we've heard it so many times at breaks +2
  • Is named "Stephen/Steven," "Jonathan," or "Hannah" +3
  • Competes in all three kinds of IEs and debate +3
  • Wrote a Guest Post for SCHSADKL +3 (no, seriously)
  • Has more trophies than they can remember +4
  • Is also a really good singer +1
  • Has won camp tournaments +2
  • Is often quoted by small children who love their speech(es) +3
  • Is often quoted by actual competitors who love their speech(es) +4
  • Is often quoted regarding things they said in a debate round once +5
  • Will still be talked about years after they graduate +7
  • Is really nice and humble and smart and awesome +10

If the competitor has 10 or less, then you should be friends with them (well, that's true regardless of points), but you don't have to be scared.
If the competitor has 11-25, be a little worried.
If the competitor has 26-50, be more worried.
If the competitor has 51-100, be afraid.
If the competitor has more than 100 points, be very afraid.
If the competitor has 138 points, run away screaming.

Well, that's my list. What would you add?

You're homeschooled, and that would probably scare a lot of people.