Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Debater's Christmas Wishlist

It's late December, and Christmas is almost here, and if you're not listening to Christmas music, then I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. I love all kinds Christmas music, even the kinds homeschoolers aren't supposed to listen to, like Last Christmas, All I Want For Christmas is You and Baby, It's Cold Outside, and all those other Christmas love songs I know I'm horrible it's okay please don't judge me I love Jesus songs too. Wait, I'm judging you first for not listening to Christmas music at all, so ha. Unless you're listening the The Hobbit soundtrack, which is supposed to be good. I haven't seen the film yet. Or listened to the music. Don't judge me for that either.

Oh gosh, what was I talking about? Clearly I've had too much hot chocolate. Hold on, I know the title of the post is around here somewhere... oh yea! "A Debater's Christmas Wishlist." To be honest, I thought of the name for this post well before I thought of anything a debater might want for Christmas, but that's okay. It shouldn't be too hard.

If you're a debater, you're probably asking for one or all of these things for Christmas:
  • A case
  • Two cases if you're an LDer
  • Another flowpad because you're out of canvases for your impeccable argumentation
  • Pens that write really tiny so you can flow faster and write in more responses
  • Lessons in ambidexterity so you can write in even more responses
  • Half a zillion Post-It notes
  • Ink and paper. For the printer.
  • A rolly debate bag or giant box for the evidences. Especially if your partner broke his box, like my partner did, but now I don't have to worry about that because in LD you can carry everything you need in two folders with cupcakes on them like I do.
  • Folders with cupcakes on them so we can match.
  • Fake glasses if you don't wear them already to make you look smart
  • A solvency advocate for your wacky plan ideas
  • A definition of privacy that actually sounds like privacy
  • A sweater with reindeers all over it. Because reindeers are cool.
  • A guide to exactly what every single judge in Stoa and/or the NCFCA is looking for
  • A guide to the pronunciation of weird names because people who write evidence usually have weird names
  • Membership to a magical website that spews out beyond-brilliant applications that none of your fellow competitors know about or have even heard of
  • The top slot on speechranks
  • A caselist with every case that everyone ever is planning on running this year organized by tournament so that you know what they're running before they do and you can be prepared
Bonus! All the cool kids in speech are asking for:
  • Scripts
  • Instant-memorization potion
  • The best impromptu examples ever
  • An extemp box that's bigger on the inside and fills itself
  • C.S. Lewis to write your Apologetics cards
  • The ability to have everyone always pronounce your name correctly at breaks
  • Expos boards that never break or collapse mid-round
You can feel free to get me all of those things for Christmas. I try to make it easy for people. It's because I care about you. You're welcome.

What do YOU, as a speecher, debater, whatever, want for Christmas?

You're homeschooled, and I wish you the best!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Slapping Morals on Interps

The thing about interps is that when it comes to events considered the most helpful in real life, the interps tend to take the bottom of the list. I don't know why. The judges' thought process is something like this:

Debate (all kinds): Very helpful. It's great to be able to see both sides of an issue, learn from history, find credible sources of information, and know the ins and outs of things the general public knows hardly anything about, and then be able to explain why you believe what you believe in an extremely structured and formal manner!
Apologetics: Most important speech event ever, which is why we always do it last of all the IEs at awards ceremonies, at least in CA. Defend the faith, man. Good stuff.
Extemp: Totally useful in real life. It's so good to see these young people knowing more about what's going on in the world than I do.
Persuasive: Stand up for something you believe in, just so long as it's not an overdone topic.
Impromptu: This absolutely comes in handy if you're ever asked to speak two minutes from now on a topic for, oh, five minutes or so. Which will clearly happen all the time when you're an adult. Also, it's helpful for debate.
Expository: Essential because everyone uses poster boards on stands in the workplace these days.
Original Oratory: It's good because you wrote it and writing is good. But I don't necessarily want to judge you unless you're super creative.
Duo: Duo is my favorite event to watch, and is therefore the most applicable to other areas of life of all the interps.
Humorous: See above.
Open Interp: You know, you, like, read and stuff.
Dramatic Interp: ... I'll get back to you on that.

Just so you know, I happen to think interps are wonderful and I love, well, ALL the events and think they all teach valuable skills but even if they didn't, I don't care because they're so fun. However, judges, for whatever reason, don't always automatically think interps are inherently good. Nope. You gotta show 'em you learned somethin'. That's why people put morals in their interps.

"Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it," says the Duchess from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol. In one particular section of the book, Alice warns the duchess that her flamingo with which she is playing croquet is prone to biting. The scene continues:

'Very true,' said the Duchess: 'flamingoes and mustard both bite. And the moral of that is — "Birds of a feather flock together." 
''Only mustard isn't a bird,' Alice remarked. 
'Right, as usual,' said the Duchess: 'what a clear way you have of putting things!' 
'It's a mineral, I think,' said Alice. 
'Of course it is,' said the Duchess, who seemed ready to agree to everything that Alice said; 'there's a large mustard-mine near here. And the moral of that is — "The more there is of mine, the less there is of yours."' 
'Oh, I know!' exclaimed Alice, who had not attended to this last remark, 'it's a vegetable. It doesn't look like one, but it is.' 
'I quite agree with you,' said the Duchess; 'and the moral of that is — "Be what you would seem to be" — or if you'd like it put more simply — "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."'
Then Alice politely confesses that she has no idea what the heck the Duchess is talking about. In any case, this is what I think of when I hear people bringing up the life lessons to be learned from an interpretive piece. And when I do it myself so as to not get marked down. One time I did a duo that combined a bunch of Shakespeare plays and that really didn't have any moral to it, so we put in at least seven of them (most of them goofy and/or containing Tebow shoutouts) and the judges loved it. Especially after we performed a rap version of Othello and said that the moral is that two white homeschooled kids shouldn't rap. They laughed and sometimes applauded for several seconds because, in our case at least, it's so true. That's the important thing about a moral. The judge has to hear it and think, yes! You're right! I'm so glad both of our lives have thus been enriched!

I learned this when I did my very first OI back in the day, and everyone told me they loved the moral even though I didn't even know it had one. And then I did my very second OI back in the day and only one judge told me she liked the moral, and another said she wasn't so sure about it with a smiley face. The lesson was basically that money can buy love and happiness. I was okay with that.

So, go and learn something. Tell me what the moral of your story is. It's got one, apparently. Even if you have to make it up. Or make seven of them up. Or do an impact turn of a moral that's really probably not that great. After all (pardon me while I go and fetch my glasses and Apologetics box so as to look really intelligent), all good stories reflect morality in some way, and all good heroes have attributes of Christ, so really, you should have a moral.


*goes to cut an HI that really doesn't have any moral. At all. Except maybe "don't believe your family because they're probably lying to you."*

You're homeschooled, and the moral of that is, "people who write blogs are cool."