Praise Song Part II

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Praise Song Part II

Postby vinteuil » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:41 pm

In the same line as Jonathan's thread from last year, I was thinking we should really have a thread of people's favorite (positive) lesser-known stories about Matt Weiner and the quizbowl circuit. Given his longstanding involvement, I have to imagine that there are a number of those stories that aren't widely known.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Mike Bentley » Tue Mar 10, 2015 3:12 pm

In 2008, due to some unforeseen drops from other editors, I ended up being the person responsible for getting Terrapin done that year. We were running pretty behind on the night before the tournament. I reached out to Matt and he was able to crank out the remaining RMP distribution in some absurdly short amount of time. Without this contribution, I would have probably been writing questions throughout the day as the tournament was taking place (which would have been a problem since Michigan was printing out questions rather than reading from laptops).

I've always been amazed by Matt's speed in question writing. He's by far the fastest question writer I've ever seen. I regret never personally seeing how he cranks out questions like this.

I think this was both a blessing and a curse for him. By knowing that he could write a set of questions in a couple of days I think he let deadlines catch up with him. And this of course set him up for disaster. For instance, his power went out on the night before VCU Open last year when he still had a sizeable number of questions to write. Had the power not gone back on immediately, that tournament may not have gotten finished on time.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Frater Taciturnus » Tue Mar 10, 2015 3:22 pm

During the assembly of the 2008 NSC, I watched him lay on a bed and dictate a tossup off the top of his head across the room to be typed out by someone sitting at a laptop.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Cheynem » Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:06 pm

Last night, the "board" of HSAPQ had a meeting where we discussed the future of the company. I was impressed by the commitment and drive of everyone there; it would have been very easy to give up on the project or descend into fear or frustration. Instead, we didn't. With all due respect to Matt Weiner and his drive and vision for the company, I feel like we're in good hands for the future. I especially think that Matt Bollinger, who like end of season one Michael Bluth returned to the company he had recently quit (now THERE's a good quizbowl sitcom for you), deserves major kudos for personally running with a project he had no responsibility for. These are uncertain times, but they are also exciting times, and I maintain the best of HSAPQ is yet to come.

Edit: I misread the first post, thinking this was a general praise song thread, so this post seems possibly unnecessarily harsh on Matt W. for no real reason. What I will say is that none of what HSAPQ is or will do was possible without Matt's spirit and vision. I'll have more to say about Matt later.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby AKKOLADE » Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:54 pm

I saw Matt Weiner drink an entire twenty ounce bottle of Mountain Dew at last year's NSC.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:25 pm

Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon wrote:I saw Matt Weiner drink an entire twenty ounce bottle of Mountain Dew at last year's NSC.


At the 2009 ACF Nationals, Weiner somehow got Red Bull to donate dozens of crates of their beverage to the tournament for players and readers. My wife Bryn asked him how he was able to get them to donate the crates. Weiner replied, "I called them up and asked for it." Bryn served as Weiner's scorekeeper for that tournament. According to Bryn, Weiner chugged no fewer than a dozen cans of Red Bull during the afternoon session of the tournament.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Cheynem » Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:36 pm

Matt is a man of great vision and ability. As Mike alluded to above, these talents sometimes outran themselves. He is also one of those people where it is hard to praise without doing the "but..." line of talking, as I'm sure at some point or another, Matt has delighted and infuriated everyone on these forums.

A favorite recent memory of Matt was playing CO Trash with him two years ago. Besides his obvious skills, Matt is also an underrated teammate, able to mix wry commentary, supportive feedback, and steady play. Within the arena of the quizbowl match (or tournament, if he wasn't playing), I feel like was where Matt shined the most, and if he does not return to quizbowl, I'll miss that the most about him.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Tue Mar 10, 2015 6:55 pm

Some of my first open tournament experiences was playing IO 2007 and CO 2008 with a team of Matt Weiner, Jerry Vinokurov, and Jonathan Magin. I remember Matt being a really good teammate (all Mike's stuff about the hilarious commentary is very true), who was happy to tell me about the clues he buzzed on after the rounds were over.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Gautam » Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:08 am

Matt drafted me in the first ever Westbrook Experiment at IO '07... because I purportedly knew science. I don't know if this duo went on to win the tournament on place second, but one of those two things happened. And it's unfair to call it a team, because Matt did 99% of the heavy lifting. He probably got more science than I did - he saw straight through Westbrook's construction of a tossup on "zeolites." I answered a tossup on "azides" and probably a couple of other things the whole day.

The prior day I'd played Andrew's lit bowl with the inestimable Seth Teitler, and road his cottails to a 2nd place finish. One of the few tossups I answered that day was on Independent People - I think we were playing J Maggs' team then.

Needless to say, those two experiences were my earliest "quizbowl grownup" experiences.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:31 am

At one point, Matt Weiner's day job was working at a paper sales company. I believe he told #quizbowl a story about how on his first day there, he made a reference to The Office, only to find out that none of the employees at his paper sales company watched or were aware of the show.

I think the highest compliment ever paid to Matt Weiner was in that one Slate article referring to him as the "Commissioner of Quizbowl", which I think is accurate. Despite Mike Cheyne's assurances, the commish-by-committee that now replaces him have big shoes to fill.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Cheynem » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:54 am

I hesitate to turn an ostensibly positive thread into an argument (although if this is a tribute to Matt, what could be more apropos), but since Bruce has opened the door:

I have never denied Matt Weiner's inestimable presence within quizbowl and that any person or people who steps into his void will have big shoes to fill. This is especially true on the collegiate level, which I did not address in my post. What I said above and I maintain to be true is that HSAPQ I believe is still in good shape even after Matt's absence and will continue to be. I say this as someone who knows infinitely more about HSAPQ than Bruce does.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Cody » Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:28 pm

Matt Weiner and I really wanted to write VCU Open 2011. Evan was not partial to the idea, but was convinced to come on board by Matt swearing up and down that he would write most of the tournament.

Matt started fucking out early in May.

Instead of bowing out of set production, Evan spent up to 10 hours nearly every day writing questions to ensure VCU Open 2011 would happen. Evan's total production was somewhere north of 450 questions for a set he did not originally want to write. It remains the most awe-inspiring feat of question writing and dedication I've seen in quizbowl.

VCU Open 2011 is the set I've most enjoyed working on, by a large amount, due to writing it with Evan (often in the same place) and not Matt Weiner. And it ranks as the best VCU Open, by far, due to Matt Weiner not being involved.

Respect, Evan. You're awesome.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby AKKOLADE » Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:09 pm

Matt Weiner's ability to have ideas about what quiz bowl should do in a lot of areas of the game is one of the most impressive things about him. Even when I didn't agree with him, he at least had given his stance thought and had good reasoning behind it.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:26 pm

Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon wrote:Matt Weiner's ability to have ideas about what quiz bowl should do in a lot of areas of the game is one of the most impressive things about him. Even when I didn't agree with him, he at least had given his stance thought and had good reasoning behind it.


I wasn't planning on wading into this praise/anti-praise thread, but Fred's post drew me out. There's a lot to like about what Matt did for the game, which I hope people document in this thread. But there's also, to be frank, a lot to regret. And one of my biggest regrets is that while Matt certainly had a lot of "ideas about what quiz bowl should do," and while he sometimes had "reasoning behind it," he was all too frequently unwilling to see that alternative viewpoints might also be valid. I don't think that he shoulders all the blame for the unfortunate modes of discussion that are often prevalent in the quizbowl community, but his example in that regard was, in my view, pernicious.

I think I summed this up more succinctly elsewhere when I referred to him as our leading "quizbowl dogmatist and anathematizer." Obviously, there is much more to his legacy than that; but it would be falsifying history to suggest that this isn't a significant part of what he leaves behind.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby AKKOLADE » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:02 pm

I too like to walk into threads that talk about the good things people did and shit on them behind their backs for doing the same things that I do.

Wait hold on
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:22 pm

By my quick count, three of the ten people participating in this thread before me had negative things to say about Matt, ranging from mild (Mike) to severe (Cody), so I don't think it's really accurate to say that I "walk[ed] into" a thread focused solely on the "good things" about Matt and bent it out of shape. Also, given his abrupt and apparently absolute departure from the game, presumably anything that is said about Matt at this point will be said "behind his back," so I don't understand that comment either--are people not allowed to criticize his legacy because he decided to remove himself from the conversation?

Otherwise, zing I guess
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Cheynem » Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:29 pm

Yeah, I wouldn't jump on Mr. Yaphe; this whole thread has a kind of ambiguous attitude toward Matt, which is I think wholly appropriate for him.

I respect Matt a lot. He was a workhorse for the game, unquestionably one of its all time greatest players, visionaries, editors, etc. This cannot and should not be obfuscated by his various failures and calamities.

On the other hand, I found it very hard to like Matt. Over the years I knew him, he bashed my religion, my entertainment interests, my political beliefs, and most annoyingly, my professional work (telling me that my major and thesis were utterly worthless is, sadly, one of my most prominent memories of him). These were not just one time zingers, but generally speaking, a consistent stream of hard to swallow invective that tended to cloud the great respect I had for his abilities and for any positive memories of our collaborations. I say this as someone I think Matt liked more than others, as he gave me a fair share of fine compliments as well.

I gradually came to understand Matt more as someone who was just sort of pathologically determined to take shots at people, even when it had no real point or emotion behind it (and to his credit, he became more self aware of what he was doing in my interactions with him). A memory I had of him last year was Matt imploring people for last minute help on some NHBB set and then when he got some literal last minute, writing by the seat of their pants assistance, he couldn't refrain from mocking the wording/types of clues that people were using. That was whom Matt was.

I wish Matt could have restrained his impulse; I think he'd have developed deeper quizbowl relationships because at his heart, he was a fairly encouraging, likeable person. But he didn't (at least online). IRC regulars will know that for every humorous quip or insightful comment or supportive statement, Matt was quick to revive old grudges, go off at people for various pet hatreds (NBA basketball, Barack Obama, freestyle Coke machines, Ivy League schools, etc.), and generally push lines of argumentation too far until they became too much. This to me is the most tragic aspect of Matt, even more so than occasionally screwing up tournaments, and I hope when he returns to the game, he could recognize this.

This isn't obviously a very good praise song post and I'm sure if Matt himself ever reads this, he probably would find it pabulum. But Matt Weiner is one of those people who cannot be summarized by a string of praises; if you just want that, I'd give you a very long list of accomplishments and successful tournaments. His impact on quizbowl and history, as Mr. Yaphe suggests, is complicated. I'm not shitting on Matt behind his back with this, but as part of the history forum, I wanted to throw in my own personal perspective on how I view Matt.

I sincerely thank Matt for everything he did, hope he's okay and getting better, and want to see him back in the game someday.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby The King's Flight to the Scots » Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:37 pm

After Will Butler was incapacitated during ICT 2011, UVA had no obvious way of getting home. Will had driven from Charlottesville to Chicago, but Sarah and I really didn't feel capable of driving Will's car all the way back ourselves. Matt came through for us. He cancelled his flight and drove us the entire 750 miles back to the east coast. The ride was even pretty fun; we had a dramatic reading of the Diary of Chris Ray going and everything.

The reason I stayed with HSAPQ so long is that I knew this side of Matt. In extreme situations, both in quizbowl and out, Matt could pull off extraordinary efforts to extricate himself and his compatriots. Deep down, he could be fiercely loyal to friends who had assisted his efforts in the past. Like every other Virginian he's bailed out at some point, I respect that.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Captain Sinico » Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:18 pm

To be honest, it's probably better than shitting on the front of someone, right?

Probably my favorite quizbowl memory of any kind all-time is Zeke Berdichevsky, Andrew Ullsperger, Matt, and myself winning Chicago Open in 2005. Me being me, I mostly remember having a couple (morally undeserved) good games against the team I had pegged to win (Kemezis, Matthews, Teitler, Matthews.) However, second most, I remember Matt being upset after that he hadn't done more to help us win.

Now, I consider myself to be a pretty wretched, self-reproaching bastard when it comes to my own play. I don't think anyone would describe me as good at taking poor play by myself. Still, in this case, I couldn't at all understand where Matt was coming from - we'd just won, and pulled off a great victory, no less, and I didn't think he'd played that badly!

It was then that I understood that I had (and have) no idea what motivates Matt Weiner. There's a selfish edge, and a will to dominate, even to dominate alone, but beyond that, who can say?

M

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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby canaanbananarama » Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:50 am

I've spent so much of my life outside of the United States, where even the Americans present tend to be against the pastimes of the motherland (in my experience, this is quite different than Britons, who flock to pubs to watch EPL and rugby and seem desperately sad outside of their very tight-knit expat communities; American expats tend to reject sports as intellectually inferior, and note that I'm not saying that these people really should be calling anything intellectually inferior), that anybody with whom I can see a baseball game is a friend. I saw a couple Cubs games with Matt Weiner. We made a couple of trips to Chicago, since we were of a like mind that car travel, however long it may be, is enjoyable, and we almost went to a Dayton Dragons game. We almost went to a then-empty (summer vacation) Harrison High School in (possibly directional) Lafayette, Indiana, to profane the campus of a Chip champion. As you can guess, I was gung ho, Weiner was sensible. Matt Weiner tried to help me and almost succeeded in obtaining for Jonathan Magin a mitzvah with a lady who shall remain unnamed.

But my best tribute to Matt Weiner and the single thing I will remember him most fondly for. I had a party after a Terrapin tournament at my house in Maryland. My roommates invited a variety of people. I invited about 20 people-maybe twelve were quizbowlers from the tournament. The quizbowlers, to a man and a Katy Peters occupied the living room and did not move. Most of the party guests were in the kitchen and terrace standing (the location of the alcohol). Matt Weiner was the only person who went in the kitchen and had a beer with me.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Council of Trent Reznor » Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:56 pm

There are two memories I'd like to share, the yin and yang of Weiner:

- In 2007, at Michigan's MLK tournament / Ann B. Davis tournament, back when that was a thing, I spent a chunk of Friday "helping" to playtest a set Matt was working on, which mostly involved sitting in a hotel room and watching questions go flying over my head. He was pleasant, gregarious, and humored the idiot questions of a freshman emerging from the adamantium cocoon of IHSA Scholastic Bowl.

- Several years later, my phone died and I slept through the start of Illinois's mirror of FICHTE, which I was supposed to help moderate. I arrived during what was supposed to be the lunch break and still got there before the afternoon packets.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:50 pm

Perhaps a longer post will come, but for now, a brief anecdote:

I first started taking part in discussions on the now-official-ized #Quizbowl IRC chatroom about five years ago now, picking up much more during downtimes from college obligations in my first year of college. At that time, the channel was far more of an insider-y place for people to just chat about whatever than it is now, and I wasn't yet working on as many quizbowl community projects. I, as the relative outsider, would often rather agitatedly complain whenever the conversation turned to something I wasn't interested in, rather than just relaxing and letting things take their course. I was also very strident and ready to argue with people about things, which added to the annoyance at me among people who I didn't know very well yet. During one such argument in the winter of 2010-11, in a predictions discussion about who the likely winners of that year's championships would be, Matt Weiner insisted to me that the Yale team couldn't possibly be a national contender, because no freshman had ever made a major impact on scoring on a national championship team before, even among those who did well enough to lead their team in scoring at lower difficulties. As he often did, he added with emphasis that he has always been right and demonstrated his command of quizbowl history in saying so, which made it all the more frustrating.

After our ACF Nationals 2011 weekend, in which I did contribute pretty much evenly with two older players and helped upset Minnesota in the finals, Matt Weiner came up to me and said: "I'm sorry I doubted you." In my state of distressed confusion about what had just happened, coupled with the does-not-compute factor of hearing Matt Weiner admit that he was mistaken, coupled with my desire to make amends more fully for the more annoying facets of my online presence and start fresh for the future, I could only manage four words: "Sorry about the Internet."
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:25 am

Matthew Jackson wrote:
Matt Weiner insisted to me that the Yale team couldn't possibly be a national contender, because no freshman had ever made a major impact on scoring on a national championship team before, even among those who did well enough to lead their team in scoring at lower difficulties. As he often did, he added with emphasis that he has always been right and demonstrated his command of quizbowl history in saying so, which made it all the more frustrating.


In a similar vein, Matt W. and I participated in a rather lengthy chat through PMs in which he insisted that I could do nothing to change the culture at Alabama or to turn Alabama into a national contender. This conversation, of course, came after my absurd preseason ballot that had our team ranked #4 (ridiculous, but hey we got ranked because of it!) - I insisted that Alabama would become a perennial contender and that we were a fine organization. Matt suggested that I "didn't understand the national scene" and was absolutely incapable of changing the Alabama quizbowl culture or something or other. I kept badgering him about this - the back and forth was quite entertaining as I recall. I'm upset that I deleted that note from history. Anyway, proving him wrong was a strong motivating factor behind our success for quite a long time and it made those wins over noted Virginians at ICT much sweeter than they would have been otherwise. :party: Although we didn't compete for national titles like I hoped we would it was pretty awesome to contend for relatively high placements at national competitions.

My favorite moment in the presence of Matt W. was without a doubt the time a couple of southern folks and myself ran into some Virginians at Giordano's (2012 ICT). Will, George, and Matt W. were amongst those in attendance that night. I shook Will's hand and referred to him as a "fine southern quizbowler" or something along those lines. The next day, we proceeded to beat Georgia Tech with Matt officiating.

Of course I have nothing but the utmost respect for everything Matt has done for the game as a player, tournament director, forum administrator, and basically everything else. I never really had that much against him, but it was very fun to prove him wrong.
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Re: Praise Song Part II

Postby Magister Ludi » Wed Apr 22, 2015 6:22 pm

I say with absolute certainty: Matt Weiner is the most important person in the history of modern quizbowl. The breadth of his influence is impossible to chart, and his sudden departure from the game is—at least to me—truly tragic. But like all great leaders, he leaves a mixed legacy. While his accomplishments are many, as Yaphe points out, Weiner is also responsible for cultivating the antagonistic discussion culture on the board and a number of other systematic problems in modern quizbowl. When remembering a figure as deeply complicated as Matt Weiner, the good and the bad are so entangled that I think it's hard to discuss one without the other.
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