I'm glad people liked the set, mostly. Clearly, it could have used more work, and I wish that I was able to find time to work on more of the set than I did - I'm sure Jeremy feels the same. Writing a college tournament in January, doing the almost endless tournament march toward ACF Nationals (which were just last week), and this tournament occurring earlier than we had originally conceived all cut into the time spent on this set. I think it resulted in some problems (Matt very correctly identifies the tossup on "Paradoxes" as quite poor indeed), mainly a smattering of misplaced leadin clues, some bonus balancing, and a few poorly-conceived tossups. I don't think too many questions were geared to not reward knowledge, and I think the teams looking forward to nationals probably got some good prep in from this set, despite it's very clear issues.
Flavor Flav's girlfriend "New York" come to mind as particularly bad
Really? I'm sort of surprised that of all the tossups in this set that were clearly poorly executed, you'd identify this - is it just the answer selection? New York is (regrettably) a pretty recognizable recent tv figure, and I know it was powered in multiple rooms. She has a show on right now in addition to two recent I Love New York seasons - most of the question centered on these rather than Flavor of Love episodes, which you should realize took a great amount of personal strength because my roommate at ASU had that show on television CONSTANTLY, resulting in my ability to write that portion of the tossup from a memory I wish I could claw away from my soul. But really, this doesn't seem like a question you wouldn't encounter at HSNCT or something.
These were almost certainly the hardest questions we've seen all year. It's hard to say they were the usual "high school level difficulty," but you would have had a huge amount of frustrated teams if more showed up and if half weren't the Nationals-caliber teams that did show. A couple packets (the third and the ninth in particular) were out-and-out just too hard.
I'd be interested in seeing what you found to be "out-and-out" too hard. We tried to write this tournament at the hs level, though with the realization that it's May, nationals are in a few weeks, and teams don't have much use for the season's 30th tossup on Ethan Frome that begins by talking about a red pickle jar. I tried to solve this problem by asking a question on Edith Wharton that devoted a majority of the question to her none-ubiquitous works, but in some cases this approach is going to lead to harder tossups. I don't think this is a bad thing - some teams in the field who I know do no competitions beside the local tv show put up fine numbers at the event. My initial reaction to your comment is that, well, it's May - these SHOULD be the hardest questions you've seen all year, assuming your interest here was to prepare for nationals.
The variability on bonus questions was really pronounced at times, with several categories having easy-to-30 answers by almost any team in attendance, and others with at least two answers that i've never heard of anywhere. Again, the "hard" part should be something that a very very good team can get... not something that the editor of the packet thinks is just cool and wants to show off that he knows.
This is an obnoxious way to ruin a valid point by making it sound foolish; if you actually think anything like people trying to show off through third bonus parts was going on at this tournament, you're deluded. I know that the editors who worked on this set operated from the philosophy that third parts should be challenging and interesting, pushing even good teams but remaining accessible for those who know things about the subject. Editors missed this mark at times, but the idea that it was some kind of egotistically-driven crusade to screw out players is, again, silly.
Bonus variability was an issue at this tournament, but once again I think you're displaying the fact that you don't really understand these things here. I do not believe that many bonuses were of the free 30 for everyone variety - I think way too many were free 30s for pretty good teams, and more were free 20s for a lot of people. The primary problem with the bonus variability was on the other end, though - we were not successful at finding middle and hard parts which really differentiated between two good teams who each know a basic amount about a certain topic. Either these teams would both get a question or neither would, most of the time, even if one really did know more about the topic than the other, and that was the main problem. You're misguided if you're going to run your arguments from the premise that the (non-outlier) bonuses in this tournament had one or two parts on things that are crazy hard or not important. Forgive me if I find your metric of "I've never heard of two things in this bonus, so it's impossible" to be unconvincing - I know what I'm talking about when I astonishingly say "jesus, I've never heard of this bonus I've just read to you," but based on the things that reportedly prompted you to say that, it doesn't seem like you do. It's not like you can hope to to do well at nationals and be astonished that someone has heard of this Hokusai guy who came up in a bonus.
Also, the bonus answer for "Compton" was incorrect. It is indeed the "Compson" family in The Sound and the Fury as our player said. This was one of possibly 300 typos that i saw in these packets, but this one mattered a little more.
Yeah, this tournament had an unacceptable amount of typos, and I usually don't even care about that kind of thing. It had even more than you thought, because I caught a great deal on the fly in every round I read. We'll definitely be devoting more time to fixing this next year.
Also, i noticed that the trash questions and bonuses tended to partially ignore sports... save for one hockey bonus, one basketball bonus, one incredibly difficult European soccer bonus, a possible-sports question about Mick Foley (pro wrestling isn't a sport), and one or two more. But that's a minor gripe; perhaps we're just used to NAQT.
This tournament had something like 9/9 trash (not all the trash slots were used for trash, but most were). Assuming some kind of a breakdown where 75-85% of this is the big 4 from trash (music, tv, movies, sports), sports should be something like 3-4 questions, which it was (you also didn't hear a football tossup in the finals). I hardly found the trash at this tournament to be memorable, but I'm not sure what the complaint is here. If it's "there should be more then 1/1 trash each round so we can have more sports," well. . . no.
Really, Andrew does tangentially identify some issues with this set, but I'd be depressed if teams came away feeling like the central issue with the questions was that they were too hard, particularly if those teams are going to nationals - I would be blown away if either nationals could be described as noticeably easier across the board than this set.