THUNDER Discussion

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THUNDER Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:15 pm

Discuss away.

EDIT: I should make clear who did what

Me: Science, Myth, World History, Visual Art, Trash
Auroni: Literature, Other Auditory Art, Religion
Ike: SS, Philosophy
Dominic: non-American non-World history
Mike C: American History
Evan Adams and Jonathan Magin: Music

Special thanks to Chris Chiego, Trygve Meade, Jeremy Eaton, Rob Carson, Bernadette Spencer, and Andy Watkins for chipping in questions and offering commentary.
Last edited by Sima Guang Hater on Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:31 pm

On the whole, the questions at this tournament were a big improvement over last year's. A couple things with the literature:

--House of Leaves seems like an iffy answer choice: Nobody on UVA, State College, or Maryland (the teams I asked) knew anything about it before the tournament. In general, the literature seemed to go into more fringe academic stuff than usual (lots of stuff along the lines of Dracula, Isaac Asimov, etc.), but my feelings might be inaccurate here.

--The tossup on Wide Sargasso Sea seemed unfortunate, in that some of its clues also applied to Jane Eyre. I think I negged it when it mentioned "Grace Poole;" in retrospect, the context around that name probably didn't perfectly correspond to what happens in Jane Eyre, but I maintain that someone's more likely to buzz on that clue with Jane Eyre rather than its reworking.

--The lead-ins to several of the literature tossups seemed less than useful: I don't recall first-cluing any of the tossups on works I'd read. Usually, the rest of the clues in power were just fine, so it didn't make a difference. However, in our first round match against Jerry, there was a tossup on East of Eden, which both Jerry and I had read; nevertheless, we didn't get it until after the power mark, where we buzzer-raced on a fairly common clue. I have no problem with Jerry beating me to lit tossups, but if either of us had been playing someone who hadn't read that work, it may have been unfortunate.

Besides those issues, however, the question quality in that category seemed pretty good. The bigger problem wasn't so much within any individual category, as in the overlap between them. There was one packet with a tossup on Bram Stoker's Dracula as well as a bonus part on Vlad the Impaler, which mentioned that he inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula. Another packet had a bonus part on Owen Glendower, while the next packet had a question on Henry IV, Part I which talked about Owen Glendower. Similar things were going on with Thomas a Becket and other answers I don't recall at the moment. There were also a number of tossups and bonuses repeated verbatim, forcing the moderator to replace them, as well as some poor randomization and clustering within packets. These factors, unfortunately, detracted somewhat from the experience of playing strong competition on pretty good questions.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Papa's in the House » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:00 am

I liked a lot of the answer lines chosen (Carl von Clausewitz finally appears in a tournament I play). I had two problems with this set, though:

1 - There were many grammar and spelling mistakes. I noticed many missing commas, an "s" at the beginning of a word when the "s" was supposed to be at the end of the last word, and a few other things indicative a tournament being written last minute that made it take longer to read the questions.

2 - I did not receive packets 10-13 at any point throughout the day. In fact, teams had to wait for several minutes after round 9 while I found out that the editors of the tournament just failed to send a TD and the designated statsperson the last packets of a tournament. Thankfully the packets had already been sent to Ike, thus allowing the UIUC mirror to continue immediately, but I was more than a little upset forcing teams to wait for me to find all of this out.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:13 am

Papa's in the House wrote:2 - I did not receive packets 10-13 at any point throughout the day. In fact, teams had to wait for several minutes after round 9 while I found out that the editors of the tournament just failed to send a TD and the designated statsperson the last packets of a tournament. Thankfully the packets had already been sent to Ike, thus allowing the UIUC mirror to continue immediately, but I was more than a little upset forcing teams to wait for me to find all of this out.
Woah that second thing is on me. I was sending packets to Ike the whole day. I wish you'd have emailed, called, or gchatted me though.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:41 am

I wrote every literature question, every other auditory arts (opera, ballet, jazz) question, and every religion question with the exception of the tossup on Saul.
Cernel Joson wrote:On the whole, the questions at this tournament were a big improvement over last year's. A couple things with the literature:

--House of Leaves seems like an iffy answer choice: Nobody on UVA, State College, or Maryland (the teams I asked) knew anything about it before the tournament. In general, the literature seemed to go into more fringe academic stuff than usual (lots of stuff along the lines of Dracula, Isaac Asimov, etc.), but my feelings might be inaccurate here.
On the other hand, the second scorer from Torrey Pines converted this question. House of Leaves is one of those novels that people who frequent bookstores will have seen and casual readers will have heard about, and I picked it because of both those things and because I had never seen it come up in questions. I would like statistics about how well this question was converted across the sites before I'm willing to call a verdict on its difficulty and appropriateness as a tossup at this tournament.

I am unwilling to believe that Dracula is by any means a fringe academic topic. It's not pop fiction or a bestseller by any means; it has undergone the same literary analysis that any major academic novel has, and it has spawned excellent academic works in other genres (film) that nobody would object to if present at a quizbowl tournament. On what ground are you branding this as fringe-academic? Same thing (to a lesser degree) with Isaac Asimov. I picked him as the one science fiction author to come up at this tournament because he seemed to me to be the one that bridges genres the greatest between science fiction and actual literature. I am of the opinion that questions on Isaac Asimov and on Around the World in Eighty Days (a part of the Cortazar bonus), and House of Leaves are legitimate topics to be asked as long as they aren't present in every round of every tournament, which is quite clearly far from the case.
--The tossup on Wide Sargasso Sea seemed unfortunate, in that some of its clues also applied to Jane Eyre. I think I negged it when it mentioned "Grace Poole;" in retrospect, the context around that name probably didn't perfectly correspond to what happens in Jane Eyre, but I maintain that someone's more likely to buzz on that clue with Jane Eyre rather than its reworking.
Which is why attention must be paid. This discussion was already had with regards to Bruce's tossup on the Seljuk Turks mentioning "Isfahan." Buzzing on buzz-words is not a profitable strategy, and really, any tossup on Wide Sargasso Sea will mention several characters from Jane Eyre, so you're actually advocating fewer or more vague tossups on Wide Sargasso Sea if you say this. Anyone who has read Jane Eyre should be dissuaded from buzzing with it, because the specific incident which involved Grace Poole in Wide Sargasso Sea doesn't match up with a similar incident in Jane Eyre.
--The lead-ins to several of the literature tossups seemed less than useful: I don't recall first-cluing any of the tossups on works I'd read. Usually, the rest of the clues in power were just fine, so it didn't make a difference. However, in our first round match against Jerry, there was a tossup on East of Eden, which both Jerry and I had read; nevertheless, we didn't get it until after the power mark, where we buzzer-raced on a fairly common clue. I have no problem with Jerry beating me to lit tossups, but if either of us had been playing someone who hadn't read that work, it may have been unfortunate.
On the contrary, a freshman from Stanford B buzzed on the very first clue of that East of Eden tossup. If you look at the clue from the tossup, which I have pasted here:
4. One character in this novel smiles in such a way that her son secretly sends her gifts to make her smile for him. Another character wires his brother $100 and asks for a security question pertaining to a gift he once gave. A woman informs a sheriff about her broken jaw, which she received after being severely beaten by Mr. Edwards. That character sleeps with a man after drugging that man’s brother, whom she had recently married. In this novel, an ex-boyfriend’s seeking of solace in the church disgusts Abra Bacon, who learns from the (*) Chinese housekeeper Lee about timshel, or choice of one’s own moral destiny. Nine children are born to Liza, the wife of the narrator, who befriends the son of Cyrus and father of Caleb and Aron. Narrated by Samuel Hamilton and set in the Salinas Valley, for 10 points, name this novel about Adam Trask, written by John Steinbeck.
ANSWER: East of Eden
Then you'll see that that first clue isn't all that common among books. It isn't, in your words, "vague" in any way, and the fact that someone in my room got a great buzz off of it proves that the two of you just didn't have the requisite internalization of the novel to be able to remember that clue, which isn't a crime of the editor's. I'm also not convinced that only really memorable incidents connected to buzz-words should be used when describing novels in lit tossups.
Besides those issues, however, the question quality in that category seemed pretty good. The bigger problem wasn't so much within any individual category, as in the overlap between them. There was one packet with a tossup on Bram Stoker's Dracula as well as a bonus part on Vlad the Impaler, which mentioned that he inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula. Another packet had a bonus part on Owen Glendower, while the next packet had a question on Henry IV, Part I which talked about Owen Glendower. Similar things were going on with Thomas a Becket and other answers I don't recall at the moment. There were also a number of tossups and bonuses repeated verbatim, forcing the moderator to replace them, as well as some poor randomization and clustering within packets. These factors, unfortunately, detracted somewhat from the experience of playing strong competition on pretty good questions.
This is on us; we were randomizing the round which contained the tossup on Dracula while the tournament was being played, and we wanted to get the next round as quickly as possible and didn't account for this. Though this happened, we did manage to catch a tossup on Zoroaster and Thus Spake Zarathustra in the same round and did account for that, thanks to Chris's keen eye.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:47 am

Also, a note about "true randomization," which is basically the act of just mathematically randomizing the questions without doing additional work to separate clumps of questions in categories:

I'm not sure why people are against this practice. The objective of randomization is to prevent teams from predicting what specific category the next tossup would be. "True randomization" achieves exactly that, and saves people time that they can't actually afford to spend (in our case) when randomizing questions. On the other hand, if one puts in the work to separate clumps, and teams at the tournament expect said clumps to separate, then they can devise strategies contingent on the category of the question that had just come up not coming up again in the next question; they can perform a roundabout means of prediction by predicting what one category doesn't come up. "True randomization" doesn't do any such thing.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by at your pleasure » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:10 am

I was mostly happy with the questions, aside from all the repeats. Also, could someone post the Cologne Cathedral question?
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:19 am

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote: On the other hand, the second scorer from Torrey Pines converted this question. House of Leaves is one of those novels that people who frequent bookstores will have seen and casual readers will have heard about, and I picked it because of both those things and because I had never seen it come up in questions. I would like statistics about how well this question was converted across the sites before I'm willing to call a verdict on its difficulty and appropriateness as a tossup at this tournament.
I figured out what you were talking about when you described the physical construction of the book. I do agree, though, that this was probably the hardest lit tossup in the set, and it might be too hard for this level, as a tossup anyway.
Which is why attention must be paid. This discussion was already had with regards to Bruce's tossup on the Seljuk Turks mentioning "Isfahan." Buzzing on buzz-words is not a profitable strategy, and really, any tossup on Wide Sargasso Sea will mention several characters from Jane Eyre, so you're actually advocating fewer or more vague tossups on Wide Sargasso Sea if you say this. Anyone who has read Jane Eyre should be dissuaded from buzzing with it, because the specific incident which involved Grace Poole in Wide Sargasso Sea doesn't match up with a similar incident in Jane Eyre.
I agree wholeheartedly with this.
4. One character in this novel smiles in such a way that her son secretly sends her gifts to make her smile for him. Another character wires his brother $100 and asks for a security question pertaining to a gift he once gave. A woman informs a sheriff about her broken jaw, which she received after being severely beaten by Mr. Edwards. That character sleeps with a man after drugging that man’s brother, whom she had recently married. In this novel, an ex-boyfriend’s seeking of solace in the church disgusts Abra Bacon, who learns from the (*) Chinese housekeeper Lee about timshel, or choice of one’s own moral destiny. Nine children are born to Liza, the wife of the narrator, who befriends the son of Cyrus and father of Caleb and Aron. Narrated by Samuel Hamilton and set in the Salinas Valley, for 10 points, name this novel about Adam Trask, written by John Steinbeck.
ANSWER: East of Eden
Then you'll see that that first clue isn't all that common among books. It isn't, in your words, "vague" in any way, and the fact that someone in my room got a great buzz off of it proves that the two of you just didn't have the requisite internalization of the novel to be able to remember that clue, which isn't a crime of the editor's. I'm also not convinced that only really memorable incidents connected to buzz-words should be used when describing novels in lit tossups.
I have to agree with Auroni that this tossup is quite powerable if you remember the book well. In fact, you still have within power the buzzword clue of important character with strange, memorable name: Abra Bacon. However, Samuel Hamilton is most certainly not the narrator of the book, so the clues at the end of this tossup are inaccurate.

I'm curious to hear why you wrote a tossup on Brideshead, with the estate itself as the answer-line, rather than writing a normal Brideshead Revisited tossup, especially since you spend very little space in the tossup describing events that actually are set there (and you incorrectly claim that the vomit scene happens there).

The scat bonus claims that Ella Fitzgerald is the composer of a bunch of albums that were listed. She's not a composer. She's a singer. Thanks for including Jelly Roll Morton in your bonus. I've been waiting for him to come up for a while, as he's a really important figure in the early years of jazz. It's strange to refer to him as a scat singer, though. While I'm sure he did some scat singing, he's really much better known as a composer and pianist.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:25 am

I thought the tournament was a substantial improvement over last year's edition. One of the things I liked was that the science (at least in fields I am competent to comment on) was greatly improved. I very rarely felt like points were being given for remembering random things. I also think the literature was actually quite well done; the specific question Matt commented on above on East of Eden didn't strike me as particularly problematic; for what it's worth, I read that book over 10 years ago so I don't remember most of the minor details at all. However, I had a few good buzzes on various things I'd read more recently and I felt like each time I was being rewarded for actually having read the book. In general, I thought there were a lot fewer of the kinds of questions that contain 4 lines of unbuzzable clues in the beginning, although the latter rounds had some tossups with this problem. Overall, I thought this was a very solid set and I think if THUNDER happens again, the writers should aim for about the same level of difficulty. The only thing I really would change would be to make the hard parts somewhat easier; on the whole, they seemed to be more difficult than they probably ought to have been.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:26 am

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:Also, a note about "true randomization," which is basically the act of just mathematically randomizing the questions without doing additional work to separate clumps of questions in categories:

I'm not sure why people are against this practice. The objective of randomization is to prevent teams from predicting what specific category the next tossup would be. "True randomization" achieves exactly that, and saves people time that they can't actually afford to spend (in our case) when randomizing questions. On the other hand, if one puts in the work to separate clumps, and teams at the tournament expect said clumps to separate, then they can devise strategies contingent on the category of the question that had just come up not coming up again in the next question; they can perform a roundabout means of prediction by predicting what one category doesn't come up. "True randomization" doesn't do any such thing.
Yeah, I never really understood this either. No particular sequence of questions can be reasonably said to benefit any team disproportionately.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:30 am

grapesmoker wrote:I thought the tournament was a substantial improvement over last year's edition. One of the things I liked was that the science (at least in fields I am competent to comment on) was greatly improved.
The strange thing is I didn't really change my writing style...
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:35 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:I thought the tournament was a substantial improvement over last year's edition. One of the things I liked was that the science (at least in fields I am competent to comment on) was greatly improved.
The strange thing is I didn't really change my writing style...
I think it's not so much the writing style as the selection of answers. There weren't really too many (any?) questions that revolved around pointless obscurata; I thought most of the answer choices were well-picked for their relevance to the fields in question.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:37 am

I'll preface my response here by saying that, while I still agree that most of the literature tossups in this tournament were pretty good, I feel the need to respond to Auroni's points. While I feel that he did a solid job on this set, I strongly feel that he's wrong in these cases.
every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:I wrote every literature question, every other auditory arts (opera, ballet, jazz) question, and every religion question with the exception of the tossup on Saul.
Cernel Joson wrote:On the whole, the questions at this tournament were a big improvement over last year's. A couple things with the literature:

--House of Leaves seems like an iffy answer choice: Nobody on UVA, State College, or Maryland (the teams I asked) knew anything about it before the tournament. In general, the literature seemed to go into more fringe academic stuff than usual (lots of stuff along the lines of Dracula, Isaac Asimov, etc.), but my feelings might be inaccurate here.
On the other hand, the second scorer from Torrey Pines converted this question. House of Leaves is one of those novels that people who frequent bookstores will have seen and casual readers will have heard about, and I picked it because of both those things and because I had never seen it come up in questions. I would like statistics about how well this question was converted across the sites before I'm willing to call a verdict on its difficulty and appropriateness as a tossup at this tournament.
It's nice that you can make that reasoning in a vacuum, but frankly that didn't prove true in this case. If people who frequent bookstores and casual readers have heard of it, why didn't Graham, Chris, Will, or I, all casual readers who frequent bookstores, know about it? If you're insisting that we go through every aisle memorizing these titles, I find that faulty. It's nice that somebody on Torrey Pines converted it, but "somebody somewhere converted it" seems pretty weak when those players had barely or never heard of it.

Which is why attention must be paid. This discussion was already had with regards to Bruce's tossup on the Seljuk Turks mentioning "Isfahan." Buzzing on buzz-words is not a profitable strategy, and really, any tossup on Wide Sargasso Sea will mention several characters from Jane Eyre, so you're actually advocating fewer or more vague tossups on Wide Sargasso Sea if you say this. Anyone who has read Jane Eyre should be dissuaded from buzzing with it, because the specific incident which involved Grace Poole in Wide Sargasso Sea doesn't match up with a similar incident in Jane Eyre.
Well, maybe I am advocating for less tossups on Wide Sargasso Sea, if you insist they're all going to be negbait for Jane Eyre. I'd like to see the tossup, but if you're pointing to the discussion of Isfahan, I'll point you to the discussion of that Seven Against Thebes tossup at EFT, where it was generally agreed that the tossup should have done a better job of demonstrating that it was not a tossup on Antigone. Anyway, I very much disagree with your proposition that anyone who had read Jane Eyre wouldn't buzz with that: as I recall, the clue said something like "This novel ends as the title character sits with Grace Poole," which isn't really an "incident" in the first place: I can absolutely see someone who's read Jane Eyre, but doesn't have encyclopedic knowledge of it, buzzing with that at that point. Either way, I knew that Grace Poole was Bertha's nurse in Jane Eyre, so I buzzed with that, instead of with the work that appropriated the character of Grace Poole over a century later. Once again: if you're looking at the tossup after the fact, it's easy to see how someone with perfect knowledge and playing skills would be able to differentiate between the two. However, I don't think this question really did a good enough job of that.
Then you'll see that that first clue isn't all that common among books. It isn't, in your words, "vague" in any way, and the fact that someone in my room got a great buzz off of it proves that the two of you just didn't have the requisite internalization of the novel to be able to remember that clue, which isn't a crime of the editor's. I'm also not convinced that only really memorable incidents connected to buzz-words should be used when describing novels in lit tossups.
Sure, the first clue isn't common, but it seems like an extremely minor incident in a 500+ page book: I really have no idea what that's referring to. I'm glad that that Stanford player managed to buzz on it, but I'm really not sure how many people you could have expected to do so. It probably doesn't happen in very many novels, but you need to do more than just be unique in a lit tossup: you have to point knowledgeable players to the right answer. The next clue just seems hopelessly coy (a gift he once gave? what?). I remember the clue about the broken jaw in retrospect, and seems like it would make an ok first clue. Still, though, "getting severely beaten" is hardly unique, so you're reliant on remembering the generic name "Mr. Edwards," who's a very minor character in the first place. I don't remember the next incident about the church, either, and come on, seeks solace in a church? Is anyone really buzzing on that? Abra Bacon is the first actually important character, though, so that's where I should have buzzed, but we'd really have preferred something more substantial along with that name, like, to give an incident I do remember, how Arun gives her the box with the dead rabbit, and she throws it out of the car. As for your comment about buzzwords, well, I'm not convinced either that only clues connected to them should be used in lit tossups. Thankfully, however, nobody has been stupid enough to propose anything like that, so we can both be happy. However, I do maintain that the descriptions in the first half of that tossup really didn't throw you a bone unless you knew everything about that book.

I actually remember a whole bunch of incidents in that book: how Cathy attempts to abort her child with a needle, how the townspeople ostracize the German immigrant by walking about to him and shouting "Hoch der Kaiser!," the tree that's supposed to represent Adam's father, the prostitute named the Chancellor of the Exchequer whose funeral people attend...etc. It's pretty absurd of you to lecture me who, unlike 95% of the people who played that tossup, has actually read that book, about how my knowledge isn't complete enough because I haven't "internalized" the novel or some nonsense like that. I congratulate that player from Stanford for getting an extremely impressive buzz, but I still think that tossup failed to do a sufficient job of giving knowable clues to people with very good, but not absolutely perfect, knowledge of the novel. It looks like you're going extremely deep into that book when giving shallower, more memorable clues before the buzzword of "timshel" would probably do the job better.

EDIT: Chancellor of the Exchequer, eh...interesting word filter there.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Papa's in the House » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:42 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
Papa's in the House wrote:2 - I did not receive packets 10-13 at any point throughout the day. In fact, teams had to wait for several minutes after round 9 while I found out that the editors of the tournament just failed to send a TD and the designated statsperson the last packets of a tournament. Thankfully the packets had already been sent to Ike, thus allowing the UIUC mirror to continue immediately, but I was more than a little upset forcing teams to wait for me to find all of this out.
Woah that second thing is on me. I was sending packets to Ike the whole day. I wish you'd have emailed, called, or gchatted me though.
I don't have any of your contact information or I would have found some way to let you know this.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:43 am

Cernel Joson wrote:It's nice that you can make that reasoning in a vacuum, but frankly that didn't prove true in this case. If people who frequent bookstores and casual readers have heard of it, why didn't Graham, Chris, Will, or I, all casual readers who frequent bookstores, know about it? If you're insisting that we go through every aisle memorizing these titles, I find that faulty. It's nice that somebody on Torrey Pines converted it, but "somebody somewhere converted it" seems pretty weak when those players had barely or never heard of it.
I would like to gently suggest that this is more of a deficiency in your knowledge than the fault of the question. For what it's worth, House of Leaves was a Big Fucking Deal when it first came out and there were essays and reviews about it all over the place. That would have been, like, 2000, but I was definitely aware of it then. I don't know much about the book and consequently didn't get the tossup (our opponents buzzed in what I would estimate was about the half-way point of the tossup, so someone clearly knew what was going on) but it's not a particularly crazy answer choice.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:45 am

Papa's in the House wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
Papa's in the House wrote:2 - I did not receive packets 10-13 at any point throughout the day. In fact, teams had to wait for several minutes after round 9 while I found out that the editors of the tournament just failed to send a TD and the designated statsperson the last packets of a tournament. Thankfully the packets had already been sent to Ike, thus allowing the UIUC mirror to continue immediately, but I was more than a little upset forcing teams to wait for me to find all of this out.
Woah that second thing is on me. I was sending packets to Ike the whole day. I wish you'd have emailed, called, or gchatted me though.
I don't have any of your contact information or I would have found some way to let you know this.
But Ike did, and he would have gladly given it to you.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by rylltraka » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:51 am

Just to say that I forget anecdotes from books I've read all the time, and I don't demand that tossups be written to cater to what I do or don't remember from a novel. As regards Matt B's point about East of Eden, the clue obviously was enough for at least one person who really knew the novel well, and so it at least did a decent job of distinguishing who knew the book cold.

I don't have the wherewithal to comment on other subjects, but I thought the history was well done overall from the rounds I heard, and the classics (hist/lit/myth) tossups were excellently crafted and consistently rewarded, well, me. They also had an interesting and accessible answer selection.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:54 am

House of Leaves strikes me as a harder (and possibly fringe-ier?) answer choice which seems appropriate to me in tournaments like this in smallish doses. I wrote a history tossup on "Lowell, Massachusetts," which seems to be in a similar vein.

I strongly disagree with the seeming suggestion that House of Leaves/Dracula/Asimov are all sort of the same fringe lit ilk. It's not like every lit in a particular packet was in this vein, but rather that there were occasional literature questions on things that don't pop up in the Norton Anthology and I'm perfectly cool with that (again, as long as they don't either get too ridiculous or too dominant). In the American history I wrote, I tried to find non-battle and non-politics things to talk about a bit, so that's where bonuses like the ones on the old west, gangsters, the space program, etc. came in.

Never having read East of Eden, I can't 100% comment on that tossup. I have no idea how significant the lead-in is (and it seems a touch vague? I'm not sure). That said, it's always tricky in writing lit tossups to categorically choosing incidents to use and there have been a number of times where I didn't recognize a lead-in in books I've read (or in some cases, books I've taught!) and I thought the questions were overall quite fine.

The non American History that I wrote: Toussaint L'Ouverture, Mamluks, Sassanids, Saul, and a bonus on Phil Luckett.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:56 am

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
every time i refresh i have a new name wrote: On the other hand, the second scorer from Torrey Pines converted this question. House of Leaves is one of those novels that people who frequent bookstores will have seen and casual readers will have heard about, and I picked it because of both those things and because I had never seen it come up in questions. I would like statistics about how well this question was converted across the sites before I'm willing to call a verdict on its difficulty and appropriateness as a tossup at this tournament.
I figured out what you were talking about when you described the physical construction of the book. I do agree, though, that this was probably the hardest lit tossup in the set, and it might be too hard for this level, as a tossup anyway.
Yeah, I can buy that. I did read more than one review that described it as a cult classic, so it very well might have been too hard for the set.
I have to agree with Auroni that this tossup is quite powerable if you remember the book well. In fact, you still have within power the buzzword clue of important character with strange, memorable name: Abra Bacon. However, Samuel Hamilton is most certainly not the narrator of the book, so the clues at the end of this tossup are inaccurate.
Whoops, I hope that nobody was disserviced by this mistake.
I'm curious to hear why you wrote a tossup on Brideshead, with the estate itself as the answer-line, rather than writing a normal Brideshead Revisited tossup, especially since you spend very little space in the tossup describing events that actually are set there (and you incorrectly claim that the vomit scene happens there).
[/quot

Looking back, I'm actually not so sure. When I picked that answer, I knew very little about the book and I thought that the estate Brideshead might make for a good tossup. When I researched clues for it, I came across that vomit clue that I always buzzed on and I mistakenly read a summary claiming that that happened there; I really hope that didn't cause any negs.
The scat bonus claims that Ella Fitzgerald is the composer of a bunch of albums that were listed. She's not a composer. She's a singer. Thanks for including Jelly Roll Morton in your bonus. I've been waiting for him to come up for a while, as he's a really important figure in the early years of jazz. It's strange to refer to him as a scat singer, though. While I'm sure he did some scat singing, he's really much better known as a composer and pianist.
Sorry for the wording on that one, though I wasn't sure how to convey that "she created all these albums that contain her songs." Also, I used scat singing to transition into Jelly Roll Morton, my intended hard part when I wrote the bonus, so I'm hoping that nobody guessed people who are primarily known for their scat singing.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:57 am

rylltraka wrote:Just to say that I forget anecdotes from books I've read all the time, and I don't demand that tossups be written to cater to what I do or don't remember from a novel. As regards Matt B's point about East of Eden, the clue obviously was enough for at least one person who really knew the novel well, and so it at least did a decent job of distinguishing who knew the book cold.

I don't have the wherewithal to comment on other subjects, but I thought the history was well done overall from the rounds I heard, and the classics (hist/lit/myth) tossups were excellently crafted and consistently rewarded, well, me. They also had an interesting and accessible answer selection.
If this is how I've represented myself, I apologize. I'm not demanding that tossups cater to what I do happen to remember, which is going to be very circumstantial. My point was more like this: I read that book, and I remember plenty that went on in that book. Not very many people can say the same, just as I can't say the same about many of the other literature tossups in this set. Thus, the tossup shouldn't be using five lines of (rather vague) clues that challenge people who have read the book and distinguish between who's read the book and who "knows it cold;" it should be easy for people who have read it to get an early buzz.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:13 am

Cernel Joson wrote: It's nice that you can make that reasoning in a vacuum, but frankly that didn't prove true in this case. If people who frequent bookstores and casual readers have heard of it, why didn't Graham, Chris, Will, or I, all casual readers who frequent bookstores, know about it? If you're insisting that we go through every aisle memorizing these titles, I find that faulty. It's nice that somebody on Torrey Pines converted it, but "somebody somewhere converted it" seems pretty weak when those players had barely or never heard of it.
I mean, then I guess as Jerry said, your contemporary literature knowledge was deficient in this one circumstance. It's been proven that House of Leaves is a "big fucking deal"(tm) and that there were teams that aren't the best quizbowl teams who answered it, some before FTP, so I'm not sure why four people who don't know it constitutes it being too hard, obscure, or fringe-academic for a tournament.
Well, maybe I am advocating for less tossups on Wide Sargasso Sea, if you insist they're all going to be negbait for Jane Eyre. I'd like to see the tossup, but if you're pointing to the discussion of Isfahan, I'll point you to the discussion of that Seven Against Thebes tossup at EFT, where it was generally agreed that the tossup should have done a better job of demonstrating that it was not a tossup on Antigone. Anyway, I very much disagree with your proposition that anyone who had read Jane Eyre wouldn't buzz with that: as I recall, the clue said something like "This novel ends as the title character sits with Grace Poole," which isn't really an "incident" in the first place: I can absolutely see someone who's read Jane Eyre, but doesn't have encyclopedic knowledge of it, buzzing with that at that point. Either way, I knew that Grace Poole was Bertha's nurse in Jane Eyre, so I buzzed with that, instead of with the work that appropriated the character of Grace Poole over a century later. Once again: if you're looking at the tossup after the fact, it's easy to see how someone with perfect knowledge and playing skills would be able to differentiate between the two. However, I don't think this question really did a good enough job of that.
Actually, here is the tossup in question:
3. It is implied that the protagonist of this novel committed incest with a man she calls “Cousin Sandi.” The worst character steals the protagonist’s dresses and throws a rock at her forehead as they flee a burning house. This novel ends with the protagonist holding a candle and the garter key of Grace Poole. The servant girl Amelie has sex with an unnamed character, whose love the protagonist tries to gain using a magic potion brewed by the (*) obeah-practicing Christophine. The sickly and unintelligent Pierre is the son of the certified madwoman Annette, whose stepson Richard Mason gets knifed by the protagonist, whose generic Englishman husband calls her his “Bertha.” Antoinette Cosway is the protagonist of, for 10 points, what prequel to Jane Eyre written by Jean Rhys?
ANSWER: Wide Sargasso Sea
The novel ends with the protagonist, Antoinette Cosway, about to burn down her husband's house starting from the cellar, which she gains access using said garter key. While I didn't fully spill out exactly what happens at that point, because it might have been a decently-sized cliff if I did, the clue I did use should allow people to eliminate Jane Eyre just because that doesn't happen in Jane Eyre. If you think that players can't be expected to do that, then observe that there wasn't a train of negs on the mention of Tiresias in the tossup on The Bacchae because everyone has come to the understanding that Tiresias appears in more than one Greek tragedy and buzzing on the mere mention of him is risky. Or to the general understanding that "Harlan's dissent" won't disambiguate between fewer than 10-15 cases.
Then you'll see that that first clue isn't all that common among books. It isn't, in your words, "vague" in any way, and the fact that someone in my room got a great buzz off of it proves that the two of you just didn't have the requisite internalization of the novel to be able to remember that clue, which isn't a crime of the editor's. I'm also not convinced that only really memorable incidents connected to buzz-words should be used when describing novels in lit tossups.
Sure, the first clue isn't common, but it seems like an extremely minor incident in a 500+ page book: I really have no idea what that's referring to. I'm glad that that Stanford player managed to buzz on it, but I'm really not sure how many people you could have expected to do so. It probably doesn't happen in very many novels, but you need to do more than just be unique in a lit tossup: you have to point knowledgeable players to the right answer. The next clue just seems hopelessly coy (a gift he once gave? what?). I remember the clue about the broken jaw in retrospect, and seems like it would make an ok first clue. Still, though, "getting severely beaten" is hardly unique, so you're reliant on remembering the generic name "Mr. Edwards," who's a very minor character in the first place. I don't remember the next incident about the church, either, and come on, seeks solace in a church? Is anyone really buzzing on that? Abra Bacon is the first actually important character, though, so that's where I should have buzzed, but we'd really have preferred something more substantial along with that name, like, to give an incident I do remember, how Arun gives her the box with the dead rabbit, and she throws it out of the car. As for your comment about buzzwords, well, I'm not convinced either that only clues connected to them should be used in lit tossups. Thankfully, however, nobody has been stupid enough to propose anything like that, so we can both be happy. However, I do maintain that the descriptions in the first half of that tossup really didn't throw you a bone unless you knew everything about that book.

I actually remember a whole bunch of incidents in that book: how Cathy attempts to abort her child with a needle, how the townspeople ostracize the German immigrant by walking about to him and shouting "Hoch der Kaiser!," the tree that's supposed to represent Adam's father, the prostitute named the Chancellor of the Exchequer whose funeral people attend...etc. It's pretty absurd of you to lecture me who, unlike 95% of the people who played that tossup, has actually read that book, about how my knowledge isn't complete enough because I haven't "internalized" the novel or some nonsense like that. I congratulate that player from Stanford for getting an extremely impressive buzz, but I still think that tossup failed to do a sufficient job of giving knowable clues to people with very good, but not absolutely perfect, knowledge of the novel. It looks like you're going extremely deep into that book when giving shallower, more memorable clues before the buzzword of "timshel" would probably do the job better.
Sure, I could have actually mentioned the gift that he gave, and I probably should have done exactly that. But the rest of this reads like someone complaining about being unlucky enough to have read a book and have the leadin be about one of the two or three things that he didn't remember, which is sort of silly. Since you seem to remember things about the book that few other people do and were in my position and wrote a tossup on it with one of those things at the leadin, why couldn't this exact criticism be leveled at you? That a few specific details that you didn't remember well enough was the leadin was nothing more than chance, and they definitely did help other people.

I take back what I said about your level of internalization of the book but my point still stands: that vague-sounding clues that don't point to very specific incidents and buzzwords are still helpful to some players and your own experience is no argument against using them.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by magin » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:15 am

Cernel Joson wrote:
rylltraka wrote:Just to say that I forget anecdotes from books I've read all the time, and I don't demand that tossups be written to cater to what I do or don't remember from a novel. As regards Matt B's point about East of Eden, the clue obviously was enough for at least one person who really knew the novel well, and so it at least did a decent job of distinguishing who knew the book cold.

I don't have the wherewithal to comment on other subjects, but I thought the history was well done overall from the rounds I heard, and the classics (hist/lit/myth) tossups were excellently crafted and consistently rewarded, well, me. They also had an interesting and accessible answer selection.
If this is how I've represented myself, I apologize. I'm not demanding that tossups cater to what I do happen to remember, which is going to be very circumstantial. My point was more like this: I read that book, and I remember plenty that went on in that book. Not very many people can say the same, just as I can't say the same about many of the other literature tossups in this set. Thus, the tossup shouldn't be using five lines of (rather vague) clues that challenge people who have read the book and distinguish between who's read the book and who "knows it cold;" it should be easy for people who have read it to get an early buzz.
If you mean that the clues in a lit tossup should be ones that allow people who know something about the answer to buzz in with confidence, I'm with you. However, it's definitely possible that a question uses good clues and a player just blanks or doesn't play well. For instance, I'll reuse my anecdote of having read The Sea-Wolf but only receiving 10 points on a fine Sea-Wolf bonus because I didn't play it that well. If your real point is that some of the clues in the tossup could use a little more context and precision to encourage players to buzz in with confidence, then I think that's reasonable, but why not just say that rather than listing a bunch of moments in East of Eden, which makes it seem as though you think the tossup isn't good because it didn't mention those things.

I'll also agree with Jerry about House of Leaves; it's not an unreasonable thing to know if you're have some interest in contemporary literature. I don't see a problem with asking about it as one tossup in the set; if the set had 6 other tossups on, say, Cloud Atlas and Wittgenstein's Mistress and other books of that ilk, that would be too much, but one tossup on something that players are likely to know from non-quizbowl knowledge and is reasonably converted is fine with me.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:26 am

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote: I take back what I said about your level of internalization of the book but my point still stands: that vague-sounding clues that don't point to very specific incidents and buzzwords are still helpful to some players and your own experience is no argument against using them.
I think this is going too far in the opposite direction. One of the major problems I see coming from this is writers trying to be coy about what's going on in a book by withholding character names and major plot events. You wind up with half of a tossup being on minor incidents which few people remember. I think as leadins they're fine but from there you should progress to things that are legitimately easier. I think this set of questions did that, so it's not like you need my advice on this matter, but I just want that comment to be a cautionary note to other writers.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:31 am

3. It is implied that the protagonist of this novel committed incest with a man she calls “Cousin Sandi.” The worst character steals the protagonist’s dresses and throws a rock at her forehead as they flee a burning house. This novel ends with the protagonist holding a candle and the garter key of Grace Poole. The servant girl Amelie has sex with an unnamed character, whose love the protagonist tries to gain using a magic potion brewed by the (*) obeah-practicing Christophine. The sickly and unintelligent Pierre is the son of the certified madwoman Annette, whose stepson Richard Mason gets knifed by the protagonist, whose generic Englishman husband calls her his “Bertha.” Antoinette Cosway is the protagonist of, for 10 points, what prequel to Jane Eyre written by Jean Rhys?
ANSWER: Wide Sargasso Sea
The novel ends with the protagonist, Antoinette Cosway, about to burn down her husband's house starting from the cellar, which she gains access using said garter key. While I didn't fully spill out exactly what happens at that point, because it might have been a decently-sized cliff if I did, the clue I did use should allow people to eliminate Jane Eyre just because that doesn't happen in Jane Eyre. If you think that players can't be expected to do that, then observe that there wasn't a train of negs on the mention of Tiresias in the tossup on The Bacchae because everyone has come to the understanding that Tiresias appears in more than one Greek tragedy and buzzing on the mere mention of him is risky. Or to the general understanding that "Harlan's dissent" won't disambiguate between fewer than 10-15 cases.
All right, I think we may actually have an interesting discussion here. I understand that someone who had read "Wide Sargasso Sea" could certainly buzz on that clue. However, I'm not sure that the converse is true for someone who had read Jane Eyre. I don't agree that "the main character is holding a candle and a key" is enough to dissuade someone with knowledge of Jane Eyre from buzzing at that point. Furthermore, I disagree that your Tiresias example is analogous here. Tiresias is a mythological figure who appears in numerous Greek tragedies because he's been appropriated from Greek mythology. Grace Poole, on the other hand, originated in Jane Eyre, and her appearance in Wide Sargasso Sea is entirely dependent on her creation by Charlotte Bronte. To me, that seems to imply that that character is more strongly tied to Jane Eyre than to Wide Sargasso Sea.

As for Magin's point: Again, I didn't mean to imply that that tossup should have used those clues, and I do apologize if it appeared that way. I meant to refute Auroni's point that I did not have sufficient knowledge of East of Eden to earn an early buzz with proof that I did actually have deep knowledge of that subject. Like you said, I'm arguing that that question could have used some better context. However, I'm additionally arguing that the clues used were taken from very deep in the book, and were very challenging even for the few players who had read it. It would have been better for it to cut down the lead-in to a line or two and then go into more general clues, easy to remember if you've read the novel, before ending power with a heavily-quizbowled clue.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:39 am

Cernel Joson wrote: All right, I think we may actually have an interesting discussion here. I understand that someone who had read "Wide Sargasso Sea" could certainly buzz on that clue. However, I'm not sure that the converse is true for someone who had read Jane Eyre. I don't agree that "the main character is holding a candle and a key" is enough to dissuade someone with knowledge of Jane Eyre from buzzing at that point. Furthermore, I disagree that your Tiresias example is analogous here. Tiresias is a mythological figure who appears in numerous Greek tragedies because he's been appropriated from Greek mythology. Grace Poole, on the other hand, originated in Jane Eyre, and her appearance in Wide Sargasso Sea is entirely dependent on her creation by Charlotte Bronte. To me, that seems to imply that that character is more strongly tied to Jane Eyre than to Wide Sargasso Sea.
I don't understand how one is supposed to write such questions if we're now trying to guess what other players will say when they buzz and aren't paying attention to events. It's not the question-writer's job to "dissuade" you from buzzing anywhere; it's your job to know whether the facts described beforehand appear in the book you are giving as an answer. I attribute this line of criticism to the baleful influence of Bruce Arthur.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:44 am

Jerry, that's a fair point. I'm not going to defend any coy clues in my questions and I'm going to actively attempt to rid myself of them, since it seems to have caught on as a personal bad habit.
Cernel Joson wrote: All right, I think we may actually have an interesting discussion here. I understand that someone who had read "Wide Sargasso Sea" could certainly buzz on that clue. However, I'm not sure that the converse is true for someone who had read Jane Eyre. I don't agree that "the main character is holding a candle and a key" is enough to dissuade someone with knowledge of Jane Eyre from buzzing at that point. Furthermore, I disagree that your Tiresias example is analogous here. Tiresias is a mythological figure who appears in numerous Greek tragedies because he's been appropriated from Greek mythology. Grace Poole, on the other hand, originated in Jane Eyre, and her appearance in Wide Sargasso Sea is entirely dependent on her creation by Charlotte Bronte. To me, that seems to imply that that character is more strongly tied to Jane Eyre than to Wide Sargasso Sea.
I'll grant that people who have read Jane Eyre might not be able to eliminate it as an answer choice based on the sentence about Grace Poole alone. However, when taken into consideration with the clues that came before it, the average Jane Eyre reader should be doubtful of a few things. Most specifically, about the clues about incest and the rock thrown at the forehead, which seem like things that are salient for readers. Not that I'm saying that these two things aren't minor incidents in Wide Sargasso Sea, because they totally are, but they should seem (rightly) out of place in a Jane Eyre tossup. But just the mention of Grace Poole doesn't seem to be enough to me to confidently buzz with one work or another unless you are a high-risk player. Then, if you are, it's no fault but your own if you answer with the wrong thing ignoring everything else that was said before you buzzed.

As for Magin's point: Again, I didn't mean to imply that that tossup should have used those clues, and I do apologize if it appeared that way. I meant to refute Auroni's point that I did not have sufficient knowledge of East of Eden to earn an early buzz with proof that I did actually have deep knowledge of that subject. Like you said, I'm arguing that that question could have used some better context. However, I'm additionally arguing that the clues used were taken from very deep in the book, and were very challenging even for the few players who had read it. It would have been better for it to cut down the lead-in to a line or two and then go into more general clues, easy to remember if you've read the novel, before ending power with a heavily-quizbowled clue.
I've already granted that you know a great deal about East of Eden and that if you wrote the same tossup, you might use another minor incident from the ones you've enumerated that other readers of East of Eden might have grappled with. There are two things to keep in mind here:

1) It's actually very hard to determine what's the 50th best known incident from a book from what's the 20th. So these things that are supposedly exceptionally minor incidents from a novel might not seem any different than any other minor incident from the book from the perspective of a question writer who hasn't actually read the book because of time constraints.

2) I had my suspicion that the clue about timshel was going to be a major quizbowl buzzpoint, but I hadn't kept track of past questions on East of Eden. In fact, for every question I wrote, I hadn't checked past questions on any at all, so my past quizbowl experience didn't color my question writing experience for this tournament in any meaningful way. I'll gladly encourage other people to separate the two when writing questions.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:46 am

Someone comment on another category. Any biologists in the audience
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by magin » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:48 am

Also, I wrote the music tossups and Evan Adams wrote the music bonuses. If anyone has feedback on them, I'm sure we'd like to hear it.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Crimson Rosella » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:33 am

I really enjoyed the set, particularly with respect to the math (really glad Sylow theorems and Eisenstein's criterion for irreducibility came up) and music (including jazz, was delighted to hear the clue from Blood on the Field come up). I remember being a little frustrated by the fact that it seemed like the chemistry distribution was skewed a little towards biochem (though the tossups on Raney Nickel, spin-orbit coupling, Cv were great).
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:58 am

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:Sorry for the wording on that one, though I wasn't sure how to convey that "she created all these albums that contain her songs."
Try "she sang on these albums", maybe?
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:19 am

I enjoyed this tournament and want to thank the writers for putting together a solid set. I particularly enjoyed the social science, visual art, and classical music. I was glad to see tossups on subjects such as Course in General Linguistics, which showed a commitment to spending the time to find substantive clues to reward understanding of incredibly important material--even if it might not be as easy as regurgitating the plot summaries of a few Dostoevsky's short stories and calling it a day. That brings me to the biggest problem with this set--the literature, which was disappointing and representative of all the regressive trends in quizbowl literature writing. In a funny way, I actually regret criticizing Trygve's literature so vociferously last year because he wrote on important and interesting subjects even if there were too many vague clues. I think the literature in this set for the most part was competently executed, but represented both a failure of the imagination and misunderstanding of literary importance. It was certainly the worst set of literature at a major collegiate tournament since last year's THUNDER. I don't want to yell at Auroni too much, but after looking at the literature in VCU Open again (which it turns out was largely successful due to Evans Adams' excellent work) I think I understand some fundamental problems that plague Auroni's literature questions. I will write a long constructive critique tomorrow afternoon, but will discuss some of the basic problems now.

I think Matt Bollinger's post actually got at the heart of many of the problems, but let me elaborate on a few of the issues. Essentially Auroni's literature did not show any commitment to writing on things from the core canon. It is easier to write a tossup on something like Confessions of an English Opium Eater than Middlemarch, and it seems Auroni took the easy route consistently. Moreover, the few times when he did decide to write on important topics I felt he did so in, frankly, a lazy way. It is easier to list a bunch of short story summaries for a Borges tossup than to actually read a story and write a good tossup on it. This trend was also apparent in the lack of drama questions. There were only three or four drama tossups and only one question on a modern play, which suggests a reluctance to read up on a play and find important dialogue and clues. It is much easier to knock out a quick question on Le Cid than spend the time to find meaningful clues to construct a good regular difficulty tossup on The Iceman Cometh or The Glass Menagerie.

Actually the more I think about it, the few questions on stuff from the core academic canon were more probably the most aggravating of the set. If I was writing a question on a regular difficulty tournament on Dostoevsky I would salivate at the opportunity to write on a character from The Brothers Karamazov or Crime and Punishment because so many people read books, and more importantly they have so many good great clues for them. But Auroni decided this is the tournament to devote four lines of the question to Dostoevsky's short stories. It is almost like there is the Dostoevsky discussed and loved by readers all around the world and then there is Auroni's Dostoevsky who is only known for his short stories and doesn't even merit a mention of any of his famous novels at the end of the tossup. (Seriously the tossup actually ends with The Double and Notes from the Underground and doesn't even mention any other books after "FTP".) As one might have sensed, this question particularly irked me because I'm taking a class about the works of Dostoevsky this semester and I'm writing my junior paper about Bakhtin's The Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, but I couldn't buzz before the last line before "FTP" which gave the summary of Notes from the Underground. Screw me for reading four of Dostoevsky's major novels, I should be beefing up on the plot summaries of The Double and "A Gentle Creature".

I'm sure people like Jerry will jump in and cite a number of good tossups on subjects such as East of Eden or On the Road, but writing on a few important things is as much a factor of random luck than a concerted effort to make regular difficulty tournaments focus on unquestionably canonical and important subjects. Of course if you are writing 50 literature tossups a few tossups on easy answers will appear. But there were almost no questions in the set where I felt like Auroni sat the fuck down and said "I'm going to write a question on Anna Karenina or a Faulkner character or a Hemingway novel even though it will take some research and I already know most of the clues." Whether we as a community disagree about the distribution of core material at hard tournaments, hopefully we can all agree that regular difficulty tournaments should have many, many answers from unquestionably core material. I wish Auroni wrote more questions like the admirable SS tossups written by Ike Jose in which Ike clearly decided he was going to do the work necessary to write on topics of unquestionable importance to the field even if it might be more work or it would require him to do some primary source research.

The most distressing part of this thread so far is the defense that Auroni has offered for some of his choices, which suggests to me (along with some of the answer choices) that he might have a misunderstanding of what is really important in literature. For example, a tossup on Lovelace is not really a good idea since people don't really care about the entire corpus of Lovelace's poems because they are largely very similar and not particularly interesting. I could understand, though I would probably groan, if there was a tossup on "To Althea, From Prison" but a question on the entire corpus of his work is just misguided. The same principle applies to the many of the tossups that I bet Auroni thought were his "important" questions.

I'm sorry to come across as so critical in this postbecause I think there were many decently written questions in the set, but there were definitely problems that must need to be addressed before Auroni can go from a good writer to a very good writer. Also, I believe that the problems of Auroni's philosophy of writing quizbowl questions is inextricably linked to the technical problems in his literature questions. Matt Bollinger was right to pinpoint the number of vague clues that filled the set. I think if Auroni had a deeper commitment to core material it would become clear why clues about film adaptations of books or clues that describe specific characters with non-specific generalizations are insufficient. For example, lets look at the description of Cordelia from Brideshead Revisited as "an ill-behaved schoolgirl [who changes] to serving in the hospital bunks during the Spanish Civil War." While factually accurate, this clue is not something that will make people buzz with confidence. When I try to write I try to find clues in which I think "If I had real knowledge about this subject would this help me buzz with absolute confidence."

I'll offer a more thorough critique tomorrow, especially about how much one should rely on plot summaries and what subjects really require more in depth research, but I wanted to give a sense for what I felt was unsuccessful about this tournament now.

[EDIT: Grammar]
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:32 am

So before I go into the specifics of your post, I'd like to say that I disabused myself of any notion of what's "important" and what "should come up" when writing my questions. I don't presume to know any of these things and I absolutely feel that these are the wrong things to ask when writing questions. That said, I picked a bunch of topics that I thought that people at this level would know and I erred on the easy side when picking clues for them. I'm sorry if my answer choices didn't jive with your aesthetic ideal for what literature should be written on, but it seems that for the large part, people were able to buzz in on my questions and convert all bonus parts. I'm actually surprised that you think I deviated from the "core canon," because I wrote quite a number of questions that I on topics that I thought were part of it. I must not have taken in the content from some of your earlier comments on lit questions from CO 10' and before, but I had no reason to think that Corneille or DeQuincey were non-core authors, and that there couldn't be a question on Fyodor Dostoevsky, a literary giant, that used clues exclusively from his shorter works. Also, I find your assertion that nobody cares about the poems of Lovelace, all of which you think are supposedly similar, laughable.
It is easier to write a tossup on something like Confessions of an English Opium Eater than Middlemarch, and it seems Auronitook the easy route consistently.
The reason I didn't write on Middlemarch is that I've written a question on it before, for the NSC earlier this year. The reason that I wrote on Confessions of an English Opium Eater is that I don't know that much about it, that it seemed to be important in a literary sense, and that I hadn't seen tossups on it for a while. Oh, and that it's something that I expected people to know. I have no idea why you think it's "easier" to write on the latter, unless you're actually trying to allege that Middlemarch is more "important" and merits a tossup and Confessions of an English Opium Eater doesn't. If that's the case, then come out and say it, because I have written tossups on both and your claim here is just plain wrong.
It is easier to list a bunch of short story summaries for a Borges tossup than to actually read a story and write a good tossup on it.
Guess what, a tossup on Borges is going to have a ton of summaries on his short stories! Yes, I know that he's a poet too, but somehow I think a tossup describing his poems is not going to go as well. What you're alleging here is actually more insulting to me personally, because you think I can't write a good tossup on things that I have personally read. While I have never written tossups on "Funes the Memorious" or "The Aleph," I've certainly read both. Let me know if you think that I have described either of them incorrectly or I'm forced to conclude that this is just inexplicably offensive to your sense of literary aesthetics.
There were only three or four drama tossups and only one question on a modern play, which suggests a reluctance to read up on a play and find important dialogue and clues.
My own assessment is that I overdid the poetry and under-did the drama, which is probably the only useful bit of criticism that I can take away from this post. I'll avoid that next time. But in the mean time, I'm sorry that you missed the tossups on Cyrano de Bergerac and Much Ado About Nothing, both of which I read to select clues, and both of which would probably fit your definition of "important." I absolutely did put in the work to research clues from the primary material itself, and not just through plot summaries.
It is much easier to knock out a quick question on Le Cid than spend the time to find meaningful clues to construct a good regular difficulty tossup on The Iceman Cometh or The Glass Menagerie.
The Le Cid question was not a "quick question;" I spent an hour or two trying to select clues for it. Again, you're alleging that somehow Williams and O'Neill are more important as dramatists as Corneille. Not having read enough Harold Bloom and not being an actual student of literature, I had no way of knowing whether this was the case. Because of this, actually, I threw the "core canon" out of the window when writing and just picked things that people might know.
Actually the more I think about it, the few questions on stuff from the core academic canon were more probably the most aggravating of the set. If I was writing a question on a regular difficulty tournament on Dostoevsky I would salivate at the opportunity to write on a character from The Brothers Karamazov or Crime and Punishment because so many people read books, and more importantly they have so many good great clues for them. But Auroni decided this is the tournament to devote four lines of the question to Dostoevsky's short stories. It is almost like there is the Dostoevsky discussed and loved by readers all around the world and then there is Auroni's Dostoevsky who is only known for his short stories and doesn't even merit a mention of any of his famous novels at the end of the tossup. (Seriously the tossup actually ends with The Double and Notes from the Underground and doesn't even mention any other books after "FTP".) As one might have sensed, this question particularly irked me because I'm taking a class about the works of Dostoevsky this semester and I'm writing my junior paper about Bakhtin's The Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, but I couldn't buzz before the last line before "FTP" which gave the summary of Notes from the Underground. Screw me for reading four of Dostoevsky's major novels, I should be beefing up on the plot summaries of The Double and "A Gentle Creature".
You're looking at this the wrong way. Dostoevsky is such a major author that no part of his body of works shouldn't be written upon. In any academic year, there are several questions on The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot in college tournaments and several questions on Crime and Punishment in high school tournaments. This tournament, I decided to write a tossup on Dostoevsky's shorter works with the confidence that the field would know to get the tossup at the end hearing the title Notes from the Underground in the worst case. Was I wrong to think that? It doesn't seem so. Regardless, I'm sorry that this was the one tournament all year that didn't have a tossup on a Dostoevsky novel, but I'm not going to repent for writing a tossup on an author that people read using clues from works that people read.
I'm sure people like Jerry will jump in and cite a number of good tossups on subjects such as East of Eden or On the Road, but writing on a few important things is as much a factor of random luck than a concerted effort to make regular difficulty tournaments focus on unquestionably canonical and important subjects. Of course if you are writing 50 literature tossups a few tossups on easy answers will appear. But there were almost no questions in the set where I felt like Auroni sat the fuck down and said "I'm going to write a question on Anna Karenina or a Faulkner character or a Hemingway novel even though it will take some research and I already know most of the clues." Whether we as a community disagree about the distribution of core material at hard tournaments, hopefully we can all agree that regular difficulty tournaments should have many, many answers from unquestionably core material. I wish Auroni wrote more questions like the admirable SS tossups written by Ike Jose in which Ike clearly decided he was going to do the work necessary to write on topics of unquestionable importance to the field even if it might be more work or it would require him to do some primary source research.
I'm going to look past your lie of me not doing work that I actually did for a second and offer a list of questions that are core literature topics that came up at this tournament:

east of eden, golding, milton, a streetcar named desire, howards end, flaubert, fall of the house of usher, ancient greek and roman comedians, woolf, robinson, confessions of an english opium eater, gilman, hoffman, sidney, dostoevsky, satanic verses, alcott, holmes, coleridge, antigone,

and hell, I'm just going to stop there because those were from the first three rounds alone. You'll note that several of these are things that show up in high school quizbowl but not as frequently in collegiate quizbowl; this tournament was where I brought back those things. Now point to me exactly what you thought was too hard and acanonical for this tournament, because it's clear that this tournament clearly exemplified a problem that exists only in your mind.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:20 am

I'm going to try to respond to you in a constructive manner and not get mad. I'm trying to give you feedback that will make you improve as a writer and is not based on some attempt to personally insult you as you seem to imply. I'm not saying that you wrote a bad tournament but rather a decent one that was prevented from being a great one due to several bad trends I've seen recurring throughout your writing. Obviously, not everyone will write questions that value the same things that I would like to see quizbowl questions value, and I respect that diversity. As much as I wish more people would write like Evan Adams and Jonathan Magin, I understand people are going to write their own way. But I think your writing could be vastly improved and perhaps the most telling factor is that your questions on easiest subjects are usually your worst questions. In this post I'm going to address what I think are the problems with your approach to writing quizbowl questions and move on to specifics about individual questions in the next post.

1- The main issue is that you wrote questions on things someone could have read at this level rather than writing on things people probably have read. I think this policy should be adopted for all tournaments, but I can understand the disagreement with that for higher level tournaments; however, I think you must have this mentality while writing regular difficulty.

This issue is exemplified by the Dostoevsky issue. For VCU Open you wrote a tossup on Poor Folk and for this regular difficulty tournament you wrote a tossup on Dostoevsky only using clues from his minor shorter works that are not usually taught in classes devoted to Dostoevsky. If I was approaching either of these tournaments I would try to think what are works I'm pretty sure people have actually read and I want to reward that knowledge. But you ask is this Dostoevsky work "important" in that case I will ask it because a "hypothetical reader of important works" could have read it. You claims that you are trying to cater to your audience, but if that is true (which I sincerely doubt) this is only a surface dedication. But wouldn't it cater to your audience more if you wrote a tossup on Ivan or Dmitri that it is relatively likely that someone on Louisville B has knowledge about than a tossup primarily on "Winter Nights"? Do you not see a distinction in importance between "Winter Nights" and The Brothers Karamazov?

2- This pushes me to my next point. Your defense of the tournament approaches importance with an "either-or" mentality. Either it is important enough to be written about or it is not. I have a question for you Auroni, is this actually how you view importance? Or do you see distinctions in levels of importance? Even in high school when I wasn't studying literature but just knew everything I got questions about through plot summaries, I still was able to implicitly feel that George Eliot was more important than Thomas De Quincey. Part of the problem with THUNDER's literature was that there were a lot of questions on the 3-4 level out of 5 on the difficulty scale. Lets look at what you said was important: "east of eden, golding, milton, a streetcar named desire, howards end, flaubert, fall of the house of usher, ancient greek and roman comedians, woolf, robinson, confessions of an english opium eater, gilman, hoffman, sidney, dostoevsky, satanic verses, alcott, holmes, coleridge, antigone." First of all, I only care about the tossups because writing good tossups on easy material is difficult (and is where you individually need to improve), while writing bonuses on easy subjects is simple and is often used as a way to cover up less than desirable tossups choices. Lets look at round three: the answers are Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Puig, Confessions of an English Opium Eater, and Hoffman. Now to defended these answer choices you used the same misguided logic I discussed above: in theory someone could have read or been assigned these works. But thats not the important question. The better question would be: is it likely that someone would have been assigned these works? You betray your own defense with the very choice of Gilman as an answer. I could have respected that you were writing on something you felt people knew about if you had written on "The Yellow Wall-Paper", while I despise that story, I respect that it is something that unfortunately is important. But by writing on Gilman it shows that you are not really interested in what people read, but more about improving as a player. The same goes for Confessions of an English Opium Eater. It is conceivable that someone might be assigned that throughout their academic career (I'm discarding the possibility that many people would read that book for leisure), but is it likely? It is very likely that any English or literature major will be assigned a Jane Austen novel or Middlemarch at some point in their career and that is the criteria I would use.

Now Auroni you seemed to imply that I was belittling you for "not being a student of actual literature", but I'm asking you frankly: do you feel that it is too much of a responsibility to expect you to know that Austen and Eliot are objectively more important and more likely to be assigned and read than Confessions of an English Opium Eater? If that is too big a leap than I apologize.

3- I think the third major problem with is that you write about things primarily to improve as a player and not to produce the best possible tournament. I don't doubt you are capable of writing an excellent Middlemarch question but it seems that you are more interested in writing about things that could potentially come up in harder tournaments. I've discussed with Jonathan and Eric individually before how there is a point in the maturation of a quizbowl writer that you're comfortable writing tossups in which you knew all the clues beforehand. I'm not saying you always have to write about the same thing as you imply when you claimed that I am demanding that you write on Middlemarch rather than Confessions of an English Opium Eater. I would be happy with any substantive tossup on something like Middlemarch, Jane Austen, Ulysses, Mrs. Dalloway, Vanity Fair, or whatever. But frankly you will produce better tournaments when you write your questions to reward what the people at the tournament are likely to have read rather than writing on whats most interesting for you. And by writing to reward the people at the tournament I don't mean Jerry, or me, or Matt Bollinger, but to reward the players from Random College B who read the typical slew of canonical works. I'm not trying to be self-serving here, but actually open up regular difficulty tournaments so I miss that question on "The Yellow Wall-Paper" to a player who has read it recently rather than beating someone to a tossup on Charlotte Perkins Gilman based on secondary knowledge.

4- I apologize for dismissively critiquing the Borges question. It was a good question and was a question that I enjoyed. I failed to explain kindly my point. I feel like you default to writing the easier version of a question too often. This default to easier to find material particularly plagues your questions on easier authors, which kind of defeats the point of writing about easier authors in the first place. Let me explain. Rather than writing The Crime and Punishment tossup you choose to write on Dostoevsky using minor clues. Rather than writing a good tossup on Milton or Shakespeare drawing from their poetry (or a Sidney tossup drawing from his poetry which people actually read in depth) you wrote a tossup on Sidney drawing mainly from his plays. Rather than writing on Madame Bovary you wrote on Flaubert from lesser known sources weren't even summarize effectively. Rather than writing on an important 19th century American writer whose short fiction people read in depth (like Kate Chopin, Melville, etc), you chose to write about Louisa May Alcott drawing from her short stories, posthumously published novel, and titles from Hospital Sketches, which I cant imagine are things that are frequently studied. Rather than writing on a Borges story I felt that you defaulted to writing to a quick tossup that drew on plot summaries. (On a side note it is hilarious you thought I was criticizing you for not including Borges' poetry when I wanted exactly the opposite.) Rather than spending the time to find a good leadin for The Seagull you defaulted to giving us: "One character in this play justifies a love affair by reminding the audience that in his youth, he was preoccupied by making a name for himself rather than finding love."

I apologize for using the word lazy, but what I meant to say is that I consistently felt you chose to write on the easiest possible versions of easy answer rather than spending the amount of time necessary to make sure you had a well balanced and clue dense set. The tournament would have turned out better if you asked for help with one of your sub-distributions so you could focus on each individual answer more because I think the time crunch led you to default to quick and easy leadins (like The Seagull leadin, the couple of movie adaption leadins, or to a lesser degree The East of Eden leadins) rather than finding the best possible leadins. It takes more time and effort to do the research to write a good tossup on Madame Bovary than a question on Flaubert written from summaries. I would encourage Auroni to spend more time looking for substantial clues from the most important works in the canon rather than focusing his energy on finding quick summaries of largely unread William Golding novels.

5- I think the issue of defaulting to easy answers is related to genre in your writing. I've felt that your writing always veered too much towards fiction and suffered from a dearth of drama and poetry tossups. Moreover, when you do write poetry and drama tossups I always felt the questions avoided the more canonical subjects about things people read. Let me illustrate by looking at the poetry tossup answers Auroni wrote for this tournament and for VCU Open. THUNDER had five (six if you count Pushkin) poetry tossups in the games I played: Sidney, Horace, Essay on Criticism, Lovelace, Pushkin, and "Italian." You need to stop and course correct. Auroni's poetry tossups for VCU Open were: Robinson Jeffers, Martial, Redcrosse Knight, Szymborska, Chretian de Troyes, Holderlin, "Burnt Norton", The Temple, "Fable for Critics", "John Brown's Body." Many of these were good tossups, the tossup on the Redcrosse Knight was especially well done and exemplary of the direction I think Auroni should take more often in his writing. But most of these seem a little off to me. I talked with Kevin Koai after VCU Open about how some of the poetry just seemed weird about stuff such as "A Fable for Critics" or "John Brown's Body" that just aren't interesting to people who read poetry for fun, and I had a similar conversation with Dallas on the way back from THUNDER. It seems weird that there are so many questions on fringe topics. It is not like anyone is going to critique you for using the wrong Szymborska quotes or quoting the wrong lines from Leopardi in a the "italian" tossup. Please don't make the argument that I'm saying people like Holderlin or Pushkin are unimportant, but frankly the corpus of their poetry is not really read frequently by English speakers. It just seems odd that there weren't tossups on any of the Romantics or Modernists or most of the major poets at all in THUNDER. If I was writing a tournament you get to make your own ideal distribution and I would hesitate writing that Lovelace tossup thinking to myself, "I haven't written on any of the major poetry movements yet and have only written one tossup on a work. Maybe I should write about something I know people are likely to have read like Keats, Stevens, Milton, Neruda, Frost or anything."

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but I feel that Auroni defaults to writing on poems and plays that people are less likely to have read rather than spending the time to write the good question on very canonical answers. I think it is telling that the worst moments of the set were on the easiest questions. For example during the tossup on Horace, Dallas wasn't able to buzz even after "Odes" was read because he was sure it couldn't be Horace's odes because none of the earlier clues came from the important Horace odes. On a similar note, I find it difficult to imagine that Auroni really feels that Corneille and Eugene O'Neill/T. Williams are really on an equal level of notoriety to an American audience. Once again this goes back to the central principle that it would reward what people are likely to have read to have a question on Streetcar or Iceman Cometh rather than a tossup on Le Cid. I would encourage Auroni to consider writing about the major figures and works in drama and poetry, and not to relegate them to bonuses. If anything it makes much more sense to have bonuses on Sidney or Le Cid and tossups on Streetcar and Milton. I hope this critique gave more constructive criticism than my earlier catty response. I'll offer some individual examples of vagueness and less than optimal clue selection, which I think especially affects the poetry and drama questions, later today or tonight.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:33 am

I don't have a whole lot of time to comment on this right now but I have to say that I'm really baffled by Ted's criticism strategy here. I think Auroni did a solid job, choosing many good topics mixed in with some relatively more fringe ones. I wasn't a huge fan of the Dostoyevsky question myself, but it struck me as an outlier rather than as a demonstration of an overall trend. I also think that personal attacks of the variety "you don't care about what is important, you only care about getting better," are really out of line here; we don't need to psychologize writers and pretend we know what they really think if we disagree with their choices.

If someone could post the list of literature tossup and bonus answers, I'm sure that would help the discussion along.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:35 am

Also, it doesn't make sense to criticize someone for writing a tossup on Pushkin rather than Wallace Stevens (or whatever American author you like best); those guys don't fall in the same subdistribution and consequently are not competing with each other for space.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:32 am

In an interesting twist, it is the literature mafia that is dominating this tournament discussion. Just kidding, Ted!

Since I had nothing to do with the lit for this, I'm hesitant to really weigh in, but one thing I would like to say is that while I agree with a lot of Ted's points in the abstract, I'm not sure to what extent I can cite them as "problems" for THUNDER. Some of them strike me as more aesthetic differences in writing literature questions, which I would be tickled to see implemented in other tournaments (perhaps even ACF Regionals). I thought most of Auroni's answers seemed fine, although I can't comment as much on the clue or writing construction. Would I have written on Corneille? Probably not, but I don't really think editors (unless they are producing a novice tournament) have some obligation to jam The Iceman Cometh or Streetcar in there at the expense of Corneille or whatever. If I were producing the literature for a set, now, I might, but again ,that seems to be more of an aesthetic argument.

Ted makes some interesting points about conversion, new teams, and difficulty, which may be independent of the literature discussion.

Edit: I also think it's a mite unfair to zing Auroni for being more interested in learning and getting better than writing questions. To an extent, we all want to learn when we write our questions. I wrote almost all the literature for MUT on things I did not know very well in an effort to learn. If you find the questions unsatisfying, that's one thing, but I agree with Jerry that Auroni's motives are somewhat independent of his questions.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:07 pm

As far as I can tell, the set of people in the "literature mafia" is equivalent to the set of quizbowl players named "Ted Gioia." To me, Ted's critique reflects a rather idiosyncratic (not to mention explicitly Anglo-centric) view of the quizbowl literature canon.
Cheynem wrote:Would I have written on Corneille? Probably not, but I don't really think editors (unless they are producing a novice tournament) have some obligation to jam The Iceman Cometh or Streetcar in there at the expense of Corneille or whatever.
C.f. my point above, which I keep making and which continues to be ignored despite being indisputably correct. The Iceman Cometh simply does not compete with Corneille for distribution space. Any arguments predicated on the supposition that it does are invalid, unless they are actually arguments to change the distribution.

Just a few things that I noticed were factually inaccurate in Ted's post:
Rather than writing on Madame Bovary you wrote on Flaubert from lesser known sources weren't even summarize effectively.
This is flat-out wrong. I mean, I buzzed on that question on the very first clue, which comes straight out of A Sentimental Education. How is one of Flaubert's best-known works a "lesser source?" This is simply pointless nitpicking; there's no particular reason why we should write on Madame Bovary instead of Flaubert, provided both questions are competently executed.
most important works in the canon rather than focusing his energy on finding quick summaries of largely unread William Golding novels.
Largely unread by you, perhaps. Definitely read by me, which got me another first-line buzz.
Please don't make the argument that I'm saying people like Holderlin or Pushkin are unimportant, but frankly the corpus of their poetry is not really read frequently by English speakers.
Pardon my French, but so fucking what? The failure of the English-speaking world to appreciate one of the greatest (maybe even the greatest, depending on whom you ask) Romantic poets of any nationality is rather beside the point here. I can't think of a comprehensive study of literature of the period that wouldn't include Pushkin. Anyway, that's all rather beside the point because as I am getting tired of saying and would stop saying if people (you) did not persistently ignore the point, Pushkin does not compete with Wallace Stevens in the distribution because they fall into different subcategories! If you think that there should be 2/2 American literature per round at the expense of the Euro/World categories, feel free to make that argument, but as things stand today, there isn't anything that prevents tossups on Pushkin and Stevens or Corneille and O'Neill from co-existing in the same tournament.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:10 pm

Yeah, I should have specified that Corneille was not sapping screentime from O'Neill, but rather "authors in the Corneille vein for the American" and "authors in the O'Neill vein for the European."
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:48 pm

grapesmoker wrote: Pushkin does not compete with Wallace Stevens in the distribution because they fall into different subcategories! If you think that there should be 2/2 American literature per round at the expense of the Euro/World categories, feel free to make that argument, but as things stand today, there isn't anything that prevents tossups on Pushkin and Stevens or Corneille and O'Neill from co-existing in the same tournament.
Actually, I think playwrights and poets still sometimes compete for space across their sub-distributions, because people often limit themselves to 1/1 each poetry or drama max per packet, which would mean that a tournament will only have X number of poetry or drama tossup across all sub-distributions of literature.
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Someone comment on another category. Any biologists in the audience

The only tossup outside my categories that I remember being bothered by was the tossup on Defenestrations of Prague, which was a giant game of chicken, since it started dropping Czech names by the second line, making it abundantly clear that it was looking for some kind of event that happened multiple times in Czech history.
magin wrote:Also, I wrote the music tossups and Evan Adams wrote the music bonuses. If anyone has feedback on them, I'm sure we'd like to hear it.
I thought the music was quite well-written. My only small quibble is that in the ten rounds of THUNDER we played, six of the ten music tossups were common-links, two were composers, and two were works. I really like music common-links, as a rule, and I think most of them for this tournament were well-written. But I don't think they should make up the majority of any category's distribution within a tournament, especially not for a house-written tournament, where there's a higher expectation that sub-distribution will be well-controlled.

Before I went to bed on Friday, I mused to myself that the next negative trend in music question-writing to emerge would probably be writing common-links on tempo markings, since that would require just finding some pieces with that tempo marking and arranging them pyramidally, thus making it a boon to lazy music writers. I have to say, the "adagio" tossup is actually very good: well-chosen pieces, described helpfully. I still suggest that common-links on tempo markings should be rare, as they have so much potential for badness.

I may be underestimating the importance/fame of Bloch's Suite Hebraique, but the viola common-link tossup struck me as being four lines of lead-in difficulty material, and then a description of Harold in Italy.

Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn are not "usually referred to as his St. Anthony Variations"; they're usually referred to by their real name.

Factual inaccuracy from the minuet common-link: Boccherini's Minuet in A is from his eleventh String Quintet. Minnesota Open claimed it was from his fifth Cello Concerto and this tournament claimed it was from a string quartet.

Thank you for including the Funeral March and Waldstein sonatas in your Beethoven piano sonatas common-link, since these are under-quizbowled important piano pieces. Tossups like these that use the common-link as a vehicle for cluing pieces that are underexposed vis-a-vis their real-world importance, but are nearly untossupable on their own due to a dearth of clues, are the reasons that I like music common-links.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:07 pm

grapesmoker wrote:As far as I can tell, the set of people in the "literature mafia" is equivalent to the set of quizbowl players named "Ted Gioia." To me, Ted's critique reflects a rather idiosyncratic (not to mention explicitly Anglo-centric) view of the quizbowl literature canon.
Cheynem wrote:Would I have written on Corneille? Probably not, but I don't really think editors (unless they are producing a novice tournament) have some obligation to jam The Iceman Cometh or Streetcar in there at the expense of Corneille or whatever.
C.f. my point above, which I keep making and which continues to be ignored despite being indisputably correct. The Iceman Cometh simply does not compete with Corneille for distribution space. Any arguments predicated on the supposition that it does are invalid, unless they are actually arguments to change the distribution.

Just a few things that I noticed were factually inaccurate in Ted's post:
Rather than writing on Madame Bovary you wrote on Flaubert from lesser known sources weren't even summarize effectively.
This is flat-out wrong. I mean, I buzzed on that question on the very first clue, which comes straight out of A Sentimental Education. How is one of Flaubert's best-known works a "lesser source?" This is simply pointless nitpicking; there's no particular reason why we should write on Madame Bovary instead of Flaubert, provided both questions are competently executed.
most important works in the canon rather than focusing his energy on finding quick summaries of largely unread William Golding novels.
Largely unread by you, perhaps. Definitely read by me, which got me another first-line buzz.
Please don't make the argument that I'm saying people like Holderlin or Pushkin are unimportant, but frankly the corpus of their poetry is not really read frequently by English speakers.
Pardon my French, but so fucking what? The failure of the English-speaking world to appreciate one of the greatest (maybe even the greatest, depending on whom you ask) Romantic poets of any nationality is rather beside the point here. I can't think of a comprehensive study of literature of the period that wouldn't include Pushkin. Anyway, that's all rather beside the point because as I am getting tired of saying and would stop saying if people (you) did not persistently ignore the point, Pushkin does not compete with Wallace Stevens in the distribution because they fall into different subcategories! If you think that there should be 2/2 American literature per round at the expense of the Euro/World categories, feel free to make that argument, but as things stand today, there isn't anything that prevents tossups on Pushkin and Stevens or Corneille and O'Neill from co-existing in the same tournament.
I just want to point out that I find Jerry's attempts to classify me as an Anglo-phone extremist who hates all other literatures to be patently false. To express how insulting this is to me and how inappropriate I find this classification, I would compare it to if I claimed that Jerry were a staunch conservative and ardent supporter of Bush's policies.

It is a severe misreading of what I was saying to interpret my comment that I felt there should more tossups on things like Streetcar rather than Le Cid to be a claim I want 2/2 American literature in the canon. I was simply saying I wish there were more tossups on plays that people read and are performed. Obviously is Le Cid were changed to an American play I would want the other tossup changed to a Euro lit tossup. I mean really Jerry what the hell are you talking about with this ridiculous criticism. If you felt the tournament's distribution was acceptable thats cool, but please don't persist in your ridiculous characterization of me as a crazed Anglophone Leavisite who wants to restrict all quizbowl to books mentioned in The Great Tradition because I felt that your tossup on The Shipyard was ill-advised.

Similarly when I pinpoint the Pushkin tossup I do so for a reason. The reason wasn't that I wanted to replace it with a question on Stevens like you suggest, but because it unsurprisingly lead to a bad tossup. The tournament would have been better if Auroni spent the time to write a tossup on a poet more people of this tournament's target audience read than Pushkin. Maybe someone like Baudelaire or Rilke or Goethe. Keep in mind I'm not talking about how important Pushkin is but how likely people are to have read him at THUNDER's audience. And frankly the way the Pushkin tossup played in our game against Brown supported by hypothesis. The middle part of the tossup read: "This poet wrote about a man who summons a girl who had written him a love letter to a secluded garden, where he rejects her; he still attends that girl’s (*) name-day celebration and dances with his friend’s fiancee. This author wrote about a flood in St. Petersburg commanded by a statue of Peter the Great in “The Bronze Horseman.”" Shockingly no one buzzed on the first few lines, and then no one was able to buzz on the extremely vague description of Eugene Onegin which lacked proper context and everyone groaned and buzzer raced on St. Petersburg. Once again, I think my point stands that a less than ideal answer selection for THUNDER's target audience was linked with a question that played poorly and forced people to rely on buzzer instincts rather than knowledge. I doubt a tossup on Rilke or Baudelaire would have played as poorly.

Also, Jerry, the reason I said that Auroni wrote too many tossups to improve rather than to produce the most well-balanced tournament is because he explicitly said this: "The reason I didn't write on Middlemarch is that I've written a question on it before, for the NSC earlier this year. The reason that I wrote on Confessions of an English Opium Eater is that I don't know that much about it". Once again I think this is a misguided philosophy. In my opinion, a writer's first commitment should be to write questions to produce the best possible tournament. I know this may be heretical to you Jerry, but I am going to write a tossup on a Chekov or Ibsen play every tournament I edit and even though I won't learn anything writing them I think they are necessary for the tournament's success. Yes, maybe you'll miss a chance to hear a tossup on The Balcony, but I think that is a necessary trade-off for regular difficulty.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:21 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:Actually, I think playwrights and poets still sometimes compete for space across their sub-distributions, because people often limit themselves to 1/1 each poetry or drama max per packet, which would mean that a tournament will only have X number of poetry or drama tossup across all sub-distributions of literature.
There's nothing that prevents on packet from having Pushkin/O'Neill and another from having Stevens/Corneille. That would be entirely unremarkable in any tournament. Of course one should exercise some diversity in terms of what subject one writes on, but you might as well say that they compete equally with novelists too. The point is that they don't compete unequally across categories.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:25 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:As far as I can tell, the set of people in the "literature mafia" is equivalent to the set of quizbowl players named "Ted Gioia." To me, Ted's critique reflects a rather idiosyncratic (not to mention explicitly Anglo-centric) view of the quizbowl literature canon.
Cheynem wrote:Would I have written on Corneille? Probably not, but I don't really think editors (unless they are producing a novice tournament) have some obligation to jam The Iceman Cometh or Streetcar in there at the expense of Corneille or whatever.
C.f. my point above, which I keep making and which continues to be ignored despite being indisputably correct. The Iceman Cometh simply does not compete with Corneille for distribution space. Any arguments predicated on the supposition that it does are invalid, unless they are actually arguments to change the distribution.

Just a few things that I noticed were factually inaccurate in Ted's post:
Rather than writing on Madame Bovary you wrote on Flaubert from lesser known sources weren't even summarize effectively.
This is flat-out wrong. I mean, I buzzed on that question on the very first clue, which comes straight out of A Sentimental Education. How is one of Flaubert's best-known works a "lesser source?" This is simply pointless nitpicking; there's no particular reason why we should write on Madame Bovary instead of Flaubert, provided both questions are competently executed.
most important works in the canon rather than focusing his energy on finding quick summaries of largely unread William Golding novels.
Largely unread by you, perhaps. Definitely read by me, which got me another first-line buzz.
Please don't make the argument that I'm saying people like Holderlin or Pushkin are unimportant, but frankly the corpus of their poetry is not really read frequently by English speakers.
Pardon my French, but so fucking what? The failure of the English-speaking world to appreciate one of the greatest (maybe even the greatest, depending on whom you ask) Romantic poets of any nationality is rather beside the point here. I can't think of a comprehensive study of literature of the period that wouldn't include Pushkin. Anyway, that's all rather beside the point because as I am getting tired of saying and would stop saying if people (you) did not persistently ignore the point, Pushkin does not compete with Wallace Stevens in the distribution because they fall into different subcategories! If you think that there should be 2/2 American literature per round at the expense of the Euro/World categories, feel free to make that argument, but as things stand today, there isn't anything that prevents tossups on Pushkin and Stevens or Corneille and O'Neill from co-existing in the same tournament.
I just want to point out that I find Jerry's attempts to classify me as an Anglo-phone extremist who hates all other literatures to be patently false. To express how insulting this is to me and how inappropriate I find this classification, I would compare it to if I claimed that Jerry were a staunch conservative and ardent supporter of Bush's policies.

It is a severe misreading of what I was saying to interpret my comment that I felt there should more tossups on things like Streetcar rather than Le Cid to be a claim I want 2/2 American literature in the canon. I was simply saying I wish there were more tossups on plays that people read and are performed. Obviously is Le Cid were changed to an American play I would want the other tossup changed to a Euro lit tossup. I mean really Jerry what the hell are you talking about with this ridiculous criticism. If you felt the tournament's distribution was acceptable thats cool, but please don't persist in your ridiculous characterization of me as a crazed Anglophone Leavisite who wants to restrict all quizbowl to books mentioned in The Great Tradition because I felt that your tossup on The Shipyard was ill-advised.

Similarly when I pinpoint the Pushkin tossup I do so for a reason. The reason wasn't that I wanted to replace it with a question on Stevens like you suggest, but because it unsurprisingly lead to a bad tossup. The tournament would have been better if Auroni spent the time to write a tossup on a poet more people of this tournament's target audience read than Pushkin. Maybe someone like Baudelaire or Rilke or Goethe. Keep in mind I'm not talking about how important Pushkin is but how likely people are to have read him at THUNDER's audience. And frankly the way the Pushkin tossup played in our game against Brown supported by hypothesis. The middle part of the tossup read: "This poet wrote about a man who summons a girl who had written him a love letter to a secluded garden, where he rejects her; he still attends that girl’s (*) name-day celebration and dances with his friend’s fiancee. This author wrote about a flood in St. Petersburg commanded by a statue of Peter the Great in “The Bronze Horseman.”" Shockingly no one buzzed on the first few lines, and then no one was able to buzz on the extremely vague description of Eugene Onegin which lacked proper context and everyone groaned and buzzer raced on St. Petersburg. Once again, I think my point stands that a less than ideal answer selection for THUNDER's target audience was linked with a question that played poorly and forced people to rely on buzzer instincts rather than knowledge. I doubt a tossup on Rilke or Baudelaire would have played as poorly.

Also, Jerry, the reason I said that Auroni wrote too many tossups to improve rather than to produce the most well-balanced tournament is because he explicitly said this: "The reason I didn't write on Middlemarch is that I've written a question on it before, for the NSC earlier this year. The reason that I wrote on Confessions of an English Opium Eater is that I don't know that much about it". Once again I think this is a misguided philosophy. In my opinion, a writer's first commitment should be to write questions to produce the best possible tournament. I know this may be heretical to you Jerry, but I am going to write a tossup on a Chekov or Ibsen play every tournament I edit and even though I won't learn anything writing them I think they are necessary for the tournament's success. Yes, maybe you'll miss a chance to hear a tossup on The Balcony, but I think that is a necessary trade-off for regular difficulty.
I'm curious as to why Baudelaire and Rilke necessarily make better tossup answers than Pushkin, since I'd say Pushkin is arguably more famous than either: maybe not Baudelaire, but certainly more than Rilke. Are those two more commonly read, in your view?

As for other categories...I dunno, I can't think of any complaints. I was excited to hear the tossup on Pablo Escobar, since I think that it tapped into some underasked recent history instead of going into more obscure African empires. It was also cool to hear a not-immediately-guessable tossup on the Garden of Earthly Delights.

Ted, you mentioned earlier that you thought this tournament's social science was exemplary because it kept to important works in the field. As someone who knows very little about social science and would like to be more competent at writing it, I'm interested to hear how it did so.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Crimson Rosella » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:28 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote: Thank you for including the Funeral March and Waldstein sonatas in your Beethoven piano sonatas common-link, since these are under-quizbowled important piano pieces. Tossups like these that use the common-link as a vehicle for cluing pieces that are underexposed vis-a-vis their real-world importance, but are nearly untossupable on their own due to a dearth of clues, are the reasons that I like music common-links.
This. The Op. 109, 110, and 111 sonatas were featured really prominently in my class on piano lit in undergrad (and in this tossup as the fugue clue or whatever), and, in general I was able to buzz confidently on the music questions I got early with knowledge I had gained in an academic context.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:36 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:I just want to point out that I find Jerry's attempts to classify me as an Anglo-phone extremist who hates all other literatures to be patently false.
Good thing that's not what I actually wrote! If you read what I wrote, you'll see that what I'm calling idiosyncratic is your take on what quizbowl questions on literature should be about. As for your Anglophone prejudices, well, I don't really know what else to make of the statement that Pushkin is not read in English as often as Wallace Stevens.
To express how insulting this is to me and how inappropriate I find this classification, I would compare it to if I claimed that Jerry were a staunch conservative and ardent supporter of Bush's policies.
That wouldn't be so much insulting as absolutely incoherent.
It is a severe misreading of what I was saying to interpret my comment that I felt there should more tossups on things like Streetcar rather than Le Cid to be a claim I want 2/2 American literature in the canon. I was simply saying I wish there were more tossups on plays that people read and are performed. Obviously is Le Cid were changed to an American play I would want the other tossup changed to a Euro lit tossup. I mean really Jerry what the hell are you talking about with this ridiculous criticism. If you felt the tournament's distribution was acceptable thats cool, but please don't persist in your ridiculous characterization of me as a crazed Anglophone Leavisite who wants to restrict all quizbowl to books mentioned in The Great Tradition because I felt that your tossup on The Shipyard was ill-advised.
Holy balls, can we get away from discussing a question I wrote over 6 months ago? Why is this even being brought up? I'm quoting things you are writing in this very thread. More tossups on plays? Sure, let's have more tossups on plays. I would have liked to see more tossups on poetry myself but unlike you, I don't feel like this tournament was deeply flawed for failing to have more poetry than it did.

My meta-critique here is directed against your voluminous posts detailing the myriad ways in which this tournament was disappointing to you because it didn't fit your image of what should be asked in the literature distribution. As it so happens, I don't think that's a particularly good criterion for analyzing tournament quality, nor do I think that this tournament was nearly as negligent in asking about important things (for whatever interpretation of "important" you wish to use here) as you seem to believe. Lots of these questions wouldn't have been questions I or you would write, but that doesn't make their presence incorrect in this tournament.
Similarly when I pinpoint the Pushkin tossup I do so for a reason. The reason wasn't that I wanted to replace it with a question on Stevens like you suggest, but because it unsurprisingly lead to a bad tossup.
As someone who has read Pushkin I was able to pretty quickly figure out that this was a tossup on Pushkin. Anyway, regardless of this particular instantiation of a Pushkin tossup, there exists no causal relationship between choosing to write a tossup on Pushkin and writing a bad tossup. If the tossup itself was poor as you suggest, then it was poor and that's that; it has nothing to do with the subject matter, which is perfectly acceptable for this tournament.
The tournament would have been better if Auroni spent the time to write a tossup on a poet more people of this tournament's target audience read than Pushkin. Maybe someone like Baudelaire or Rilke or Goethe. Keep in mind I'm not talking about how important Pushkin is but how likely people are to have read him at THUNDER's audience.
I don't know what makes you think that people are more likely to have read any of those other poets.
And frankly the way the Pushkin tossup played in our game against Brown supported by hypothesis. The middle part of the tossup read: "This poet wrote about a man who summons a girl who had written him a love letter to a secluded garden, where he rejects her; he still attends that girl’s (*) name-day celebration and dances with his friend’s fiancee. This author wrote about a flood in St. Petersburg commanded by a statue of Peter the Great in “The Bronze Horseman.”" Shockingly no one buzzed on the first few lines, and then no one was able to buzz on the extremely vague description of Eugene Onegin which lacked proper context and everyone groaned and buzzer raced on St. Petersburg. Once again, I think my point stands that a less than ideal answer selection for THUNDER's target audience was linked with a question that played poorly and forced people to rely on buzzer instincts rather than knowledge. I doubt a tossup on Rilke or Baudelaire would have played as poorly.
So your criticism ought to rightly be "this was a bad tossup on Pushkin," not "tossups on Pushkin are bad for the target audience of THUNDER." You are completely conflating those two points.
Also, Jerry, the reason I said that Auroni wrote too many tossups to improve rather than to produce the most well-balanced tournament is because he explicitly said this: "The reason I didn't write on Middlemarch is that I've written a question on it before, for the NSC earlier this year. The reason that I wrote on Confessions of an English Opium Eater is that I don't know that much about it". Once again I think this is a misguided philosophy. In my opinion, a writer's first commitment should be to write questions to produce the best possible tournament. I know this may be heretical to you Jerry, but I am going to write a tossup on a Chekov or Ibsen play every tournament I edit and even though I won't learn anything writing them I think they are necessary for the tournament's success. Yes, maybe you'll miss a chance to hear a tossup on The Balcony, but I think that is a necessary trade-off for regular difficulty.
I'm happy with whatever you choose to do, for whatever reason. I don't think there's anything wrong with picking a topic you don't know that much about provided it also satisfies some appropriateness criteria for the tournament in question. I would say that Confessions of an English Opium Eater is plenty fine for this set, so whatever reason Auroni had for writing it is irrelevant to me. I too try to write questions on things I don't know that much about, provided they are appropriate for the tournament.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:40 pm

I'll get to responding to Ted soon enough, but for now, here are the literature answers that came up at this tournament:

Tossups: East of Eden, Woman in the Dunes, Golding, Le Cid, Wide Sargasso Sea, Howards End, Flaubert, "Fall of the House of Usher," Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Gilman, Hoffman, Puig, Sidney, Dostoevsky, The Satanic Verses, Alcott, Love in the Time of Cholera, Horace, Brideshead, The Adventures of Augie March, House of Leaves, "Essay on Criticism," The Bacchae, Daphne du Maurier, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Name of the Rose, Dream of the Red Chamber, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Lovelace, Dracula, Zorba the Greek, On the Road, Much Ado About Nothing, Italian, Tender is the Night, Brazil, Pushkin, The Last of the Mohicans, The Remains of the Day, Chesterton, McCullers, The Seagull, Borges, Galsworthy, Norris, Finnegans Wake, Cyrano de Bergerac, Nabokov, The Bridge on the Drina, Shahnameh, Cranes, Coward, Light in August, The Lusiads, Ferber, In Memoriam

Bonuses: Paradise Regained/Samson Agonistes/Milton, Yiddish/Singer/Magician of Lublin, Foundation/Asimov/"Bicentennial Man," Stella/Streetcar Named Desire/Allan Grey, Terence/Plautus/Aristophanes, Orlando/Woolf/The Voyage Out, "Mr. Flood's Party"/"Miniver Cheevy"/Robinson, Brink/Ngugi/Senghor, Bond/Lucky Jim/Amis, Superfluous Man/Turgenev/Oblomov, "Rose Aylmer"/Bleak House/Trollope, Ginsberg/Lowell/Merwin, Sputnik Sweetheart/Murakami/Soseki, "Old Ironsides/"Holmes/"One-Hoss Shay," "Sir Patrick Spens/Coleridge/"Kubla Khan," Anouilh/Antigone/Becket, Atwood/The Blind Assassin/Alias Grace, The Age of Anxiety/Auden/"As I Walked Home One Evening", The Reader/Night/Anne Frank, Eliot/Sontag/Kakutani, Heartbreak House/Shaw/Marchbanks, Nin/Artaud/Proust, Sometimes a Great Notion/Kesey/One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Daughter of Fortune/Allende/House of the Spirits, Verlaine/Ronsard/Baudelaire, The Open Window/Saki/Esme, Willson/Millay/Civil War, Belch/Twelfth Night/Marston, Pope/Chapman/Cowper (graciously written by Trygve), Gitanjali/Tagore/geese, Everyman/The Pilgrim's Progress/Marston, Boll/Billiards at Half-Past Nine/clown, Foer/The Fixer/ Malamud, Schindler's Ark/Oscar and Lucinda/The Vivisector, Mary Stuart/Schiller/The Robbers, A Delicate Balance/Death of a Salesman/Shepard, Cheshire Cat/Alice in Wonderland/Knave of Hearts, Epic of Sundiata/griots/blacksmiths, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting/Kundera/The Joke, "Acquainted with the Night"/Frost/"Out, Out -", Just So Stories/Kipling/Kim, The Woman Warrior/Kingston/Hwang, A Dictionary of the English Language/Johnson/London, O'Connor/"Good Country People"/The Violent Bear it Away, The Red Room/Strindberg/Inferno, Cortazar/A Manual for Manuel/Around the World in Eighty Days, Fry/April/The Beggar's Opera, Palace Walk/Mahfouz/Miramar, Montaigne/essay/Hazlitt, The Maids/Sartre/Mario, "The Ballad of Reading Gaol/Wilde/A Woman of No Importance, Provincetown Players/Barnes/Stein, The City and the Pillar/Vidal/Capote, Hecht/sestina/Pound, Peacock/Shelley/Every Man in His Humour, Cloud Messenger/Sanskrit/Little Clay Cart, Spain/Machado/Unamuno

A lot of these works seem to be in the Western Canon, don't you think, Ted?
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:43 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:Factual inaccuracy from the minuet common-link: Boccherini's Minuet in A is from his eleventh String Quintet. Minnesota Open claimed it was from his fifth Cello Concerto
Near as I can tell, it's his fifth String Quintet, which is his Op. 11; the "Cello Concerto" part in the bonus part I wrote was an unfortunate typo. Sorry about that!
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:53 pm

Some quick comments:

Describing the Warring States period as a conflict for most of the question was pretty confusing.

What was the final count of audio fine arts questions to visual fine arts questions in this set? I kind of felt it was more skewed toward audio questions than visual questions, but I could be remembering wrong.

That primogeniture question seemed ill-advised. From the get-go it seemed pretty obvious it was describing a form of inheritence, and unless I don't believe there are any other viable answers at a tournament like this. I think it would have worked better as a bonus.
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aestheteboy
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by aestheteboy » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:55 pm

I enjoyed this tournament quite a bit. I remember not enjoying three tossups as much: Gladwell, The Affluent Society, and utility. All three of them got answered fairly early, so I'd like to see the tossups in full, if that's ok.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:17 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:Factual inaccuracy from the minuet common-link: Boccherini's Minuet in A is from his eleventh String Quintet. Minnesota Open claimed it was from his fifth Cello Concerto
Near as I can tell, it's his fifth String Quintet, which is his Op. 11; the "Cello Concerto" part in the bonus part I wrote was an unfortunate typo. Sorry about that!
Sorry, Rob; that's not how to read opus notation. This piece is his Op. 11, No. 5, which means it's the fifth work in the set that was published as his eleventh opus. He earlier published six string quintets in his Op. 10. So it's the fifth string quintet from his second set of quintets, and his first set had six, so it is therefore his eleventh string quintet.
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Re: THUNDER Discussion

Post by Ike » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:26 pm

Applying the Cobb-Douglass equation to this economic concept can be done to easily solve the Fisher Equilibrium problem by transforming it into an equivalent homogenous degree 1 log-concave function. Von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern proposed four axioms such as completeness and transitivity that govern the rationality people exist that is necessary to account for while calculating this economic quantity. One way of graphically illustrating this quantity with respect to two resources was illustrated in Francis Edgeworth’s Mathematical Psychics, and involves plotting various combinations of various quantities of two (*) resources for two party’s consumption. Indifference curves are graphic representations depicting various quantities of goods that, for a particular consumer, will keep this quantity constant. For 10 points, name this economic measure of satisfaction.
ANSWER: (economic) utility

This work criticizes American policy for not putting a cap on what percentage of an American household’s income is being used to pay off debts by illustrating how American presidential candidates would always choose a policy that does not increase economic growth in its chapter “The Bill Collector Cometh.” This work argues that the “monetary illusion” is that monetary policies go beyond impacting the “wage-price spiral,” arguing that although it may prevent short-run inflation, it does nothing to stop it. Another chapter of this work discusses how in consumers, emulation and advertising are the basis for the (*) “dependence effect,” the phenomenon that, as production rises, so does increase in desires. The first chapter of this work claims it goes against “currently accepted paradigms” that may make it seem its ideas are currently untenable. For 10 points, identify this work, followed up with The New Industrial State that popularized the term conventional wisdom, which was written by John Galbraith.
ANSWER: The Affluent Society

Here you go.
Since I'm pretty weak at economics in relation to most other subcategories of SS I admit they may be not optimal. I fully appreciate any critique anyone can give. I'm also curious as to what people thought of me trying to include some non-traditional SS in this distro. Please, comment on that as well! I'll post all the answers here:

client centered therapy
Herculaneum
The Interpretation of Cultures
Talcott Parsons
Albert Schweitzer
Albert Bandura
superego
Maria Montessori
Joseph Nye
fundamental attribution error
The Affluent Society
Course in General Linguistics
iron law of wages
pleading no contest
Newton
The Bell Curve
(economic) utility
globalization
Solomon Asch
Uighurs
Greek Language
prospect theory
primogeniture
What is the third Estate?
Australia
imperialism
Klausewitz
various Simons
August Comte / sociology / Gilberto Freyre
The Organization Man / William Whyte / pedestrians
Daniel Bell / Capitalism / Samuel Huntington
The Higher Learning in America / Thorstein Veblen / Turgot
Claude Levi-Strauss / The Raw and the Cooked / alliance theory
contract / boilerplate / Pound
Mises / Hayek / Why I am not a Conservative
Hicksian Demand / efficiency / Nash equilibrium
Firms / Ronald Coase / Hotelling's Lemma
deviance / Merton / atavism
Prague, Trubetskoy, interlingua
human migration / Hernando de Soto / Aryan Invasion
cognitive maps / latency / Gestalt
Basques / W. Humboldt / language isolate
ZPD / Vygotsky / Piaget
extroversion and introversion / personality/ Allport
guilt culture / Benedict / saying thank you
Gregory Bateson / cybernetics / schizophrenia
Ideology and Utopia / K. Mannheim / Max Weber
Lorenz / E. O. Wilson / Sagan
social darwinsim / Francis Galton / William Graham Sumner
Alexander Berkman / Czolgosz / Proudhon
Prison Notebooks / Little Red Book / The History of the Russian Revolution
Trofim Lysenko / vernalization / Vladimir Lenin
Uxmal / Mayans / Chichen Itza
Fernand Braudel / the Mediterranean Sea / Wallerstein
Man's Search for Meaning / Frankl / concentration camp
The Hero With a Thousand Faces / Joseph Campbell / monomyth

PS - For what its worth, I'm actually of the same school of thought as Ted. Virtually everything he posted in his thread is something that I take close to heart when I write literature questions (of which I wrote 0.) I'm pointing this out not to denigrate Auroni's writing, but just that it strikes me as valuable to read and consider Ted's critiques seriously.
Ike
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