Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

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Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by felgon123 »

Okay, the set is now cleared for discussion now that all of the Sun 'n Fun mirrors are concluded.

First, I would like to thank everyone who played, especially those who stuck it out in the somewhat chaotic and longer-than-it-should-have-been running of the set in Maryland. Everyone seemed to enjoy the set and brought a very positive overall atmosphere to the tournament. I am still unaware of what the other mirrors ended up doing with it, as I believe Sun 'n Fun ran long everywhere, but whatever format was chosen to play the questions on, the fact remains that I provided the questions and people played on them - so I am expecting money.

Second, I would like to congratulate Jonathan Magin, who thoroughly dominated the field and placed first, and Jerry Vinokurov, who put up a very strong performance for second and faced off with Jonathan in the forty-tossup finals round. The finals round was also used to determine final placements for ranks one through eight, which I am unsure of, but I believe that Matt Weiner was third after going head to head with Ted Gioia, who placed fourth. I apologize for not having any prizes for you at the site, but I will make sure to bring books for you to Chicago Open.

Third, I would welcome any feedback on the set from anyone who played it. The general response at Maryland seemed to be pretty positive, and I will acknowledge that there were a good number of very difficult answers. I welcome criticism and will address anything that I feel I can justify.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by theMoMA »

A half-dozen of us stuck around after Sun n Fun to play this tournament shootout style. I think all of us enjoyed it quite a bit. For a debut tournament, it was certainly an impressive accomplishment. That said, I have a few possible points to improve on in the future. First, I really like it when subject tournaments mix in hard answers, because there just aren't that many opportunities to buzz on plot descriptions of No Telephone to Heaven. Some of the hard answers seemed kind of random, unimportant, and uninteresting, but one of the downsides to being a new writer is that it's hard to know what higher-level stuff will enthrall the masses.

Distributionally, it seemed that the European literature skewed heavily Russian. Some of the tossups on European countries weren't particularly well-executed, if I'm remembering them correctly. A tossup on the Netherlands or Finland should have a pretty extensive plot description of Max Havelaar or Meek Heritage before just saying that it's the country home to the authors of those works. I was having a hard time staying alert and awake during the last five or so packets, so it's possible that those descriptions did exist and they just went over my head.

Stylistically, it seemed that these tossups strayed from anecdotal clues more than any lit questions I've heard in recent memory. Especially in the tossups on authors, there were lots that took the form of describing characters and main plots of minor works instead of testing more than cursory knowledge of important works. Even in some of the tossups on works, especially novels, many were just sentence upon sentence of "one character...another character..." and didn't really give anecdotes that I would consider particularly interesting or memorable. Figuring out what kind of clues to use is one of the hardest things to master when writing questions, so I don't want to come across as overly critical here, because the questions did an excellent job of preserving pyramidality and using specific clues.

A couple times, there were somewhat confusing choices regarding the giveaways. The tossup on Tyrone Slothrop was probably the oddest (aside from the fact that you probably shouldn't write tossups on the thing your tournament is named after), because in addition to not giving Gravity's Rainbow, it didn't specifically mention his erections or V-2 rockets. There were quite a few times where the giveaway just kind of assumed that the tossup would be gotten beforehand and barely contained any useful information. For a room full of experienced players who rarely let questions get to the giveaway, this wasn't really a big deal, but I could see how it would be really frustrating in games where buzzes off of the giveaways are important.

Finally, if you're going to write on hard answers, you should really be more generous with powers. It seems fair that each question should give the field about an equal chance of powering it, which to me means that you should set a threshold related where you think people are actually going to buzz, and then determine how many clues for each tossup fit that threshold. For example, the threshold might be that 20% of the teams in the field should be able to buzz before the powermark. It seems like even if a calculation like this was done, the result was that the harder tossups were much harder to power.

In many ways, this tournament reminded me of the successes and shortcomings of the first literature tournament that I wrote. A lot of the things I listed above were things that I did too. I know that writing and reading that tournament was one of the most valuable experiences for me as a writer, because I got to see how my questions played and hear feedback about what people liked and didn't like. The suggestions above are some of the things that I learned from that experience, so I hope they are beneficial to you as well. Again, I'm extremely impressed with this tournament as a debut effort, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself playing it.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by vcuEvan »

I enjoyed this a lot. My only recommendations would be to give up on the 30% world literature nonsense and to include more anecdotal clues in tossups on works.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Since I actually was familiar with maybe around 20% of the literature that came up at this tournament, I can't really comment specifically on many questions. I will say that the tossups that I got seemed to have clues that (to my knowledge) were relatively famous come up relatively early. Of course, this may simply be a result of the "I knew it, so it must be famous [particularly when the rest of the tournament is teaching me just how much I don't know]" fallacy. But Chichikov being mistaken for Captain Kopeikin shouldn't be that early in Dead Souls, certainly not before something about eating a lot of sturgeon; memorable quotes from "Girl" were pretty early in that Jamaica Kincaid tossup; whatever I buzzed on for Jude the Obscure seemed misplaced. Perhaps these issues were more or less functions of how difficult some of the other tossups were; it's a strange feeling for there to be a tossup on Hopscotch that mentions Rocamadour where it did as well as a tossup on Tyrone Slothrop that mentions V-2 rockets never. That said, these are not huge deals, and the set was, overall, a ton of fun.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Since I actually was familiar with maybe around 20% of the literature that came up at this tournament, I can't really comment specifically on many questions. I will say that the tossups that I got seemed to have clues that (to my knowledge) were relatively famous come up relatively early.
I think Andy might be underestimating the difficulty of some of this stuff, but I'll agree that Rocamadour should not have been in power, and I think the clues for the Chesnutt tossup were a little out of order; The Marrow of Tradition should probably have been after the FTP. The power for Snow encompassed some extremely prominent plot points, including the basic premise for Ka's presence in Kars. Also, Rebellion in the Backlands was negbait for War of the End of the World. I negged with it, as did at least two other people.

There was some obscure stuff in here that I was really, really happy to see come up. A good amount of it was in the finals, unfortunately. But I do want to mention that some things were unreasonably hard, which I'm sure more knowledgeable players can comment on more accurately. Ohio Impromptu (which I think was powered in one room, actually?) is one of them. And I'd be shocked if anyone got Joel Chandler Harris before mention of the obvious. The inclusion of incredibly obscure works or authors isn't in and of itself ridiculous, but rather than asking about minor radio plays of Tom Stoppard, I think you could have tossed up better minor works of known authors, characters or places or objects of known works, or even known authors based only on minor works.

As far as question-writing goes, Andrew's comment about the dearth of anecdotal clues/sometimes weirdly vague giveaways is a good one. I was also a little disappointed in the number of "name the country" tossups. This was, however, fun and impressive, and I look forward to your next one.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

memorable quotes from "Girl"
So like, I think if you can remember quotes from your reading of "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, you should get some Jamaica Kincaid points! I want to say a lot of very good things about this set later, but some parts of it did seem emblematic of what I perceive as a very detrimental undercurrent in quizbowl: the belief that you need to obfuscate clues to the point of lacking some more significant material to avoid the abominable sin of writing a "transparent" fourth line clue on Atta Troll.

Actually, now that I think about it, this applies to more than just Atta Troll! Sure, if you write tossups on easier answers, the material is going to focus on more obscure information at the higher levels - that's good. But when you're using nebulous phrasing about the third most famous work of some guy who has never been a tossup before, or spending the bulk of your Finland questions describing the plots of works that MAYBE 3 people at the event have familiarity with, I think you're actually doing a disservice to real knowledge. I think that when you write tossups, you should err on the side of simplicity and directness - if you take a second pass, look at a clue, and think that there's a reasonable chance that this point of the question would create lots of buzzer races, or that the pyramidality is askew, then fix it and maybe presage the description of two characters from some author's work X with a slightly less well-known clue from that work. Otherwise, what's gained by not even mentioning the titles or significant plot arcs of some works whose more obscure passages appear earlier in the tossup?

I don't want to make it seem like this is mainly derived from this event - this is something I've been wanting to discuss for a long time, and I saw some examples of it here. But really, this was a very solid event, and an absolutely phenomenal job for a first-time editor like Tommy. For every perhaps ill-conceived idea (I've read like 12 Herrick poems about Damon the Mower and was just defeated by the glowworms tossup), I saw identifiable signs of great and inventive writing. I particularly think Tommy should be commended for using deep knowledge clues of an author's more important works in the leadins, rather than seeking out the most obscure experimental project they worked on for 2 months. Doing that kind of thing right (and non-transparently) isn't easy, and as far as I can tell Tommy did it pretty well. Good job, dude.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

DumbJaques wrote:
memorable quotes from "Girl"
So like, I think if you can remember quotes from your reading of "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, you should get some Jamaica Kincaid points!
I don't know if that's so true at this level; this tournament was intended to be hard. Like, extremely memorable quotes from an author's first or second most famous work? This is (to me, at least) like quoting "I will show you fear in a handful of dust" or whatever and expecting not everyone (at this level) to buzz and say Eliot.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Speaking as someone who has also read "Girl" and got outbuzzed by you on that quote: it is not one of Jamaica Kincaid's 2 most well known works by any definition, it is not famous either in quizbowl or out, and it was a perfectly fine third clue in a tossup.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by jonpin »

felgon123 wrote:Second, I would like to congratulate Jonathan Magin, who thoroughly dominated the field and placed first, and Jerry Vinokurov, who put up a very strong performance for second and faced off with Jonathan in the forty-tossup finals round. The finals round was also used to determine final placements for ranks one through eight, which I am unsure of, but I believe that Matt Weiner was third after going head to head with Ted Gioia, who placed fourth. I apologize for not having any prizes for you at the site, but I will make sure to bring books for you to Chicago Open.
Yeah, Magin killed this tournament by a wide margin. He had 630-ish points in the five prelim rounds, with second place being ~500.
In terms of the placement rounds, Shantanu (sp?) beat Guy for 7th. I want to say it was something like Ike vs Evan for 5th-6th, but I may be making that up.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I don't know if that's so true at this level; this tournament was intended to be hard. Like, extremely memorable quotes from an author's first or second most famous work? This is (to me, at least) like quoting "I will show you fear in a handful of dust" or whatever and expecting not everyone (at this level) to buzz and say Eliot.
This is a bad argument, especially since we're almost certainly not talking about the most famous or even second most famous novel of the writer in question. If you've read some obscure things by Jamaica Kincaid, bully for you, you got 20 points. But it's absurd to suggest that a quote from one of her minor works is an inappropriate early clue. In general, people really need to stop making the "I knew this therefore it was bad" argument. At worst it just sounds like bragging (not something I'm accusing you of, Andy) and at best it's just a piece of false reasoning.

I'll have a more thoughtful response to this tournament in a little bit, but I generally enjoyed everything except the final round, which I though was needlessly obscure and which essentially eliminated any possibility of a reasonable game by making the vast majority of the questions about things that were incredibly obscure and authors almost no one had heard of. Just for perspective, between the two of us, Jonathan and I answered 25 of 40 tossups, with the other 15 going dead (and Jonathan answering 21 of those 25). I'm under no delusion that I would have won given a more plausibly set of questions, since Jonathan is just a straight up better lit player than me, but it would have been nice to see a few more questions on things that someone might have actually read.

Most of the rest of the questions were fine and interesting and I didn't mind the absence of anecdotes so much as others. In fact, I though those anecdotes were there but were encapsulated in the character stories, and I thought that was fine. The questions themselves were very well written in a technical sense although some of the early clues tended to be roughly on the vague side. When writing on hard topics, I don't think it's necessary to be coy about character names; it's not like anyone's got a list of characters created by Augusto Roa Bastos memorized or whatever. Overall a fun event and one I would definitely play again.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Will this set be publicly available? The descriptions of this set are kind of astounding and I'm very curious, having been unfortunately out of town yesterday.

(Tommy, you're a rising high school junior who wrote a tossup on Jamaica Kincaid? I didn't even know what a Jamaica Kincaid was until this thread!?! Good Lord, what are the rest of we puny high schoolers in for?)
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by felgon123 »

First, I'll just clarify that I make no claim to be a good literature player or have any great knowledge of any field of literature. When writing a tournament of this difficulty, it is also very difficult to figure out what the people playing know, and my pretty-much universal response for "Why did you write a question on answer x?" will be "I thought it was famous", so that type of criticism isn't very constructive (note: I'm not accusing anyone in this thread of having done that). I apologize for the excessive difficulty of the finals round, and I promise that if I had foreseen fifteen tossups going dead, I would not have written it as it was - though I was amused by the fact that only half as many would have gone dead if Yetman, Andy, and Hannah had been playing alongside Jonathan and Jerry. Personally, I thought that the common-link tossups (Vox Clamantis, Helena, Wieland, The Rope) and the tossups on countries (Portugal, Finland, The Netherlands, The Philippines) were among the most interesting of the tournament and provided some learning opportunities for everyone, and I believe that Jonathan got Wieland off of the plot of Christoph Wieland's poem Oberon. Overall (except for the finals round), it seemed like difficulty was not too much of a problem, and there were few enough crazy things for it not to bother people. I welcome the above criticism and encourage everyone who played to offer whatever thoughts they have. However, I do not want to listen to people whose criticism boils down to "someone who knows stuff will get this question". Yesterday, I heard many people offer such arguments as "Anyone who has read the book referenced in the first clue of this tossup will pick up an easy twenty points" or "So-and-so know's everything about that book, and he got points for it, so why did you write a question on it?" Criticizing the fact that knowledge was rewarded with points is counter-productive and completely useless. Anyway, this is just some of what I heard yesterday, and no one has done that in this thread, and I still encourage and welcome all constructive criticism and overall comments on how playing the set was at all the sites.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

grapesmoker wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I don't know if that's so true at this level; this tournament was intended to be hard. Like, extremely memorable quotes from an author's first or second most famous work? This is (to me, at least) like quoting "I will show you fear in a handful of dust" or whatever and expecting not everyone (at this level) to buzz and say Eliot.
This is a bad argument, especially since we're almost certainly not talking about the most famous or even second most famous novel of the writer in question. If you've read some obscure things by Jamaica Kincaid, bully for you, you got 20 points. But it's absurd to suggest that a quote from one of her minor works is an inappropriate early clue. In general, people really need to stop making the "I knew this therefore it was bad" argument. At worst it just sounds like bragging (not something I'm accusing you of, Andy) and at best it's just a piece of false reasoning.
I accept, having heard you and Matt express this belief, that "Girl" is in fact not as famous as I thought it was (I genuinely did believe it to be her most famous work, but that was unduely influenced, I guess, by the relative amounts of attention we gave her works in class in high school, which I guess was zany). So my premise is faulty and I withdraw that criticism, but I don't think that I'm really engaging in the false reasoning of "I know it early, so it must be bad." Rather, my reasoning was [meant to be] that it's nearly her most famous work, therefore it shouldn't be coming up there.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

felgon123 wrote:First, I'll just clarify that I make no claim to be a good literature player or have any great knowledge of any field of literature. When writing a tournament of this difficulty, it is also very difficult to figure out what the people playing know, and my pretty-much universal response for "Why did you write a question on answer x?" will be "I thought it was famous", so that type of criticism isn't very constructive (note: I'm not accusing anyone in this thread of having done that).
Well, here's the constructive aspect of that line of criticism. Regardless of whether or not you're an ace player yourself, one of the best ways of getting a handle on whether an answer is gettable is to check what contexts it's come up in before. You can do that by consulting packet archives, or just asking a more experienced player. Another way is to ask whether the work itself is intrinsically notable or the kind of thing that one might encounter as a reasonably well-read person. I felt like quite a few of the questions simply failed either test.
I apologize for the excessive difficulty of the finals round, and I promise that if I had foreseen fifteen tossups going dead, I would not have written it as it was - though I was amused by the fact that only half as many would have gone dead if Yetman, Andy, and Hannah had been playing alongside Jonathan and Jerry.
Here's the thing about this: different people know some different thing. Doug apparently owns a copy of The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born. That's great for Doug, but owning a copy of an obscure book isn't enough to make one a good or even adequate literature player (note that I'm not saying Doug or Andy or Hannah are bad players; they're actually quite good). Questions on things like that become essentially coin-flips in which someone might be lucky enough to own the book, but which generally end in silence. If you're trying to determine who has the best overall literature base, I don't think the way to do that is to focus on literature that most people have not read and have only a slight chance of hearing about.
Personally, I thought that the common-link tossups (Vox Clamantis, Helena, Wieland, The Rope) and the tossups on countries (Portugal, Finland, The Netherlands, The Philippines) were among the most interesting of the tournament and provided some learning opportunities for everyone, and I believe that Jonathan got Wieland off of the plot of Christoph Wieland's poem Oberon.
I thought many of the common-link tossups were pretty good. However, vagueness plagued some of them; statements like "An author from this country translated the plays of Terrence" really should be rewritten to be more substantive.
Yesterday, I heard many people offer such arguments... "So-and-so know's everything about that book, and he got points for it, so why did you write a question on it?"
I'll take up this gauntlet. I thought Jonathan Magin's fetish for William Gaddis was quite well-known; therefore, it seems unfortunate to include a tossup on Gaddis' third-best-known work, on which no one has a chance of beating him. From talking to you after the match it seemed like you were just not aware of that, and I think that's fine.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Sir Thopas »

grapesmoker wrote:I'll take up this gauntlet. I thought Jonathan Magin's fetish for William Gaddis was quite well-known; therefore, it seems unfortunate to include a tossup on Gaddis' third-best-known work, on which no one has a chance of beating him. From talking to you after the match it seemed like you were just not aware of that, and I think that's fine.
I'm pretty sure Hannah would have beaten him to that tossup, amusingly.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Strongside »

I thought that this tournament was excellent, even more so when you consider it was written by a high school student. There were lots of interesting tossups and answers, and I thought the answer selection for this tournament was exceptional.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by fleurdelivre »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I accept, having heard you and Matt express this belief, that "Girl" is in fact not as famous as I thought it was (I genuinely did believe it to be her most famous work, but that was unduely influenced, I guess, by the relative amounts of attention we gave her works in class in high school, which I guess was zany). So my premise is faulty and I withdraw that criticism, but I don't think that I'm really engaging in the false reasoning of "I know it early, so it must be bad." Rather, my reasoning was [meant to be] that it's nearly her most famous work, therefore it shouldn't be coming up there.
It's okay; we read "Girl" in my HS lit class too, and I once attempted to toss her up for ABC until Matt explained just how inappropriate that would have been. Funny how individual perception can be sometimes.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by at your pleasure »

I'm pretty sure almost any question-writer around can come up with an example of something utterly absurd that they wrote a question on before they knew better.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by magin »

On the whole, this tournament was a lot of fun; Tommy found a lot of excellent clues (especially for tossups on canonical works and authors), and the tossups demonstrated a care in finding clues that I think more writers should aspire for.

That said, there were some aspects of the tournament I thought could be improved. I think there was one tossup on classical literature; I understand that it might not be fun to find clues for, it's definitely an integral part of the literature canon, and any subject tournament shouldn't ignore a significant subdistribution. Also, a lot of the answers were really hard (as in, sixes on my eponymous scale). I'm sure George Lamming and that Vietnamese epic and The Beautyfull Ones Are Not Yet Born are interesting, but playing a lot of those tossups felt like a crapshoot among which player had simply heard of the answer, not which player knew more.

To expand on that, I think that this tournament had a goal of expanding the world literature distribution, which is admirable. However, I don't think making a large portion of answers things that have never come up before is a good way to expand the canon. I think that writing a large number of high-quality questions on easy/answerable/canonical answers is a more effective way to expand the canon, since then, when you go outside the canon for a new answer, people will give your choices more weight (unless they're not important or seemingly random).

Additionally, I think many of the answer choices at this tournament would have been improved by being on easier topics. Tommy definitely wrote many high quality questions on easy or canonical questions for this tournament, and my biggest regret is that there weren't more of them. For instance, tossups on Beckett's play Ohio Impromptu or Walcott's Pantomime could easily have been tossups on Beckett or Walcott (or easier works by Beckett or Walcott). My problem with such difficult tossups is that they don't really test how much players at the tournament know about literature, but whether they've merely heard of the answer. I'm no expert on Beckett, but I've read at least fifteen of his plays and have cursory knowledge of more; however, that tossup on Ohio Impromptu didn't test any of it. I'd rather take into account the probable knowledge of the field playing the tournament than leave it up to chance whether any player will even answer a question. In short, writing tossups on easier answers (with good, rigorous clues) will allow players to demonstrate more knowledge, and will be less demoralizing for the entire field.

Finally, some of the questions had vague leadins or clues; I understand that that might happen in tossups on really famous works, because you don't want to mention something too famous, but especially with tossups on hard answers, there's no need to be coy. The tossup on Carpenter's Gothic, for instance, had seven lines of clues about obscure plot details which didn't mention any character names; I don't think the circuit is so inundated with tossups on Carpenter's Gothic that you can't just mention character names early on. In fact, I recognized that the leadin clues were from Carpenter's Gothic (the part about Paul Booth being traumatized in Vietnam), but I didn't want to buzz on them since the clues didn't provide me with enough useful context. I don't want to give the impression that the majority of tossups suffered from vagueness, just that some tossups could have used more concrete, contextual clues, especially early on.

Anyway, as I said, I enjoyed this tournament thoroughly (hey, any tournament with a tossup on Carpenter's Gothic is a winner in my book), and I think that Tommy is a very talented writer who should only improve from this impressive debut effort.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by magin »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Rather, my reasoning was [meant to be] that it's nearly her most famous work, therefore it shouldn't be coming up there.
This also seems like poor reasoning to me. There's nothing wrong with using clues from a famous work before clues from a less famous work, as long as the clues from the more famous work reward knowledge of the work and aren't sufficiently well known just from coming up in quizbowl before.

For instance, Tommy wrote a tossup on Chesnutt that began with an important, but not quizbowl-famous clue from The Marrow of Tradition, and then (I think) moved on to descriptions of less famous works. I think that's a fine way to organize clues, as long as the earlier clues are, in fact, harder. Also, I don't think criticizing a tossup for allowing you to buzz from the knowledge of reading something is at all useful; in fact, that seems like the point of good clues. So, I wish you (and other people) would not argue that using clues people know is in any way a bad thing.
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Mechanical Beasts
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

magin wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Rather, my reasoning was [meant to be] that it's nearly her most famous work, therefore it shouldn't be coming up there.
This also seems like poor reasoning to me. There's nothing wrong with using clues from a famous work before clues from a less famous work, as long as the clues from the more famous work reward knowledge of the work and aren't sufficiently well known just from coming up in quizbowl before.
I'm not that dumb; I do know that hard clues can come from easy works. Rather, I believed that those quotes from "Girl" were extremely notable, perhaps the easiest clues you can give for "Girl" short of saying "a work in which a mother gives the title figure some kickass advice." If that weren't the case, then I sure would not have held that position.
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Matt Weiner
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

So, does anyone see the irony of constantly complaining that anything they've read is too easy, anything that's ever been mentioned in quizbowl before is too easy, questions on authors whom possibly the best literature player in quizbowl has read are too easy, quotations from the fourth-most-important work of an author who most people in quizbowl don't know anything about are too easy to use as the third clue in tossups...but also, tournaments where questions go dead sometimes are too hard? What exactly do you want writers to do? Too much criticism of tournaments lately serves only to point out that people would rather show off how much they know by calling everything "transparent" and "easy" and "stock" than actually try to give good advice on how people can write well in the future.

Overall, the only problem with this tournament that I could see was that the basis for such an expansion of the world literature canon should have been a thorough inclusion of the existing canon. That is, a smaller amount of questions on things like The Beautiful Ones are Not Yet Born could have been mixed in with some of the authors who people know but didn't come up, like Asturias, so that there wouldn't have been quite as much of a leap from the other categories to the world category.

I did appreciate that nearly all of the new/challenging answers were self-evidently important things--for example, questions about the most prominent author from Ghana, an English-speaking country, seem like things that those of us who have been in quizbowl or reading books for many years should know about, even if we don't. There were two major differences between this tournament and SNF, another event where a lot of questions went unanswered, and they were that the hard questions in this tournament were better-written and that they nearly all felt like things we should know, rather than puzzling sequences of arbitrary third-order information regarding people who don't sound very interesting at all. The hardest questions in the tournament, like "Post-Cannibalism," all piqued my interest in a way that questions on Postmodernist Tome #87 really can't, both because the topics are more important and the questions were written in a more snappy and logical way.

Let me be the second or third person to add that this was the largest lit tournament written to date, at 240 questions; was the first to be written entirely by one person; and that person is not yet in the 11th grade, so we should make sure to appreciate the achievement here.
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Yeah, lest it sound like I'm super-critical and didn't appreciate this tournament, let me say that the vast majority of it was very good and contained lots of interesting and well-written questions on worthwhile topics. Whatever my feelings about the final round, I certainly do want to commend Tommy for his hard work; it was overall a very good set that people would do well to peruse both for the purposes of gaining knowledge and examples of how to write good questions.
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Jesus vs. Dragons
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons »

Edit: Resolved

User was warned for this post: Blanking your posts is against the rules, even inconsequential posts.
Last edited by Jesus vs. Dragons on Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ethan Hewett
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women, fire and dangerous things
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by women, fire and dangerous things »

I'd be interested in seeing this set too.
Will Nediger
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Rompimientos del Centauro
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Re: Tyrone Slothrop Lit Discussion

Post by Rompimientos del Centauro »

I would also like to have access to this set if it is at all possible.
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