The Last Harvard: Monday

Monday at Harvard is a bit of an edgy letdown; when your success conspires against itself.  If I don’t show up on Monday, that means no semifinalists in speech, and no doubles or beyond in debate, which counts as a mildly crappy tournament.  If you do have team members in these rounds, then you have to show up on Monday.  Which is crappy since I’ve by now spend enough damn time cold & tired around campus, and I have to work on Tuesday, and my bed is just oh so comfortable and only a few scant miles away.

They changed up the scheduling this year, moving the interp finals into the capacious Sanders Theater, and in theory making it possible to see most of the finals, with a staggered schedule.  Extemp was finally, after too many freakin years, moved out of the cramped confines of Science Center E to the twice-as-large (and still full!) Science Center D.  In return for this largesse, however, it was first thing in the morning.  I was suspicious about this before, but given that Alex T was wound up tighter and more nervous than ever I’ve seen him — including before last year’s Harvard final, when I think he was just happy to have made it — I can’t say as I’m too upset having gotten it over with early.

After having heard of some questionable uses of evidence out of the quarterfinals, I decided to take extensive notes as to the sources used in the finals, and the claims derived from those sources.  This issue has been a pet one of mine for some time now, and Jonathan C shares it; I’ve seen a lot of extempers pull some bad stunts, and never get called on it.  Furthermore, a number of coaches don’t seem to believe it’s a problem, either because they think it’s not being done (which is naive but not immoral), or because they think it’s not a big deal when it is done, which is anti-educative and appalling.

But rules are rules and I aim to raise the profile, so I took notes and am going to splash the results for the world, or the two people who read this blog, to see.

After the Extemp final, I got roped into judging the Oratory final by Steve M.  Shows what happens when you hang around the ballot table too much.  Apparently they needed me and one other judge to have five in the final; a final of that caliber really ought to have five judges, so I consented.  But again I wonder where the Harvard hires are, where the pre-planning is — why weren’t there 10 judges there of whom 5 clean ones could be selected?  However, judging the round gave me the opportunity to write Speech RFD Ballots for the first time, and I’ll post about that and the round itself later, as well.

Finally at this point I was able to escape the Science Center and buy myself a new phone to replace the RAZR which had got locked into the Suicide-a-Minute cycle the afternoon before.  The Verizon folks in Harvard Square tried valiantly to pull the contacts off the old one before it’s minute of life elapsed, but to no avail.  So now I was flying blind; people could call me and I’d have no idea who, and I had no way of calling my kids.  Woot.  (If you’ve tried to call me since, I did have a backup listing on my computer as of six months ago.  I’ve gotten to people with last names beginning with R.  If you’re reading this and suspect I put your number in my phone more recently than six months ago, please send me a text message with your name).

Then I grabbed lunch and during that Tim A called me and reminded me I’d skirted my judging obligation in doubles to see the extemp final, and could I make up for it by judging the final.  I of course agreed; the PF final will take up yet another blog post on its own.  I found myself as impromptu chair, suddenly in the spotlight after the round as I counted the ballots, handed trophies to my right and then larger ones to my left, clapped, and then dashed out to the speech final awards ceremony, just in time to see the beginning.

So busy day, but not a hugely tiring one, really.  Apart from going to the square once, I didn’t have to walk very far, and then everything ends around 5:00 PM or so and unlike the poor shlubs who get on buses and ride home to Jersey or Maryland, I  can skip home in about fifteen minutes.  That means I tend to linger a little, being in no rush; and that got me invited to see Jenny C and the U School kids the first time all weekend.  Ironically instead of talking to Jenny much I ended up mostly talking to their debaters and extempers, largely in an attempt to sway two of their recalcitrant speakers to joining us for the fun in EXL this summer.  Then, a birthday cake for an LDer, a fond farewell, a quick ride home, and some sleep.

Tomorrow: the Extemp final.