Viva Las Vegas

A few words about Las Vegas:

It’s a strange town.  There’s the sudden and overwhelming artificiality of The Strip, but if you go more than a quarter mile beyond it in any direction, you find yourself in the most banal and faceless suburb known to man.  It’s a rather strange contrast between the aggressively over the top, and the aggressively normal.

The tournament itself is the standard NFL fare.  It’s easy, drawn out schedule conceals the fact that the tournament is pretty poorly run.  I think it might be that they obsessively quadruple check everything, but somehow my tournament director’s mind rebels at any tournament that takes 3 hours to break from 30 students to 14.  That really shouldn’t be that difficult.  And I gather supplementals and consolations ran even more poorly; my student described EdComm quite colorfully as “a slowly moving pile of f#@%!!”; I hear the second round of Impromptu launched a good three hours late.

The awards ceremony was ridiculous on two fronts.  The first was the ridiculousness inherent in the thing; the first student to actually haul in a trophy for talking got it a good 75 minutes into the show.  We were treated to an, ahem, inspirational speech complete with movie music straight out of Dances with Wolves.  For unintentional comedy, that rivaled the infamous blessing by Sister Someone-or-other in Chicago CFLs 2006 and Ted Turner’s amazing drunken ramble at NFLs in 2002.   Both my own team and the Scarsdale contingent were doubled over.  I thought Vaughan was going to have an aneurysm.

I had proclaimed earlier in the week that Joe and I should maintain the life goal to someday get kicked out of an event for bad behavior.  We certainly did our best right then, but no one shushed us or asked us to leave.  They were probably cracking up too much.

I suppose a responsible coach might have shushed the kids up and made them struggle to compose themselves out of respect for the event and the sponsors thereof, but I actually won’t have anything to do with that.  The NFL disrespected its own event enough to let an hour and change go by patting itself on the back before recognizing actual students.  The NFL lets their sponsors and celebrities cross that magic line from supporting to dominating the actual event — I noticed, for example, that the humorous final panel didn’t have a single actual forensics coach on it.  It was mostly celebrities and sponsors.  Were I a coach of a HI finalist, I would have been ripshit.  As it was, I was still rather offended.  So as far as I was concerned, the NFL had the guy babbling up there, and so the NFL could take the consequences.

Then my team went on to clean up.  We had a semifinalist and three finalists, and the finalists each went on to win their events outright.  Apparently it’s some record to win three national championships — Storytelling, Editorial Commentary, and US Extemp — so that’s something.  It certainly meant a lot of effort shipping things home the day after the tournament.  A good problem to have, that.  And it was nice, in a way, since all four students were talented and deserving sorts who’d worked hard all year, and were smart and eager kids.  But still, it was a little surreal.

The story of the Storytelling is itself a story, which will be told later.  Charlie called me after he had heard the news — he was judging the Ed Comm final and was very offended I hadn’t told him which student was mine so he could automatically give him the worst rank.  He’d asked me to tell him results since he was wisely skipping awards, but in the hoopla and picture taking I had neglected to do so.  He found out anyway and called to issue congratulations.   He told me to play some money on #3 that weekend since the luck was apparently good.  I did, and it hit, which is a $1,050 payout.

I should listen to Charlie more often.

The kids shipped home I spent time doing Adult Things in Vegas, which translates into spending a ridiculous amount of money on food and laying by the pool and such.  Yesterday and today I’ve been feeling a little upset of the stomach, which is unfortunate, but it’s also slowed me down some.  I slept alot and now I’m waiting quietly in a Panera for my flight time.  I think I prefer the aggressively normal bits, banality and all, to the over the top bits.  I never did get the Camp gay merit badge.