Midwestern Spring Trash

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Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by stanjast » Fri Nov 28, 2014 7:31 pm

Just to try to get out in front of this a little, a question:

Are there teams that would want to play trash sometime in the spring in West Central Indiana?

Also: would anyone outside the Midwest want to collaborate with Purdue on such a venture, with the prospect of sharing packets and hosting a mirror of your own? The Purdue Academic Team is mulling the idea of hosting a trash tourney (probably an open event), but wants to gauge interest.

Many thanks for your input.
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by Guile Island » Sat Nov 29, 2014 1:29 am

I would certainly play anything trash-related that happens at Purdue and could probably get some other NU folks interested as well. If you haven't written anything/can't find anybody to collaborate with, the Ohio Trash set (is this happening this year?) or COTTAGE bowl might be viable options as well.
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by Unicolored Jay » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:08 am

I'm not writing for it, but the Ohio trash set is definitely happening once again this year.

EDIT: some information about it here: http://ohioqbforum.net/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=64
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by TheRhymeMinister » Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:42 pm

the charm wrote: COTTAGE bowl might be viable options as well.
COTTAGE Bowl would definitely be interested in a Midwest mirror in Spring '15. Email me if you want more info: CUQTAPresident [at] gmail [dot] com
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by stanjast » Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:59 am

Thanks for the replies about Ohio trash and COTTAGE Bowl. Those are now on our radar. I was looking at the COTTAGE Bowl global announcement and had a question I wanted to pose, though:

The discussion of the distribution says the questions are roughly half from the 1990s and half from the 2000s. Is this trash timeline people want to play (leaving out topics pre-1990)?

I know I'm old (I was born in 1981 and the majority of undergrads were probably born in the mid-90s), but it seems to me there's some great trash content to be had from before 1990 that would be canonical to even today's entering collegiate players.

I noticed one comment on the thread about Carleton's hosting of COTTAGE Bowl (among a flood of people who seemed very happy with the tournament) who complained that there wasn't enough "canonical" material in it (even as he correctly noted it was hard to pin down what the trash "canon" might be). He mentioned leaving out things like the Beatles, who are certainly known to a great many young people because of their parents and consistent radio airplay of their music, even though it's been 40 years since they made a new album.

So I'm really curious to hear from you -- especially the undergrads -- do you want to play trash that covers mostly the decades when you've been alive (I certainly understand why this might be the case -- I remember hating play against old fogeys like me when I was an undergrad) or would you rather play on questions that include topics like Hitchcock movies and The Wonder Years?

It occurs to me as I write this that there may be ways to parse this distribution such that it's possible to include older trash that might still be readily consumable today (via Netflix, oldies radio, etc) or had a lasting impact on the cultural consciousness. There could be rules in a distribution that say, for instance, "TV 4/4 -- but any show airing original episodes before 1980 must be available on Netflix" or "TV 4/4, but shows airing original episodes before 1980 must have won at least one Emmy Award between the show and its cast".

I realize there has been a great deal of trash written about...well...trash in the past -- shows that ran for one season, terrible movies, etc -- stuff that wasn't a cultural touchstone. And maybe this was one of the downfalls of TRASH, I don't know.

I'd like all your input on how to bridge what I see as a generational gap in trash these days. Where once TRASH was run by people born predominantly in the 1960s and 1970s, trash tourneys today seem mostly the purview of younger pop culture lovers. I'm all for that and think it's great there are collegians who'll take up that mantle -- I'd like to see trash continue as an enjoyable QB format that doesn't take itself too seriously and I think it's a fun way to get more people playing QB in general -- a way for there to be (hopefully) something for everyone.

Your input is welcomed and I look forward to reading it.

Many thanks,
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by bsmith » Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:41 am

stanjast wrote:The discussion of the distribution says the questions are roughly half from the 1990s and half from the 2000s. Is this trash timeline people want to play (leaving out topics pre-1990)?
Having played COTTAGE Bowl, I can assure you that there is stuff before 1990. The 50-50 split is more half 20th century, half 21st century.
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:16 pm

stanjast wrote:It occurs to me as I write this that there may be ways to parse this distribution such that it's possible to include older trash that might still be readily consumable today (via Netflix, oldies radio, etc) or had a lasting impact on the cultural consciousness. There could be rules in a distribution that say, for instance, "TV 4/4 -- but any show airing original episodes before 1980 must be available on Netflix" or "TV 4/4, but shows airing original episodes before 1980 must have won at least one Emmy Award between the show and its cast".
You can't magically make something that's too hard into something appropriate by announcing a "rule." Trash works just like academic -- you have to write on things the target audience of the tournament can answer, and there is no objective way to predict "what people can answer." It can only be learned by acquiring an intuition from participating in prior tournaments.

I think that you are basically right, that one of the reasons trash died off before is that people ignored this truism over and over again. Anyone seeking to write a trash tournament in 2014 should observe the same rules as anyone seeking to write an academic event -- have a team of experienced, qualified people; have a realistic idea about how you are going to fill an entire tournament with questions that aren't impossible to answer; follow the correct rules about question quality; don't equate lazy/bad questions with "fun."
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by Bartleby » Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:41 pm

stanjast wrote:Thanks for the replies about Ohio trash and COTTAGE Bowl. Those are now on our radar. I was looking at the COTTAGE Bowl global announcement and had a question I wanted to pose, though:

The discussion of the distribution says the questions are roughly half from the 1990s and half from the 2000s. Is this trash timeline people want to play (leaving out topics pre-1990)?

I know I'm old (I was born in 1981 and the majority of undergrads were probably born in the mid-90s), but it seems to me there's some great trash content to be had from before 1990 that would be canonical to even today's entering collegiate players.

I noticed one comment on the thread about Carleton's hosting of COTTAGE Bowl (among a flood of people who seemed very happy with the tournament) who complained that there wasn't enough "canonical" material in it (even as he correctly noted it was hard to pin down what the trash "canon" might be). He mentioned leaving out things like the Beatles, who are certainly known to a great many young people because of their parents and consistent radio airplay of their music, even though it's been 40 years since they made a new album.

So I'm really curious to hear from you -- especially the undergrads -- do you want to play trash that covers mostly the decades when you've been alive (I certainly understand why this might be the case -- I remember hating play against old fogeys like me when I was an undergrad) or would you rather play on questions that include topics like Hitchcock movies and The Wonder Years?

It occurs to me as I write this that there may be ways to parse this distribution such that it's possible to include older trash that might still be readily consumable today (via Netflix, oldies radio, etc) or had a lasting impact on the cultural consciousness. There could be rules in a distribution that say, for instance, "TV 4/4 -- but any show airing original episodes before 1980 must be available on Netflix" or "TV 4/4, but shows airing original episodes before 1980 must have won at least one Emmy Award between the show and its cast".

I realize there has been a great deal of trash written about...well...trash in the past -- shows that ran for one season, terrible movies, etc -- stuff that wasn't a cultural touchstone. And maybe this was one of the downfalls of TRASH, I don't know.

I'd like all your input on how to bridge what I see as a generational gap in trash these days. Where once TRASH was run by people born predominantly in the 1960s and 1970s, trash tourneys today seem mostly the purview of younger pop culture lovers. I'm all for that and think it's great there are collegians who'll take up that mantle -- I'd like to see trash continue as an enjoyable QB format that doesn't take itself too seriously and I think it's a fun way to get more people playing QB in general -- a way for there to be (hopefully) something for everyone.

Your input is welcomed and I look forward to reading it.

Many thanks,

I co-wrote the last iteration of the Chicago Open trash tournament, which was fairly well-received. We split our television and film subdistributions by time to avoid having problems like this. Our split was:

Movies: 1/1 pre-1980s, 2/1 or 1/2 1980s/90s, and 2/1 or 1/2 2000s.
TV: 1/0 or 0/1 pre-1990s, 1/1 1990s, 3/2 or 2/3 2000s.

We were also obviously cognizant of this issue for other categories. Contra Ben, I don't think there necessarily is a 'cannon' of trash answers that needs to appear in every tournament, so long as you're writing accessible questions.
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by Cheynem » Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:40 pm

I like playing trash and I'm pretty good at it--in fact, I'd say I'm quite good at "older" trash topics (for that matter, so is Matt Weiner). So this should not be construed as "young whiny guy doesn't like the old stuff."

The problem with almost all older trash topics is that the target audience (college students of today) just isn't exposed to it or have an interest in it, meaning most of the questions turn into "have you heard of this?" for a large flock of the audience. This is pretty normal, particularly with the more ephemeral topics--television. comics, some sports topics, some music--that we would not expect audiences of today to be interested in or know about without actively seeking it out. Obviously, you can learn about it--almost all older TV shows are available on Hulu/Netflix/DVD--but just because it is available and critically acclaimed doesn't mean we necessarily need to write about it. In fact, we're getting to the period where a lot of 90s stuff that pops up in trash is starting to become more and more ephemeral.

For instance, in regards to your hypothetical question first proposed, The Wonder Years strikes me as fairly ephemeral. I was alive when the damn show was on and watched it and barely remember much about it. I don't necessarily see a ton of quizbowlers knowledge of that show that needs to be gradated (bonus part, random tossup in a few sets here and there, sure). Hitchcock movies are different because I think people have consistently watched stuff like Psycho, The Birds, etc. in every decade and will continue to do so. That doesn't mean you have carte blanche to write on any old movie you want, but I believe movies tend to be be less ephemeral than television.

My rule of thumb in writing anything, distribution or not, is think about "will my audience be aware of this--do they have the knowledge that is worth gradating?"
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by stanjast » Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:28 pm

Bartleby wrote: I don't think there necessarily is a 'cannon' of trash answers that needs to appear in every tournament, so long as you're writing accessible questions.
I agree with you -- there's a whole big world out there and not EVERY tournament needs a question on Sgt. Pepper. In fact, not even a majority of them do. You're all doing a good job helping me get at a better understanding of what might make for a challenging and fun tournament and I appreciate the input.

It does seem to make sense to skew a little closer to the present than trash tourneys seemed to 10-15 years ago and one thing I've noticed in going back to find packets for the Purdue team to play is just how fast trash packet content ages. A good portion of the material in most tourneys (regardless of when it was produced/played) seems to be VERY current -- songs on the radio at that time, TV shows that had *just* been canceled, etc. So it's always been hard to make a long-lasting trash set, it seems, and I'm not sure that's ever been the point anyway. One of the fun things about trash is asking about something that's just entered the zeitgeist, perhaps ESPECIALLY if it's likely to be so ephemeral that it'll pass away within 12 months or less.

So we get back to how "accessible" is defined. Hitchcock is likely to be studied in a collegiate film class, as might be Kurosawa or John Ford. Instinctively, I feel better writing a question that ends with "FTP, who is this director of Psycho and The Birds?" than I would "FTP, who is this director of Stagecoach and The Searchers?," even though both are famous directors. And I suspect most players would rather hear the Hitchcock question because the above giveaway is gettable by most players, while the Ford giveaway is more limiting to those familiar with vintage cinema.

Still, I'd argue there's room for both directors in a standard-issue trash packet. But then, just to play devil's advocate to myself, what happens if the John Ford question takes the place of a question about the Farrelly Brothers? There's little question Ford is going to stand the test of time better and has influenced more of film writ large than the Farrellys, but people playing trash today might be more apt to know the directors of Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary because the films were on TV and in theatres in their lifetimes.

Anyhow, time is clearly a tricky prism through which to view trash and I can see multiple colors of trashy light -- perhaps all of them equally valid and illuminating -- emanating from the light we put in.

Another couple thoughts occur to me related to the earlier point about trying to change distributions to include older material:

1. Among those held during the school year, how many trash tourneys get substantial participation from old guys like me? Is it anywhere near the level that TRASHionals or Trashmasters used to get? What I'm getting at is: if these tourneys are primarily for those still in schools (even if they're nominally "open"), then it makes sense to write specifically for a younger audience.

2. Tourney directors could include a cutoff ("Nothing older than 1970," or something like that) in the rules. If people know what they're getting into from the time they sign up, then there are fewer legitimate gripes about the content being too old.

3. We used a format once at DePauw in a tourney we ran the day after an NAQT SCT that people seemed to find enjoyable. It was a modification of Iowa's (really neat, I think) format for This Tournament Goes to 11. Teams were still 4 people, but each round had two packets on which to play, which usually had some vague relation to one another. Teams could split their four people either 2-2 or 3-1, in whatever formation they thought gave them the best chance to win. I remember a teammate of mine doing companion packets forcing players to choose between Sex and Chocolate (questions about Sex and the City or all manner of trash with a connection to cocoa). She had a lot of fun writing them and they were fun to play. So what we did was just aggregate the scores from the two rooms where Teams A and B were playing and the overall top score won the match. So even if Team A won its match by 200 points, team B might have emerged from the other room a minute later having won by 210 and there was some additional fun suspense about who'd turn out the winner. I should also say we wrote just TUs for this tourney, no bonuses, in order to (A) generate the number of packets necessary (we created 24-30 as I recall) and (B) get people home more quickly at the end of what, by then, was a long weekend.

My point is that this non-standard format also helped assuage content concerns, as team members could play on only those rounds they felt more comfortable on.

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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by Bartleby » Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:35 pm

stanjast wrote:
Bartleby wrote: I don't think there necessarily is a 'cannon' of trash answers that needs to appear in every tournament, so long as you're writing accessible questions.
Still, I'd argue there's room for both directors in a standard-issue trash packet. But then, just to play devil's advocate to myself, what happens if the John Ford question takes the place of a question about the Farrelly Brothers? There's little question Ford is going to stand the test of time better and has influenced more of film writ large than the Farrellys, but people playing trash today might be more apt to know the directors of Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary because the films were on TV and in theatres in their lifetimes.
Because so much of trash is ephemeral, I've never concerned myself with thinking along these lines -- I consider (as Mike suggests) each answer in somewhat of a vacuum, asking myself if I think the answer and clues are interesting to and convertible by the audience of the set. But more importantly, as I suggested above, if you've planned your subdistributions adequately, there should be room for both of these answerlines in a set!
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:16 pm

Stan, it seems to me like you've taken a long hiatus from quizbowl and have now returned. (If that's inaccurate, let me know). This is now the second tournament you've proposed which differs wildly from the norm of how quizbowl is played today, without regard to how standards have changed since the mid-2000s; much like the CUT-style event, I suspect that hosting it according to your proposed plan would be outright bizarre at best.

Standalone trash tournaments during the academic year are almost entirely dead these days; if they do exist, they are usually paired as a side event with a legitimate academic competition held the day before ("Seth Teitler Presents" was alongside CO 2013, CAHOOTS was alongside HSNCT, TERP was alongside a Maryland tournament of some sort, etc.). Part of the reason for this is that the old TRASH audience has evaporated and most teams these days simply don't care as much. Part of it is that most teams today are more serious about the academic component of quizbowl on average, making them less likely to want to spend time and money traveling to an event where the merits of their academic knwoledge are useless to them. Precisely because of the dropoff in general interest in trash, far less of it has been produced of late, leading precisely to the problem you note: there's almost no trash to practice on which isn't horribly dated, making it a less attractive proposition to practice on it.

(By the way: Nowadays it is seen as an utterly irresponsible waste of practice time to read trash questions in an academic practice; at best, you're stunting your team's chances at success at academic events, and at worst, you're inculcating an environment of "trash capture" which actively drives away people who want to play academic questions and makes it impossible for your team to contribute responsibly to the circuit as a whole. You should seriously not be doing that.)

That said, if you do insist on hosting a trash tournament in spite of all that:
(1) I would certainly use one of the two existing sets that's been advertised rather than a new one -- I just don't trust, given your recent posts and lack of recent experience, that you and your team would write a good set for today's audience or refrain from pushing inaccessible old-trash categories on everyone.
(2) Host it on Sunday with an academic tournament the day before. This makes it a lot more likely that academic players who might be interested in trash (people such as Dylan) will actually travel to your vicinity.
(3) Don't do the "theme packets" thing. The idea of playing a series of theme packets in person has REALLY gone bust since the last time TTGT11 was held in 2007. In terms of mere popularity, there's only been one viable theme-packet day since the last TTGT11 (Delaware's DWI event in 2011; as I understand it, Carleton's CAHOOTS was largely a shoothout whose packets were primarily read online, and it's unclear whether Rutgers's CLEAR is going to get off the ground). There's no real way to edit wildly disparate theme packets without expert knowledge of all the themes. It's inherently unfair, and a poor way to distinguish overall team quality, to have each round in a multi-round event be on wildly different subject matter, such that a player with a key specialty can do utterly murderously one round and be useless the rest of the day. And it's just not worth people's effort when nowadays, most people with an off-the-wall theme packet idea just write it to be played online via IRC instead of bothering to gather people at physical sites and force them to pay money for it.
(3b) ESPECIALLY don't do any weird shenanigans with splitting teams up to play two different packets per round. Even more than the theme packets, this was the LEAST sustainable aspect of TTGT11 and other tournaments like it (old-Minnesota Deep Bench). For one thing, you double the number of staff you need right off the bat. For two, it makes your attempts to statkeep and run the tournament that much more difficult. For three, it's very annoying as a player to be in the position of picking between one topic where you're useless and ...another topic where you're useless, or to pick the wrong subject, as will happen VERY OFTEN with any two possible pairs of themes. Much better to just play a round as a full foursome where you'll get a bunch of questions on your specialties within a fixed distribution.

Your team isn't entirely isolated -- you guys have, from what I can tell, come to two tournaments this year and at least five in the past two years. I suggest that coming to more academic tournaments and becoming more acquainted with what quizbowl teams today actually care about and want to do, instead of attempting to revive outdated ideas which died for good reason, will be effective in helping you plan for future well-received events. As ever, these boards are also a good source of advice on how best to do things in a way that players today will appreciate.
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Re: Midwestern Spring Trash

Post by 1992 in spaceflight » Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:54 am

As someone who has written a theme packet for a trash tournament before, let me say that what Matt says about producing a set is exactly on point (especially if you're managing a subdistribution on things you don't know that well, like certain sports in my case). I'd really encourage you to follow Matt's advice, especially about hosting the trash tournament on a Sunday-why not host a mirror of COTTAGE Bowl or the Ohio Trash set on the Sunday after your Delta Burke mirror (if this happens in the Spring)?
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