CO Lit Discussion

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CO Lit Discussion

Post by yoda4554 » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:08 am

Since the other discussion threads are up, I suppose this should have one too. I think I may make comments later, but I'm curious to know how this finally played out.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by SnookerUSF » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:36 am

Hello,

Thanks to all who chipped in so that this could happen, I would have been quite crestfallen had BOTH the Lit and Phil/SS been canceled this year. Also, while I will continue to pay whatever price (within reason) to play quizbowl in all its variants...I did think that the entrance fee was a bit exorbitant (I was expecting something in the $10-$15). Perhaps that can be discussed in another thread (read: ought to be discussed in another thread).

Generally, I thought it was well-written and I thought the difficulty was quite skillfully controlled. Also, I am sure some might disparage the inclusion of such works as: the Kalevala, The Origin of Species, or Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth - but I thought these were good ideas, and their sparing presence made those ideas even better (these comments by the way are unassailable and objectively true, so don't bother disagreeing).

Also, to the person that wrote the tossup on Cortazar's 62 -- may Allah bless you and your future generations, wicked clutch!
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:19 am

This was a pretty good tournament.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:19 pm

This was a pretty enjoyable tournament, with enough of the wacky American lit I like coming up. I don't have the set in front of me right now, but I did feel like specific characters did not appear a lot, for better or for worse.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by yoda4554 » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:07 pm

Actually, could someone who has this set (Katy? Matt?) post it? I'm interested in seeing what it finally looked like...
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:09 pm

I'll send a final version in to the archive circa tomorrow.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:12 pm

I really enjoyed the tournament. I would have preferred some format that gave meaningful games to teams not in the top four, as well as a clearer elucidation of the tiebreaker format among the second-place teams before the tournament began. That second thing probably happened at some point, but I didn't hear it at all, and assumed that one loss would knock a team from playoff contention. Regardless, those things aren't associated with the questions, which were excellent and did a great job rewarding knowledge in the powermarks and picking answers that ranged from easy to very difficult without becoming transparent or losing my interest. This was definitely the best-written literature side event I've ever played, and I'm glad that Matt, Rob, Dave, Shantanu, and everyone else put it together.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:09 pm

Eh, I'm unwilling to say it was the best-written lit side event I've ever played, but it was pretty good. That Secret Agent tossup sure was horrible, though. But that's ok. Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen.

Oh, and 20 bucks or whatever per person to play? Come on.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:02 pm

I wouldn't have had a problem with $20 to play if we got more than 6 guaranteed games.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Captain Sinico » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:06 pm

Harper v. Canada (Attorney General) wrote:I wouldn't have had a problem with $20 to play if we got more than 6 guaranteed games.
Yeah, the $4/round of 20 TU I wound up playing was somewhat less than satisfactory for me, too. That said, I greatly enjoyed this tournament and I feel like we'd be better off if all quizbowl literature looked more like this.

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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:16 pm

Yeah, I just wanted to say that since I am just an okay lit player, I felt like this tournament was a solidly constructed one in that the writers didn't feel the need for every tossup to be like on the fifth best known work of Saul Bellow or something. While I certainly wouldn't want to discourage the total elimination of such fun stuff, I liked that I was rewarded for deep knowledge of non canon busting works like "The Rocking Horse Winner" or "A Streetcar Named Desire."
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:22 pm

I thought this tournament was great (not quite as good as the 2008 incarnation but better than the 2007 version). I was especially pleased how the difficulty was kept under control and the tournament featured mainly questions on regular difficulty level answers. My only complaint was some TUs on works lacked depth and context. For example the Frederic Henry tossup began by saying something along the lines of: this character quotes Andrew Marvell and chews coffee beans. Even though I've read that book and written an essay about Henry in which I analyzed how he was quoting "To His Coy Mistress" I couldn't buzz on that clue because it lacked context and specificity. Several times in the tournament I just got the sense that the questions were written out of masterplots and lacked the context in the early clues to let people with primary knowledge buzz with confidence. This complaint is only a minor criticism as I would hold this tournament up as a paradigm for excellent future lit tournaments.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by JackGlerum » Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:52 pm

Hello,

Given the circumstances, I thought this turned out pretty well. Further editing and more rounds would have been nice, but we would have started round one of trash after the lit finals if we had the thirteen rounds we originally planned.

I wrote tossups on Ray Bradbury, Sometimes a Great Nation, Frederic Henry, Dodsworth, "A Retrieved Reformation", "Clarel", "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry", Clifford Odets, Anthony Burgess, The Castle of Otranto, Saki, "The Country of the Blind", "In Memoriam A.H.H.", Timon of Athens (sorry about the Pale Fire issue, I forgot to edit it), J.M. Synge, "Areopagitica", the Magic Theater, Dyskolos, the Parnassians (with Shantanu's help!), The Life and Times of Michael K, Miguel Asturias, and "The Sun Stone", and would love some feedback on them (comments like Ted's are a great help--I understand the contextual issues in that one upon looking at it again).

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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:24 pm

Yes, I would also appreciate any comments people would care to make on my questions, which are:

Ion, The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor, A Streetcar Named Desire, "Meghaduta", "The Sandman", Hesiod, Lawrence Durrell, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Leigh Hunt (the power was indeed far too stingy on this one!), Kobo Abe, Kafka on the Shore, A.S. Byatt, e.e. cummings, The Duchess of Malfi, Oryx and Crake, Paul Celan, The Art of War, and Jose Donoso.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by yoda4554 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:18 am

Cheynem wrote:This was a pretty enjoyable tournament, with enough of the wacky American lit I like coming up. I don't have the set in front of me right now, but I did feel like specific characters did not appear a lot, for better or for worse.
Here's what I see in terms of characters: Frederic Henry, Kristin Lavransdatter, Lemminkainen, Ebenezer Scrooge, Gargantua, Oskar Matzerath, Friday, the Forsyte family, Eveline, Mary Rowlandson.

Here are other non-title, non-author answers: The Magic Theater, Oliver Cromwell, Eighth Circle of Hell, New Historicism, The Courier's Tragedy, New York School, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Parnassians.

So that's a little less than one each per packet, but dropping off considerably after about round 4. (FWIW, I wrote about 2/3 of the above.) I'm not sure if that's unusual, one way or the other, or if people care much one way or the other. I like a relatively higher proportion of tossup answers to be non-title, non-author than most people, I think, but I'm not sure if anyone has any real thoughts on the subject.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:41 am

yoda4554 wrote:New Historicism
I am excited to read this set whenever it gets posted.

BTW, assuming they actually made it in, I contributed the following questions: Philip Larkin, Joseph Brodsky, "Diving Into The Wreck". (Sorry, Matt, for not being able to write any more!) Comments and critiques are appreciated.
Last edited by Theory Of The Leisure Flask on Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by cornfused » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:43 am

Verhoeven's Giant Tree Rat wrote:"Diving Into The Wreck".
Could you post the text of the question? I frauded this one (HAY LOOK SUNKEN SHIP) for power, so I think some clues might be too early.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:01 pm

cornfused wrote:
Verhoeven's Giant Tree Rat wrote:"Diving Into The Wreck".
Could you post the text of the question? I frauded this one (HAY LOOK SUNKEN SHIP) for power, so I think some clues might be too early.
Here was the initial question; no idea if/how it was edited, or where the powermark went:

Claire Keyes notes that this poem uses the pronoun “one” in a grammatically awkward manner in Aesthetics of Power, and Margaret Atwood’s review of this work notes the author is “journeying to something that is already in the past” , and that “she herself is part of it, a ‘half-destroyed instrument’.” The narrator of this work notes “it is easy to forget / what I came for”, later explained as “the thing itself and not the myth”, and “the ribs of the disaster”. This poem was the title of a collection which also included “The Phemonenology of Anger” and “Trying to Talk to a Man”, and for which its author refused to accept the National Book Award alone, sharing it with fellow feminist writers Alice Walker and Audre Lourde. Making critical note of the “book of myths / in which / our names do not appear” and the androgynous narrator’s “absurd flippers”, for 10 points, name this 1973 poem about the exploration of a sunken ship by Adrienne Rich.

ANSWER: Diving Into The Wreck

Looking back at it, the clues making use of Atwood's review seem somewhat fraudable, but I was definitely trying to obscure the ship bit until the flippers mention.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by cornfused » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:35 pm

Verhoeven's Giant Tree Rat wrote:The narrator of this work notes “it is easy to forget / what I came for”, later explained as “the thing itself and not the myth”, and “the ribs of the disaster”.
I guess fraud is the wrong word, but for me, "the ribs of the disaster" cued the idea of a sunken ship, with "what I came for" serving as a doublecheck on my decision to buzz. Maybe I have knowledge of the poem that made me buzz there, after all.

Also, great answer selection of a great poem.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:44 pm

This was fun. I will say that the idea of helping quiz bowl's Murakami overload with two fifteen line Murakami tossups seems a bit homeopathic to me.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:47 pm

I really, really enjoyed this tournament, not in the least because it seemed to go deeper on regular/nationals and slightly harder topics rather than being crazy hard all over the place, which I think more tournaments should do.
vcuEvan wrote:I will say that the idea of helping quiz bowl's Murakami overload with two fifteen line Murakami tossups seems a bit homeopathic to me.
It seems fraudulent and diluted?
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by TheKingInYellow » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:05 pm

Loved the tournament, though the "solar rock" give away for the Sunstone was a little iffy
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:23 pm

I think what's great about this set is that so many new writers contributed so many good questions. I really can't think of anything that I thought was just badly written and while there were a few WTF answer selection (looking at you, Rob Carson), most of the answers were well selected and appropriate.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:26 pm

cornfused wrote:Also, great answer selection of a great poem.
Thank Matt for that, he told me what to write on.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Auroni » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:01 pm

The three tossups I wrote for my bye round during this tournament were We, Hauptmann, and RL Stevenson. I would love to hear some criticism of those.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:19 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:I really, really enjoyed this tournament, not in the least because it seemed to go deeper on regular/nationals and slightly harder topics rather than being crazy hard all over the place, which I think more tournaments should do.
vcuEvan wrote:I will say that the idea of helping quiz bowl's Murakami overload with two fifteen line Murakami tossups seems a bit homeopathic to me.
It seems fraudulent and diluted?
In that reproducing the same symptoms is an odd way to cure the problem. Perhaps this is a bad analogy.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:39 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:I really, really enjoyed this tournament, not in the least because it seemed to go deeper on regular/nationals and slightly harder topics rather than being crazy hard all over the place, which I think more tournaments should do.
vcuEvan wrote:I will say that the idea of helping quiz bowl's Murakami overload with two fifteen line Murakami tossups seems a bit homeopathic to me.
It seems fraudulent and diluted?
In that reproducing the same symptoms is an odd way to cure the problem. Perhaps this is a bad analogy.
My 15-line Murakami tossup was unironic, for whatever that's worth.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:42 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:I really, really enjoyed this tournament, not in the least because it seemed to go deeper on regular/nationals and slightly harder topics rather than being crazy hard all over the place, which I think more tournaments should do.
vcuEvan wrote:I will say that the idea of helping quiz bowl's Murakami overload with two fifteen line Murakami tossups seems a bit homeopathic to me.
It seems fraudulent and diluted?
In that reproducing the same symptoms is an odd way to cure the problem. Perhaps this is a bad analogy.
My 15-line Murakami tossup was unironic, for whatever that's worth.
Both of them?
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:51 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
Ukonvasara wrote: My 15-line Murakami tossup was unironic, for whatever that's worth.
Both of them?
Dude only wrote one.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:53 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
Ukonvasara wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:I really, really enjoyed this tournament, not in the least because it seemed to go deeper on regular/nationals and slightly harder topics rather than being crazy hard all over the place, which I think more tournaments should do.
vcuEvan wrote:I will say that the idea of helping quiz bowl's Murakami overload with two fifteen line Murakami tossups seems a bit homeopathic to me.
It seems fraudulent and diluted?
In that reproducing the same symptoms is an odd way to cure the problem. Perhaps this is a bad analogy.
My 15-line Murakami tossup was unironic, for whatever that's worth.
Both of them?
I wrote Kafka on the Shore (maybe 13 lines tops; really long but I had my reasons); Matt wrote After the Quake (nearly 17 lines long) as a parody.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Auroni » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:53 pm

I'll offer my take on both anyway:

I rather liked the After the Quake tossup, but I couldn't figure out that the portion on "Super Frog Saves Tokyo" was, indeed, just part of the larger collection (and I'd have trouble determining which of the three collectons anyway, had I understood what was going on). The tossup itself could have been written in a way that didn't involve describing 10 stories and then listing 10 titles at the end, since many of those stories were up to that point a-canonical, so as to award people at least some knowledge for knowing their titles.


The Kafka on the Shore tossup, on the other hand, I negged just before the Archduke Trio clue and that's when I knew what was going on. I felt that that tossup could definitely have been condensed, since the gradation of the final 7 or 8 lines wasn't as pyramidal and that it just felt rambling.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:56 pm

Censorship in Burma wrote:The Kafka on the Shore tossup, on the other hand, I negged just before the Archduke Trio clue and that's when I knew what was going on. I felt that that tossup could definitely have been condensed, since the gradation of the final 7 or 8 lines wasn't as pyramidal and that it just felt rambling.
Yeah, after writing it I wish I hadn't been wrapped up writing other things, because I did spend too much time throwing in every middle-late middle clue and that could've been cut down a bit.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by marnold » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:58 pm

Parody fails when it is almost completely indistinguishable from things people genuinely do and, even when the parody is revealed, inexplicably still apparently like.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:11 pm

Yeah I mean you could have gotten rid of the first 4 lines of the Kafka on the Shore question and it still would have been a good tossup. I haven't seen the After the Quake tossup, but am interested in seeing it.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by fleurdelivre » Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:31 pm

One incident in this book ends with a character kneeling on a pitcher’s mound and proclaiming “Oh God,” after following a man on a train whom he believes to be both God and his missing father because the man is missing one earlobe. In another part of this book, a child who believes that she is about to be put into a small box by a malevolent figure is calmed down by hearing a story about two bears in a bullying relationship, who become friends after a trade involving salmon. One character in this book speculates that the protagonist of Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” wanted to die and talks about the meaning of bonfires with Miyake. The limousine driver Nimit takes one character in this book to a fortune teller, who instructs Satsuki to dream of a snake in order to get a stone out of her body. A predicted underground battle with a hate-absorbing worm in this book never comes to pass, and Katagiri is covered with insects after confronting the amphibian which foretold such a fight. The first character described in this book is given a free one-week vacation in exchange for a delivering a package to the sister of one of his coworkers at the electronics store, after his wife leaves him a note accusing him of being a “chunk of air” as the reason for leaving him, but traumatic memories of the (*) title phenomenon causes that character to become impotent with Shimao. Including “Landscape with Flatiron,” “All God’s Children Can Dance,” “Thailand,” “Honey Pie,” “UFO in Kushiro,” and “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo,” this book takes place in the weeks after a January 1995 event in Kobe. For 10 points, name this short story cycle by Haruki Murakami about a natural disaster.

ANSWER: After the Quake [or Kami no kodomo tachi wa mina odoru]
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by yoda4554 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:48 pm

I'm glad people seemed to like this tournament--though I suspect, from reactions, that a lot of that may have just been because it was much more reasonable in answer space than either the CO preceding or either of the two most recent lit tournaments (MO and Slothrop), and not because it was necessarily better than either of the two preceding CO Lits. I'm also very glad that Matt was able to enlist a bunch of people to write at the last minute, and that such people were willing to write questions for a tournament at which they were playing at the last minute.

The following will be an extended footnote to the dominant reaction expressed above. I certainly don't want it to curtail any further questions discussion--if the mods think it'll do so, feel free to make this a separate thread.

At this point, I've written for all five of the collaborative web-written lit. tournaments that have occurred in the past three years, as well as collaborating on three full-length trash tournaments, all of which were planned as side tournaments to some main academic event. For such side events, it seems to me that the chief editors have had two very different attitudes toward the set. Some take it very seriously, and some seem to view it as a sort of after-thought to the main event and/or some other writing project they've taken on. The former tournaments have been an immense pleasure to work on--following the editor's example, the writers tend to be very active in commenting on each other's questions, regularly producing fresh material and revisions, and generally having a lot of fun figuring out what people will be interested in hearing and playing on. The latter group has been characterized by a general silence among the writers and particularly from the editor, long periods without any questions being written, and (as a result) minimal editing; for these, I have merely been glad that I'm going to get some small paycheck at the end.

That this tournament was among the latter group is, I'm sure, obvious to everyone given what's been communicated over the boards lately. I don't intend for any of these comments to solely respond to this tournament (though I'm not sure whether or not people want to make a big deal out of the fact that if this tournament hadn't come together, as it almost didn't, that it would not at all be the first time such a thing happened on Matt's watch), as they've happened in some form in several, and I think they need to be addressed.

It absolutely baffles me how people can be writing a tournament and not seem to realize when it gets really far behind. We're all capable of basic math--you know how many days there are until the tournament, and you know how many questions you need to have. If questions/(days until tournament) is significantly higher than avg.((questions written)/day), that's a big problem and it's something the writers need to have a serious discussion about. Saying "I'm working on another tournament now, but I'll totally write a bunch the week before it happens" is not an acceptable attitude. For one, you probably shouldn't commit to writing multiple tournaments happening at around the same time unless you've written way far ahead on one of them--and not that many people do that, because, you know, we all have other, more pressing stuff. More importantly, while you may tell yourself "Hey, I can write 20 questions a day for the five days before the tournament, and we'll be fine!", I have never seen nor heard of any individual--nor even a group of individuals working on the same project-- succeeding in such an endeavor, mainly because questions take a long time to write well and we all have lives of some sort beyond quiz bowl. This inevitably results in shortened packet lengths and/or reduced numbers of packets, neither of which is appropriate to provide to people expecting a more substantial playing experience.

Seriously, if you're working on something like this, you need to be writing for it every single day. Write a couple on your lunch hour, or after your morning web toilette, or before you go to bed, or whatever, but they need to get written every single day for you to really realize how much work you have left.

What inevitably results from lack of questions is a lack of editing. I'm going to put on my composition professor hat: even when you're working with good writers (and thankfully most of the people authoring the events I've been part of have been), all questions, as a form of writing, need revision. (Hemingway: "The first draft of anything is shit.") In addition to checking for pyramidality and the use of interesting clues--which we all can screw up, even the best of us--every writer has little bad things they do when writing questions. For instance, I know that I have a tendency to, while futzing with word order, accidentally leave out articles, leave in vestigal nonsense, or dangle pronouns in ways that cause confusion. I have a categorical blind spot for catching such errors, and they cause problems if not edited. Indeed, once, hearing my question on the podcast, I heard someone wrongly correct an unusual phrase I'd used as a clue because it looked like a number of genuine mistakes that hadn't been proofread. For other examples, the Minnesotans tend to write needlessly long tossups on arcane subjects that a little editing would neatly condense, and a couple other writers tend to include unnecessarily awkward descriptions and grammatically questionable clauses embedded between otherwise fine clues that could be straightened up without much trouble if anyone took the time. But it does take time for editors and other writers to read through everything, check it for such stuff, and make sure it's as good as can be. People can't do that when you're struggling to get enough first drafts in to make a viable tournament, and I know that, looking over the questions now, there exist a number of very correctable little imperfections that, had this tournament been fully drafted a week before the tournament, would have been caught. I will note, also, that Jonathan (at least in editing the two previous CO Lit sets) is incredibly conscientious about all this stuff, which I hope everyone recognizes as a great blessing and as one of the key reasons why the 2007 and 2008 sets were, in my view, superior to this one.

Again, I intend this as a footnote, and am otherwise quite happy that this went well, that people liked the selection of answers (for which, in relief to what I just wrote, Matt is mostly responsible) and that people seemed to have a good time. If it's on the podcast, I look forward to hearing how it played.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:51 pm

Censorship in Burma wrote:The three tossups I wrote for my bye round during this tournament were We, Hauptmann, and RL Stevenson. I would love to hear some criticism of those.
Could you post the text of the We tossup? IIRC, the first clues described some other work related to it, and then dropped Mephi.

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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:05 pm

Excellent post above, Dave.

Your "New Historicism" toss-up was a great choice. I didn't power it, and I don't know why (well, other than that I'm not always (even often?) good at quiz bowl), having had a full seminar in that theoretical method and numerous other classes involving it in some way. I'll have to look back at it, but good stuff.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by fleurdelivre » Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:41 pm

dtaylor4 wrote:Could you post the text of the We tossup? IIRC, the first clues described some other work related to it, and then dropped Mephi.
The plot of this novel is heavily based on an earlier novel by its author, wherein the protagonist possesses terrible gold teeth and authors “Precepts of Assured Salvation,” befriends Lady Campbell and lives in Jesmond by the name of Reverend Dewley. One portion of this book is titled “no summary – too dangerous” and describes a trip to a “bald, skull-like rock” where the narrator sees 300 people of different colors, and much earlier in this novel, he describes the “perfect (*)unfreedom” exhibited by dancers of a Scriabin ballet, shortly before a communicator interrupts him. A character in this work possesses a “double-curved body” for betraying the intention of the group Mephi, which the narrator of this work joins. The protagonist, who fears the square root of -1, undergoes the Great Operation following a riot after the Day of Unanimity, which was spurred by the breaching of the Green Wall for the first time since the Two Hundred Years’ War. The spaceship Integral is constructed by D-503 in, for 10 points, what novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin?

ANSWER: We [or My]
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:43 pm

fleurdelivre wrote:
dtaylor4 wrote:Could you post the text of the We tossup? IIRC, the first clues described some other work related to it, and then dropped Mephi.
The plot of this novel is heavily based on an earlier novel by its author, wherein the protagonist possesses terrible gold teeth and authors “Precepts of Assured Salvation,” befriends Lady Campbell and lives in Jesmond by the name of Reverend Dewley. One portion of this book is titled “no summary – too dangerous” and describes a trip to a “bald, skull-like rock” where the narrator sees 300 people of different colors, and much earlier in this novel, he describes the “perfect (*)unfreedom” exhibited by dancers of a Scriabin ballet, shortly before a communicator interrupts him. A character in this work possesses a “double-curved body” for betraying the intention of the group Mephi, which the narrator of this work joins. The protagonist, who fears the square root of -1, undergoes the Great Operation following a riot after the Day of Unanimity, which was spurred by the breaching of the Green Wall for the first time since the Two Hundred Years’ War. The spaceship Integral is constructed by D-503 in, for 10 points, what novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin?

ANSWER: We [or My]
Damnit. Must re-read book.

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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Auroni » Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:57 pm

Yeah, this tossup was challenging to write because the majority of the recognizable plot details have all been covered in previous questions, so I had to dive into the book for a few deeper plot details. The opening clues are about his other novel, The Islanders, which is very similar to We, but I didn't drop the title. So I'm sorry if the clues preceding Mephi were impossible to buzz on.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by setht » Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:11 pm

Censorship in Burma wrote:Yeah, this tossup was challenging to write because the majority of the recognizable plot details have all been covered in previous questions
So? It's not a crime against good quizbowl if a tossup has some early clues (including clues within the power mark) that have appeared in previous questions. If someone takes the time and effort to memorize most or all of the recognizable plot details of We--whether they glean those plot details from previous questions or online sources or whatever--then that person deserves to get early buzzes and at least occasional powers on We tossups, because that person would in fact be one of the most We-knowledgeable people in pretty much any tournament field.

I could understand this concern if there had been a large clump of We questions in the very recent past, so that there might be a large pool of people that could buzz on pretty much any reasonable clue, but I'm confident that's not the case here.

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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:31 am

I have a couple more comments. I was very pleased by the lack of silly common link answers in this set, and also liked the modern drama questions on works such as Also, I think there is a bad trend of using unimportant non-poem leadin clues for poet tossups. The tossups on Gerard Manley Hopkins and Philip Larkin exemplify what I mean by bad leadin clues. In the Hopkins tossup the first two lines are about some poems he translated and the next two lines are about some incomplete dramatic works. The Larkin tossup began with clues about his novel (as did the Larkin tossup at last year's CO Lit I might add). These are not good clues. I've taken a class in Hopkins in which I read almost all of his poems. These verse dramas and translations weren't mentioned nor were they included in the book of Hopkins complete collected works. The same goes for the Larkin tossup. Larkin's poetry is read and studied, while a quick survery of my friends who read Larkin finds no one who has read or can even name any of Larkin's novels. These types of leadin clues are bad for a few reasons. First of all they reward the wrong kind of knowledge. People who memorize clues and rely on secondary knowledge obviously should be able to buzz, but lets save the leadins for clues that will reward people who read actually read the poets. Case in point, Jerry answered the Larkin tossup off the novel's title because he had written a question mentioning that clue. This criticism is also triggered by that disgusting John Ashberry leadin for CO Finals, which was frustrating for me because I've been reading John Ashberry this summer. These poets are studied for their poetry and not for their random novel or unfinished plays. Secondly, I find these clues lazy. Instead of doing the proper research and finding an important poem or lines to use for a leadin, it is much easier to just stick on plot summary leadin clues.

There are obviosuly some poets who write major verse dramas or novels that merit clues about them. I'm all for tossups on the verse dramas of Milton or Byron, but I think we need to be very judicious about using these types of clues. I personally don't like to mix poetry and drama/fiction clues. If I'm writing a question on a poet than I will only use poem clues or if I'm writing a question on Marlowe's drama I won't throw in poetry clues. I dont think everyone has to have as strict a dichtomy between poetry and non-poetry questions as I use, but I just want to make sure people think about the real value of the non-poem works they are using as clues before throwing them in as leadin clues for tossups.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by millionwaves » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:52 am

Hey, just as an aside:

I wrote the Ashbery tossup that was used in the CO finals and I included the clue about Hebdomeros at the suggestion of another editor. In general, I completely agree with Ted about using non-poetry clues about poets. They're easy to find, and I've certainly used them as lead-ins in the past, but I think they're far from ideal and I'm going to be making an effort not to use them in the future.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by yoda4554 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:56 am

Magister Ludi wrote:I have a couple more comments. I was very pleased by the lack of silly common link answers in this set, and also liked the modern drama questions on works such as Also, I think there is a bad trend of using unimportant non-poem leadin clues for poet tossups. The tossups on Gerard Manley Hopkins and Philip Larkin exemplify what I mean by bad leadin clues. In the Hopkins tossup the first two lines are about some poems he translated and the next two lines are about some incomplete dramatic works. The Larkin tossup began with clues about his novel (as did the Larkin tossup at last year's CO Lit I might add). These are not good clues. I've taken a class in Hopkins in which I read almost all of his poems. These verse dramas and translations weren't mentioned nor were they included in the book of Hopkins complete collected works. The same goes for the Larkin tossup. Larkin's poetry is read and studied, while a quick survery of my friends who read Larkin finds no one who has read or can even name any of Larkin's novels. These types of leadin clues are bad for a few reasons. First of all they reward the wrong kind of knowledge. People who memorize clues and rely on secondary knowledge obviously should be able to buzz, but lets save the leadins for clues that will reward people who read actually read the poets. Case in point, Jerry answered the Larkin tossup off the novel's title because he had written a question mentioning that clue. This criticism is also triggered by that disgusting John Ashberry leadin for CO Finals, which was frustrating for me because I've been reading John Ashberry this summer. These poets are studied for their poetry and not for their random novel or unfinished plays. Secondly, I find these clues lazy. Instead of doing the proper research and finding an important poem or lines to use for a leadin, it is much easier to just stick on plot summary leadin clues.

There are obviosuly some poets who write major verse dramas or novels that merit clues about them. I'm all for tossups on the verse dramas of Milton or Byron, but I think we need to be very judicious about using these types of clues. I personally don't like to mix poetry and drama/fiction clues. If I'm writing a question on a poet than I will only use poem clues or if I'm writing a question on Marlowe's drama I won't throw in poetry clues. I dont think everyone has to have as strict a dichtomy between poetry and non-poetry questions as I use, but I just want to make sure people think about the real value of the non-poem works they are using as clues before throwing them in as leadin clues for tossups.
A few notes in response to that. First, if you're talking about the Oxford Collection of Hopkins: I have it on my shelf, and everything mentioned in the question is from there. I'm by no means a Hopkins scholar, and I don't particularly think that this was a great question, but I don't think it was particularly bad. I'm not sure the translations were the best clues, but that particular set of translations seemed at least weird in that it translated several poems into multiple languages, and so it seemed at least conceivably memorable. And even if nobody knew that, well, luckily there are clues after that. That's how question writing works.

Second, I think this is partly suffering from Matt's "I know a lot about this topic and therefore anything I don't know shouldn't be in the question" syndrome. Regarding the New York School question, for instance, I'll say as somebody else who's read a fair amount of Ashbery that A Nest of Ninnies is important to that group, is discussed in criticism on them, and is worth coming up in a question. If it so happens that somebody else used that clue recently--well, that's part of the weirdness inherent in how quizbowl works and how people learn clues. It's not some sign of horrible question-writing practice.

Third, the idea that one shouldn't mix poetry/fiction/drama clues seems quite silly and arbitrary to me. I mean, if something leads to apyramidality, then of course it's not optimal. But it's not like poem-writing Marlowe is a totally separate, compartmentalized being from drama-writing Marlowe; it's one guy who thinks about a lot of the same ideas in his poetic and dramatic works, which are often studied together for their coherence and connections as a whole.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by women, fire and dangerous things » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:02 pm

So much for my tossup on Wallace Stevens with a leadin on Bowl, Cat and Broomstick!

But seriously, it seems pretty arbitrary to insist that leadins for tossups on poets shouldn't be on non-poetic works. Why not just say that they shouldn't be on highly unimportant works which privilege list knowledge over primary knowledge, and leave it at that?
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:23 pm

I usually find myself in agreement with Ted's posts, but this "questions about 'poets' should exclusively be about their 'poetic' works" proposal strikes me as really unsound and arbitrary. In general, modern quizbowl prefers that tossups on literature consist largely of clues derived from actual literary texts. And, of course, tossups generally proceed from "more obscure" to "less obscure" clues. If you're saying "of late, I've noticed a tendency to have the 'more obscure' clues in tossups on poets be clues about 'novels by the poet' or the like," maybe that's empirically true, and maybe that means people should give those clues a rest for a while. But that's on par with my saying "of late, I've noticed a tendency for people to write incessant questions on Danticat," which I think is clearly true, but which (to my mind) just means that people should give Danticat questions a rest for a while -- it doesn't follow that Danticat questions are a priori unacceptable.

In particular, this position espoused by Ted makes no sense whatsoever in relation to somebody like Ashbery: trying to impose a firm distinction between his "poetic" (and thus "important" or "serious") works and his "non-poetic" (and thus, presumably, less important or serious) works would presumably be anathema to Ashbery himself, and seems to me reflective of a dubious understanding of his work. If you're interested in Ashbery, you're probably going to read his prose (at least Three Poems, if not A Nest of Ninnies, though I found the latter more enjoyable than the former) as well as things that look like more conventional "poems." In terms of all the things which quizbowlers claim to value as "knowledge," there's no basis that I can see for preferring questions on one aspect of Ashbery's oeuvre over another.
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:57 pm

I want to clear a few things up.

First of all I don't think including A Nest of Ninnies in a Ashberry tossup is bad, in fact I wasn't even criticizing the New York School tossup as it was one of my favorite tossups in the set. I was complaining about using the clue about Ashberry writing the introduction to Hebdomeros as a leadin clue for Ashberry, which is somehwat unimportant and might have undeservedly high recognition in quizbowl at the moment because of the Gaddis tossup on the Di Chirico novel. I'm sorry to confuse this discussion by mentioning a question in CO proper.

Secondly, let me explain myself further about my opinions on the dichotomy between poetry clues in poet questions. I think when you're writing a question on a poet one first needs to consider what a poet is known for and what type of his work is studied and read. After determining this criterion one needs to filter types of clues accordingly. For example, when you think about Hopkins he is not known for his translations nor his verse dramas. Accordingly one shouldn't inclue clues about those types of works in questions about him because these clues frankly are not very important to the study of Hopkins and don't reward people who have deep knowledge of Hopkins' major work (lyric poetry). However in the case of John Ashberry, obviously his contributions to the New York School and A Nest for Ninnies is important to his work, so clues about that novel is fine. You will notice that I said in my first post that "I personally don't like to mix poetry and drama/fiction clues," which does not mean I think that these types of clues are inherently bad. I just said that people need to be very prudent when picking these non-poem clues because more often than not they become non-clues where no one can buzz. Just because I personally adhere to not mixing poetry clues with non-poem clues for tossup, does not mean that I think every tossup that mixes these types of clues is inherently bad.


I dont think this is an awful question on Hopkins, but the leadins are on unimportant materiaI. Dave, do you think that someone with deep Hopkins knowledge would be more likely to buzz early on quotes from lesser known but important poems or from random lines he translated or unfinished verse dramas? Dave said: "And even if nobody knew that, well, luckily there are clues after that. That's how question writing works." I agree in principle, but don't you think we should strive to pick clues that someone with deep knowledge should be able to buzz on rather than random trivia that "seemed at least conceivably memorable"? It seems like a better idea to read a little criticism and find a poem that is definitely important and use clues from that poem rather than using the first clue that seemed "conceivably memorable."
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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by cdcarter » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:45 pm

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Re: CO Lit Discussion

Post by Saiem » Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:39 am

Magister Ludi wrote:The tossups on Gerard Manley Hopkins and Philip Larkin exemplify what I mean by bad leadin clues. In the Hopkins tossup the first two lines are about some poems he translated and the next two lines are about some incomplete dramatic works. The Larkin tossup began with clues about his novel (as did the Larkin tossup at last year's CO Lit I might add). These are not good clues.
Not having seen the specific question at hand, I do seem to recall the translations of Hopkins as something relatively important when we studied him briefly in high school. While I am not against the use of these as clues, it may not be the best as a lead-in. For example, I think it would be a disservice to the quizbowl community to write a question on Seamus Heaney and not mention his translation of Beowulf. I'm not trying to say we should have an infusion of incredibly unimportant clues about things an author did to pay the bills, but I'm saying they aren't always unimportant.
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