VCU Open discussion

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VCU Open discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:35 am

I'll be sending these packets in to the archive later today. Discussion is open.

I'm aware that the Carlowitz tossup really blew.

Thanks to the people who wrote some number of questions, including freelancers Subash Madipotti, Ahmad Ragab, Aaron Rosenberg, and Eric Douglass, people who wrote some questions for their bye rounds, and those I'm forgetting. Special appreciation goes to the science writers Dwight Wynne, Aaron Cohen, Andrew Hart, et al, who did a bangup job. Dwight also graciously allowed me to get some sleep the night before the tournament by doing the packet randomizing.

This is the last collegiate tournament of my editing career for at least the forseeable future, so I hope people found it to be a positive experience overall.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:47 am

I enjoyed this tournament and aside from a few eccentric tossups here and there, it did a fine job of hitting what I assume was its retargeted difficulty, "normal-difficulty."

I also enjoyed some fun history coming up that I haven't heard about in a while, like the War of the Vendee, the Puerto Rico nationalist tossup, Charles Beard, and noted "social scientist" Samuel Huntington. I also really liked that Honey Nut Cheerios tossup.

I wrote some stuff for my bye (all answers assigned by Matt), including the very unpopular "operettas of Sousa" tossup, which Brendan Byrne has theorized was assigned to me because I proved that by my "operations of Skorzeny" tossup, I had a fondness for writing common links on "o of S" stuff. I'll take the blame for everything for that question besides the answer line, but I am genuinely curious as to how it could have been improved (John Lawrence has helpfully suggested more references to marches).

I also wrote TU's on Cheever, Matthew Arnold, Ceaucescu, Jamestown (I had a hard time writing this), Hecatonchires, Hokusai, and Tiny Tim, plus bonuses on Benet Poetry, Hardy Poetry, Diderot novels, Weimar diplomacy, Bibulus stuff, Ctesiphon stuff, Shinto myth, Love Supreme, and William G. Sumner stuff.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:02 pm

The full blind science team for this tournament:

Dwight Wynne: 5/8 biology, 0/6 physics, 2/4 minor science, 0/3(?) extra questions that did not make it in the final set
Aaron Cohen: 8/8 chemistry, 2/2 physics, 1/1 extra questions that did not make it in the final set
Subash Maddipotti: 4/2 biology, 1/0 chemistry, 1/0 extra questions that did not make it in the final set
Andrew Hart: 3/0 physics, 4/0 minor science
Mike Bentley: 2/2 minor science
Sandy Huang: 3/0 physics

Much thanks to all for their questions. Note that the numbers in each category do not add up to the same number because different teams submitted different numbers of science questions.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:00 pm

Cheynem wrote:I also enjoyed some fun history coming up that I haven't heard about in a while, like the War of the Vendee .... and noted "social scientist" Samuel Huntington.
Second that, although I kicked myself for inexplicably blanking on the first clue on the Vendee tossup (then got lucky that I recognized the later clues before anyone else did).

I enjoyed playing the Jamestown tossup, so I hope your effort was rewarded, Mike.

Here's what I wrote:

Tossups (William III, Guatemala, Carolingians, Battle of Shiloh, Luzon)
Bonuses (the other Weimar diplomacy bonus, early modern court favorites, apartheid stuff, American Revolutionary financiers)
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:37 pm

I really enjoyed this event and am glad that it was the one I played after five+ years of inactivity. It was organized well and most people seemed content in general.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:23 pm

I had a lot of fun at this event; it was really only marred for me by the carlowitz and kamakura shogunate tossups.

These are the questions I contributed: Tokyo Story, Bazille (yeah, he's too hard and I apologize), peroxisomes, furan, Ebbinghaus, The Book of Certitude, Adam/Giselle/Petipa, Ghirlandaio/St. Jerome in His Study/Sisten Chapel, rochelle salts/fehling's/ tollens, somatostatin/islets of langerhans/ghrelin, hotelling/envelope/slutsky, lag b'omer/cutting hair/kabbalah
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by at your pleasure » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:29 pm

Er, I think you submitted those questions to CaTO/TaCO, Auroni. I distinctly recall hearing several of those at that event.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:32 pm

Anti-Climacus wrote:Er, I think you submitted those questions to CaTO/TaCO, Auroni. I distinctly recall hearing several of those at that event.
The last round of the VCU open was used as the first of Cato Taco at our site.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:00 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
Anti-Climacus wrote:Er, I think you submitted those questions to CaTO/TaCO, Auroni. I distinctly recall hearing several of those at that event.
The last round of the VCU open was used as the first of Cato Taco at our site.
It says a lot about the quality of VCUO, which very much impressed me--if this is your last college event ever, rather than just for the foreseeable future, Matt, I'll certainly say that it made a great way to go out--that I thought that that had to be the case. (I guess I was clued in by the five science tossups, the myth tossup, the variety in the arts... but I digress.)

Overall, I was really happy with this tournament, and I think it improved on all the issues that disappointed me last year (logistics being the primary concern, with some bitches about questions coming second). There were certainly some difficulty outliers for an a-bit-above-regular-difficulty event; Gran plots, Zermelo (whose work outside of ZFC just doesn't come up), likely others I'm not thinking of. There were certainly some questions which got easy too quickly or on which one could infer the answer with a little bravery (not only is "ironism," which came up early in the Rorty tossup, really important to Rorty, it also sounds rather like "irony," which makes the connection all too easy; similarly, once you've said "symmetry-allowed," even very early on, is it something other than the Woodward-Hoffman rules? perhaps, but I hope not..., and certainly others). But the tremendous majority of questions were thoughtfully written, and well; many questions even took good risks like the one on the churning of the ocean.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by philmsu » Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:09 pm

I also enjoyed this set, particularly the film tossups (Renoir and To Catch a Thief, especially) and felt it had really solid lit as well.

I accept responsibility for the history in my packet, which included the ill-conceived Carlowitz and Kamakura tossups, as well as responsibility for Tagus river and Adorno. I apologize for the the lapses in my writing process that allowed the bad clue placement to happen and promise to be more careful about my writing in the future. The entirety of my submission was:

Tossups: Carlowitz, Kamakura, Wagner Act, Earl of Warwick (kingmaker), Tagus River, Adorno, Robert King Merton.
Bonuses: Jagellion dynasty, Supreme Court apportionment cases, Crimean War battles, works of Hayek, pragmatics, Bentham.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:26 am

This tournament was ok. I didn't find anything to be excited about in this set. As usual, there were some incredibly dubious answer choices, including a whole bunch of things that were either incredibly obvious from the start or were unanswerable by anyone until the end. The bonuses were pretty variable and some of the science questions still suffered from the unfortunate "identify this named thing that no one knows" syndrome (my favorite was the one that asked you to name a Seyfert classification scheme). Just in terms of writing I felt like this was a pretty mediocre set by today's standards.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:54 am

grapesmoker wrote:This tournament was ok. I didn't find anything to be excited about in this set. As usual, there were some incredibly dubious answer choices, including a whole bunch of things that were either incredibly obvious from the start or were unanswerable by anyone until the end. The bonuses were pretty variable and some of the science questions still suffered from the unfortunate "identify this named thing that no one knows" syndrome (my favorite was the one that asked you to name a Seyfert classification scheme). Just in terms of writing I felt like this was a pretty mediocre set by today's standards.
This. I also think the set suffered from the lack of rigorous editing of submissions. That being said, the tournament wasn't bad; it just wasn't altogether good.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:00 am

Any tournament that asks about Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie is a winner in my book.

ETA: Questions you can blame me for (answer lines by Matt)- tossups on Ginsberg, Nagel, Miro, Pareto and Butler; bonuses on Dinesen etc., Sozaboy etc., Allport/Milgram/forgetting, Festinger etc., Ban On Love/Wagner/Tannhauser, and a very bad, possibly unused question on Portinari Altarpiece/Mantegna/St. Anthony. No, I'm not sure why Matt had me write two psych bonuses.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by BuzzerZen » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:12 am

Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:Any tournament that asks about Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie is a winner in my book.
Dammit, how did I miss this one?
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:13 am

I was pretty down with this event, my guess is because it was aiming to be a "regular" tournament so there was less real chance for ultra variable bonuses and stuff that was completely out there creeping in. I enjoyed out there tossup answer "The Monsters and the Critics" coming up, and in general my impression was that I had fun playing it and it was a perfectly serviceable event. Also, I was very relieved to hear a tournament that cut way down on the modern music for once, so that was a plus to me. Operettas by Sousa was not a great tossup idea but my memory of most of the other music and opera questions was that they were pretty solid answer choices and written as well as you can expect.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:40 am

Evan, we were on a bye for the Hamster Huey thing--it was a Calvin and Hobbes bonus and I was reading the round (nice 30 by Rob).

Again regarding the operettas by Sousa, I'm genuinely curious if people think the answer line was a non-starter or if better clues could have been chosen. I typically learn operas (and operettas) by plot details rather than arias, so that's the way I skewed in the tossup. If people disdain the answer line, I'm also curious as to that because unlike other admittedly insane common link tossups, this followed the typical music writing convention of ___ by ____ as an answer line, and it clearly said "composition" early to avoid confusion with plays. In the room I was scorekeeping, someone had an incorrect buzz with "operas of Sousa," which was unfortunate, but I'm not sure what the answer to that problem is.I suppose in this age of insane common links, people might be trying to think if it could be_operettas where the female soloist was played by a man_ or something, but it seemed a fairly straightforward answer line, and I'm not entirely sure what a tossup on Sousa just using operetta clues would have accomplished differently, as I would have written it the same way probably (unless the answer line was genuinely confusing and to avoid opera/operetta confusion).
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:48 am

It's a dumb answer line because there's nothing about it that is particularly unique grouping them together beyond that they all are operettas, which is not as uniquely defined a genre as "symphonies" or other stuff like that. In particular, there are some operettas that are treated just like light operas, performed by opera companies (The Merry Widow), etc. since that's truly what an operetta is, just a light comic opera. Also, there is even less that I can see as distinguishing operettas from musicals, since that's basically what they are. Because of these problems where it is pretty impossible to write a unique tossup about operettas without having reason to accept opera or musical as well, it shouldn't be written. But as I referenced before, I also think the "symphonies by ___" kinds of questions have a more inherently unique quality about them that lets players confidently buzz than one on operettas as a by-product of how un-unique an operetta is.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:06 pm

Charlie's got a good point about the opera/operetta answer line versus symphonies answer line. I liked seeing Sousa come up, just like it's fun when Joplin comes up in a okay-he-has-stuff-other-than-rags sense, and I thought that if the answer line had just been Sousa with clues almost solely based on his operettas, it would have been a great question.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:09 pm

Re: "operettas of Sousa": what we have here is this year's Ragged Dick, and anyone who knows my biases could easily guess I disliked it.

I mean, if you think that Sousa's operettas are sufficiently famous/notable/academic to be asked about, then the question wasn't bad. But is seems to me that operettas of Sousa is a prime example of something that used to be more common in the ghosts of ACF past- namely, counting something as "academic" merely because it's old. Operettas are, pretty much be definition, more entertainment than art, and ought to count on the same level as Broadway musicals, which they are in fact the direct ancestors of. The fact that most tournaments nowadays would likely have a question on modern music instead of "operettas of Sousa" is in my opinion an unreservedly good thing, and as such this question felt like it was turning back the clock to the mediocre old days of 2002 or so.

As for using plot details instead of arias because that's what you find memorable, that's a perfectly reasonable choice, and one I would likely make as well. It's also the primary reason why opera questions count as "other arts" and shouldn't invade the "real music" distribution like they did in a couple early rounds here (the later rounds mostly seemed better in that regard).
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:35 pm

I actually don't know that I agree with this particular line of reasoning about how operettas are for entertainment and shouldn't come up much because of that - pretty much every comic opera ever written was intended for amusement, and other than church music, most composers were writing their pieces to be part of the entertainment at their sponsor's castle at night and stuff like that. The advent of classical music only really being performed in a concert hall is something that really got big after the era of Mozart.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:53 pm

Dear deity, someone with something to say needs to reroute this discussion before yet another thread gets hijacked by the classical music mafia.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:59 pm

Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:Operettas are, pretty much be definition, more entertainment than art, and ought to count on the same level as Broadway musicals, which they are in fact the direct ancestors of. The fact that most tournaments nowadays would likely have a question on modern music instead of "operettas of Sousa" is in my opinion an unreservedly good thing, and as such this question felt like it was turning back the clock to the mediocre old days of 2002 or so.
I agree with Charlie. Operetta is no more musically/artistically insubstantial than a lot of the comic operas we ask about. As long as it's being counted as in the "other fine arts" distribution rather than the classical music distribution, I don't see a problem with operetta or even more Broadway musicals (which are in many cases more artistically and historically important than European operettas) popping up in the "other fine arts" part of the distribution. As a matter fact, I'd take it further and say that things like Die Fledermaus or the Merry Widow should pop up earlier in the year than the operas of Meyerbeer or Massanet, because even though lighter, they're more well-known.

If there was a problem with the answer line, I think, was not that it was "operettas of Sousa", but that it was "operettas of Sousa". Even unashamed operetta-lovers (and I include myself in this category) usually don't care about Sousa's operettas. It's an almost sure buzzer-race on El Capitan, unless perhaps you mention The Charlatan, which generated a march that's in the band repertory, thus letting someone who knows their marches buzz in.
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:It's a dumb answer line because there's nothing about it that is particularly unique grouping them together beyond that they all are operettas, which is not as uniquely defined a genre as "symphonies" or other stuff like that. In particular, there are some operettas that are treated just like light operas, performed by opera companies (The Merry Widow), etc. since that's truly what an operetta is, just a light comic opera. Also, there is even less that I can see as distinguishing operettas from musicals, since that's basically what they are. Because of these problems where it is pretty impossible to write a unique tossup about operettas without having reason to accept opera or musical as well, it shouldn't be written. But as I referenced before, I also think the "symphonies by ___" kinds of questions have a more inherently unique quality about them that lets players confidently buzz than one on operettas as a by-product of how un-unique an operetta is.
I have to disagree here. There are very few operettas I can think of (with the exception of the G&S operettas which are sometimes called "Savoy operas") that would be classified as operettas or musicals or vice versa.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:02 pm

I really don't see this as the "classical music mafia" (whatever that is), but I apologize if I brought it on. I was attempting to see what worked/didn't work about a tossup I had written, but perhaps I should have just taken it to the music thread.

I think Die Fledermaus was an ACF Fall tossup this year, for what it's worth.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:24 pm

Well, it's not your fault, Mike. Any question about music, and probably any mere mention of a composer or his work, is bound to provoke a 20-post scholarly debate today.

I'm just sayin' - can we at least try to have similar debates about the relevancy of Yves Tanguy and the Kanem-Bornu Empire, it'd spice things up. Alternatively, can I call into question the sexuality of people who talk a lot about classical music (you know, as if they were drama club members)?
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:28 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:I agree with Charlie. Operetta is no more musically/artistically insubstantial than a lot of the comic operas we ask about. As long as it's being counted as in the "other fine arts" distribution rather than the classical music distribution, I don't see a problem with operetta or even more Broadway musicals (which are in many cases more artistically and historically important than European operettas) popping up in the "other fine arts" part of the distribution. As a matter fact, I'd take it further and say that things like Die Fledermaus or the Merry Widow should pop up earlier in the year than the operas of Meyerbeer or Massanet, because even though lighter, they're more well-known.
Also, I believe operettas generally featured spoken dialogue, and operas generally don't (with exceptions, of course)? If Broadway musicals were in fact generally accepted to be a part of "other fine arts", then I wouldn't really have an issue with questions on Fledermaus and Merry Widow and the like.

For the record, I'm all in favor of accepting musicals as "other arts".
No Rules Westbrook wrote:Dear deity, someone with something to say needs to reroute this discussion before yet another thread gets hijacked by the classical music mafia.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:30 pm

No Rules Westbrook wrote:can I call into question the sexuality of people who talk a lot about classical music (you know, as if they were drama club members)?
are you implying that they are homosexual
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:52 pm

are you implying that they are homosexual
But, observe that the new sensitive Ryan Westbrook has blissfully been trained to comply with the socially acceptable custom of merely implying such things, rather than using hurtful slurs and phrases to convey his point. Can't you feel that the world is a better place because of it?

Okay, enough of me hijacking a thread to stop (far more legitimate) hijacking of a thread.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:37 pm

No Rules Westbrook wrote:can we at least try to have similar debates about the relevancy of Yves Tanguy and the Kanem-Bornu Empire, it'd spice things up.
I will defend my CO tossup on Tanguy to the death.
No Rules Westbrook wrote:Alternatively, can I call into question the sexuality of people who talk a lot about classical music (you know, as if they were drama club members)?
Well, you can, but it probably won't come to anything.

In all seriousness, though, can someone post the text of the Ginsburg tossup?
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:44 pm

HKirsch wrote:In all seriousness, though, can someone post the text of the Ginsburg tossup?
I wrote:This author's "In Death Cannot Reach What Is Most Near" and "Birdbrain" were included in an Illuminated version of this man's work ,with illustrations by Eric Drooker. His words were printed on a background of railroad images in Iron Horse, which he would later place under the heading of a collection which begins with a quotation from Democratic Vistas, The Fall Of America: Poems of These States. Another work of this man's, notably transcribed from an Uher tape recorder while driving across the country, calls "all Powers of imagination to my side in this auto to make Prophecy" and invokes figures like Shambu Bharti Baba, Jesus Christ, and Hare Krishna to declare an end to the Vietnam War, while another well-known poem of his claims he "saw you, Walt Whitman... poking among the meats in the refrigerator". FTP, name this author of "Wichita Vortex Sutra" and "A Supermarket in California" who "saw the best minds of [his] generation destroyed by madness" in Howl.
ANSWER: Allen Ginsberg
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:53 pm

Without getting into a detailed distinction between operas and operettas, from my distinctly outsider perspective, it seems that the tossup on Sousa operettas was ill-conceived because no one is terribly familiar with them. Maybe people know "El Capitan," but everything else was completely opaque to a room containing Selene and Andrew Yaphe (and perhaps Kevin Koai?) who are very good music players. I can't really imagine that these are particularly popular works, so it basically comes down to buzzes at the very last moment even among people who know a lot about music. That seems suboptimal.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by at your pleasure » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:10 pm

I will defend my CO tossup on Tanguy to the death.
The tossup was at CO? Well, I suppose that's a reasonable enough place to write a tossup on the third or fourth most famous surrealist painter, assuming people were actually getting it before "Name this surrealist painter who's not Dali, Miro, or Max Ernst".
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:57 pm

There are very few operettas I can think of (with the exception of the G&S operettas which are sometimes called "Savoy operas") that would be classified as operettas or musicals or vice versa.
I assume you mean opera the third time you say operettas there. In any case, I found this definition from Grove's that basically met what I had always understood to be so about operettas - "A light opera with spoken dialogue, songs and dances. The form flourished in Europe and the USA during the second half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th. In the 17th and 18th centuries the term 'operetta' was applied in a more general way to a variety of stage works which were shorter or otherwise less ambitious than opera, such as vaudeville, Singspiel and ballad opera. It is still in use on the Continent for new works akin to the Musical Comedy, into which the operetta evolved in English-speaking countries. "
Considering that definition includes works like The Magic Flute and The Abduction from the Seraglio, as well as all musicals ever written depending on how you look at it, and in any case, a bunch of operettas are treated like opera, and a bunch more are treated like musicals and are basically indistinguishable from them, I still stand behind saying that at the very least you should also accept the word musicals there, and probably should accept opera as well.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:59 pm

Also Jerry is very right about the accessibility problem. El Capitan is the only non-march by Sousa that most people will know the title of, and presumably very few people know about its plot, so asking a question mostly dedicated to that and things that are even harder seems like poor use of a Sousa question.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:39 pm

I wrote the following:

TUs: Lippi, Titian, Winslow Homer, Henry Moore, Cunning Little Vixen, Jean Renoir
Bonuses: Nielsen, J. Strauss Jr., Stravinsky ballets, Flight into Egypt/ Caravaggio/ Caracci

Also, belated congratulations on your 3000th post, Jerry!
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:59 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
There are very few operettas I can think of (with the exception of the G&S operettas which are sometimes called "Savoy operas") that would be classified as operettas or musicals or vice versa.
I assume you mean opera the third time you say operettas there.
Yeah, I did. Sorry for the typo.
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:In any case, I found this definition from Grove's that basically met what I had always understood to be so about operettas - "A light opera with spoken dialogue, songs and dances. The form flourished in Europe and the USA during the second half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th. In the 17th and 18th centuries the term 'operetta' was applied in a more general way to a variety of stage works which were shorter or otherwise less ambitious than opera, such as vaudeville, Singspiel and ballad opera. It is still in use on the Continent for new works akin to the Musical Comedy, into which the operetta evolved in English-speaking countries. "
Considering that definition includes works like The Magic Flute and The Abduction from the Seraglio, as well as all musicals ever written depending on how you look at it, and in any case, a bunch of operettas are treated like opera, and a bunch more are treated like musicals and are basically indistinguishable from them, I still stand behind saying that at the very least you should also accept the word musicals there, and probably should accept opera as well.
I don't want to hijack this thread with classical nomenclature debate, but I have to disagree. I don't think operetta is used anymore in musical terminology as an umbrella term for all "stage works shorter or less amibitious than opera". An opera like The Elixir of Love would never be considered an operetta or musical, even though it is a very light and comic work and not very long, because it is sung through without spoken dialogue. An operetta like Die Fledermaus, though performed in opera houses, is still considered an operetta rather than an opera, because of the dialogue, and would not be considered a musical because the music is classical. A musical like Annie Get Your Gun would never be mistaken for opera and operetta, because not only is there spoken dialogue, but the music is written in the pop/jazz style of the era. The only hard to classify works are things like My Fair Lady or Oklahoma. Leonard Bernstein claimed that the difference between a Broadway operetta and a Broadway musical was that the former was still written in an artistic attempt to capture the verbal and musical style of its setting while the latter was written in the popular vernacular verbal and musical style, and therefore he called Oklahoma a Broadway operetta, and I'm sure he would have said the same of My Fair Lady, which is mock-Edwardian through and through. But cases like that where the distinction is unclear or where a piece falls into two categories are in the minority, and if someone claims The Magic Flute is a musical, or Kiss Me Kate is a comic opera, or Falstaff is an operetta, I think that's clearly inaccurate enough to warrant a neg.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:22 am

This was discussed in the irc more extensively, but if you actually look back and see the original titles of the works in question, John Philip Sousa often published them under the title of "comic operas," which in my opinion gives more than enough credence to the idea that opera should be accepted. Any argument based on the idea that somehow a comic opera is not an opera is silly. Similarly, in reading the Grove's article on musicals, it is quite apparent that there is no substantial difference between the "musicals" from before 1920-ish and the operettas being produced at the same time, so I still think that is acceptable.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Ondes Martenot » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:41 am

This is what I wrote for this tournament

Tossups: Gran plot (this was intended for the finals packet, which is why it seemed so difficult), Monsanto process, Tebbe's reagent, Clemmensen reduction, Born-Oppenheimer, Woodward-Hoffman, Gibbs-Duhem equation, Cyclohexene, Poynting vector, Inteferometer

Bonuses: betaine/ylide/Prato reaction, nernst equation/disproportionation/latimer diagram, chromium/delta orbital/rhenium, schmidt/curtius/ugi reactions, raney nickel/carbonyl/Dewar-Chatt-Duncanson, Fajan's rules/Pearson/HOMO, Slater's rules/nuclear shielding/clementi and raimondi, fugacity/lewis-randall/henry's law, Beer's law/pathlength/scatchard plot, Frenkel-Kontorova/Sine-gordon/friction, polarization/brewster's angle/Jones calculus
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:50 am

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:This was discussed in the irc more extensively, but if you actually look back and see the original titles of the works in question, John Philip Sousa often published them under the title of "comic operas," which in my opinion gives more than enough credence to the idea that opera should be accepted. Any argument based on the idea that somehow a comic opera is not an opera is silly.
The important question to me is not the classification Sousa's publishers gave it, but what we would call it today. Haydn's London Symphonies were called overtures in many write-ups of his era, but I would be rightfully negged if I called them "overtures by Haydn". This is obviously an extreme case that isn't completely analogous to the Sousa case, but I'm using the example to at least combat the idea that the terminology of the time is acceptable in cases where it is outdated.

Also I don't think it's silly to say that what the late 19th century British and Americans called comic or light opera is not opera. Opera companies seem to agree, because they don't seem to consider them operas. If you asked a manger, conductor, or singer of an opera company why they don't perform Pirates of Penzance, they'd probably say "because it's not an opera". Light opera companies that do perform these works are not dedicated to some small part of the opera repertoire, they are dedicated to an entirely different repertoire made up of a different genre. If you want to use "opera" as an umbrella term for all staged musical works written in the classical style, I guess I would agree that the author could have allowed a prompt rather than a neg on "operas of Sousa" for "operettas of Sousa" and should have allowed light opera or comic opera to be alternatives to operetta in the answer, but I would still maintain that the terms are not interchangeable and that requesting more specificity in the answer is not unreasonable.
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Similarly, in reading the Grove's article on musicals, it is quite apparent that there is no substantial difference between the "musicals" from before 1920-ish and the operettas being produced at the same time, so I still think that is acceptable.
I haven't read the Grove article, and I'm not registered with them, so I can't read it. Nonetheless, I've read multiple books on the subject of the history of operetta and the development of the musical, and none of them would claim that there is no distinction between pre-1920 operetta and musicals. Many historians place the invention of the musical as a separate genre from operetta as early as 1866, with the show The Black Crook. 1891's A Trip to Chinatown is also often considered a candidate for one of the first musicals, as it's certainly not an operetta. The Broadway book musical was certainly established as a distinct genre by 1917, when Jerome Kern wrote Oh, Boy! which is significantly different from the any of the operettas he wrote in the early part of his career. In all of these, the structure of the show, the vernacular diction of the dialogue and lyrics, and the popular musical style are all distinctly different from operetta. The musical did eventually replace the operetta, but there was an era where examples of both genres were being written by different composers, and the distinction still holds. If you're listening to "Edwardian musical comedies" by Lionel Monckton or Sidney Jones or their ilk, then the distinction is difficult, but that's one of the most neglected eras in all of musical theatre and almost no musicians know about these works. If you were to listen to let's say a Rudolf Friml operetta and an Irving Berlin musical both from the nineteen-teens, I think you would have a hard time maintaining that there is no substantial difference between the two genres. And since quizbowl has barely scraped the surface of the most popular periods of operetta or musical, I doubt we're going to hear any examples in the near future of tossups about the ones that do blur the line, where anyone could conceivably neg by claiming the wrong genre. God knows, there are probably going to be so few tossups that are "operettas by ______" or "musicals by _______" to begin with.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:26 am

While we can argue until the cows come home on what an operetta technically is and when it began and all this, the fact that it was published under the title "a comic opera in three acts" means that a player who buzzes in with opera is right automatically. I don't understand how this is confusing, whether or not we call it a real opera now, the fact that Sousa did is significant in terms of needing to have alternate answers accepted.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:21 pm

Another thing that arose this weekend that isn't the biggest problem in the world but that I want to make note of for future writers. In music when you say something about "the beginning" of a work, you really should be describing the very first notes of it and not a later part of an introductory section, unless you add in a qualifier. The particular part that was a problem was the Beethoven's first symphony that talked about how it opens with G major scales and stuff like that when in reality that stuff comes a bit after the opening, and instead the actual opening is a notorious B-F tritone that resolves to a C major chord followed by a couple other resolving tritones that is notable for surprising audiences in the time for being "too dissonant" although nowadays it sounds very tame. I already talked to Tommy about this so I know he will be more careful about it, but I just want to make sure that in the future writers make sure to not confuse the opening of a work with the early parts of the work that follow it, because there is a difference.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:24 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Another thing that arose this weekend that isn't the biggest problem in the world but that I want to make note of for future writers. In music when you say something about "the beginning" of a work, you really should be describing the very first notes of it and not a later part of an introductory section, unless you add in a qualifier.
I don't remember this tossup (was it in the Sunday tournament I missed?), but I agree with Charlie that clues that fail to distinguish between the opening bars and opening movements of a symphony tend to be very misleading/confusing.
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote: The particular part that was a problem was the Beethoven's first symphony that talked about how it opens with G major scales and stuff like that when in reality that stuff comes a bit after the opening, and instead the actual opening is a notorious B-F tritone that resolves to a C major chord followed by a couple other resolving tritones that is notable for surprising audiences in the time for being "too dissonant" although nowadays it sounds very tame.
Beethoven's First opens on a C dominant seventh chord resolving to an F chord, not a G dominant seventh chord resolving to a C, so the highlighted tritone in the upper part is actually E-Bb (since starting the piece on a V-I cadence in the subdominant was another innovative feature beyond the use of the tritone).
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:While we can argue until the cows come home on what an operetta technically is and when it began and all this, the fact that it was published under the title "a comic opera in three acts" means that a player who buzzes in with opera is right automatically. I don't understand how this is confusing, whether or not we call it a real opera now, the fact that Sousa did is significant in terms of needing to have alternate answers accepted.
That's a very good case for why the answer line should say "accept comic operas of Sousa". But comic opera, even in Sousa's day, denoted a separate genre from opera, the American or British equivalent of the Continental operetta. There is no reason to believe that Sousa or any of his contemporaries would have thought that El Capitan was an opera rather than a comic opera. And if you look at the cases of composers like Sullivan or Offenbach who wrote lots of comic operas and then one real opera, the idea that these are two different genres is clear even in the nineteenth century discussion of these works. I don't see why the writer of the question should have foreseen that people would think that Sousa wrote operas as opposed to operettas / comic operas and included such a provision in his answer line, as that's not a commonly made assertion.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:36 pm

You're right about the tritone note, I was just being lazy and forgot that it opened in a different key, but the whole point of that thing was that it confused the audience because it was too dissonant and kept people confused about what key the work was supposed to be in, so it would have actually been a more interesting clue than the one that did get used.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:10 pm

As the writer of the question, I suppose I could have made a more lenient answer line (like "comic operas" or whatever), but my sources specifically designated them as "operettas," which I understood to be a different genre than "opera," which is why I did not include "accept operas" and I assume the editors agreed with this line of reasoning. If anyone did neg with "comic operas of Sousa" at this tournament, I apologize as it probably should have been accepted.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by setht » Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:53 pm

I wrote the non-bio/chem science, literature, social science, and trash for the Jeff/Brian/me packet. I also wrote the myth, using answers selected by Matt.
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:I'm not sure why Matt had me write two psych bonuses.
In cases like this and "operettas of Sousa" I think people should feel entitled to ask the central editor for a replacement answer (or set of answers)--or suggest a related one (e.g. "I don't think I can write a good tossup on 'operettas of Sousa'; any objection to my writing a tossup on Sousa instead" or "This packet has two psych bonuses; can you give me another set of non-psych social science answers for the second bonus?"). Ideally there wouldn't be any issues with tossup answers and within-packet subdistributions to start with, but I see no need to stick with things just because that's what you were initially handed. I was initially asked to write a tossup on "avatars of Ganesh" (or avatars of Vishnu or just avatars in general); I decided that I didn't have a good idea for writing a decent (non-transparent, non-confusing) question on any of those answers and inquired about writing a tossup on Ganesh instead.
aarcoh wrote:This is what I wrote for this tournament

Tossups: Gran plot (this was intended for the finals packet, which is why it seemed so difficult), Monsanto process, Tebbe's reagent, Clemmensen reduction, Born-Oppenheimer, Woodward-Hoffman, Gibbs-Duhem equation, Cyclohexene, Poynting vector, Inteferometer

Bonuses: betaine/ylide/Prato reaction, nernst equation/disproportionation/latimer diagram, chromium/delta orbital/rhenium, schmidt/curtius/ugi reactions, raney nickel/carbonyl/Dewar-Chatt-Duncanson, Fajan's rules/Pearson/HOMO, Slater's rules/nuclear shielding/clementi and raimondi, fugacity/lewis-randall/henry's law, Beer's law/pathlength/scatchard plot, Frenkel-Kontorova/Sine-gordon/friction, polarization/brewster's angle/Jones calculus
In general these questions seemed fine. The Henry's law part seemed a little weird; could you post it? I think Sine-Gordon would be a fine hard part for that bonus, with Frenkel-Kontorova pushing it. I think Jones calculus is possibly on the easy side as a hard part, and I think Brewster's angle is definitely on the easy side as a medium part.

Could someone post the AGN bonus with the Seyfert galaxy classification scheme part?

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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:58 pm

Aaron, can you post the Woodward-Hoffman and the cyclohexene tossups?
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:09 pm

Chiming in a bit late, I'm very very glad I went to this tournament. The bonus difficulty was a little strange sometimes, but I did enjoy learning about areas of social science that I don't usually hear about, not to mention some interesting stuff elsewhere in the distribution. I didn't think it was really mediocre, either - probably not the best tournament I've ever been to, but it seemed fairly solid overall.

I thought the tossup on the Kamakura shogunate was kind of weak; it produced a buzzer race on the very first line (it was notably the first government called a bakufu), and the rest of the question had almost no new clues. Not to mention there's some pretty interesting political maneuvering during the period that could have warranted a mention.

Other than that, I was not a fan of the tossups on "formation of the moon", Soddy, and superfluidity, as there seemed to be very little actual science in the leadins of these questions.
aarcoh wrote:This is what I wrote for this tournament

Tossups: Gran plot (this was intended for the finals packet, which is why it seemed so difficult), Monsanto process, Tebbe's reagent, Clemmensen reduction, Born-Oppenheimer, Woodward-Hoffman, Gibbs-Duhem equation, Cyclohexene, Poynting vector, Inteferometer
Wow, Gran plots are really hard. I'm not sure how much they're actually used either - if you have firsthand experience with it feel free to dispute me. Interferometer also name-dropped mach-zender fairly early if I remember correctly, while Born-Oppenheimer had some weird pronoun shifting (I think at some point it called it a "statement", which lead me to neg with the Franck-Condon principle). Andy already talked about Woodward-Hoffman, so I'll stay away. I really enjoyed the Gibbs-Duhem tossup.
aarcoh wrote:Bonuses: betaine/ylide/Prato reaction, nernst equation/disproportionation/latimer diagram, chromium/delta orbital/rhenium, schmidt/curtius/ugi reactions, raney nickel/carbonyl/Dewar-Chatt-Duncanson, Fajan's rules/Pearson/HOMO, Slater's rules/nuclear shielding/clementi and raimondi, fugacity/lewis-randall/henry's law, Beer's law/pathlength/scatchard plot, Frenkel-Kontorova/Sine-gordon/friction, polarization/brewster's angle/Jones calculus
There are some pretty crazy hard parts here, like rhenium, Clementi/Raimondi, Ugi reaction, and Frenkel-Kontorova (though you could argue that last one is important). I also feel like if you mention that betaines are an intermediate in the wittig reaction, you're not really robbing anyone of points, as that's the only place where they tend to come up.

Other than that, I'm really happy about the questions on the Churning of the Ocean, Hanuman, Joan Miro, The Underdogs, Michaelis-Menten kinetics, and a few others. Also will this set be posted soon?
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:11 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Also will this set be posted soon?
I have sent it in to the archive.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by OctagonJoe » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:20 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Wow, Gran plots are really hard. I'm not sure how much they're actually used either - if you have firsthand experience with it feel free to dispute me.
We used Gran plots a fair amount in my Equilibrium and Analysis chem class this spring, although this was not an introductory course. That said, I had no idea what was going on in that tossup until it was answered by Watkins, so maybe I didn't use them enough.
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Mechanical Beasts
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:31 pm

OctagonJoe wrote:We used Gran plots a fair amount in my Equilibrium and Analysis chem class this spring, although this was not an introductory course. That said, I had no idea what was going on in that tossup until it was answered by Watkins, so maybe I didn't use them enough.
Is there available space in the timeline where I answered that tossup? I'd like to move in.

But yeah, I'm in the same boat with Carsten and Eric. I think you'll have to convince me that they're tossup-worthy, both in terms of many good clues and in terms of import.
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Re: VCU Open discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:56 pm

grapesmoker wrote:This tournament was ok. I didn't find anything to be excited about in this set. As usual, there were some incredibly dubious answer choices, including a whole bunch of things that were either incredibly obvious from the start or were unanswerable by anyone until the end. The bonuses were pretty variable and some of the science questions still suffered from the unfortunate "identify this named thing that no one knows" syndrome (my favorite was the one that asked you to name a Seyfert classification scheme). Just in terms of writing I felt like this was a pretty mediocre set by today's standards.
Though I'm coming belatedly to the discussion, I wanted to weigh in and say that I share Jerry's assessment of the set. It was, as Jerry accurately remarks, "ok."

In particular, VCU Open instantiated the current trend of (a) announcing a tournament for a date far in the future, then (b) realizing shortly before the tournament that there's no possible way for you to generate the requisite number of questions by the correct date, and (c) scrambling to cobble together, at the last possible minute, a sufficient quantity of questions by appealing for help to people at the tournament, other members of the community, and, in this case, people who haven't played in years (props to Subash!). Unsurprisingly, this leaves no time for "editing" -- the person in charge of the set ends up just tossing together whatever questions have come in and hoping for the best. As a consequence, bonus difficulty ends up being wildly variable, a number of questions which could use more editing get promoted directly into the set, etc.

There's obviously no point berating Matt for this, both because he seems inveterately to operate in this fashion, and because he's apparently hanging up his hat. But it would be nice if future set editors take tournaments like this one as a cautionary tale, rather than as a sign that it's completely cool to leave everything to the last minute, because the community will bail you out and write enough questions for there to be some sort of a tournament. (I feel like a broken record on this issue, but as the examples of this weekend's tournaments show, this is a message which isn't sinking in.)
Andrew

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