WATCH THIS: Extreme Pen Spinning

Posted on September 19, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

 I always wondered how debaters (and deep-in-thought limited preppers) were able to spin their pens without sending them flying across the room. (Well, there were a *few* rogue writing instruments that would ricochet across rounds.) Now I'm starting to wonder if someone didn't travel across the world to study at the Thaispinner club and return to the forensics community to pass the skill along. 


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DISCUSS THIS: Life Changing Performances

Posted on September 04, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice


Yesterday afternoon, news broke that actor Michael Clarke Duncan had passed away due to complications from a heart attack that occurred earlier in the summer. Affectionately known as a 'gentle giant,' at over six feet tall and 315 lbs, Duncan appeared in films such as Armageddon and his voice to Kung Fu Panda. His presence was hard to miss. 

His most recognized role, however, was his breakout performance alongside Tom Hanks in The Green Mile. An adaptation of the Stephen King novel about a death row prisoner with supernatural abilities, Duncan's portrayal of the sensitive Coffey earned him numerous awards and an Oscar nomination. Though the events of the film were set during the Great Depression, it struck a nerve with modern audiences. Viewers left not only talking about the performances, but the complicated message regarding the death penalty. 

Duncan's legacy is an important one for forensics. It is proof that powerful performances find a place in our hearts and minds. It is a reminder that performances are an opportunity to entertain, educate, and spark discussion. Even if we disagree on how we would "rank" a round or even interpret a text, pieces with a message force us to go from passive viewers to active participants in the discussion. Trophies are nice. But changing someone's mind about how they see the world is so much more impressive. 

So tell us: Have you witnessed a performance that changed your outlook on the world? (It can be an interp, speaking event, or even a debate round.) Have you ever discussed the message of a topic or piece when you went home? As a competitor, what subject matters are you interested in exploring?

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USE THIS: Marshmallows and Will Power

Posted on August 17, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

 Will power. Some people have it. Some people cave in. (I'm usually the latter of the two.)

Reading about the Marshmallow Experiment (loose nickname) involving 4 year-old kids and will power, it seems that the ability to delay gratification may have benefits later in life. Forty years ago, researchers gave each child a serving of a marshmallow, a pretzel, or a cookie. The kids were told that they could eat what they were given immediately. If they waited, though, they would be given an additional treat. 

Many of them had adorable conniption fits while trying to resist the marshmallow's fluffy temptation. Many gave in after several minutes. A few were able to wait over half an hour for the researcher to return with the extra sweet. The ones who demonstrated will power as children, as the Slate article notes, became adults who were better at planning, could handle stress, and were less likely to be overweight. Best of all, researchers found that will power wasn't a magical ability, but something that can be attained. Learning to delay gratification requires strategy. 

Speakers, the Marshmallow Experiment can be a great example that illustrates the power of temptation and the benefit of will power. Interpers, check out the more detailed account in The New Yorker. Maybe you can channel the kids' reactions to temptation ("Some cover their eyes with their hands or turn around so that they can’t see the tray. Others start kicking the desk, or tug on their pigtails, or stroke the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal.") for your next D.I.

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READ THIS: ‘Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters’ by: Marilyn Monroe

Posted on August 10, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

READ THIS is a new series that highlights literature that should be worth your attention. 

“Only parts of us will ever
touch parts of others –
one’s own truth is just that really –
own truth.” – Marilyn Monroe, “Fragments”

Some celebrities’ burn bright but fade quickly. [We miss you, Pauly Shore!] A few stars, though, still glow long after their time has passed.  The iconic blonde bombshell of the 1960’s, Marilyn Monroe’s name has been etched into our collective cultural consciousness as a symbol of unparalleled beauty and tragic demise.

But behind the platinum locks and rosy pout laid a mind far more complex than the purring kitten she portrayed in films. Her personal library contained over 400 books. She preferred to be photographed with books, tons of them, in fact. She read Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, and Kerouac. She studied literature and history at UCLA. Monroe was bubbly on-screen, and brainy off-screen.

 This month marked the 50th anniversary of Monroe’s passing. Younger generations have been introduced to her through her films. Today, her private poetry, fragments of ideas, and observations have been collected and compiled into a new collection.

 So, interpers, whether you’re a fan of the actress, or interested in running a ‘celebrity’ piece that digs beneath the surface, “Fragments” is definitely worth reading. If you’re a speaker, Marilyn Monroe’s posthumous ponderings offer an excellent example of not judging a book by its (admittedly) beautiful cover. 

via BrainPickings

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USE THIS: The Olympic Swimmer Who Had Never Swam In An Olympic Sized Pool

Posted on August 08, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

USE THIS is a new series that collects interesting narratives, examples, statistics, and any other bits of trivia that can be used for introductions, oratories, or limited prep examples.

Have you ever felt unprepared for competition? I don't mean having to re-run through your introduction on the van ride to the tournament. I'm talking about the, “I don’t think I ever memorized the last three minutes of my piece” kind of unprepared. “Oh well,” you say, “it’s just a tournament.”

Well, suppose “just a tournament” was really “the 2000 summer Olympic games in Sydney” and “unprepared” meant “being entered to swim without ever having been in an Olympic-size pool.” You only have a judge and perhaps a few sleepy competitors. Swimmer Eric Moussambani had the entire world watching.

Head over to MentalFloss to read how Olympic swimmer Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea went from local swim practice to dog paddling and splashing his way through a 100m heat in the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney. True, you may feel that slightly awkward cringe when you recall your own experience stumbling through a performance. But don't worry, his story has a happy ending.

So if you’re looking for an example of being underprepared, and…well…in over your head, so to speak…think about using Eric Moussambani’s story. 

Though, you should still get all of your events ready a little earlier.


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