A mishmash of mentionables

Tuesday, 20 July 2004 — 10:32pm | Debate

The most recent hiatus in writing for this site, something that is fast becoming a monthly occurrence, can be attributed to a number of real-world impediments. One of them was the fact that Calgary was in the midst of Stampede season, which had less of an impact on my schedule than usual, considering I attended neither a pancake breakfast nor the “Interpretations of Western Heritage” speak-off. The latter is an invitational speech competition that entered its third year this Stampede, to which the Stampede’s speech and debate wing – in part spearheaded by my tenth-grade science teacher, Cathy Kalynchuk – invites medalists from the Calgary and Southern Alberta high school circuits to deliver a prepared oratory on Western Canadian history and culture for a thousand-dollar prize. The first year the competition was held, there was also a category for readings of prose, mostly featuring selections by the likes of W.O. Mitchell; for some reason, that arm of the competition has since been abolished.

According to certain attendees like this guy and that guy, one of the finalists this year was Nick Krause, a William Aberhart alumnus who showed up at Pacific Cup back in March and is set to debate for UBC in the fall. No word on who won, however. There were also reports of what at least a few people seem to try every year, which is suck up to the Stampede judges by talking about how wonderful it is to celebrate the Wild West identity at a festival that embraces the glorious heritage of Alberta, Land of the Free and Home of the Beef – only to discover that the judging panels are usually composed of unaffiliated local celebrities. In the year I competed, the first time the event was held, I spoke in front of the likes of a few Members of Parliament and A-Channel weatherman Darr Maqbool.

That’s a funny story by itself, getting paid a grand to ramble twice about the pivotal cultural significance of cow-tipping only to discover the hard way that the massive cardboard rodeo cheque they issued me could, in fact, not be cashed. The signed Stampede poster and gaudy silver belt buckle, awarded to all of the finalists, were a bonus. Interesting notes for debate trivia buffs: also competing that year were Brent Kettles, who showed up for Hugill and McGoun last year on behalf of the University of Calgary; Dana Hayward, who won High School Provincials last March with Amy Robichaud (who, in turn, advanced to Stampede finals this year); and Georgina Beaty, a U of A student who showed up at Grant Davy’s ’02, only to disappear from the debate scene due to Drama commitments.

But back on the subject of the extent of my compliance with my civic duty to attend the Stampede: I did see the second-last night of the Rangeland Derby, where the disastrous two-minute late outrider penalty awarded to my longtime favourite Buddy Bensmiller knocked him out of contention. As it turns out, the following night, penalties again played a decisive role, as an eleventh Rangeland title evaded King Kelly and the big prize went to Hugh Sinclair. The Grandstand Show was much as it has been in the past, but on a brand-new TransAlta stage and with a giant Calgary Flames flag thrown into the mix. Sometime during my absence from the city, Jebb Fink went from breakfast show host to stand-up comedian.

Word on the street is that at tonight’s Students’ Council meeting, Kyle posed a question concerning where the Executive was sitting with respect to The Independent‘s cry for help. The jist of it is that they will wait for the paper to show a little relevance (and, well, independence) before dirtying their own hands and budgets, which is an acceptable response.

Can someone please explain why the Alberta Debate and Speech Association – which, I should point out, is the provincial high school circuit – lists university-circuit results taken verbatim from the UADS results page? Not that I mind the extra search engine hit.

In sadder news, fearless leader and sometime rapper Randal Horobik of Dickinson State University has announced that speech and debate has ceased to exist at DSU. Without school funding, it is quite impossible for their contingent to continue fulfilling its role as CUSID West’s honourary Canadians from North Dakota. It is a shocking loss to the debating community in this region, especially considering some of the good times the Western Canadian schools have shared with these fine folks.

Interestingly, in Round 1 of the University of Saskatchewan’s Diefenbaker Cup tournament back in January 2003, Bryce Pinto and I faced DSU’s Stuart Savelkoul and Riley Parker in a debate about institutional financial support for speech and debate activities. With one team from a debate society that lacked school funding, and another from a club that had no choice but to rely on it exclusively (with tragic consequences), it got a little messy.

They took the round.

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