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Will Karl Rove use High School Debate Moves on John Edwards?

According to The Buffalo News, John Edwards and Karl Rove are slated to debate at the University of Buffalo on September 26. And while much has been said about Edwards' ability as a trial lawyer and the millions he's racked up, not enough has been said about Karl Rove's skill as a high school debater. Here's journalist Wayne Slater in a PBS interview on one of Rove's tactics, used to intimidate 9th grade competition.

"Karl Rove was not only the best debater in Olympus High School, but also one of the best debaters in Utah when he was in high school. He went to a lot of competitions with other schools. One of the things he was good at was talking off the cuff and developing enormously skilled responses to the other guys, something we see even these days.

Picture 23.pngThe other thing he understood, though, was you intimidate the person from the beginning. What can you do to scare your opponent before the debate even comes across? Now, in those days, what students did was bring in a shoebox or a small box full of debate cards, and these were cards that basically said what your position was so that you would refer to those during the course of the debate.

The other side would have a box. So he'd bring in two. The other side might have two. And over time, he'd bring in four. Ultimately he and his colleague would bring in on a dolly, on a hand cart, a giant box of thousands and thousands of debate cards as if to scare and intimidate the other side, thinking, my gosh, this is a debater of enormous reputation, a debater who is obviously well prepared and better prepared than I am. Rove would put these boxes in front of him on the desk and then start out on the debate. Well, [what] nobody knew until years later was that almost all of these cards were blank. It was a show of intimidation, and Rove usually won."

I really hope he recycles the strategy, and shows up to the event Imelda Marcos-style. Of course, the other story I just find hilarious is Rove's high school campaign to become President of his Student Senate. Whether you like Rove or not, you have to admit the gimmick was genius. It's the 4th question Slater answers here and definitely worth reading.

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
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Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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