Letters: Debate Teams, Frangela

Listener e-mails this week include comments on the rapid-fire speaking style of modern high school debate teams and differing views of a comedy duo we featured called Frangela.

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NOAH ADAMS, host:

DAY TO DAY's senior producer Steve Proffitt is here now to help share some of your e-mail.

STEVE PROFFITT: Hi, Noah. We got quite a few messages about a story we aired yesterday on high school debates.

ADAMS: This focused on two young African-American men who were challenging the status quo of high school debating style.

PROFFITT: A debating style that sounds like this.

(Soundbite of debate)

PROFFITT: It's hard to believe, Noah, but this is actually the way high school debaters are taught to speak. The two students, Richard Funches and Louis Blackwell, are featured in a documentary called "Resolved." And they argue this whole fast-talking thing is inane, and many of our listeners seem to agree.

ADAMS: Hurrah, writes Elizabeth Paul of Virginia; finally someone speaks with some sense about the utter stupidity of the current high school debate style.

PROFFITT: And from Anthony Cabbot(ph) of Roslindale, Massachusetts: During 37 years of coaching debate, I've seen this great activity descend into elitism and irrelevancy.

Finally on this topic, listener Kirsten Zoflow(ph) - she's from Newtown, Pennsylvania - was startled to hear the music that we chose at the end of the debate story. This music.

(Soundbite of song, "Bizarre Love Triangle")

ADAMS: Ms. Zoflow notes the song is called "Bizarre Love Triangle." It's from the group New Order.

PROFFITT: And way back in 1989, it was the favorite song of her debate team.

ADAMS: Wow. Divided views on the comic duo Frangela, who were here last week sharing their thoughts on just how fashionable it has become to be environmentally aware. Here's a bit of that interview.

(Soundbite of NPR recording)

Ms. ANGELA SHELTON (Comedienne, Frangela): When did Al Gore become hip? It's crazy.

Ms. FRANCES CALLIER (Comedienne, Frangela): I think he found a way to get us all interested in something that we've been trying desperately not to pay attention to.

Ms. SHELTON: Yes. This is same issue like, you know, when we didn't want to put our seat belts, what have you.

Ms. CALLIER: Right, right.

Ms. SHELTON: But now we are aware of our environment and thank you, Al Gore.

ADAMS: That is the comedy team Frangela.

PROFFITT: Erica West is a fan. They're smart-funny, she writes from Washington, D.C., and she thinks they provide a refreshing angle on the issues of the day.

ADAMS: Not in the fan club: Kay Anne Legg(ph) of Fairborn, Ohio, who says it is so not enjoyable to hear cynicism disguised as humor.

PROFFITT: Finally, Noah, letters about this woman.

(Soundbite of NPR recording)

Ms. MINNIJEAN BROWN TRICKEY (Little Rock Nine): My mother won't talk about this to anyone. She says that it causes her great distress to think about it. So she won't do any interview ever.

PROFFITT: That's Minnijean Brown Trickey. She's one of the so-called Little Rock Nine.

ADAMS: These were the first African-American school children to attend Little Rock's Central High School in Arkansas 50 years ago.

PROFFITT: I listened to this story with great sadness and pride, writes Tracy Deno(ph) of Lafayette, Indiana.

ADAMS: Sadness, she says, because she lost her idealistic view of the world at such an early age.

PROFFITT: And pride, Ms. Deno continues, for showing such bravery in the face of ignorance.

ADAMS: Thanks to all who wrote to us.

PROFFITT: We invite your comments. Just go to our Web site, npr.org, and click on the Contact Us link.

ADAMS: NPR's Steve Proffitt, thanks again.

PROFFITT: You're welcome, Noah.

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