Spelling Bee 2007: Another Running Diary
Since my Spelling Bee running diary was such a hit last year, I couldn't deny my fans the pleasure of a second one.
Setting the stage: 15 spellers in the televised finals, nine boys and six girls. Oops! I thought Isaac told me Mike and the Mad Dog would be doing the commentary, but it's actually Mike and Mike in the Morning. Although it doesn't really seem like they are doing much commentary at all. There are two other people doing all of the talking.
Ironically, my DVR's informational blurb on the Bee tells us that "Katherine Close" won the Bee last year. Um, no. Katharine Close won it. And I learned from last year's tragic mistake and have not only taped the Bee this year, but also taped the show after the Bee, so that if it runs overtime I won't miss the thrilling conclusion.
First up: Jonathan C. Horton. Did he make them use his middle initial? I went to school with a kid who made us call him Benjamin T. Lynard. He even wrote it on all of his folders. Smart kid, but not smart enough to realize that you get your ass kicked if you go by Benjamin T. Lynard. I wonder what he's doing now. We're off to a fascinating start with Jonathan trying to pronounce the word "girolle" literally 22 times (I rewound to count, and the pronouncer said it 18 times, meaning I got to hear it 40 times, total). And he gets it wrong, leaving off the last two letters.
Next up, Evan O'Dorney. He has to spell "rascacio." I didn't look at the screen and spelled it myself and got it right! And so did Evan.
Tia Thomas is third, and she was already profiled before the spelling began. And now she gets a special human interest clip. She's 12 and has been in the Bee four times. She's adopted! Her mother says that Tia is "not a nerd." Phew. She plays the flute, makes hats for premature babies and wrote a paper about global warming. The most interesting thing about Tia? She goes to a charter school. As in, she isn't homeschooled. It's a good thing they put the piece on Tia early, because she's out--couldn't spell "zacate," thinking the first vowel was an "o."
For those following, I Googled Benjamin T. Lynard and all I found were Lynard Skynard mishits. Oh well.
Cody Wang is our next speller, it's his first time in the finals. And his experience didn't last long. He misspelled "apozem" as "apizem." Which is okay, because I thought it was "apazam."
Nate Gartke, another first-timer. And he's staying in, correctly spelling "partitur."
Anqui Dong. He has to spell "bouleuterion"which is an ancient Greek counsel chamber. Since I'm Greek I should be able to spell this one. Oops. I guessed "voulouterion," which was obviously very, very wrong. Anqui was also wrong, although not quite as bad, guessing "bouluterion."
Interview with the ousted Jonathan C. Horton, who is tearing up. Poor Jonathan. He's totally going to get ripped on at school.
Joseph Hanares. Apparently he is a comedian. When he hears the word, "punaise," he says "Oh my god." Which maybe might be funny, except that according to the commentators, he does this with every word. Apparently "punaise," means "bed bug," and Joseph says he would rather just spell "bed bug." Yup, he's a regular Jerry Seinfeld. And he moves on to the next round.
Claire Zhang is next. She has to spell "urgrund," which is a primal cause or ultimate cosmic principle. Poor Claire was so close, but she stuck a "t" on the end of the word.
Next is Kavya Shivashankar. I'm sure you can imagine I had to pause the recording to get her last name right. A little piece on Kavya. Apparently her parents wanted her to have activies in addition to her studies, so she...plays the violin. Wow, that's not a typical activity for a brainy kid. (To be fair, she also practices Indian dance, so that's something a little different.) She is the youngest in the competition at 11 years old. She has to spell "cilice," which is a rough shirt worn as a penance. Kavya didn't get it right, spelling it "cilis." So far the two kids profiled have been eliminated. Coincidence?
Next up is Nithya Vijayakumar. She has to spell a word that sounds like "paloris" to me. Nithya's father doesn't look that...normal. He's sitting in his seat with his eyes closed, his head bobbing and his mouth making small movements. Nithya spells the word just like I would have! Yay! Unfortunately for her, the actual spelling is "pelorus." Boo.
Next up is Connor Spencer, who is 14. The age range of the Bee makes for some interesting contrasts in size between the older and younger kids. Connor looks like he could eat some of his competitors for breakfast. He has to spell "helzel." Oh, and he's one of those kids who holds his placard over his mouth while spelling the word. He's still no Rebecca Sealfon. He got it right.
Matthew Evans is up, and his intro segment features him saying "to b-e-e or not to b-e-e, that is the question." His word is "genizah," which is a storeroom in a synagogue. I wonder if Matthew Evans is Jewish. I don't think so. Regardless, he spelled it correctly. He's 12 years old and this is his fourth trip to the spelling bee. Which...kind of creeps me out a little.
Prateek Kohli is our next speller. He's the thirteenth speller we have seen today, which means that we still have two more before we are out of the first round. Fortunately, we are halfway through the bee, so maybe things will speed up from here. Prateek has to spell "rigaree." And he gets it right. Disturbingly, we learn that Prateek's grandfather, with whom he was very close, died this week. It seems really sad that he isn't with his dad at the funeral, but I guess the Bee important.
Amy Chyao is next and apparently is "one to watch," according to our commentators. Her word is what I think should be spelled "gronyare," which is an old soldier. Of course, I would be wrong: it's grognard, and Amy got it wrong, spelling it "groniare." The commentator (a former spelling bee contestant, all grown up) says that Amy's guess was a "plausible" French spelling of the word she heard. I wonder what he would say about my take on the word.
Our last speller of round one is Isabel Jacobson. She's wearing makeup. I think this might be a spelling bee first. Her word is another Greek one, which I will guess is spelled "helodis." Luckily for Isabel, I was wrong and she was right, spelling it "helodes." Damn. I even used a Greek accent when sounding it out to try to come up with the spelling. I really suck this year.
Beginning round two, only seven spellers are left: six male, one female. According to the commentator, the "odds-on favorite right now has to be Matt Evans." I wonder if there are really bets being laid on this in Vegas right now. Probably.
Oh my god. Evan O'Dorney is singing for us. He is apparently very mathematical and very musical. Except his singing...not so much. It's all squeaky and strange. But he also plays a composition of his own on the piano, which is pretty impressive. And he's speaking lovingly of numbers and math, and I can't be that mean here, because I kind of understand what he's saying. I loved numbers when I was a kid too.
Evan has to spell a word that sounds so ridiculous I have to guess its spelling. The word, as I would spell it, is "schuplappler" and it is "a Bavarian courtship dance in which before the couple dances together the woman calmly does steps resembling those of a waltz, while the man dances around her swinging his arms and slapping his thighs and the soles of his feet." Evan gets it right, spelling it as "schuhplattler." No surprise that I was wrong, yet again.
Nate Gartke is back up. Oh, Nate has to spell what I will guess is "opsile," and is so convinced of his knowledge that he asks the pronouncer "is that German?" Of course, it is. And of course, Nate gets it right, spelling it "abseil." The commentator says that "you have to know your German phoenetic elements," to get this word. Obviously, I don't know mine.
Our commentator has now compared the Spelling Bee trophy to the Stanley Cup.
Joseph is back up and the commentator tells us to "get ready for a surprised look" before the word is even read. But Joseph surprises us and acts normal. Well, for a minute at least, because he can't resist throwing in an "oh my gosh," when he asks a question about the root of the word he has to spell: "triticale." And he's shocked that he got it right. I'm sure we're all shocked that he was shocked.
A red-headed white boy walks up and the female commentator tells us that Nithya Vijayakumar is going to spell. Actually, it's Connor Spencer. Connor gets "cachalot" and is very excited, asking if the word is French, which it is, and asking something about the root that apparently isn't indicated on the pronouncer's sheet. He spells it quickly and confidently, but he's wrong by one letter (replacing the second "a" with an "e").
Matt Evans is back, and he has to spell a word I am going to guess is spelled "pouchard." Damn! I was so close. It's actually "fauchard," which really just means I can't hear. Matt gets it wrong too, dropping the "d," and so our "odds-on favorite" at the beginning of the round is now gone.
Prateek is back up, immediately asking if the word is German (it is). I'm not even going to attempt to spell this one. A chasm formed when ice recedes from a mountainside: "randkluft." The commentator "not even his moustache could hide his smile when he heard that word." Okay, Prateek has the wispy moustache of a 13 year old boy who hasn't yet learned to shave but will probably start in two or three months. That 'stache isn't hiding a zit, let alone a smile. Why would the commentator even mention it? Weird.
Amy has to spell "epaulement," and she gets it right.
Oh, after the break, we get to see the finalists' visit to the White House and the "special guest" they met. Oh, the special guest is Laura Bush. Boo. I don't know what I was really expecting. And she's giving them a "government themed" spelling bee, with words way too easy for these kids. Although I'm sure the President wouldn't be able to come close to knowing the definition of "suffragist," let alone how to spell it.
Mike and Mike in the Morning are doing a tiny bit of commentary. I think this is the first we got have heard from them since the opening. They didn't add anything.
Evan's back up, and correctly spells "laquear."
Nate the Canadian is up. Last time they mentioned his love of hockey, maybe this time they will talk about how he loves curling. He spells "rognon," with no hesitation. They actually hadn't put the word up on the screen because he was so fast, so I had to rewind him to learn how to spell it for purposes of the blog.
Mr. Shocked is back up. He has to spell "aniseikonia," and seems really nervous, but again, who knows whether he really is? Ouch, I guess he really was nervous, because he slaughters it, guessing "aniciconia." Of course, I didn't even bother to try on that one. Poor Joseph was trying to become the first from Connecticut to win the Bee. I'm sure the entire state cries.
Prateek and the Moustache are back. He misspells "oberek," putting an "o" where the second "e" should have been. Aw, after losing he held his sister's hand. My brother would have run in the other direction when we were that age and pretended he had never heard of me. Then again, my brother would have never been in the spelling bee. Although he does like to watch.
Little Miss Makeup is up, and she needs to spell a doozy. I'm going to guess it is "cynophision," but there is no way I am right. She asks if it comes from the Greek word "cyan" meaning blue, and it is. So I guess that tells us I'm already wrong in my spelling. The commentator tells us that the last few letters will be what makes or breaks it, that everything else is easy. For some of us, maybe. Oh, and he was right. She spelled it "cyanophytion," and now we're down to two.
Evan gets "zoalous," which is actually spelled "zoilus," and Evan gets it right.
Nate gets "vicheline," which is actually spelled "vituline." The commentator says that if Nate studied his Latin roots, that would give it to him here. Clearly, I haven't studied my Latin roots. Nate seems to be very concerned about the word, but he gets it right, and seems pretty relieved.
Uh-oh, Gobo is home and wants to watch the Cavs. No way. Got to wait for the end of the bee.
Commercial break. I can't believe that American Inventor is back. Did anyone (other than me, with Gobo watching every once in awhile when really bored) watch that show last time?
Evan is back up, and is asked to spell "paparadelle." I KNOW THIS ONE!!! IT IS FOOD!!!!! Oh, no. I don't know it. It's "papparadelle." I couldn't even get food right. Food I order pretty often. I really suck.
Nate has to spell "videlicet." I'm too upset about papparadelle to even try to spell this one.
Evan gets "yosenabe," which he spells correctly. It didn't actually seem all that difficult.
Back to Nate. He gets "coryza," which he spells incorrectly.
Evan needs to spell the next word correctly in order to win. He gets "serrefine." He gets it right and wins. One note on Evan that I'm sure will surprise everyone. He's homeschooled.
This was a relatively boring bee. I'm a little disappointed. Oh, well, we'll always have girolle.