annie are you okay

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A-T-L-A-N-T-A-G-A that's where I S-T-A-Yr till my d-to the-y-i-n-g-d-a-y

When i figure out this blog stuff, i'll add some more pictures and fix some formatting issues, but, i thought i'd go ahead and get this up!

As many of you know, I get completely excited about Spelling Bee week! This has been a fascination for a couple years now. It started one year when I was working out in the Rec Center and was watching one of the TVs that was available to me while I pedaled or walked or ran or ellipsed or whatever I was doing that day…that day when ESPN was broadcasting the Spelling Bee. It was intense, and that was not what I was expecting. I was hooked, and have been ever since.

Now, I know that the Spelling Craze has spread to many areas of American Society, and Roll Tide for that. I’m excited about other people getting excited about spelling, because it is brain exercise for the children (and well, us adults as well), and education is good! Learning can be made fun or savvy or whatever, as we have seen with School House Rock, for example.

My friend Kyle mentioned that today’s musicians (a loose term, perhaps, and while they may not be real musicians in the eyes of some, they are truly educators) have been integral in teaching him how to spell. I doubt there are many folks above the age of 8 who do not know how to spell “glamorous” thanks to Fergie. (p.s., thanks Fergie, for real!) That word will no longer be any sort of challenge on a 4th grade spelling test. My man Mystikal taught me how to spell “No Limit” and “Bout it Bout it” in his song “Here We Go.”

But, enough about them…onto the 80th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, the final rounds: 7-13. For some history of the Spelling Bee, click here.

First of all—let me say that if I had known that the spelling bee was coming to town, well, the town of Washington DC, I would have stayed there an extra couple days and chilled out before I came back to Tuscaloosa. What a cool thing it would be to not only watch the final rounds of the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee in person, but to also hang out with some cool spellers! Holy Cow Wow! Alas, I was not made aware of this information (obviously, I’m not the spellers’ biggest fan…just close), so, stupidly, I came back to Tuscaloosa, and was stuck watching the final round on ABC.

Rules for these final rounds: Spellers get 2 minutes to hear the word, ask questions (Language of Origin (LoO), use it in a sentence, say it again, other pronunciations) and by the end of that two minutes they need to have spelled the word. Sort of. If they don’t attempt to spell the word in that 2 minutes, they get 30 seconds of “finishing time.” If a speller thinks that he/she will need extra time, only ONCE during the bee can he/she ask for bonus time. BUT, bonus time must be requested right when the bell rings or it doesn’t happen. Bonus time lasts for 1 minute only and then the 30 seconds of finishing time will begin.

And let me go ahead and say that I understand these directions completely!!!! When I heard the directions for Curling (the Olympic headache they call a sport), I totally didn’t understand at all…at least I know from the Spelling Bee, that I’m not a total failure in understanding. I regress. Back to the Spelling Bee, where I will provide somewhat of a play-by-play with some commentary. What I did with every word, save the first one, was when the word was said, I would spell it for myself, then I would observe what happened with the spellers, and then I would note the correct spelling of the word. I spelled only ONE word correctly. (better than zero words, eh?)

Round 7 starts with only 15 spellers: 9 boys and 6 girls, 3 from Canada. And here we go.

1. Girolle: (I didn’t get the My attempt going until the next word, obviously) which is a mushroom of some sort. Poor Jonathan, because he couldn’t quite get the pronunciation correct and he's OUTTA HERE. This is his last Scripp's Spelling Bee, and he's out of the competition quickly, but he did receive a standing ovation as he exited. Apparently, this guy is a real legend in the Bee world, apparently. Nothing but Kudos to him. He's a champ! (not the champ, but definitely a champ).

2. Rascacio (my attempt: Rauscausio)—Evan—DING, and quickly too.

Let's learn about Tia Thomas, the next speller. This is her 4th year in the bee. She’s a piano player, racquetball player, plays the flute too, loves music and athletics, described as having a heart of gold. She knits hats for preemies, and the girl is interested in global warming. And that's Tia, in a nutshell.

3. Zacate (my attempt: Zucatti)—Tia—Tia is trying to visualize the word by writing it on her number (which she's wearing around her neck), and she looks very stumped. She asks for alternate pronunciations, and isn't satisfied with only asking that question once. She's asking the judges for more alternate pronunciatons like they lied the first time (bad move Tia). There are less than 30 seconds left and as the clock winds down, she starts spelling. And she is incorrect. And there is a face of obvious frustration…bad news, as she sits down.

4. Apozem (My attempt: Apazem)—Cody—He starts spelling almost immediately, a-p- (long pause)-i-z-e-m…..another one bites the dust. Cody is one of the Canadians, and there is one less of them now. Sit down, Cody.

Question: I wonder about all the cheering when a speller spells incorrectly. Is the audience clapping for the person who just got out? Like a nice job type of situation, good try, etc. OR, is it all the survivors’ parents and friends cheering like, “yeah, sucker, sit down, my baby’s still going on? Tough call, any ideas?

5. Partitur (My attempt: Partiteur)--Nate-LoO is from German—DING! Nate gets the job done and gets it done very quickly. We learn here that Nate plays the cello, bass guitar, and many other instruments. Good job, Nate.

Here, we also learn that there are 20 folks from Canada who made it into the Scripps National Spelling Bee; 3 of these 20 made it to the Primetime Rounds.

6. Bouleuterion (My attempt: eulutarian)—Anqi—He also finger spelling on the back of his number, and with less than 30 seconds, he starts spelling: b-u-l-u-t-e-r-i-o-n—NOPE, Anqi, you failed. Sit down.

As we return from the commercial break, we find Stuart Scott interviewing Jonathan, the first loser from Round 7. And Jonathan’s just a'crying, it's sorta sad. Not like Home Makeover sad, but nonetheless. Jonathan got a perfect score on the multiple choice part, but said he was just confused about the pronunciation. “I’m not bitter about it though,”Jonathan assures the viewers. And he was really happy about the standing ovation. “Just thinking about that is just awesome," he says, still fighting back the tears.

7. Punaise (My attempt: Peunaise)—Joseph—upon hearing the word he says, bright eyed and scared: “oh my gosh.” When he asks for a definition, the judge says that it’s a synonym for “bed bug.” Joseph says, “I liked bed bug better.” I mean, this guy is funny! He starts spelling…suspense, and YES! He got it correct and can continue to the next round!

I’m amused by the fact that the Word spell checker is labeling the majority of these words as spelled incorrectly.

8. Urgrund (My attempt: Oeurgrunt)—Claire—This is an interesting young lady. Her eyes roll back into her head as she’s thinking about the word. With under 30 seconds left, she starts spelling: u-r-g-r-u-n-d-t. Well, you’re OUT, but, you were SO CLOSE, just had to add that extra letter. She sits down with a smile on her face, the German language knocked her out.

They take a break to tell us about Kavya, the next speller. She’s a violin player and does Indian (dot not feather) dance. One of her friends says, “she’s gone to India, that’s cool.” Kavya also has a sister, Vanya (5), and they are very close and have a great relationship. Her sister, too, wants to be in the National Spelling Bee.

9. Cilice (My attempt: syles)--Kavya Shivashankar—First of all, no wonder Kavya’s a spelling bee champ, just spelling her last name is a chore. She’s from Kansas, woot woot, and she’s a hand speller, meaning that she tries to visualize the spelling by “writing” in her hand. She doesn’t start spelling until she hears the bell and her finishing time has started: c-i-l-i-s. NOPE, sorry, sit down, Kavya.

And when we come back from the commercial break, we learn that the 1970 winning word was Croissant and the 1984 winning word was Luge.

10. Pelorus (My attempt: Paloris) Nithya Vijayakumar (another obvious speller). She asks for the LoO, and the dude says it’s an unknown etymology. Tough call and Nithya rolls her eyes. “This is one of those words that if you haven’t seen it, good luck” says commentator. Nithya’s father looks to be in a trance, eyes closed, rocking back and forth, maybe praying? And Nithya starts spelling: p-a-l-o-r-i-s. Hey, well, she got it incorrect, BUT, she spelled it the same way I did, it’s too bad two wrongs don’t make a right.

11. Helzel (My attempt: Helzil) Connor Spencer—14 years old—LoO is German to Yiddish. Yiddish? I kinda thought that was made up. Connor asks, “It’s a noun…right?” Duh, Connor. But, that seemed to be the winning question, because he spelled it correctly. Good job Conner!

Break to learn about the next speller: Matt Evans. He’s the favorite in the competition, now that this other kid got out in an early round. Matt has already won the Reader’s Digest Word Power Challenge, in which he got a $25,000 scholarship. And, side note: did you know there are some words that don’t have vowels? These are words that have “W”s that act as vowels. Matt’s favorite phrase seems to be: “to b-e-e or not to b-e-e.”

12. Genizah (My attempt: Geneiza) Matt—He asks, “Is it Hebrew?” Well, as a matter of fact, it is. Matt, you’re smart! He starts spelling: G-e-n-i-z-a-h. Matt strikes again and will continue to the next round, high 5’s for everyone.

13. Rigaree (My attempt: Rigori) Patreek—Another unknown origin word, that sucks. And, as I see the correct spelling, man, I was gonna spell it with 2 “e”s and I changed my mind. Always go with your first guess! Patreek has obviously seen this word before, because he just spelled it right out, no hesitation.

14. Grognard (My attempt: Groniare) Amy—Amy’s got some steady hands. LoO: Latin to French. The sentence that the word is used in contains the phrase, “video game warriors,” at which the audience laughs. This word means “an old soldier.” And Amy is confused, so confused and stressed out by this word that she has to use Bonus Time. And by the time she’s used that up and her finishing time starts, she spells only to fail. Good try, Amy, but no.

15. Helodes (My attempt: Helodes) Isabel—Isabel is the only speller from Wisconsin (sort of how Grace was the only speller from Alabama, but Grace was out early). Isabel wears lots of bracelets, 25 of them, to be exact, and says they are good luck charms. As it turns out, both Isabel and I get this word correct!

And at the end of round 7, only 7 spellers remaining—6 boys and 1 girl. In round 7, ½ the remaining spellers were lost. But, Matt Evans, the youngest, the favorite, is still in the running.

Let’s learn about Evan. Evan has a love for notes and numbers, music and math. He’s a piano player who just wrote a piano concerto. He’s 13 years old. He says, “I really like math.” He started playing piano when he was 5, not only playing, but making up his own songs. He says, “Sometimes when I walk around, I have music in my head.” His mom says, “Sometimes he will have a far-away look in his eyes, and I’ll look at him and ask him, ‘is it notes or numbers.’” He’s pretty much a genius, but, he also says, “I don’t really like the spelling bee as compared with math or music, but I have to do it.” Easy does it there Evan. Love the one you’re with!

And, Round 8 begins.

16. Schuhplattler (My attempt: Schuplackler) Evan starts us off and gets it correct in like 30 seconds.

17. Abseil (My attempt: aupsiel) Nate—LoO is from German. Nate nails it in about 45 seconds. Nate is pretty darn impressive.
18. Triticale (my attempt: tridicale) Joseph—The definition includes something about a hybrid between wheat and rye. And Joseph responds with another “Oh my gosh,” something apparently he has done each round thus far. He starts spelling: t-r-i-t-i-c-a-l-e, and he got it correct! Wide-eyed, brace-face Joseph goes and sits back down!

19. Cachalot (My attempt: Cashalautte) Connor—He spelled very quickly, and he puts his number up to cover his face in between each syllable. The tricks these kids use, I tell you what. Although this trick didn’t work so well for Connor, because he spelled it incorrectly. See ya, Connor.

20. Fauchard (My attempt: Faucharre) Matthew—and the word he gets came from French. And it’s another one I thought I could have had correct; I did not. Matthew is struggling and keeps as asking for the LoO. And he starts spelling with 30 seconds of regulation: f-a-u-c-h-a-r. Nope, he misspelled it. And the favorite is out. And as he greets his parents, Mom gives him the longest hug ever. It’s over, Mom, let your kid sit down.

21. Randkluft (My attempt: Rhantcluft) Patreek—He spells this in no time flat. The commentator says, “could you tell that you knew it all along?” Well, I couldn’t, but that’s why I’m not the commentator.

22. Epaulment (My attempt: Epaulmant) Isabel, the Lone girl left in the round gets it correct and can continue. Looks like those 25 lucky charm bracelets are doin their work.

And Round 8 comes to a close, with only 5 spellers left.

We learn that the final spellers traveled around the Capital City, and even had a police escort to the White House, where they met with Laura Bush, who, I might add, made them sit on the floor! WHAT? And, who made them participate in a political word spelling bee. Come on, Laura, give ‘em a break…and let them sit in chairs!

Round 9, here we go!

23. Laquear (My attempt: lacquiar) Evan—Latin LoO. And he starts spelling: l-a-q-u-e-a-r. SHUT UP! How in the world! “I think a lot of people are riding the “E” train for Evan right now” says one of the commentators. Well, duh!

24. Rognon (My attempt: Breunion) Nate comes up to the plate and spells the word, correctly, in 10 seconds. Those Canadians, I tell you what. Gasps emerge from the audience. Mom and dad are waving and smiling.

25. Aniseikonia (My attempt: Anypsychonia) Joseph—“Ok” he says, not “Oh gosh.” Uh oh, he’s deviating from his norm, and that can’t be a good thing. The commentator says, “He’s got a lot more than aniseikonia going on right now, he can see about 13 different versions of this word in his head and he’s got to figure out the right one.” Oh, Joseph, you spelled the word incorrectly. Sit down, Joseph, shame cause you were pretty funny.
26. Oberek (My attempt: Auberic) Patreek—LoO: Polish—and he missed it too, another one bites the dust.

Two in a row have to sit down. Regardless of what Isabel does in this round, we will be going to the Finals Round, because there will be no more than three spellers.

27. Cyanophycean (My attempt: scienoficien) Isabelle steps up to the mic. Let’s see if those bracelets are gonna work for her this round. And with under 30 seconds or regulation time, she starts spelling: C-y-a-n-o-pause-p-h-y-t-i-o-n. Incorrect. The last girl is out and we’re down to two spellers.

“Make no doubt about it, this is a competition and these two have their game-faces on,” says the commentator. We have had 27 words thus far in the finals rounds, and I have spelled 1 correctly. But, in 6 of those 26 other words, I only got 1 letter incorrect. So, while I’m not a champion speller or anything, I consider myself not to be a total failure.

Round 10 begins.

28. Zoilus (My attempt: zoelous) Evan’s up. LoO is from a Greek name, and the definition is “one given to unjust quibbling and faultfinding.” Interesting. Evan spells it correctly.

And we learn an interesting thing about Nate here. When he gets nervous, he metaphorically picks the wings off the butterflies in his stomach.

29. Vituline (My attempt: Vitchiline) Nate’s up. He’s taking a little longer to spell this one than he did last round. Even if he misses this word, the bee is not completely over. Evan would have to spell yet another word correctly, because you can’t end the bee on a misspelled word. He starts spelling with under 10 seconds of regulation time left: V-i-t-u-l-i-n-e, and another round in the books, folks, he got it right. What do his parents have to say about this little victory? Oh, just a little kiss on the lips (SICK), Canadians, I tell you what.

Round 11 starts and ends within about 1 minute.

Pappardelle (My attempt: Papardelle) Evan---and he gets it in about 5 seconds

Videlicet (My attempt: Videllecette ) Nate—V-i-d-e-l-i-c-e-t—another under 10—Whoa!

Round 12

Yosenabe (My attempt: Yosanaubet) Evan starts spelling and gets it correct! “Menus are some of the best places to pick up spelling words,” says the commentator. Well, if you say so.

Coryza (My attempt: Karisa) Nate comes up with almost all the confidence in the world...and fails. Gasps all around from the audience.

So, now Evan needs to spell this next word correctly…yikes! Pressure’s on, Ev

Serrefine is the word. Definition: a small forceps for clamping a blood vessel, and they put the correct spelling of the word up immediately, there is no chance for my attempt. And Evan spells the word correctly.

Mom says, “I can’t believe it” Have a little faith in your son, mom!

Evan is the CHAMPION!

Stuart Scott is with the winner. Evan’s one sassy boy. He’s still talking about how he doesn’t even like spelling (this is the music and math, notes and numbers boy).

Conclusions. As Stuart Scott interviewed the winner, we found Evan to be quite the sassy boy who still did not say that he liked spelling bees. He's more passionate about notes and numbers. Therefore, perhaps it should have been Nate who won. He (Nate) seemed to want it more. On the other hand, Nate was Canadian. I don't have anything against Canadians; I tend to like them pretty well. But, here's the deal. This is the Scripps NATIONAL Spelling Bee, not the Scripps INTERNATIONAL or the Scripps NORTH AMERICAN Spelling Bee. Therefore, maybe a Canadian shouldn't have walked away with the title. Therefore, since we have rationally concluded that the title should not belong to Evan who hates Spelling or to Nate who is from Canada, the title of Spelling Champ should go to Isabel, the little Emo from Wisconsin. Yeah, yeah, she didn't spell all the words correctly, BUT, she is indeed American and had a love for spelling things correctly (she even wore good luck bracelets)! And Isabel will be my champion, no matter what the "results" say.


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