Timeshifted from my notes in early June
I watched the finals of the Spelling Bee last night. Obviously, as a professor, I need to support all academic competitions on TV. Additionally, the thrill of the contest exceeds that of pretty much everything on television. It’s like a last second shot to win or lose, every time a contestant stands at the microphone. Alone. I got nervous getting filmed at Gencon 2004 for the .hack final, and that wasn’t live in front of millions. Did I mention that none of the players are more than 14? Then after a miss, Stuart Scott waits for an interview. The preteens handle the interviews better than most athletes. So, here are some comments.
I immediately got one of the round 7 words, cilice, which Kavya missed because she doesn’t read my blog. What a failure! twelvefruits.com should now become mandatory reading for future spelling bee contestants. In a round 7 feature, we were also introduced to a word I suspect will enter political debate, kakistocracy, rule by those least competent.
I do wish the first round didn’t run so many features, because it takes the spellers out of rhythm. My suspicion is that increases failures. The numbers aren’t enough to verify this, though. Round 7 had 8 misses of 15. Round 8 had 2 errors of 7. Round 9 took the 5 down to two. During the commercial break, I wanted Tina Turner to bring the Thunderdome. But one of the finalists was playing with his mother’s hair, which seems rather inappropriate for post apocalyptic Australia. The other metaphorically picks the wings off the butterflies in his stomach when he’s waiting to spell. One of the two finalists in the National Spelling Bee is Canadian, which makes him like Toronto in the NBA. The judges allow “zed”. This isn’t a Canadian Rant. It’s Zee, not Zed!
The Canadian crumbles under pressure, but then an extra cool moment occurs. The Spelling Bee cannot end on a misspelled word. I love this rule. It makes so much sense. It’s not about losing. Games never should be about losing. That’s why I don’t play Jenga. People only lose in Jenga. I can’t stand that.
Evan, the boy from his mom’s lap 20 minutes ago, must spell a word correctly to win. The word I misspell, serrefine, but he gets it in about 15 seconds. It’s a big trophy. Even though he’s the champion, Evan still likes to do math and music. “With spelling, it’s just a bunch of memorization.” He knew the word as soon as the judge said it, and he’s got a good outlook on memorization. Memorization is not cool. I hope he enjoys the $35,000.