May 31, 2007

The Spelling Bee.

Of course, I'm watching the Spelling Bee, and of course, I'm for Isabel Jacobson, the speller from Madison, Wisconsin. So many great spellers have gone down in this first prime time round, and suddenly we see that there is only one young woman left. It's our Isabel! She has three favorite words, we see in the bioclip, and one is "kakistocracy, which means government by the worst people possible." That's so Madison! She's written the word on a little slate, and she tosses it over her shoulder and gives a funny-disgusted look. She wears all the bracelets she own on one arm for good luck. There are 25 of them. She gets a crazy, Greek origin word that means wet and spongy. Helodes. And she gets it right!

UPDATE: Epaulement. She gets it! A barricade of earth. Go, Isabel!

UPDATE 2: Cyanophycean. A blue-green alga. Cyano- is easy, but -phycean? No! She's out. And it's down to two boys. One is Canadian. The other is an incredibly cool kid who loves math and music and math just enough more than music that he sees music as numbers.

UPDATE 3: The American kid is Evan O'Dorney. He gets pappardelle. Hey, that's easy! And Canadian boy, Nate Gartke, gets an easy word too. Now, Evan gets another food word, yosenabe. Too easy! How can kids at this level get the Japanese words wrong? Nate gets coryza wrong, so Evan needs to get one word right. Serrefine. "A small forceps for clamping a blood vessel." He spells it right away! He wins! Yay, Evan!

UPDATE 4: In the interview, Evan tells us why he likes math and music more than spelling. Math and music "fit together" -- they make sense! -- and spelling is "just memorization." The interviewer goads him: Don't you like spelling more now? He pauses a long time -- is he thinking of numbers or notes or is he getting the message he ought to make himself appealing to the spelling bee fans? -- and finally, he forces himself to say "a little." I love it! He's the reluctant speller. He does it well, but he doesn't love it, because he loves two other things so much, and those things really are so much better.

20 comments:

Simon said...

"one is 'kakistocracy, which means government by the worst people possible.'"

So it's a synonym for "Congress," then?

;)

(Actually, I kid, but do so aware of the rich vein of Americans making fun of Congress, starting with John Adams' never-surpassed barb that if the opposite of pro is con, then the opposite of progress must be Congress.)

Revenant said...

Adams' other famous Congress-bashing quote is a gem, too: "I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."

jane said...

I saw a little of the bee earlier today, and it was riveting to see sweet brilliant geeks in their best warrior mode, pitting their intellects against the Webster dictionary which, btw, apparently includes Japanese, Hungarian and African words. The kids' expressions of frustration, defeat and victory were pure and unspoiled. Some of them even used a little humor to diffuse the tension. The strangest moment this afternoon was when a New Zealander(?) was given "jardiniere" (the only word for the previous 15 minutes that I knew) and her accent was so exaggerated that the judges had difficulty figuring whether she spelled it with a "g" or a "j." But, good golly, a French word was an absolute gift over some of the other word offerings/incoming artillery.

Chip Ahoy said...

There must have been something wrong, otherwise, ace for the cat to snag a bat.

*air high fives the cat*

The little black hands kill me.

michilines said...

He pauses a long time -- is he thinking of numbers or notes or is he getting the message he ought to make himself appealing to the spelling bee fans? -- and finally, he forces himself to say "a little." I love it! He's the reluctant speller

Speculate much? Of course there could be no other interpretation. The boy did it for maketing purposes. Ahh, yes.

And then there is revenant --- no shame has he. It must be the fact that he tried to shame me, but ended up making both of you look the fool. (Remember how you castigated me about English class, revenant? No apology. No admitting you were wrong. Typical. Oh so typical.)

Eli Blake said...

I used a serrefine to stem the bleeding after the grognard unintentionally injured me with his fauchard while he was dancing the schuhplattner.

jane said...

Eli,

Could you pronounce "serrefine", again, and give us the definition and language of origin, please?

Eli Blake said...

No, Jane, I think I'd have trouble looking it up because I suffer from aniseikonia.

Eli Blake said...

One other note on the bee:

Samir (the favorite who was eliminated earlier in the day) showed a whole lot more class than his mother did. He admitted right away that he was wrong, and accepted that.

His mother sounded like Tonya Harding at the Olympics a few years ago, whining and trying to get him back into the competition.

Showing that once again, these kids are the grownups in the building.

michilines said...

Showing that once again, these kids are the grownups in the building.

And revenant is not. Thanks, eb.

Revenant said...

And then there is revenant --- no shame has he. It must be the fact that he tried to shame me, but ended up making both of you look the fool. (Remember how you castigated me about English class, revenant? No apology. No admitting you were wrong. Typical. Oh so typical.

After googling to find out (a) who the heck you are and (b) what the heck you're talking about, I found this post.. from last November. I assume this is what you're talking about.

Two points:

(1): Your claim that "He writes long posts attacking [Ann] that are full of distortions and lies" somehow "implies that he only writes long posts about [Ann]" is still laughably wrong. So no, I won't be apologizing, although I might enjoy a fresh sneer at your ignorance later, if I'm suitably bored.

(2): You're still obsessing over losing an argument about grammar SIX MONTHS after it happened? Seek psychiatric help, sweetie. Al Gore got over his 2000 loss faster than that.

Freeman Hunt said...

Re: Delayed anger at Revenant

LOL Literally. How very bizarre.

Ann Althouse said...

Michilines is obviously a troll. This thread is about the spelling bee. Okay?

Fen said...

Freeman: Re: Delayed anger at Revenant. LOL Literally. How very bizarre.

Worse, the troll has been plotting his revenge for six months now, and that was the best flame he could muster...

XWL said...

It doesn't take many folks to turn a comment seciton into a kakiscommentariat.

It's not to say that it's a comment section by and of the worst possible people (afterall I'm commenting here, so that would be impossible, right?), but comment sections can end up being lead by the worst people possible.

It's hard not to get sucked into response mode.

And as far as this from the original post, "The other is an incredibly cool kid" . . .

Yeah, I'm sure that's exactly what the other students at his school say about the uber-math nerd and ultra-music geek who just won the National Spelling Bee.

(although I seem to recall him attending Berkeley School for Impossibly Bright Students (or something like that) so in his case he might actually be one of the cool kids)

And not to throw comestibles at an underbridge dweller, but given this accurate description by Fen, Worse, the troll has been plotting his revenge for six months now, and that was the best flame he could muster...

Does nursing a minor slight for months on end only to attack passive agressively on a completely unrelated matter strike you as more typically masculine or feminine behavior?

(not all women act like this, but more people who do act like this are female than male, least that's my assumption, and I've confirmed michilines' gender by visiting her fascinating blog, so I'm going to consider this one confirming hit not only an anecdote, but data as well)

Kirby Olson said...

I wish they had more spelling bees and math bees and science bees and other stuff like that for kids on. It got my kids really inspired.

I do think that they should get somebody who can actually pronounce the words properly. The French was atrocious.

blake said...

Yeah, I'm sure that's exactly what the other students at his school say about the uber-math nerd and ultra-music geek who just won the National Spelling Bee.

(although I seem to recall him attending Berkeley School for Impossibly Bright Students (or something like that) so in his case he might actually be one of the cool kids)


He's home-schooled.

All home-schooled kids are cool kids.

Ann Althouse said...

The spelling bee makes the nerds seem cool. That's what's so great about it.

XWL said...

I meant to jump in and correct myself after noticing Michelle Malkin mentioning his home schooled status.

I erred because in ABC's 'up close and personal' piece they showed Evan in a classroom setting and interviewed one of his teachers.

Most likely, this kid is so advanced in math that his parents can't instruct him, so for that portion of his schooling he goes to the "Berkeley School for Kids Too Bright for Regular Schools".

If the kid is the right kid, and the parents are the right parents, home schooling makes a lot of sense, not a solution for everyone, but seems like it serves the needs of really bright, self-motivated kids better than traditional schools.

Kathy said...

If the kid is the right kid, and the parents are the right parents, home schooling makes a lot of sense, not a solution for everyone, but seems like it serves the needs of really bright, self-motivated kids better than traditional schools.

Not to hijack the thread, but actually for a lot of the other kind of kids homeschooling makes perfect sense too. The slow kids are frequently not well served by the public schools. I taught high school for a couple of years, and I was appalled at what passed for teaching in many of the regular-level classes, where some teachers viewed their job more as babysitting than actual instruction. I know homeschooling parents who probably wouldn't pass muster in your book because they're not bright enough or middle class enough or whatever, but who are giving their kids a much better education than what they were receiving in school before they were pulled out. Certainly that's not true in every case, but don't rule it out. I'm always amused when people who know next to nothing about homeschooling make pronouncements about who should be allowed to homeschool and in what circumstances and with what methods.