Arts Seattle Spelling Bee Crowns First Champ
posted by January 9 at 16:53 PMon
Andrew Bleeker has filed this update after his final round in the Seattle Spelling Bee (see last issue’s “Speak and Spell”):
Last night, the Seattle Spelling Bee awarded its first championship. My confidence was at an all-time high as I entered the Re-bar—I figured that my great new haircut and vague overtures toward studying would carry me to a respectable finish. I felt prepared for anything, provided that I wasn’t called upon to spell the word “perseverance.” After I floundered out of the first round (P-E-R-S-E-V-E-R-E-N-C-E), reality set in. I became the most inept finalist in Seattle Spelling Bee history by misspelling three words out of my given five, with only “groceteria” and “valise” to comfort me.
Nevertheless, last night's spelling bee was a great time. The special Pokémon spelling bee was worth the $5 cover all by itself. Contestants from the civilian audience were called upon to spell as many Pokémon as possible in 90 seconds—the cavalcade of bizarre names and counterintuitive spellings (stuff along the lines of "Exeggcute") inspired delirious audience reactions. I'm not at all familiar with Pokémon, but unfamiliar words are what spelling bees are all about, and the guy who somehow spelled 16 correct earned my hearty admiration. Co-hosts Josh Malamy and Benjamin Williams delivered an inspired variant to their already atypical spelling bees.
Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly writer and all-around brainy customer, nipped prohibitive favorite Randy Hilfman to claim the Season One championship. Borchert's best word was "intercrural," tantalizingly defined as "situated or taking place between two crura and especially in the region of the groin." He had picked up the word from a biography of Oscar Wilde; I knew it from the startling psychological case studies of Wilhelm Stekel. Lauren Mahon finished in third place, and all three received a potpourri of word-related prizes (not to mention cash). Next month begins a new series of spelling bees, and I hope to restore honor to my name—not only in the wake of my ignominious exit from the championship, but also after misspelling Benjamin Williams's name in my preview article. It's W-I-L-L-I-A-M-S, not A-N-D-E-R-S-O-N. I regret the error.