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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Seattle Spelling Bee Crowns First Champ

posted by on January 9 at 16:53 PM

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.

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That spelling bee was a blast! I only wish that the final round had been more Spellbound-stylee.... each of the final competitors on the stage going head-to-head instead of tabulating points to pick the winners.

But no matter -- at least now I know how to spell "schnozzle," right? ;)

Also -- some great photos from the event here:

Posted by imaginary dana | January 9, 2007 5:55 PM

thank you imaginary dana! may we link to your photos?

Posted by benjamin & josh | January 9, 2007 6:44 PM

Oh, Amy Kate. I feel your pain. I get the A-N-C-E part but usually add an extra R, as in P-E-R-S-E-R-V-E-R-A-N-C-E, which is how I incorrectly pronounce it as well.

Posted by Fnarf | January 9, 2007 7:20 PM

Fnarf, I didn't write this, Andrew Bleeker did. (Do you think I would misspell "perseverance"???) I say it wrong, too; is that a NW regionalism?

Posted by Amy Kate | January 9, 2007 7:34 PM

Benjamin and Josh -- of course you may! But I didn't take them, my super talented pal Kaley Davis did. I'm sure she'd love the link.

Posted by imaginary dana | January 9, 2007 7:34 PM

Despite evidence that may suggest otherwise, I wouldn't misspell "perseverance" either. That's what's so insane about this!

Posted by andrew b | January 9, 2007 7:45 PM

Well, I feel Andrew Bleeker's pain then. Somebody's pain, that's for damn sure. I say "perseRvere" too, and I'm ashamed.

Posted by Fnarf | January 9, 2007 8:42 PM

Benjamin + Josh: yes, indeed I would love the link to my photos from your site! Also, if you could help me identify the people whose names I missed, that would be fabulous.

Posted by kaley | January 9, 2007 10:46 PM

This is thread so spelling-nerd insidery and I LOVE IT.

Posted by Amy Kate | January 10, 2007 12:28 AM

Indeed, the world of spelling bees and their contestants is highly idiorrhythmic, 'n' shit.

Posted by lauren m. | January 10, 2007 10:41 AM

thanks kaley! praying at the mic is steve k. (tied for 4th with brian r.); crossing his fingers is patrick h.

amazing pokémon guy is nate w. :)

Posted by josh | January 10, 2007 3:04 PM

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