The National Spelling Bee – Live!

Do you all know I liveblog things from the telly for work? Well, I do. It is one of the things I do. I like it. Anyway. For very obvious reasons no one much cared for having a blog of the National Spelling Bee, apart from me, not least because of the stupid time zone things that mean its already finished by the time Ill see it anyway.

Anyway, so I thought I would liveblog it here instead. For my own amusement.

Crucially, I am determined to liveblog the whole thing without using any kind of spelling aid or dictionary, which should be good, since well see how good my spelling is. It really isnt. These children will beat me. And I will celebrate their doing it.

Bring It ON.

8pm The man who presents Dancing with the Stars is presenting this too. He welcomes us, standing mid-stage, with legs just slightly too far apart. Maybe the floor is slippery. Maybe he started with his thighs tightly clenched and will be in full splits by the end of the final. That would be great.

Having the most important moment of their young lives. As We WATCH


No, they will NOT be losing their virginity live on stage, they are 12! Goodness me!
They will be SPELLING!

8.04: The first girl comes up to the mic. Spell Owlmunch says the pronouncer.
Can you give me the etymology?
Yes, its the noise an owl makes eating biscuits? Oh no, wait, that would be the meaning.
The pronouncer tells her it is Latin into French, so probably not Owlmuch after all.
A-V-A-L-M-E-N-T she spells, correctly.
Oh. Its THAT word!


8.08: After a long introduction to a nice wee lass with a shaggy hairdo from California, she comes to the mic.

Omphiloskepsis. Says the pronouncer. Or something:
She asks for the definition. He gives the definition: meditation performed while staring at your belly button.

Ah! I know this one.

It is spelt B-L-O-G-G-I-N-G.


No. some other word entirely. She spells it right, though.

8.08 A nice little boy asks for the root of his word, knoblfrinkinbigglepops before spelling it. It is Payut, apparently.

A lovely young girl spells dinosphist. Dinosophist?
Someone who fists dinosaurs, anyway.

Everyone so far is brilliant.
None, so far, have been asked to spell real words. As far as I can tell.

It is nailbiting stuff.

We go to the ad break

An enormously cute little lad called Kennyi, who when he stands in from of the logo looks as if he has Micky Mouse ears, is given something with more vowels than consonants and more consonants than usages in the last five years of conversation between rational human beings, spells it right.

Hijurajuram the pronouncer says to the next girl.
Oh for gods sake, now theyre just taking the piss. I mean, SURELY they sit there making up ridiculous words – the competition is only who can explain the word as if its real – and who can make a clever child cry first.

No ones cried yet.

I almost cried when I thought I could spell Reykjavik better than the next spoddy little child, but it turns out that after asking alternate pronunciations, etymology, meaning and checking it twice by pretending to write it down, he knew it all all along. The wee tease.

ad break!


I know this! Its a someone transitioning between female and male who is currently Ernie on top and Dorothy on the bottom. No. Its someone who watches Ernies? No? Its someone with apathy toward birdwatchers called Ernest?

No, its a kind of surgery!
And, unsurprisingly, it is not spelt like I spelled it. Its spelled with an h and some other letters.
And she gets it wrong too.

She doesnt cry, as far as I can tell – but she goes and curls up on her mothers lap. Her mother is on stage. Which is lucky. They should have more mothers available in places where people might lose things. Just behind the goal at Wembley, for when people miss. That sort of thing.

8.30: There was an interview with Kennyi backstage, being asked about showmanship by a beautiful young blonde woman with an enormous microphone. She said he was looking a bit flashy earlier because he put a pair of glasses on. It dont take much in the world of spelling bee. But then, how many gimmicks do you need when youve got kids who can spell onzpinaitorunim. Onzaporatiroriori oh fuck it.

Whatever. Im going to pour some wine now. And watch as


8.35: But first theres an interview with someone I dont care about, which I miss most of because Im opening wine and pouring a large glass of it. Which I can do, because Im not working. I dont drink and work. It goes badly.

But frankly, I dont care. There are a set of kids who can spell better than I ever could words that I didnt even know existed. Im better than the interviewee, though, who was the winner of Dancing with the Stars, Shawn Johnson.

I couldnt even spell my name compared with these kids! she says. What, really? How stupid are, you? Even I can do that. S-H-A-W-W-W-W-N, isnt it?

Oh dear, the wine might be kicking in already. Woo!


AH! I know this one, because we have a contemporary Jewish museum – or Jewzeum, as it is known – here in SF! So that must be someone who has fits caused by exposure to the Jewzeum? That seems wrong.

Oh, it isnt actually that word. Its another word.
And she gets it right.
So it wasnt wrong after all. It was the rightest of rights. But not far right. Because thats wrong.

The girl after (who gets some collection of sounds that sound like a lamb coughing, though its supposedly a word) gets it wrong.

The boy after gets the worlds most difficult word and breezes through it, and the girl after him gets TAGLIATELLE, which is at least a real, every day thing that you might say once again in your life, so everyone in my living room (me and my beloved) start to suspect she is sleeping with a judge.

And then we remember she is 12 and feel a bit nauseous and chastise ourselves Very Harshly for that.

Then there are some more adverts, so I go and fetch the wine bottle from the kitchenette thing.



Guy us queue tips. Q-tips belonging to guys. Its actually not a bad marketing idea, but well leave that to one side for the time being.
No, wait. Guy us quetus.

What is it, Kennyi asks? It is an imaginary animal with two legs longer than the other for walking on hillsides. Oh, fuck OFF! What, WHAT? Yes, now spell this thing I am imagining instead! It has an M in it!

spells out Kennyi, brilliantly.

My brother had me convinced they existed when I was a kid Says one of the orange presenters offscreen, lying his shiny veneers off.

Ok, perhaps Im not getting this right. You probably dont understand how hard these words can be.. Im just going to give you a list of some of them.


No, wait! Breaking news! Apodyterium boy, who was one of the favourites to win, spelled it wrong!
He spelled it WRONG! And then the bell dings that means hes got it wrong. And his hands, balled up, fly under his glasses and push into his tear ducts, trying to make them stop. And he goes and sits tucked in between his family, doubled over, hands under glasses. Poor lambkin.

That bell, it is a cruel, cruel noise. It is only a little ding, yet crushes the dreams of these young – astonishingly memorytastic – kids.

The next girl, she knows shes got it wrong as shes spelling it out.

D-E-R-I-E-N-G-U-E – – ding?

She says.

Yes, you fool! CLEARLY its two Rs in the middle there! Whateverthefuck it means!

The next girl gets simnel.
She doesnt actually get simnel cake given to her, obv. That would be favouritism.

adverts a go go

Seven Superspellolatators left

You know what the best thing is about the spelling bee? Apart from the pleasure of watching the kids who you know would have bettered you in every exam fail at somethin, I mean.

Oh no, thats awful, isnt it? I mean, its not like I want to see kids fail. Clearly. Im not a monster, and I certainly dont want to see their little dreams crushed forever, I just mean, Im imagining the faces of the kids who were cleverer than me at school, putting them on the faces of the losing contestants and then pointing and shouting HA! HA! What good does knowing Snugofulontropy do for you NOW, Leonara Bogdanavich from 2D!

And then pouring some more wine.

9.15: Look, I dont really want children to fail, obviously. Although failure – and I can tell you from experience – is a great thing and spurs you to, well, if not greater things then certainly things you wouldnt have ended up doing otherwise. I just meant. Oh, I think I said what I meant.

You know, I was speaking to someone earlier and as a part of a documentary, she was watching a clip of Jimll Fix It from 1977, and cooing over the fact someone got their dream come true and got to meet Manuel from Fawlty Towers. And I said that I hoped that wasnt the sum total of all their dreams come true – and she said she thought it would be nice if it was, that if something that wonderful (meeting Manuel from Fawlty Towers, let us not forget) happened to you at such a young age, it would make you feel fortunate and lucky for the rest of your life.

I rather thought that if you havent had a dream come true since 1977 – 32 years ago – and when you did it was meeting Andrew Sachs, youd be a bit disillusioned by now.

Now Im just thinking what Id wish Jim to Fix.
My feeling that hes somehow essentially wrong and shouldnt be around kids, for a start. He could fix that.
Then once weve sorted that maybe send me to a careerologist. And give me some money.

Im going to open some more wine. Whoops, I missed a whole segment. Sorry.
Whatever, its my blog, right?


And only 38 minutes left. If they dont start thinning themselves out soon, the judges will start farting and asking them to spell THAT. Anyone who complains that it isnt a real word gets trapped in the sleeping bag. And disqualified.

Zeeback? Or zeebach?
Says one girl, over and over again. From Arabic to English, says the pronouncer. Its a noun, she knows that. Its a word, also that. Its a word that people say, and means something?

X-E-B-E-C? she says, just before time runs out, and like she knew it all along. Oooh, the wee minx, if that isnt a wrong thing to say. It is, isnt it.


Kennyi gets Grisaille, and spells it right. The hilarious thing is that my automatic firefox spellometer is flagging up ALL these words as wrong. RED LINE! it is saying THAT IS NOT A REAL WORD! DANGER! DANGER ANNA PICKARD! – because my browser talks to me in a Robbie the Robot voice, clearly. So, you know, Mr National Spelling B, If the internet doesnt know it? What do YOU know?


Were about to wrap up round ten here says the orange host behind the cameras.
And hes right, after the break we are. Weve had three whole rounds without a spelling mistake now.
Them, I mean. Not me.
Ive had LOADS.


Armourrevelly says the pronouncer, with the first word back after the break.
The seventh remaining speller pronounces it.
Then the judges pronounces it.
She asks the judges to pronounce it again.
They do.
Then she does.

amarevole, it was.

She looks sad, but not surprised. She always knew amarevoles would get her in the end. Like those hmnugmgophers, theyre mean.

One of the next girls has to spell Caerphilly


The cute kid – you remember the one from the glasses from about 97 paragraphs ago who was lovely?

Well, he got thwarted by PALATSCHINKEN?! – rolled pancakes with jam in. Which does less to make me marvel at the wonder of words and more to make me want some pancakes. Mmmmm, pancakes. Farewell, Kennyi. May the wind be always at your back.

To be fair, the next one goes out on Fackeltanz, so theyre clear just trying to finish on time, now.

9.55: Only four spellers left! Are they called spellers! Oh whatever. Kyle, Aishwarya, Kavya and Tim. They are.

Of course, no ones reading by this way anyway. Not that many people read blogs, divide that by the amount of people who read past the first 100 words, and divide it squarely (thats a thing, right?) by the number of people who wont read something about something they havent seen and have no interest in reading about, and youre basically down to nothing.

Of course, times that by the number of people who dont like long blogs, your writing, live-blogging, or blogs about subjects that have no interest in but then read them anyway and leave long, thought out abuse about why they shouldnt have wasted their time reading it? Yeah, that brings the number up a little.

Kyle gets Schizaffin, and hes out, unless something weird happens, in which case he comes back in again.

Oh for the love of OED, this is sounding like it could go on forever.

These kids are getting ridiculous words.
(The problem of forgetting where bits of your anatomy are)
The pile of duvet you are curled in to read the last chapter of your book!
Oh, no, its bouqinieste, or something like. And means something far duller.

I am drinking a nice Albarino, by the way. A Californian one. Its good, slightly sweet, but goes down good with, you know, spelling.

I bought a sparkling wine! For when the winner wins. Im slightly iffy about it, because it was only $13 – but the wine shop over the road from my house said it was ok, and theyre ridiculously well-sourced and knowledgeable about these things. And it was also a large amount of pinot noir in it – about 56% Chardonnay and 44% Pinot, I think. And I do like them Pinoty fizzthings.

Three spellers left. Still.
One of them just got guayabera.

And now one of the just got Menhir. You know those things that Obelix likes.
Meaning? She says, looking a little panicky.
A single statue or standing object or something says the pronouncer, or something like.
Its from Asterix, innit!
Oh, thats not what he says. Its from Gallic, into English, etc.

She gets it wrong.
ITS from ASTERIX! Parents! get them to read books as well as memorising them, they will really like it!

10.15: Sorry Kathy in the comments, I forgot to save, I was just typing instead. Ive not passed out. I was sitting here typing, thinking no one was reading or would read, so it didnt make any difference, and then was gripped by the final, so forgot to do anything at all.

SO. First one girl got knocked out – with menhir, which as seen above, is from Asterix. She went back to her parents and collapsed in their arms, distraught. It was awful to watch. Really. Ive totally got over the watch the high flier fall thing from earlier. Its hard not to when you see a kid cry.

Then Kavya, the only girl remaining had her word, which was apparently Greek for were diddling with your fate, and she got it right.

Tim, now one of the final two, got up, got his word wrong, and went to weep in the arms of his buxom mother, poor lamb.

Finally, it all came back to Kavya.
If she didnt get this word, Tim wold come back and they would play to the death.
If she got it – she was the victor.
She stood up. face stretched, shoulders high, voice tense.

They read her word.
Something random with a Greek root.
Her shoulders dropped, her face softened. Her voice dropped to an almost playful note.

We went and fetched the fizzy wine-pop.

She checked the etymology?
Greek! Via Klingon and Finnish-East Mancunian, and Valleygirl!
And what it meant?
its the feeling you have when you think you might have bought that cheese before and it made your bumhole itch, but youre not sure if it was that cheese because you also had the same itchy bumhole problem the next week and then youd only been eating pork rinds for four days
And she checked alternate pronunciations?
Schweeeeee-gwang!-gwang!-wahaow! said the pronouncer, though i personally believe the woman next to him was doing something dodgy with her youre-so-wrong dinger by then.

And then Kavya spelled it out cant remember what the word was, I might be catching up by memory by now, thu the possible loose quotage

And it was right!
And she won!
That human letter calculator remembered more word sums than the other human letter calculators!


the end
I might keep writing though, at least until my beloved finishes working for the evening.
Or maybe, just maybe, Ill just go and glass this drink of wine and enjoy the telly and the watching of it.

No, fuck it, Im going to go and see if I can get Widget to fetch some slippers and see if I cant film it for you.

She carries them by the centre of the sole, meaning that the size 7 slipper sticks out about three times her width and blocks her entire field of vision. Its a very good attempt to fetch, but would be better if she didnt keep walking into the back of the sofa.

Ill try and get it filmed for you.
And maybe stop typing for a few hours.
And possibly close the computer. Oh wait, lets not go too far.

night night.