Secret Pop

Jun 2, 2004

Say it. Spell it. Say it.

So, I've been watching ESPN's coverage of the National Spelling Bee today while working and doing all the other nonsense I do in a day. And I've mostly been listening and playing along, like you do with Jeopardy. I have more interest in this than most, mainly because I competed in the National Spelling Bee when I was in eighth grade, flying from Guam to Washington, D.C., the longest distance traveled by any competitor that year. I'm noticing that, at least in the rounds I've watched, it helps to have been raised a Christian. With words like "catechistic," "isapostolic," and "trepanation*" coming up in the rotation, the pagan kiddies are at a distinct disadvantage. I would easily have deduced those spellings, even if I hadn't already known them, having had bible stories read to me each night and having sat through hours upon hours of church, Sunday school, parochial school, and (shockingly) voluntary theological discussion. If you actually watch the coverage, they put the word and it's definition up on the screen while the contestant is still at the microphone. But I haven't been looking. You'll just have to trust me that I would have gotten those words right. Because I would have.

People are often suggesting that I should watch Spellbound. I suppose they're right. I should.

Isn't it "interesting" how the conclusion to any contest is always anticipated to be "dramatic." The commentators for the spelling bee coverage (and that's a seat I have to wonder about) ushered me into the commercial break by insisting that I look forward to tomorrow's coverage of the bee's "dramatic conclusion." What if it isn't? What if the runner-up misspells a really hard word that everyone expects him/her to misspell and the winner correctly spells it and then correctly spells the follow-up word, which happens to be somewhat easier and consequently no one is surprised when he/she succeeds? That would hardly deliver any sort of promised drama. Who gets goosebumps when everything goes to plan? If any demographic could answer yes to that question, we might have seen a different archetype in the movie genres Heist, Caper, and Thriller.

And now it's some sort of ping pong championship. Have I stumbled upon a special ESPN network that only broadcasts events that will not alienate paraplegics? And I quote: "Folks, this is a fast-moving sport. Tremendous athletes playing at a high pace." This is just side-splitting to me.

Another thing I should do? Get back to work.

*This one was added for humor. The puncturing of the skull is hardly an exclusively Christian practice. Gotcha! Curiously, I learned the root word "trepan" when reading a book about Jack the Ripper in my junior high school days, while I was still studying for and hoping after the spelling bee prize. So I would have gotten that one, too.

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