Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Upset Of The Century

According to the AP, the boy picked to most likely win this year’s national spelling bee (you mean people actually care enough to rank the favorites) has been ousted from the event. It’s a stunning development, especially when you know all of the circumstances surrounding his ouster.

Fortunately, I do. The boy was given the word ‘clevis,’ which is apparently a type of fastener. If you haven’t heard of ‘clevis’ before, it’s probably because you are more familiar with its other name, which is ‘fastener.’ The boy thought that the judge had given him the word ‘cleavage’ and giggled his way through the spelling of ‘c-l-e-e-v-u-g-e.’ He was stunned when he was told that not only had he spelled it incorrectly, but he had attempted to spell the wrong word.

Ok, I made most of that up. The word was clevis and he did spell it wrong, but I added the cleavage part to punch the story up a bit. The AP says that the boy’s mom is appealing his loss. I’m not sure what that means or how they decide on the appeal. Do the judges confer in a backroom and watch tapes of the contestant spelling out the incorrect word in slow motion? Do they ask the boy to spell it again? I wish there were things in my life I could appeal like that, but that’s for another day.

The excitement I don’t feel about the national spelling bee got me thinking of ways to create more buzz about the event and liven up the competition aspect of it. I thought about having the participants play a form of dodge ball with those old heavy lawn darts we grew up with to determine who moves on to the next round. The only problem with that is it might deter some people from competing. Obviously, death or stoning as the penalty for an incorrect word would be appealing, but I’m not sure the national spelling bee folks could get the appropriate permits for a venue to hold the event. As you can see, there aren’t a lot of options.

That leads us to the spelling part. I guess we could tinker with that a little. Since anyone can memorize the dictionary maybe we should broaden our pick of the words used for the spelling bee. How about making up words? This would really keep the competitors in check and create suspense for the viewers about what the next word would be and how it should be spelled. ‘OK, spell the word puthemoligticalousness, as in the puthemoligticalousness of the patient will be tested when the patient gets to the dairy…’

I would watch that. Heck, maybe there could be a contest tie-in where the best-submitted words and definitions from across the country are chosen for use in the competition. The kids could also be asked to spell Eastern European, Polish or Middle Eastern last names. That should raise the level of difficulty just a little. As would the addition of words from the category ‘Czechoslovakian town names.’ Is it just me or does that sound like a category on Jeopardy? Leafing through a medical journal would add a twist. Having the judges intentionally mispronounce words would be fun, too. Lastly, I think there should be a category of words titled ‘words and names from the letters Q and K in the Residential Listings of the phone book.’ I don’t think we’ll see that one on Jeopardy any time soon. Imagine the highlight reel as the children attempt to spell all of these different difficult words. We’re talking America’s Funniest Home Videos material here!

I don’t know if anyone will listen to my ideas of how to improve the national spelling bee, but I can tell you that sometime tonight, the next champion of the spelling bee will be crowned. Will anyone care? Who will notice? Just a thought. By the way, is it spelled ‘defence’ lawyer or ‘defense’ lawyer, as in ‘I had better go get me a defense lawyer to defend me against the national spelling bee.’

6/1/07 STORY UPDATE: I would also like to point out that the winner last night was a Californian! Woo Hoo! I guess the part about nobody noticing was slightly incorrect..Oh well, at least the winner proved that we Californuns are gud spelurs, right?

I also woke up this morning with an irregular heartbeat, so stay tuned for some good tales from the emergency room. Hopefully they won't shave my nipple this time...

24 comments:

AndreAnna said...

I lost a state spelling bee when I was in 8th grade because I spelled college c-o-l-l-a-g-e. Dumbest thing ever in a billion years.

But to appeal - sad, just so so sad.

Michael C said...

Andreanna: Safe to say no one has given you a collage of photos in a while I bet.
;-) Thanks for stopping by!

captain corky said...

A simple solution to improve the national spelling bee it to just turn it into a MTV reality show. When someone misspells a word they have to go to the GAUNTLET.

Ralph said...

Michael, a 'clevis' is actually a structural piece, perhaps used as a 'doubler' (you really wanted to know?)...Stoning the losers? What the heck, we should teach kids that losing is not the only thing, but losing bis is...Of course, you could change the spelling bee at the last minute to pick the words for this contest in Polish or even more difficult, Australian

Odat said...

I really thought clevis was the plural of cleavage!! Damn, I learn something new every day!
Peace

Michael C said...

Ralph: Yeah, maybe I got carried away with the stoning now that I think about it.

Odat: It's scary that we think alike...TAHITI!! (see what I mean) ;-)

Alison said...

I was too scared to try out for my middle school's spelling bee (even though I got the highest score on the "test" we took in English class), but I will never forget Lisa P. lose to Jeff M. by spelling out T-R-A-V-I-S-T-Y.

Michael C said...

Alison: Maybe I should get my ears checked (or is it eyes if I'm reading)because I thought you were trying to spell/say country music star Travis Tritt
;-)

Lizza said...

Ooooh, I like spelling contests. And Jeopardy. The idea of jazzing your National Spelling Bee is fun! Maybe it'll get people to start betting on contestants the way they bet on sports events.

Violet said...

Ooh ooh there's a Kiwi girl in the semifinals. Apparently the judges thought she was mis-spelling because her "e"s sounded like "a"s.

Patti said...

My mother followed the bee and urged me to watch it last night(I didn't).
I'll show her this post later. She will be able to relate.

have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kind of Friday
;-)

Michael C said...

Lizza: Betting on spelling bees would be a great idea!!

Violet: Now if she loses, she could probably appeal on those grounds.

Patti: I almost worked that word into my story but feared I wouldn't spell it correctly ;-)

Stewart Sternberg said...

Is it wrong for me to fantasize that the judges could mess with someone by waiting until its down to the last five, then giving four of the five hard hard words and lavishing such words as "cat" and "dog" onto the fifth. Reactions would be priceless.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Is it wrong for me to fantasize that the judges could mess with someone by waiting until its down to the last five, then giving four of the five hard hard words and lavishing such words as "cat" and "dog" onto the fifth. Reactions would be priceless.

Michael C said...

Stewart: There isn't a thing wrong with that! It's brilliant and anyone who says otherwise must have grown up with a military dictator as their leader...or something like that.

mist1 said...

Please post bare nipple photos.

Michael C said...

Mist: Will they let me take my camera into the ER?

kat said...

If each kid got to pick out another kid to do a shot of Jager everytime they spelled something correctly I would totally watch that.

Michael C said...

kat: That would make it fun for the contestants and viewers!

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

Hope your heart is okay now. My dad's been suffering with that off and on for years...never a pleasant thing...especially as one of the medications they gave him nearly killed him.

I noticed on the tv guide that they were televising the spelling bee. For about five brief moments I considered tuning in, but then I realized I would be reminded of all those traumitizing spelling bees I've had to endure in school...though, on the flip side, I used to do pretty well with geography bees.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

sarge spells soup - soupe. he is so funny!

smiles, bee

Michael C said...

Silver: I almost watched it too. But then realized that would make me a hypocrite since I enjoyed making fun of it so much.

Michael C said...

Empress: Actually soupe sounds good for lunch today! ;-)

soubriquet said...

hmm.
Clevis pins are quite common items.
Although they are fasteners, fasteners are not necessarily clevises.