Friday, May 30, 2008

ROUND FIVE: It begins with #5 So-Young Chung shyly approaching the microphone as if it were a guillotine, with BBC Bailly saying "howdy, So-Young!" to her like they are at a Texas BBQ instead of the greatest spelling competition EVER, with So-Young thinking and pronouncing and pronouncing and thinking and asking for the definition over and over again. It's painful. It's polite. It's so very elegant. And it ends with So-Young spelling "chrysoprase" (an apple green variety of something valued as a gem) all wrong. So-Young's whispered thanks upon hearing the dreaded ding...heartbreaking.


11:14 am EST: Tia Thomas is over confident with her five-time competitive self. She's smug and tall and spells "mcleod" like the champ she already believes herself to be. Her parents cheer and cheer for her but I secretly do not wish her well. She has the confidence of a Samir. And we all know what happened to him. By the way, "mcleod" is a combination of a hoe and a rake used to fight forest fires.

11:20 am: It's hard for Justin Song to say "crenitic" with his teenaged slacker voice and have Jacques Bailly be confident that Justin understands. Justin Song won't bend, however, and not only gets Bailly to accept his pronunciation, he spells the word correctly!

11:27 am: EARLY STATS (as noted by me) 10 spellers have stepped up to the microphone. 3 went down. All the Californians remain. The first two Canadians are wiped out but there's an army of Canadians still waiting to spell it out. What does this mean? It means we are going to be here a long time trying to get down to the 15 finalists who move on to primetime. It also means that CALIFORNIA ROCKS.

One thing ESPN is doing well -- giving me stats. In this semifinal round, here are how the ages break down. One 10 year old, 3 eleven year olds, 10 twelve year olds, 18 thirteen year olds, 10 fourteen year olds and 1 (if you ask me WAY too old to be an 8th grader) fifteen year old.

11:36 am: The Canadians fall, the Canadians fall, the Canadians fall like trees. It's a Spelling Bee Battle Field -- these poor Canadians rushing to the microphone only to be beaten back with a horrifying ding. Were they not prepared for the rigors of TV? The joy of ESPN? Because these words did not seem particularly hard to me. But just like that, we have lost SIX CANADIANS IN A ROW. ALL THE CANADIANS ARE GONE. It's tragic. Oh, Canada...

Shallow note: the woman escorting the dinged spellers to the Crying Room wears an inappropriately flirty party skirt. It has ruffles. It's short. It appears to be made of taffeta. She's CELEBRATING their misery. Hmm...

11:54 am: I see a speller. I start to fall for them. They have a weird mole or they mush their face in their hands or they seem to have a secret friend in their head. I fall in mama-love, wanting to protect them and see them do well. I begin to root for them. I imagine their futures. AND THEN THEY GET DINGED! It's a bloodbath, a carnage of kids. Oh, I may not have the stomach for this...

11:58 am: Rose Sloan is a spelling badass. A mouth breather, a mole-haver, a glasses-wearer. She's attractive in a different way that makes me want to protect her from ever seeing images in fashion magazines. And she's gleeful. GLEEFUL every single time she spells a word correctly. This time? It was "ansu".

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