Thursday, May 31, 2012

ROUND FIVE:  41 Spellers.  We begin with Kevin Lazenby (#1)... who we immediately lose on hortulan.

Samaita Mulk (#5) has the cutest kid voice I have heard in a long time.  It makes her adorable -- like a tiny spelling fluffy bunny.  Every heard of a plant suited to arc it or alpine conditions?  Psychrophyte.

(Apparently Samaita has bees painted on her fingernails.  Making her even more adorable).

Snigdha Nandipati (#19) has a Haitian Creole word compas which is a popular music of Haiti that combines Cuban and African rhythms.  She gets it right but it takes her a while.

We lose Siddharth Kulkarni (#20) on Liederkranz, a German word and we lose Mignon Tsai (#27) on macropodid.  Spellers are going down right and left!

The bloodbath continues with Rahul Malayappan (#31).

SHOCKER!  We have lost Grace Remmer (#40)!  She is felled by athanor!  I am stunned.  STUNNED. Grace is, as always, a wonderful competitor who, after being eliminated, calls out cheerily "Thank you, everyone!"  Athanor is a self-feeding digesting furnace.  And it ate Grace.

We lose Christal Schermeister (#43) on calo.   We've now lost 6 of the total 11 spellers who have stepped up to the microphone in this round.

Let's discuss the Kiss n' Cry area.  Which is what I am now calling the Comfort Room.  Because in the old days, the ousted spellers were ushered into a private room to grieve their loss.  Now, like figure skaters, they are ushered into a space that sits in full view of everyone and a tv camera is shoved into their faces as they deal with the end of their dream.  In figure skating, this is called the Kiss n' Cry and the fact that the Bee has done away with the Comfort Room for the Kiss n' Cry is a travesty.  These are children, people.

Stuti Mishra (#44) got the word fjeld which means a barren plateau of the Scandinavian upland.  Rachael Cundey (#49) got storis which means a floating mass of closely crowded icebergs and floes.

Simon Ricci (#58) goes down on aoristic.  Pranav Sivakumar (#66) is out on oecus.  The bloodbath gets bloodier...

Gifton Wright (#89) correctly spells tocopherol which mean any of several pale yellow fat-soluble oily liquid phenolic compounds that have antioxidant properties and vitamin E activity in varying degrees.

Vanya (#94) who is such a rock star that I don't even need to say her last name is being profiled on EPSN 2 right now.  I deeply wish I had been as bubbly and full of joy as that little girl when I was her age.  I am now rooting for her like crazy.  When told that her word has an unknown language of origin, she says to BBC Jacques, "That helps!"  And gets a laugh.  Her word is mascalage which is the harvesting of the bark of the cork oak.  She spells it easily.  She's the epitome of little girl awesome.  She plays the tuba, people.  If she gets any more awesome, my head might explode.

Belated shout out to Gina Solomito (#79) who correctly spelled gotterdammerung.

We lose Emma Steimle (#93) on Schwyzer!  We lose Emily Keaton (#94) on chamaephyte!  See Samir's thoughts in the comments section of this post on why these round 5 words are so much harder for the Bee competitors than those in round 4.

And Jack Nolan (#105) goes down on at open!  We've lost 11 spellers in this round so far.

In the comments sections, Samir says:

Also, Shonda, no mention of the fact that tocopherol was MY word way back when?  =Þ

You know what is crazy, Samir?  The word came up and my head snapped to attention.  My antennae went up but I could not figure out why that word felt so familiar to I know!

Bombycine: of or relating to silkworms is an juicy word.  I'm going to try to work it into a sentence at work today.

We lose Sanjana Malla (#148) on a word I'm can't even copy down here (okay, I can: thysanopterist).  This round is brutal!

Sruti Akula (#156) goes down on gimbaled.  This is painful.

They are doing a video intro of Arvind Mahankali (#162) which is all about how close he is to his little brother.  Arvind is a tennis fanatic and full of charm.  I hope he wins because I want to see if he and his little brother really will do the yell they showed us in his video.  His word is rhipidate and...he gets it right!

Sunny Levine (#185) gets polos, a crazy word meaning a high crown or headdress of cylindrical shape, represented as worn by ancient Greek goddesses.  I am devastated when she gets it wrong.   She was made for the finals!  Why?!  As this is her final year of eligibility, we won't be seeing  her again.

1:09 pm: 14 spellers have been eliminated in this round so far.

Nicholas Rushlow (#193) is still in it after correctly spelling theophylline.

We lose Dharani Kotekal (#198) on cabochon.  We lose Vishnu Nistala on araphorostic.   We lose forearm-speller Max Lee (#202) on resveratrol!   I'm starting to get sad...

And awesome Lena Greenberg (#213) restores my faith in humanity!  She rocks the word contrecoup and rushes back to her seat.

But we lose Chetan Reddy (#237)  on soboliferous.  And down goes Abigail Spitzer (#238) on pat as.  19 spellers gone.

Last three spellers are up!

Mark De Los Santos (#239) from Texas correctly spells nudibranch one of a suborder of marine gastropod mollusks lacking a shell in the adult state and typically having a body suggesting a slug.

Vismaya Kharkar (#254) works her way to victory with allothogenic.

Jae Canetti (#264) gets a word that sounds so hard to pronounce that he responds with "Say what?"   It means comprehensive and systemic outline of a science.  It's origins are German.   The word is Grundriss.  And he is out!  He's DONE!  Sigh.

Round 5 is over.


  1. Marsha12:08 PM

    What was that Samir was saying about a bloodbath round? Three of the first six are gone.

  2. Adam C.12:14 PM

    And now we've lost a five-timer.

  3. Adam C.12:15 PM

    Oh my.  Oh no.

  4. sconstant12:16 PM

    Loved Grace.  She lived up to her name, and the person who greeted her on the couch seemed awesome too.

  5. This is like watching the Battle of Blackwater.

  6. Marsha12:18 PM

    Wow. This round is insane. Rahul and Grace. Wow.

  7. Or a massive plane crash in the Pacific Northwest.

  8. Lori Miller12:24 PM

    Readers of Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series might have known "calo."

  9. Marsha12:28 PM

    Amen to your comment about Kiss n' Cry, Shonda. Amen.

  10. Samir Patel12:30 PM

    Sorry, I was ranting on in the other one and wondering why nobody else was there.  I'm here now, though.

  11. Samir Patel12:31 PM

    We're running at something like 50% elimination.

  12. Marsha12:33 PM

    Samir (and any other veterans who are here): are these words THAT much harder than Round 4? We've lost 8/16 spellers already.

  13. Samir Patel12:33 PM

    "<span>What's the deal with the "comfort room" turning into "a couch next to the stage where cameras can zoom in on the speller's face?"  Really?  I mean, REALLY?" - my comment on the last post

    I don't think it's appropriate for 12-13 year olds.  Just... no.</span>

  14. Samir Patel12:34 PM

    Uh, yeah.  These are a LOT harder.

  15. 'splain how!

  16. Marsha12:36 PM

    Oh my word, Vanya plays the tuba. Just when I thought I could not love her more...

  17. sconstant12:39 PM

    Love not only Jamaica's speller but his coach.  I keep being impressed with the spellers and how well they handle themselves, but the parents/coaches are so not the insane people I see on the promos for Dance Moms (because I watch Project Runway, ok?  No hating.) and I am impressed with them all too.  As a parent, I can't imagine having a small piece of you up on that stage and wanting so badly for it to go well for them.

    And I love seeing Kavya older and such a great older sister.

  18. Anonymous12:39 PM

    They keep upping the ante.  Next thing you know we're going to find out that she speaks fluent Yiddish and wants to join an a cappella group in college.

  19. Marsha12:40 PM

    OK, thanks. To me, they're all hard.

    It seems like the difference between words that are hard to normal people and words that are hard to Awesome Bee Kids is when you get combining forms (choosing between o's and a's and the like), when the pronunciation betrays you (usually because either the spelling or the pronunciation got anglicized), and when the etymology has been through so many countries that the roots are no longer relaible indicators of where the spelling ended up. Is that accurate? Basically, this round contains more of "you just have to know it" words or "you have to guess right whether it's an o or an a because no amount of studying word origins is going to give it to you," right?

  20. Aw crap, Guest was me.

  21. Samir Patel12:40 PM

    The vast majority of words in Round 4 were derived from relatively common Latin/Greek roots: for example, "oxyacetylene" and "proselytizer."  The ones that weren't and were "foreign language" words were also generally straightforward: IE "hinoki" is very representative of Japanese phonetics.  [k sound is made by k, ee sound is made by i.]

    In Round 5, however, you see the root words disappear almost entirely.  Those that are present come from much more obscure roots ["psychrophyte," anyone?].  As for the "foreign" words, they're much longer and/or much more difficult.  There are also a lot of "funny letter" combinations: fj, oe, etc.  

  22. Samir Patel12:41 PM

    Mascalage was nothing to sneeze at.

    Also, said this in the other thread, but apparently after you all left: I LOVE the sibling bond between Kavya and Vanya.  =)

  23. Samir Patel12:42 PM

    Also, Shonda, no mention of the fact that tocopherol was MY word way back when?  =Þ

  24. Samir Patel12:44 PM

    "chamaephyte" is a great example of what I was saying.  chamae = much less common root

  25. Speller's Mom12:46 PM

    Killer words this round.  Really is the luck of the draw.  All of these kids are so accomplished and should be very proud.  Such an honor just to be there.

  26. Lori Miller12:46 PM

    I would have spelled "chamaephyte" like Emily tried it.

  27. Marsha12:47 PM

    ALLOT5MA: The only place in the world where a world-famous TV producer and her favorite rock-star speller can needle each other in public.

  28. Samir Patel12:51 PM

    Shonda and I should have our own sitcom.  Or something.

  29. Emma rockstars bombycine.  Can we make that a verb?

  30. Marsha12:53 PM

    Totally totally adore Emma from New Hampshire.

  31. lisased12:53 PM

    Oh Emma. You made me laugh out loud.

  32. kenedy jane12:58 PM

    I am both shocked and thrilled - apparently ESPN 2 will continue with spelling and bounce Women's CWS to ESPN.  Good choice, ESPN!

  33. Samir Patel12:59 PM

    As a former National Spelling Bee competitor, I'm officially sanctioned to create neologisms.  I wholeheartedly support you in your endeavor to verbicize "rockstar," and I further agree that utilization of this word should commence immediately.

    Also, this.

  34. So asssuming they end this round with low/mid 20s in terms of number of spellers, then we go one more before primetime, I guess.

  35. sconstant1:02 PM

    To be honest, it strikes me as harsh to not be allowed to leave the stage when you hear the bell.  You're clearly supposed to stay up there until you hear your correct spelling, and there is clearly someone who, if you turn around, gestures to you to turn around and face the cameras (well, Dr. B) and listen.  Just a hard thing to do right then.  They'll have the rest of their (year/life) to learn the correct spelling.

  36. Charles1:04 PM

    Also, if you're up on stage, it can really shake your confidence when two or three spellers in a row drop out right before you have to walk up to the microphone. It can make the word seem harder to figure out, or you might forget to ask the right question that could help. (And that's on top of what Samir said about obscure or invisible root words). I'm not watching the video of this round, so I don't know if that had any effect on some of the contestants who misspelled, but I've seen it happen in person.

  37. Sunny Levine looks scared for the first time, and ... yeah, that sucked.

  38. Adam C.1:04 PM


  39. lisased1:05 PM

    Nooooooo! We are losing our happy spellers!

  40. Marsha1:05 PM

    And both my spellers are out. This round is BRUTAL.

  41. Adam C.1:05 PM

    Poor Sunny.  I am just stunned.

  42. Samir Patel1:06 PM


  43. Saray1:07 PM

    I take solace in the fact that she seemes like the most well-adjusted kid ever and she will have no problem making friends in college.  (Yes, this is what I do in my spare time, worry about spellers making friends in college.  Future Jewish mother trait, I assume.)

  44. Julen1:07 PM

    People need to stop calling me. Don't they realize it's a Spelling Bee Day?

    So sad to see Sruti go out.

  45. Jenn.1:07 PM

    I'm almost glad that I can't watch this while at work.  Sounds brutal.

  46. janet1:11 PM

    Not even all dance teachers are of the insane variety. ;-)  And dance parents aren't either if the dance teacher doesn't encourage or facilitate that dynamic. 

  47. Charles1:12 PM

    I think this is an unfortunate tradeoff for the Bee's increasing popularity in recent years. It's great that it gets so much attention and TV coverage now--we would have loved that as spellers in the 1980s--but with it comes things like the kiss 'n' cry area and color commentators on stage interrupting the competition (which can wreak some havoc with concentration). The Bee organizers have always looked out for the spellers, but the removal of a separate, private Comfort Room is not a good change. It hurts to see your dream crumble, and even though you'll get past it, those first moments are painful and not for public display.

  48. Samir Patel1:12 PM

    "we aren't willing to tell you if you're saying it right, but we're certainly going to tell you if we think we're hearing something wrong"

    I wonder if they're doing the whole 20-page-legal-contract to eliminate the possibility of appeals?

  49. sconstant1:14 PM

    Samir - more pharmaceutical / chemical words this year than prior, or am I imagining it?

  50. Speller's Mom1:14 PM

    schwas are killing them this round

  51. Marsha1:16 PM

    LENA!!! Awesome awesome LENA!!!

  52. Samir Patel1:17 PM

    I'm not sure.  I'd have to look over the wordlists.  But science-y words are generally good Scripps targets, especially if they have some important feature.  [Resveratrol, for example, is what supposedly makes red wine/grapes good for you.]

  53. Adam C.1:17 PM

    And again there on Chetan.

  54. sconstant1:18 PM

    Is it terrible that I can't even spell the language of origin of a word?  Wolof.

  55. sconstant1:19 PM

    Woloph and Wolouf were my other guesses, but I looked it up.

  56. Marsha1:20 PM

    I believe i count 19 spellers down in this round, and only three to go.

  57. lisased1:23 PM

    Her voice makes me nervous. I think she's going to lose it before she gets out all her letters.

  58. Samir Patel1:23 PM

    For anyone wondering, nudibranchs look like this.

    Go Mark!

  59. lisased1:24 PM

    Are we moving away from the humorous sentences?

  60. Christy in Philly1:24 PM

    Checking in from work insanity to say that AHHH! So glad to have all the folks who join ALOTT5MA for the Bee back-- Shonda and Samir in particular, thanks for your insights.

    I missed the pool and everything!

    Anyway, I just wanted to weigh in to say hi and that I'm checking in as often as I can. I love this place.

  61. Samir Patel1:25 PM

    BOOM.  Vismaya goes on.

  62. Julen1:28 PM

    Since both of my picks are out, I'm adopting Vismaya as my chief rooting interest. I knew I should have stuck with her when I was deciding on my picks. She's wonderful.

  63. Samir Patel1:28 PM

    grundriss is devilishly difficult.  ;'(

    Poor Jae.  I'll be rooting for him next year.

  64. lisased1:29 PM

    And I'm out!

  65. Julen1:29 PM

    Also, were the commentators told they needed to "justify" having this on a sports network every five minutes?

  66. I never would have thought something that looks like a glorified slug would be so beautiful!

  67. Marsha1:30 PM

    And since both of mine are out, I'm on the Lena Greenberg train all the way.

  68. sconstant1:33 PM

    New round, new blog post, peoples.

  69. Genevieve2:27 PM

    I assume for the show they deliberately choose parents and teachers full of Draaaaaama.  Definitely don't think it's representative of all dance parents/teachers.

  70. Genevieve2:31 PM

    Ooh, that's gorgeous!  Thanks, Samir, I never would've pictured that.

  71. Uncle Spike2:48 PM

    TOTALLY agreed. The comfort room was just about the very best aspect of the bee. SUCH a bad decision to get rid of it.