Happy to see Jacques Bailly in his usual position! Pronouncing words and hitting the bell.
Is the scary light up red wall that happens when the kids are running out of time to spell new? I don't remember it and I find it terrifying.
We lost Lillian Allingham on "rufosity" -- she's the first one down. Forty five spellers remain. You can study them here.
7:12 am PST: The exuberance of young Jacob Williamson is the perfect reminder of why the Bee works. Jacob has swagger, a fantastic confidence when he approaches the microphone and tells Jacques to give him a word he knows. And when Jacques presents him with "euripus" (a word I have never ever heard of), Jacob gives a little shout of celebration. He's got this. I love these kids!
I think Adam already noted this but Mary Horton is a Bee sibling -- her brother Jonathan competed pretty memorably. She sails through on "coaxation".
Meghana Kamineni has a quiet confidence, strolling up to the podium to spell "periplus".
Alia Abiad loves This American Life. She has good taste. She spells concinnate.
I'm liking the brown Spelled It t-shirt Alekhya Ankaraju is wearing but sadly we lose her on miniaceous.
Vanya Shivashankar is the closest thing we have to Bee Royalty this year. We've watched her grow up on the Bee. And she gets a really great video. Her older sister, former champion Kavya, is in the audience watching as Vanya spells elepidote. I am LOVING the way Vanya takes apart this word before she spells it.
How that RED LIGHT works: The speller’s time at the microphone has a limit of 2 minutes. Time begins when the pronouncer first pronounces the word. The red wall happens at the 30-second mark. The judges and pronouncer can not communicate with the speller during those final 30 seconds. The judges will disqualify any speller who does not provide a complete spelling before the expiration of time. Ugh.
I'm enjoying Jacques Bailly's sentences and it's clear he enjoys them too. "The witch tended to her toenails as she waited for the potion to reach ebullition."
First time Bee-er Matt Kivimaki (ebullition) lists as his role model Andrew Carnegie. I love the new kids. They're all fresh discoveries. But it's nice to see returnees: Faaris Khan (amontillado) and Jade Samanta go back to back on the mic but we lose Jade on subdolous...
I was a fan of Lydia Loverin on sight. Her pixie haircut, the fact that she drinks a cup of tea before she competes in a Bee, her role model is Neil Gaiman...I had big plans for her. She was my pick to win it all based on girl power alone. But we lose her too quickly on velutinous. I hope we see her again next year.
8:04 am PST: My coffee is kicking in and I'm now noticing something. Is it just me or are these words not that difficult? I'm having none of the usual brain strain or even excitement as I try to dig into these words. I mean, organzine?
Just read up on Sai Vishudhi Chandrasekhar (phytophilous). She's a humorist who loves The Onion. I'm gonna think of her as a tiny spelling Tina Fey from now on. I'm rooting for her.
I want to back up on the list of spellers and remind everyone that WE HAVE A JAMAICAN IN THE GAME!!!! (I'm doing a little dance here in my living room.) If you know me and you know the Bee, you know there's nothing I love more than the unfailingly polite, precise reputation of the Jamaican spellers. This year, the speller representing Jamaica is Tajaun Gibbison (swidden). He's going to be a doctor and he likes to play cricket which is so awesome. Jamaica is in it, people. Fingers crossed.
I love the look on Benjamin Kulas' face when he is given the word nitid which means "bright, glossy, lustrous" -- here's a word I would have immediately gotten wrong. And so does poor Benjamin. Tough loss.
I'm going to pause here to discuss, not the Bee and not the fabulous and brave kids competing in the Bee, but the people COVERING the Bee and bringing the Bee to you on TV. Now you know I love my Bee. And I adore ESPN (I work for ABC so hello, shared parent company Disney!). But I do not like when they mock the children. They've really moved away from that in recent years -- for which they should be commended. They don't treat the children as adorable oddities. They treat them like small scholars, they use the breathless commentary style reserved for athletics and they (so far) have not shoved a camera in the face of an eliminated child and tried to interview them. This makes me happy. It does not make me happy to see once again the footage of that poor child fainting as he tries to spell a word. It's a child. Fainting. As he tries to spell. Someone's baby is fainting. Be human beings about that, ESPN. Rise.
8:25 am PST: Lokesh Nagineni goes down to his last 30 seconds to spell frison. He's intense and thoughtful and calm. I remember Ansun Sujoe from last year. I love that when he hears his word, he wrinkles his nose and asks Jacques Bailly, "what does this mean?!!" But he gets it right -- laulau.
Oh no, oh no, oh no. We lose last year's finalist Syamantak Payra on circumforaneous. He gets a standing ovation from his fellow spellers and from the ballroom. But his heartbreak is palpable. Oof.
I've been waiting all morning to see first timer Muriel Cotman spell. I love everything about her. My inner kid-nerd recognizes her from my childhood. She's awesome. She was my second pick to win but alas, she goes out on ensilage.
More and more I find myself identifying with the parents. They always sit, trying to keep neutral faces, but gripping their hands -- so nervous they can barely breathe. And I get it. Your child is out in the world doing something. And it's not so much that you want them to win but you want them to succeed, to be happy, to do well in the thing that they want to do. Especially when they have worked so hard. You want them not to be crushed.
And just like that, we lose Jae Canetti (parseval)! This is his third time at the Bee and he gets his an standing ovation on his way out. Brutal.
The final speller in this round is Tea Freedman-Susskind. She's sassy and spirited and correctly spells the word Gehenna to end the round. After round five, 35 spellers remain.