Thursday, May 31, 2012

ROUND FOUR:  It's Bee time!  Except we seem to be delayed by a tennis match at Roland Garros.  You can get to know the nervous and delightful spelling genius Tiny Humans here.  You can follow round results here.

10:05 am:  They've begun without ESPN!  Good for them.  Spelling waits for no network.  Two spellers have gone.  The words are already impressive: cephalalgia and hinoki.  Meanings, anyone?

I'm a idiot.  Is it just me?  The Bee is not on ESPN 2 as promised by DVR.  It's on regular ESPN.  Turn your channel.

10:11 am: We lost Apolonia Gardner!  She's the first one down.  Her word?  Phalarope.

I'd like to take a moment to remind you all of the magic and pageantry that is BBC (Bossy But Cute) Jacques Bailly who is as bossy and cute as ever.  For those who are new-Bees (yes, I just did that) BBC Jacques is the person you hear announcing the words, giving the definition and origins.  He's a former Bee Champ (1980) and he's been the official Bee Pronouncer since 2003.  Learn more about him here.

10:19 am:  We've got Frank Cahill up spelling drosophila.  Which means "any of a genus of small two-winged flies that have been used extensively in breeding experiments to study basic mechanisms of inheritance.   I so totally knew that.   Frank's got a coach -- former champion Scott Isaacs.   How do we feel about the kids have professional coaches?

Rahul Malayappan (#31)  is tall and stoic.  But when BBC Jacques gives him cicatrize, he asks "Can I buy a vowel?"  Everyone laughs.  He spells the word correctly and heads back to his seat.

Grace Remmer (#40) easily sails through on proselytizer.

In the comments section of this post Julen says this:

Still not happy about the sideline reporter standing in the middle of the stage in the middle of the competition nattering on while kids are waiting their turn. Such a terrible idea on every level that I care about.

And I fully agree!

10:28 am:  BBC Jacques is enjoying himself using the Bee words in sentences that he clearly finds hilarious.  I like his joy.

10:31 am:  Christal Schermeister (#43) has a cat named Tigger.  I like her already.  She spells coulisse like it's her own name and bounds back to her seat.

Stuti Mishra (#44) types on an imaginary keyboard as she spells.

Simola Navak (#50) looks worried and intense.  I love her glasses and her hoodie.  She plays both the clarinet and the saxophone.  Her word?  Cassideous.

The parents!  Every year, I love the shots of the crazy-proud parents in the audience.  As my kid gets older, I find myself identifying with them more and more.

She's OUT!  Speller #60 Marlene Santora is only the second person eliminated in this round.  She's failed by the hideous word freddo which means cold or passionless, used a direction in music.  Marlene is from Chicago and she was once a passenger on a runaway hot air balloon that crashed into a house.  I hope we see her next year...

JAMAICA!  Gifton Wright (#89) and...yes!  He says "Thank you, sir" repeatedly like all Jamaican spellers we have seen in the past!  His word is polyptych which is an arrangement of four or more panels. And he gets it right!

ROCK STAR TIME: Vanya Shivashankar (#92) is up.  She got a perfect score on her written exam and her big sister is former winner Kavya.  She's confident, relaxed and cheerful.  And she spells mumpsimus (a word I have never heard and will probably never hear again) like she's at a party before heading back to her seat.

Emily Keaton (#94) has gorgeous long flowing red hair and looks very self-possessed.  I think she might run the country someday.  Her word is attermine -- after much thought, she gets it right.

Umm...they keep using the word Spellebrity.  I do not like this word.  I do not like likening the awesomeness of spelling with the silliness of celebrity.   Stop it, Bee People!  Stop trying to make the Bee more like The Kardashians!  People who watch the Bee are um...WATCHING THE SPELLING BEE.  I'm guessing celebrity is not a thing they value.

We lose speller Amber Born (#113) on sylloge.  They show her heading over to the Kiss n' Cry area with the super compassionate Bee-Keepers there to console the ousted spellers.  Amber looks fine, needs no consoling.   One of her favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird.  I had high hopes for her.

We lose Anthony Joseph (#130) on tendenz.

We lose Roshini Asirvatham (#131) on sciophyte.

That's three of the last four spellers out.  It's getting serious, people.

10:05 am:  BBC works The Hunger Games into a sentence for third time Bee competitor Jordan Hoffman (#136) who gets the word toxophilite which means one fond of or expert at archery.

Hunger Games Note:  In the comments section of this post, Saray notes that Vanya Shivashankar is wearing a Mockingjay pin in the intro piece.  Y'all, my adoration for Rock Star Vanya grows and grows.

French words, people.  Douceur: a conciliatory gift; gratuity, present.  Nabeel Rahman (#155) spells it easily.

Here he is: Arvind Mahankali (#162)!  I chose Arvind in the Bee Pool we've got going on this site.  He came in third in last year's Bee.  I fully expect him to go all the way this year...

HE ROCKS STANNUM!  He's through.  Arvind's hero is Einstein which makes him awesome.  And how can you not love that adorable face?  His parents look relaxed and confident -- they know their kid is a badass speller.

We lose Ty Korsmo (#184) on pratincolous.

I love Sunny Levine (#185) who is cute as a button, from Ohio and uses the word "sweet" to show her approval of BBC Jacques agreement with her definition of her word bacitracin.  Which is some kind of antibiotic.

Five time speller Nicholas Rushlow is wearing the same yellow shirt he wears in every semi-finals.   It's his last year up to spell and I personally feel like I've watched him grow up on this Bee stage.  He rocks the word monocotyledon.

(Shout out to my personal all time favorite Bee speller Samir Patel who is giving some great color commentary in the comments section of this post!)

Max Lee (#202) spells his word enthymeme out on his forearm.  He's fast and furious, casually spelling a word I can't even imagine.  He's the last of the 5 Ohio spellers, all of whom make it through to the next round.

I love speller #204 Noah Cassidy's mom.  She has her eyes closed as her son works to spell his word.  She grips her husband's arm and then begins to beam, a proud mama.  And she's stunned when he gets the word (survigrous) wrong.  I love her face, so expressive.  I'm hoping Noah will be back next year.

Lena Greenberg (#213) sounds wildly nervous -- her voice gets higher and more shaky as she spells.  But she gets catallactics right and races back to her seat.  I love her -- she writes for magazines and she loves politics.

Italian word: ever heard of tondino?  A a metal disk for striking a coin?  Me neither.  But Abigail Spitzer (#238) spells is handily.

My day job comes in handy because I actually know how to spell pleurodynia which means a sharp pain in the side usually located in the intercostal muscles and believed to arise from inflammation of the fibrous tissue.  The fact that I have bested Sivateja Tangirala (#241) should not bring me such joy since he is a child and this is the only word I have spelled correctly all morning but it does.  It's the little things.  Sivateja is out.

Also out? Thomas Rubio (#244) on podilegous which means gathering pollen by means of a pollen brush on the legs.

My other pick is up!  Jae Canetti.  He's the youngest speller remaining in the competition at 10 years old and he's got crazy confidence.  He fist pumps after correctly spelling his word habendum.

Round 4 ends.  41 Spellers remain.


  1. Catherine M.10:10 AM

    They're showing the Bee on ESPNNews until the tennis match ends. 

  2. They're showing the bee on Espn News (it'll claim to be the Colin Cowherd show in tv guide listings)

  3. BeeFan10:16 AM

    Apolonia Gardner must have never read Alan Paton's Too Late the Phalarope.

    Kids these days ...

  4. Really, berzerker?

  5. Split-screen with Uncle Spike and his speller!

  6. sconstant10:21 AM

    Don't have ESPNews, ESPN3 which worked yesterday is not working at all today, and ESPN2 is showing tennis.  Sigh.

  7. Still not happy about the sideline reporter standing in the middle of the stage in the middle of the competition nattering on while kids are waiting their turn. Such a terrible idea on every level that I care about.

  8. BeeFan10:24 AM

    Will ESPN have the decency to let the Bee run to the end today as it's doing with tennis?

    Yeah, right.

  9. Charles10:28 AM

    I wonder how many times in Bee history a speller has asked, "Can I buy a vowel?" It feels like it happens at least once a year now.

  10. Dr. Bailly is redefining the "bossy" in BBC.

  11. graceb10:29 AM

    Pretty sure ESPN2 (when the tennis is over) will broadcast the semifinals through to the finish, regardless of the time of finish

  12. BeeFan10:29 AM

    Do they think it adds anything when they do that?

  13. codeman3810:31 AM

    They didn't do that sort of thing at all when I was in the bee. Heck, they actually ran commercials while people were spelling-- there were some spellers who never actually got on TV because ESPN decided to put their ad break there.

    Granted, this was 15 years ago, but still...

  14. BeeFan10:35 AM

    Tennis guy just failed at double match point.  We could have been on ...

  15. BeeFan10:38 AM

    They've scheduled 10-1?  It won't be over that soon.

  16. Genevieve10:41 AM

    bummed my DVR won't be catching that since they switched it.  Hopefully they'll do the split-screen again when Frank is back up later, after they've moved it back to its rightful channel.

  17. Bee just switched to ESPN2

  18. Eric J.10:45 AM

    It was you, freddo, it was always you.

  19. graceb10:52 AM

    Right, but they go over every year

  20. Vanya was wearing a mockingjay pin in the intro piece.  I thought I couldn't love her more, and I was so totally wrong.

  21. victoria11:01 AM

    I have a word crush on "mumpsimus."

  22. Marsha11:04 AM

    I clearly have to stop watching the broadcast - I tuned in late, and of the four spellers I've seen so far, THREE have gotten dinged. I'm a jinx! AAARGH!

  23. graceb11:05 AM

    Regarding "coaches," spellers are totally lucky if they have an experienced person willing to spend time sharing his or her knowledge.  The bee officials do what they can to level the playing field, making previous word lists available, but very few kids could get to this competitive level on their own.

  24. Adam C.11:07 AM

    ESPN3 is working again, for those inclined to follow along online.

  25. Marsha11:13 AM

    I am loving this "play along" version - I like being able to attempt to spell it before they show it.

    And I'm also loving New Hampshire's lone speller, who has probably been hearing jokes her whole life about how once she learned to spell her last name, the Bee was a piece of cake...

  26. Charles11:13 AM

    So far my favorite is "kyoodle," from yesterday.

  27. Samir Patel11:14 AM

    "after totaling his friend's car... [] offered him a pine tree air freshener as a douceur."

  28. Samir Patel11:19 AM

    Especially since Carolyn left the Bee -- now Carolyn's Corner isn't available, and new spellers have pretty much no advice.  Never fear, though, I'm setting up a Bee advice column/blog this summer for next year's crop of spellers to use.

  29. Marsha11:22 AM

    You know, I'm totally happy to watch numnah/numbnut and Kenny giggling over sardoodledom in the clip package every year, but can they PLEASE stop showing the fainting? That does NOT need to be part of the Shining Moments of Bees Past for all eternity.

  30. Samir Patel11:23 AM

    Aww, I was hoping Ty would make it farther.  Anyone have a count on how many homeschoolers are still in?

  31. "It's like an antibiotic, isn't it?" [Bailly confirms.] "Sweet!", says Sunny Levine.

  32. Samir Patel11:24 AM

    AT MARSHA: "that's like an antibiotic cream, right? sweet!"  Sunny Levine is so adorable.  I'm definitely rooting for her.  

  33. Marsha11:24 AM

    Go Sunny!

    I totally thought bah-sih-TRAY-sin was a brand name.

  34. lisased11:25 AM

    VICTORY! I have overcome connectivity issues at work and the fact that our Internet provider doesn't support ESPN3. I am now streaming it through my phone and cheering and wincing along with y'all.

  35. Adam C.11:26 AM


  36. Samir Patel11:26 AM

    Nicholas had that one pretty easily.

    Funnily enough, his parents did, too.  In a lot of cases, parents don't know the words, but as biochemists, you can bet they knew "monocotyledon."

  37. Cool idea, Samir! I've often wondered what spellers do without Carolyn's Corner; that was the first place I went to after I got to nationals.

  38. Samir Patel11:30 AM

    Fun story: cataphract is a word I learned not from the spelling bee, but from being a hardcore Age of Empires player* when I was 6.

    *First and last time in my life I could ever be defined as a "hardcore" player of any video game.  [I've played video games, oh, twice in the past year.]

  39. Nice promo piece on Philly's Lena Greenberg, who prepped via Skype with former Canadian champion Veronica Penny.  Exuberant success on her first word.<span> </span>

  40. Samir Patel11:39 AM

    "I'd be jumping off the walls if I won."  - Lena

    She's already jumping off the walls.  She's so energetic!

    Also, I didn't realize she was a homeschooler.

    Dallas kids coming up.  Go them!

  41. The only thing I don't like about Dr. Bailly is that he keeps offering the "funny" sentences without being prompted.  I'm sure the Word Team worked real hard on their humor writing, but if the spellers don't ask for it (and they rarely do), keep it to yourself, because it seems like it can be pretty distracting to them.

  42. Jessica11:39 AM

    Ahhh Age of Empires! Also taught me Trebuchet. :)

  43. Ha!  Chetan #237 just called him out for the same thing!  My post came first, I promise.

  44. Marsha11:40 AM

    Lena Greenberg is too adorable for words. (Though again with the hyperventilating. I worry.) Love, love, love that she and Veronica Penny are Skyping BFFs and that Lena has a penny in her shoe so Veronica can be with her. That's so fabulously 14-year-old-girlish that I can't stand it. Go Lena!

  45. She reminds me a lot of the April character from Gilmore Girls (in looks and demeanor.)  Loving her energy and enthusiasm.

  46. Marsha11:42 AM

    I was trying to think of who she reminded me of, and that is EXACTLY it. Thank you!

  47. Samir Patel11:44 AM

    I'm not sure how I feel about the amusing sentences.  They're obviously great for viewers, but as for the spellers... if you're the nervous type [and especially if you DON'T know the word], probably not so much.

  48. Samir Patel11:45 AM

    Not sure if this is one of the places Scripps "looks" for words, but I've noticed that a lot of mid round words pop up in the news.  For example, Google "cochineal Starbucks."

    And go Mark!  he nailed it.

  49. Marsha11:48 AM

    "cochineal" is one of the words I could actually spell!

  50. Samir Patel11:49 AM

    Not to continue discussing a point that [I believe] we've already discussed to death, but:

    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?

  51. Marsha11:52 AM

    With the caveat that I know it's a little icky to comment on the looks of teenage girls, Vismaya is gorgeous. Wow. 

  52. Samir Patel11:52 AM

    I love Vismaya's spelling style.  And Marsha, would you agree she has a tiny bit of the happy speller  vibe?

  53. Samir Patel11:53 AM

    Aww, I love Jae's jump and "yes."

  54. Lori Miller11:55 AM

    I'm kind of rooting for Vismaya too, because I noticed the pink hair yesterday!  I admire someone who exhibits such confident iconoclastic tendencies at 14.

  55. Samir Patel11:55 AM

    ADAM: misspelling in the body of the post.  It's "cephalaLgia."  You missed the 'L.'

  56. Habendum!  It's easy ... if you're a lawyer.

  57. Habendum!  It's easy ... if you're a lawyer.

  58. I need the ability to mute the ESPN commentators. I'd like to be able to mute specific people, but I'll settle for being able to mute commentary. Trying to fill all empty space is not the same as being informative. Gah.

  59. Adam C.11:57 AM

    So, just about 2 hours in, with 1 more hour scheduled on TV, and we're down from 50 semifinalists to 41.  Can someone remind me how this is supposed to play out to get to the finalists? Is it time limited, or round limited, or are we trying to get down to a specific number?

  60. Samir Patel11:58 AM

    They don't have a "hard cutoff" at 1, but I wouldn't be surprised to see one of those "bloodbath" rounds either now or in the next round.

  61. Anonymous11:58 AM

    I just fixed it.  Oops!

  62. Marsha11:59 AM

    To me, it's more the confident speller vibe - she's not quite exuberant enough yet for the happy speller vibe. But there's time, and she's awesome whatever the vibe.

  63. kenedy jane12:00 PM

    I wish they would replace all ESPN personnel with former Bee participants. 

  64. Gleemonex12:01 PM

    I'm not dumb, I'm SMAAHT! Not like everybody says!

  65. Samir Patel12:02 PM

    I don't like the etymology they're giving for "compas."  In the Merriam Webster etymology, it says "influenced by French," which is really kind of the key.

    Nevertheless, she nailed it.

  66. Adam C.12:02 PM

    Thanks, Samir.

  67. Samir Patel12:03 PM

    Actually, let's go with this one.  The words they've asked so far are undoubtedly harder than the ones they asked in the last one.

  68. Trying to get down to "somewhere under 15, but not less than 10."

  69. Gleemonex12:07 PM

    Extreme, EXTREME terribleness. 

  70. VanessaH12:09 PM

    Thanks for the idea!!! Finally, I can watch.

  71. Samir Patel12:10 PM

    I would totally do color commentary if they ever called me up.

  72. Samir Patel12:10 PM

    I love the sibling bond between Kavya and Vanya.  So sweet.  =)

  73. Samir Patel12:21 PM

    Admission: I didn't know "calo" off the top of my head.  It's on my master list of ~75,000 words that my mom and I narrowed down as the sum total of "Bee-able" words, but it's definitely a difficult one that you just have to remember.

  74. Samir Patel12:26 PM

    Things that are as American as the spelling bee:

    Captain America, Thanksgiving, the American flag, should I go on?

  75. kenedy jane12:29 PM

    @Samir: New thread started for Round 5.  And now is your time to discuss the 'comfort room'!

  76. Samir Patel12:31 PM


  77. Genevieve2:11 PM

    I've never come across that one professionally.  Might've come up back in Property in 1L days, but I don't remember it.

  78. Genevieve2:14 PM

    Go NoVa!  I hope the Washington Post gives him some respect tomorrow - pix of five other spellers in today's paper, but Lori Anne is the only sort-of-local they picture (Woodbridge isn't very close to DC, but she's definitely newsworthy as well as being Virginian, so I have no quibble with that).  Jae's from Reston, so he's the only one left in the Bee who's in the Post's main circulation area (I guess Elkridge MD is too? so they should also picture Jack Nolan).

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