In addition to being a grammar geek, I am a serious spelling junkie. I was one of those kids who always participated in the school-wide bee, practiced my words from the little green book and dreamed of winning enough rounds to get to Washington, DC. I placed fourth in my school in sixth grade. My elimination word was "enthusiasm." I added an "a" right before the "m" at the end. In seventh grade I placed second in my school and got to go on to the county bee. My elimination word was "carillon". I had difficulty knowing whether it was the "r" or the "l" which was doubled. I have never misspelled that word since, not that I have much occasion to use it.
Friday evening our nation crowned a new spelling bee champion on national network television. I watched and shouted at the tv. It is my Superbowl. My husband laughed at me when I asked the television "Is that from the French?" or encouraged the spellers to ask for a definition or language of origin. But by a half hour in, he was picking favorites to win. I love that spelling is now treated like a sport, broadcast on ESPN. The pressure is real, the training for the kids who make it that far is just as intense.
Not only has spelling made it to national television, it has become a movie star. In 2006, Akeela and the Bee brought spelling to the big screen. But many people don't know that it was an indie film star first. Last night we watched Spellbound, which is a documentary following eight kids from around the country as they prepare for and compete in the National Bee. If you missed the live broadcast on Friday, this movie has a lot of the same footage from the 1999 Spelling Bee.
And if you're feeling the need to test your own skills, try the test on the Spelling Bee website. Sadly, I wouldn't have made the semifinals this year.