Friday, May 27, 2016

The sweet spell of success.

Last night’s Scripps National Spelling Bee was sure a barnburner. For those of you who missed the action-packed finale, here’s a transcript of the live coverage. The hosts are Brian “Silent E” Grunch, former national champion, and Psalmusynpostan “Psal” Muenchtivoqsovicz, the man with the hardest name to spell in America.

Brian: Going into the final round now, and a hush descends upon the crowd.

Psal: I’d almost call it a quiescence, wouldn’t you?

Brian: Quiescence. Q-U-I-E…

Psal: And here come the two remaining contestants. Jimmy Bo is looking a little tired from the last round, but this boy’s got no quit in him.

Brian: That’s right, Psal. I thought that he’d pulled something when he finished the fifth O in otorhinolaryngological, but darned if he didn’t straighten out and finish the word. The question is, did he suffer an injury, and if so, how will it affect him in this final round?

Psal: That’s affect, not effect, folks.

Brian: Right you are, Psal, and here comes Sweyama Muglatawny, the other finalist.

Psal: Sweyama has been a real protégé in these contests, Brian, but the last few rounds have not come easily to her. Why, she almost misspelled beagle in the early going.

Brian: That word is surprisingly difficult for some people, Psal.

Psal: She’s been holding it together as all those around her fall, but can she get through one more challenge?

Brian: It’s a long season, Psal, and it takes its toll. That’s T-O-L-L.

Psal: But it all comes down to this. And here comes the first word for Jimmy Bo.

Brian: Oooh, cariogenesis, that’s the development of dental cavities.

Jimmy: Cariogenesis. C-A-R-I-O-G-E-N-E-S-I-S. Cariogenesis.

Psal: He’s done it! And the crowd roars its approval. But this isn’t over by a long shot.

Brian: Long shot is two words there, Psal.

Psal: I know. That’s why I had a little pause.

Brian: Good job. And here comes Sweyama’s word. If she fails, Jimmy can clinch the win if he can spell it.

Psal: I-T.

Brian: Ha! Classic joke, Psal.

Psal: And here we go… Yes, yes, she has salmagundi. That’s the salad plate with meats and things. Normally that wouldn’t stop a player of Sweyama’s caliber, but the way she’s going today, I just don’t know.

Sweyama: Salmagundi. S-A-L-M-A-G-U-N-D-I. Salmagundi.

Psal: And she nails it! Oh, this is shaping up to be a good match, Brian.

Brian: The audience goes wild, but you can feel how tense they are. I’d call them positively aflutter, antsy, anxious, atwitter, dithery…

Psal: And here comes Jimmy’s next word. And… holy cats! They’ve given him Psittacosaurus!

Brian: These judges are pulling no punches, Psal… Psittacosaurus, a dinosaur genus of the Early Cretaceous. If he can get through the first few letters he may pull this one out, but it won’t be easy!

Jimmy: Psittacosaurus. P-S-I-T…

Brian: He’s stalled.

Psal: Is it the O-related injury from the previous round?

Jimmy: …T-A-C-O…

Brian: Now just the follow-through…

Jimmy: …S-A-U-R-U-S. Psittacosaurus.

Psal: Fantastic! Look at that form! Whatever happened earlier, he’s gotten past it!

Jimmy: Yes, Psal, that’s the mark of a champion right there. But Sweyama is still a powerhouse in the clutch – don’t count her out!

Psal: And here comes her word; it’s… hmm. Orfevrerie. Not sure how she’ll react.

Brian: Orfevrerie, of course, meaning gold or silver jewelry.

Psal: She’s pondering hard… Oh, Brian, I think she’s having trouble.

Brian: You hate to see a seasoned veteran run into the wall like this, Psal. So many champion spellers are washed up by the time they’re 16.

Psal: They have to be under 16 to compete, Brian.

Brian: Oh, yeah; math’s not my thing.

Psal: Here she goes!

Sweyama: Orfevrerie. O-R-F-E-V-E-R-I-E. Orfevrerie.

Brian and Psal: OOOHHHH!

Brian: Bad break for Sweyama!

Psal: She knew it the moment it left her lips, Brian. It’s the French formation that makes it tricky.

Brian: Ah, those tricky French. The audience almost fainted just then.

Psal: But she’s not out unless Jimmy can spell it.

Brian: I-T.

Psal: Yes, still funny. Here he goes.

Jimmy: Orfevrerie. O-R-F-E-V-R-E-R-I-E. Orfevrerie.

Psal: Unbelievable! Jimmy Bo has spelled the word! He is the new national spelling bee champion!

Brian: Incredible second effort at the end, there, Psal. Sweyama just had to leave the door open a bit and in he came. This boy is a speller of steel, you just know it.

Psal: What an amazing end to this competition. Now we’re going to send it down to Lee Li, to see whether she can speak with the winner.

Brian: Whether! W-E-A-T-H-E-R!

Psal: Why, Brian, that's the worst spell of whether we've had in a long time!

[Both dissolve in laughter.]

[End of transcript.]

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