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This year, ABC broadcast the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee with such innovations as pre-produced informational segments, competitor interviews, running commentary, and television time-outs. It was like watching a televised football game without any actual football. I recall watching once as some Fox announcers tried to spell the name of Green Bay Packer defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila before some organized football broke out and shut them up. No such luck at Scripps. The ABC commentators frequently stepped all over the children's frequently amusing banter with the official pronouncer (which, by the way, is one of the best job titles ever).

I can proudly say that I was able to spell two of the words on the program: "basenji" and "Rorschach." The first is an African breed of dog renowned for its lack of bark. And while the second is the name of the familiar ink-blot psychological test, it is also the name of a super hero. I'll admit that I failed to correctly spell "empyrean," despite the fact that it was the name of my High School's yearbook, so you can see where my interests lie.

I'd rather watch than participate in a spelling bee, mainly because my spelling has historically been so terrible. "You're a phonetic speller," my mom would always explain to me whenever I failed yet another spelling test in elementary school. When I would ask what that word meant, she'd tell me to "look it up." Parents can be so cruel to their children.

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To be continued...


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