I watched the last few rounds of the Bee. The kids always amaze me. I can't even pronounce half the words they can pronounce, spell and know the roots of! Truth is, I couldn't even spell the kids' names because the finalists were all, as they mostly have been the past 15 or so years, Indian-Americans. The last girl to flame out, Amber Born, not only was a great speller, but a riot with her one-liners. She's an aspiring comedy writer. Missed her in the final round. She lost on the word "hallali," a huntsman's bugle call. Second place went to 13-year-old Prinva Sivakumar who tripped up on the word "cyanophycean," a blue-green alga (alga I could spell!).
The young man who won, Arvind Manhankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, N.Y., finished third each of the last two years. Each time, he was knocked out by German-derived words. So, the Spelling Bee gods, just to make this win ironic, made sure he got a German-derived word as the one he had to get right to win -- knadiel. Interestingly, this was a word I knew. I don't mean I knew how to spell it (although I missed it by just that much), but I was familiar with the word because my parents and grandparents spoke some Yiddish and this was, in my experience, a Yiddish word. I knew knadiel more as that doughy thing that was floating in the soup my mom made. If asked to spell it, I likely would have missed that "I."
The audiences at these bees are so knowledgeable about the history of each contestant that when the judge announced Arvind's final challenge -- knadiel -- they groaned and chuckled, KNOWING that he was tripped up his last two years by
German-derived words. (Ask me the Yankees' lineup in 1957 and I think I can still tick it off; ask me what I had for lunch yesterday, and I need to think about it.)
Anyway, if the Bee is rerun, I highly recommend you watch it. You'll see some terrific kids who worked their tails off to get to the nationals (Amber said she got there by hard work, not seeing her friends -- she apologized to them on air -- and by not seeing TV in months. OK, not such a bad thing).
Then again, if I hadn't been surfing the TV, I would not have found the Bee. As I do every year almost every year. When I fall upon it, I truly enjoy it.