Saturday, June 3, 2017

Spell check

Look, I have no particular issue with the Scripps National Spelling Bee, or even that it gets the full-body ESPN treatment is if it were a major sporting event, which it isn't.

ESPN has tried to sell non-sports as sports before, like when it tried to push high-stakes poker on us. High-stakes poker is no more a sport than high-stakes Monopoly, and it's a boring watch besides. How long can you watch four guys in sunglasses sitting motionless with a fan of cards in their mitts before you nod off?

Much more intriguing is the spelling bee, which is not a sport either but at least contains moments of high drama. What completely made-up word will trip up the plucky upstart from Groin Pull, South Dakota?  What other completely made-up word will carry the unflappable 12-year-old to victory over her equally unflappable opponent?

In this case, that would be Ananya Vinay, who outlasted Rohan Rajeev to win the 90th running of the Bee. Vinay won by correctly spelling "gifblaar" and "marocain" after Rajeev stubbed his toe on "marram." All of these were alleged actual words. The Blob maintains they were either Klingonese or Rigelian, which technically should have disqualified them on account of the Bee is supposed to be confined to Earth words only.

And, yes, OK, so "gifblaar" supposedly is the name for a poisonous shrub of southern Africa, and "marocain" is a type of dress fabric. Whatever. I heard Worf bellow "Gifblaar!" on too many episodes of TNG to buy those groceries.

"Marram," on the other hand, is something I heard some drunk guy in a bar say when he was addressing an elderly lady who'd dropped her purse. Uh, marram, I b'lieve this yer pursh.

Bee officials, however, insist it actually means "a kind of beach grass."

Yeah, OK. You go with that.

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