2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee

The Spelling Bee might be one of my 10 favorite events of the year.  With the introduction of the preliminary rounds on ESPN3, I managed to watch even more of the bee than normal, and I loved every minute of it.  What follows is a running diary & live blog of the event.

Wednesday May 30 – Preliminary Rounds

9:03 – The guy starting off the day,Gifton, says “thank you sir” with every sentence. What a gentleman. I am rooting for him

9:04 – Poppers: Gentleman. Polite kids are awesome

9:14 – Olivia is spelling  now.  She is dressed kind of slutty for a 13 yr old. She got mesmerize

9:17 – Reid Fitzhugh is from Rockville, MD. He looks nervous. But nailed Ocarina. Guessing he is a total Zelda fanatic

9:18 – Jack Nolan has the mannerisms and look of a standup comic.

9:20 – Come on Sam. You gotta wear a belt. Who do you think you are, Lee Sperber?

9:28 – Dmo: Bah, this competition is so awesome. Awkward kids are great

9:29 – Kuvam just got Duchy pronounced dutchie

9:30 – Not much work going on right now.  This is too good

9:47 – Someone just dropped a “This is Jack Mehoff” while testing the mics on the feed

10:06 – Emma looks and sounds like Daria

10:12 – One of the sentences just referenced a Flux Capacitor

10:23 – Nicholas put an extra S at the end of Sassafras and couldn’t believe he was wrong

10:24 – Emily is from Syracuse. I will be rooting for her.  She doesn’t even need definitions or languages of origin to spell her words

10:25 – Ryan, you sound you’re from London

11:06 – Valery would like a tougher word than hierarchy. Smugly spells it

11:20 – Clancy is at a crossroad in his life.  This year he will either follow the path to become a successful person with Ryan Gosling looks. Or he will misspell zephyr and head down the road to serial killerdom.  Luckily for us, He nailed it.

11:35 – Look at this kid in the front row.  What a boss.  Meanwhile, in the crowd, his parents are disappointed.


12:49 – Jurgen says that Reid Fitzhugh from Rockville is his boss’ son. He confirms that yes, playing Zelda did help him get Ocarina

2:29 – Back from Laura’s birthday lunch.  I just got perestroika followed by mulligan.  I am doing well during the preliminary round.  Mom would be proud.  My over/under for the championship is usually at 2.5

Thursday May 31 – Semifinal Rounds

10:06 – Down to 50 spellers.  They will be cut down to about 12 before the final tonight at 8:00

10:22 – Rahul just asked if he could buy a vowel.  Oh Spelling Bee humor

10:30 – The reader, Dr. Bailey,  does not like being asked “am I saying the word correctly?”  He responds, “Let’s make a deal, all of you, if we hear you say the word wrong, we’ll tell you”

10:49 – Got worried when Gifton started spelling polyptych (a painting which is divided into sections, or panels).  didn’t think he would get the ending. I want him to win

10:50 – Note: Words in red are ones that spell check does not recognize

10:52 – Have got two words right in the first hour. Nephropathy (damage to or disease of a kidney) and carpophore (A slender stalk that supports each half of a dehisced fruit in many members of the parsley family)

10:53 – Emily’s brother looks evil.  They point out that she had to beat him to move on. They say he is helping her prepare, but I think he is trying to kill her

10:55 – Luckily, the kids are getting cookies during the breaks

11:07 – Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (State Fish of Hawaii) is one of Jordan’s favorite words. Yea bitch (Sarah Marshall reference)

11:09 – Got Frore (Archaic very cold or frost) right

11:10 – Emma got caryatid (a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support) and said “oh joy!”  She can spell that in her sleep=

11:11 – Sanjana Malla is from Haverstraw. Rockland represent. Exergue (A space on the reverse of a coin or medal) boom.

11:24 – Feel so bad for the kids who spell a word wrong, then have to sit on the loser couch with a camera in their face

11:26 – Nick Rushlow is a speller i can get behind. He eats pancakes before each contest

11:48 – In our office, Mueller loves hearing the bell.  Not gentlemanly

11:51 – Another one for Rick. Dysthymia (a chronic type of depression in which a person’s moods are regularly low.)

11:54 – Jae looks like a bigger Byong Sun. Nails Habendum (part of a deed or conveyance that states the estate or quantity of interest to be granted) and screams yes into the mic.  Ichiro is his favorite player and he is rocking a hawaiian shirt which can only mean that he is a big fat party animal

12:08 – Mignon Tsai almost started crying after hearing the bell…At least her name is delicious

12:21 – Dmo just got Fjeld (A high barren plateau in the Scandinavian countries) right saying that he knows that one because he used it in Hanging With Friends

12:22 – Dmo gets storis (a floating mass of closely crowded icebergs and floes). Two in a row for him

12:36 – Damn Gina! Straight up guessed on Götterdämmerung (The downfall of the gods) and nailed it.

12:37 – Gifton is so polite at the mic. Apparently that is a trait taught to Jamaican spellers. Tocopherol (Any of several closely related compounds, found in wheat germ oil, egg yolk, and leafy vegetables, that collectively constitute vitamin E) gives him no trouble

12:38 – Vanya Shivashankar gets the dreaded unknown language of origin but still gets mascalage (harvesting of the bark of the cork oak )

12:43 – Emma tries to start over halfway thru the word, but spells it wrong both times.

12:44 – Emily Keaton looks like she worships Emma Roberts.  She also looks like she had a professional hairstylist do her hair for the stage

12:47 – Round 5 is taking it’s toll on the spellers.  Jack Nolan, another one of my favorites, is dunzo.  After 9 people got eliminated in Round 4, 15 have been eliminated in the first half of round 5

12:53 – Emma gets bombycine
Emma: Does it mean of or relating to silkworms.
Dr. Bailey: That’s exactly what it means.

12:57 – The Haverstraw girl just got knocked out.

12:58 – Dmo tells me that speller 162, Arvind Mahankali, is the betting favorite.  He represents the NY Daily News

1:01 – Arvind loves Joker (the tennis player)

1:05 – Word pronounced “Pah-las”
Sunny spells it Palas
Words is spelled “polos”

That’s not right. That’s Poh-los bro

1:16 – Lena Greenberg is a screamer.  Could be a Euonym situation

1:31 – Dr. Bailey gives Sumaita the word, Quatuor (a method of instrumentation, used to perform a musical composition, and consisting of four parts). She says bless you

1:45 – Simola looks very concerned after getting rapparee (an armed Irish freebooter)

1:46 -And she’s crying

1:47 – Bisbigliando (a special tremolo effect on the harp where a chord or note is rapidly repeated at a low volume) trips up Gina.  Her dad muttered “Shit” half way thru her spelling

1:48 – The word Gifton just got may be impossible.  I don’t even know where to start with it

1:49 – Gleichschaltung (a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control).  Gifton got it!!

1:51 – Kavya looks worried for her little sister.  For good reason.  The Shivashankar is out.

1:52 – Dropping out fast and furious.
Dmo: “The loser couch is getting crowded”

1:53 – The announcer just reference the late Junior Seau when talking about spelling hawaiian words

1:56 – Once again, Emma knows her word, Ouabain, before getting any hints.  She is learned

1:57 – Language of origin: sanskrit.  Sanskrit? You are originated in a 5,000 year old dead language? Get out.

1:59 – Nabeel Rahman. His friends call him noodle

2:00 – 11 spellers left. Gifton is in the final!

2:01 – Even Scripps is mocking Jack and Jill for being a terrible movie.  They just said someone that makes you watch Jack & Jill is a kanaima (an evil spirit)

2:02 – Nick’s parents couldn’t believe he got that right

2:04 – Lena shocks herself by getting Cholecystitis (Inflammation of the gallbladder) right. She is great and will be in the final

2:06 – Dmo: Vismaya looks like she could be on Degrassi

2:09 – 9 spellers for the finals tonight at 8P.  Took 4 hours to eliminate 41 spellebrities (Not a typo).  See you at 8P for the live blog
Brett: I love watching them try to give high fives
Doug:  Bah, they cant even give high fives




Post Script: As Ostrowe requested, a .gif of the loser clapping in confetti


With Joyce down at #SIC, the three remaining horsemen were left to their own devices for Memorial Day weekend.  It only took a few minutes to fall back into our schtick.  While eating in the East Village, Jmac and Ostrowe posed for a picture while Ostrowe was distracted by the waitress.

Sadly, Rick had no one to pose with

But thanks to the magic of Photoshop, that can be fixed

 Rick & Joyce

Rick & #SIC12

Rick & Kate Beckinsale

Rick & Rick Astley

Rick & Barry Windham

We Own The Sky

Sunday April 15

3:30 – This Running Diary begins on a wonderful, warm spring afternoon during the first CoG attended Champicnic.  Contrary to it’s name, this picnic is not a sham at all.  With chips, dips, drinks, and other picnic items that rhyme with drinks, it is as real as can be.   Nearly three hours into the festivities, Rick, Ostrowe, and Joyce randomly start talking about their sky diving trip. And decide it is about time for their yearly jump.

3:35 – Rick looks up the number for The Ranch on his phone, dials, and books a reservation for the three of them on May 12.  Jumping the day before Mother’s Day will lead to the most wonderful gift a Mother could ask for: a properly functioning parachute.

3:36 – Rick is giddy

Monday April 16

10:38A – Rick walks into the Final Cut room to talk to Scott.
Rick: Want to go sky diving?
Scott: uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Rick: Ok cool, I’ll be back

10:40 – Rick calls the Ranch to add an extra person to the reservation.

10:42 – Rick brings Flato a stack of waivers to sign and tells him he now has a spot reserved to jump

10:43 – Cue 3.5 weeks of Flato waffling back and forth

10:44 – Flato: “My mom is going to hate you”

Monday April 30

10:40A – Joyce is forced to bail on the jump.  Between extended Mother’s Day festivities and the cleaning of the soon to be Joyce Estate, he will not be able to make it.  The hunt for a replacement begins.  It will prove to be fruitless.

Saturday May 5

Rick makes his annual pilgrimage to Belmont to watch the Kentucky Derby.  Olivia joins him and brings her roommate Jess.  Note: Olivia and Rick used to live together.  Jess moved into Rick’s old room.

Sunday May 6

10:05P – While at Keenan’s birthday bash, a drunk Flato has now officially told everyone in the world about the jump.  No backing out now.  The repercussions of that would be too much to overcome.  In telling everyone, half the people say that they have done it before and there is nothing to worry about and the other half say they would never do it because it is scary as shit.  These responses do nothing to help Flato’s psyche.

10:30 – Flato steps outside to take a phone call.  As Rick leaves the bar, he takes the phone from Flato to try to convince whoever he is talking to that jumping out of a plane on Saturday would be a great life choice.  He is unsuccessful.

Monday May 7

11:00 – Rick crafts the above video. Episode one of “A Prelude to a Dive.”  He posts the video on Flato’s Facebook wall


11:02 – Rick pulls the video down. No Harm. No Foul.

11:03 – Side Note: Flato never makes it into work after a booze filled Sunday.  There is no truth to the rumor that he drank himself stupid to forget about the dive.

Wednesday May 9

12:34P – The Ranch calls to confirm the 10A reservation.  Unable to find a replacement for Joyce, Rick changes the reservation to three people.

2:35 – The tentative plan was to stay at Flato’s Friday night, take the train to Rockland in the morning from Hoboken then drive up with Ostrowe, however, never under estimate the Piccinich Effect.  There are no early morning trains, and Flato doesn’t have a car so we will be staying in Nyack Friday night.  On the bright side, at least we realized this early.

Thursday May 10

9:05A – Ostrowe has come down with this months version of the bubonic plague.  We are now in the “we need to find someone to take his place” phase again.  Ugh.  On a related note, we now also have to find a way to make it to The Ranch.

11:04 – Rick starts texting everyone he knows seeing if they want to jump out of a plane in 2 days.  Included in the 20 texts is Olivia and Jess.

11:10 – Rick walks into the final cut room.  Flato is once again alternating between confident Scott and Wussy Scott.
Scott: Dude, I can’t do this. What are you doing to me.
Rick: You can thank me later
Random Freelance Guy: You guys are going sky diving?
Rick: Yea. We have an extra spot. Do you want to go?
RFG: Uhhhhh. I have always wanted to go.  It is on my bucket list
Rick: Then you should totally come. We have the reservation already and you are gonna love it
RFG: You know what. I think I will.  I just got to clear it with my wife (Read: The boss)
Rick: Nice. You are not going to regret this
RFG: Hey, by the way, I’m Jason
Rick: Rick.  I think we just officially met AFTER I convinced you to come skydiving with us. That is pretty awesome.
Jason: I’m pumped.  And I am really glad I only have 2 days to think about this
Scott: I hate you. I’ve been thinking about this for 3 weeks

11:30 – Jess writes back to Rick and says that even though Olivia can’t make it Saturday, she would be willing to go.  This is going to be the most random trip ever.

11:31 – Rick calls  The Ranch and changes the reservation back to 4 people.  For those keeping score at home, of the 3 people jumping out of a plane with Rick, none were part of the original plan, and two of the people he has known for a combined 5 days.

11:45 – Rental car booked for 6 hours on Saturday.  This trip is only about business.  Thanks Avis for your awesome coupons.

Friday May 10

Excitement is overflowing as we are 24 hours from the jump.  After work, Flato and Rick celebrate Palla’s birthday at Fat Cat. The party is preceded by what could be our last trip to Joe’s Pizza.  Yes. If I got to make a request for my last meal, it would probably be Joe’s Pizza.

Saturday May 12 – Jump Day

12:00A – Rick heads to bed as Flato watches The Fresh Prince to calm his nerves.

6:30 – Rick wakes up after a giddy evening of sleep. With Flato on the couch, he grabs a couple bowls of cereal and makes a playlist for the drive up north.

7:07 – Rick heads to Ess-a-bagel to get some grub for the gang.  He, Jason, and Flato are scheduled to meet at Avis at 7:40

7:18 – While standing on line for bagels, Rick, for a second, hopes that Flato doesn’t pull the last second bail but he has faith that Flato is 100% committed now.

7:39 – This time Rick is overcome by a feeling that Jason woke up strapped to his bed with his wife standing over him holding a knife screaming “YOU ARE NOT LEAVING ME LIKE THIS!” after she had a change of heart overnight

7:42 – All fears are avoided as Jason and Scott show up together.  They hop in the red Chevy Cruze and head to the UES to pick up Jess.

7:52 – As Jess gets in the car, she meets Scott and Jason for the first time.  What a motley crew.

8:08 – The longest part of this trip is going to be getting out of Manhattan.  We are just now getting on the FDR

8:40 – Flato is in a zen like zone. Calm. Cool. Collected.

8:48 – Rick always jumps first.  He wants to see someone plummet from sight.  Jason volunteers to go first. Flato says he wants to go second.  More than likely, we aren’t going to get to choose.

9:00 – The drive up has been highlighted by nervous getting-to-know-you chatter and nervous bagel eating. Rick wishes he got bacon egg and cheese on his bagel.  Terrible mistake.

9:30 – About 2 miles from The Ranch, we can see parachutes falling to Earth.  Things just got real for Flato as he is convincing himself that they are all having fun

9:35 – Ten years after his last trip here, Rick still remembers how to get to the Ranch.  However, in the last 10 years, The Ranch has gone from a tiny shack to a huge building/operation.  Guess business is good.

9:45 – After we park the car, we walk towards the runway and some random person tells us we are looking for a guy named  Joe wearing a bright shirt. We find him in a tie dye shirt and sandals.  Quintessential hippie.  Side note. Joe is a god damn gentleman

9:46 – This place is a well oiled machine now.  We are already at the window paying for the jump.  Since we signed the waivers in advance, and watched the videos online (including the always epic, faux ZZ Top warning video), we are not just waiting to get harnessed up.  Rick asks when they upgraded from the shack and the woman at register gives him a Flo-esque “That shows me you have been here before.  Discount!”

9:50 – There are bros here doing random pull-ups under the porch.   Hennelly would approve.

9:54 – Only moments away:
Jess: (To Rick) You being so calm is keeping me calm
Flato: Yea bro, why aren’t you worried at all?
Rick: I ride my bike in NYC, during rush hour, without a helmet. That is way more dangerous (and stupid) than jumping out of a plane.

9:59 – While watching people coming in for a landing Flato’s jaw drops at the amount of speed people are carrying.

10:01 – Our names are called. Time to suit up.  Flato and Jess don the neon green jumpsuits. Jason and Rick go sans jump suit.

10:09 – As always, when putting on a harness, make sure your furniture is in the middle of the room.

10:10 – Jim$ would be happy to know that all the clips on the harnesses seem to be in working order

10:12 – Jason’s videographer gives us a tutorial on the parachutes we are using.  Flato has been saying all week that there are three chutes, there are only two.  We will be keeping that information from him

10:15 – We are waiting for the Freefall Express to make it’s return to land.  This plane seats 14 people. Much nicer than the 4 person Cessna we jumped out of at Skydive Jersey.

10:17 – Apparently, Jess’ videographer aka Big Jim was a stunt man in Drop Zone. A terrible, terrible, movie with Wesley Snipes.  Not sure if that is worse than Terminal Velocity with Charlie Sheen though.

10:18 – A strange conversation you don’t expect to have jumping out of a plane:
Jess: Just have to remember to Arc on the way out
Instructor: No. You want to arch. An Arc is an electrical discharge. You don’t want to do that wearing a flammable suit.
Jess: What?
Instructor: Nevermind

10:20 – We have a cutaway. One of the jumpers on the flight before us had to cutaway their main parachute since it malfunctioned.  Exactly what no amateur wants to hear.  His backup opens and he glides to the ground. The pros are shrugging it off like it is no big deal.  Flato does not need to hear this now

10:22 – Here comes the Freefall Express. Time to board.

10:22 – There goes the Freefall Express. They need to fill up on gas. We wait just a little bit longer

10:24 – Time to board. No turning back now

10:25 – While the plane taxis
Rick’s Instructor: You might want to hold on to something.  This is a small runway for a plane this big
Rick: Not as bad as Laguardia though
RI: You got me there. That place is a death trap.

10:26 – While taking off, the pros on the plane chant something ending with Fly Baby Fly.  Jason is closest to the door. He is jumping first. Flato is second, Jess third, and Rick last.  Shockingly, exactly like we planned.

10:27 – Scott has a talk with Jerry:
Scott: So do I have to worry about pulling the cord? I’m nervous about that
Jerry: Just by looking at you, I don’t think you are ready.  I’ll take care of everything

10:29 – Jess’s videographer leans over to Flato: “Hey man, looks like someone did a shitty job tightening your harness.”  Love how the instructors always do a good job of taking shots at you while also keeping you calm.

10:32 – Rick is officially zoned out. He will never get tired of this feeling

10:34 – Flato looks like he is going to poop himself.
Jerry: So Scott, who is your best friend today?
Scott: I guess it would be my buddy Steve. He is in Hoboken today
Jerry: Wrong f**king answer bro
Scott: No no no Jerry. You are!

10:36 – Sitting next to the door are 2 bros who are absolutely stone faced.  I don’t think they have blinked this entire ride.

10:38 – “Are we gonna jump or jerk off?”

10:40 – The door opens. Wind fills the cabin. Best feeling ever. 15000 ft. above Earth.

10:41 – Jason approaches the door and has a giant shit eating grin on his face. And he’s gone.

10:41 – Flato follows and is a picture of confidence

10:42 – Jess is a trooper and doesn’t even flinch going out the door.

10:42 – Rick takes the plunge and does a gainer out the door with his instructor and they watch the plane peace out

10:43 – At 6000 feet, all chutes open. No cutaways needed.  After covering 9000 feet in about a minute, it takes about 1000 feet to slow down once you pull that cord.  I’m not sure what feeling is better. The fall or the chute opening properly.

10:50 – On the ground, it is a celebration bitches.  Life will never be the same.  Nobody can stop smiling.

10:52 – Instructor: Drive home safe. You are more likely to get killed in that car on the way back
Thanks guy.

10:56 – Flato calls his mom, we put her on speaker phone
Flato: Mom, I did something bad today
Mrs. Flato: What did you do?
Flato: I jumped out of a plane
Mrs. Flato: (After 30 seconds of silence) HOW COULD YOU DO SOMETHING SO STUPID!
(Flato takes her off speaker)
Flato: I’m fine. It is over….It was awesome….It was Nick Casanova
Rick: Can I talk to her?
Flato hands Rick the phone as his mom blurts out a few more choice words
Rick: (gets absolutely no words in edge wise)
Rick hands the phone back to Scott.
Rick: I don’t think she likes me.

11:06 – After grabbing the raw footage and tipping our respective instructors who kept us alive, we are back in the car and heading back to NYC.  The vibe in the car is drastically different as everyone is on hour one of a high that will last for at least a week.

11:20 – Stop at Wendy’s on the way home.  This might be the best Wendy’s we have ever had.

12:15 – Flato fantasizes about ditching Jerry and jumping solo

1:00 – Back in the city. Reality is terrible. Rick just wants to keep jumping.
Rental Car Guy: Welcome back.
Flato: Tell him what we did
Rick: We just jumped out of a plane
RCG: I bet there were nice honeys on the plane. Nothing better. Off the plane. In a rental.  Now you’re in NYC
Flato: No. No. We jumped out a plane. As in skydiving
RCG:  Wait what?! That’s crazy. Yo Jamal you want to go skydiving? You can be the first Jamaican ever to fly.
Jamal: Nah bro. I’m good.

1:05 – What started as a trip from Rick, Ostrowe, and Joyce, ended as a trip for a completely different set of people.  As everyone parts ways you can’t help but notice a strong glow on 43rd Street.

Flato will watch this video every day