I remember when I totally destroyed my future by misspelling "suede" during my middle school's spelling bee, shamefully shattering model minority stereotypes and scarring myself for life.

But I am able to show some appreciation for those kids who valiantly kick ass in these brutal competitions. So these are my two favorite clips from the collection of National Spelling Bee memorable moments that The Huffington Post recently compiled (in honor of the now-completed 2009 competition).

First, in 2008, Sameer Mishra mistakenly thinks that he is supposed to spell "numbnuts." Watch:

And way back in 1997, Rebecca Sealfon screamed her way to triumph. Watch:

By the way, one of the most thrilling and complex documentaries of all time is Jeffrey Blitz's Spellbound. It's a smart, funny, and surprisingly emotional look at the National Spelling Bee (and, by extension, America itself) that will have you on the edge of your seat. Sure, it defies logic, but that's one of the movie's charms. So is its heart-tugging portraits of eight kids across America who want desperately to win a competition in which there can only be one winner. Watch the trailer:

Lest you doubt the excitement of spelling bees, let's revisit a past blog post that may open your eyes to the effect that bees have on the public....


Fame! I Wanna Live Forever; or, Fame! Makes a Man Take Things Over
May 9, 2004

After my play reading last week at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco, some of the actors and I headed around the corner to Judy's, our default watering hole, a straight bar with a bizarre cast of characters—mostly drunk middle-aged men who think we're famous because our photos appear from time to time in free local newspapers that most people don't even let their dogs crap on.

A bunch of rowdy guys were gathered around the bar when we entered. They were enraptured by the T.V., emitting sports-minded hooting and hollering every once in a while. We tried to ignore them, but they were too loud and enthusiastic. At one point, an ear-piercing cheer erupted. I looked over to the T.V., expecting to see the instant replay of a touchdown or home run or race car crossing the finish line. But what I saw was none of these things.

The barflies were watching the Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition. I scrunched my eyebrows: "What the fuck?!" It was truly one of the most bizarre things I had ever seen, these guys feeling the agony of a mispelled word and riding high on every correct answer.

Competition of any kind, apparently, raises our blood pressure and involves us deeply. The ebb and flow of success and failure, which is a major theme in all our lives, is encapsulated and summarized for our immediate digestion in competition—of any and all kinds. It's like seeing your life flash right before your eyes. No wonder there's a beer in your H-A-N-D.

(Be the first to find the incorrectly spelled word above, and you win a blow job! [Not necessarily from me. I have access to farm animals.])


  1. I love your bar story. Wish I'd been there to see that!

    I was totally rooting for Kennyi.