Bitter. B-I-T-T-E-R. Bitter.

As you know, the National Spelling Bee is being held this week. The Spelling Bee is, of course, where they send smart, socially-challenged young people to fuck them up even more. It is also where they send journalists to die.

A correspondent writes:

Just when you thought there was no glamour in the life of a political reporter, along comes. . . the National Spelling Bee. Yes, kids, if you work hard enough on the campaign trail all year, you, too, could find yourself spending hours in a dark hotel basement with no cell phone service, surrounded by borderline autistic spelling wizards and their obsessive stage-mom parents. You do get to learn exciting new words like "ullaged," "excrescency" and "kohlrabi," but good luck figuring out what the hell they mean, especially if your local speller is sufficiently smart not to need to bother asking the judges for a definition.

Oh, sure, it looks fun when you see it on ESPN2, but there you can at least change the channel or look at last night's baseball scores scroll by. And they've already MADE a movie out of the damn thing, so that's out. Good thing there's nothing else going on in the world that we could be covering instead.

So sitting around the spelling bee, surrounded by far too many of your colleagues -- at least one of the people I saw in the room actually won a Pulitzer before he wound up condemned to this level of journalistic hell -- would be bad enough. But then comes the news that Alex Polier got paid "considerably more" than $10,000 for that self-serving bit of. . . well, call it "verbigeration," which speller #150 missed in the third round today ("continual repetition of stereotyped phrases," per Merriam Webster). Why does this twit, who obviously can't write and has less self-awareness than your average "Average Joe" contestant, get rich writing about her entirely avoidable near-miss with infamy, while dozens of the rest of us have to take time out of their day to hang around a glorified nerd contest? Must be because of her wit and enthusiasm, not her blond hair and long legs.

Tune in tomorrow for more spelling. ESPN2, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., followed immediately by (this is not a joke) the 2004 Mathcounts National Competition.

ESPN TV Listing []

Scripps National Spelling Bee []


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