Friday, June 2, 2006


is the winning word for Katharine Close of Spring Lake, N.J., who won the 79th Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night, the first girl to win the event since 1999 and the first contestant to do so on live prime-time television, ABC.

And since it was on prime-time TV, we watched a bit of it with BF's grandparents. I must admit, I loved it! Just like how I loved Spellbound.

I was rooting for all the South Asian contestants, then the one Chinese boy from Illinois, and finally the bi-racial Asian/White girl who was second-runner up because she mispelled "weltschmerz," which essentially means a kind of sentimental pessimism.

Naturally the LA Times accurately, yet bitterly, reported an economic angle of this seemingly innocuous tale of prepubescent adolescents and their arcane words -- ABC executives hoped that the spelling bee could become the nation's newest reality TV phenomenon.

ABC wasn't alone in betting on the once-stodgy bee. Some $70,000 was wagered on, which offered bets on whether the winner would wear glasses (nope, despite 3-2 odds), or be a boy (odds said a girl had a 5-4 chance) or be home-schooled (odds were 5-2 in favor, but Jonathan Horton of Gilbert, Ariz., last of the home-schoolers, dropped out in Round 10).

"We're building a franchise," said Andrea Wong, ABC's executive vice president for alternative programming.

Sigh... weltschmerz!

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