There's nothing quite as satisfying -- or quite as demoralizing -- as watching a 12-year-old spell a word you've never heard of.
Tonight ABC will air the championship round of the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee. If you've never watched, you might wonder why I'm imploring you to watch a bunch of kids way smarter than you'll ever be battle it out over words that mostly seem made up. Well, it's reality TV at its finest and most exciting.
Just one word, one letter incorrectly J-U-X-T-A-P-O-S-E-D (check out my mad spelling skills!) or one flub that'll destroy the dreams of a smartypants 10-year-old who has spent most of his or her young life studying the dictionary. It's brilliant. It's "Survivor" meets the Super Bowl with all the drama of "Grey's Anatomy" in the course of two hours. Winning words have ranged from fairly commonplace such as knack in 1932 to head-shakingly rare such as guerdon (noun: a reward) last year.
Sadly, we only had one contestant from Wisconsin to cheer for -- Andrew Grose from Sheboygan -- who did not make it to the semifinals round. (Only 41 of the 293 make it, so let's not give Andrew too much grief). There are plenty of other geniuses to cheer for -- the ESPN-like commentary gives you back stories on all the contestants and their reason for competing -- so pick a wizkid to root for and get ready to get your socks spelled off.
The championship round of the Scripps Spelling Bee airs tonight on ABC at 7 p.m.
--Malavika Jagannathan, firstname.lastname@example.org