Eugene Cho

how the spelling bee made me afraid of death

spellingbee

In honer of the 2008 2009 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee witch is going on wright now [June 2-4] in Washington DC, I give you two heelarious videose.

How did this simple contest that began in 1925 turn out to be a global phenomenon?  Just check out the TV coverage on the event including live prime time coverage on ABC and ESPN.

Truthe be told, I’m a goode speler myselfe.  I plazed therd place in the San Francysco Pubic Skool Speling Bee when I was in seventhe greade.

Two gerls beet me.  Who gave these gerls azzess to edukation.  I thoght the Bible said they should be quite and sumbit, stay home, make babyies, and make my diner.

And in case you’re curious what word tripped me, it was this damn word.  I was too scared to spell it correctly.  I spelled it:  THANATHOPHOBIA. I will never ever forget that word.  And I’m still scared of death.

Thanatophobia

the fear of death or dead things (e.g., corpses) as well as things associated with death (e.g., coffins). Necrophobia is derived from Greek nekros for “corpse” and -phob- for “fear“. Thanatophobia is derived from Thanatos (θάνατος: “death”), the personification of death. The usage differs, although in common speech the terms are used interchangeably. Thanatophobia is more specifically, but not limited to the fear of one’s own death or dying.  It is a subconscious production in the defense mechanism of the mind, which makes you avoid certain circumstances in life. Some symptoms are shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, sweating, dry mouth, shaking, feeling sick or queasy, psychological instability, and a feeling of dread.

Question:

Alright, spell [damn, I’m good] your beans.  If you were in the spelling bee, what word did you get outed on?  We’ll give some sort of prize for the biggest loser.  Or if you won your contest, what was the winning word?

And in case you’re wondering:  Of the 83 previous champions, the score is 43 girls and 40 boys.  Anyway, here are the two videos.  The first is my all-time favorite.  The guys faints.  No one helps him.  He gets up and spells the word correctly and goes back to his seat. Clutch!

And here’s a plug for a GREAT movie:  Akeelah and the Bee.  One of our family favorites. Great movie.  Inspiring.

AKEELAH AND THE BEE is the story of Akeelah Anderson, a precocious eleven-year-old girl from south Los Angeles with a gift for words. Despite the objections of her mother, She enters various spelling contests- tutored by Dr. Larabee; her principal and proud neighborhood residents. Her aptitude earns her an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Filed under: entertainment, family, , ,

34 Responses

  1. J. P. says:

    Don’t forget the documentary Spellbound, which follows eight students before and during the 1999 Bee.

    I was (and still am, I guess) a word freak, so my winning words in seventh grade were megalopolis and ottoman. Then, I misspelt delicious as deliscious in the city-wide round–nerves! In eighth grade, I got eliminated on the equally inane twelfth, spelling it phonetically as twelvth, again nerves. Arrrrgh! One thing’s for sure–I will NEVER forget the correct spelling of any of these words.

  2. J. P. says:

    p.s. here’s the trailer for Spellbound.

  3. hopewanders says:

    8th grade–won on acetylsalicyclic. 100$!

  4. eugenecho says:

    @hopewanders: what?!? wow. blake: if you’re reading this, she’s a keeper.

  5. J. P. says:

    @hopewanders, it’s actually acetylsalicylic (only three c’s)… and there were no cash prizes at my schools!

    I have to credit the awesome Speak & Spell toy for making words so much fun early on. Anyone else remember them?

  6. Airn says:

    Okay. That second video had me in TEARS!!! 😀 I lost in 4th grade: garbage. WORST FEELING EVER.

    I just started reading your blog (found it through the Maria Chapman post) and I’m looking forward to visiting Quest on my trip to San Fran!

  7. goldfearsnofire says:

    Hey Eugene, I just wanted you to know that you spelled the word “which” wrong in your first sentence. Pretty embarrassing. I did my undergrad in English, and I´m an English teacher now, so I know how to spell good..and stuff

    ….like, and such as.

    Hope you are well. I often find myself anticipating my return to Seattle and to my home at Quest, but as for now, am thrilled to be living the adventure that the Lord has been leading me on here in Germany! God is very good around the globe, and I am so thankful for the opportunity experience his love, blessing, and redemption in a new context…pretty cool.

    So, I wish you a good few weeks in Seattle, and also safe travels as you prepare for your Sabbatical. Enjoy it! best, drew kreeger

  8. Rachael says:

    our school just had their spelling bee yesterday. I teach nonEnglish speakers and had two kids in my class make it to the finals! We watched Akeelah afterwards. It was inspiring for them as well. They had never seen anything like that before. They enjoyed watching your YouTube highlights, thanks!

  9. Randall says:

    @J.P. I had a speak and spell. I loved it but I still suck at spelling. Probably because I used to type four-letter words into the Speak and Spell just to hear it’s TTS voice swear in that awesome computer voice.

  10. Ann says:

    @goldfearsnofire,

    I think Eugene spelled it incorrectly intentinonally.

  11. jimfox says:

    7th grade… I uhhhh… I got kicked out in the first round on “adamant.” The worst part? I was a huge Adam Ant fan… oh, the humiliation.

  12. joanne says:

    oh wow… this is funny!

  13. dmowen says:

    I didn’t see Akeelah and the Bee, but Spellbound was a pretty good/entertaining documentary. I got knocked out of the bee in maybe 5th or 6th grade because I couldn’t spell “scissors”.

  14. Ashley says:

    For folks who enjoyed the movie SPELLBOUND, you might also enjoy a movie called WORDPLAY, a documentary about crossword puzzles and their evolution. Very, very cool stuff, and lots of cameos by people and celebs you probably like (Jon Stewart, etc). Check it out!

  15. John Scott says:

    “Chocolate is O sooo good.” That’s my mantra after I lost the school spelling bee by spelling ‘choclate’ (it was down to 4th grade me & a 5th grade girl). Argh…

    Akeelah and the Bee was a fantastic movie!

  16. JB says:

    Clerk (not clerck) and Soldier (not solder). First round both times. Then I gave up. Spell Check changed my life.

  17. eugenecho says:

    @JB: i hate to say this but thus far, your #1 on the biggest loser list.

  18. hopewanders says:

    hahaha…apparently, my spelling skills have taken a hit since 8th grade.

  19. Linda says:

    In 5th grade, after about 6 of my classmates incorrectly spelled “likelihood” for the chance to compete in the schoolwide spelling bee, I was about as excited as the girl in the 2nd video because my turn was coming and I KNEW how to spell it! So as it got to my turn, my mind was on two things: excitement at knowing how to spell a word no one else could, and wondering why consecutive people continued to attempt to spell the word the same incorrect way the previous person just did. In any case, those thoughts along with nerves caused me to blabber “l-i-c-k-l-i-h-o-o-d” and I’ve never forgiven myself.

  20. Andrea says:

    The fact that I don’t remember any spelling bees in school says it all.

  21. ryanbd says:

    @eugene – sometime you have to go to iTunes and drop 1.99 each on ESPN’s “Cheap Seats” episodes “1994 Spelling Bee” & “1997 Spelling” – they cover the Bees from your videos. Sooooooo funny. It’s kind of like “Myster Science Theater 3000” meets Sportscenter.

  22. Erika says:

    Guardian. fourth grade. It was down to two of us and I was sure I would win . I can still see my mom’s face… from a bright, hopeful smile to a serious, ‘oh no’ look. But the “G…A…” was already out of my mouth. Too late!

  23. Stephanie says:

    5th grade. We were in the library. I was in the final 3. The word was “Breathe.” I proceeded to spell “B-R-E-A-T-H. Breathe.” Wrong.

    But it’s okay.. the girl who won the 5th grade spelling bee ran against me for class president our junior year, and I beat her. I counted it as victory for my little 12 year old self.

  24. Steve says:

    “Who gave these gerls azzess to edukation.” I almost read “azzess” as something else… spelling counts!

  25. Rusty says:

    In the 7th grade I went on on emcee. Yeah, emcee. How ridiculous is that? I spelled it M.C.

  26. me says:

    @rusty: OMG. sorry. i just laughed so hard… thanks!

  27. gar says:

    anybody watch the spelling bee? the winning word was LAODICEAN!

    http://www.angryasianman.com/2009/05/new-spelling-bee-champion.html

    pastor e, you woulda rocked that word.

  28. Steve N says:

    4th grade loser – recommendation…I cannot read the word without my thoughts spelling it out.

    5th grade winner – pistachio…I wonder where Mom put the trophy of the golden bee perched atop its pedistel

    ….just checking if you’re spellcheckin’

  29. burkmomx4 says:

    my daughter was at the national bee this week. she didn’t make the semifinals.
    I got out in the first round of my city spelling bee in 5th grade on apiece. Forgot the i before e rule!

  30. There was a great episode in the first season of “Psych” about a spelling bee. It was pretty awesome and made me think of you, PE. 🙂 http://amzn.to/dj0snJ

  31. Alex Oh says:

    I remember watching Rebecca Sealfon on T.V. when I was young. I remember another peculiar thing she did. She would answer with one letter, then cover her mouth, whisper a little bit, and then spell the next letter, then cover her mouth, whisper a little bit…and so on until she finished spelling the word.

  32. verseo says:

    I sometimes feel sorry for the contestants because they are so nervous and under so much pressure.

    Kudos to the winner, but for the loser…. I’m so sorry for the loss.

  33. Bryan says:

    spellings not my thing

    Can’t even spell burrido correctly, and I had like a million of em

  34. Joel says:

    Spellbound is my favorite movie of all time.

    I got out on “essential” in the regional spelling bee in 2nd grade.

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One Day’s Wages

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To support both the equality of women and the dignity of the unborn feels like a very lonely place to be but I know we're not alone. May we press on. And may we lead with hope.

I'm at the Women's March in Seattle to show my solidarity with my wife, my mothers, my daughters, and the female congregants of my church. I'm also here to model for my son what we believe in our home. Many people have already expressed their disappointment, dismay, and disgust with my decision. Such is life. We will always disappoint someone. And that's also a lot of words that begin with "d." I'm here not because I agree or disagree with every single statement or sign at this march (although I really liked this one) but because as a Christian, I believe in the fundamental truth that women are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. They are to be valued, heard, and respected.

And because I believe we can't be a flourishing society without the flourishing of women. And because the Church cannot be the Church without the gifts and voices of women. All the gifts of women.

And in doing so, may we together honor the sanctity of life - from womb to tomb. Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

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