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

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 20 hours ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 21 hours ago
  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 3 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 3 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 3 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 6 days ago