liveblogging the 2007 scripps national spelling bee

serrefine for Evan and he freaking rocks it!

"you are correct. you are the champion." deadpans the announcer. i am going to start saying that to everyone i know. GO TEAM EVAN!!!

The interviewer asks Evan why he didn't like the spelling bee. "Well, my favorite things to do are math and music, and with the math I really like the way that the numbers fit together, with the music I like to let out ideas by composing notes. And the spelling? It's just a bunch of memorization."

I love this kid, I really do. Evan, if you're ever in New York, look me up. I'll make you some spaghetti and we'll watch Jumanji together. We can ride the E-train together.

coryza for canadian haircut. 1) he says "zed" instead of "zee." 2) the definition involves the phrase "involving the upper respiratory tract" and now i will have guys and dolls stuck in my head forever. 3) he spells it wrong, and e-train has victory in sight!

e-train gets "yosenabe," which is a type of japanese soup. and he gets it right. "no joke here, Robin, menus are some of the best places to pick up spelling words." Thanks, announcer.

we're back and i am about to flip the fuck out. the spelling be has preempted Grey's Anatomy. that is how amazing this is.

canadian haircut. i suppose i should mention his real name in case he self-googles, it is: nate gartke. he gets his word right. i forget what it is. commercial. god there are a lot of commercials now that we're at the championship level. this is prime commercial time, though. this is the freaking superbowl of nerds.

E-train. pappardelle is both his word AND the kind of pasta i ate my goat butter over. this has GOT to be a sign from god. he gets it right.

canadian haircut apparently "metaphorically picks the wings off the butterflies in his stomach" and that is just impossibly creepy.

vituline is his word. it's about veal, which seems appropriate given his cruelty towards butterflies. he looks distraught. he gets it right. commercial.

evan o'dorney is up. zoolus is my guess for how this is spelled. "zoilus" is the correct way, and evan proves he is smarter than me. exhale.

the championship is about to start and i have to go to the bathroom and i'm sort of seriously considering not peeing in order to watch this.

evan o'dorney is hugging his mom.

metaliveblogging alert! my boyfriend (the real one, not the spelling bee contestant who might not look like him) informs me via e-mail that he spells it "Tzipporah." i take this as further proof that the spelling bee is leeching away my jewishness.

it's down to two: evan o'dorney vs. canadian haircut. commercial!

isabel has to spell cyanophycean, which is a type of alga. that's alga, singular, not algae, plural. she really knows her greek etymologies.

sadness. she spells it wrong. ding! the bell is mean. it's the meanest thing.

facial hair is back. he has clark kent hair. on his head, i mean. aww, he's out.

stand-up comic loses on "anaseikonia." he crosses himself and it is SO CUTE. i would like to note that this spelling bee is making me love my country and want to love jesus. and i am in awe of its power.

i wish blogger had a "more after the jump!" function, because this is the longest post ever. also: the music in these commercials is by and large quite delightful.

the canadian kid gets a french word. isn't this a bit unfair? he could be un quebecois for all we know. suddenly i am feeling really patriotic. also he has a really canadian haircut. if you saw him, you'd know exactly what i mean.

TEAM EVAN O'DORNEY! he blows it out of the park.
"i think a lot of people are riding the E train - for Evan" says the announcer. seriously? i think a lot of people are riding the E train - for going to queens.

the one who doesn't actually look like my boyfriend has revealed that he wants to be a pastor of a church some day. i would totally convert to christianity if i got to have a spelling champion preach to me every sunday.

apparently earlier in the day the finalists all went to the white house and got to meet Laura Bush, who makes them spell government words. i would posit that it is unfair for her to ask preadolescents to spell words that her husband cannot spell. but far be it from me to reveal my political leanings.

my tivo informs me that Scrubs is starting in 60 seconds and i have to pick between the spelling bee and zach braff acting smug. no contest.

isabel is back. she is wearing tasteful eyeshadow. epaulement. maybe she looks a little like natalie portman? she got it right and i want her to be my best friend. "the weight of womankind!" says the female announcer. go feminism!

"not even that facial hair could conceal that smile." aww! the announcer made a puberty joke!

my roommates are all home now and they are also watching the bee, rapt. this makes me feel a little better about my life. also one of them is eating the leftover goat-butter pasta, thereby definitively disproving my earlier hypothesis.

i was wrong. the one who looks like my boyfriend doesn't actually look like my boyfriend. the moment i realize this, he gets his word wrong. the announcer: "those silent letters are always tricky." no, really?

connor spencer got really psyched because he thought he knew the word and it turns out he didn't. the word is "cachalot" and it means "sperm whale" and it's my new favorite swear word and poor connor got it wrong.

joseph henares, the stand-up comic, is back. i am bored by anyone who isn't evan or isabel. i've become so jaded.

OH MY GOD HE GOT IT!!!!! GO TEAM EVAN!!!! maybe i will make "team evan o'dorney" t-shirts.

evan's word is schuhplattler. the definition is:
"a bavarian courtship dance in which, before the couple dances together, the woman calmly does steps resembling those of a waltz, while the man dances around her, swinging his arms and slapping his thighs and the soles of his feet."

there's no way he can make it. i am really nervous.

AND evan o'dorney INVENTED A NEW WAY TO WRITE MUSIC USING NUMERALS. this kid is going to be the hottest stud at MIT and will be engaging in makeouts left and right even though he will be only 15 and prepubescent. you think i'm being sarcastic. i'm not.

evan o'dorney composes his own music and looks like a gerbil and said "i really like math." i really like evan o'dorney.

there is a commercial with a wedding where they are serving honey-nut cheerios. this is a BRILLIANT idea. it makes me want to get married solely so i can serve honey-nut cheerios to my extended family and old college friends.

isabel jacobson is not only going to be a smokin' hottie when she grows up, but additionally her favorite word is "kakocracy": government by the dumbest people possible and she has a nose that perfectly defines "aquiline" and she got her word right, making her the only girl left in the competition. i want to be her a little.

i had no idea how to spell this word until they showed it on the screen. it is pronounced "grow-nar." i have a new respect for this competition.

the contestants' placement in front of the national spelling bee logo makes them look like they are wearing a black-and-yellow striped hat.

of course i'm not. spelling bee --> homeschooling --> goats.

i wonder who else in the world is also watching this. i bet i'm the only one eating goat butter while doing it. oh my god, i bet i'm the only person ever who has eaten goat butter while watching the national spelling bee.

one of the judges is a priest! AND the kid who looks like my boyfriend got his word right! AND his mom has an almost two-dimensionally narrow face!

my favorite contestant so far, based on the fact that he vaguely looks like my boyfriend, is currently up. he gets an olympics-style background video. highlights:
- "the bell is a mean thing. it's the meanest thing there is"

- bewussteinssinslage is this kid's favorite word. it apparently means "a state of awareness."

- he's talking about how some words use W as a vowel. as a fiercely competitive scrabble player i could have told you about "cwm," foo.

connor spencer, 14 years old, is given "helzel." etymology? german to yiddish. he looks a bit like augustus gloop, and is endearing.
"can i have it in a sentence?"
"zipporah's recipe for the jewish delicacy 'helzel' calls for one large potato."
whoa, way to resucitate the obscure jewish name "zipporah"!

aww. she got pelorus wrong. at least she has a polo shirt.

"what's the etymology?"
"it's unknown"
i want to say sucks to be you right now but i feel really bad making fun of nerdy adolescents. it's like cannibalism.

goat butter tastes pretty much the same as regular butter.

what am i talking about? if i met a guy in a bar and he told me he had made it to the top 15 at the national spelling bee, i would entirely jump him.

oh wait, they're all wearing polo shirts. joseph has one fewer strike against his future layability.

i am ashamed that the only reason i know "cilice," kaavya's word, is that i read The Da Vinci Code. oh my god i did not just admit that on the internet.

vanya shivashankar, younger sister of contestant kaavya, is (a) ridiculously cute, and (b) has a russian boy's name.

did you know that they make goat-milk butter? i didn't, until i went to the grocery store today.

hey my pasta water is boiling.

claire zhang has an astonishingly deep voice.

joseph henares: "what's the etymology?"
judge person: "it's another word for bedbug."
joseph henares: "i like bedbug better"

the audience laughs uproariously. the voiceover announcer says: "if he doesn't win, he has a future as a stand-up comic." when joseph spells it right he gets so happy that he looks like he is actually going insane. i sort of love him.

some poor kid who just failed is being asked to explain why he got his word wrong. he is about to burst into tears in the face of the interviewer and it is like, dude, this is a polo-shirt-wearing glasses-wearing spelling bee champion and you are about to make him cry on television. it is evident that the interviewer is deeply interested in this boy never having sex ever in his life.

apparently the disney channel has its own olympics.

the official sponsor of the bee is Saturn. i fail to see the connection. maybe Saturn has inside knowledge and knows that the "we really value orthography" demographic overlaps with the "we really like unremarkable but pretty decent cars" demo.

he got it right!

actual announcer quote: "that second pronunciation might give him a clue. that second syllable there is a helpful one."

oh my god the current contestent is the cutest little chubby asian thing in the world and he has no idea how to spell this word.

hey look, the spelling bee is on tv!


vive la femme

in inspiring news for man-hating lesbians* everywhere, the new york times reports that a female shark has reproduced without using any male DNA. woo hoo! boys are useless! etc.

*such as the ones who comprise some of my best friends. also i went to smith. /disclaimer


how to scare stupid people away from the internet

gmail is a lovely piece of web-based email goodness. it has tricks! and twists! and fun quirks! for example, did you know that you can set your email to forward to ANY address, without having to verify it on the other end? i bet you did not. even if you did, i wonder if you arrived at the two (equally nefarious) evil possibilities that i did. in the interest of self-criticism i'm also admitting to the holes in the plot.

NOTE: THESE ARE EVIL AND PROBABLY QUESTIONABLY LEGAL. they certainly violate google's TOS. i would never actually do them, because i am not a total jerk.

omnipotent teflon spam
the technique
make a fake gmail account. set it to forward to the primary (or, even better, work!) email of an enemy, disliked person, or irk-target. sign your fake email address up for oodles of weird mailing lists and a bunch of those FREE IPOD GIVEAWAY!!!!!! sites. forget about it.

- no matter how much your victim clicks "report spam," the messages won't be blocked. because they're not being routed to the inbox via a spam server - they're being routed via gmail's lovely email forwarding system - you've handily-dandily bypassed the spam filter.

- because you signed your victim up for the spam using an email address that's not theirs, they can't unsubscribe.

- most people are morons and will not know how to block rerouted emails.

- if you ever get tired of flooding someone's inbox, you can sign into the fake account and cancel the message forwarding.

- if your victim is in the habit of reading the headers on an email ("[sender] to [recipient]"), he will immediately notice that it doesn't say "me" (as gmail displays it).
counter-downside: make your fake email address similar to your victim's actual email address. bonus points if their address has a lowercase L in it, and you can register the same address but using a capital I, or vice versa.

- if you subscribe someone's work email to a particularly distasteful mailing list, he might wind up getting fired.

the classic stalker (aka the AT&T/NSA)
the technique
hack into someone else's email account (look over their shoulder as they type their password? infer it via psychic meditation? whatever you like) and go into the email forward settings. set it to forward to you (or, smarter, to an anonymous email account), while retaining a copy in the inbox as well.

- you have access to every piece of outgoing mail, without the mess of having to actually hack into the account ever again.

- via experiments i just now conducted (called: i have my gmail open currently on two computers at once and am playing with it), i know for a fact that it's impossible for someone to see that someone else is logged in simultaneously with you (unless you are a moron and decide to start reading unread mail). you can be stealthy like fox.

- you have to get someone's password.

- if they are the sort of person who deletes the text of the message they're replying to, you'll only get access to half of any given correspondence session.

update: another anonymous, evil-minded friend shares, via gchat:

AEMF: do you know what else?
if you log into someone's gmail while
they're logged in, and they're gchatting
you can watch the conversation as it goes
me: omg
AEMF: the only downside
is that sometimes it minimizes itself
on their computer and on yours
but most people don't know why

update 2: a certain sneaky-minded friend of mine contributes:
A sneakier way to go about things, if you're going to do this right, is
packet sniff an account password at the login screen.

Most people go to http://gmail.google.com or http://[some google mail
address]. This is inherently insecure. Though google does later
establish an encrypted secure session so that IM and mail are hased your
password on the site is sent as plain-text to them. Anyone with a packet
sniffer can find your password.

Then you use your amazing webdev skills to craft an html webmail with an
attachment that makes it appear as though this mail is coming directly
from google. Make it some giant buggerall about security. Google will
check incoming mail that comes to you but it won't check mail you mail
yourself so use this account to mail that person a zombifying bug.
They'll see it, think they must install it because it has the google
logo, and infection hits.

Rinse and repeat but each time use a zombie and a zombie of a zombie,
etc to plan your attacks. To some extent this can be automated. Before
you know it you'll have a zombie army that you can then route through
the tor network and rage a DNOS attack on the unsuspecting victim's
computer where you extract their credit information porn habits
incriminating photos and then distribute it all across peer networks and
torrents and especially to news agencies.
it is worth noting that i have no idea what most of this means.


behold! my laundry

i got back from a weekend of furniture-buying and debauchery to find an advertising-email shilling detergent. (why yes, i do live an astonishingly glamorous life.)

thing is, the detergent in question is All: Small & Mighty. this is wonderful for two reasons. first, holy crap, the laundry detergent has a subtitle. second, speaking of holy things, the word "small" on the bottle is, well, small. which means that at first glance, the bottle of detergent reads: all mighty.

this is, for obvious (godlike religious smiting-thine-enemies omniscience) reasons, kickass. also i generally speaking like this detergent, use it in my everyday life, and advocate its purchase by others.

for added fun, go to all's website for an astonishingly creepy flash animation of a bottle of detergent growing the limbs and head of the Snuggle Bear.


cotton candy foie gras: the verdict

yes, i did try the cotton candy foie gras at last night's beard awards. it was pretty neat: a cotton candy machine into which the chefs stirred a skewered piece of gavage-fattened goose liver, rather than a paper cone.

it was pretty neat, yes. but i kind of like the real thing more.

update: apparently i did not describe this well. it is not cotton candy made out of foie gras. it is cotton candy (the regular sugary kind) wrapped around foie gras. which in terms of flavor is not actually all that outrageous, since foie gras's regular accompaniment is something hypersweet. what makes it innovative is (a) the texture, and (b) the holycrap! factor of cotton candy as haute cuisine.

behold the bearded lady!

i went to the beard awards, and hijinx ensued. some highlights:

  • there was a red carpet, and i walked it. (no one cared.)

  • food professionals are easily distinguished from food groupies because, in an opposite scenario to normal celebrity/fan relationships, food professionals are oddly dressed and chubby, while food groupies are very thin and attractive. (i am, technically, both a professional and a groupie. so i compromised by being both nonthin and very well dressed.)

  • Heather Storm, the incompetent host, accidentally referred to Bobby Flay as a "hoo-hoo honoree" instead of a "who's who honoree," which was hilarious because Bobby Flay is a total douche and, well, think about it.

  • some unfortunate honorees had to walk up to the stage to the mournful opening strains of "American Pie" by Don McLean, which someone decided would be a brilliant musical cue apparently based entirely on the inclusion of the word "pie" in its title.

  • Martha Stewart was there. She was (yes) wearing a look of barely-concealed disdain, and (no) not wearing an ankle lojack.

  • there exists in Pittsburgh a restaurant that serves a sandwich that has french fries on the sandwich as a condiment. this restaurant was, appropriately, awarded an honor.

for the full story, check out my dispatch on the astonishingly well-written boston menupages blog* (basically eater for the boston crowd).

*our very own leila is its autheuse!


i'm pretty much a socialite

besides engaging in fashion designer shenanigans, your valiant blogwriter (that's me!) will be attending tonight's James Beard Awards, which are basically the academy awards of the food world except with more scandal and more fat people. i might come out of it with utterly scintillating food-world gossip. i suggest holding your breath.

in the meantime, you can amuse yourself by reading the menu that i will be consuming this evening, and envying me so hard you run the risk of having an asthma attack.

candid cameraphone: ride the pony

it's rare that anything less than pure sartorial napalm can snap me out of the vaguely neurotic, vaguely self-satisfied reverie that accompanies my street-wandering. "what would happen if i owned a restaurant?" i will think to myself. and then i will have this really wonderful unfolding design of menu planning, table placement, the various (in)efficiencies of reservation systems and seating times and oooh maybe brightly colored melamine flatware? and then suddenly the thoughts will take a sharp veer towards unpleasant reality and i will forget all about how pretty it would be to serve a salad inside a bowl-shaped parmesan crisp and instead start worrying about where on earth i could find illegal immigrants to work as dishwashers and whether i will be extorted by the DOH and whether it would be worse to be given a horrible review by the Times or - horrors! - to not be reviewed at all.

anyway. yesterday i was walking through soho and right about the corner of Prince and Mercer was thrust out of the tablecloths-vs-lacquer part of the furniture planning and directly into the face of, hello earnest aging folk singer, or possibly viagra-dependent eurotrash (resident, perhaps, of a europoubelle?) complete avec eastern european trophy girlfriend, a man-ponytail:

not only that, but the bearer of said aged, white, flaccid ponytail had this truly unsettling sprinkle of white powdery dandruff all along the back of his navy suit jacket. which, i couldn't help but notice, had the pinstripes of the arm fabric perfectly aligned with the pinstripes of the shoulder fabric. and whose high-collared shirt was set off by a particularly luxe-looking cravat. an actual, honest-to-goodness cravat. not a tie. and then i realized that the dandruff was not dandruff, it was powder, and the ponytail was not a ponytail, it was the ponytail, because oh my goodness monsieur walks-too-slowly-on-Prince-street was in fact Karl Lagerfeld, and i was in fact an idiot.

while mr. lagerfeld graciously wound his way through the field of swooning fashionistas, i briefly considered trying to nonchalantly-yet-glamorously saunter into his field of vision, thus naturally causing him to come to a sudden halt, stunned by my unconventional beauty* and determined to make me his muse. but upon reflection i think this an activity I will hold off on undertaking until i have shed 40% of my body weight, or am drunk. whichever comes first.]

*if by "unconventional beauty" we mean "wearing a sunday-afternoon outfit that might or might not clearly belie the fact that i spent the night at my boyfriend's without having planned to, and not yet having made it home to shower."


one thing no kitchen should be without

the ultimate kitchen accessory is a kitchenaid stand mixer (the one linked to here is the uberdeluxe professional version, which is the kind i have because i am much better than you are).

but it has gotten better. because look: now it can be a kitchenaid stand mixer from the 1950s or alternately the store Hot Topic, with these added kitchenaid stand mixer flame decals:

oh holy crap it's beautiful.


spring cleaning

i have this thing that i am just this moment deciding to call "internal blog mode." it happens when i am walking or standing or sitting around, and something happens that i think i might want to write about on here. i'll make up a killer opening sentence in my head, think of all the uber-high-traffic sites that will randomly pick up the link and make me famous, and then i'll plunge into some sort of web 2.0 shame spiral about how freaking horribly lame this idea for a post really was, and how i am feeding into every cliche about a blog ever.

the unfortunate thing, of course, is that this very post (the "i have no idea what to write about, so i'll tell you about it" post) is a cliche. as is the "i'm calling attention to it in order to diffuse it" aspect.

in thinking about that, i thought it could be one-time awesome to stumble upon a metablog (something like this would be great to read, but heck no do i want to write it myself) that is, like, the world's most painfully sterotypical blog ever.

so it looks like i've started a blog. i'll use this space to muse on all sorts of things - books, music, culture, my random thoughts on life. maybe i'll be funny! here goes nothing...
ed: i have started pretty much all my blogs ever this way. i bet you have too.

[ambitious headline implying that this post will be a regular feature]
[content, boring]
this feature will appear 4.5 more times: 2 right on schedule, 1 a week late, 1 three weeks late. the .5 is the apology post for not having posted in the feature more regularly.

the following monday
i read an article! here is another blog i like: []. here is what i'm doing this weekend. i have a love life!
you get the idea

anyway this is all an incredibly roundabout way of saying that when i was in the shower this morning, i was reading the instructions on my dove energy glow body wash (i like my toiletries to sound like sci-fi defense technology) and was surprised to note that at no point in the instructions did they tell the consumer to apply the soap to the body. basically it ran like this: "squeeze some body wash onto a pouf or washcloth. create lather."

on a certain level i suppose that they could have implied you to create the lather by moving the pouf or washcloth across your body. but for me (and it is important, of course, that you know my shower habits), i like to create lather ahead of time by squishing the body wash around in the pouf or washcloth. this is in large part because i irrationally believe that if i wait to use my body as Part B in lather-creation (Part A being the body wash-laden pouf or washcloth in the first place), then the majority of the unlathered viscous soap-liquid will be deposited onto the first place i apply the pouf or washcloth, thus defeating the purpose of evenly cleaning every part of my body.

so then i thought i should write a blog post about those incomplete directions. and then i was sort of horrified that i had that thought. but you know what? i did. and i stand by my decision, and i'm proud of myself.


salt tastes salty

oh the stories i have to tell. but first, a deep thought:

Defeat perfectionism by completing your task in an intentionally terrible fashion, knowing you need never share the results with anyone. Write a blog post about the taste of salt, design a hideously dysfunctional web site, or create a business plan that guarantees a first-year bankruptcy. With a truly horrendous first draft, there’s nowhere to go but up.

from one of the web's five billion productivity blogs. (note: "productivity blog"! what hilarity!)
please take a moment to be happy that i am not writing a blog post about salt. and rest assured that were i to do so, it would only be to comment on how ugly its stupid saline pants were.