A, Bee, C

3 Jun

NARRATOR: You’re watching BeeTV, the first and thankfully only spelling bee channel. On today’s episode of  “Could You Use It in a Sentence?”, we’ll catch up with some of Scripps’s most memorable champions, and get a look at their life after the Bee.

NARRATOR: Of course you remember Bhagirathy Balasubramanium, the 2004 winner who famously won with the correct spelling of lûztüęrgēńšpìel, a tenor glockenspiel commonly played in polka and reggae styles. Bhagirathy made headlines the following day for showing such a deep lack of emotion while receiving his trophy that many viewers had to turn off their TVs out of discomfort.

BHAGIRATHY: After the Bee, my life was basically in shambles. I had spent fourteen years preparing for that day, and then in the blink of an eye, nobody cared if I could tell them the etymology of words like autochthonous or chiaroscurist. By the time I was fifteen, things were really quite out of hand.

NARRATOR: Spiraling from a word withdrawal, Bhagirathy went on a two-week dictionary binge, doing things to a Merriam-Webster that he has still not come to terms with.

BHAGIRATHY: I was finally wrested from that dark place when my father found me lying in the street in my underwear, asking passersby for the definition of sadness. That’s the lowest it ever got.

NARRATOR: After that, Bhagirathy cashed in his Scripps scholarship and went off to college. It was there that he realized it was impossible for him to completely escape his background as a speller.

BHAGIRATHY: One day, as we neared graduation, I realized I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I took one of those tests that suggests careers for you based on your personality and skills. The only thing I could really think of to write down was “memorization”. So, it said I could be a fast food chef, you know, because you have to remember all the steps and how to put together all the menu options, or a museum docent, but you can’t legally do that job without an AARP card. So I was back to square one.

NARRATOR: Desperate to put his skills as a speller to good use in mainstream society, Bhagirathy found work in a local zoo, proofreading informational signs for correct spelling of Latin species names.

BHAGIRATHY: It turns out zoos don’t really make new signs all that often, so I had to find another way to augment my pay. That’s how I started cleaning out the animal cages.

NARRATOR: Today, Bhagirathy is almost as famous as when he won the Scripps, after he starred in the viral video “Zookeeper Gets Head Stuck in Elephant Butt.” He is well-known and beloved at the zoo, affectionately coined “the guy who shovels animal crap,” by his colleagues. These days, zoo guests know they can ask Bhagirathy to spell any requests, but nobody does because he smells like sh*t.

(commercial break)

NARRATOR: Hi, and welcome back to “Could You Use It in a Sentence?” right here on BeeTV. For our next entry in the Where Are They Now File, we’ll head over to Seattle, Washington to talk with WordWyzard, the first spelling bee contestant to change his name to cultivate a brand around himself. Bee enthusiasts will remember him better as Clyde Boondock, who took home the hardware in 1988 by correctly spelling flaumpoosh, an Aboriginal word used to describe the onomatopoeia of a belly flop.

WORDWYZARD: After the bee, my mom said I needed to come up with a stylized name to create a brand of myself. Up to that point, I had really just concerned myself with spelling things, and I let my mom take care of all the other parts of bee life. I was always fine with Clyde, but WordWyzard sold a lot more t-shirts. It also had a word spelled wrong in it, but like I said – it really moved merchandise.

NARRATOR: After graduating from Washington State as the only person to ever receive a diploma from the university with only one word in the name section, Clyde WordWyzard went to work at Microsoft, helping them develop the spell-check software for word processing.

WORDWYZARD: I made critical breakthroughs there, removing a lot of words and phrases that aren’t actually real, such as “Oedipus complex” and “motherliness.” Another thing I did was help implement the squiggly green line for grammar errors. So when your computer tells you to correct an already accurate sentence, you can blame whoever made me memorize words instead of sending me to elementary school.

NARRATOR: Unfortunately, a butting of heads at Microsoft in the mid-1990’s left WordWyzard without work and without direction.

WORDWYZARD: So one day, we’re all sitting in the office working on the spell-check code, and Bill Gates walks over to our part of the office. I’d never even seen the guy before, and suddenly he starts talking to me, so I’m stressing out a little bit. He starts telling us about how he keeps seeing red squigglies under words he uses often, like his name, so we should make it so that people can add words to the dictionary. And I’m like, “But your name’s already a word. Gates is in the dictionary. Plural of gate.” But he keeps saying how it’s something we can fix easily and tells us to get on it and walks away.

NARRATOR: It was in response to this request that WordWyzard would cost himself his job at Microsoft.

WORDWYZARD: Right after that happened, I sort of lost my cool. I was just like, “If I’d been able to add words to the dictionary my whole life do you think I’d be as sad as I am today?” So I yell this to Bill, but he pretends not to hear me and keeps on walking. Classic Bill, right? Anyway, I said enough unsavory things and kicked enough computers that I’m no longer allowed to be within one mile of Microsoft headquarters.

NARRATOR: After losing his job, WordWyzard moved back in with his mother. He keeps busy by running the WordWyzard Foundation for Misnamed Youth. You can make a tax-deductible donation at CallMeClyde.com.

2 Responses to “A, Bee, C”

  1. Barry Sosnick June 3, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    The irony is that I just ordered a lûztüęrgēńšpìel as Noah’s high school graduation present. It is spelled with a diaeresis (two dots) over the “u” in the Saxony region where the instrument was made. — Spelling Bee champion from 1972

    P.S., For you next installment, I went on to Cornell and studied linguistics. Now I help sell schmattas produced by child labor in Bangladeshi deathtraps.

  2. Leff June 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    I actually tried going to CallMeClyde.com after reading this. Google Chrome could not find CallMeClyde.com

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