Humor from on High

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Spelling Bee

Sorry for the long break, but I've been waiting for everyone I know to finish getting married so I can stop drinking. More on my sis's (<-that word is three-quarters s's -- rad) nuptials soon, but in the meantime here's a little treat for you...

Spelling Bee Finalist Eliminated on the Word “Girlfriend”

Christopher Heck, a finalist at last week’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, was eliminated when he was unable to spell the word “girlfriend.” Bee champion David Tidmarsh then clinched the title by successfully spelling “autochthonous,” a word meaning “indigenous.”

Heck, 13, gamely tried to spell “girlfriend” for several minutes, asking its origin (English), definition (“a favored female companion or sweetheart”) and for it to be used in a sentence. Bee Master Michael Winchester provided Heck with the sentence: “You will never have a girlfriend,” prompting the boy to break into tears and run off the stage.

Heck’s mother, Bonnie, who homeschools her three children in the dining room of their Peoria, Illinois home, said this is not the first time her son has been tripped up by a seemingly simple word. “Last year in the Illinois state competition he was knocked out when he failed to spell ‘popularity’ correctly,” she said. “It was a word he had no concept of or experience with.”

Spelling Bee officials say it is an unwritten rule that Bee Masters do not ask spellers words that may have negative emotional connotations for the children. “It is our goal to not upset the children or remind them of their status as social outcasts,” said Beth Riley, director of the Spelling Bee. “That’s why you’ll never see words like ‘dork,’ ‘gayboy,’ ‘nerd,’ ‘wedgie,’ or ‘loser’ in a spelling bee. These kids hear those words enough on a day-to-day basis and don’t need to deal with hearing them in the one place their special talents are celebrated.”

Riley also stated that while such words may be simple for most people to spell, they can provide an enormous challenge to even the best child spellers. “You have to realize what these kids go through each day in school,” she said. “If you ask them to spell an easy word like ‘queerbate’ or ‘retard,’ a lot of them will freeze up because of all the emotional baggage they have tied to a word like that. They’re completely unable to spell it, and many of them will wet their pants upon hearing such words. I’ve seen it happen.”

But Heck said he was unable to spell “girlfriend” simply because the word is foreign to him and because girls think he is weird, not because he is taunted about it. “My mother homeschools me because she says I’m special and that the normal kids at public school would be a detriment to my educational well-being, so I don’t get ridiculed too much – except when my family takes its monthly trip to the shopping mall,” he said. “Then I get my share of abuse if I stray away from mother or father.”

Heck claims the Spelling Bee was only the second time he ever heard the word “girlfriend.” “I once heard it on television when I was staying at my cousin’s house while my mother was giving birth to my little sister, so I know what it means,” he said. “But that was the only time. We don’t have a television at my house because my parents say TV is for proletariat ignoramuses.”

Riley said the Bee Master Winchester has been reprimanded about his choice of context sentence for Heck’s word.” “Not only did he use a word that is a bit risky with most of these kids,” said Riley, “but the sentence he used to describe it was highly inappropriate. I can assure you it won’t happen again.”

“I apologized to Heck about making him cry,” said Winchester. “I didn’t mean to do it, I just couldn’t find the paper with the context sentence, so I simply said what came to my mind first. I looked up at that kid and all I could think was: ‘You will never have a girlfriend.’ I’m sorry he took it so personally.”

(via Sportspickle)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Charlie Sheen Update

Visual proof of what most of us had previously known.

Reality - 1.
Charlie Sheen - 0.

P.S.: Sheen is starting to make Ward Churchill seem like a saint.

I've said it before and I will say it again: Extreme liberalism (or conservatism) is a mental disorder.

Urban Kickball and Other Ways To Get In Trouble

Before I forget, I just had the following conversation:

Random Woman In My Building: "Wow. Has anyone ever told you you're tall?"
Me (drowsily, due to lack of coffee): "Nope. You're the first."
RWIMB: "Really?"

It's that easy folks.

The weekend was a fairly eventful one, although it did illustrate that I may be approaching an age in which I don't appreciate college-kid type shenanigans as much as I used to. I felt old a bit more often than I care for, and that has never been a comfortable feeling for me in the first place. I'm quite sure that my relative level of consumption (compared to alumni games past -- also compared to my doubles table tennis partner) contributed to that. But I had to get up early(ish) the next morning to celebrate momhood, so what are you gonna do? Kudos to my sister on an amazing Mother's Day brunch.

Four dozen alums or so showed up for the game and festivities this weekend which was some kind of record. Of those 40-odd people, three are getting married this summer. And of those three, two were taken out on the town for a joint bachelor party on the Friday night preceding the game. The highlight of night, the (unintentional?) brainchild of Sebbylite, was Urban Kickball. Followed closely by Urban Four Square. The rules of Urban Kickball are simple:

Materials needed:
*Rowdy and/or drunken people (usually males)
*Kickball (standard issue)
*Urban setting
*Optional: cops and/or security guards

Rules (let's call them loose guidelines):
*Boot ball from sidewalk to sidewalk, preferably over semi-busy city streets, with occassional bank shots off of tall office buildings
*Avoid cops and/or security guards
*Use occassional "back heels" and "through balls" to fain interest/competence in soccer methodologies
*Headers encouraged
*Avoid injury
*Occassionally whip ball at other people with great force which upon striking them shall render them "out"
*Oh yeah...drink a lot

By the way, there are no repercussions for being "out" except for the slightly increased ridicule coming from the other "players". I say slightly increased because there is usually a standard baseline level of ridicule going on at all times when this group is together. Urban kickball was a rousing success, and I hope to play it again soon. Amazingly, there was a 14-way tie for first place during this, the first annual Urban Kickball Invitational.

As usual, the best part of the weekend was getting to see a bunch of people that you were extremely and intensely close with at one point in your life, in the way that being in college and competing in a team sport makes you. I pity anyone who has never had a chance to experience that kind of closeness. Truly. And seeing each other again ove a 40 or two brings it all back, climaxing in a messy, karaoke-fueled, hug-fest at the end of the night when everyone realizes they are soon returning to reality.

P.S. Check in at Sebbylite for more highlights/stories/romantic pursuits/incriminating photos...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Alumni Weekend

As the medium one mentioned, "thirteen feet of man" will be barnstorming the midwest collegiate countryside (well, our alma mater anyway) this weekend at the annual love-fest that is our alumni game weekend. The sport for which we have bled blood and sweat sweat is ultimate frisbee and the alumni game has become and been a frequent-flyer-worthy event for even the Teach For America and not-for-profit types that have recently graduated, even as they dodge creditors and federal lenders that enabled them to get a Top 5 education and associated crippling debt load in the first place. Something on the order of 40 or so alumni are pencilled in for attendance, which is allegedly a record -- and by quite a margin. Color me excited, as Saturday of this weekend typically gets "Crazy" (also the official song of the weekend and my unofficial new favorite song -- sure to last at least a week).

Ouch in 3...2...1...

Editor's Note: Ultimate frisbee is NOT played with dogs, nor is it frisbee golf. And please don't call our favorite sport frisbee football. I can't stress this enough people.

The weekend will also serve as a suitable event in which to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of two alums, Peaches and PBo (these are not pseudonyms -- ultimate tends to lend itself to cutesy nicknames for some reason (ie. Kaiser)). I'm not recalling exactly how Peaches got his nickname, but can say that he bears only a slight resemblance to a "Persian apple". We will wish them well on their journey towards increased flatulence, bulbousness, and inside jokes with their significant other, which clearly is the goal of marriage in the first place. I'm personally hoping to avoid some of the "typical" bachelor party activities -- you know, like shotgunning acetone and interstate slip 'n slide contests. But seriously folks, I just don't get into the whole women taking their clothes off for me thing. Wait...what did I just say? What I meant was, I don't like to pay for it. Unless I'm in a Korean massage parlor where (I'm told) it's just plain good manners.

The weather has decided not to cooperate with the aforementioned activities thus far. Sebbylite got off the plane from Seattle, discovered it was 40 and rainy, and had to shake off the overwhelming feeling of deja vu before getting in my car. At least if it was snowing, he'd know where he is. And I'm not talking about Anchorage. But we shall overcome. That's "Minnesota nice" for you -- we do everything we can, including changing the weather, to make outsiders feel welcome.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Strange But Awesome

Has anybody else seen this ??? Very weird. It seems like the next logical step in the sequence of competitive video gaming. First there were video games, then multiplayer games...then online multiplayer games...then a competitive video game league with cash prizes and now this. It kind of blurs the distinction between fantasy and reality in an unsettling way, but if people want to invest their own money in a fantasy world then I say go for it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Working For the Weekend

A little gift for you all for the weekend as my posting has been reasonably non-existent here lately due to profound amounts of work and the way that warm (finally) weather causes my brain to expand in its bony case, disrupting neural pathways and causing severe dilusions where I think that this will finally be the year that my short game materializes and I shoot even par. I realize the weekend doesn't begin tomorrow. My skull isn't THAT small. But for me it is a Friday today, as wedding activities take precendent tomorrow and it is a day off and early start to the weekend for me.

Pooh and I will be doing at least 6, if not all of the above dances this weekend as our college friend E is getting married. No, he's not the E from Entourage, but he is a reasonable approximation. Actually, check that. He's more like Vince, since our E has at least two television credits to his name, both of the reality variety. I'm sure he'll be very proud of his own work in say 13-15 years when he has teenage kids that will be thoroughly embarrased by the whole debacle.

"Hey daddy? No one really bought the virginal angle when you were on this pseudo-reality reality show, did they? And why do you keep quoting Shakespeare? "

Also appearing at this wedding will be (as mentioned by Pooh earlier) WS, otherwise known as Wally Szerbiak. He is allegedly a groomsman and hilarity is almost certainly going to ensue. Tall tales to follow...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sigur Ros

Sigur Ros is an unconvential band out of Iceland that is definately worth listening to. They sing in the Icelandic language (which is probably the most complex language in existence) and have heavenly voices. They really can't be labled as a certain genre of music but I would say they are a mix between Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie and choir music. Download some of their stuff and check it out.