Ask Ceil – Why Do We Watch?

Dear Ceil,

I have an addiction to the Spelling Bee. Is there anything that can be done?

Haunted. H-A-U-N-T-E-D. Haunted in Hawaii.

Dear Haunted,

I completely understand. I also have an addiction to all things wordy. Sometimes I play Scrabble. Sometimes I play Words with Friends. Also, Boggle, Word Frenzy, Word Mix, Wordz, Text Twist, Flip words, and Bookworm.

The Spelling Bee is something different though. It’s about competition for competition’s sake. It’s about memorizing the spelling of words that can easily be looked up in dictionaries. It’s about children failing in a public and humiliating fashion. On the plus side, many of them do learn Latin, which is spoken by no one anywhere.

Because it is both an unnecessary and cruel exercise, there is no way to overestimate its appeal. But I don’t think it goes far enough, though, to really be a hit in this country. Perhaps we can increase the heat on stage as the contest progresses? Make them juggle as they spell? Have Harry Potter stare disapprovingly at them during their turn? Cast them into the Deathly Hallows when they misspell? I think we could sell that to the major networks.

The winner, Sukanya Roy of Pennsylvania, won this year by spelling the word “cymotrichous”. Since I am just a 40-year-old writer who spends all her time around words of varying complexity, I had to look it up. After consulting three separate sources, I was finally able to find the definition—“having wavy hair.” Thank goodness she knows this very useful word. (Here’s the link.)


Dear Ceil,

I am tired of seeing pictures of the famous Mr. Weiner’s weiner. I am all weinered out. What should I do?

Sincerely,
Peter Richard Johnson

Dear Dick,

There’s nothing to be done, no way to escape. There is nothing more compelling to the media than pictures of government genitalia. Add to it that the man’s name is a euphemism for “penis” and you have a real money-making story.

The media has a long history of annoying us. Most recently, there’s the Palin tour-to-nowhere, the presidential birth certificate that always was, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s diddlings, Newt’s penchant for Tiffany…the list really does go on and on. Unfortunately for us.

Thankfully, there are no wars or societal problems that could be reported on. Whew. But with enough media attention, we may be able to find out if Rep. Weiner’s weiner is cymotrichous.


In a life marked by crippling indecision, Ceil Kessler has worked too many types of jobs to count, and is finally in her own business, consulting on business intelligence software. Ceil also markets and publishes the magazine “Business Perks”. Like everyone else in the world, she is working on a couple of novels. She also runs the Laurel Highlands Vegetarian Society, plays pool in her increasingly rare free time, and is an appreciator of fine wines and single-malt scotches.

If you have questions for Ceil, please send them along questions@askceil.com, or you can use the Ask Ceil-o-matic form.

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