King & Snohomish County Spelling Bee

It’s hard to think of any low-tech, old-school American institution less likely to have caught pop-culture attention than the spelling bee—yet it has, as the subject of a rash of recent films, a Broadway musical, even adult spinoffs. (In the recent monthly bees at Re-bar, I managed to do a bit worse each season.) Docs like Spellbound do a fine job of recreating a bee’s drama, though to really feel the competition’s agonizing intensity—one wrong letter and you’re heading home—you should see it live. Sixty kids from King and Snohomish County schools will meet in today’s regional bee, a feeder for the venerable Scripps National Spelling Bee, launched in 1925. The last speller standing will go to Washington, D.C., in May to vie against other teen savants, where only words like succedaneum, autochthonous, and xanthosis will stand between them and victory. GAVIN BORCHERT

Sun., March 22, 1 p.m., 2009

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