Hey, this is a full-service blog.
• The spelling bee movie:
Mr. D: The Spelling Bee movie you mentioned on The Corner was probably (or should have been) Spellbound (2002). While it is (in my opinion) a quite sympathetic account, it does leave one hoping that the kids who’ve devoted their lives to memorizing the spellings of obscure words will (1) channel their (obviously impressive) intellects toward something more productive and rewarding and (2) get a life.
[Me]: That was the one I was thinking of. I did not know, though, until several readers told me, that there is at least one other spelling-bee movie:
Dear Mr. Derbyshire: The amount of time it took you to type “There was a movie about the National Spelling Bee 4-5 years ago, that I remember as being rather good, though I can’t recall the name,” you could have Googled it and received your answer: Akeelah and the Bee.
[Me]: What, and leave the readers with nothing to do?
• Sports-trivia memorists:
Derb — You mentioned a sports trivia guy and I thought you would like this.
[Me]: Definitely. But I notice the “categories” box at the bottom of that Wikipedia page has no category for “memorizers of sports trivia” or even “memorists” (or “mnemonists,” whatever). This seems to me to be an omission. Wish I could find the name of that 1950s England radio guy. He was good — not a second’s hesitation with the answers — and definitely deserves to have his kleos immortalized in a Corner post.
• A polite reproof:
Mr. D: Please double-check your understanding of spelling bees. It’s far, far more than memorization. There’s a real reason that the contestants ask about language of origin, useage, and other information. English (and other languages) follow basic rules, and if you have a deep understanding of them, you can spell words you have never seen before.
[Me]: I am suitably chastened.
• And of course, there’s the national-security angle:
A truly proficient memorizer could be an espionage tool. To wit: “What is the secret of the 39 steps?” “The 39 steps is an organization of spies …” BANG!