Diary of a spelling enthusiast


This is Diary of a Spelling Bee Fanatic, a weekly review of the game that gets me out of my hive mind. In the right direction. Sometimes.

Read past journal entries hereand join the daily discussion on the forum.

My therapist’s assistant, Rafael, emails the group before we meet and asks us to write down what tends to trigger our craving to play Spelling Bee. We’re supposed to bring this paper to therapy.

I’m already a Genie before I arrived, but I did the assignment as required. Gene and Mrs. Needleman are late, so I take the opportunity to ask my therapist a sensitive question.

“Do you really believe that Gene ran over Harold Needleman?” I know this probably crosses the boundaries of the doctor-patient relationship, but I can’t help it.

“Fuck, yes! Right? Anyway, she was never very attached to limits.

“It occurred to me,” I said. “Doesn’t that mean you have to report it?”

“And get involved in all that paperwork?” No thanks. When will I play Spelling Bee? »

As unethical as that sounds, I agree that she is right.

Gene and Mrs. Needleman (and Mr. Needleman, on his phone) arrive, papers in hand.

“Thank you for coming today,” my therapist said. “I asked you all for your biggest Spelling Bee trigger, and I’d like you to fold up your papers and pass them to me. In this way, everyone’s response remains anonymous.

“My Harold has something to say,” said Mrs. Needleman.

“What does he say, Mrs. Needleman?” asks my therapist sympathetically. We all feel for her, this lonely widow who believes her fingers are guided by her late husband.

“It says GENEDIDIT,” she says, turning her phone to face us. Gene’s face appears to have been drained of blood.

“I knew it!” shouts my therapist, slapping her on the thigh. “Pay, Rafael! His assistant walks into the room, sullenly hands him a $20 bill, and leaves.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to do this,” I tell her.

“You’re right,” she said apologetically, brushing her hair back. “Sorry to everyone. I’ll look at your papers now.

We hand her our papers and watch her read them.

“They all just say ‘3 a.m.’,” she said, bewildered. “What is ‘3 a.m.’?”

We all shrug our shoulders and look at each other. “That’s when the new Spelling Bee comes out,” I say.

TWIGGED: It’s a real word, the past participle of a Britishism which means “to understand the meaning of”. Maybe it’s a case of “just because I know something doesn’t mean everyone knows it”, and that’s why it was ruled out.

EGGWIDTH: A unit of measurement equivalent to, well, the width of your average egg. Usage: “How tall is this cow?” “About 36 EGGWIDTHs high.”

Note to readers: I posted a version of the joke above on Twitter, and a former colleague responded with a meme saying, “Americans will do anything to avoid using the metric system.”

I’m getting ready to walk/run a 5K this weekend. I’m not saying that to brag. It’s for a very good cause – cancer research – because nothing else on God’s Green Earth would make me transport my body this far in 98 degree heat.

I decide to drive to a local lake and go around it three and a half times, because each lap is about a mile. (See Monday’s comment above on Americans avoiding the metric system.) According to Google, five kilometers is about three and a half miles.

It’s a beautiful, incredibly hot day, and other people are also walking the trail around the lake. An elderly couple walk a few feet in front of me and I notice that they keep turning and pointing at me. I check that I haven’t left the house with food stuck between my teeth or a big stain on my shirt.

The couple stops and waits for me as I whistle at them.

“Excuse me, is that a Spelling Bee hat?” asks the woman.

“Yes,” I said, “It’s Beatrice, the game’s mascot.”

“Can we ask where you bought it?” »

“Well, I work for the New York Times, so this was given to me, but you can buy one from the Times online store.”

“We play every day,” the man explains.

All day,” repeats the woman.

“That’s really nice,” I said. “Thank you for being such dedicated solvers.”

“Oh, that goes beyond resolution,” the man said.

“Spelling Bee really brought us together,” the woman says.

“That’s so sweet,” I said. “I hear a lot about those who solve puzzles with their loved ones.” I get the feeling from their looks that there’s something else they want to tell me.

“It’s very exciting for us when we reach Genius together…” the woman said.

Very exciting”, repeats the man.

I suddenly have the impression that we are no longer talking about games.

“Well, I really have to go now,” I said, starting to walk away. I hear them yelling at me.

“Once we reached Queen Bee and we didn’t get out of bed for three days!”

NANNYMIC (alternatively, MANNYMIC): A device used by babysitters in order to be heard above the din.

VOLUNTEER is a great way to open today’s puzzle. Not only is it the pangram, but it’s just such a lovely word to say. In Latin and Old French, it means “kindly” and was first used around the middle of the 15th century.

It’s a fairly regular assortment of letters, so I churn out the usual words: CANDY, BONOBO, BOBBLE, and all four-letter B-words.

I’m typing in words at a very respectable pace, then realize I’m stuck and just one point short of reaching Genius. It’s always frustrating, but I decide to take a break to work a little.

When I return to the Bee, I almost immediately see the word I need: OBOES. And Béatrice appears, dressed in her skillful mortarboard.

It’s amazing how different the puzzle looks once you put it down and walk away from it. I can’t help but be a big brain fan.

TOOLBELL: A device attached to a tool that allows the owner to track it when a neighbor borrows it and does not return it.

I am a very impressionable person, so as soon as I see the POTATO and the TOMATO in the Bee, I get hungry. This also happens with crossword puzzles – there are a lot more food entries there – so I end up eating a lot of snacks during the day. There are no potatoes in the house, so I warm up some PITA bread and stuff it with hummus and a few slices of TOMATO. I decide to wash it all down with a MALT.

Sometimes I can get what’s called GABM (Genius All By Myself – no forum hints), but it’s a day when I need to check out the Spelling Bee forum.

Whenever I need a shot of adrenaline and a little drama, I turn to the forum because, frankly, there’s nothing good on TV these days other than “Better Call Saul”. The forum is much more entertaining.

I have come to the conclusion that the spelling bee attracts an unusual number of bird watchers. Today, there’s an argument for including the potoo, a bird that looks like it’s straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Pittas are also mentioned. I may not go out as often as I should, but I didn’t know any of these birds.

The Maltipoo, a small Muppet-like dog breed that is a cross between a Maltese and a Poodle, is also missing. They’re adorable, but Maltipoo is a proper noun, so it’s excluded from the list of accepted words.

Some solvers are upset because they feel that maltitol is a well-known sugar alcohol and should be included. I don’t doubt they’re right, but if I could read Sam Ezersky’s mind, I’d assume he feels differently.

At least one solver is disappointed that the word patoot is not included. It’s my kind of solver.

But my favorite is the argument for milt, with a lowercase “m”. It’s not your favorite uncle, as one solver puts it, but it’s another word for – wait for it – fish cum. It is a delicacy in some countries. I could write a really profane joke here, but I won’t. I’d like to think I’ve matured a bit over the years.

As I said, the forum is a fabulous source of knowledge and entertainment. Try to beat that, HBO.

MOPTAIL: A fluffy dog ​​tail that absorbs spills as it wiggles. (See: golden retrievers).

It’s 92 degrees where I am on the east coast, and my weather app says it’s 100 degrees. Days like this make me worry about this older couple I met on Tuesday. It’s too hot to be outside, and I just hope they’re home, trying to reach Genius.

The other thing that makes me sweat is the fact that there is five pangrams in today’s Bee! Sam set us up for this in a tweet a few days ago, but I’m pretty sure no one is ever ready for five pangrams in one puzzle.

I mean, we all know there’s probably never going to be an S in the bee, right, Sam? Right?

CENTCLING: The result of falling asleep, cheek down, on your pot during penny ante poker.

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