Samir Patel's finished third, 27th, second and 14th in his past four National Spelling Bees.

Bee the Ball, Samir

James Maguire, author of the superb book American Bee: The National Spelling Bee and the Culture of Word Nerds, is currently at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. -- because, like, where else would he bee? The bee kicks off today with prelims, and wraps up tomorrow on ABC during prime time.

Of course, the fave to finish first is Colleyville's Samir Patel, competing in his fifth and final big bee; he's always been a fave but never come in first. (Come on -- "eremacausis"?) Which isn't stopping Maguire on his Web site from picking Samir as his likely champ: "Keep your eye on Samir Patel, a 13-year-old whiz kid from Texas. It’s his fifth Bee (and last) and he’s got a superb chance at taking home the trophy." --Robert Wilonsky

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