AT RANDOM: Humbled bees

Columnist Roger Knox takes on spelling for a good cause

The day is coming when The Morning Star Word Nerds are going to win the annual Junction Literacy Centre/Teen Junction Centre Adult Spelling Bee.

When that day happens, the remembrance of past Word Nerd bee failures will be infinitesimal.

Some of the regular opponents of the Word Nerds can put kinnikinnick in their pipes and smoke it, knowing they’ve finally been bested by the local wordsmiths.

And, for others, the day The Word Nerds capture the championship gift cards from Bookland is a sign Armageddon is nigh.

The Morning Star Word Nerds finished second, for the third time in four years, at this year’s eighth annual bee, held Wednesday morning at the Best Western Plus Vernon Lodge Hotel.

(The Nerds consist of me, managing editor Glenn Mitchell, lifestyles editor and team captain Katherine (Morty) Mortimer; reporter Jennifer Smith; entertainment editor Kristin Froneman; creatives Lisa Starke and Brenda Giesbrecht and second-year import, Fulton Secondary English teacher Jane Maskell – hey, she delivered a paper for us once.)

We ended up in a three-way tie with the three-time bee champion Queen Beez, and a team called the Bolden Agers. We all had 12 out of 15 correct in the event, which features three rounds of five words.

We all finished one word behind the repeat champion Okanagan College Eggheads.

The words in bold, above, are the words the Nerds got wrong.

“It was a valiant try,” said Mitchell.

Of course, Glenn uttered those immortal words BEFORE the third and final round.

Our fate, it seems, was sealed in round two, when we got aficionado, diaspora and pterodactyl correct.

We thought we had Armageddon right, and we did in theory. But we spelled it armageddon, ignoring the advice of Smith who suggested we capitalize it, which is the correct way to spell the word.

And we had two versions of infinitesimal – the correct one, and one which included an extra S. Morty was talked into the incorrect version.

In the opening round, the Word Nerds were perfect, rattling off erudite, idyllic, risotto, pseudonym and, surely the longest word in Adult Spelling Bee history, beautifully pronounced by MC Beekeeper Betty Selin of Sun-FM, hemidemisemiquaver.

You don’t have to know what the words mean in this event (hemidemisemiquaver is a musical note with the time value of half a semiquaver; a sixty-fourth note). You just have to know how to spell it.

In the third and final round, I had no idea what kinnikinnick, schottische and zabaglione were, let alone how to even remotely spell them. But my teammates did. The only one we got wrong was kinnikinnick, only because I think we had just three Ns.

We did get pharmaceutical and, as Morty exclaimed, “Oh, this is easy,” bourgeoisie.

The spelling bee brings together teams of eight (23 teams this year) that dress in costumes and call themselves brilliant names such as the Vowel Movements, Kal Tire Auto Corrects and RBC Spell Chequers. The Vernon School District team was dressed as pigs to support the Junction Literacy Centre’s new Loonies for Literacy program, whose logo is a piggy bank.

Most important, the event raises funds for the literacy centre, Teen Junction and all of its wonderful and much needed programs.

This year’s bee raised a record $28,000-plus.

Organizers this year situated our team between the Queen Beez and Eggheads, maybe hoping good luck would come our way, or bad luck would befall those teams.

Organizers say there’s room for five more teams for next year’s bee. The Word Nerds will be back.

Somebody has to crack the Eggheads.