AT RANDOM: Under a spell

Flibbertigibbet (flib-ber-tee-JIB-it).

Sounds to me like it could be a curse word. Probably should be a curse word.

No, flibbertigibbet, according to my built-in work computer dictionary, is a noun meaning “a frivolous, flighty, or excessively talkative person.”

It is also, as I found out from teammate Kristin Froneman, used in the classic musical The Sound of Music, in song, to describe Julie Andrews’ character, Maria. I did not know that because, stupidly, I have never seen The Sound of Music.

Not that it matters.

What matters is how to spell flibbertigibbet and The Mighty Morning Star Typos – complete with import the Reverend Bill Harrison, father of national spelling bee competitor Richard Harrison, a Grade 5 Harwood student,  on our roster – did not spell it correctly during the pressure-filled, fun-filled, highly entertaining Junction Literacy and Youth Centres’ fourth annual Spelling Bee Challenge Wednesday morning at the Best Western Vernon Lodge.

The event brings together community teams who put their spelling knowledge to use to raise money for the Junction Literacy and Youth Centres’ programs and services.

A record 18 tables took part Wednesday, eight players per team, and raised $19,500.

Three teams – and not us, though you’d think a boy should be with his dad – won draws to use Richard Harrison’s considerable spelling talents.

One team consisted of high school students. The City of Vernon had two teams. Nixon Wenger, showing why people aren’t fond of lawyers, brought with them an articling student who was a former spelling bee champion.

It didn’t help the legal eagles.

The Queen Bees, led by captain Lindy Blakely, consisting of eight friends who, I am certain, studied for the bee over the weekend, and the Okanagan College Eggheads, led proudly by regional dean John Lent, ended up with 14 out of 18 words correct to meet in a one-word, mixed-word scramble. The team that unscrambled the word first, and spelled it correctly, would be declared spelling bee champions.

The Bees, who had a premonition they would win the event for a third straight year after their table won three of the door prizes as well, unscrambled the word “champions” and, indeed, won the bee.

The Typos gave it a valiant effort.

We had reporters Graeme Corbett, Jennifer Smith, and captain Katherine (Morty) Mortimer, on our team. Editor Glenn Mitchell (“I’ll sign off on that,” he said about words we got right) and photographer Cory Bialecki, who missed, approximately, 13 of the 15 preliminary round words taking photos, rounded out our roster.

Personally, I was seeking a shot at spelling bee redemption in ‘11.

Last year, I convinced my teammates that Tsawassen, the community near Vancouver, was spelled just like that.

Who knew Tsawwassen actually had two Ws?

Apparently a few more teams than us knew that because we lost the bee by one.

So I wanted another chance this year, and had that chance during the third and final round, on the word “idiosyncrasy.”

I convinced Smith that it was “acy” at the end, like, say, literacy. Smith had it right, as did captain Katherine. But Morty, as captain, went with the “acy” version.

Smith said “I told you it was an S!!” Morty wouldn’t even look at me.

We then messed up two of three tiebreaker round words (supersede and aficionado) to finish behind the Eggheads and Queen Bees, missing the championship scramble for the second straight year by one word.


Roger Knox is a reporter for The Morning Star.


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