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Observer Staff Bee Real Smart

While everyone else is figuring out whether to use their Katies as doorstops or hat racks, the Dallas Observer is proud to announce we've moved on to far more prestigious honors: Our team took home the first-place trophy at the first annual LIFT Charity Grown-Up Spelling Bee, held today at the Lakewood Theatre. Us. First place. We won. Beat the team from The Dallas Morning News, by the way. They took home second. Us: numero uno. Them: numero dos. Are we rubbing it in? Maybe -- but this was sweet, sweet verbal revenge for the very physical ass-kicking they gave us one year ago this month in the media co-ed softball league.

Our team: editor-in-chief Julie Lyons, proofreader Reba Liner and myself. Though the bee started out with words that lacked -- how you say? -- any kind of challenge whatsoever and were basically meant to weed out preschoolers ("idea" and "honor" being two favorites), by the end it was a vicious competition that concluded in several rounds of head-to-head spelling excellence. Increasing the overall difficulty of the event was the pronouncer, an ESL professor from Mountain View College who gave us "da-shoon" for "dachshund," "gosh" for the French pronunciation of "gauche" and defined an "opossum" as a "marscusial." All things to keep in mind the next time you're looking for a quick ESL course.

We were able to beat out formidable opponents from Half Price Books, Comerica and the LIFT staff themselves, and it came down to the final two teams, the Observer and The Dallas Morning News. When the News-ers barely eeked by with "hippopotamus," we started to get nervous. When they used two $25 "indulgences" to buy their way out of tough words, we scoffed at the way they could afford to throw around that Belo money in the petty name of charity. Didn't they have any pride? This wasn't about helping fund a literacy program. This was about winning.

Then, we got a word that threw us for a loop -- malapert -- and were sure that we were done for. Though we'd vowed beforehand not to give in to the $25 indulgence temptation, team cheerleader Merritt Martin bought it for us, and we moved on to the next round. We're still kind of ashamed, but not so ashamed that we're not putting our giant gold trophy on display for all to see. Because the next word for The Morning News was "camouflage," and they totally pulled an Avery Johnson, switching up their usual speller for another team member who forgot that pesky "u." Julie Lyons took us home with a confident c-a-m-o-u-f-l-a-g-e.

But hey, don’t take it too hard, Dallas' Only Daily. Just remember that softball victory. We're sure those excellent batting averages are very helpful when it comes to putting out the daily paper. --Andrea Grimes

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