Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Announcing our winners!

Congratulations to our season winners, who took home a plethora of amazing prizes!

1st - Joseph Gallucci
2nd - Jonathan Lill
3rd - Claudia Carrera

Come back on January 8th for our season-opening bee (which will be a fundraiser for leukemia research), or January 22nd for our next regular season bee.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Contestants announced for the finals!

Williamsburg Spelling Bee

Here are your orthographers for the November 27th finals, in alphabetical order, of course:

TOM BENDER is producing a documentary about a Witch School in rural Illinois.

WARREN BLOOM, 33, is the music teacher at PS/MS 27 in Red Hook, went to Burning Man twice, and sings and beatboxes by night.

MARTHA BURZYNSKI is a freelance writer and was referred to as the closest thing to Holly Golightly, without the whoring, in print recently.

KIERA BUTLER works at a magazine and enjoys the family drama Seventh Heaven.

MATT CARMAN's last name is frequently misspelled.

GRANT CAPTANIAN, 30, an Armenian line-dance expert, enjoys daydreaming and public tranportation.

CLAUDIA CARRERA, 22, is an aspiring musicologist who lives in Williamsburg and works for an East Harlem non-profit.

JOSEPH GALLUCCI is 22, works at his school's library, and is fond of disco, brightly-colored socks and movie musicals.

ACACIA GRADDY-GAMEL, 25, works as an editorial associate at a non-profit when she's not busy freelancing in film post-production.

CARA KINSEY, 26, is an otaku by mid-morning and a mild mannered librarian by tea time, with hopes of becoming a trophy wife by night.

JONATHAN LILL is an archivist in an art museum and just slightly less obsessive about spelling than he is about crosswords.

BRAD RAPPAPORT, 30, currently living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and raised in Long Island, New York, worked until recently as an evaluator of foreign academic credentials, and retains an interest in Frankfurt school critical theory that he developed in college and graduate school.

DIVIYA SHARMA, 29, is an eSwaps mistress and freelance pirate.

CLAUDIA WEINSTOCK just graduated from college and spends her days trying to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

VICKY WONG is a fine-art shipper by trade and a glutton-extraordinaire by nature.

How exactly does one spell "It's already been broughten?"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


We're bringing spelling back.

The Williamsburg Spelling Bee Finals will be held on:

Monday, November 27
Pete's Candy Store
709 Lorimer (Frost/Richardson)
7 pm sign-up, 7:30 pm start

bobbyblue will perform the Williamsburg Spelling Bee theme song, co-written by Jen and bobby.

Top three winners from the past season's twice-monthly bees are eligible to compete. In between the rounds, short audience-participation contests (such as spelling backwards, speed-spelling, etc.) will be open to anyone.

We're bringing spelling back.
The bee will kill you for the words you lack.
Most other people just don't have the knack.
But here in Brooklyn we pick up the slack.

Friday, September 08, 2006


The spelling bee is on the Mental Floss blog!

The bee is also on MySpace. Feel free to befriend us/it.

The Williamsburg Spelling Bee

Time Out photos

Here are more photos of the bee, taken by Shannon Taggart for Time Out New York (the one that made it into the article is in the post below).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

"Mind Games"

We're in the Village Voice (July 25th, 2006 issue!)

Here's the text:
The Latin root word for supercilious is supercilium, which means eyebrow. What, you might ask, does that have to do with arrogance and haughtiness? When next you look down your nose, suggests Jennifer Dziura, try raising an eyebrow just to drive the point home. Now consider the Latin root word of eminence: eminere, meaning to stand out. This is probably what Eminem was thinking when he chose the name, don't you think? "After all, Eminem is a pretty smart guy," concludes Dziura, comedienne, writer, teacher, sarcastic sex-toy blogger, and co-host of the ever edifying Williamsburg Spelling Bee held at Pete's Candy Store.

Offering less spectacle and spume than Monday night bingo but more opportunity for individual disgrace and grammatical tirades (last week, it was the flagrant misuse of the subjunctive), the Williamsburg Spelling Bee was created by Brooklyn singer-songwriter bobbyblue soon after he watched the orthographic thriller Spellbound. Since then, the Williamsburg Spelling Bee has been syndicated (fans are rumored to have started similar bees in Seattle and London), sponsored by a major Broadway musical (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), and featured in The New York Times and on NPR, making it the bar game of choice for self-proclaimed geeks and well-groomed lovers of logorrhea. However, in the cozy Pullman-car atmosphere of Pete's back room, intellectual acumen does not trump kindness.

Unlike traditional spelling bees, contestants are permitted three misspelled words before they are knocked out of the game, and during the opening interview round, when they are asked personal questions like "If you suddenly found yourself pregnant with devil spawn, what would you do," no competitor is eliminated, even if they should misspell frittata. And after the competition heats up with words like toponymy, somnifacient, hesperidium, commissariat, and thalassocracy, the casualties of cacography are still excused with great sympathy and loud applause.

"You know, I'm up here telling jokes about words," says Dziura after a particularly funny riff about the reconstitution of chicken meat and Scarlatina, a Latino drag queen named after a disease. "At a spelling bee. For adults. In a bar. In Williamsburg. Just so we keep it all in perspective."

"The paper plates help," says Felix Aronoff, a 24-year-old bio major, chuckling at the contestant's number hanging around his best friend's neck. "A great ego leveler."
Here's the link.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

um, no, Frosted Mini-Losers

From June 26th winner Warren Bloom:

Here's an entry in my LiveJournal regarding a horrifying commerical for Frosted Mini-Wheats that totally misrepresents the rules of spelling bees.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Next bee: July 10th

The Williamsburg Spelling Bee
Monday, July 10th, 2006
Sign up at 7, compete at 7:30
Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St. in Williamsburg

A real adults-only spelling bee, as featured in the New York Times, made kinder and gentler by a three-strikes-you're-out policy. 1st place - tickets to "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", 2nd place - $15 bar tab, 3rd place - free panini sandwich (plus eternal glory!)

Each bee up to the finals is open to everyone, including participants from previous bees, win or lose. The only limitation is that we cut off signups at 18 contestants, so you may wish to arrive early to guarantee a spot on the list.

go ahead and ruin all our smug fun

Here's an article about "simplified spelling" that I trust you will find suitably horrifying.

juicy swag announcement

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (the musical) is back as our sponsor! The first-place winners of this season's bees will each win a pair of tickets to the musical! We also have shirts, notebooks, and CD soundtracks to hand out.
Six young spellers of the Tony Award-winning musical The 25thAnnual Putnam County Spelling Bee are learning about growing up, fitting in and earning R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

In this “R-I-O-T-O-U-S” show (New York Times) Marcy, Chip, Logainne, Leaf, William and Olive learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.

“A Super-Smart show that’s also a bona fide crowd-pleaser. It is perfect in every possible way.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Visit the Website

killing me softly

It is so embarrassing (embarassing? embbarrasing?) when I misspell a spelling bee winner's name! Congratulations to Emily Helfgot for winning fourth (forth?) place in last season's finals!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Season 3 Finals results

Congratulations to our Season 3 Finals winners!

1st - Jonathan Lill
2nd - Megan Rudesill
3rd - Adam Daland
4th - Emily Helfgot
5th - Noel Claro
6th - Mint Lynch-Macduff

The Season 3 Finals demonstrated a sort of poetic justice as Jonathan Lill, winner of the first-ever Williamsburg Spelling Bee in September, 2004, deservedly took home a season championship.

Now, the slate is wiped clean, and a new season begins Monday...
The Williamsburg Spelling Bee
Monday, May 29th

Sign up at 7, compete at 7:30
Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St. in Williamsburg

A real adults-only spelling bee, as featured in the New York Times, made kinder and gentler by a three-strikes-you're-out policy. 1st place - $25 bar tab, 2nd place - $15 bar tab, 3rd place - free panini sandwich (plus eternal glory!)
p.s. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is back on board as a sponsor! Each regular season bee winner will get a t-shirt from the musical, and the winner of this season's finals will get a pair of tickets.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

spelling fights crime!

Or, rather, proofreading fights crime! Or, criminals can't spell! Or something. From this AP Story:
Julie Kay Russo, 32, was arrested Monday on 20 forgery counts after she tried to pass an allegedly forged payroll check at the S & S Superstop. The store clerk became suspicious when he noticed the word "independent" in the business name was spelled incorrectly as "indapendent."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

February 6th: bobbyblue returns!

Next bee...
Monday, February 6th
Sign up at 7, compete at 7:30
Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St. in Williamsburg
No cover, open to all.

Photo at right is bobbyblue performing the Williamsburg Spelling Bee Theme Song (see it again at this season's Finals on May 1st).

(And on non-spelling Mondays, do stop by -- same time, same place -- for the After-School Comedy Special).

January 23rd spelling bee recap

This last bee concluded the Williamsburg Spelling Bee's b-u-r-l-e-s-q-u-e month. Spelling bee founder and co-host bobbyblue was on vacation, so on January 9th, the World Famous *BOB* filled in (see the recap and photos), and on the 23rd, we were graced by Little Brooklyn.

In honor of Little Brooklyn's presence, in round one of the bee, I had spellers spell sexy words like derriere, negligee, crinoline, petticoat, and stiletto. The bee was also filmed by Brooklyn Cable Access Television for the show "Neighborhood Beat." Here are a few pictures:

The last photo shows, from left to right, 3rd place winner Natasha, 2nd place winner Megan, Little Brooklyn, and 1st place winner Matt, who won not only the usual $25 bar tab, but also a lovely VIP package to Little Brooklyn's show, Starshine Burlesque.

Friday, January 20, 2006

January 23rd: Little Brooklyn in the 'burgh

This upcoming Monday, the spelling bee continues with "burlesque month." Beloved bee founder bobbyblue is on vacation -- filling in for him will be burlesque star Little Brooklyn, who will co-host, record scores, and do an act before the final round.

Anyone can watch, but be sure to show up early if you want to spell -- we have to cut off the list at 20 spellers.

The Williamsburg Spelling Bee
Monday, January 23rd

Sign up at 7, compete at 7:30
Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St. in Williamsburg
No cover, open to all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

*BOB*, our spelling guest star

This Monday night, in the absence of beloved bee founder bobbyblue, burlesque superstar The World Famous *BOB* stepped in as co-emcee. She drew a huge audience of admirers and was utterly charming in her duties of signing people up, recording the scores, and encouraging applause for contestants who were eliminated.

Photo by Semyon. More here. Maybe you can find yourself in this big crowd photo.

with winners Sarah, Christina, and Pete

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

January 9th: our winners!

C-o-n-g-r-a-t-u-l-a-t-i-o-n-s to...

Sarah Helfinstein (tied for first)
Christina Stubbs (tied for first)
Pete Kane (3rd)

The World Famous *BOB* was amazing! Some video was shot, so maybe we can get a clip on the site sometime.

In the meanwhile, if you are in New York and have cable, you can see a one-minute segment about the spelling bee on TimeOut New York on-demand cable, channel 1112. It's under "Around Town" and then "Pete's Candy Store."

Next Monday: comedy! Next bee: January 23rd!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

January 9th: World Famous *BOB*

The spelling bee starts again in 2006 on Monday, January 9th. Beloved bee founder bobbyblue is on vacation -- filling in for him will be burlesque star The World Famous *BOB*. She is really famous and funny and very excited about doing this!

One-time only! Even if you can't spell at all, come watch this one.

The Williamsburg Spelling Bee
Monday, January 9th

Sign up at 7, compete at 7:30
Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St. in Williamsburg
No cover, open to all.

All the links your heart desires:
The World Famous *BOB*
Pete's Candy Store (including a map to the bar)