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826LA's Spelling Bee for Cheaters

July 9, 2010 | 12:40 pm

It's a spelling bee, but it's also a fundraiser: In the next five weeks, teams are lining up and preparing for 826LA's Spelling Bee for Cheaters, to be held on Aug. 14.

The rules are somewhat byzantine, but they boil down to one thing: The more money your team has raised, the more ways to buy yourself out of defeat -- and stay in the bee.

Say you're not sure about "recieve" versus "receive" -- for $100, your team can purchase a "one-letter hint." $500 buys you a pass on a word you'd rather not spell and gives you an alternate. For a large fee -- $1,500 -- you can invent a word, spell it, and move on to the next round. All funds spent go to 826LA, a literacy nonprofit with centers in Venice and Echo Park.

There is an entry price -- $50 per team member -- but after that, your team could compete on skills alone. The idea, of course, is that you'd be going up against cheaters, all of whom are already raising funds and building their cheating chest. The organization hopes that you'd like to gird your team against the cheaters' assault -- or to raise enough funds to cheat your way to an advantage over your competitors.

Several teams have signed up on the website, where anyone can track their fundraising progress (and also donate to their coffers). Among the competitors: "Marmoset There'd Be Days Like This," "Ivan and the Bee Sharps," "The Tori Spellings" (no relation) and "The Best-Spelers" (sic).

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image: 826LA