Couple thoughts on the spelling bee: I knew two of the really late round words from crosswords: MENHIR and REREDOS. (Who said you don't learn anything with these puzzles? And yes, I've used both in grids once). I know it's all luck of the draw, but it was a hoot to see some of these kids knew the words right after they were announced, when most of us had never heard them before. Like LAODICEAN. The winner, Kavya Shivashankar, obviously knew that word and by extension that she was going to win. Great stuff. BTW: It didn't surprise me at all that the runner up's favorite band is They Might Be Giants (that is not a dig, BTW, as they were a solid act circa 1986-90, IMHO). Just asking, but are the parents soccer mom/NASCAR dads only of the academic kind? Regardless, all of those kids were tough as nails.
Trivia: I came in second place in some spelling bee back in I'm gonna say like seventh grade. That's funny, because nowadays I lean pretty heavily on the spell checker (and even then then, I'm still sloppy). I remember controversy arose when I spelled CREEK correctly, but technically they were looking for CREAK. There was none of this define-the-word/etymology/use-it-in-a-sentenct/etc. thing at the chicken-shit spelling bee I was part of. Just the teacher saying the word and the kid spelling it. Good times.
Oh, and I've always wanted to name a band The Chiaroscurist, which was the winning word for the Spelling Bee about ten years ago. For those who might be thinking about naming a band, this is a terrible, terrible idea for two reasons. One, no one will be able to spell your name, and, two, no one will know how to pronounce it either.
As for today's puzzle: this one was without a home for a while, until it landed on the blog of misfit puzzles. QBERTSQUBES was the starting point, couple two three nasty hard entries: CARNET, A DROITE and LIMOUSIN, so please forgive me. Hopefully the good outweighs the bad.