Today's puzzle came with a tip: in the newspaper version, the four circled squares contain a slash that divides the square in two. With that in mind, when I got to "Geographic demarcation that separates the two possible answers in this puzzle's circled squares," and having INE at the end, the revealer, STATELINE, didn't take me long. For each of the theme answers, the postal abbreviations for two bordering states are entered into one square. Reading the answer with one state gives the answer to one of the two clues and reading it with the other gives the answer to the other clue in the pair. The same state abbreviation pairs work for the Across and Down clues. Pretty darn nifty. The first theme answer I figured out was RA[MI/IN]S ("Ghostbusters" director Harold / Pours. My favorite was INTHE[WA/OR]Y (Obstructing / On paper) because the two answers are parsed so differently. COMPA[CT/NY]CAR (Executive's perk, maybe / It might fit in a tight spot), for example, is more of a straight swap.
However, even though I got the theme and the rebus pretty quickly, I had some trouble with other parts of the puzzle, especially the north. DIGRAPH took me a while, as did RHEA. And who knew Hoth was an ICEPLANET? You know what else fits at 14D? I'll tell you, alienrAce. The only correct letter in my bad guess, unfortunately for me, supported another of the theme answers, A[CT/NY]ONE, so it stayed in a lot longer that it should have.
I couldn't correct my FWOE even after reviewing the puzzle several times to locate my error. I finally had to look at the solution on Xword Info. I had BEAsT for Humdinger at 28A, which gave MEANMsGS for "Glares sourly at, in modern lingo" at 11 D. While MEANMsGS may be obviously wrong if you know the correct MEANMUGS, it seemed to me like it *could* have been correct. Anywayz, that's my FWOE story.
"Share a take" (AGREE)
"Inspirational passage?" (TRACHEA)
And the pair, George Sand, for one (ALIAS) and George Sand, par example (NOM) was very good.
I didn't love "Put a border on" for HEM. I'm not saying it's not valid, but 'border' and 'hem' don't overlap that much in my vocabulary. Also, I didn't think "Nurse back to health" was a great match for REHAB. I associate rehab more with something an injured person has to do his or herself to get better while nursing someone back to health is more something someone else does to help another person get better. But, these are quibbles. Overall, I thought the puzzle was a real BEAUT.