Wednesday puzzles are often an odd bunch. It can't be as tricksy as a Thursday, and it has to be tougher than the newbie grids on Monday and Tuesday. So I'm always grateful for a puzzle that surprises me.
Mr. Charlson has created an atypical puzzle for his usual fare, which tends to teem with scrabbly letters like X, Z, and Q. The theme revealer is BUILDINGBLOCKS, which are represented somewhat literally in six places in the puzzle. Each is a type of building that is exactly six letters long, and which read clockwise in the shaded in squares.
Any example that goes C-V-C-V-C-V (where C is consonant and V is vowel) is reasonably straightforward, as the second row will go well with the first row. For example, "palace" or "pagoda" create easier two-letter combinations as seen in the NW and N sections. Meanwhile, "school" works well at the top of the puzzle, where those first three consonants can start words.
Tougher to make "chalet" work, because of the -HE ending, but our bold constructor has nicely put LOATHE there, finishing off the ORDEAL that must have been the creation of this grid.
Can I say ILOVEDIT? Well, I'm impressed by it. There's some necessary glue, and I won't overlook UDO, GWB, and EMME that had to help hold everything together.
But we get some nice fill with things like SLAMDUNK, GRIMACE, and BIBLICAL. And there's the very funny clue at 13D: Going places? (COMMODES). Hah!
Nothing held me up much, but I will note that I entered iNdianan at 42D: Abraham Lincoln, for one (UNIONIST). This was only partly correct. He was born in Kentucky, mainly raised in Indiana, before settling in his adulthood in Illinois.