Constructor's CommentsI've been playing with this pattern for a while. It gives me a fighting chance to get the word count into the sixties. Once I find a snazzy central stack, I start with the grid as wide open as possible, 62 words, then start reluctantly adding blocks as I work on the fill. (One day, I want to complete a good 62-word puzzle, but 66 is the lowest I've managed so far.) Once the center stack is in place, I can work on the four sections somewhat independently, usually adding several hundred words to my word list in the process. It's super frustrating to rejoice in all the long answers but then notice two or three (or ten) pesky short entries that create hiccups in the solving experience, forcing you to start over or accept compromises.
I actually bought a slackline and strung it up between two trees just outside my office, about three feet off the ground. After a week's worth of barefoot lunch breaks, I could sort of do it. Pretty amazing to watch people slackline over canyons.