A good ol' rebus puzzle - in the old sense of the word. We used to love doing those "wacky wordy" puzzles in Games Magazine, and elsewhere. And today's theme renders a bunch of old saws visually, as in HANDGOTOHELLBASKET (97A: Deteriorate rapidly), and ROUNDSQUAREPEGHOLE (37D: Misfit). Not bad at all.
I know we all like to OBSESS about our travels, so let's just get this out of the way immediately - Frannie and I drove along the "Côte d'Opale" from CALAIS (14A: French port just up the coast from Boulogne) to Boulogne-sur-mer this past summer, and never was it just referred to as "Boulogne." Always, on every sign, it had the specifier added on. So, needless to say, it did not come as quickly as it might have.
But really, that's not a big deal. I mostly just wanted to talk about our trip.
This was a fine puzzle. I liked MTEVEREST (48A: Locale that made Hillary famous) (thought only of Mrs. Clinton for a long time), CLOTHES (91D: Gaps are filled with them) (Nice hidden capital!), EARP (46D: Tombstone figure) (Ditto.), and FATCHANCE (89A: "I wouldn't bet on it!"). Frannie enjoyed AMY (9D: Girl's name that becomes a different girl's name if you switch the first two letters) and the o-so-clever 85D: Third person masculine? (ABEL). I particularly enjoyed NERF (69D: Gun brand not endorsed by the 111-Down). Hah! And what about CHUG (82D: When repeated, party cry)? That's funny! And REF (81A: Game warden?), and ARGO (58A: First steamship with a planned circumnavigation of the globe)… and 92A: Top of the Eiffel Tower? (BERET)?! Nice.
There's plenty of good stuff in here, and it's appropriate, perhaps, that this should have the old-fashioned-feeling (at least to us, but remember, it's in a good way) theme, because the whole puzzle brought me back to a time when I used to enjoy doing these larger grids with the funny themes. Maybe I'm turning over a new leaf. Perhaps I'll stop being such a curmudgeon and a themeless snob…
We'll see. If all the Sundays from now on are this good, I just might.