Did the Times accidentally borrow today's crossword puzzle from Us Weekly? It actually includes the clue, "____ Kringle."
Come on, Will Shortz. Time to come back from vacation. The Times needs you to raise the bar on what is fast becoming the world's easiest crossword puzzle.
By one count Barack Obama (whose name seems invented for crosswords) has been a clue on six previous occasions; today he's the answer to 8 Down's no-brainer, "Winner of 2008." Is there any self-respecting puzzler left in America who can't immediately come up with a six-letter word for "Actress Pia," or fill in the blank in "Fleur-de-___"?
Nor is any heavy lifting required to recall the three-letter word for 69 Across: "Donna Summer's '___ Works Hard for the Money.'" Or the four-letter word, on 60-Down, to complete the brand-name of "____ of Maine toothpaste."
And anyone who is still working on the four-letter word answer to 9-Down's "Costa ____" clue needs to return immediately to the fifth grade.
By the way, kudos to "Singer Sumac" for making her eight-millionth appearance in the Times crossword puzzle today! She owes her entire career to the fact that her first name is a three-letter word that begins with a Y.
Somewhere, even "Comedian ____ Johnson" is jealous.