Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Puzzling Thoughts

I might have an addiction to documentaries. I find them more interesting, provocative, and emotionally-bonding than narrative films, for the most part.

The other night we watched Wordplay, a documentary about crossword puzzles and the people who make and solve them. I think Wordplay would make a perfect double feature with Spellbound, another great documentary about contestants in the National Spelling Bee. Both feature people who are really good at a skill that is unrecognized by most. Spellbound is great because the kids are each so different and delightfully nerdy. Wordplay is great because the adults who could have been those same kids are now comfortable in their grown-up nerd skin.

People who love crossword puzzles love language, love puns, and love visual games. I first discovered them my freshman year of high school. When I moved into my first apartment I would take my book of New York Times puzzles and go to the D-Lux on Sunday mornings to drink coffee and work on solving them. Looking back, those days represent total freedom to me....no responsibilities but paying for coffee. The satisfaction that comes from solving a New York Times crossword puzzle is difficult to explain to anyone who has never attempted it. Each square filled with a letter, forming blocks of connected words. It's nothing short of miraculous with the tough Saturday puzzle. I believe Bill Clinton was right when he said in the film that crossword fans are people who tend look for unique methods of solving problems.

10 comments:

Lori Mocha said...

Nerd.

Alannah said...

You know it. I carry the proud honor of being the 1st runner-up Carroll County Spelling Bee champion of 1989.

If it weren't for that stupid, fucking word "maraud".....

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

carolyn says said...

laureate got me in the final round of the St Clair County Spelling Bee.

Stupid laureates. Nobody likes them with their Nobel Prizes and their poems anyway!

I will have to rent this movie, it sounds good.

Alannah said...

I don't think I could spell laureate correctly today.

You'd love this movie. It's not as sweet as Spellbound, but that's because it's not about kids.

5 of 9er said...

I've been trying to rent Jesus Camp for over a month now... it's always out.

Alannah said...

Oh the poor kids in Jesus Camp!

Step Right Up said...

I too am a lover of the crossword puzzle and documentaries! May I suggest the Up series beginning with 7 Up. It is a documentary set in England with a group of children at the age of 7 from varying backgrounds. Every 7 years, there is a new documentary in the series as you watch how they have or have not fulfilled their life predictions.

I lost on the word detach in my county spelling bee. Who the heck spells it d-e-t-a-t-c-h? I do! What a dummy... My brother's reaction in the audience said it all when he dramatically raised his hands and put them to his face in sheer disappointment.

As for Jesus Camp, I'll pass.

The [Cherry] Ride said...

My favorite part of "Wordplay" is when that one puzzle maker looks at the "Dunkin Donuts" sign and says that by switching the letters around, the sign can become "Unkind Donuts."

Very true. Very true indeed.

Step Right Up said...

Yeah, unkind to my behind.

carolyn says said...

you update!