Mother of All Mavens

A whole lot o' nothing. And then someā€¦

Y’know when you have a million-and-one things to do in the morning? For the domestic gods and goddesses among us it’s the whole feed-and-dress-kids, feed-and-dress-self routine. For those of us who still have their own lives it could be a mere feed-dress-get out the door, or hit-the-gym or just S, S and S (shit, shave, shower?!). Whatever the combo, we all know that mornings are precious. And yet, in my case, I somehow find time I really do not have to sit down and read the paper. But wait, it gets worse. I even make time to do the crossword. And sudoku. Gasp! Forsooth! Oh dear!

I know!!!

Truth be told, I don’t really read the whole paper and do all the puzzles every morning. Sometimes I’ll wait ’til it’s afternoon. Or nighttime. Or sometimes I’ll even skip all the newsy bits in favour of the puzzles. Which are often found a little too close to the obits, which I then feel compelled to read. Reminders of our own mortality. But then I assuage any puzzler’s-guilt I may have by considering it mental calisthenics. Doing crosswords and other puzzles can help delay the onslaught of Alhzeimer’s and/or dementia. Or so they say. Whatev. I just like doing them. Or trying to.

So this week I was really wacky. Not only did I waste a good chunk of morning time doing the crossword. I snuck away and spent an afternoon watching Wordplay. It’s the latest must-see, non-political/non-national geographic/non-Michael Moore documentary. It’s good, clean, feel-good fun. And why the hell not?!

I loved Wordplay. Loved it! Granted, as you know I also love crosswords, but I think even if you don’t, you’d like the flick. Spellers and dummies alike loved Spellbound. And tone-deaf grownups with two left feet appreciated Mad Hot B-room. So there you go. The friend I went with confessed the only crosswords she even tried were the ones in People Magazine. She doesn’t like to start something she can’t finish. So a fairweather crossword fan. But she loved Wordplay too.
The movie follows a slew of crossword makers and their fans. Some famous (it’s Jon Stewart!), some infamous (it’s Bill Clinton!) and some not-so-regular joes (it’s Trip from Ft. Lauderdale!) take us on a journey culminating at the National Crossword competition, officiated by the one, the only (drumroll puh-lease) Will Shortz!
I can hear you already: Will Shortz? Who’s Will Shortz??

Well, duh, he’s only the Superman of the crossword set. A real Clark Kent, he works at the NY Times as its crossword (and sudoku) editor. Mild mannered and seemingly meek, give the guy a pencil – no, make it a pen – and look out. In fact, you don’t have to give him any writing utensil – he’s the guy who writes/solves/finds/does the puzzles. He’s Geek Chic personafied. And I think I may have developed a bit of a crush on him. What? He’s so damn clever, it’s hard not to.
Here’s the thing with this flick – they’re all so smart it’s crazy. Crazy good. Crazy entertaining. Crazy, scary, smart. Smarter than the smartest guy you know kind of smart. But don’t let that turn you off, ‘cuz these smarty pants (unlike the ones you actually do know) are not the least bit pretentious. Sure you’ve got the familiar names (it’s the Indigo Girls!) and faces (it’s that famous baseball player, whose name escapes me because I am soooo not a sports fan! But he’s a big star athlete. And he’s smart too!). And yet, it’s the behind the scenes at the Big Competition that rock the house down. In a very civilized, very nerdy way of course.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll want to rush out and do the crossword. And you won’t be able to. But you won’t care because in failing to complete an end-of-week NY Times crossword, you’ll love the movie even more. ‘Cuz it’s Revenge of the Nerds. But for real. And revenge was never so sweet. And so watchable.
Next stop on the feel-good doc parade: Sudoku…..yeah….


Anonymous said…

Sounds like this movie is closer to fine.

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