Saturday, November 8, 2008

Geek Love

Continuing to plow my way through the Netflix que, and thought I would anoint myself with a documentary.

I suck at games. I repeatedly lose at chess, and still love it, I enjoy Scrabble (and possess a travel version) and usually lose, I lost at Othello once and a friend of mine chalked it up to losing so the good-looking guy across the table wouldn't feel emasculated (no, I'm just that stupid and honestly lost), but I have never finished a NY Times crossword. And me lovin' the words like I do.

But I LOVED "Wordplay," a 2006 documentary about Will Shortz and the NY Times crossword and the folks who compete at the National Crossword Championship in Stamford, Connecticut every year. It's a room full of nerds of every shape and size and ethnicity and they solve seven puzzles in record time. Then the three top scorers go up on stage, don a set of headsets that knock out noise, and they solve giant whiteboard crosswords for the amusement of 500 of their peers.

Intermingled in their stories are the stories of the crossword in the lives of famous people like Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton, the Indigo Girls, and New York Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina. There are some dry moments when you watch someone solve a puzzle in real time--I know why they do this, but it's like watching paint dry--but the majority of the movie is like reading a rich and delightful short story. It won't keep you, but it's a great way to spend two hours.

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