January 21, 2006

Live from Park City, it's Saturday night!

Here I am, at the cozy Puzzle Palace, sitting at the kitchen table with Ellen Ripstein, Trip Payne, Dean Olsher, and a couple friends, inhaling the aromas from the kitchen where Stella Daily is preparing a feast. The whole crossword mafia managed to get into the Wordplay premiere earlier today, although doing so entailed standing in a line (indoors, fortunately) for a couple hours, and we weren't all assured of getting in until the last minute.

I suppose it's possible that I'm a biased observer, but I thought the movie was fantastic. You laugh, you cry, you think, you learn, you get to see me on the big screen—what's not to love? Hundreds of enthusiastic people stuck around for the Q & A afterwards, so I don't think I was the only one who liked the movie. Jon Stewart was hilarious, as you'd expect, and the other celebrities who gave interviews had assorted insights and anecdotes, but were not as funny as the professional comedian. The heart of the movie, though, was the lesser-known celebrities like Will Shortz, Merl Reagle, and the people who dominated at Stamford last March. Ellen threw her baton in Central Park, Trip discussed his favorite letter, Tyler watched TV with his frat's dog (and omigod, you should see how fast his fingers move when solving a crossword on his laptop), Jon Delfin played piano for numerous singers auditioning with décolletage, and Al Sanders speed-solved in his beautiful kitchen.

After the interviews, the movie segued into covering the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament—by turns gripping, dramatic, touching, and funny. I saw myself on screen a few times, which was exciting, and I saw dozens of familiar faces as well. (Hi, everyone! You'll get such a kick out of seeing yourselves in this movie.) Those of you who attended the tournament last March will find that the movie captures the experience, the vibe, the gemütlichkeit of Stamford.

Then Wordplay wraps up with the credits, and I was delighted to be listed under the "Also Featuring" heading. I'm also featured in a movie! Rumor has it that the eventual IMDb page for the movie will include even the also-featured people, which would liven up the Google results someday when I Google myself.

Stella's ready to serve dinner, so I'll sign off. No word on who will buy the movie (yet) or when it'll be playing at a theater near you. But I am so looking forward to the upcoming media coverage of Sundance, to see if Entertainment Weekly or Roger Ebert or [insert your favorite film critic here] caught the press screening and loved Wordplay as much as I did. Ciao from Park City!