June 21, 2006

Merl and Patrick on the radio

When you've got a spare 20 minutes or so, listen to this interview with Wordplay director Patrick Creadon and crossword constructor/roving punster Merl Reagle. They talked about the film and about crosswords on "Celluloid Dreams," a San Jose radio show about movies. The June 19 show will be posted for just one week, so don't dally. (Click the link on the right for the MP3 of the show. Merl and Patrick are in the first segment, about two or three minutes in.)

The highlights: Merl comments that crossword nuts are "sponge heads" who retain plenty of useless knowledge—were it not for crosswords, we'd have no outlet for those stores of accumulated knowledge. He likened multi-word crossword entries to "Wheel of Fortune" without the word spaces, and provided an eloquent paean to phrasal entries. He also pointed out that camaraderie isn't part of crossword solving unless you go to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament—though I'd say that this blog and other crossword-related sites offer the same thing in a virtual setting.

Patrick mentioned that crosswords are innately competitive—if you're not trying to best your loved one or a friend, you're doing battle with the puzzle itself. Subscribing to the NYT crossword service revealed to me the delicious timed applet—I'm hooked on the competition just as much as the "outlet for sponge heads" aspect. (And the camaraderie, and the entertainment inherent in word play.)

(Thanks to Byron Walden for the link.)