Step aside, Brad!

The leading men who lure me to the movie theater for a Saturday matinee are Will Shortz and Al Gore. Much as I enjoyed "An Inconvenient Truth," and was moved to become DARTmama, "Wordplay" is my favorite of the two. Yes, I'm a New York Times crossword puzzle junkie, and, yes, I do them in ink. I'm not lightning fast, though. My day doesn't feel right if I can't started it with the puzzle, although I do force myself to read the paper (Dallas Morning News) before I start the crossword or the Sudoku. One of the advantages of becoming DARTmama is extra puzzle-solving time in the mornings.

"Wordplay" has a delightful mix of information about puzzle construction, famous and surprising puzzlers telling why they do puzzles, features on several championship level puzzlers, and the high stakes American Crossword Puzzle Tournament--with no wardrobe malfunctions or bad "interpretations" of Our National Anthem.

Remember Henry, the retired baker/neighbor of Kinsey Milhone in Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries? He's a charming character, makes great cinnamon rolls, and he's a crossword puzzle constructor. What a sexy combination! He should be played by Sam Elliott in a movie version! Parnell Hall's series of Puzzle Lady Mysteries didn't have any such delights, but I did learn about competitive puzzle tournaments from those books.

Maybe the mystery is why I've never tried constructing puzzles, especially given my love of graph paper and dictionaries. Is it too late to start?

In the early 90's our family Sunday morning ritual involved clambering into the minivan and going to the Parker Station Cafe for breakfast. Most Sundays the drive coincided with Liane Hansen's chat with The Puzzlemaster, Will Shortz, on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday. We tried to solve many puzzles over our breakfast specials and short stacks. In my mind, Will Shortz' voice is linked with steaming sausage, pancakes, maple syrup, and family togetherness.

Seems to me each "Wordplay" movie ticket should come with a Weekend Edition lapel pin and two eggs over easy.

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