Eight letter word for puzzle documentaryJust saw Wordplay, a crossword puzzler documentary very reminiscent of Stefan Fatsis's exploration of Scrabble players, Word Freak. The movie includes interviews with avid crossword puzzlers Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton, and the Indigo Girls. At one point Jon Stewart shows his gumption by switching from pencil to pen, and then from pen to gluestick. He also voices my inner thoughts by claiming that the New York Times puzzle is the only real puzzle; he'll occasionally do a USA Today in a hotel room, but feel dirty about it.
As a regular crossword puzzle solver who refuses anything easier than a Wednesday, I was surprised that there were so many puzzle features I was oblivious to. First, there's a theme that pervades the answers. It often changes the spelling of an answer. I'd noticed a theme occasionally (usually when it required gymnastics, like putting multiple letters or a symbol in one square), but not in every puzzle. That might explain why I have a book full of half-solved puzzles. Also, there are no two letter words. That means no memorizing of questionable two-letter words, and helps avoid the discomfort that word freaks like me feel when having to justify an OSPD-legal word like "JO" to lay friends. Finally, I learned that the puzzle editor, Will Shortz, actually does something other than host tournaments and appear on Weekend Edition. He writes about half the clues in each puzzle to make it appopriate for that day of the week.