Ellen (ennienyc) wrote,
Ellen
ennienyc

Wordy "Wordplay" stuff

Let's go back to June 16, where anticipation builds as the movie's about to open. In a real theater! Two of them.

I was meeting Linda and Jeffy for dinner. Jeff chose the restaurant - Bond45, an Italian place in Times Square. It was good. I was very hungry and had a few pieces of bread before eating more bread, with melted Gorgonzola. Yum. Then MORE starch, Tagliolini alla Contadina (pasta with peppers, zucchini, eggplant and ricotta). At least I wasn't wearing the corset.

They were seeing the spelling bee musical. I didn't get a ticket, since I thought (correctly) I might have "Wordplay" obligations that night. As it happened, Jeff had run into a classmate in Times Square, whose family had an extra spelling bee ticket they couldn't use. Which I ended up getting for free! You just have to call first to see if they're taking past-dated tickets. I walked them to the theater and took the subway from 50th St down to IFC.

I told the ticket takers I was there to do Q&A and found everyone in the Cafe. Janet and Joe were eating there with her parents. Merl, Will, Christine and Patrick, as well as brother Michael were there. Despite the powerhouse Q&A team, there weren't all that many people in the audience the first time we went up. Some NYT forum people showed up, as well as Tyger and Mr. Tyger. Also saw Stella (in the famous pajamas), Kevan and Ben. Noam on Saturday. None of my E-mailees.

We did panels downstairs, upstairs, downstairs, upstairs. The IFC people would tell us when the credits were rolling and we'd come in during the familiar song and then do our thing. This went on all weekend, beginning again at 3 pm Saturday and Sunday and going late into the night. The night showings were most crowded.

During the 90+ degree day Saturday, we ventured outside between screenings. There was a street fair nearby and Patrick gave people cards and introduced himself. A lot of them didn't look crossword-friendly. In the crowd was a vision in crossword attire - Eleanor! She had been by the theater earlier, and was mingling at the fair before heading home. I had wondered if she knew she was in the trailer (she doesn't have a computer), and she did know. One tourist we spoke to even knew who Merl Reagle was, but was headed elsewhere with his family.

One guy we dragged in off the street - carrying his LAUNDRY! - turned out to be a big favorite. In that sparsely populated Q&A, he introduced himself as "Bobby" and said he was an ex-prizefighter whose ex-wife loved crosswords (and thus he wasn't too thrilled with them), and he LOVED the movie. He related to the competitive spirit and community and deemed it "better than Rocky!" We loved him, and everyone posed with him for photos.

One Saturday performance was sold out in advance to Christine's cousin Andrea for a private party for her husband Dan. He had been told it was a charity event, but it was really a surprise birthday party (his milestone birthday is in December, but never mind). The tent from the premiere stayed up, and guests (mostly friends from CT and some family) had cocktails before going into the theater. After the movie, a "preview" played which was a montage of photos of Dan. Then everyone went back to the tent. There were tables with hot dogs, chili, tacos and waiters moving around. Everyone knew us (Jon had arrived by then) from the movie, and we went back and forth to the party between Q&A's.

On Sunday the weather was even hotter than Saturday. It was just Jon and me, and we developed a routine. We'd ask who was a non-puzzler, field questions (the standards are about sudoku, who won this year, do we also play Scrabble, do we construct, and how has this changed your life - Jon's answer was "I'm not sitting at home tonight"), and sign books outside afterward. I did the last one myself and felt more awkward.

The people we talked to are now merging into a blur. One woman admitted she also says, "Bye, Will" to the radio at the end of the NPR segment. A couple my age said they live in Great Neck. "Where?" They named the street my former baton teacher lived on. I didn't remember her exact address, but then we started describing the house. "There's a bedroom on the third floor at the top of the stairs?" "Yes!" They live in her old house! Unbelievable! The woman E-mailed later, after looking at the book, and we also have some of the same names in our families and a few more coincidences.

While the audiences were not always huge the first weekend, they were uniformly enthusiastic. One man Sunday looked familiar; he had been there the day before and came back with more people. Another group were old friends of Judie and Norma. I'm probably forgetting half the moments worth recording. We got to know the IFC staff, including the usher who admitted he had no idea what "La Moustache" (the other movie playing) was about - but it was good nonetheless.

The box office the first weekend turned out better than it seemed, as discussed in other posts. Preliminary results for this weekend are good. We did Q&A's again this past Friday and Saturday nights. This time the crowds were bigger. Word of mouth is spreading. Michael from ex-work saw an ad with my name and came specially. He's not a puzzle person and really liked the movie. Matt G's agent was leaving when Jon was coming in; she gave him Matt's new book, which I leafed through briefly.


I sent out more e-mails to people all over the country (and to my cousins in Canada). My old crossword chat buddies Ivan (who I finally met last summer) and "Mr. Taste" (who I've never met) both went this weekend in LA. LOVED it! Shelly Berman was in the audience with Taste. My high school friend David saw it in San Francisco - loved it.

So despite a few party poopers I'm finding in blogland (and our old friend Mr. Kelly in Dallas who gave us a rare bad review), it's one big "Wordplay" lovefest. We're topping Rottentomatoes.com at 96%, baby!
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