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Cause of Death: Overused Brain

I'm a big fan of documentaries--I'd rather watch one than a "regular" movie, although there are admittedly lots of crappy ones--and probably watch a couple per week on average. Between my doc picks and Dan's Blu-Ray eye candy selections, we definitely milk our Netflix account.

Last week, we watched Word Play, which is about The New York Times's legendary crossword puzzle; its editor, Will Shortz; and a few of the people who can't get enough of crosswords. What a collection of nerds. I like crosswords. I think it's fair to say I love them, and I do about ten of them each week. I like to do a quick one in the morning and one before bed: I find that puzzles are good for both getting the brain started and getting it ready for rest. As much as I enjoy crosswords, the thought of being featured in a documentary on the subject is nightmarish. In addition to the pure dorkdom that was oozing from most of the documentary subjects' bodies, it's frightening to think about being encapsulated on film as an extreme version of anything.

See, to be featured in a documentary, you have to be a) a complete weirdo, b) someone with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, c) regarded for an unusual trait or talent, or d) all of the above. Some examples are Trekkies, Home Movie, Chickenhead, Jesus Camp. All are about people obsessed with something abnormal (Star Trek, bizarre houses, pedophilia, Christianity, respectively), and each subject most likely will always be known as "the person who was in X for his interest in Y."

Beside this, I believe crosswords can be great for the brain--when combined with other exercises. I'm interested in knowing whether people who do strictly crosswords (which tend to use a common set of clues and answers) over and over achieve the same brain stimulation as those who mix it up with sudoku, Brain Age, reading, and things like that.

I guess it's the idea of being pigeon-holed that scares me... to be only known for one thing. Think of the woman with the world's longest fingernails or the man who can eat the greatest number of hotdogs in a minute. Something like that on my gravestone? Uh, no.

I hope that, by the time I've expired, I've made marks that aren't knowable by their strangeness, but by their usefulness and cleverness.

My friend Tuck lives by the axiom that one should not arrive to his grave in a pretty and well-preserved package, but rather skidding in sideways, totally used up... Addictive personalities may consider this some kind of universal permission to use too much alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and hos.

Forget about smoked-out lungs, busted veins, overworked lungs, or a broken-down heart; rather, I'd hope my personal Dr. Baden would announce after my autopsy, "Cause of Death: Overused Brain." And I'll take it at the sacrifice of never being featured in a documentary.