I am not good at crossword puzzles. And even though I have been told at several workshops and classes that crossword puzzles and Sudoko help to stave off diseases of aging including Alzheimer’s disease, they don’t work for me. I have tried to do crossword puzzles and Suduko and the result for me is complete frustration, and no mental stimulation that I am aware of. Nor is there any enjoyment or reward in these activities. So, discovering the activities from Smart Is as Smart Does by Pat Battaglia, aka Dr. Fun was a delightful surprise. Even when I don’t know the answers to these activities, and I look them up, I find myself smiling and think ah ha, so that’s the answer. These answers are clever and engaging and I feel like my brain is working. I feel "tickled" rather than frustrated. And I noticed my confidence building as I answered more items correctly. These activities actually made me feel that I wanted to try more and more of them.
Smart Is as Smart Does, Brain Games to Reveal the Genius in You is the newest book by Pat Battaglia, aka Dr. Fun, who is the author of four books of brain games with surprising answers and amusing features. His unique brand of puzzles has challenged and entertained readers of all ages from coast to coast. Formerly a rocket scientist, he can be seen costumed as a stereotypical rocket scientist, Dr. Fun and in this guise, he has visits retirement homes to get residents thinking, smiling and laughing. He has also visits schools and engaged children. In addition, Battaglia writes a newspaper puzzle column that has been in syndication for over 25 years.
Clearly, mental challenges are precisely what are needed to increase brain power. The games in this book were devised to be clever and playful, and not complicated. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to solve these games - only to devise them. . Referring to the book, TV host and comedian Jeff Foxworthy stated, “Being ‘SMARTER THAN A 5TH GRADER’ is only the beginning! This book made me really think. I loved it!” The puzzles are fun for all ages and educational backgrounds. Marcus Hamilton, cartoonist on daily Dennis the Menace panels said of the games, “You don’t have to be an Einstein to figure out the puzzles, but you gotta have a sense of humor! What a pleasant way to expand your knowledge.” Actress/comedian Betty White has also stated her satisfaction with the challenges with her quote, “The wonderful thing about this book is it is portable mental exercise. Enjoy!”
Using this book would seem to be a great way to prevent the effects of Alzheimer’s disease because the activities improve memory, concentration and thinking skills by solving amusing puzzles. With 5.3 million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s disease and a new individual diagnosed with the disease every 70 seconds, the need for immediate action to improve brain health is overwhelmingly obvious. Exercising our “mental muscles” is vital for maintaining mental health, especially seniors. Using these activities is a fun way to build and maintain a healthy mind. And the games strengthen brain connections. The puzzles are fun for all ages and educational backgrounds.
I was interested in how Pat Battaglia found his way to puzzle books. He explained, “My very first book was written and self-published in 1976. It's out of print now. I wrote it because I had a job (after leaving my 15 years in the aerospace industry) that was miserable. The job provided absolutely no satisfaction and I longed for a business that I could enjoy and derive a sense of accomplishment. There were no any other engineering jobs available so after doing considerable soul searching I resorted to my, often dormant, hobby of collecting clever, one-of-a-kind word games. I wrote a book with those collected puzzles and marketed it via mail order. Eventually I ran an ad and received over 22,000 requests for free information. I couldn't fulfill the requests nor pay for the costs. That ended my business. However, the good news was that I did receive some very flattering unsolicited testimonials.
Years later after recovering from my failure and still in my miserable job, I felt that since people had enjoyed my unusual puzzles I would start a self-syndicated weekly newspaper column. I had never devised a puzzle in my life, but who cares. There's a first time for everything. I never liked crossword or word search puzzles (still don't) and never had a practice of reading puzzle columns or magazines (still don't). My only interest was (and still is) in concise word games that are clever. I love cleverness. I just started devising brainteasers that I thought were clever and fun and where the answers would give readers a smile or chuckle. The column If You're So Smart... was born.
Years later I stopped the feature to write the book “ So You Think You're Smart, 150 Fun and Challenging Brain Teasers” using the puzzles from my columns. I always disliked answers placed in the back of a book so I devised a different, off-beat method. The reader must use a mirror to read the answers and a plastic mirror is provided. The book was published by Tab Books in 1988 and was an immediate #1 Best Seller in it's category. With that success, I restarted my newspaper feature, which continues to this day.
I devised my next book, Are You Smart, or What? A Bizarre Book of Games and Fun for Everyone (it really is bizarre!) and offered it to McGraw Hill, who had purchased Tab Books. They declined and also declined to reprint So You Think You're Smart. So I bought their remaining stock, had the rights revert back to me, reprinted the book and self-published Are You Smart, or What?. Lucky for me. So You Think You're Smart is now in its 18th printing and Are You Smart, or What? is in its 7th printing.
Next I devised and published, If You're So Smart, Prove It! followed by Smart Is as Smart Does. My goal in all the books is to challenge and entertain readers and provide amusing features.
I have enough puzzles now for at least one more book. I have started an audio book, have plans for another hard copy book specifically for seniors and have ideas for a series of children's books. However, I have no timetable for completion.
You will want to check out all of these great puzzle books. Aside from offering a new way to get your brain working, Pat Battaglia, aka Dr. Fun's story is a great example of how perservance wins!
To learn more or to order any of Dr. Fun’s books, go to: www.CleverPuzzles.com
Photos: Courtesy of Dr. Fun