It seems singularly appropriate that Tuesday’s comics pages appear in this Healthy Living section. Even more so that the puzzles also live on that page.
Studies spanning all sorts of health and social agencies show that laughter is great medicine for maintaining mental acuity, and even physical health. Likewise, exercising the brain – especially the aging brain – nourishes important brain cells (and really, what brain cells are not important?).
From my earliest memories, I devoured the comics. I still do.
I have a great respect for the creator of a good daily comic strip. While a novelist freely fills 400 pages, the cartoonist has to set up a scenario, breathe life into a couple of characters and wrap up a punch line in three or four small squares. Turn over in your grave, Tolstoy!
The comics of yesterday were meant to amuse and entertain us youngsters. But we oldsters who fondly remember Maggie and Jiggs get a lift from following the fictional fixes of fantasy folks, a moment of freedom from our own physical or emotional stresses.
Never apologize for enjoying the funnies. We fans are legion.
On to the puzzles. In The Eagle, they range from a simple crosswords grid to a complex numerical Sudoku. Do them all, and you’ve put a number of brain cells through their paces.
Each requires a unique skill set: Crosswords definitions are often deliberately skewed to lead us astray. Many words have several meanings, making us explore their different applications. Brain at work.
The Jumble poses a series of out-of-sequence letters that the puzzler has to reassemble into a word, then further assemble into the final solution related to its cartoon. Brain at work.
Cryptoquip, a letter substitution code, involves deductive processes drawing on language patterns plus a lot of pure guesswork. Brain at work.
Solving all three word puzzles delivers more efficient emotional medication than pharmaceutical potions.
It’s been well-documented that laughter is therapeutic. I submit that losing oneself in comics and puzzles is equally beneficial. If you’re “too adult” to indulge in juvenile trivia, I suggest you at least look at yourself and chuckle as you relate to the everyday dilemmas of Opal and Earl Pickles. Then balance their age-related memory and other problems by regressing to today’s teens with Jeremy in Zits.
C’mon, now. Loosen up. Take a comics and puzzle break.
And then a good nap.