Uncovering Meaning Through Puzzles and Art

August 11, 2014 4:49 PM

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That's a tagline for a brand of malt liquor from the 1980's and if it seems a little out of place, it's there to make a point; that is, surfaces are deceiving. But that is often what one examines first. Another, more familiar phrase, "There's a sucker born every minute" is famously attributed to (but never uttered by) 19th Century showman PT Barnum. It's less trickery than pointing out how far one is willing to probe to unearth the raison d'être. Even though the human species is wired to decode and problem solve from birth, we are oftentimes ready to be manipulated.

Working through one of David Kwong's New York Times crosswords (or those done by other puzzle masters like Will Shortz), a pattern emerges and the journey starts to clarify, often giving the solver that last kick in the pants to see it all the way through.

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