Christmas vacation begins!

While walking around the European Parliament building last week, I invented a new gang sign. EU in da house, y’allz!

We spent a great three days putzing around the Marché de Noël in Strasbourg. We’re now in Paris until Sunday, then Lyon for a night. Then Nate comes and we’ll all head to Lucy’s châlet in Pontcharra for two nights, then back to Lyon for New Year’s and then my birthday on the 2nd. I start teaching again on the 5th.

You’ll forgive me if I’m largely offline until then.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to All!

One Reply to “Christmas vacation begins!”

  1. George Wolf notes, re “putz around”, above:

    Cyrus, I’m wondering about the meaning of the word “putz.”

    The word putz is from Yiddish, where it literally means ‘the penis’. Like so many other words for the penis, though, it is also used–much more frequently–in the figurative sense ‘an offensive or foolish person; jerk’. As such it can be the subject of typical double-entendre jokes (e.g., foolishly dressed tourist in Israel takes a ride on a camel, announces to wife that it was a male camel, wife asks how he knew, man replies, “Everyone was saying ‘Look at the putz on that camel!'”).

    A more common Yiddishism for the same concepts is schmuck. There is some disagreement over the relative offensiveness of these terms. In The Joy of Yiddish, Leo Rosten claims that putz is the more offensive word, but I believe most people today would think the opposite: putz has more of a connotation of bumbling foolishness, while schmuck is a stronger insult.

    While the expression putz around, which I assume is what you have in mind when you refer to “the sense of casually puttering around,” exists, and is paralleled by dick around and similar expressions, it is not very common. I have never encountered putz-head before, although of course dickhead is common. Neither seems appropriate discourse for a senator.

    Putz is first found, in both literal and figurative senses, in the 1930s. It is from Yiddish puts ‘an ornament; finery’, which is related to German words meaning ‘to clean’ or ‘to decorate’.

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